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I know this is not a strictly DAC question, but my DAC is part of it, hence posting here ūüôā

 

I have just completed my room setup which is now becoming my main music listening post. I ditched the living room which will now remain as a TV + occasional listening post. My room is an attic of about 5.5 x 3 meters in 2 levels. The lower level is which is the listening area, is about 3,5 x 3 meters. The setup I have now is: 

 

Hypex Ncore HP250MP x 2 dual mono power amp

Topping D50s DAC 

Raspberry pi 4 - Ropieee XL used as Roon bridge 

KEF LS50 speakers 

 

I do not consider myself as an audiophile. Am still a starter in this and i don't think I have the hearing and the experience to be on. Yet, this is the first setup I've had that I believe allows me to critically listen to music recordings. And I want to take it further. I was first considering to upgrade my DAC, but after a lot of reading, I am starting to get the feeling I will not achieve a lot in upgrading the DAC (happy to hear different opinions with recommendations). On the other hand I hear a lot about adding a tube preamp that can give this setup a bit of "analogue magic". This is something I have zero experience with and happy to get some recommendations. I have no budget defined yet, but as you can see from the rest of my setup, I am a big fan of spending reasonable amount for items that can delivery above thier weight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, al2813 said:

On the other hand I hear a lot about adding a tube preamp that can give this setup a bit of "analogue magic".

 

 Before jumping right in , perhaps you could try a Valve Buffer stage between the DAC and Power Amplifier first ?

 The thread at the attached link may be worth reading too. 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/musical-fidelity-x-10v3-tube-output-buffer-1

 


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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6 hours ago, al2813 said:

I was first considering to upgrade my DAC, but after a lot of reading, I am starting to get the feeling I will not achieve a lot in upgrading the DAC (happy to hear different opinions with recommendations). On the other hand I hear a lot about adding a tube preamp that can give this setup a bit of "analogue magic".

I suspect you are reading Audio "Science" Review? I bought the D50s for my headphone system, partly because I had the matching linear power supply and partly due to great measurements. I did not like the sound at all, pace and rhythm were poorly reproduced, which made music sound boring. I have two cheaper DAC's that sound better. 

 

Adding a tube pre behind the D50S will not address the problem. I suggest you try to audition a better DAC with preamp capability.


‚ÄúThe best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.‚ÄĚ

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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3 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I suspect you are reading Audio "Science" Review? I bought the D50s for my headphone system, partly because I had the matching linear power supply and partly due to great measurements. I did not like the sound at all, pace and rhythm were poorly reproduced, which made music sound boring. I have two cheaper DAC's that sound better. 

 

Adding a tube pre behind the D50S will not address the problem. I suggest you try to audition a better DAC with preamp capability.


happy to audition a DAC with a better pre amp capability.  Can you recommend one?

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9 hours ago, sandyk said:

 

 Before jumping right in , perhaps you could try a Valve Buffer stage between the DAC and Power Amplifier first ?

 The thread at the attached link may be worth reading too. 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/musical-fidelity-x-10v3-tube-output-buffer-1

 


Thanks I read this one. Not sure about the valve buffer and again being a noob here, but I did see comments they colour the music, and my taste is more on the neutral side so I am weary of over colouring music. 

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One thing that is pretty common IMO, that many don't do is defining what one is looking to improve?  Now without "knowing" what needs improvement, that can make it challenging (having a reference point helps here).  Maybe all sounds great and you can stop?  Nothing wrong with that.

 

Trying out gear is also fine, many 'O people are constantly switching out stuff - although that requires $$ and time and can provide one with hearing the impact of different gear, which is also fine if that floats your boat. 

 

However, you'll never hear the full potential of your rig, IMHO, especially if you are sort of just starting out, without understanding the impact of setup and acoustics / your room.  The fundamentals as I like to call it.  Spkr setup, listening position and getting low freq to something manageable (sonically) is everything and will usually trump everything else (generally speaking).  

 

Get those items dialed in the best you can will then provide you a great starting point and will help mitigate your wallet from bleeding by throwing gear to solve something that gear can't.  At that point, you can then define some goals and start the conversation as to what components may work ideally or whatever.

