Jump to content
IGNORED

Not really impressed with Metric Halo ULN2


Recommended Posts

I have a brand new ULN2 in home for a demo. I finally have it working thanks Clay who sent me a working MIO template early this morning! It's good to know people like Clay!

 

My digital playback reference is an Oppo 981HD dvd player. I've been using this for quite a few months while deciding on that to do for a music server.

 

My system details are in my signature below. Furthermore, I'm using the stock Mini internal disk for iTunes storage. File format is AIFF. Firewire cabling is the stock Metric Halo with a 600/800 adapter or a Lacie 800/600 cable. TRS to XLR cabling from Blue Jeans and it is a new cable. The Mini is on it's own (non-dedicated) circuit. My amp and ULN2 are plugged in to the Torus. I am not using any other software other than iTunes for playback.

 

The ULN2 is not that much more impressive than the Oppo and this is quite disappointing to me. It may be the cable and ULN2 need some break-in time. But I would be amazed if break-in alone results in enough improvement to greatly impress me such that I think it smokes the Oppo. I do notice some differences, but not much. I do notice a bigger overall stage and more vividness but it's not a significant difference. I do not notice much improvement in transparency or frequency response. It does sound better, but it's not dramatic like I was expecting and hoping for.

 

I am curious if anyone has some suggestions of things I can try to up the performance of the music server and DAC configuration I'm using now. I'm not going to splurge for a SSD drive at this point. I know I need external storage but I wanted to take my time selecting it. I would be willing to try playback software like Pure Vinyl.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you comparing the ULN-2 to CD playback on the Oppo, so this is your first foray into server playback?

 

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...now that's dangerous fightin' talk in these parts. :-)

 

In all seriousness a couple of pointers invade you've missed them...

 

First, in the Mac OS Audio Midi programme (in the applications/utilities folder) make sure you select the correct sample rate - for files originating on CD this will be 44.1kHz and set sample depth to 16bit (though experiment with 24bit too).

 

Second, in iTunes ensure all crossfade settings and sound enhancements are disabled / off and that volume is set to 100%.

 

Hopefully this should improve things, I really think even straight iTunes should be higher quality (especially with the ULN2) than your Oppo player.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really think even straight iTunes should be higher quality (especially with the ULN2) than your Oppo player.

 

And what is the motivation for this ?

I don't want to be a pain ...

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dan, yes to the oppo CD playback question. And yes this is my first foray in to high(er) end server playback.

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In reply to my comment... "I really think even straight iTunes should be higher quality (especially with the ULN2) than your Oppo player." Peter asked... "And what is the motivation for this? I don't want to be a pain ..."

 

My motivation (I assume you mean experience) would be from comparing universal disk spinners' (albeit NOT Oppo but Pioneer, Denon and Yamaha which sources have reviewed as being equal to or better than the Oppo) analogue output to the output of iTunes via my (fairly modest) DAC; combined with the praise that is heaped on the ULN2. Nothing more sinister or complicated than that.

 

Eloise

 

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eloise, the OSX settings are as you posted. I have not changed the default settings.

 

I should to state this again. The ULN2 is better than the oppo, but it's not really all that impressive of a difference. I was expecting more. As if I upgraded from a $100 cartridge to a $700 cartridge. The two playback systems do sound remarkably similar and maybe that is the nature of digital (which I have been out of for many years). I would definitely say the music server and ULN2 are more transparent and image density is greater. It also sounds a touch smoother, less edgy. But it's a bit like a THX or Imax kind of thing. It's not like its more musical, more dynamic or more coherent. Maybe I am picking up the pro audio nature of the ULN2.

 

I think it's breaking in too. Equipment break-in and stabilization, and more time to familiarize myself may amount to more improvement than I first observed.

 

Maybe what I'm noticing is to be expected and there isn't really anything I can do to improve matters. Maybe I need to try another DAC and work on synergy. My system is quite transparent as it is and acoustics are really 3D so maybe a pro audio type of DAC takes things to far to that side.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bryan, I'm sorry to hear you didn't have a "wow" experience. It has been said that the Metric Halo units are very transparent converters. It seems as though you simply don't prefer the sound of the ULN-2 for your music playback. Maybe your expectations were too high... or maybe you just haven't found the one that brings the magic. That's the beauty of what we are all interested in as listeners. What kind of sound are you looking for? Seems like you want some color in your music and I don't mean that in a bad way...

