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About audiosceptic

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  1. Phil, So you are suggesting that the optimizations performed by AO are only heard when all "weak links" are eliminated? I was under the impression from reading the comments in this thread that the improvements performed by AO were dramatic and obvious on any system. I'm disappointed I couldn't hear any improvements and will have to be content with my audio system that apparently has limiting weak links. I also realize Spotify is not a good testing tool but I just wanted to point out that it is one of the methods I use my computer for enjoyment. It isn't used for critical comparative listening. Thanks for your comments.
  2. I purchased and downloaded AO under the 14 day trial. I had W2012R2 setup on my testing server (Intel S1200KP MB, Xeon E3-1245 CPU, 16 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD). I was using JRMC 20 and Spotify to a Lynx HILO DAC via USB. I listen mainly through headphones which are HiFiMan HE-1000 and a custom built Audio Note HE-6 headphone amp. My usual source is a MacBook Pro Retina (2012) playing FLAC files and Spotify through Audirvana to the HILO. I used a ifi USB to SPDIF converter on the Mac to connect to the Coax input on the HILO allowing instant comparing of sources and level matching. I played AO in all 3 modes (GUI, minimal server and core) and could not hear any difference in sound between the Macbook and the PC. I followed the instructions explicitly and made sure I ran the AO optimizer script every time I changed server modes. I switched the inputs using the PC to the ifi SPDIF converter and the Macbook to USB and there was no change. I then installed JPlay and tried that with JRiver and could not hear any difference. I really wanted this to be an improvement and own a legal version of S2012R2 so didn't have to pay for that but just did not hear any sound improvement over a 8 day trial listening 2-4 hours per day (I work from home). YMMV of course but this was my experience.
  3. I just bought this and used it to calibrate a desktop system with Magnepan Mini speakers. The Mini's need a lot of room to breath and in my office I just couldn't give 3 feet on all sides. I tried putting sound panels up on the side walls and it helped with the soundstage but I know I could do better. Enter the ARC 2 system and I am very pleased with the results. The compensation allowed the speakers to really open up. You can turn the correction on or off with the ARC control panel and the difference is significant. This made a tremendous improvement to the sound in my office. You can use this as a plugin directly in Audiirvana. You can also download Soundflower and the AU Lab plugin which allows you to use the ARC VST with any sound application such as Spotify or Pandora. Bear in mind that while the ARC 2 system includes a microphone it does not provide a mic preamp to get the input into your computer. I bought a Blue Icicle USB mic preamp and a 6' mic cable to enable me to make measurements.
  4. I think DAC's can make a difference but you may have to spend some money to hear it. At one time I had a EMM DAC that cost me $5,000 and with careful listening I could hear a preferable difference between it and a Modwright Transporter and a borrowed Audiogd Reference 7 DAC. I regretfully sold the EMM and have gone through several DAC's including a Metric Halo ULN-2 and a Audio Research DAC7. I couldn't hear the difference between those 2 DACs so I sold them and now am using a Lynx Hilo with a W4S uDac as backup. Honestly I can't tell the difference between the Lynx and the W4S when volume matched and blind switching is used. At the end of the day I think some differences exist but I can't afford the cost to hear them. My reference system is FLAC files through a Macbook Pro (Audirvana), USB or Toslink to the DAC, Headamp Blue Hawaii Amp to a pair of Stax SR-007 headphones.
  5. This is a complete system I put together last year to run MPD. Included is a Alix 3d3 board with a 500MHz Geode LX800 CPU and 256 MB RAM. Perfect for running Voyage Linux and an MPD server. The Alix board includes a VGA port and 2 USB ports so you won't have to hassle with a serial to USB terminal cable while configuring. The 4 GB CF card I ordered direct from Voyage and includes the Voyage OS preinstalled. Please note I used a different CF card in my configuration so the 4GB CF card included has not been used but I can see it boots the system. A silver case and power supply is included. Also included in this sale is a Sotm dx-USB Interface that will convert the audio from USB to either coaxial, toslink or AES up to 24/192. I paid $462.95 for the Sotm USB, $210.83 for the Alix hardware and $24.99 for the preconfigured Voyage CF card. I'm looking for $400 for everything. CONUS only. Price includes shipping and Paypal fees.
