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Article: Review | Buchardt Audio A500 Speaker System


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On 11/21/2020 at 9:10 PM, bobfa said:

Maybe it never ends!

On 11/22/2020 at 1:14 AM, firedog said:

Bob, just a suggestion: you need to find something you are happy with and stop the FOMO.

 

It will never end because it is a hobby. That means it will be a continuing process of exploration and discovery rather than to reach a final goal.

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6 minutes ago, RichardSF said:

 

It will never end because it is a hobby. That means it will be a continuing process of exploration and discovery rather than to reach a final goal.

I was trying to be funny in some ways. What you say is true!  

 

I still have this feeling that I am very close to where I should be, value wise, at least.  And I am over the moon in SQ vs Price right now.   Simplicity is not quite there yet.  Looks in the living room, still a little ways to go there.

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On 11/24/2020 at 2:22 PM, copy_of_a said:

Anyway... just wanted to say, with regard to sound quality, I am as amazed as you what these little boxes are capable of.

Since I moved I've been looking for new (smaller) speakers for the new living room.

The S400 got my attention due to the passive radiator and the wave guide which, in essence, makes positioning of the speakers much less critical. Listening to these little speakers in fact doesn't require to find a sweet spot at the listening position.

It is good to hear your experience with the S400 speakers.  Sounds like there is a great family resemblance.  

 

I am still working on placement of my speakers.  I have to try the Mastertunings that is done to move them closer to the front wall.  I still have a lot to learn about setting these up.

 

 

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11 hours ago, bobfa said:

It is good to hear your experience with the S400 speakers.  Sounds like there is a great family resemblance. 

Should be … the A500 are actually the active variant of the S400 and they share main design decisions.

 

11 hours ago, bobfa said:

I am still working on placement of my speakers.  I have to try the Mastertunings that is done to move them closer to the front wall.  I still have a lot to learn about setting these up.

The DSP options are for sure fun and rewarding to play with! I’ve quickly read through Burchardts infos - and with joy through your very nice review! 👍 - and I think it’s a really very well thought out system.

I think it makes sense to fine tune the sound / positioning after the recommended break in time span. The 100 hours Burchardt refers to sound reasonable to me. The speakers (well, at least the S400) change their sound so much within the first 20-30 hours and after that they continue to sound warmer and richer, the bass gets bigger and the imaging gets more refined.

 

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On 11/20/2020 at 2:30 AM, bobfa said:

Ted,

 

Thanks for the note.  I am sort of casual in what I do.   We have to have fun with it.  And there is a surprise coming in the next couple of weeks! 

 

I am starting a thread on the site in a bit discussing all of the software issues with related equipment that I had trouble with this summer. Roon and everybody else.

 

Bob

 

 

Bob,

I have the A500 and I am thoroughly happy with it. I really appreciated your review and I really like your writing style... quite different and refreshing!  

 

Can you please tell me why you did not try and report on the A500 built in DSP room correction?

I did read where you state that your Auralic Altair G1 offers room correction. But that would only be relevant to those who have an Altair G1.... nd since this is a review of the A500/hub, and since the DSP room correction is a featured option of this system (Mads is quite thrilled with it) that many would use.... not reviewing it seems like an oversight. 

 

Please allow me to correct something that you wrote. You said that the room correction works on frequencies 300Hz and below. Mads told me that it functions from 400Hz and below. And this can clearly be seen on the graph after the correction is done.

Please know, however, that you are not the only one to make a mistake in regards to this. Another reviewer said that it functions on frequencies 500Hz and below. 

 

You mention that there is a ''surprise coming in a few weeks.''

Are you, by any chance, referring to the new Buchardt proprietary hub? This hub, according to Mads will have improved WiSA functioning, a seriously improved preamp for even better sound quality, its own DAC and several other improvements. It will also allow for the hub to be directly XLR connected to the A500 speakers. 

As with the present hub, the price when purchased with the speakers will be significantly lower than the price if purchased separately.  

