Jump to content
IGNORED

Time for a serious upgrade


Recommended Posts

I joined Computer Audiophile 4 years ago and have learned a lot from the community here. Thank you to everyone on their advice and to Chris and staff for all the great reviews and how to articles.

 

Four years ago I knew nothing about computer audio. I went from a Toshiba laptop running ITunes and a USB external hard drive to a CAPS 3 Carbon with NAS and linear power supply running Fidelizer extreme and JRiver. I am getting ready to upgrade my entire system and was looking at the Schiit Yggsdrasil. I have read several recommendations to use AES/EBU balanced inputs.

 

I have 2 questions with this DAC:

1. What server would you recommend or would you keep the CAPS 3 and add a converter or just use the USB input? My budget would max out at $3000 but less helps with preamp/amp and speakers .

2. Do I need a Preamp or can I connect the DAC directly to an amp and control the volume with JRiver or Roon without hurting SQ?

 

I am looking at several amps depending on speaker selection but none of them are integrated. I love the sound of the Pass Labs XA30.8 but I have not heard any of the speakers that would really thrive on 30W such as Devore O/93's. Short list of speakers all used or demo's are KEF Blade2, Wilson Sasha 1 or Sophia 2 or 3, Rockport Atria, Focal Sopra 2, Vivid B1 or TAD's but you hardly ever see them used. I would like to stay around $10,000 for speakers but will stretch if warranted, around $5,000 for the amp, probably Monos. I really don't want to spend a lot on a preamp but do not want it to be the weak link.

 

Any advise on the new system or equipment you want to part with is greatly appreciated.

If anyone is interested I will be selling my ARC VSI 60 (4 years old but just ordered all new tubes Direct from Audio Research), ARC DAC 8 (3 years old), Vandersteen 3a Signature (6 years old). They were all purchased from an authorized local dealer Audio Alternative now HI FI Buys and I have all boxes, manuals and receipts. I am the second owner of the Vandy's, the ARC gear was all purchased new. They are well taken care of. I would also sell the CAPS 3 Carbon from small green computer if I upgrade the server.

 

Thank you for any suggestions.

Dave L

 

Main: CAPS 3 Carbon > Roon > HQ Player > ARC DAC 8 > ARC VSi60 > Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Cables: AQ Rocket 88 Bi Wired, AQ Columbia RCA, and AQ Diamond USB

Office: Macbook Pro > Roon > HQ Player > Burson Audio Conductor SL w/DAC Output > Adam F5 or HiFiman HE-500

Cables: AQ Carbon USB and Oyide RCA

Storage: Synology NAS 213+

Basement: in progress - Building a RPI 3 > Peachtree IDAC > Halide Bridge > amp? > Wharfdale 10.2's

Link to comment

I forgot probably the most important part. I listen to acoustic, guitar, jazz, country and classic, indie, alt, and hard rock. I love the musicality of the Vandy's but would like more detail and resolution but in no way want clinical and boring. I want the speakers to disappear and the music to come alive. I prefer not to add subs they never seem to be coherent. I have 2 rooms it could go into one is 11x14 and is an extra bedroom.The other room is 14x17 and is the basement theater I built with SQ in mind. My wife hated the speakers coming 3 ft in from the back walls and the stereo was exiled to an used bedroom. I would like the system to work well in either room.

 

Thanks

Dave L

 

Main: CAPS 3 Carbon > Roon > HQ Player > ARC DAC 8 > ARC VSi60 > Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Cables: AQ Rocket 88 Bi Wired, AQ Columbia RCA, and AQ Diamond USB

Office: Macbook Pro > Roon > HQ Player > Burson Audio Conductor SL w/DAC Output > Adam F5 or HiFiman HE-500

Cables: AQ Carbon USB and Oyide RCA

Storage: Synology NAS 213+

Basement: in progress - Building a RPI 3 > Peachtree IDAC > Halide Bridge > amp? > Wharfdale 10.2's

Link to comment

I recently listened to a fairly old and much "inferior" system to OP's (B&W 804 S3, Arcam Alpha 5+, Chord QBD76HDSD, Bluesound Node 2). It sounded great with great musicality, detail and resolution. The speakers do disappear. And yes, we probably could have gotten more soundstage depth and transparency with a better preamp/integrated amplifier but I can easily live without.

