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About bluesman

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    Crusty Old Curmudgeon

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  1. As I recall, your mobo has very good onboard audio with a line level input. It’s not up to a serious ADC, but it’s better than almost any PC’s OEM and does 24/192. If I were you, I’d just download Audacity and rip one album using the line level outputs on your receiver into your computer’s line level analog input. Your only investment will be an adapter from dual female RCA to a TRS 1/8” male plug, and you’ll find out if the SQ is acceptable to you. You may well have to experiment a bit to optimize your captures. Tape outputs on receivers are typically fixed level, so you’ll have to attenuate with the record level slider in Audacity to avoid clipping. Audacity’s a bit labor intensive for vinyl ripping, but it works great and the files sound wonderful if the source feed was high quality. It works on a Raspberry Pi, so you should have no problem with it on the Sabertooth with any compatible CPU. Detailed instructions and tips can be found all over the web, and I’ve seen very little nonsense in this area. You’ll be ripping to wav files that you can then convert to flacs when you save them. If you don’t like the SQ you get this way, the next step up is a phono stage with a USB output. The ART Phono+ is a great little box that probably sounds better than the phono stage in your receiver - and it’s only $100. Its ADC is also very good and almost certainly sounds better than the one on your mobo. I had a Rega USB phono stage and returned it because it was noisy and didn’t sound that good to me. I use a Parasound ZPhono USB that I really like - but I also have ART preamps that I like about as much. I’ve used an ART regularly in live performance for years and never had a failure or other problem.
  2. Sorry - I’m out of tricks. That error code points to a card fault or a problem with the card read / write hardware or software (which seem to work for you on other cards). So it’s probably the card itself.
  3. Just make sure your Android device can access a 128 card - many can not. And those apparently empty folders may not be. Make sure you check “view hidden files and folders” when exploring the card on your computer.
  4. You seem to understand yourself well, John. So you own up to and try to make the best of your difficulty with communication skills (even though you seem to communicate fine to me). So you should understand how it is that many audiophiles believe they have no technical skills and are bewildered or even frightened by technology and the tools we find helpful and even fun to use. It’s as hard for them to learn how, when and why to use these tools as it was for you to learn efficient, effective verbal & written communication. I have a similar problem with foreign languages. Sadly, despite a bachelors degree in chemistry, 2 doctoral degrees and an MBA, decades of traveling around the world and trying hard to learn (plus a wife with graduate degrees and a prior career teaching French, Spanish & Italian at the college level), I cannot get beyond basic greetings and questions to which I often don’t understand the responses. Just as you are by communication skills and I am by other than my native language, many audiophiles have trouble with and are really put off by even a simple FFT. Nevertheless, they deserve love too Maybe your scientific side could be happier with something like this for those who can’t or don’t want to go beyond playing around: observe-document baseline-tweak-observe-document change-tweak-observe-document change-stop and review efforts & results-repeat until happy with SQ. Thanks so much for your contributions! I‘Ve learned a lot from you and look forward to your posts. Have a great weekend and stay safe! David
  5. It’s common for an SD card to show a much lower capacity than it has, eg when formatting it. There are many reasons for this, such as prior formatting into multiple partitions with different file systems on each, so that an OS will not recognize one or more. Windows will ignore ext4, for example. Google “restore full SD card capacity” or similar query and pick the method that appeals to you. It can also be caused by malware, card defects etc - but it’s usually from prior formatting. Space recovery will not recover your files - it will delete everything on the card, so don’t do it to a card with any contents you need and haven’t backed up. There are ways to recover “lost data” if they’ve been written to a file system that’s just not readable by one OS (eg Android). Another Google search will reveal alternatives for doing this. The first pass would logically be to insert the card into devices with different operating systems to see if one will read and access everything. After that comes a host of free and paid software (like this) that may or may not work to retrieve data that are corrupted or MIA for other reasons. To avoid this, I use SD Formatter to reformat every card to full capacity that shows as smaller, before putting anything fresh on it. Finally, make sure your phone can access the amount of storage you insert - there are limits on this for many operating systems and hardware.