However for those who already have the present hub, they will be able to purchase the new one for the lower price (as if it were purchased with the speakers)... AND they will be offered a further discount equal to the amount that they paid for the present hub. 

 

But I was told that this won't be available for about 6 months, so perhaps you were not referring to this as the ''surprise.'' 

 

What I WAS told, is that in the next few weeks a manually operated EQ function will be added to the Buchardt hub for those who wish to further refine the room correction to their own tastes. 

Buchardt are also going to release a proprietary microphone for the room correction. But I find that my iPhone 6S works perfectly well for effecting the correction so I don't think I will be purchasing it. But I will definitely be buying the new hub when it comes out.

 

Thanks again for the great review!

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9 hours ago, mikicasellas said:

Hi Bob, 

Great report !

 

From what i read, you did not need your Ryzen server anymore, just streaming from apps to the HUB ?

 

Regards

I still have my Ryzen Roon Server running.  I am waiting for two systems to get Roon Certified to see what this does for me and to re-evaluate Roon.  I want the Dutch and Dutch 8Cs and the Hangsong Hub working!

 

I use my Altair G1 a lot.  Some of the Google Cast and Airplay streaming tools.  I have trouble with Qobuz to the Hub and some of the same issues with Audirvana.  

 

I am still driving to eliminate extra hardware in the system.  It would be really interesting to not need the Altair G1.  

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29 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

I have the A500 and I am thoroughly happy with it. I really appreciated your review and I really like your writing style... quite different and refreshing!  

I wrote the review to follow along my 45 day journey.  I had a lot of fun with that, and it felt like the right thing to do!  

 

32 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

You mention that there is a ''surprise coming in a few weeks.''

That is what surprises are, things to keep you guessing..

33 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

Can you please tell me why you did not try and report on the A500 built in DSP room correction?

I actually did run the room correction.  In the time I had available I did not get a good understanding of what it did.  I will be going back and working with it some more.  I think that part of the problem is IOS14 beta that I was running at the time.  I noted that another reviewer was having trouble.  I did not want to short-shrift the feature.

 

 

I switch between using my Altair G1 and the Hansong Hub to really get the feeling of what is going on with those two paths.  I am waiting for some software updates to the hub that I hope will fix some of the issues I found.  (that is under a separate thread, about software in general.  Summer of Software Stress)

 

There is much more to come.

 

bob

 

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1 hour ago, bobfa said:

How are you listening to the A500?  What software?  I am REALLY interested.

 

Ok, I understand why you didn't report on the DSD room correction. 

 

I am not sure I understand the question about what software I am using. The software for the room correction is the Buchardt app which works well for me. 

 

My set-up is as follows: MacMini with Pure Music (local library), Tidal, Audirvana (local library and Tidal) > A500 hub via USB cable or Wifi then WiSA out to the speakers. 

Alternatively I have the MacMini USB connected to a  Chord MScaler > Chord Dave > Crayon CIA 1T integrated whose preamp outs are RCA connected to the hub. Then the hub drives the speakers via WiSA. 

 

To be truthful, I do not think that the MScaler/Dave/CIA 1T/hub configuration sounds any better than the USB/hub configuration. This may be because no matter what DAC you use before the hub/speakers, in the speakers the analogue signal gets converted back to digital and then converted back to digital by the speakers internal DACs. 

This, to me, means that the characteristics of the sound are determined by the last DACs in the chain... not the Chord products. 

Mads, however,  told me that in that configuration, the characteristics of the stand alone DAC (Chord) would be maintained but I don't see how this is possible. He explained it to me, but I don't remember what he said. 

 

However, if it is true that the characteristics of the MScaler/Dave are preserved AND the A500 system sounds just as good when not using the Chord/Crayon configuration, then the DACs in the speakers must be really good. My Chord MScaler/Dave set-up is retail valued at $15,000 and is considered one of the best out there. 

