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A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming


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Most important: please realize this thread is about bleeding edge experimentation and discovery. No one has The Answer™. If you are not into tweaking, just know that you can have a musically satisfying system without doing any of the nutty things we do here.

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On 3/27/2020 at 1:07 AM, seeteeyou said:

Is the Phoenix similar to the SOtM tX-USBultra? or a different approach altogether?

SYSTEM: Ghent JSSG360 Cat6a > EtherRegen/Farad Super 3 > Ghent JSSG360 Cat6a > Zenith MKII SE > Phasure Lush 2 > Innuos Phoenix > Phasure Lush 2 > PS Audio Directstream Sr DAC > Ayre K-5xe MP Preamplifier > Conrad Johnson MF-2500a > Vandersteen Quatro Woods

POWER: AQ (Niagara 5000/Tornado/Hurricane)/Audience AU24 SE LP/Triode Wire Labs/Shunyata (Python/Venom 3)/Nordost Blue Heaven/Audio Sensibilities Sig Silver DC 

CABLING: AQ (Earth/Go-4 Dbl Bi-Wire)

ISOLATION: IsoAcoustics/Herbie's/BDR/PS Audio Powerbase

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4 hours ago, romaz said:

My single- and dual-stage regulation power supplies from @[email protected] arrived a few weeks ago and I felt I owed it to Alex to comment on just how good these power supplies have been in my system:

 

1240920623_DXPWR.thumb.jpeg.52afb720c1e06ef0afcef2155d0c3b2e.jpeg

 

First of all, the attention to detail and the build quality of these units are superb.   Second, they do exactly what I hoped they would do -- noise floor drops and dynamics and control improve.  They've improved everything I've connected them to including various cheap SMPSs I had lying around, a PowerAdd battery, an sPS-500, LPS-1.2, SR4, and SR7.  While the improvement was smallest with a DR SR7, considering the low asking price for these units, even with the DR SR7, I would consider purchasing one.  As the photo depicts, I have purchased 5 and I now have more on order. 

 

The greatest beneficiaries among the PSUs that I've tried are the PowerAdd battery, sPS-500, and LPS-1.2 and for these PSUs, the dual stage regulation models especially are transformative.  For these PSUs, the DXP-1A5DSC should be considered "must haves" imho. 

 

Using a PowerAdd battery set to 16V and a DXP-1A5DSC with the pre-regulator output set to 15V and the final regulator output set to 13.5V, the drop in noise floor and the improvement in dynamics and control with my Hugo TT2 is just unbelievably better when compared against the PowerAdd by itself or against the stock 15V SMPS.  It's like a completely upgraded DAC with this little device even though this DAC is powered internally with supercaps.

 

My LPS-1.2s have taken on new life as well.  My units have largely gone unused as of late because with any components that draw close to their max rating of 1.1A, I have found these quickly lose steam (likely due to voltage sag) and in some instances, like with the etherREGEN, the LPS-1.2 is only barely better than the stock SMPS.  Presently, I'm using one of my LPS-1.2s at 9V feeding a DXP-1A5S set to 5V which is then feeding my Monoprice SlimRun USB 3.0 optical extender and this combo not only provides me complete galvanic isolation between server and DAC but the addition of even the single-stage regulation power supply dramatically improves dynamics.  

 

What about the SR4 and the new SR4-Turbo (SR4T)?

 

SR4s.thumb.jpeg.1f371af31647bc453f2f7f2b68e80e15.jpeg

904924212_SR4Turbo.thumb.jpeg.77d0aae27c65e95c79bd50b0409abe17.jpeg

 

Because of the greater 2A headroom of the SR4s, these PSUs don't run out of steam as quickly as the LPS-1.2 and the SR4-Turbo especially maintains its composure with much more gear including any of the JCAT cards and most network switches that I've tried.  The standard SR4 + DXP-1A5DSC (dual regulated) is roughly the equivalent of an SR4-Turbo by itself but an SR4-Turbo with this same dual regulated module takes it very scarily close to a DR SR7 with respect to dynamics for low power devices like the etherRegen or JCAT's latest XE USB card.  At close to 400 GBP, especially with such a good exchange rate, I cannot recommend the SR4-Turbo more highly.

 

Where an SR7 continues to have an edge even over an SR4-Turbo + DXP-1A5DSC is with tonal density and color saturation.   There also remains a relaxed and more effortless quality to the SR7 that sounds more natural and pleasing to my ears.  Clearly, headroom matters even for low power devices.  When you add the DXP-1A5DSC to a standard SR (single regulated) SR7, just like with the other PSUs, it sings bigger and bolder and blacker.  It is still not exactly equivalent to a DR SR7 but to my ears, its 50-60% there.