 

That's why before OP rushes out to buy new gear, I really think the whole upgrade issue deserves some thoughts. What is the reason why OP is not getting the sound that he wants (more detail and resolution with the speaker disappearing)?

 

Not being physically in the same room, we are obviously dealing with guesswork. My guess is that we are dealing with a setup/acoustic issue. And since the wife already hates the speakers being 3ft from the back wall, it sounds like the next purchase has to keep the speakers at the back wall. Ultimately, no speakers can overcome the laws of physics. The best system I've heard with the speakers at the back wall was Wilson Duette followed by some PMC speakers. I think they try to keep their cabinet with as low resonance as possible and tune the frequency response to reduce excess resonance. But even with all of that, you're always living with some compromise. So my strong hunch is that if this is the primary problem, and the wife insists on limiting furniture and speaker placement, the only true solution is to perform some sort of digital room correction (because I'm sure the wife will hate it more if you start adding 15 bass traps into the room). But in order to prove this theory, OP actually needs to measure the current setup and future setups to optimize the sound. OP's computer audio setup is already ready for DSP for the bass. It comes down to going out and buy something like XTZ Room Analyzer II Pro or going with the free REW and miniDSP UMIK-1 microphone and measuring the system to see where the bass resonances are and then tuning them out within JRiver with parametric EQ. My strong suspicion is that this step alone will give OP a lot more mileage. Moreover, if the wife wants to move the speakers to the back wall, OP may be able to accommodate by DSP'ing the bass to optimize the sound. It will never be ideal since we can't change the laws of physics but it may give a lot more mileage than everyone thinks. Moreover, even if OP were to replace his existing gear, this will still likely be a primary issue.

 

Aside from that, I've listened to OP's components separately on separate systems. It is possible that the ARC VSi60 is not sufficiently transparent and limiting the ability of the Vandersteen to disappear and reducing the amount of detail and resolution. And yes, obviously, we can always use better speakers. But I have a strong hunch that the primary problem is room acoustic related so no new component/speaker is going to solve that problem.

Link to comment

Since you already know you like the good things the Vandies do, I'd heartily recommend you get a listen to the Treo or even the Quatro with a carbon tweeter. I'm pretty sure you can find the Quatro used for ca. $10K (new is $14K, which kinda pushes your budget). The Treo is ca. $8K new. I have heard the Quatro with the carbon tweeter and was mightily impressed. It had the musicality and coherence of the "traditional" Vandies but with more detail and also (and this was maybe more important/impressive to me) much more punch.

Link to comment

I've heard the Quatros and they sounded absolutely spooky good.

 

That being said, I've never liked the ARC DAC 8.

 

I've never used JRiver, so I don't know what its upsampling capabilities are like. I use and like XXHighEnd very much, but its UI for those new to it is something like walking into the cockpit of a 747. I also use and like HQPlayer, and its UI, though lacking a lot of JRiver's capabilities, is reasonably simple to learn. For people who want to use HQPlayer with a UI that many folks feel is a step beyond anything else available (though I haven't tried it), you can look at Roon with HQPlayer.

 

So before spending thousands on new speakers, you may want to play a bit with the front end. Not that you won't necessarily wind up getting new speakers anyway, but some experimenting with the front end may be worthwhile.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment
I've heard the Quatros and they sounded absolutely spooky good.

 

That being said, I've never liked the ARC DAC 8.

 

I've never used JRiver, so I don't know what its upsampling capabilities are like. I use and like XXHighEnd very much, but its UI for those new to it is something like walking into the cockpit of a 747. I also use and like HQPlayer, and its UI, though lacking a lot of JRiver's capabilities, is reasonably simple to learn. For people who want to use HQPlayer with a UI that many folks feel is a step beyond anything else available (though I haven't tried it), you can look at Roon with HQPlayer.

 

So before spending thousands on new speakers, you may want to play a bit with the front end. Not that you won't necessarily wind up getting new speakers anyway, but some experimenting with the front end may be worthwhile.

 

I don't think CAPSv3 Carbon is powerful enough to run XXHighend or HQPlayer. Ultimately, the issue is whether the problem is with the amp, speakers, DAC or even software. As I said before, my strong hunch is that the primary problem is room acoustics and bass management.