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wasn't terribly impressed with the ULN-2 either and returned mine. The ULN-8, however, is an entirely different matter (actually, what I auditioned was the Sonic Studio/Amarra 4).

 

Mac Mini 5,1 [i5, 2.3 GHz, 8GB, Mavericks] w/ Roon -> Ethernet -> TP Link fiber conversion segment -> microRendu w/ LPS-1 -> Schiit Yggdrasil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David, it is really hard for me to say what sound I am after. I can say I'm not after an overdose of the 3D hifi sound that the ULN2 is providing right now. I am waiting for the right sound to fall in to place. It is like everything is in place, upstream of the source, and I have to find the right source that makes it all work.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dan, the 8 is out of my price range. Do you have the Amarra 4 now, or another DAC? What others have you been impressed with in the $2K range?

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would recommend not plugging the ULN-2's switching power supply into the output of your Torus-this is adding noise to the AC supply of your power amp (do not think for a minute that there is any "isolation" between different output plugs on the Torus).

Best way to go would be to plug the ULN-2 supply in to a dedicated line conditioner, to provide some isolation for the noise produced by its power supply.

If your TRS-XLR cables are new, give them at least a couple hundred hours of playback to break in. Are the cables from the Oppo better quality? I assume that at least the cables from the Oppo are broken in. Let the ULN-2 itself break in for at least a couple hundred hours of playback (you can turn the amp off for this if you need to, but keep the interconnects plugged in) before any serious critical listening is done.

Break in, for both cables and electronics can have big affects on the sound.

Once everything is broken in, I would recommend listening to the ULN-2 in your system for at least a few days, without switching back to the Oppo at all. Make sure to play plenty of your favorite music, and keep a list of what you listened to. Try to just enjoy the listening sessions rather than looking for specifics (soundstage, dynamics, etc). After a few days, or more, of listening to the broken in ULN-2, switch back to the Oppo, and listen to the same music. IMO opinion a longer term test like this is much more instructive to learn what something really sounds like.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"... 3D hifi sound that the ULN2 is providing right now"

 

If you're experiencing this sort of sound, perhaps Barrows is right, break-in could be critical.

 

This is the opposite of how I would describe the (lack of) sound of the ULN-2.

 

From my perspective, the ULN-2 has one goal, to be as transparent as possible, so there will be nothing about the sound (of instruments, e.g.) that it will 'improve'. But, you should hear more 'there' there. Probably a deeper soundstage, perhaps wider. Probably more detail - things you've not heard before, such as more distinctly separate backup vocals which were likely blended together before.

 

As stated offline earlier, when my ULN-2 was breaking in, my system was not nearly as resolving as it is now, so I can't tell you how long you might allow or how much benefit you might incur from break-in. The ULN-2 was my first DAC, bought before I had even heard of CA.

 

Glad the template worked out for you.

 

enjoy your self,

clay

 

PS, get the Ayre if you can afford it, and don't need/want more than one type of input.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate the suggestion of break-in and longer term listening.

 

As for what circuit to use. I have heard that a DAC is more of an analog device from an electrical point of view and should be or can be on the same circuit as the other analog devices. I can't recall where I read this, but I believe it could have been a credible source. However, it does strike me as odd.

 

And the ULN2 does not run off the power supply when playing music. Once playing, I can unplug the power supply and it runs off the power from Firewire interface with the Mac. I believe that's what I noticed today, but will verify. If that is true, I will remove the power supply completely when listening and see what happens.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clay, I have a theory about the 3d sound that I'm hearing. I have not had the best source for a long time, and now that I have something that could be better, maybe I just need some time go get used to it. And the AC and acoustic improvements I've added while not having the best source might be hyping up what the ULN2 sounds like. Making it sound like more than I'm used to. Just a theory mind you.

 

It will be interesting to listen to the Ayre. It will be good to have something else to compare to.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My motivation (I assume you mean experience) would be from comparing universal disk spinners' (albeit NOT Oppo but Pioneer, Denon and Yamaha which sources have reviewed as being equal to or better than the Oppo) analogue output to the output of iTunes via my (fairly modest) DAC; combined with the praise that is heaped on the ULN2. Nothing more sinister or complicated than that.

 

Haha, no, this time I was not referring to any kind of say physical experience (that would have been unfair). No, just the theories;

 

What we may forget is that many people will be comparing CDPs of any kind, to software playback which requires an explicit DAC. And the opportunities for such DACs to be better than a good CDP aren't all that high. Clock connections, jitter, asynch blahblablah ... all no problem (in theory) in the CDP.