 

Every room is a comprise unless you are lucky enough to design and start from scratch on a dedicated space $$.  Without some thought on setup and $$ on acoustics, you wont be able to get the most out of you system and could end up wasting $ on gear IMHO.

 

None of this is required mind you, throw up some speakers and gear, change things out and if that makes you happy that's cool too.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Foggie said:

One thing that is pretty common IMO, that many don't do is defining what one is looking to improve?  Now without "knowing" what needs improvement, that can make it challenging (having a reference point helps here).  Maybe all sounds great and you can stop?  Nothing wrong with that.

 

Trying out gear is also fine, many 'O people are constantly switching out stuff - although that requires $$ and time and can provide one with hearing the impact of different gear, which is also fine if that floats your boat. 

 

However, you'll never hear the full potential of your rig, IMHO, especially if you are sort of just starting out, without understanding the impact of setup and acoustics / your room.  The fundamentals as I like to call it.  Spkr setup, listening position and getting low freq to something manageable (sonically) is everything and will usually trump everything else (generally speaking).  

 

Get those items dialed in the best you can will then provide you a great starting point and will help mitigate your wallet from bleeding by throwing gear to solve something that gear can't.  At that point, you can then define some goals and start the conversation as to what components may work ideally or whatever.

 

Every room is a comprise unless you are lucky enough to design and start from scratch on a dedicated space $$.  Without some thought on setup and $$ on acoustics, you wont be able to get the most out of you system and could end up wasting $ on gear IMHO.

 

None of this is required mind you, throw up some speakers and gear, change things out and if that makes you happy that's cool too.

 

 


 

you are right of course so will try to define better. I believe my setup is doing well when the music is acoustic - when it׳s more electric going  to more rock, I like it less. Just earlier someone referred to this as pace. maybe it’s that. 

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5 minutes ago, al2813 said:


 

you are right of course so will try to define better. I believe my setup is doing well when the music is acoustic - when it׳s more electric going  to more rock, I like it less. Just earlier someone referred to this as pace. maybe it’s that. 

Many times when things get muddy (timing artifacts) it can be more prevalent or noticeable when things get busier (rock), I'll go back to my orig statement about the fundamentals - experiment on setup + listening position at a minimum (many guides available) and see if things improve - clarity, separation etc.. more coherence should be relatively easy to improve upon

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A tube pre-amp won't help here. When music does get busy, it's much the same as a trio jazz playing softly, each instrument should be in the right place at the right time, drums should sound like drums and not paper bags. It's possible that what @al2813 hears is being masked by imperfections. From the equipment list, here's some suggestions, if solutions have already being tried, then please ignore.

 

Not a fan of amps utilising SMPS, the Hypex is a class D. I do have the KEF L50 speaker and partnering this amp with a Yamaha AVR RX-A3080 is a disaster. Total mud. Switched to a classic AB amp with bipolar outputs, lots of damping factor and good current ability, Accuphase E-450, OK bit OTTP, but illustrates the example. Far better, the speaker's resolution was a lot better. See also this thread at AS on selecting a suitable amp for the LS50.

 

I don't have any experience with Pi setups, of those at AS have changed to something better, well the experience is positive. Cost plays a major difference unfortunately. A  Gishelli labs pro DAC is inexpensive and works very well, but it needs a linear power supply at a higher cost than the DAC itself, is limited to 192 input PCM, needs a USB to coax/TOS converter not sure if the OP has DSD playback to consider. 

For an all in one DAC, Denafrips, Schiit have a wide range of well reviewed DACs, still a heap to choose from. 

 

Playing from a PC also has limits, with USB outputs need re-clocking, more cost.

 

Rather than add bits here and there, save a little more and venture to an Ethernet solution direct with a Lumin streamer T2, D2 with built in streaming functions and DAC of very good quality. The Lumin has very good interfaces that can team up with just about anything and can be fitted anywhere. Models don't change much, and I don't see them listed for sale much online either. Users usually sell their Lumin, to buy a higher up model instead :) 

 

Room : Stands for the KEF, distance apart, furnishings, window locations, reflections a whole science there. There's a thread on Reddit that deals with LS50 stands even for desktop use, worth a read on behaviour and removing that confused sound. The LS-50 are very capable speakers, would keep them for sure and work backwards.

