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Always.Learning

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  1. It is ironic that, in this thread devoted to Chord's M-Scaler, there are only a handful of reviews/impressions from actual users. Here is a review I just posted on Head-Fi: I have now had the M-Scaler in my system for about ten days. Here are some observations. Overall Gestalt The single biggest takeaway for me is that music is more composed and calm. Music does not feel as hyped as before; there are not as many moments that show some hint of harshness; there are fewer sharp edges. In a word, music is more natural. Some would say this is a darker sound and I wouldn’t disagree. But it is not darker at the expense of detail or resolution. Frankly, this greater sense of composure ran counter to my expectations, which centered on things like clarity, detail, and soundstage. I didn't know quite what to make of the M-Scaler during my first hour or two of listening because in some ways it seemed like some drama was missing. The more I listened, the more I realized that I was more easily drawn into the music and a greater emotional connection was formed. There was a subjective sense that music had slowed down. This is pure speculation on my part, but my guess is that HMS is easing the difficulty my ear/brain may have processing music; listening is both more relaxing and more involving. It is important to put this in context: my current system (see below) is the least forgiving and most transparent that I have had over the years (though I have some friends with more resolving and less forgiving systems). The speakers are not laid back; rather, they are dynamic, nimble, and fully capable of revealing harshness, glare, and poor recording quality. So this newfound sense of composure and calm is particularly beneficial in the context of my system. Separation of Musical Lines This is probably the second biggest revelation for me: the ability of the M-Scaler to unravel dense musical passages and allow one to follow disparate musical lines. There is a very evenhanded treatment of different strands in the music that allows one to hear and focus on multiple strands of music simultaneously rather than forcing the focus on a particular instrument or voice. This enhanced ability to follow stacked elements of the music or criss-crossing musical lines is a chief virtue of the HMS. In his excellent review of the HMS on audiophilelifestyle.com, @austinpop captured this well when he said: "The best way I can describe it is temporal coherence. There is just something “right” about the sound in terms of its timing. Take dense orchestral music like the Mahler. Normally, with music like that when different instruments come to the foreground in terms of volume, one’s ear is drawn to them, and the others recede from attention. It’s akin to surfing - riding on the crest of each wave. Forgive the mangled metaphor - I don’t surf! What I found with the HMS is that as an instrument receded from its crest, it remained perfectly easy to follow. As a result, I found myself able to keep my attention on what instruments were doing off their peaks. On dense music, this is a revelation! It draws you so much deeper into the piece, both intellectually and emotionally." See https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/my-quest-for-a-new-dac-part-5-chord-electronics-hugo-m-scaler-hugo-tt-2-r781/ This ability to follow musical lines not only draws you into the music, it allows you to appreciate and understand how it is actually put together. High and Low Volumes On most tunes I am now able to turn up the volume by several decibels with no hint of strain, compression, or harshness. Conversely, the system sounds very good at low volumes, allowing one to hear a coherent whole without missing pieces. Since my listening room is our living room, this flexibility is important to me. Human Voice Wow. Very dimensional, very natural. Little inflections are heard and understood. Bass The M-Scaler does not produce more (or less) bass than I was hearing before. Rather, it is cleaner, more intelligible, tuneful, and easy-to-follow bass. Bass also seems more locked in with the rest of the music. If bass is important to a given tune and recorded well, you are in for a treat. Soundstage/Depth One of the major strengths of my current system is a large soundstage with excellent imaging. I wouldn't necessarily say that the HMS has produced a bigger soundstage. I do hear better layering front to back. I also "see" images that are more defined and that seem to have greater cushions of air around them, without fuzz on the edges. For example, on a recording of two pianos, it is easier to hear the two pianos as distinct instruments played by distinct musicians, each occupying their own space. On a musical level, this allows one to appreciate the interplay between the musicians and grasp more of their intent. Related to the issues of soundstage and depth, there is significantly greater recovery of ambience and air in recordings that have it. Impact on Redbook Files I've never been a big believer in the importance of format; it’s music first, then recording quality; with format last. I am now even less of an advocate for the importance of (or differences among) hi-rez formats. HMS tends to level the field, unlocking hidden beauty in your Redbook files. Really good recordings become stupendously good. As others have noted, however, it is not a miracle worker. The impact of HMS on Redbook varies widely depending on recording quality. Setup Issues Chord should really insert some additional pages in the HMS owner’s manual that spell out exactly how one should connect the M-Scaler to DAVE, Hugo2, and Qutest. Currently, the manual only deals with Hugo TT2. I was up and running quickly, thanks to some helpful