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Upgrade, Server or DAC ?


JW Audio

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Let me say thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

 

I have a common HP desktop comp. that just by luck has a Pentium J2900 CPU. They are designed for fan less operation. So I have taken the fans out of the system and it was a positive upgrade. More than was expected.

 

I'm using W10 with Fidelizer, Synology NAS, Jriver 21. My USB cable is a Syunyata Venum going into a Regen and then a Schiit Bifrost with Uber and Gen2.The regen is powered by a LPSU.

 

The whole system in on balanced power conditioning and dedicated lines.

 

I know my preamp and amp are not the problem in the lack of liveliness. It seems that I lost quite a bit of liveliness when I went from CD playback to CA.

 

My question is. For the first initial upgrade to this system, is a more expencive DAC (Mydac Brooklyn) or a dedicated server (Lumin D1, Aries) going to have a bigger improvement in SQ.

 

I have been getting my feet wet this year with first a laptop, then the Desktop. The Desktop was a great improvement over the laptop, (I'm hoping to go in a direction for the best SQ I can get for <$2000.

 

Thank for you help.

John Withem

 

Proprietor

JW Audio.

http://www.jwaudio.net/default.html

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You mentioned balanced power conditioning, just exactly what do you mean ? Do you mean the wiring in your listening room is balanced ? ( I'm from Aus). Or do you mean your system is utilizing balanced connections with a power conditioner ? Say its the last try the amp straight into the wall, by passing the power conditioner.

 

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You mentioned balanced power conditioning, just exactly what do you mean ? Do you mean the wiring in your listening room is balanced ? ( I'm from Aus). Or do you mean your system is utilizing balanced connections with a power conditioner ? Say its the last try the amp straight into the wall, by passing the power conditioner.

 

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Thanks Dean, I failed to mention my amp is a custom built tripath 2024 that runs off of two 12v 5a lead sealed batteries wired for 24v 5a power. Its connected to a 24v charger which has no effect on the SQ of the system.

 

My Tortuga LDR Preamp is powered by a regulated LPSU.

 

Those two components are the only items constant in the system. The only difference is I went from a Sony 5400 to the Bifrost and Desktop.

 

I like the sound staging and depth of the CA system, but the dynamics and transient attack has suffered .

John Withem

 

Proprietor

JW Audio.

http://www.jwaudio.net/default.html

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It would be the passive, they are notorious for lacking a bit in the dynamics. I had similar once loved it's soundstage transparency and the see through quality hooked up to two wyred4sound sx1000 mono blocks, but the detail just became tiresome.

Speakers were and still are Magneplanars 1.7s.

 

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It would be the passive, they are notorious for lacking a bit in the dynamics. I had similar once loved it's soundstage transparency and the see through quality hooked up to two wyred4sound sx1000 mono blocks, but the detail just became tiresome.

Speakers were and still are Magneplanars 1.7s.

 

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I have to say the passive was in the system with the CDP and it was extremely lively. The only change is the DAC and the CA.

John Withem

 

Proprietor

JW Audio.

http://www.jwaudio.net/default.html

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"I know my preamp and amp are not the problem in the lack of liveliness. It seems that I lost quite a bit of liveliness when I went from CD playback to CA."

 

Never overlook just how important a preamp is in a system. I wouldn't automatically rule it out because you had good results with your last setup. Your CD player may have been a better match for your preamp. Just to be clear, I'm not saying you have a bad match. But it is possible.

 

I don't know what your personal taste is when it comes to equipment, so I can't recommend anything specific. What I can tell you, is that when shopping for a new DAC, most people look at the digital section, and overlook the analog portion. For good dynamics and liveliness, its usually the analog section of the dac that makes the most difference.

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I have a friend that brought over a older Sony 3100 CD/DVD player the other day, we hooked it up as a transport using SPDIF to the Bifrost. It destroyed my computer with USB in Energy and liveliness. It was not even close. The soundstage was two dimensional compared to the PC, but the difference in energy was enormous. I've tried a Music Fidelity V192 converter in my system to see if I could duplicate the energy. The USB into the Regen was better than the V Link. That's what makes me wonder why my PC can't come close to an old Transport in energy. That's why I'm asking if a better Server will produce the liveliness and attack that I'm missing in my system.

I thought it might be that USB just can't compare, but I've heard systems with USB as the connection sound great.

John Withem

 

Proprietor

JW Audio.

http://www.jwaudio.net/default.html

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I thought it might be that USB just can't compare, but I've heard systems with USB as the connection sound great.

 

Using identical components to your setup?

 

The USB into the Regen was better than the V Link.

 

Did you also try USB -> Regen -> V192? The technology in V192 is comparable to the one in your DAC, so the difference should not be great. V192 uses XMOS for USB to S/PDIF conversion, Schiit Bifrost uses CM6631A. Both are microprocessors that introduce their own, firmware related, jitter to the signal during the conversion. The overall quality of the reproduction is limited by this conversion circuit.

 

That's what makes me wonder why my PC can't come close to an old Transport in energy.

 

I'm not quite sure what you mean by "energy" in that context, but in another remark you referred to "transients", so I'm assuming you are talking about reproduction of those. Schiit Bifrost uses a Cirrus CS8416 receiver for S/PDIF, it recovers the clock signal from the input stream. Feeding it a better input signal should immediately improve the timing (and thereby transient response) of the analog signal. Probably the old CD player has a better S/PDIF implementation than the V192 you used as comparison. I used a Musical Fidelity converter (V-Link II) myself for some time, but was not impressed.