 

Good luck


AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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18 hours ago, sandyk said:

 

 Before jumping right in , perhaps you could try a Valve Buffer stage between the DAC and Power Amplifier first ?

 The thread at the attached link may be worth reading too. 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/musical-fidelity-x-10v3-tube-output-buffer-1

 

I have tried the Yaqin SD-CD3 tube buffer with the original Chinese tubes, and with Matched Pair Psvane UK-6SN7 HIFI series Vacuum Tubes in the pre-amp tape loop. The tubes were worth more than the buffer itself.

 

There was just too much audible distortion and none of the pleasing tube warmth that is supposed to be there. The PSVANE certainly are cleaner, but the distortion is very noticeable. Same with ifi iTube which fared worse, attributable to the built in SMPS to create the B+ as well as the iPower SMPS that feeds the iTube.

 

The buffer is now used ifrom the pre-amp's tape out circuit to a Grace Design m903, re-purposed as an XLR out that's hard wired to several Ruark Line in inputs on radios around the house. Could be the distortion is not so noticeable and is masked by the speaker's inability to be a hi fi speaker :) 


AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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19 hours ago, al2813 said:

I know this is not a strictly DAC question, but my DAC is part of it, hence posting here ūüôā

 

I have just completed my room setup which is now becoming my main music listening post. I ditched the living room which will now remain as a TV + occasional listening post. My room is an attic of about 5.5 x 3 meters in 2 levels. The lower level is which is the listening area, is about 3,5 x 3 meters. The setup I have now is: 

 

Hypex Ncore HP250MP x 2 dual mono power amp

Topping D50s DAC 

Raspberry pi 4 - Ropieee XL used as Roon bridge 

KEF LS50 speakers 

 

I do not consider myself as an audiophile. Am still a starter in this and i don't think I have the hearing and the experience to be on. Yet, this is the first setup I've had that I believe allows me to critically listen to music recordings. And I want to take it further. I was first considering to upgrade my DAC, but after a lot of reading, I am starting to get the feeling I will not achieve a lot in upgrading the DAC (happy to hear different opinions with recommendations). On the other hand I hear a lot about adding a tube preamp that can give this setup a bit of "analogue magic". This is something I have zero experience with and happy to get some recommendations. I have no budget defined yet, but as you can see from the rest of my setup, I am a big fan of spending reasonable amount for items that can delivery above thier weight. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had LS50's  about a year ago. They sounded better with the Prima Luna tube amp than the MOSFET modified Hafler DH200. So you may want to try a tube amp instead of your SS (Class D?) amp


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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I'd try a different digital source first, a CD player/laptop/tv. Also try an analog source if poss. If no improvement, your amp/speaker combo is the problem. 

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20 hours ago, al2813 said:

I know this is not a strictly DAC question, but my DAC is part of it, hence posting here ūüôā

 

I have just completed my room setup which is now becoming my main music listening post. I ditched the living room which will now remain as a TV + occasional listening post. My room is an attic of about 5.5 x 3 meters in 2 levels. The lower level is which is the listening area, is about 3,5 x 3 meters. The setup I have now is: 

 

Hypex Ncore HP250MP x 2 dual mono power amp

Topping D50s DAC 

Raspberry pi 4 - Ropieee XL used as Roon bridge 

KEF LS50 speakers 

 

I do not consider myself as an audiophile. Am still a starter in this and i don't think I have the hearing and the experience to be on. Yet, this is the first setup I've had that I believe allows me to critically listen to music recordings. And I want to take it further. I was first considering to upgrade my DAC, but after a lot of reading, I am starting to get the feeling I will not achieve a lot in upgrading the DAC (happy to hear different opinions with recommendations). On the other hand I hear a lot about adding a tube preamp that can give this setup a bit of "analogue magic". This is something I have zero experience with and happy to get some recommendations. I have no budget defined yet, but as you can see from the rest of my setup, I am a big fan of spending reasonable amount for items that can delivery above thier weight. 