comments by folks in this thread. An Observation Regarding Power and the HMS I am unlikely to try different power supplies on the HMS, as I have read enough comments, from enough experienced people, to conclude that it is difficult to better the supplied power supply without going to a great deal of expense. But I did try one little experiment. [Side note: I replaced the stock power cord that comes with the HMS with a Shunyata Venom power cord. Pretty cheap upgrade at $95. I have not compared the stock power cord with the Shunyata.] Initially, I plugged the Shunyata power cord into a fairly cheap Wireworld power strip. This is where I have plugged in my other non-analog power supplies that power various components in my digital chain (Uptone Audio LPS 1s). This power strip is plugged into a different circuit than my dedicated audio circuits. This practice follows the advice of Shunyata, which is to separate purely digital components (like the HMS) from anything that contains an analog circuit, both physically (to the extent possible) and in terms of power circuits. Sometimes the received wisdom needs to be tested, however, and so I plugged the Shunyata cord into an available outlet on my Audience aR6 TSSOX power conditioner. This particular outlet was designed for digital components (like a DAC), although I prefer to plug DAVE into one of the outlets normally reserved for amps (and I have my amp plugged into the wall). There was a clear and unambiguous change for the better using the power conditioner to get power to the HMS. What stood out was that bass was more intelligible and propulsive, and backgrounds seemed blacker. There was another step forward in reducing edginess and a step up in musical engagement. The Audience conditioner, combined with its expensive Audience power cord to the wall, and my dedicated 20 amp circuits using 10 gauge wire all combined to produce this result. BNC Cables Note that my experience so far has been with the stock cables. Eventually, I plan to audition two or three brands of BNC cables and see how much of a difference they make. Comparisons with Vinyl I have a good vinyl setup and it's been an interesting exercise to compare good vinyl records with the same tunes played through HMS. Not surprisingly, the results vary widely. For those who believe HMS has made vinyl obsolete, I'm sorry to report that is not the case. Vinyl is still king with select recordings. Example: any tune on Joni Mitchell's Blue album (the reissue on Rhino). This record has that "breath of life" that is immediately recognizable within 10 seconds. It's mostly about tone and texture. The dulcimer on "California" and "A Case of You" has much more texture and woody resonance than with any digital version (that includes a Tidal 24/192 MQA version (unfolded by Roon to 24/96); a Qobuz 24/96 version; and my own rip of a Redbook CD). By comparison, the dulcimer through my digital chain sounds a little plasticky, lifeless, and grey. Joni's voice is simply more human, more tangible, and more real on vinyl, and my analog system throws a considerably bigger image. The comparison is not close at all. On the other hand, yesterday a friend brought over Radiohead's "In Rainbows" album and the Reference Recordings album "Exotic Dances from the Opera." Neither vinyl album could hold a candle to digital playback of the same tunes through HMS. I will say that the variation in the quality of vinyl playback is much greater -- from really bad to really great -- than what I typically hear through digital with HMS, which tends to vary from OK to really great. My System To help put my observations in context, my system consists of: Devore Gibbon X loudspeakers HiFiMan HE1000 headphones Chord DAVE Chord Hugo M-Scaler Roon/Tidal/Qobuz running off SD card Mac Mini modified by Uptone Audio in bridged mode serving as Roon Core server, powered by Uptone Audio JS-2 power supply Paul Pang ethernet switch with TXCO clock powered by Jameco LPS SOtM dCBL-Cat7 Ethernet cables Blue Jeans Cable 6a ethernet SOtM sMS-200 Ultra powered by Uptone Audio LPS-1 power supply with custom Zenwave UPOCC copper cable Uptone Audio Iso Regen powered by Uptone Audio LPS-1 power supply and Ghent Audio cable SOtM txUSB Ultra powered by Uptone Audio LPS-1 power supply with custom Zenwave UPOCC copper cable TW Acustic Raven turntable and integral phono cable TW Acustic Raven 10.5 tonearm Miyajima Shilabe cart Zanden/TW Acustic record mat Crayon CFA 1.2 integrated amp with Synergistic Research Blue Fuses Crayon CPH-P phono stage with dedicated Paul Hynes SR5 DR48 power supply with Synergistic Research Blue Fuse Daedalus/WyWires speaker cable High Fidelity CT-1 Enhanced interconnect WyWires Gold interconnect Phasure Lush USB cable Phasure Lush^2 USB cable Audience AU24 SE USB cable Audience aR6 TSSOX power conditioner Shunyata Alpha HC power cord powering amplifier direct-to-wall Shunyata Alpha HC power cord powering Chord DAVE selection of Audience AU24 SE and Audience PowerChord power cords Two 20 amp dedicated circuits with 10-gauge wire and FIM 888 AC outlets Stillpoints Ultra SS and Ultra Mini under most components including speakers Finite Elemente rack with Cerabase footers Equipment Vibration Protectors from A/V Roomservice under other components Finite Elemente Ceraballs under other components Custom wall-mounted TT rack Acoustic Revive Schumann resonator powered by Jameco LPS Stillpoints Aperture acoustic room treatment (2) A/V Roomservice acoustic room treatment (4) Acustica Applicata Diffusion Absorption Audio Device ZSleeves DIY ultrasonic record cleaner/VPI 16.5 record cleaner High Fidelity Cables MC 0.5 Wave Guide High Fidelity Cables Magnetic Adapters
  2. FWIW, the Fischer/Budapest Mahler 2 also happens to be my favorite. You can check it out on Tidal in 16/44.1, and the goodness really shines through.
