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A denier's lament


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Fellow audiophiles, hear my tale of woe.

 

For about two years, my system has been as follows:

 

Auralic Aries Mini -> Monoprice 1.5ft "gold plated" USB cable" -> Musical Fidelity M6si integrated amp (which has an onboard 24/96 DAC) -> generic bulk speaker wire -> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers with ribbon tweeters.

 

(Spoiler: clearly a system put together by someone who likes solid gear but believes that any old vaguely cable-shaped piece of metal will do for getting your electrons from here to there)

 

And for about two years, I haven't *quite* been happy with the way digital audio sounds through it. The center of the stereo image was never especially stable, and something always felt a little cool and mellow and dull about the presentation of the music. The textures weren't quite there.

 

And I made excuses, oh did I ever...

 

Well, the amp is British. That's just how Brit stuff sounds, buy American next time if you want bigger and boomier and sparklier.

 

Well, maybe the DAC built into the amp just isn't that great - after all it is basically based on their V90 standalone DAC which is a several years old design at this point and wasn't even really top of the line when it came out.

 

Maybe I just need an Antipodes server instead of this little Auralic thing.

 

Maybe I just need a PS Audio DirectStream Jr for the balanced inputs on the amp. Heck, maybe I need the PS Audio running straight into Moon mono blocks before this thing will sound the way I want it to.

 

Maybe I need a Linn Majik.

 

But then a few things happened.

First, I was surprised at how a Rega integrated (which I had pre-judged inferior to my MFi) sounded through Rega speakers (which I have no particular opinion on one way or another) at the stereo shop using Nordost Blue Heaven speaker wire. The idea started to form in my mind that cables matter.

 

Second, I started hanging out on this forum again after some time away for unrelated reasons (I'm grumpy about MQA). And lots of people who post very reasonable, articulate, and often technically intricate stuff list some pretty $$$ cables amongst their gear in their specs.

 

And finally, I was doing some rejiggering of my headphone setup at work anyway, and wanted to use the 1.5ft USB cable there instead for optimum elegance, plus a slightly longer USB cable at home would let me move the Aries Mini out of sight (since it doesn't have a nice display or especially elegant housing like its big brother anyway, no great loss).

 

And a little voice inside my head said, "Maybe cables do matter. An entry-level 'audiophile' USB cable isn't that expensive. Take a risk, give it a shot, it's a drop in the bucket relative to what you've spent on other parts of the system, why not..."

 

So I added an Audioquest Cinnamon to my cart ($28) before realizing that the Forest is only $10 more so to hell with it. $38 for a 2.5ft Audioquest Forest USB cable.

 

Here comes the end that you already knew was coming.

 

Night and day SQ difference. I actually have bass now. I actually have imaging now. Things have weight and attack and air. I don't have to turn the thing up to near-uncomfortable levels (for my living companions, I personally like it LOUD) to hear enough detail for things to actually sound like music. My system is healed. It finally sounds the way I always knew it could.

 

From one stupid little USB cable. I will now be thinking twice about taking that Monoprice cable to work to use with the headphones.

 

The moral of the story is, something really small and simple could be holding your system back. I feel like an idiot for being in denial for so long without conducting what ended up being a very fruitful yet low cost low risk experiment.

 

I still want the Antipodes server but it feels so much less urgent now. Instead, the "generic bulk speaker cable" is the next thing up for scrutiny. Come to me, Nordost....

Aries Mini -> Audioquest Forest -> Musical Fidelity M6si -> Nordost White -> Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL tower

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Many people who have several levels of quality above what they already have if they only gave some new things a try.

 

One of my latest big jumps in quality is severing the computer power supply to the DAC, injecting clean power. I've had to completely re-work what constitues a USB connection between the computer and the DAC, build a new Linear Regulated Power Supply but it was very worth it. I am currently listening to the setup with a battery pack as well - sounds super clean, no more 'hash' or glare at all, just clean output throughout.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Try a µRendu, you probably will forget entirely about the Antipodes. The money you save spend on music (r more cables if you really want!)

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Orange Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

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Try a µRendu, you probably will forget entirely about the Antipodes. The money you save spend on music (r more cables if you really want!)

 

Heh, the music still has to live somewhere and I don't have a NAS or a spare computer that I feel like leaving on all the time. But the microrendu is definitely on my radar for driving a separate dedicated headphone rig.

Aries Mini -> Audioquest Forest -> Musical Fidelity M6si -> Nordost White -> Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL tower

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Lol I began my dedicated audio PC with some old parts lying around. All fanless with fanless power supply. I didn't want to blow a huge sum of money because I suspected it wouldn't make much of a difference. Well it did make a significant difference. So now I bought a Paul Pang USBv3 card and am shopping for a linear PSU...

 

Sent from my LG-H820 using Computer Audiophile mobile app

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+10

 

Same here, IME it's a tragic waste of gear not to experiment in this area.

 

 

Many people who have several levels of quality above what they already have if they only gave some new things a try.

 

One of my latest big jumps in quality is severing the computer power supply to the DAC, injecting clean power. I've had to completely re-work what constitues a USB connection between the computer and the DAC, build a new Linear Regulated Power Supply but it was very worth it. I am currently listening to the setup with a battery pack as well - sounds super clean, no more 'hash' or glare at all, just clean output throughout.

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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If I read that correctly you decided to go with a more expensive Forest over the Cinnamon. According to Audioquest's site, the Cinnamon is the better of the two. So why did you choose the Forest?

Sorry, I mistyped. The cheaper Audioquest I was looking at was the Pearl, not the Cinnamon.

Aries Mini -> Audioquest Forest -> Musical Fidelity M6si -> Nordost White -> Ascend Acoustics Sierra RAAL tower

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Bah cables..... Do though with what ever cable you have is a basic clean out with 100% alcohol.

 

Dust and grease fibres. Medical swabs are ok and they don't shed fibres.

Magical deoxit gold just a tiny amount clean both socket and cable. If you see it it's too much..?

You can also tighten usb connectors sockets up on the shield and lift the spring pins up for a tighter fit.

 

Basics and good practice even on new kit..New isn't clean..Clean is clean... Chemicals dust atmospheric pollutants ect. metal on metal than dust and grease..

 

Happy things got better for you and nice to know you don't have to spend thousand's to benefit, even nearly free can help.

Good luck

Dave

 

 

Sent from my SM-G900F using Computer Audiophile mobile app

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Wait til you try the Diamond...

 

You can say that again! :)

Triangle Magellan Concerto 2 < AQ Everest < Vitus Audio SS-010 Mk2 < AQ Dragon High Current < AQ WEL XLR < Chord Qutest DAC w UpTone JS-2 & AQ Dragon Source < AQ Diamond USB < Innuos Phoenix USB w AQ Dragon Source < Aurender N100H & AQ Dragon Source < NetGear GS105GE Switch w UpTone LPS1.2 < Supra CAT8 Ethernet < Gryphon PowerZone w AQ NRG-Wild < Stillpoints UltraSS, Ansuz Darkz D-TC & D2, Omicron Harmonic Stabilizer, Gold Evolution SE & Classic < Furutech FT-SWS (R) < Synergistic Research Orange Quantum Fuse < Solid Tech Hybrid < GigaWatt G-16A 2P Circuit Breaker

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