  6. But it’s an excellent way for many to get critical education and experience. Those who just want to listen need easy, efficient, transparent aids to optimize their systems. But to those for whom knowledge about what’s in the boxes and how it all works enhances their audiophilic enjoyment, tweaking can be a valuable and pleasurable learning experience. If you’re learning from the effort (or just enjoying it), it’s productive time well spent.
  7. I can’t make that kind of judgment between them. Both are very well crafted, multi-tracked recordings of outstanding musicianship - they’re just very different in everything from concept to final presentation. As a musician, I much prefer listening to Dire Straits. Between the fine playing and the variety of guitars on LoG, I find fresh inspiration each time I hear even one track. When facing the OP’s dilemma, each album has a role to play. The problem with using DS as an evaluation tool is that there’s no reference standard against which to compare it when played through alternative systems. We can’t know how it’s supposed to sound because it’s not a recorded performance - recording it was the performance. The album is its own and only reference standard. Their live performances of tunes from it were meant to sound as much as possible like the record (which they could only approximate), rather than the usual effort to make the record sound like the band. Sure, many touring bands want their concerts to be perfect covers of their recordings - but DSOTM used studio tricks that go far beyond most recordings and set a new bar. Dire Straits could and did play all 5 tunes from LoG pretty much exactly as recorded. Knopfler’s National resonator guitar has a known sound, so it’s easy to say how accurately it’s being reproduced. There are several different guitars on it, and each sounds different from the rest - if they don’t, you need a better system. Knopfler’s hand is in every aspect of that album, and he clearly made sure its sound was captured well and properly. He’s playing a single cone National on one track, and its sound is easily distinguished from a National tricone (like the one sitting next to me right now). His 12 string sounds like a 12 string, not a processed 6. Nylon strings are clearly different from metal strings. The entire album is a great snapshot of the live sound of the band despite its multitracked methodology. This makes it an excellent reference to help inform the OP’s decision. I listen to Dire Straits a lot more than I do to PF because I prefer the music. But “better” doesn’t really apply, the way I see it.
  8. From your earlier post, I would have expected you to say that Love over Gold sounds much better than DSOTM on your system. So now I'm more than a little confused. DSOTM is certainly one of my favorite albums ever - but it's rock. I actually drove (or as she erroneously recalls it, "dragged") my wife from Philly to DC (a 3 hour drive) to buy the original British vinyl when it was first released (and extremely hard to find in the US) because a record store on Dupont Circle had and held for me their one copy when I called them. But it's about as electric and engineered as they come. It was recorded in pieces on a 16 track machine with multiple synthesizers and some serious electronic manipulation. Then it was manipulated even more, mixed and mastered to maximize its dramatic sonics and spatial presentation in both stereo and quadriphonic versions. Love over Gold, on the other hand, is a much lower key production that features Mark Knopfler's playing of several wonderful acoustic guitars. He plays multiple 6 string acoustic guitars on it, both nylon and steel strung, plus a 12 string and his old National resonator guitar. You don't need to know which is which to recognize that you're hearing different guitars, as the distinctly different sounds of each should be apparent on any decent system (of which yours is absolutely one). The acoustic beauty of his instruments and playing is a large part of the sonic appeal of this album and can be heard delicately but clearly among the other instruments and vocals. In fact, the entire album is much more delicate and much less "electric" than DSOTM. This is why I recommend learning about the recordings you're hearing, so you can understand your own likes and dislikes in equipment well enough to find what you want and avoid what you don't.