The last passive speakers I was using with this system were the Buchardt S400 Special Edition. This sounded really good, but the A500 system, no matter the configuration, sounds much better. 

 

In order to see if there is a qualitative difference I need to run an analogue signal (created by the Chord equipment) into the A500 speakers' analogue XLR inputs. I haven't tried this yet because  1) I have been enjoying my A500 system al lot, just the way it is and 2) I don't have any XLR adapters or an RCA/XLR cables.  

I am considering getting a pair of Mogami cables. Any thoughts about their quality? 

 

I probably did not answer your question about which software I am using, but I confess that I don't know what you're referring to. 

The only music server software that I use, is Tidal... both in Audirvana and also separately. I do not use Qobuz, Spotify or any of the others. 

Is that what you wanted to know? 

 

 

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14 minutes ago, lolligagger said:

My set-up is as follows: MacMini with Pure Music (local library), Tidal, Audirvana (local library and Tidal) > A500 hub via USB cable or Wifi then WiSA out to the speakers. 

Alternatively I have the MacMini USB connected to a  Chord MScaler > Chord Dave > Crayon CIA 1T integrated whose preamp outs are RCA connected to the hub. Then the hub drives the speakers via WiSA. 

This is exactly what I was asking.  Your Mac mini is the source of your music and you use USB to the Hub!  OR through your other system again to the hub.  

 

Have you tried the balanced output of the Dave directly to the A500's?  I have been using my Altair G1 direct to the A500s with a set of AudioQuest Water cables.

 

How do you have the Mac and Audirvana setup via USB?  I am fussing over the volume control not working right.  I have not spent any real time figuring it out. I read something in the hub manual about how it locks the volume control on USB so that you can use the computer to set volume.  Audirvana is not working right for that.  IT is either all the way up or it drops to zero.  

 

On a separate note, how to you feel about the room correction?

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10 hours ago, bobfa said:

 

 

Have you tried the balanced output of the Dave directly to the A500's?  I have been using my Altair G1 direct to the A500s with a set of AudioQuest Water cables.

 

How do you have the Mac and Audirvana setup via USB?  I am fussing over the volume control not working right.  I have not spent any real time figuring it out. I read something in the hub manual about how it locks the volume control on USB so that you can use the computer to set volume.  Audirvana is not working right for that.  IT is either all the way up or it drops to zero.  

 

On a separate note, how to you feel about the room correction?

 

I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

 

Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

 

Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

 

But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

 

So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

 

I hope that I am not blowing your bubble here, Bob. But if you do the research you will find that what I am saying is true. 

 

I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume. At one point, raising the volume on the A500 remote was having practically no effect. I would get sound that was super low with the remote's volume set on max. Then I noticed the low volume setting in Audirvana. But when I tried to bring it up, it would immediately go back to off. So I stopped listening to it USB to hub and went to listening through my other system.

THEN one day I bringing the Audirvana volume all the way up and it worked. Since that day about 6 weeks ago, I have had no problem with it whatsoever. 

The strange thing is that it was happening in Pure Music as well. And when it corrected in Audirvana, it was also corrected in Pure Music. So, it wasn't just an Audirvana problem. However, to this day I haven't the slightest idea what was causing it. 

But I am having other problems with Audirvana. It totally wiped out all of my personal playlists that I had imported from iTunes. I still have them in Pure Music and also in Bit Perfect (which I sometimes use). So this is indeed an Audirvana issue. 

Have you tried removing Audirvana and then loading it again? I think that is what I will do with mine, but I want to talk to Audirvana about it first. 

 

I really like the room correction. It really tamed the bass in my room. This is the first time that I have had automatic room correction capability.  I have FabFilter Pro Q as a plug in... both in Pure Music and also in Audirvana. I have been using that manually to manage the bass response in my room. It worked fairly well... up to a point. I found that because I was doing it by ear, I would need to reset it for different albums. So I created a list of presets which I could quickly choose. 