 

9 hours ago, al2813 said:

you are right of course so will try to define better. I believe my setup is doing well when the music is acoustic - when it׳s more electric going  to more rock, I like it less. Just earlier someone referred to this as pace. maybe it’s that. 

 

Cool setup there!

I had the Topping D50 before. I'd say it's a good value DAC‚ÄĒgood clarity, wide but not very deep sound stage.¬†It's probably competitive up to 2-3x its price.

 

The bass in D50 is lacking, no wonder you like it less with electric and rock music. When I bought Questyle CMA600i, it was as if the bass came out to play...the sub came alive. I also disliked the upper mids/lower treble of D50 when played loud, it gets a shouty/piercing/strident. Also, the USB input is really poor, SPDIF is audibly better (maybe consider an SPDIF hat on your Pi?)

 

My experience with LS50 is that it can get shouty with certain DAC or amps (usually British), especially when played loud. Add the D50 and Hypex, I would assume you've got a lean, fast, tight sound, not a lot of body, weak bass, and a tendency to shoutiness at loud volumes (correct me if I'm wrong). 

 

For rock music, some grit and crunch sounds great. Tubes could possibly provide that, as well as add body and some sweetness for other music... but it is not going to bring out the bass. I'd suggest either a subwoofer (depending on room size and whether you want to keep the D50), or upgrade the DAC (in the range of >$700). In my case, I bought a subwoofer first as my speakers are too small for bass, then upgraded DAC to Questyle and finally to COS H1 now.

 

Recently I also placed an pre-order for Nelson Pass's¬†Korg¬†Nutube¬†B1 DIY kit to add a little tube magic.¬†ūü§©

 

To provide a little context, my setup:

COS H1 (bright & airy DAC) > Nuforce STA200 (bright & sweet amp) & Adam Sub7 > Audience Ones (bright & airy speakers).

 

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After some thought... why not change to LS50W. It is really good. I used to dislike LS50 (the shoutiness), until I heard the LS50W. You can sell off the Pi, DAC, and amp...and use LS50W as Roon endpoint.

Go audition it if you have the chance.¬†ūüėČ

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11 hours ago, al2813 said:


happy to audition a DAC with a better pre amp capability.  Can you recommend one?

Gustard A20H - if you can get an audition with return capability. This is smooth, detailed, modern and sufficiently dynamic. To my ears, more analog in presentation and more natural in tone than the D50.

 

But I think your speakers deserve something exceptional in a DAC, If you are using USB, from what I have read the Schiit Bifrost 2 may be a good match to the KEF's. Also imho this DAC represents some really impressive technology, being multi-bit and user up-gradeable. Possible end-game for many audiophiles, but there are some limitations such as no DSD input.

 

I guess you are using digital volume control currently. Are you using Roon volume control (I hear that is pretty good), or the D50s volume control? How much attenuation are you applying? ( the DAC or software may say something like -18 db..) . This info may help the more qualified folks here make some suggestions.

 

Tubes preamps are nice, but truly can be an expensive rabbit hole, and it still is nice to have a solid state option available also, such as the Schiit Freya + offers. That way, you do not really need to have the perfect set of tubes, as you always have a good SS section to fall back on. I have been looking at tube preamps for the past few years also, and it seems most pure tube pre's neutral enough to be a "daily driver" are around/over 2000 USD.

 

I have a D50 also (with LT3045 regulated LPS). In my system, the D50 was really nice (almost tubey) in the vocals, but low-mids kind of artificial, and highs not as refined as the A20H. If you haven't yet, you can try a battery power supply with the D50, I think in your system you may hear a change.

 

I have a nice tube buffer (Black Ice by Jolida - Foz SS-X), but do not think it would be a good match with a D50. It does not have a bypass or volume control, but is amazingly clear and open with a vintage RCA clear top (very good with the stock new Tung-Sol tube also). The Foz with a clean passive preamp offers a tube sound much more to my preferences than a few other economy tube preamps I have had in my system recently.