  9. I seriously doubt that - but I may have been forced into playing more blame games with manufacturers and vendors than you have. I really don't believe that they're as naive or ignorant as their responses often suggest. They're simply trying to avoid being blamed for dissatisfaction that originates in "innovative" customer use of their products in ways they hadn't foreseen or intended. And the line staff who respond to most such inquiries seem to be as concerned about keeping their jobs as they are about saying and doing the right thing to us. Most with whom I've had to do this were clearly just covering their asse(t)s, e.g. "It's your internet connection", "It's your router", "It's your operating system", "It's your configuration", "It's your player / streamer / DAC / preamp / amp / speakers / wires / configuration / diet / location / weather / scotch / Zodiac sign..." etc. Only those with a broader vision, true passion for their pursuits, a spirit of adventure, respect for each and every customer, and the self confidence to tackle problems they hadn't encountered before respond positively and constructively starting with "we don't know, but let's find out". Most simply don't go the extra mile. You may recall a thread I started many moons ago because my brand new and highly touted DAC wouldn't hold its USB connection when turned off - the USB cable had to be unplugged and plugged back in before turning it back on. The manufacturer's service tech responded by email that it was because I was running Linux and they don't support Linux. Their website says quite clearly that Linux is a supported platform, which I documented with a big screen shot from their own site. The next response was that there are so many variants of Linux that they couldn't possibly keep track of them to make sure each one works with their product. I had it connected to ROCK on a NUC, which is not what I'd call rare or esoteric - it's probably one of the most common platforms to which their DACs are connected. I only posted the encounter on AS after giving up and deciding to leave it on 24/7. I finally received a response months later from Customer Service (through AS) asking if they could be of any help. I'm also a lot older than you are, Chris. So I remember when customer service was typically much better. I bought a new Crown SX724 in 1974, exactly when the first back-coated tapes were introduced. As their transports had been on the market for years already, they were never tested with back-coated tape - and it squealed loudly because the back coating stuck slightly to the pinch roller material they used. My dealer told me to call them directly because this was a brand new problem and they'd want to know about it. He also told me that he'd gladly exchange it for a Revox or take it back for a full refund, if it simply wouldn't work with the latest tape. I called Crown, got a very nice response, and was told they'd get back to me. A few weeks later, I came home from the hospital to find my wife watching John Haines (Crown's service manager) taking my deck apart on our living room floor. He brought multiple new capstans, pinch rollers, and other parts and did a lot of adjusting before leaving me with what he thought were the three best rollers they'd developed in the weeks since I called. He asked me to use each for a while and report back to him so they could change their production specs, retrofit unsold dealer stock to the one that worked the best, and notify current owners of the problem and its solution. They never even mentioned that it wasn't designed for back-coated tape. It's this kind of enthusiasm and integrity that make one a delighted customer. Although satisfied customers return, they'll look at other buying opportunities. Truly delighted customers never consider going elsewhere if they can get what they want / need or a satisfactory substitute from a source that delights them. I will never buy another product from that DAC manufacturer. But I was a loyal customer of my dealer until he retired. I ended up with items I'd never even considered because he carried, recommended, and stood behind them - and I agreed with his opinion after trying them (like a pair of early Sony monobloc power amps, a Yamaha B2, a McIntosh MX110, an Apt Holman preamp, a Hafler 500 etc). I had to buy my Rogers LS3/5as elsewhere because he brought in a pair for both of us to evaluate for several weeks, concluding afterward that he loved the sound but they weren't worth their cost because of their limitations (power handling, dynamic range, nominal 15 ohm impedance, etc). He was a true gentleman about it, even asking me to bring them in several times in so we could compare them to new designs he and Fred Martin were developing. The wise consumer buys the seller as well as the product.
  10. I want to know if there’s a difference between 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven and 45 minutes in a 275 degree oven........and if there is, am I able to taste it? I’m more than a little surprised to find audiophiles who don’t want to know if what they think they hear is there, how it got there if it is, and if it is but they don’t hear it - why not? I can’t imagine that such knowledge and interest could interfere with the enjoyment of music. Chacun à son goût.
  11. I strongly suspect that most designers, engineers and manufacturers know that there’s no such thing as “the best” - because, with rare exceptions, there isn’t. The two most likely reasons for the approach you describe are probably the desire to achieve their specific vision for the performance of a product and the need / desire to minimize complaints about product performance from users who alter or ignore their recommendations. There are many philosophies and strategies for business success. Some incorporate and even promote user choice in an effort to please those who want it (and because they recognize that there’s no “best”). But most are based on the beliefs that each product or service offered represents and embodies somebody’s vision for it (designer, engineer, owner, etc) and that the vision will be preferred by enough buyers to make it a success in the market. So they dissuade users from trying to change it.
