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High Dynamic Performance in Digital: Search Continues


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So, my digital journey has been stalled for the last 2 years. I haven't been able to find a DAC / source which is able to reproduce the high, lifelike dynamics of my turntable setup. With each digital upgrade -- from DAC, to source, to power, etc -- more layers of grime were removed, clarity, definition and microdetail retrieval went further. However, nothing improved dynamics, the feel of real-life music. So, I don't know where to take it at this point. My last attempt was a big-tube rectified DAC, and while this DAC was pleasing in several ways it didn't help dynamics.

 

So, what's next? Ygdrassil? Nagra? I looked at the May and someone who reviewed here made it sound like it was usual no-dynamics digital. Is this just the end of the digital road and I'll have no choice but to stick with analog? 

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Might be the end of dig for you which is fine or at least at this point.  Nothing wrong with that.  It would seem you have already answered your question and the preference for a TT is stated. 

 

If you have matched the quality of dig sources + signal path to that of your analog, then it might be easiest to sell the dig end and continue to put the $ and effort into just the analog.  You may very well just prefer a TT rig and throwing $ at a server or more DAC's isn't going to solve anything.

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Perhaps you just need to run your digital files through something like this:

 

https://www.izotope.com/en/products/vinyl.html

 

Quote

Vinyl - The ultimate lo-fi weapon

 

Vintage Character - Vinyl simulates the dust, scratches, warp, and mechanical noise reminiscent of yesteryear for FREE.

 

Authentic, old-school audio aging - Perfect for music production and audio post, Vinyl lets you control each nostalgic element independently, giving you all the vintage turntable sounds you love.

 

 

👺

 

Everything matters... when brewing coffee.

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My Naim Uniti Core server and Yggdrasil are good competition for a turntable.  So yes, I think you should try a Yggy.

 

One other important issue is source material.  If you have not done so already, you should check out the dynamic range database.  That may be part of your problem.

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A couple of things to think about ... the enemy of good sound in digital is unnecessary complexity; and interference, noise artifacts. Complexity introduces, so easily, internally generated interference effects - hence, simplifying can sometimes be the key thing to do.

 

My approach would be to assemble, or organise a rig which has absolutely the least number of components in it, the bare minimum to get sound out - and do everything one can to reduce all sources of interference to zero: switch off, disconnect everything electrical that you have control over; and add the best power conditioning, filtering you can muster ... and listen. If such a setup delivers the SQ you're after, then you've got some answers ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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9 hours ago, PeterG said:

My Naim Uniti Core server and Yggdrasil are good competition for a turntable.  So yes, I think you should try a Yggy.

 

One other important issue is source material.  If you have not done so already, you should check out the dynamic range database.  That may be part of your problem.

Given the designer of the Yiggy believes his upcoming CD transport provides the best digital he ever heard, might be best to wait for that. 

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22 hours ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

Try [email protected] or higher if you want to approach a SNR closer to (potential) DR of vinyl.......then buy a DAC that can handle it.

 

One bit of amplitude resolution buys you about 6 dB of dynamic range, 16 bits equals 96 dB. Loudest signals will get full resolution. Softer signals, so I am told (Barry Diament), will lose resolution such that if the average level is -18 dB you will have only 13 bit resolution. Things like harmonics and low-level detail may be considerably down in level and resolutions of only 10 bits or less. So the real dynamic range may not be 96 dB, not at full resolution anyway.

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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23 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

One bit of amplitude resolution buys you about 6 dB of dynamic range, 16 bits equals 96 dB. Loudest signals will get full resolution. Softer signals, so I am told (Barry Diament), will lose resolution such that if the average level is -18 dB you will have only 13 bit resolution. Things like harmonics and low-level detail may be considerably down in level and resolutions of only 10 bits or less. So the real dynamic range may not be 96 dB, not at full resolution anyway.

Doubt it, I have 16/44 recordings on vinyl that sound plenty dynamic and as good as analog recordings. 

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6 minutes ago, Rexp said:

Doubt it, I have 16/44 recordings on vinyl that sound plenty dynamic and as good as analog recordings. 

 

I think the implication is that they can be dynamic, just not well resolved and therefore not having smooth transitions, affecting timbre et cetera. I am getting out of my wheelhouse but an analogy might be that of a photograph that has two tones or shades, black and white (no grey shades). It still has huge contrast and dynamic range but not the subtleties of resolution between those two shades. The latter is an extreme example obviously

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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There is objective dynamic range - and then there's the subjective impression of the presentation being dynamic. Digital is notorious for failing at the latter, no matter what the numbers say - IME distortion artifacts which nobody is able to, or wants to, capture numbers for are responsible for this situation ... I have my methods for resolving this, but the good news is that the industry does seem to getting closer to producing off the shelf solutions, even though very few seem to understand, still, what's going on ...

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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53 minutes ago, fas42 said:

There is objective dynamic range - and then there's the subjective impression of the presentation being dynamic. Digital is notorious for failing at the latter, no matter what the numbers say - IME distortion artifacts which nobody is able to, or wants to, capture numbers for are responsible for this situation ... I have my methods for resolving this, but the good news is that the industry does seem to getting closer to producing off the shelf solutions, even though very few seem to understand, still, what's going on ...

 

What do you think are the main culprits for causing IME distortion?

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Also, my digital chain currently:

Custom PC with an i7 and consumer motherboard. Completely fanless. Linear PSU from China. USB-SATA splitter cable to isolate SSD power from the data connection. For maximum quality I run the SSD power off a USB battery, otherwise I run it to a USB charger in another room. Paul Pang USB controller (one with the OCXO) run off another USB battery which seems to be better than a linear PSU.