 

So what can you do? I don't think that changing your transport while keeping the current USB connection will change anything; you already re-condition the USB signal, so the influence of the player over that input will be small. You could get a transport with a good S/PDIF implementation (see Sony CD player). You could get a USB converter with a better S/PDIF output than Musical Fidelity V192 (preferably something with S/PDIF re-conditioning). Or get a DAC with more elaborate USB input ...

Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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I have a friend that brought over a older Sony 3100 CD/DVD player the other day, we hooked it up as a transport using SPDIF to the Bifrost. It destroyed my computer with USB in Energy and liveliness. It was not even close. The soundstage was two dimensional compared to the PC, but the difference in energy was enormous. I've tried a Music Fidelity V192 converter in my system to see if I could duplicate the energy. The USB into the Regen was better than the V Link. That's what makes me wonder why my PC can't come close to an old Transport in energy. That's why I'm asking if a better Server will produce the liveliness and attack that I'm missing in my system.

I thought it might be that USB just can't compare, but I've heard systems with USB as the connection sound great.

You've answered your own question, it's your digital transport (computer) that's at fault. The thing is you can't go to a hifi shop and audition other computers so better to audition a Lumin or Aurender (which is what I plan to do) against your CD player. In the short term if you want to test the quality of file playback try connecting your DAC to your smart phone as they serve as good if impractical transports.

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You've answered your own question, it's your digital transport (computer) that's at fault. The thing is you can't go to a hifi shop and audition other computers so better to audition a Lumin or Aurender (which is what I plan to do) against your CD player. In the short term if you want to test the quality of file playback try connecting your DAC to your smart phone as they serve as good if impractical transports.

Or he could borrow an active preamp and substitute that. Still think passives limit dynamics, which was the original concern.

 

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Or he could borrow an active preamp and substitute that. Still think passives limit dynamics, which was the original concern.

 

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Agree a good active beats a passive but the bigger problem here is the source IMO....

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Recognize that your preamp is going to be sensitive to the load it is being provided, someone already hinted towards this. You may find that a CD player, generally pushing twice the output as other source components (I think that's near 2 volts) would certainly sound a lot more dynamic through your preamp. For your preamp, the difference in output voltage of the CDs player versus the DAC may make the audible difference you lost.

 

Also, beware of diminishing returns. You made a server change that you could immediately hear as an audible improvement. Well done. As you pursue this hobby down that rabbit hole you will find that night and day differences get rarer and rarer while the costs to get there get higher and higher.

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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  • 1 month later...
I took two conclusions from it, firstly physical CD's don't sound as good a 16/44 files and secondly he preferred the Cyrus X Streamer as a transport. A very interesting and comprehensive review.

Marantz SA14S1 SE & PM14S1 SE | The Ear

 

My conclusion from that test is that the Marantz CD Player was below par compared to the reproduction from the computer files, not necessarily the physical CD is at fault.

The reviewer used many DSD files to listen to, the CD player could not play these files per se.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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My conclusion from that test is that the Marantz CD Player was below par compared to the reproduction from the computer files, not necessarily the physical CD is at fault.

The reviewer used many DSD files to listen to, the CD player could not play these files per se.

 

we_not_amused.jpg

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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My conclusion from that test is that the Marantz CD Player was below par compared to the reproduction from the computer files, not necessarily the physical CD is at fault.

The reviewer used many DSD files to listen to, the CD player could not play these files per se.

Yes the CD transport might not be great but reviewer said the CD 'sounded like a pale imitation' compared to file playback so must be pretty bad and I don't think Marantz would put out a relatively high end SACD/CD player that sounded so bad. In regards to my other conclusion I re read the article and see that he used a coax connection between streamer and DAC (as opposed to USB he used for server and DAC) so that could account for his preference for the streamer.

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Yes the CD transport might not be great but reviewer said the CD 'sounded like a pale imitation' compared to file playback so must be pretty bad and I don't think Marantz would put out a relatively high end SACD/CD player that sounded so bad. In regards to my other conclusion I re read the article and see that he used a coax connection between streamer and DAC (as opposed to USB he used for server and DAC) so that could account for his preference for the streamer.

 

CD Playback is compromised when pressed steel mechanisms are used for the transport section, so no matter how much gloss goes on the outside, the SQ is going to suffer. Coax can still be bettered by AES3, but these days.... USB can stay out of DACs causes a lot of pain. Let external treatments do the heavy work in cleaning up USB and send a neat re-clocked signal to the DAC to make its work easier.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Yes the CD transport might not be great but reviewer said the CD 'sounded like a pale imitation' compared to file playback so must be pretty bad and I don't think Marantz would put out a relatively high end SACD/CD player that sounded so bad. In regards to my other conclusion I re read the article and see that he used a coax connection between streamer and DAC (as opposed to USB he used for server and DAC) so that could account for his preference for the streamer.

 

Excerpts from the review "The USB connection to the same original source as the Cyrus used – Melco N1A – produces a richer and more dynamic result but not one that’s any more engaging".

 

My interpretation from the above is that the USB connection with Melco N1A is better than coax via Cyrus. I own Melco N1A and it's usb connection is stellar and the ear awarded the Melco N1A as best buy.

http://www.the-ear.net/review-hardware/melco-n1a-digital-music-store-nas

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