 

That Oppo's aren't the worst machines for being ahead of time etc. (in the past haha), is a coincidental other thing.

 

Anyway, I myself sure wouldn't say that iTunes will sound better than a random cheap CD player.

What I say (because I know) is that any random software player will degrade sound, if compared to optimum. But more parameters are involved of course (like no spinning media).

 

So now you know why I asked the question, with the obvious suggestion. I feel I am right, which makes the observation with the ULN2 justified without further hassle. To some extend of course.

 

Thanks,

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bryan,

 

"...3D hifi sound...

 

Not exactly sure about the "3D" - the MH products are quite capable of revealing depth if the recording contains it and the rest of the system and setup can show it.

 

As to "hifi sound", that does not describe any MH product in my experience.

 

While burn-in is most definitely significant in my view, I've never heard more "3D" from something before> burn-in.

 

I think Barrows makes some good suggestions.

Give it some time and more extended listening.

 

Then again, it could be that you just don't like what the ULN-2 does in your system.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Eloise,

 

"...I really think even straight iTunes should be higher quality (especially with the ULN2) than your Oppo player...."

 

I agree 100%.

In my experience, playback from hard disk (assuming a clean source file in AIF or WAV format, i.e. non-compressed) trumps playback of the optical disc from any transport/player at any price - at least any that I've heard and I've heard a few.

 

Reminds me of the first time I heard the Nova Physics Memory Player. The sense of relaxation in playback was immediate and obvious. I hear the same thing with good hard disk playback vs. playing the optical disc in a transport or player.

 

Just my perspective.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

be careful what you say here; while I agree with you in theory, often in practice (IME) a CD player will outperform various computer based setups. My bel canto CD-1 playing into my highly modded PS Audio DL-III DAC certainly outperforms a MacBook running to the same DAC via toslink or USB.

I really think a good low jitter interface with the computer is necessary for computer based playback to outperform that of a decent CD player. Of course I totally agree with your statement when it comes to the subject of this thread, the MH ULN-2, which uses a well implemented Firewire interface.

I just do not want readers here to get the idea that any computer based setup will outperform a decent CD player, as this idea could lead to some disappointment for people trying computer audio for the first time.

 

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Bryan,

 

My (off-line) offer still stands, so let me know.

 

The Proton would give you another reference point at a price point lower than the ULN-2.

 

It's (Gordon's Proton) the best value in computer audio playback, IMO.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't want to disagree with Clay (that way lies madness), but I submit that the Music Streamer+ might be that bargain. I heard from a local dealer today that their mid-level unit (the plus, not the pro) will now support 24/96 via a firmware upgrade. "So what", you say? Well, this is the DAC that many fans of the Ayre are buying instead. With performance that approaches that vaunted player (according to a recent shootout held at the DC Audiophile Society -- sorry, that's all the info I have) for 1/10th the cost .... Okay, so unsubstantiated rumor aside, at that price, its worth checking out -- and if the performance is as good as Stereophile seems to think, well, that kinda makes it hard to beat as a "best value", IMHO.

 

Good hi-res at $250? Ouch!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

"I don't want to disagree with Clay (that way lies madness), but I submit that the Music Streamer+ might be that bargain."

 

Great news, I've been wondering what to recommend to non-audiophile friends - who wouldn't consider a $900 box (they didn't know they needed) as a bargain. :)

 

Plus it's even more portable than the Proton.

 

clay

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know that's just a rumor, but don't forget that Gordon said the Ayre should on for 24 hours and I wonder if it was at a gathering like that.

 

I have the basic HRT Streamer and it's not that great in my main system.

 

I will the Ayre in a matter of hours hopefully.

 

Bryan

 

Dedicated 240V balanced power, Torus RM20-BAL. Mac Mini/Ayre QB-9. LSA Group Signature integrated. Eminent Tech LFT8B speakers. Real Trap and GIK bass traps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi barrows,

 

Perhaps then, I should make it clear that when I'm talking about what I deem to be high quality, optimzed computer audio, I am not referring to Toslink or USB or to any non-linear format such as the so-called "lossless" compression formats like FLAC, ALAC, WAVPack, etc.

 

The above said, I stand by my statement that properly done playback from hard drive will outperform any transport/player at any price.

 

As always, just my perspective.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...