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Warming up the sound of my computer source?


maxray
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Long time lurker...first time poster! Great forum, here, I have learned alot - thanks.

 

Here is my dilemma.

 

My computer-based system is a Mac mini source ->USB to Apogee One D/A -> Rotel RC-971 preamp -> Rotel RB-980BX amp -> Paradigm mini monitors (v4.) Virtually all of my digital music (21,681 songs - front ended from iTunes) is Apple lossless, with some ripped to AIFF. I have used Max for all of my lossless and aiff rips, with CD Paranoia turned on. I recently re-ripped all of my CDs after the purchase of the Apogee provided enough improvement of the sound quality (jaw-dropping, in some cases) to merit it. I have been enjoying this iteration of my system very very much, albeit finding the overall sound quality leaning towards the bright side, which I was attributing to the speakers. Then I went and bought a turntable.

 

Now the last thing I want to do is start a digital vs. vinyl debate - as I enjoy both formats very much. That said - what I started hearing from my modest, new Pro Ject Debut III exceeded all of my expectations - dramatically. I was hearing details I hadn't heard before, that kind of thing - but also, there was just this very engaging warmth and full bodied nature to the sound that just about knocked me over. Gone was the higher frequency harshness I was hearing on the familiar recordings now being rendered on the vinyl. So here is my question - how do I go about warming up the computer source a little bit so it sounds a little better to my ears? Perhaps my DAC is a little too analytical? Are there some reasonably priced DACs out there that will get me in the direction I want to go? It has been so long that I have replaced anything in my system of any consequence, I have recently been thinking about a complete overhaul, starting with speakers, but I am also on the lookout for anything I can change-out or add-in that would make a dramatic difference for me. In short, I need to inject a little musicality into the current relative steril-ness / analytic nature of my current computer source system. Thanks in advance for any tips or thoughts from the group.

 

Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main: Mac Mini i5/Amarra/PureMusic -> Musical Fidelity V-Link II -> Peachtree DACiT | Pro Ject Debut III TT -> Primaluna Prologue Premium w/ KT88s -> ProAc Response D15

Basement/Record Cleaning Lair: Dual 510 TT | AirportExpress | Denon DCD-570 -> Marantz 2252B -> Infinity Qe | Magnepan MG1.4

Attic: AirportExpress | Technics SL-Q2 -> Scott 299b -> Paradigm mini monitors

Office: iPod Classic 160gb docked -> Miniwatt N3 -> ADS L300c

Mobile response unit: AirportExpress -> Audioengine 2

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I have an apogee duet,

very clean sound, very analytical but I didn't like the lack of body in instruments and voices.

I think the "lack of musicality" has to do with your apogee dac.

you could try a dacmagic it's still analytical but with more body and holographic presence.

but I think you know that you have to start from the speakers...

Nikos

 

 

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Thanks, Nikos - I agree on the speaker point. In fact, I am becoming more and more resolved to once again begin my "ultimate" (in my budget!) speaker journey. The last time I did this, I ended up at the Proac Studio 100 - but, alas never executed on the purchase, I tend to really like British stand-mounted speakers. This time, the Harbeth P3ESR and Spendor SA-1 are high on the list for auditioning - and luckily I have a somewhat local dealer that sells both. Anyone know about other $2-3k speakers that are comparable?

 

Thanks for the tip on the DACMagic - I will check it out.

 

Main: Mac Mini i5/Amarra/PureMusic -> Musical Fidelity V-Link II -> Peachtree DACiT | Pro Ject Debut III TT -> Primaluna Prologue Premium w/ KT88s -> ProAc Response D15

Basement/Record Cleaning Lair: Dual 510 TT | AirportExpress | Denon DCD-570 -> Marantz 2252B -> Infinity Qe | Magnepan MG1.4

Attic: AirportExpress | Technics SL-Q2 -> Scott 299b -> Paradigm mini monitors

Office: iPod Classic 160gb docked -> Miniwatt N3 -> ADS L300c

Mobile response unit: AirportExpress -> Audioengine 2

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Guest WATERLOGIC

As I felt the same I sold Apogee after trying AQVOX with M2tech Hiface. (SPIDF coax connection).

 

If your Vynil sounds good - your speakers are fine.

 

M2tech Hiface is great - it kicks some cheep DAC s (like Matrix Mini i Us$ 350 - ebay) into a high gear.

 

I use Nothingham Audio Hyperspace turntable , MM DECCA cartridge , with Bedini (very old) phono stage.

If there is a good vynil pressing no DAC can come close to it (at least for my ears) . Aqvox with Hiface is quite good though (I use macmini - Tried Weiss Minerva through firewire - but in my setup 5x cheeper Aqvox with Hiface converter leaves the Weiss in the dust . . . ? ?).

 

 

Cheers !

 

WL

 

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It sounds like you identified a specific problem in that the upper mids and or high frequencies are hot in your digital setup. I am not familiar with the MAC, but on windows there are players that allow the use of VST plugins, and there are some very good parametric EQ plugins available. You might consider finding something similar for the Mac platform, as you can change the flavor of the sound to suit your room quite effectively with a good digital mastering EQ plugin.

 

You might look into running something like the Behringer DEQ 2496 between the computer and your DAC. The Behringer is inexpensive and rather transparent as long as you keep the signal path entirely in the digital domain.

 

For reasonably priced DACs that will take you away from the sterile and analytical flavor of digital into a more analog flavor of sound, look into the MHDT Labs DACs.

 

Alan

 

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I have read on more than one occasion that Apogee DACs are warm sounding. For sure I read the Mini is. Not sure if all models are and since it's pro gear maybe yours is not warm. I'd search or post a gear slutz to see if you can find a consensus on if yours is warm or cold sounding. If it's on the cool side, maybe check out warmer sounding DACs such as a NOS tube on from MHDT. Could be ideal for you and the kind of fix you need. If your Apogee is known to already be warm sounding, then I don't know what to suggest other than maybe you should just bail on digital :-)

 

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.

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I don't think Paradigm speakers are known to have a warm sound so unless you want to keep them you could start there. As far as converters you'll get more warmth if you go up in the Apogee line to the Rosetta or 16X series. The Rosetta 200 offers 2 channels of D/A and A/D with AES, SPDIF Coax, Toslink, and Word Clock inputs + an optional firewire card. They have a warmer, euphonic sound to them that's very pleasing to me. Also Rotel gear isn't known for having the most warm qualities, the opposite actually, so you could possibly look at other pre-amp & amp combinations. Just my thoughts.

 

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

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