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About Always.Learning

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  1. Fantastic -- I'd love to hear your impressions.
  2. It's been ages since I posted on this forum, but today in a different thread I posted a few thoughts on my sonic impressions of the new operating system for the SOtM sMS-200. Some folks here might find it of interest: At the end of this post I raise questions about how competitive SOtM is right now with a NUC/AL approach to server and renderer. I see that today we have a couple people posting on this very topic (although nothing appears to have been said about updates to the operating software for the sMS-200). I'd love to see more such comparisons -- I think the new SOtM software might inspire a few people to revisit earlier conclusions.
  3. Always.Learning

    SOtM smS-200 unveiled at Munich Hi-End

    I have to say I am quite pleased with what I consider to be a very substantial sonic upgrade with the latest Eunhasu OS (now using 4.54). There are a few other possible reasons I am hearing this improvement -- I recently had a PCB replaced in my Chord DAVE due to a broken USB port, and I have elevated my speaker cables and taken some measures to isolate them from vibrations -- but I don't think these explain the full extent of the improvements I'm hearing with digital music. Specifically, I am hearing improvements in the following areas: - music feels unconstricted and "raw" in the best sense -- closer to what I imagine a live mic feed to sound like - dynamics also feel less constrained - I can play music at louder levels without strain - colors are more saturated - bass is harder hitting If there is any downside, it might be that less well-recorded music is sometimes a little harsh. But I'm not hearing "metallic" or otherwise problematic highs as reported by some in this thread. My system is revealing: Uptone-modified Mac Mini running Roon 1.6 (as of today) (powered by JS-2) SOtM Ultra trifecta (but not the Neo version of the sMS-200) plus ISO Regen, all powered by LPS 1s SOtM dBL-Cat 7 ethernet Chord DAVE Crayon CFA 1.2 integrated amp ICs and speaker cables by High Fidelity Cables and Wywires Power and conditioning by Audience and Shunyata Stillpoints for vibration on most components/speakers and room treatments including Stillpoints Apertures Devore Gibbon X speakers FWIW, I did have problems upgrading to the latest Eunhasu OS and feel that SOtM kind of bungled this. It probably helps that I'm using Roon, as folks seem to have had fewer problems with this app (note that I changed the buffer to .20 and the resync to .05 and this helped with some early stuttering). It also helped that I used balenaEtcher to make a copy of Eunhasu on to a new micro SD card. All is not perfect -- I still occasionally suffer from playback issues such as a quick one-time stutter or a particular track just stopping. These are annoying but tend to happen only a few times during a two-hour listening session, so tolerable for now. The question in my mind -- and I'm sure that of others -- is whether an SOtM trifecta approach is now sonically competitive with the latest and greatest NUC/Audio Linux-based approach. In my system, at least, there is still substantial room for improvement within the SOtM universe by upgrading the 200 to Neo status with available mods and upgrading the switch to sNH-10G (and upgrading power supplies). Not sure if it's worth continued investment in this approach or whether the NUC/AL approach is the better long-term investment. Thoughts anyone?
  4. Always.Learning

    SOtM smS-200 unveiled at Munich Hi-End

    These instructions in the link two posts above appear to assume one is using Windows OS. I wonder if there are any comparable instructions that would work with Mac OS?
  5. Always.Learning

    SOtM smS-200 unveiled at Munich Hi-End

    I should point out that when I use Disk Utility to restore the 4.5.1 file, I get the following message: "Could not get the list of volumes from the disk image. An unexpected error occurred. (OSStatus error 45)"
  6. Always.Learning

    SOtM smS-200 unveiled at Munich Hi-End

    Hi everyone-- I have also encountered problems although I now have a working version of 4.5.1. First I tried updating to 4.5 from the Eunhasu website and got stuck at 3% on multiple computers. Then I downloaded 4.5.1 and dd utility per SOtM's instructions. The download seemed to work fine and generated a .gz file. When I used dd utility to restore this file to a new 32GB SD card, dd Utility showed progress through 217, but then flashed the message: "32 GB Volume Restore Failed." I also got a message that said "The disk you inserted was not readable by this computer." This despite the fact that I had erased and reformatted the new SD Card (Mac OS Extended (Journaled)). I tried multiple times on several computers to get dd Utility to restore 4.5.1 onto a new SD card, with no luck. Finally, I tried updating from 4.4 to 4.5 on a different computer (a Mac Mini that I use as a Roon Core server) using the update feature on the Euhasu website and, seemingly randomly, I was able to successfully update to 4.5 in less than 15 minutes. I was then able to update to 4.5.1 through the website, but it took several tries. I then did some listening to 4.5.1 using Roon and encountered the dreaded stutters. I reset the buffer in Eunhasu Roon settings to 0.2 and re-sync to 0.05, as someone else suggested on here, and that seems to have solved the problem, although I need to do some more listening. I will report back with sonic impressions next week after some extended listening. I have one more question, however. The only SD card that I have with a working version of 4.5.1 is the original 8GB card from SOtM. I know this card isn't going to last forever and I'd like to make a backup copy of 4.5.1 on my new Samsung 32GB card. I used Disk Utility on my Mac to create a disk image of the original SOtM SD card, and it created a .dmg file. When I tried to use Disk Utility to restore this .dmg file onto the new SD card, I got an error message. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make a backup copy of the Eunhasu OS from the original SD card and get that on to a new SD card?
  7. Always.Learning