 

Are there downsides or limitations to Alex's units?  Yes, presently they cap out at 15V and 1.5A of output and this is due to the limitation of the LT3045s and so don't expect these units to power a big motherboard or high-power CPU.  Alex is working on SR units that can output up to 20V and DR units with a final output of 15V and up to 2.1A and so this opens up the possibility of powering an i7 NUC with a PowerAdd battery. 

 

The big challenge of course is heat.  The internal parts used including caps, etc. are rated for >100 deg C.  According to Alex, the LT3045 has a max input voltage of 20V (absolute max of 22V) but he recommends, based on the heat dissipation abilities of the chassis that is used, that you don't go beyond 4w of heat dissipation for an SR unit and 6w for a DR unit.  That means for an SR unit with a desired output of 5V/1.5A, if your feeding supply is 7V, that amounts to 3w of heat that will need to be dissipated (2V x 1.5A = 3w) and so this should be acceptable.   If your component only draws 0.5A, then your feeding supply can go as high as 13V for an SR unit.   Hopefully, the math here is clear.  Should you do something stupid and go significantly overboard, Alex has assured me that there are thermal safeguards in place that will prevent you from frying whatever gear you're powering.  I think these recommendations are probably conservative because my units are barely warm to the touch. 

 

Is there an advantage for using a larger spread?  Yes, it sounds better.  According to Alex, larger spreads result in less ripple.  With the DR SR7, for example, Paul is using a spread of 7V and those who have compared an SR vs DR SR7 knows just how much better the DR sounds.  If you're unsure as you place your order, it's probably best to discuss your plans with Alex.  In my case, I am using a 12V rail from my SR SR7 to feed a DXP-1A5DSC with a 10.5V pre-reg and 9V final output to then feed an etherREGEN and the results are simply stunning.  

 

As for the quality of the DC cabling used, not surprisingly, they make a big difference.  I use the 16AWG OCC copper with JSSG360 shield that Ghent sells and they pair exceptionally well with Alex's units.

 

9v @ 1.5A drives the etherRegen without issue and sounds good. That's good to hear.

 

Looking forward to the higher output 2.1A versions when Alex gets those to market.

 

Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Modified Buffalo switch-> SOtM sNH-10G-> Custom Audiolinux server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> EtherRegen-> AL NUC NA (sCLK-EX modified)->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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1 hour ago, kennyb123 said:

 

I received two of the single stage models (DXP-1A5S) to use with PowerAdd batteries that were powering my Chord HMS and TT2.  This was not a subtle upgrade - the improvements punched way above the $200 that I spent.  

 

I realized after receiving these that I thought that maybe I should have gone with the dual stage version - so I had placed an order for one.  I had planned to share my feedback here after I received it, but it's yet to arrive.  I will say though that based on my experience with the single stage model, I couldn't agree more that these little devices are a "must have" with the PowerAdd battery.

 

@[email protected] provided great support after the sale too.  My only wish would be that better expectations are set up front on how long it might take before they are shipped.  It will likely be a long wait but I can say for sure that it will be worth your wait.

 

Nice to see you posting here again @romaz

I believe you can add a second regulation stage at a later time.

nuckleheadaudio.com

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I made that mistake but got out of it with Alex's help. Its a fantastic design double regulated but do order the double for a lot less trouble later. In getting the voltage correct and having to fit it. I have mine with my original LPS1 feeding my Qutest. I did see a lot of interest pre Christmas across the audio web sites, so the price of popularity is patients...and other issues..

 

Take care

 

Dave..😷😁

 

20191219_215326.thumb.jpg.ac0175a9a12bc175495c4b88cc3e9a54.jpg

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Middy said:

I made that mistake but got out of it with Alex's help. Its a fantastic design double regulated but do order the double for a lot less trouble later. In getting the voltage correct and having to fit it. I have mine with my original LPS1 feeding my Qutest. I did see a lot of interest pre Christmas across the audio web sites, so the price of popularity is patients...and other issues..

 

Take care

 

Dave..😷😁

 

20191219_215326.thumb.jpg.ac0175a9a12bc175495c4b88cc3e9a54.jpg

 

 

 

If you are meaning you powered Chord Qutest DAC, out of curiosity what is the power cable did you use since the input power plug of Qutest is microUSB and this connector is very rare to find.

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Ah good old cheap Ebay converters onto the end of some pre made Gent cables.

You will need a spare cable as its a through and through design...

 

Me being anal deoxited and ultrasonic cleaned in 100% IPA 

Good luck

Dave

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9 minutes ago, MikeyFresh said:

 

India pale ale? Just kidding.

 

I too have a couple of those adapters, as well as one Ghent DC29 made with the male microUSB plug on one end and Oyaide 2.1mm DC on the other:

 

dc29-microb.jpg.7cba7661af99655fc532e3d919ae7ec1.jpg

 

Thanks MikeyFresh.

 

Did you power your Qutest DAC with LPS1 as well or what?

 

If so curious to know how did you find LPS1 vs stock SMPS? 