The A500 DSP room correction eliminated that need because it corrected the bass across the entire frequency range from 400Hz down. Here is the graph of my room correction. The very flat line at the far right is above the 400Hz point. 

room correction .jpg

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3 hours ago, lolligagger said:

 

I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

 

Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

 

Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

 

But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

 

So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

 

I have used Mogami Gold RCA to XLR for a center channel amp I had.  Worked perfect and sounded great.  Most of the time when it comes to apples to apples, RCA and XLR can sound the same.  XLR has advantages with distance and that they usually lock into the sockets.  RCA can suffer from terminal exposure and lead to long term tarnish on the ends.  XLRs usually come with better sheathing reducing RF interference.  Think of the rats nest behind most peoples audio systems.  All those wires crisscrossing each other can create hiss in the signal path.  That's why their ubiquitous in studios and professional settings.  

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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4 hours ago, lolligagger said:

 

I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

I have two options... either from the Dave's preamp or from the CIA 1T preamp. But, first I need to purchase a pair of RCA/XLR cables. As I told you I am considering Mogami cables. Do you have any thoughts about the quality of those? Which ones do you use? 

 

Bu the way, I am not a believer in balanced connection. My Crayon CIA 1T...  which is a superb integrated... does not have XLR outputs. No Crayon Audio amplifier has them. When asked about this, the designer told me that XLR is only for very long distance connection.  I have researched this on line and I have talked to sound engineers and the answer has always been the same. Balanced connections are for long... VERY long  (from 30 to 100 ft and, theoretically up to 1000ft)... connections. In the context of our home stereo they offer no advantage whatsoever.

This was corroborated also by two reviewers that I trust. In fact I found no one at that level of knowledge who did not say the same thing. 

One on line source says that up to 30 feet RCA does not attenuate the signal.

Some other sources say that a very good RCA can carry signal up to 100 ft without loss of signal quality. And yet another source says that 16ft is the limit for RCA. In my system, RCA has to transmit a signal for no more than a foot and a half.  

 

Prior to this I had a very good amplifier that had XLR. I AB-ed XLR versus RCA performance and I heard absolutely no difference at all. That is why I began doubting and researching. 

 

But, of course, with the A500 I have no option but to use the balanced inputs. 

 

So why do so many manufacturers/designers include them in their products? Because that is what an uninformed client base wants. There is a lot of ''The Emperor's New Clothes'' in our hobby. And many manufacturers who want to sell their products to the greatest number of clients possible know it is smart to not deny them anything. 

 

I hope that I am not blowing your bubble here, Bob. But if you do the research you will find that what I am saying is true. 

 

I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume. At one point, raising the volume on the A500 remote was having practically no effect. I would get sound that was super low with the remote's volume set on max. Then I noticed the low volume setting in Audirvana. But when I tried to bring it up, it would immediately go back to off. So I stopped listening to it USB to hub and went to listening through my other system.

THEN one day I bringing the Audirvana volume all the way up and it worked. Since that day about 6 weeks ago, I have had no problem with it whatsoever. 

The strange thing is that it was happening in Pure Music as well. And when it corrected in Audirvana, it was also corrected in Pure Music. So, it wasn't just an Audirvana problem. However, to this day I haven't the slightest idea what was causing it. 

But I am having other problems with Audirvana. It totally wiped out all of my personal playlists that I had imported from iTunes. I still have them in Pure Music and also in Bit Perfect (which I sometimes use). So this is indeed an Audirvana issue. 

Have you tried removing Audirvana and then loading it again? I think that is what I will do with mine, but I want to talk to Audirvana about it first. 

 

I really like the room correction. It really tamed the bass in my room. This is the first time that I have had automatic room correction capability.  I have FabFilter Pro Q as a plug in... both in Pure Music and also in Audirvana. I have been using that manually to manage the bass response in my room. It worked fairly well... up to a point. I found that because I was doing it by ear, I would need to reset it for different albums. So I created a list of presets which I could quickly choose. 