    Paul Hynes: Customer Service Problems

    I can finally close the book on my Paul Hynes saga and I'm happy to report that it has a happy ending. Picking up where I left off on this thread, I received a shipping notice on Sept 20. After spending a full week in various UK cities, the unit landed in Philly, then Louisville, then Portland, where it sat for a few long days, and finally delivered in Seattle last week, almost two full weeks after the tracking number was assigned. I opened the triple boxing and hooked it up. What I heard was some faint music in my right channel and nothing in my left. I emailed Hynes, who was very responsive and suggested some basic troubleshooting. My friend and TT setup guy came over and measured about 26 volts coming from the power supply, which was supposed to be rated at 48. He then checked the fuse, which appeared fine. After putting the fuse back in, he measured the voltage again and, lo and behold, we were up to 48. We then hooked up the power supply and played a record and everything was in working order. Perhaps the fuse was jostled during shipping and wasn’t seated properly? Here’s the real news. I have an essentially new phono stage. I’m tempted to say that everything is better. Certain things you expect from a better power supply: more robust bass, better dynamics, snappier transients. I can say yes to all of the above. But the change goes beyond this. Most surprisingly, I’m hearing better tone and timbre. Voices and instruments are more corporeal, with greater tonal density and richness. Is that the result of a lower noise floor or are other factors at play? Everything is more lively, and upbeat music just pulses. Just listened to “88 Basie Street.” Good grief, Count Basie never sounded this good. Paul Simon’s Graceland album really had me dancing in my chair, and the voices of Ladysmith Black Mambazo were mesmerizing on the “Homeless” track. Everything has greater clarity and is more defined. After listening to Solti and Chicago play Brahms 4, I have a new appreciation for how Brahms constructed the work.Most of the system changes I’ve made over the last couple years have been on the digital side and I’m really happy with how that’s sounding now. But I see a new romance with analog happening and some new vinyl on the horizon. I guess the big lesson here is that power supplies are really critical (but you already knew that) and can make a huge difference on certain components. I’m thinking that their effect is magnified when the signal is really small, and so preamps and phono stages are some of the best candidates for getting really good power supplies. For those of you waiting for or contemplating a Paul Hynes power supply, a big dose of patience is required. Eventually, I'm betting you will be rewarded in spades.
  8. For those of you waiting for or contemplating a Paul Hynes power supply, I have an update on my saga. I finally received an SR5DR48 that was custom built for my Crayon phono stage and replaced an SMPS external power supply. The six-month waiting period and problems communicating with Paul are detailed on a separate thread, but suffice it to say that this story has a happy ending. The Hynes supply has made a profound difference in my LP playback. I was expecting to hear certain improvements that I've heard when upgrading power in other areas, such as new dedicated circuits or better power cords. Those areas are dynamics, bass response, and transient fidelity. Well, I easily checked all of those boxes, especially bass quality and quantity. But what surprised me was a very notable increase in solidity or tonal density of the music. The music is simply more corporeal, and therefore more engaging. This supply cost me over $1200, but when added to my $6000+ phono stage, I have to say it is a very, very good investment. For those waiting for Paul to build and ship your supply, your patience will be rewarded.
  9. I heard a direct A/B of DAVE with and without Blu2 at RMAF. I have to agree with Eric, the differences were obvious and musically significant. An M Scaler is probably in my future (but not near future!). I also heard a direct A/B of the SOtM master clock in and out of a nice system with Magico speakers in the SOtM room. While I think the master clock could make a nice difference, the differences were nowhere near as profound as the differences I heard with the Blu2. Just my two cents.
  10. Such a bummer; first, you wait a long time to get the Hynes, then you wait another year? On the other hand, you will be in Costa Rica, which certainly has its benefits. As someone else who is waiting on a Hynes PSU, I'm curious: When did you order and pay for your SR7?
  11. @feelingears and @Johnseye: I think Johnseye makes an excellent point: it's too easy to lose the forest when focusing on individual trees when auditioning a component. That's why I like to insert a component and do as much relaxed listening as possible before doing the nitty gritty comparisons. Part of this is just paying attention to your body as you listen -- are you relaxed, receptive, flowing with the music, tapping your toes, etc. Or are you disengaged, tense, thinking about other things? Of course there could be many reasons for the latter, and that's why you need to listen for longish periods of time to cycle through your moods and ups and downs. When I'm in this relaxed state of mind, I'm not trying to pinpoint differences or worry about how much bigger or smaller the soundstage is (unless it's just popping out at me). I'm really more concerned about the overall gestalt -- is the music drawing me in? In critical listening mode, that's when I start thinking in terms of the usual audiophile labels and I'll be much more conscious about precise differences. Feelingears asks if I focus on specific attributes of sound more than others or if I have an "orderly process" for comparing components. Other than what I said above about the overall approach, I don't necessarily