  3. This is a model of what a review should do. It is extremely well written, entertaining, and contains a ton of information and comparisons for people who are making decisions about the best use of their money. I'm happy you've found a great combo, Rajiv. I'm expecting my HMS to arrive in about a week. Your review certainly whets the appetite. Kudos! Jon
  4. Too early to say. I haven't really attempted to get at the root of the problem yet. It may be fine and the problem may simply have been a loose connection that could be easily dealt with. This is a switch that was clocked (from my sMS-200 Ultra) by a short, 12 inch cable from DigiKey that cost $20. I never really liked the connectors on these cables and it always felt a bit precarious. Also, the fact that I was running two stiff, unwieldy SOtM dBL-Cat7 ethernet cables in and out of the lightweight switch made for a more precarious situation. I'm curious if anyone else has had problems with their SOtM-modified switch?
  5. Thank you all for your suggestions on how I might access the Eunhasu OS website. I finally was able to do so, but probably not how you might have guessed. First, I tried the suggestion made by @tedwoods: "If you're accessing it via DHCP and not via a bridged or static IP configuration, it could mean it has been assigned a new IP address, so your link to Eunhasu does not work anymore. Google ""sotm my" and it'll direct you to "my eunhasu" page (http://sotm-audio.com/my/), where you can find the new IP address and connect to Eunhasu again." When I did this, an IP address appeared and I clicked on the link that said “Connect to Eunhasu.” That link inserted the IP address into the browser. This, however, resulted in a message that the server where this page is located is not responding. Next I clicked on System Preferences > Network on my audio server. This showed that the ethernet bridge I had created for my sMS-200 Ultra 200 was functioning. It also showed a different local IP address than the "my Eunhasu" page described above. So I inserted that address in my browser. The result, however, was the same: the server at that IP address did not respond. This was becoming frustrating because I had been unable to play digital music using Roon. Roon could not "see" my sMS-200 on the network. I had thought a reboot of the Eunhasu OS might solve the problem (it seems to have done that in the past). It turned out, however, that the problem was apparently related to the cabling of my SOtM-modified D-Link switch (the first leg of my SOtM Ultra trifecta). When I removed the switch from my system, Roon immediately saw the sMS-200 and I could play music. Roon also gave me a different IP address for the sMS-200 in the Device Setup window. I tried this one and, voila, I was finally able to access Eunhasu. A long and winding road for sure. Not sure why the first two methods described above didn't work.
  6. Has anyone else been unable to access Eunhasu? For three days now, when I type http://eunhasu into my browser, I get the message that the browser cannot open the webpage because the server where the page is located is not responding.
  7. I'll weigh in with a few short comments. The last few updates (4.54 through 4.56) have proceeded smoothly. Sonic quality, as far as I have noticed, has remained constant since the upgrade to 4.51. I posted earlier that I thought there were significant and very worthwhile improvements in 4.51 as compared to earlier versions. Finally, with respect to the blinking lights, I guess I can understand why some people might be concerned if this is a new phenomenon. For me, I have had rapidly blinking lights on my sMS-200 since first installing it in September 2017. I don't think this blinking has made any difference at all in sonic quality. I just assumed that was how the unit operated. If you think the blinking lights are a mechanical or software problem, I seriously doubt that is the case. If they bother you visually, just put some black tape over the light.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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?
  11. 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)"
  12. 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?
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
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