Link to comment
I don't think CAPSv3 Carbon is powerful enough to run XXHighend or HQPlayer.

 

You may be right, though I'll note I've run both nicely with my mid-2009 Core 2 Duo laptop.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment

The thing with HQplayer: I can easily upsample PCM with my end 2008 core2duo macbook, but convert dsd to pcm will stutter. So HQplayer is reqiring a fast cpu for dsd, but pcm is not so demanding. Realtime PCM redbook to 192 kHz for example is no problem on an old core2duo.

Link to comment
You may be right, though I'll note I've run both nicely with my mid-2009 Core 2 Duo laptop.

 

Except I own a Carbon and it runs on an Atom. To be more precise, depending on how intense the processing you want to run within HQPlayer or XXHighend, you may find that the CAPSv3 Carbon will not be able to keep up. However, the Carbon can keep up with simple parametric EQ within JRiver as I use it every day. I can also say that my Carbon has trouble keeping up with converting PCM to DSD on-the-fly for playback in JRiver. Your mileage may vary.

Link to comment
The thing with HQplayer: I can easily upsample PCM with my end 2008 core2duo macbook, but convert dsd to pcm will stutter. So HQplayer is reqiring a fast cpu for dsd, but pcm is not so demanding. Realtime PCM redbook to 192 kHz for example is no problem on an old core2duo.

 

Depends on the PCM resolution for me. 16/44.1 to DSD128 works fine, as does 24/96 to DSD128 most of the time. 24/192 to DSD128 though often stutters.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment
I love the sound of the Pass Labs XA30.8 but I have not heard any of the speakers that would really thrive on 30W such as Devore O/93's. Short list of speakers all used or demo's are KEF Blade2, Wilson Sasha 1 or Sophia 2 or 3, Rockport Atria, Focal Sopra 2, Vivid B1 or TAD's but you hardly ever see them used. I would like to stay around $10,000 for speakers but will stretch if warranted, around $5,000 for the amp, probably Monos.

 

Any advise on the new system or equipment you want to part with is greatly appreciated.

Yeah if you go w/30 amp like that Pass you will want to be sure to get an efficient speaker hopefully with an easy impedance curve(e.g. 8ohm not 4ohm). Most in your list will greatly benefit from more power. IMHO the Sophias aren't in the league of the others you mentioned. The TADs are very expensive. I agree that moving up the Vandy line would make sense as an option.

 

I am hesitant to jump in with this, but you did specifically mention "equipment you want to part with" Here is what I just listed for sale today: http://audioasylumtrader.com/ca/listing/Speakers-Floor-Standing/Nola/Viper-Reference-III/Piano-Rosewood-Mint-Orig.-

Owner/154990. Might be a fit for you because similar to Vandys in that open baffle tweeter & midrange, but with two separate woffers each in its own sealed chamber. So not so bad if close to wall in smaller room vs. rear ported designs. Also, pretty deep nice bass considering the small footprint, again a benefit in your smallish rooms. These also wouldn't love 30w amp.

 

For $5k amps check out Odyssey monos, they are SS over-achievers and like Pass Labs, often appeal to tube lovers.

 

Separately, a friend, "Eddy1" on audiogon, wants to buy Vandys along the lines of yours after he sells his others. PM him when you decide to sell.

Digital Source: Synology DS415+ NAS  and Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i5 Running Roon Core > Blue Jean Cable Cat6a >TP optical converter > Sonore OpticalRendu with Sonore LPS> Curious USB > Denafrips Pontus DAC

Analog Source: Dynavector XX2 mk2> Audiomods Series 5 silver arm > Sota Nova Series VI turntable w/Condor & Roadrunner motor controller/tachometer > Nagra BPS battery powered phono stage>

Both: BAT VK51SE preamp> Krell FPB300 power amp > Sound Lab A3 ESLs > > Custom room treatment > 50 yr. old ears(left-handed)

Link to comment

I have heard Wilson Sophias sounding great with the Pass "30 watt" integrated. The reason that's in quotes is because it's not the limit of the amp's power, it's the point where it crosses over from Class A operation to Class AB momentarily to take care of peaks.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment

Thank you for all the advise. I have a feeling Ecwl is right about the room acoustics.