have an "orderly process." Of course I have my personal biases, as all of us do, and most good pro reviewers will explicitly disclose those biases over time. My musical/sonic priorities are these: I want/need to understand the musical intent of the performers -- this is paramount. Listening should be an emotional experience; if I find that I’m thinking too much about the “sound,” then that’s an indication something is off. Tone is critical, in terms of color or timbre, but especially in terms of density and substance. Immediacy and presence are close cousins to tone; I want to hear performers in the room in terms of immediacy, but the stereo system should recover all the air and ambience of the venue when appropriate. Resolution is important, but not at the expense of a natural, fatigue-free listening experience. Through the years, my analog system has generally bettered my digital system in each of the above areas, though of course it all depends on the quality of the recording, source file, vinyl pressing, etc. In the last year, however, I feel that digital has made great strides, and with the help of CA, and this thread in particular, digital is sounding better than ever, rivaling vinyl in general and sounding better in some respects, though yielding a different presentation.
  12. @feelingears Thank you for the compliment! My process for improving my system is multi-pronged. First, I try to listen to a lot of music, in a lot of different contexts. I personally attend a good deal of chamber music concerts, recitals, jazz concerts, and the occasional pop or rock concert. I try to listen to other people's systems and have been fortunate to develop friendships with folks who care about audio in Puget Sound. I will be attending RMAF but generally prefer the more relaxed, quiet, real world environments of people's homes. Second, I try to read relevant websites and other sources of information for products that make a big difference in areas where I think my system could be improved. For the last year, that's mostly been in the digital realm, as I feel the advances in digital over the last couple years are rather large. Then I try to apply a critical lens to this information, looking for reviewers and individuals who have wide exposure to a good number of products and who also appear to be discerning. That sounds pretty subjective and I suppose it is. I put a lot more faith in people who have actually listened to products at length and who are willing to compare them with other products. I attribute some of my success in this area to my work as an attorney where I was paid to apply analytical and critical reasoning skills to large quantities of writing. But there's no substitute for long experience in reviewing the reviewers, whether they are amateurs or pros. After a while, you develop a sense for people who know what they are talking about. Third, I look for products that appear to provide good bang for the buck. That might be an Iso Regen for under $500 or it might be something a lot more expensive like a Chord DAVE. When I bought the DAVE, about 1.5 years ago, I thought I was killing three birds with one stone and thus getting good value (the three birds were a state of the art DAC, a killer headphone amp, and immunity to upstream sources -- I think I got the first two more or less right, but the third has turned out to be wildly inaccurate). Although I've spent way more on various upstream digital "improvers" and power supplies than I ever thought I would, those products have elevated my sound way beyond what I was getting when I was playing files from a laptop straight to the DAVE, and I still think DAVE represents good value. Fourth, I try to audition products at home in my system. You can't do this with every product (turntables, cartridges, and speakers are a challenge) but you can do it with quite a few. If it means I pay a restocking fee if I don't like the product, well, that may be worth it. If it means I resell the product at a modest loss, that's ok too. But there are quite a few sellers, commercial and non-commercial, who are willing to let you audition a product in your home without penalty if you just ask them pleasantly and courteously and/or you offer to put down a refundable deposit. Fifth, when I audition products or insert a new component in a system, I try to listen over a longish period of time before reaching any definite conclusions. I will generally postpone critical listening for weeks if possible. Sometimes the best A/B comparison is where you've listened to A for a long time and then insert B, then go back to A relatively quickly. Sixth, I think any great system needs a great foundation in terms of three things: power, vibration control, and room tuning. Taking just one of these areas -- power -- I have experienced rather startling improvements by upgrading my dedicated circuits, paying attention to the circuits and outlets I'm using with each component, and using good power cords and a good power conditioner. All of the hard work that goes into component selection and matching won't pay off unless you address these foundational issues. Last and not least, I try to remember that it's about the music. In the right context, I can get goosebumps listening to my crappy car radio. You don't need megabucks to get goosebumps, you just need to be mindful and open to experience. Those are some of the key things that come to mind -- hope you find it useful.
  13. It seems the three of us are in agreement, then. Have others with similar systems weighed in? (It's been a while since I've tried to catch up on this thread.)
  14. I haven't received it yet. This is a custom SR5 with 48 volts of output to power my phono stage.
  15. I thought Rajiv and mozes differed in their opinion on where to best place the IR, with Rajiv voting for between the sMS-200 and tX-USB (where I think it sounds best too) and mozes voting for right before the DAC. But I may not be recalling that correctly.