 

At this moment have my Holo Cyan DSD-only DAC but for a while I ran a big bottle rectified tube DAC from a Canadian company Space-Tech Labs. I think I busted it, heavy distortion -- would tubes cause this? I don't have any spare tubes of these types. I also busted by USB cable, another one is arriving tomorrow.

 

Source is either the audio PC mentioned above running Roon + Fidelizer Pro + HQPlayer or a Chinese CD player acting as a transport. Can't run the best filters because the passive cooler on the i7 isn't enough to stop it from throttling under load. The CD player's old DAC and tube stage is pretty mushy and unresolving so I use it exclusively as a transport either with RCA or optical depending on the DAC I'm using. 

 

As for power, the PC's linear PSU is plugged into a normal wall out in the listening room. The DAC is plugged into one of those cheap Chinese balanced transformers you can find on Aliexpress for a few hundred and well worth it if you can't afford a high end power solution IMO, a significant upgrade.

 

 

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21 hours ago, Rexp said:

Given the designer of the Yiggy believes his upcoming CD transport provides the best digital he ever heard, might be best to wait for that. 

Interesting.  So I googled it, but can't find anything.  Say more!  It's hard for me to imagine a CD transport being able to exceed a lossless rip onto an excellent server.  Shouldn't the rip eliminate timing issues and a whole bunch of noise with no tradeoff in the other direction?  Plus, no comparison on the convenience factor.

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On 8/30/2020 at 2:58 AM, GUTB said:

So, my digital journey has been stalled for the last 2 years. I haven't been able to find a DAC / source which is able to reproduce the high, lifelike dynamics of my turntable setup. With each digital upgrade -- from DAC, to source, to power, etc -- more layers of grime were removed, clarity, definition and microdetail retrieval went further. However, nothing improved dynamics, the feel of real-life music. So, I don't know where to take it at this point. My last attempt was a big-tube rectified DAC, and while this DAC was pleasing in several ways it didn't help dynamics.

 

So, what's next? Ygdrassil? Nagra? I looked at the May and someone who reviewed here made it sound like it was usual no-dynamics digital. Is this just the end of the digital road and I'll have no choice but to stick with analog? 

From your later post it appears you are using an SSD in your 1 box USB  server solution? I found SSD/SDXC to be a false trail used in a USB endpoint for media drive, brighter, thin on midrange detail compared to NAS SMB access.  The only real difference I note between vinyl and digital is that vinyl never irritates

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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36 minutes ago, PeterG said:

Interesting.  So I googled it, but can't find anything.  Say more!  It's hard for me to imagine a CD transport being able to exceed a lossless rip onto an excellent server.  Shouldn't the rip eliminate timing issues and a whole bunch of noise with no tradeoff in the other direction?  Plus, no comparison on the convenience factor.

You can read his comments here:

https://audiophilestyle.com/profile/23488-baldr/

 

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1 hour ago, davide256 said:

From your later post it appears you are using an SSD in your 1 box USB  server solution? I found SSD/SDXC to be a false trail used in a USB endpoint for media drive, brighter, thin on midrange detail compared to NAS SMB access.  The only real difference I note between vinyl and digital is that vinyl never irritates

 

Did you need to mess with network cable conditioning / isolation to get that outcome?

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2 hours ago, GUTB said:

 

What do you think are the main culprits for causing IME distortion?

 

IME, as in, In My Experience 🙂, the distortion/noise that is ultimately heard in, and degrading the subjective sound originates from imperfect mains power waveform; static noise as in plastic rubbing on plastic or other materials; and contact noise where cables are used for mechanically connecting parts of the rig.

 

My current, very good value for money digital speakers have close to zero, external, connectors, with only optical cable joining the two components; I have taken very great care in making sure the least amount of static could be generated by having any two surfaces which are prone to static touching each other; and I'm working on filtering out any noise in the mains waveform right now. So far, what I've done is giving me highly satisfactory SQ, in spite of the low cost of the setup 🙂.

Frank

 

http://artofaudioconjuring.blogspot.com/

 

 

Over and out.

.

 

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2 hours ago, GUTB said:

 

Did you need to mess with network cable conditioning / isolation to get that outcome?

Not really. I made the switch to NAS when I was still using a TPLink switch, experimenting with Audio-linux and Euphony a year ago. Using a NAS was what made

the timbre of woodwind instruments sound tonally complete versus sketched in. The Etherregen came later, helped with enhancing clarity of background instruments,

making them "pop" instead of muttering in the background, helped reduce subliminal irritants also.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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32 minutes ago, davide256 said:

Not really. I made the switch to NAS when I was still using a TPLink switch, experimenting with Audio-linux and Euphony a year ago. Using a NAS was what made

the timbre of woodwind instruments sound tonally complete versus sketched in. The Etherregen came later, helped with enhancing clarity of background instruments,

making them "pop" instead of muttering in the background, helped reduce subliminal irritants also.

 

Interesting. Is this configuration  diskless, ie, booting from the NAS?

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18 hours ago, GUTB said:

 

Interesting. Is this configuration  diskless, ie, booting from the NAS?

No disks in the server, server boot is off internal optane as a HD. I really couldn’t hear a difference between USB stick boot vs Optane but the boot speed difference made it a no brainer to boot off Optane. 

Have always  found the dynamic range issues for vinyl and digital to be polar opposites. Vinyl can fall apart or be compressed at peak passages because of groove wall spacing issues, pity more recordings aren’t variably spaced based on loudness like early Mercury recordings. Digital recordings do loud very well but can easily lose definition on accompanying softer instruments if everything in the source/DAC chain isn’t optimized

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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