 

I should have been more specific with the room and meant to say an unused bedroom. The room was terrible for sound when I first set it up. It is 11x14x8 and the height I believe is a problem. I have spent a lot of time improving it especially with the help of Barry in an old thread. I added base traps, pictures on the walls a plant in the corner a book shelf along the opposite wall of the rack and moved my listening position in. A thick rug on top of the carpeted floor in front of the speakers also has helped. The room used to echo badly. I have the tweeters on the Vandy's tuned down to the 8:00 position or they get very bright. I also have them towed in just slightly and tilted as recommended by the setup guide that came with the speakers. The speakers are positioned 33" from the back wall and 36" from the side walls measuring from the center of the speakers. This seems to be the "dead spot".

Switching rooms might make a big difference if I can sell it. The theater has 9.75 ceilings and 14x17. The studs are offset and it was double sheet rocked with 1.5 and 1.25 boards one vertical and one horizontal. It also has a dedicated 20 amp outlet for the amp. I built it with the intention of moving the audio system in there. If the speakers weren't so heavy I would carry them down 2 flights of stairs and see how they sound but that is not practical. I would just wind up carrying them back up in a week. I am currently sitting about 8 feet from the speakers not sure if that would be an issue with these big speakers? If I stay in the smaller room is there anything else you would recommend to improve the acoustics?

 

Based on the recommendations above I am definitely going to start with two steps.

 

First: I am going to start with Ecwl suggestion. "OP's computer audio setup is already ready for DSP for the bass. It comes down to going out and buy something like XTZ Room Analyzer II Pro or going with the free REW and miniDSP UMIK-1 microphone and measuring the system to see where the bass resonances are and then tuning them out within JRiver with parametric EQ. My strong suspicion is that this step alone will give OP a lot more mileage."

Second: Jud, the only decision I have already made is to switch DAC's. It does not work with Linux or HQplayer. As far as not liking its sound, I would guess you were using a Mac. In my experience it sounds much better with a PC for some reason and it is not even close. That's why I was thinking of designing the front end around the Yggsdrasil. I have no idea what to use as the server though. I would love any suggestions to pair with this DAC.

 

I would also love to hear SS monos and the 30.8 in my system to directly compare to the VSI60. I have listened to Odysseys and they sounded great. I also found a pair of Mccormick DNA 750's for $3000 although that seems like overkill. Who needs 750W? The 30.8 seems like a wild card. I fear it would not be an ideal match.

 

Sbank I do not know much about Nola speakers but they look excellent. Thank you for the link and for the lead on selling the Vandy's. After reading all the advise above I think addressing the room and the front end has to come first. I would not be surprised if I wind up holding on to the Vandy's.

 

Thank you everyone for all the help. It is greatly appreciated.

Dave L

 

Main: CAPS 3 Carbon > Roon > HQ Player > ARC DAC 8 > ARC VSi60 > Vandersteen 3A Signatures

Cables: AQ Rocket 88 Bi Wired, AQ Columbia RCA, and AQ Diamond USB

Office: Macbook Pro > Roon > HQ Player > Burson Audio Conductor SL w/DAC Output > Adam F5 or HiFiman HE-500

Cables: AQ Carbon USB and Oyide RCA

Storage: Synology NAS 213+

Basement: in progress - Building a RPI 3 > Peachtree IDAC > Halide Bridge > amp? > Wharfdale 10.2's

Link to comment
Thank you for all the advise. I have a feeling Ecwl is right about the room acoustics.

 

I should have been more specific with the room and meant to say an unused bedroom. The room was terrible for sound when I first set it up. It is 11x14x8 and the height I believe is a problem. I have spent a lot of time improving it especially with the help of Barry in an old thread. I added base traps, pictures on the walls a plant in the corner a book shelf along the opposite wall of the rack and moved my listening position in. A thick rug on top of the carpeted floor in front of the speakers also has helped. The room used to echo badly. I have the tweeters on the Vandy's tuned down to the 8:00 position or they get very bright. I also have them towed in just slightly and tilted as recommended by the setup guide that came with the speakers. The speakers are positioned 33" from the back wall and 36" from the side walls measuring from the center of the speakers. This seems to be the "dead spot".