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2 hours ago, One and a half said:

 

As audiophiles, vibration is kept to a minimum for anything, turntables, preamps, amps, speakers, yet this is a complete 180 degrees to an active speaker, let alone the Class D and the SMPS to further sink the boot in. Why not add bluetooth/Wi-Fi to create the Trifecta.

 

Or the other possibility is that much of that stuff makes very little difference, and audiophiles obsess over something marginal that exists all or mostly in their minds. Thus actives can sound very good. 


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Wow a lot of new answers since last night. And as in many other cases as many opinions as responses ūüôā¬†

I am not a big fan of active speakers as good as the ls50w may be (and as expensive - the difference in price now is significant). I like the jigsaw of components I can swap from time to time ūüôā

 

I think I will try with a better DAC. I am currently debating between the danafrips Ares 2 and the Gustard. Schiit is an issue at the moment as it is impossible to get them in Europe (Schiit has currently almost zero stock in Europe). 

 

 

 

 

 

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forgot to say - yes I do need DSD support. I have a small library, but I want to grow it, and I am looking to get a BD player that will allow me to play and rip SACDs. 

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14 minutes ago, al2813 said:

forgot to say - yes I do need DSD support. I have a small library, but I want to grow it, and I am looking to get a BD player that will allow me to play and rip SACDs. 

 

Just remember that these are older players and may not be so easy to get hold of.


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 28-06-2020

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36 minutes ago, al2813 said:

Wow a lot of new answers since last night. And as in many other cases as many opinions as responses ūüôā¬†

I am not a big fan of active speakers as good as the ls50w may be (and as expensive - the difference in price now is significant). I like the jigsaw of components I can swap from time to time ūüôā

 

I think I will try with a better DAC. I am currently debating between the danafrips Ares 2 and the Gustard. Schiit is an issue at the moment as it is impossible to get them in Europe (Schiit has currently almost zero stock in Europe). 

 

 

 

 

 

You might consider iFi's products as well. I've preferred them over the Schiit products at similar prices.


Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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8 hours ago, andrewinukm said:

You can sell off the Pi, DAC, and amp...and use LS50W as Roon endpoint.

Roon 1.3 will now recognize the LS50W as an endpoint.  This is new - earlier versions did not.  They won’t play DSD or DoP, if that’s a problem for you. But they do handle up to 24/192 and sound mighty fine.
 

I think there’s a KEF app that lets you stream your files up to 192k directly to the Ws, but I don’t know anything about it.

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55 minutes ago, bluesman said:

Roon 1.3 will now recognize the LS50W as an endpoint.  This is new - earlier versions did not.  They won’t play DSD or DoP, if that’s a problem for you. But they do handle up to 24/192 and sound mighty fine.
 

I think there’s a KEF app that lets you stream your files up to 192k directly to the Ws, but I don’t know anything about it.

You can use any UPnP app to stream 192k files to LS50Ws - I use BubbleUPnP.


System (i): (Stack Audio Link/MoOde > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodec/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/Allo USB Signature/MoOde > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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6 hours ago, al2813 said:

Wow a lot of new answers since last night. And as in many other cases as many opinions as responses ūüôā¬†

I am not a big fan of active speakers as good as the ls50w may be (and as expensive - the difference in price now is significant). I like the jigsaw of components I can swap from time to time ūüôā

 

I think I will try with a better DAC. I am currently debating between the danafrips Ares 2 and the Gustard. Schiit is an issue at the moment as it is impossible to get them in Europe (Schiit has currently almost zero stock in Europe). 

Ah I see. That's really a shame (I feel the same for myself too). If I had started with nothing, I'd probably go with the LS50W, but I'm also too emotionally invested in my various components X^D. The LS50 Wireless is really really excellent for the price. In any case, if you happen to walk past a KEF dealer, just pop in for an listen. No harm listening and expanding your horizon. 

 

Someone mentioned iFi. The iDSD Black Label is a very good sounding DAC, lots of clarity. Definitely worth auditioning. I also love the Mytek sound, maybe try out the Mytek Liberty as well.

 

As usual, listen before buying. 

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