  12. I have a Flirc on the Pi 4 in our living room system, because it looks great and cools well. The core temp right now is 46C, after weeks of being on 24/7 in an ambient 22-23 room with low air flow. But I bought a few inexpensive fan cooled plastic cases like this one for the 3B+s and 4s I use to test and develop ideas and projects. There are several like this one complete with switched SMPS and heat sinks for $15 or less. This one's a Kupton and now shows as unavailable on Amazon. The ones I use on 3 B+ (branded Bonrob & bought in January) are also now unavailable - but there are several other choices almost identical in design and construction. Many of these inexpensive accessories come and go, so you can't rely on finding the exact same one again. These fan cooled plastic cases keep temps down very well. An overclocked, ZRAM'ed Pi 4 running from a USB3 SSD (no SD card at all) pushed to its limits as a DAW (details in an upcoming article in the Value Proposition series) never tops 62 even at full tilt boogie. My most aggressively rodded 3B+ idles in the 30s and is never above low 60s even with CPU usage above 95% for complex tasks. I use a 40 pin GPIO extension ribbon through the side slot in the case, so I can keep the fan in place when using HATs (with the fan power wires either on tiny homemade ring connectors under the GPIO plug or extended and connected to the pins on the HAT end). Even if you don't want to use these switched PSs for audio, they're great for development and other frequent on-off use. They keep your Pi safe when you're booting repeatedly by making it easy to shut down from the command line or GUI and restart by pushing the button. If you get in the habit of plugging and unplugging, you will eventually corrupt your SD card and have to start again with a newly burned image.
  13. Hi & welcome! The Allo Wifi dongle is set up for your board and should work fine. As I recall, it's an 802.11n device (300 Mb/sec at 2.4GHz), which is more than enough bandwidth for dsd as long as your wifi network is also at least that fast. Enjoy it!
  14. This is a perfect example of the educational value of just listening. Dollars to donuts, what you're describing is more the result of the way the recording was made than how it's played back. Virtually all "electric" music (pop, rock, commercial et al - and even a lot of jazz) is recorded as individual parts or small units, by acoustically isolating the players and their mics and/or having them lay down their parts individually while listening to backing or other timing tracks. These are then assembled into a simulation of ensemble performance by engineers and producers in post-production. The performers are placed in space electronically by balancing left to right and using DSP to create the spatial image desired by the engineers and producers. The result is simply not as natural and 3 dimensional as it is when the ensemble is recorded live with good microphone use in a good setting. You can and should hear these differences on any decent playback system. This is not at all important to most non-classical artists and engineers, who are concerned with how perfectly they achieved their concept of the recording and its overall effect on potential buyers. The genres don't demand a natural sound stage, which is largely because there is no such thing for 99+% of studio recordings of pop / rock / etc - the performers never actually play together at any stage of recording. I think it's worth any audiophile's time to research the making of at least a few of the albums they listen to a lot, to learn how recording methodology translates to playback. Read, listen, repeat. There's an amazing amount of technical info about many well known recordings, both in print and on the web, if you look for it. And you should be able to correlate what was done in recording with what you hear in playback. A little web searching + a lot of listening will teach you a lot, e.g. here's a description of how Steely Dan recorded: "The stories of Fagen and Becker's 'obsession' are legion. For instance, when working on their second album, Countdown To Ecstasy (1973), they ran an eight-bar loop of two-inch tape to an idler wheel outside the control room in an attempt to achieve drum machine-like precision in the rhythm section. Steely's web site, www.steelydan.com, proclaims with some pride that because of a faulty tape machine used on the recording of Katy Lied (1975), the band refused to listen to the final album. When working on Gaucho (1980), they pioneered the use of engineer Roger Nichols' freshly developed Wendel sampling drum machine and audio sampler (12.5kHz/12-bit) for drums and percussion. An indication of the amount of overdubbing, splicing, and re-recording that went into their quest for perfection was that Nichols and Scheiner used up 360 rolls of tape recording Gaucho [bolding added by me]." [The perfect timing of the rhythm section in Steely Dan recordings is actually unnatural. Even human metronomes like David Garibaldi, Kenny Aronoff and Steve Gadd sound a bit more human than they do metronome. With any decent system, you can hear the unnatural perfection of a drum machine or timing-corrected sampler, as distinct from the natural subtle variance in live drumming. Even the regular strokes on a ride cymbal or the