Switching rooms might make a big difference if I can sell it. The theater has 9.75 ceilings and 14x17. The studs are offset and it was double sheet rocked with 1.5 and 1.25 boards one vertical and one horizontal. It also has a dedicated 20 amp outlet for the amp. I built it with the intention of moving the audio system in there. If the speakers weren't so heavy I would carry them down 2 flights of stairs and see how they sound but that is not practical. I would just wind up carrying them back up in a week. I am currently sitting about 8 feet from the speakers not sure if that would be an issue with these big speakers? If I stay in the smaller room is there anything else you would recommend to improve the acoustics?

 

Based on the recommendations above I am definitely going to start with two steps.

 

First: I am going to start with Ecwl suggestion. "OP's computer audio setup is already ready for DSP for the bass. It comes down to going out and buy something like XTZ Room Analyzer II Pro or going with the free REW and miniDSP UMIK-1 microphone and measuring the system to see where the bass resonances are and then tuning them out within JRiver with parametric EQ. My strong suspicion is that this step alone will give OP a lot more mileage."

Second: Jud, the only decision I have already made is to switch DAC's. It does not work with Linux or HQplayer. As far as not liking its sound, I would guess you were using a Mac. In my experience it sounds much better with a PC for some reason and it is not even close. That's why I was thinking of designing the front end around the Yggsdrasil. I have no idea what to use as the server though. I would love any suggestions to pair with this DAC.

 

I would also love to hear SS monos and the 30.8 in my system to directly compare to the VSI60. I have listened to Odysseys and they sounded great. I also found a pair of Mccormick DNA 750's for $3000 although that seems like overkill. Who needs 750W? The 30.8 seems like a wild card. I fear it would not be an ideal match.

 

Sbank I do not know much about Nola speakers but they look excellent. Thank you for the link and for the lead on selling the Vandy's. After reading all the advise above I think addressing the room and the front end has to come first. I would not be surprised if I wind up holding on to the Vandy's.

 

Thank you everyone for all the help. It is greatly appreciated.

 

Take height problem out of the equation with a pair of Quad electrostatics.

Have heard those in rooms your size sound simply amazing and put the Pass amp you keep referring to on them and be prepared to be stunned at how good those Quads can sound.

 

PS. I'd try the Quads before selling the ARC also.

 

PPS. The Quads can sound like they were made on a different planet compared to Vandersteens. Not an exaggeration. Try some of Hendrix's famous Electric Ladyland with them.

David

Link to comment
Second: Jud, the only decision I have already made is to switch DAC's. It does not work with Linux or HQplayer. As far as not liking its sound, I would guess you were using a Mac. In my experience it sounds much better with a PC for some reason and it is not even close. That's why I was thinking of designing the front end around the Yggsdrasil. I have no idea what to use as the server though. I would love any suggestions to pair with this DAC.

 

 

You're right about only hearing the DAC 8 with OS X.

 

It won't work with Linux because it lacks a driver for that OS. Regarding HQPlayer, I take it you've tried HQPlayer on Windows with the DAC 8 and have been unsuccessful? Interesting, not sure why that would be.

 

I've heard the Yggy and liked it. Since one of the primary features of the Yggy is its filtering, you'd have limited or no use for software oversampling, so you'd want to choose a software player then on the basis of convenience and UI. I assume you're happy with JRiver in that regard.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

Link to comment
Thank you for all the advise. I have a feeling Ecwl is right about the room acoustics.

 

I should have been more specific with the room and meant to say an unused bedroom. The room was terrible for sound when I first set it up. It is 11x14x8 and the height I believe is a problem.

 

I moved to a much smaller house. My current music room is only 9'-6" x 14'-6" (but is 9'-6" floor to ceiling). I have largish Martin Logan electrostatics and a REL sub.

 

Room treatments were helpful, but a DSPeaker Anti-Mode Dual Core was invaluable. This is a very versatile unit that allows for automatic calibration that eliminates room modes--and it provides a 14 band parametric equalizers together with house (bass) and tilt (treble) curves. It has been essential to achieving a lifelike sound, free of gremlins and distortions. Since I listen primarily to classical music and jazz, this was very important to me.

For my system details, please see my profile. Thank you.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...