  6. My heat problems went away once my configuration stabilized and I did less booting of the OS. It runs fine now with very little heat.
  7. The gain differences are due to the XLR AES input on the DAC from the SOTM USB converter vs. the RCA SPDIF input on the DAC from the Touch. The AES input has a higher gain regardless what Music Server is feeding the SOTM USB converter (Mac Mini, Windows XP, MPD). I ordered a BNC cable to go between the SOTM USB device and DAC7 for comparison purposes that should eliminate the gain discrepancies.
  8. After reading this thread and the one on Head-Fi I decided to give the Voyage MPD on ALIX a try. I ordered a ALIX 3D3 Indoor Kit from Netgate (the 3D2 kit was backordered). I had a unused 32GB CF card laying around. Installation was easy and the Live CD install was fairly painless. Had to set an environment variable to get MPC to work locally and it was quirky until the db was populated. I'm using an NFS share to a MAC based file server and that works fine. I also ordered a SOTM USB to AES converter and am impressed with that product. After a week of listening I would put the sound at least equal to the Logitech Touch. Both the MPD and the Touch are connected to a Audio Research DAC7. The MPD-> SOTM USB -> DAC7 setup has more gain than the Touch-> DAC7 system so I have to volume match during comparisons but so far I am impressed. Most days I think I hear a little more low end depth on the MPD setup but it will take a few more weeks of listening to be sure. Another factor when comparing the Touch vs. Voyage MPD is the Touch supports Pandora and Spotify which I use quite often during background listening (like now). I would love to see the MPD setup support at least Pandora. I noticed the ALIX 3D3 board gets a little hot when powered up. Does anyone else notice the heat of their ALIX setup? I've been powering it down when not in use during these unusually hot September days.
  9. I went down this path after months of researching. I used to own a Manley Steelhead phono preamp and was never totally satisfied with the sound from vinyl. After reading an article on Stereophile about Pure Vinyl and software RIAA equalization I tried connecting my TT to my Mac through a External USB DAC with analog inputs I had laying around. The results were encouraging so I bought a Metric Halo ULN-2 DAC and tried to connect this to my TT through the MIC preamps. My challenge was that I need a longer 20 foot run of cabling from my turntable to the ULN-2. I tried several SE analog cables (Kimber, Mogami, Blue Jeans) but the hum was unacceptable. Using a SUT made things better but not perfect. I settled on the Seta Nano phono preamp running 20 foot balanced XLR cables to the ULN-2. The TT to Nano connection is a 1 meter SE cable grounded to the Nano. Using a Shelter 501 Mk II MC cartridge I have outstanding sound and no hum. My MIC preamps gain are turned all the way down. I think from a price performance aspect I got better sound over the Manley and have added vinyl recording capabilities up to 24/96. The LIO-8 will allow 24/192 recordings which could be interesting.
  10. I have the demo of PureVinyl but am not using it to perform RIAA equalization yet. For now I'm letting the ULN-2 do the RIAA stuff. I will probably buy PureVinyl eventually. You are correct in that the Grado Sonata is not the ideal cartridge for the Seta Nano. It's the cart that came with the TT. The Nano has enough gain but the loading is not sufficient. It is really meant for MC cartridges. I have a Shelter 501 II coming in tomorrow and a Denon 103R next week to test.
  11. I use the ULN-2 connected to a Pro-ject RM10 TT with a LO Grado Sonata cartridge. I was using a Live! MC-10 Step-Up Transformer to get the gain up and while this sounded very good, I could hear hum when music wasn't playing. Granted I have a 20 foot analog cable between the TT and ULN-2 and really didn't want to move the TT. I decided to get a Channel D Seta Nano phono preamp after reading about in Stereophile. What I like about this is it has balanced XLR outputs so I was able to virtually eliminate the cable induced hum. Plus it has variable cartridge loading for LO MC cartridges. RIAA equalization can be turned on or off for both the RCA and XLR outputs. So far I prefer to RIAA on the ULN-2 but will experiment more. I think this setup beats any phono preamp I have owned including a Manley Steelhead.
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