classic syncopated high hat riff will show minor variation in both timing and tone on some hits.] And there's a ton written about the recording sessions that created Miles' Kind of Blue, e.g. "instruments were left/center/right with the two track mix folding the center channel to both the left and right channels. As Marks reports, only the center channel microphones used by Davis and bassist Paul Chambers had 'send and return' lines to and from the 30th street studios concrete echo chamber but leakage from the other instruments into their microphones, (plus the converted church's natural reverb), probably accounts for the recording's spacious ambience and its overall coherent reverberant field." [You can hear the slightly harsh and "physical" echo chamber effect of their makeshift reverb in the bass and trumpet as distinct from the overall "roominess" of the church on the original vinyl, but less so (at least, to my ears) on remasters.] "The mono original (and reissue) provides a better overall instrumental balance, with greater emphasis on the piano and more solid imaging. Yes, its not as ethereally spacious, but it better layers and balances the instruments in my opinion and if you remain unconvinced that mono can produce three-dimensionality, this record will convince you." [There's a CD out now with both versions - mono and stereo - on it. It's well worth the price.] "[T]he 'magic' on the original pressing cannot be fully duplicated elsewhere in terms of the air and space available when the tape was fresh—even with the 3-2 mixdown and that's taking into account the high frequency 'bump' produced when the tape was played 1.25% fast on side one's recorded tracks. The cymbal decay that seems to go on forever on the original isn't there to the same degree on any of the reissues. Drummer Jimmy Cobb is famously quoted as having said about the KOB recording '...you clearly hear the wood of the drumstick against the cymbal.' And while you can on all versions, it's best presented on the original. On the other hand, the original is, as Calbi notes, 'bright' as was the style of the day." And the following info about player placement is critical to knowing whether you're hearing what was on the original recording. It also helps you understand differences among the multiple remastered versions now available: "Because Kind of Blue was recorded in multitrack mono, without the use of any real stereophonic microphone techniques, the instruments appear in fairly constricted left, center, and right locations." "The center image, Davis' trumpet plus Paul Chambers' bass, was solid as a rock—so shockingly solid that at first I thought the center speaker was on. It wasn't." "Between the first recording session, which accounts for the album's first three tracks, and the second, which accounts for the last two, the sax players swap track assignments. For the first three numbers, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane is on the left and alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley is on the right; for the last two, Adderley is on the left and Coltrane on the right." Moral: save that money for music, and "read, listen, repeat."
  15. Your D50S (which, as you describe it, is the model you have despite andrewinukm's reference to the earlier - and different - D50) is a wonderful DAC and your amplifiers are equally fine. This is a great pair to drive LS50s and Roon Bridge on a Pi 4 is an excellent endpoint. You can now play files of any practical resolution and format with wonderful sound quality. Swapping for the suggested alternatives in this thread may alter your SQ a little bit, but this is purely a matter of personal preference - none of these is "better" than the rest, although some may be more pleasing to one of us than to another. I currently have and listen regularly to multiple systems that include variants of most of the equipment discussed above, including a Prima Luna amplifier, an iFi DSD, an SMSL SU-8 balanced DAC, JBL and Edifier powered speaker systems, Rogers LS3/5a, 7 Raspberry Pi 3B+s and 4s, a NUC running ROCK, a Parasound preamp, a Nuforce preamp, a Wadia digital amp, etc. Everything we're talking about in this thread is as good as or better than most alternatives anywhere near the price range, as good as most of the rest, and almost as good as "the best". How big a gap is defined by "almost" is also purely personal preference, and the width of that gap lends itself well and often to semantic manipulation. I strongly suggest that you enjoy what you have for an extended period of time while trying potential improvements in room treatment, DSP, DAC filters, etc. Give each change enough listening time to really get to know if and how it affects SQ. Switch back and forth. Try many different source programs. It can be very revealing to compare different versions and formats of the same program material to see what differences you can and can't hear and to compare what you hear to reputable published reviews, e.g. original vs remastered, stereo pair vs multimiked recordings of the same ensembles, and so forth. Your system is a great platform for learning - why not take advantage of it? You'll become a better educated, more experienced audiophile while enjoying a lot of music.
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