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On 3/30/2020 at 12:51 PM, romaz said:

  Presently, I'm using one of my LPS-1.2s at 9V feeding a DXP-1A5S set to 5V which is then feeding my Monoprice SlimRun USB 3.0 optical extender

@romaz

you are powering the Monoprice usb? Cause of better sound? I thought they don’t need external power...

 

thanks

 

and thanks again for your deep inside...

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Tried the MonoPrice Optical USB 10m cable for a week+ now. From my Pink Faun 2.16x streamer USB out through the MonoPrice then through my Habst USB Ultra III cable and to my Vinnie Rossi DAC2.

 

In my setup, the addition of the optical cable doesn't add to the sound, yes it seems to make sounds tighter somewhat like using upsampling but at the same time makes the sound thinner and less organic. Soundstage is noticeably smaller. Ultimately I am removing it and have passed it on to friends to play with.

 

Experimented with the short Uptone USB connectors without any substantial change in sound character.  

 

The Monoprice gets pretty hot during use - as hot as Uptone devices!

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Very interesting. Mine doesn’t get hot at all. I wonder if your DAC is drawing a lot of power from Vbus? With my DAVE it only uses usb Vbus for the initial usb handshake. 
 

I love the Monoprice slim, esp in combo with the Sablon 2020 USB cable. It is completely effortless compared with other cables I’ve had (disappear).
 

On my list is to see how practical it is to tap into the 5V line at the end connector, so Vbus doesn’t have to run the entire length of the cable (I’m hearing improvement with external power to the Slim, but the 5V has a LONG way to travel to get to the other side)

 

to the earlier question, you do not need external power for the Slim, but there is an optional micro USB connector for external power on the streamer side of the cable. This does result in improved SQ for me, but the USB 5V has to run the entire length of the Slim cable through some embedded wires (the usb signal is traversing an optical path). In the spirit of a shorter DC cable is always better, I’m hoping for improved SQ by drilling a hole in the case and connecting 5V directly to the connector on the DAC side of the Slim. 

ATT Fiber -> EdgeRouter X SFP -> Sonore opticalModule -> Taiko Audio Extreme -> Chord DAVE -> Voxativ 9.87 speakers w/ 4D drivers

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4 hours ago, mourip said:

 

Every time I have introduced/re-introduced fiber into my system in any of a number of possible positions I end up removing it. To be clear I have not tested some of the more advanced fiber options but I just prefer copper ethernet. The combination of the JCAT FEMTO card in my server and the ER set up as recommended has given me the best sound yet. Very natural and realistic sound to my ears.

 

I have had the same off and on experience with fiber. I currently happen to like it between the sNH-10G and eR, but only after I switched to the Startech - and now Planet Tech - transceivers. Ultimately, you just have to experiment.

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For those using the PowerAdd Pro battery, are you needing to unplug the battery from the outlet and use until drained, or can you leave it plugged in without ill effect?

Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Modified Buffalo switch-> SOtM sNH-10G-> Custom Audiolinux server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> EtherRegen-> AL NUC NA (sCLK-EX modified)->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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19 minutes ago, Johnseye said:

For those using the PowerAdd Pro battery, are you needing to unplug the battery from the outlet and use until drained, or can you leave it plugged in without ill effect?

 

I leave mine plugged in.  When I'm doing critical listening, I unplug them, then plug back in when I'm done.  The batteries in my setup easily last 6+ hours, which is more critical listening time than my brain can handle.  

 

I often listen to music with them still plugged in as well.  I still hear most of the SQ benefit even when the batteries are plugged in, but unplugging them is better still.

 

 

ATT Fiber -> EdgeRouter X SFP -> Sonore opticalModule -> Taiko Audio Extreme -> Chord DAVE -> Voxativ 9.87 speakers w/ 4D drivers

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54 minutes ago, davide256 said:

Beginning to sound like this thread has moved on from NUC's to a phase II DIY PC build with specialized USB and Ethernet cards (PS also of course). Makes me wish

for a new CAP server thread as the part I find hard is evaluating which MOBO to start with on any next project

 

I think the architecture goes back and forth and this is impacted by new hardware and software discoveries and experimentation.

Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Modified Buffalo switch-> SOtM sNH-10G-> Custom Audiolinux server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> EtherRegen-> AL NUC NA (sCLK-EX modified)->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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1 hour ago, davide256 said:

Beginning to sound like this thread has moved on from NUC's to a phase II DIY PC build with specialized USB and Ethernet cards (PS also of course). Makes me wish

for a new CAP server thread as the part I find hard is evaluating which MOBO to start with on any next project

 

30 minutes ago, Johnseye said:

 

I think the architecture goes back and forth and this is impacted by new hardware and software discoveries and experimentation.

 

yeah, no different than new dac, preamps, amps, speakers, cables....it's a journey towards the progress.

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