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Fatigue free listening


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On 7/25/2020 at 8:57 AM, Rexp said:

Digititus, fatigue, glare, the feeling you just want to turn the music off after a while to give your ears a break. Now not everone suffers from this but its the biggest problem with digital playback for most folks. One way to alleviate the problem is to listen to lo-res, quite a few members prefer Spotify to Tidal/Qobuz for example. I've gone back to using the headphone out of my laptop rather than external DACs cos, although its lower res, it doesn't make my ears bleed. Any more solutions out there? 

 

Before blaming the recordings I would look into the DAC, amplification and speakers/headphones as most likely suspects.

 

Can you describe your system?

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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9 hours ago, Rexp said:

I've just stated I've demmed many hi-end digital sources and found them fatiguing and your response is to say no they are not? 

 

Then move the focus on to amplification or transduction.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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36 minutes ago, Rexp said:

I've narrowed the problem down to the digital source or source material as when I plug a tape deck in there is zero fatigue. 

 

Digital could still be exacerbating a particular issue downstream that is inaudible wiith tape due to the characteristics of the latter.

 

Have you tried comparing streaming vs local (f.e. CD)?

 

 

It would be very helpful if you described your system.

"Science draws the wave, poetry fills it with water" Teixeira de Pascoaes

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7 minutes ago, semente said:

 

Digital could still be exacerbating a particular issue downstream that is inaudible wiith tape due to the characteristics of the latter.

 

Have you tried comparing streaming vs local (f.e. CD)?

 

 

It would be very helpful if you described your system.

I'm starting from scratch to build a second system in a different country, so far I picked up some cheap powered Edifier speakers that sound ok. 

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It's all about RFI/EMI noise affecting the DAC ...more specifically its final D/A conversion from bits to volts that needs to be free of RF noise.  Deviations in the DACs output clock and reference voltage will perturb the output waveform. These are caused by even impossibly small levels of RFI/EMI coming from digital devices, switch mode supplies, the AC mains, etc to impinge on the DAC. More RF noise = worse SQ and more fatigue. Our ear/brain only relents and relaxes to digital music when the DAC output is as RF noise free as possible ...well below what we can measure. Otherwise we all 'feel' the fatigue. I know all this to be true because I continue to research these boundaries and provide products and honest information. Here's a few good tips:

- Use batteries to isolate the digital components from analog components.  They are low noise and good sink for conducted RF noise. I recommend the Goal Zero lithium batteries - affordable and available on Amazon.

- Use components with DC power inputs because this makes RF noise easier to tame. Add supplemental RF noise filters on DC power.

- Use optical signal connections.  (Toslink or OPTO-DX for Chord DACs).  Modern DACs are 100% immune to jitter as the input and output clocks are independent. 

- Use highly shielded cables.  For coax, look for 95dB or higher 'screening factor' from Belden. For power, look for triple shielded power from Gotham.  And also go as short as possible.

- Stop the pathways for RF noise at source and DAC.  Use physical distance between Source and DAC components. Use aggressive RF-STOP shielding (like what I provide).

 

Finally...Don't compromise. RF is insidious and gets in through any and all metal conductors.  Your final system may look like a science project but it will provide phenomenally transparent SQ from any recording regardless of bitrate.

 

Dan

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, dmance said:

It's all about RFI/EMI noise affecting the DAC ...more specifically its final D/A conversion from bits to volts that needs to be free of RF noise.  Deviations in the DACs output clock and reference voltage will perturb the output waveform. These are caused by even impossibly small levels of RFI/EMI coming from digital devices, switch mode supplies, the AC mains, etc to impinge on the DAC. More RF noise = worse SQ and more fatigue. Our ear/brain only relents and relaxes to digital music when the DAC output is as RF noise free as possible ...well below what we can measure. Otherwise we all 'feel' the fatigue. I know all this to be true because I continue to research these boundaries and provide products and honest information.

 

 

Good post. Most don't appreciate how critical this is - in these Covid times, the phrase "deep cleaning" is thrown around to describe what one has to do to be 100% or as close as possible to such, to ensure no transmission of bad stuff - and with digital playback this is so, so true. If one achieves a high level of isolation in audio playback at some point in the journey, then the return of this nasty, very distinctive gremlin via some route is most obvious. Persistence in dealing with every possible "entry point" is essential - we are a long way still from an easy, off the shelf "fix it".

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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11 hours ago, Rexp said:

I'm starting from scratch to build a second system in a different country, so far I picked up some cheap powered Edifier speakers that sound ok. 

 

This may be simplistic, but the most effective change I made when I was tracking down noise and bad sound, was to have a dedicated electrical line installed.  Some systems also respond well to a transformer isolation unit to feed all equipment.  These need not be expensive.  

 

I always think a budget is best served by purchasing used gear from a reliable, trusted source (The Music Room comes to mind) that tests the equipment before putting it on the market.  