The A500 DSP room correction eliminated that need because it corrected the bass across the entire frequency range from 400Hz down. Here is the graph of my room correction. The very flat line at the far right is above the 400Hz point. 

room correction .jpg

 

I prefer a balanced connection. Didn't really get into the technical side of the question, but a simple comparison shows the advantage of XLR cables. I use Inakustik XLR cables.

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4 hours ago, lolligagger said:

I have not tried the balanced inputs at all. As I wrote in my last post, I have been enjoying my A500 system just as it is so I haven't been inclined to try the balanced inputs... also because it eliminates DSP room correction.

After reading what you had to say, which corresponds to that which another reviewer said, I think that I would like to try the balanced connection.

First please do not go out and spend money unless you really feel the need.  I am interested in how others find any differences..  I have used Mogami Gold cables for audio systems.  I have found that Transparent are very good.  I am currently using Audioquest Water cables between the Altair G1 and the A500s.  

 

I will not argue your research on balanced cables.  I have experience that tells my ears different things.  MOSTLY balanced cables do a lot to help reject induced noise.  That is their purpose on very long runs.  On shorter runs in very resolving systems their noise reduction becomes more important. 

 

5 hours ago, lolligagger said:

I had the same problem with the Audirvana's volume.

I have several more things to try.  The problems between the UPnP software in the Hub and other devices such as Audirvana have been putting me off of actually using it that way.  Are you then using the remote control to change volume for USB?  Being able to control the volume remotely is important to me.

 

 

 

 

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My ongoing listening on the A500's

 

Do to re-arranging the Living Room for Christmas. (not my fault) I have had to move the system into a different location.  For the work I am doing I cannot have a Christmas tree between the right speaker and my ear.    I have flipped the room around a bit to support both.   This has changed the presentation a bit in the lower registers of the system..  It will take me a couple of days to sort out speaker placement as best as possible in this setup.  The differences are not terrible, they are just different.  It may give me more impetus to use the Hansong Hub room correction.  

 

I still need to get consistency in the Hub software to work right with Audirvana or something!  

 

I really want to complete a comparison between the WISA Hub and using my Auralic G1 direct to the A500.  I have several ideas that I will fuss over.

 

Bob

 

 

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20 minutes ago, bobfa said:

First please do not go out and spend money unless you really feel the need.  I am interested in how others find any differences..  I have used Mogami Gold cables for audio systems.  I have found that Transparent are very good.  I am currently using Audioquest Water cables between the Altair G1 and the A500s.  

 

I will not argue your research on balanced cables.  I have experience that tells my ears different things.  MOSTLY balanced cables do a lot to help reject induced noise.  That is their purpose on very long runs.  On shorter runs in very resolving systems their noise reduction becomes more important. 

This is great advice all around.  Cables can have a big impact, but it is really system-dependent.  Having experimented with all sorts of cables, I have ended up at mostly RCA.  One thing that is easy to forget--XLR is often more expensive than RCA.  In the Transparent line you cite, just for example, XLR is almost 2X in price.  So the fair comparison for Transparent Super RCA (my personal favorite) is not Transparent Super XLR, it is one rung down on the food chain, Transparent Plus XLR. 

 

When I tested cable for my system, it was easy to hear improvements up to Transparent Super RCA, but I could not discern a difference beyond that, or between Super RCA and Super XLR.  Although if I had less noise reduction elsewhere, or more resolving speakers...? 

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6 minutes ago, PeterG said:

This is great advice all around.  Cables can have a big impact, but it is really system-dependent

Peter, thanks for your observations.   One of the tests I am conducting here is with the A500's and XLR cables.  I have a set of Mogami Gold and a set of AudioQuest Water.  The Mogami are around $100 or less and the AuudioQuest are at around $1000.  Are the $$ worth it.

 

The same can be said for the Hansong Hub vs my Altair G1.  Is it worth it?  To replace the Altair I need some computing stuff so it is not only the hub.    

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