 

In my experience, there are high-end dealers with great equipment that sounds quite bad.  Some of these places have little idea how to set up a system and some haven't played the speakers long enough to fully burn them in.  I've heard my own speakers sound underwhelming at a high-end shop.  

 

Since you have already settled on speakers, you might want to ask folks specifically about gear that best serves those speakers and give them idea of your upward limit on budget.  Good luck.  Hopefully, you will find the search is fun.  

Mola Mola Tambaqui / Kubala-Sosna XLR / Mola Mola Kaluga / KS biwire / B&W 803 D3

Ethernet:  iMac/Roon > ... in-wall 5e ... > Sonore opticalModule [Sonore 5V LPS] > UpTone EtherREGEN + Cybershaft OP13 [UpTone JS-2 LPS] > Tambaqui ( = DAC/Roon Endpoint/preamp)

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22 hours ago, Rexp said:

I'm starting from scratch again, what source do you suggest I demo for as little money as possible? 

If I were starting all over again and wanted a one box solution inclusive of good power supply, I'd go with the Innuos Zen MK III

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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Ironically, the only time I've experienced fatigue was with a very expensive cable between by server and my DAC.  You might check this.

 

On building a low fatigue, inexpensive system--I'd go with a stripped down Mac Mini with Amarra, a DAC from Schiit to fit your budget, a $600 amp from Schiit or NAD, and a pair of lower end B&Ws or KEFs for $1K or so.  

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19 hours ago, Rexp said:

I've narrowed the problem down to the digital source or source material as when I plug a tape deck in there is zero fatigue. 

Rightio then, the source and transmission from the pre-amp\amp forward is the problem. 

 

Some cures, you probably already know

 

a) PC to DAC distance >60'

b) USB fixer with linear supply

c) USB cables

d) Clean media server (availability like rocking horse poo)

e) Ethernet PCIe treatment

 

B) & C) too many combinations, no idea on where to start, budgeting, let alone to decide on the components. No DAC is immune to the source, so this is the hardest challenge.

If music files are 48/44.1kHz only, the choice of DAC is critical as not all DACs convert these two sample rates with authority and control.

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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12 hours ago, PeterG said:

Ironically, the only time I've experienced fatigue was with a very expensive cable between by server and my DAC.  You might check this.

 

On building a low fatigue, inexpensive system--I'd go with a stripped down Mac Mini with Amarra, a DAC from Schiit to fit your budget, a $600 amp from Schiit or NAD, and a pair of lower end B&Ws or KEFs for $1K or so.  

Thanks, I'm looking to get a source that I can demo at a shop. 

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The problem with listening fatigue is that it can come from multiple places. But DAC and source are the biggest variables IME. Even though I've been hammering down that "nail" for several years its still crops up occasionally. I'm very much enjoying now how using a Chord Mojo for oversampling  to 706/768 further refines, smooths out low level nagging irritants that contribute  to listening fatigue vs  the  2 NOS DAC's I had before where oversampling just didn't change that much.

 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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In my own experience, the biggest culprit that cause fatigue is generally the room, unless of course, there's something fundamentally wrong with the hifi system itself.
Untreated rooms and badly positioned/placed speakers can create a lot of problems in this regard. 

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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I tried DAC after DAC until I found one that allowed me to enjoy music for extended listening.  No amount of tweaking before or after the DAC helped in my experience.

Roon Rock->Auralic Aria G2->Schiit Yggdrasil A2->McIntosh C47->McIntosh MC301 Monos->Wilson Audio Sabrinas

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If you are using actively powered speakers are you certain that whatever you feed them post DAC isn't just being run through another internal DAC in the speaker that may make irrelevant everything that comes before them?  

Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO P4000 Win10>Qobuz+Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>DSD512> Fiber Switch>Ultrarendu (NAA)>SMSL M500 DAC> Bryston SP3 pre>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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14 hours ago, sdolezalek said:

If you are using actively powered speakers are you certain that whatever you feed them post DAC isn't just being run through another internal DAC in the speaker that may make irrelevant everything that comes before them?  

They have both analog and digital inputs but quite a few folks prefer an analog source even using digital speakers like mine. 

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Only some active speakers have DSP or a DAC inside.
I have been listening to my active ATC speakers for over two decades.
I just connect my DAC (with analog volume control) directly to the ATC and enjoy fatigue free sound for hours every day.

Audirvana+3.0 / TIDAL HiFi / Mac Mini (256GB SSD - 16GB RAM)

Lindemann Musicbook: 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL

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2 hours ago, mevdinc said:

Only some active speakers have DSP or a DAC inside.
I have been listening to my active ATC speakers for over two decades.
I just connect my DAC (with analog volume control) directly to the ATC and enjoy fatigue free sound for hours every day.

Do you upsample redbook to DSD using software? 

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