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About ecwl

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    Winnipeg, MB, Canada

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  1. I think we’re talking about the same thing. Rob Watts the designer says Qutest is not grounded. So as you pointed out the grounding path would go from the Zen mini through the Qutest into the Rogue. but I think the noise is not coming from Qutest as not being grounded. I think the noise is coming from a ground loop leakage current that John Swenson likes to talk about running from the Zen Mini through the Qutest into the Rogue. I may be wrong. But plugging the Zen Mini, Qutest and Rogue into the same power bar and if the problem resolved, that’s probably the answer?
  2. It is not DC offset because Qutest uses digital DC servo to get DC offset to <100uV Qutest does run hot as with most Chord DACs. Sometimes I wonder if they’re using too small a box. Kind of like those Uptone products... But both companies say their products don’t overheat because there is a thermal breaker. But I’d leave the Qutest in a well-ventilated place. I suspect your problem is a grounding issue. Qutest is not grounded. So if there is a long ground loop between your Zen Mini and Rogue Sphinx, you can get this static thing. I think there are two potential solutions: 1) Ground the Qutest and see if it goes away. You would have to use the digital coax input to ground the device I think. If you don’t know how to make a wire, you can always buy this: https://ifi-audio.com/products/groundhog/. But there is no guarantee this would work. It’s just a hunch. 2) Just make sure the ground loop between Rogue Sphinx and Zen Mini is as short as possible so that the leakage current is minimal. You can do that by making sure the Rogue Sphinx and Zen Mini power plugs are next to each other on your power bar (preferably) or power conditioner. That should reduce the ground loop impedance and not let the noise leak from the Zen Mini into the Rogue Sphinx into the speakers. I would try #2 first. I’m assuming here you don’t have other stuff plugged into the Rogue Sphinx as the more complicated the connections, the more likely you’re going to get some funny ground loop somewhere.
  3. I think if you look at the Yamaha CD player offerings, they all output at 2V so I think setting Qutest to 2V output is the safest bet for not clipping. That said, I think @Middy a good point about using 1V output too. Sometimes some amplifiers with their volume control would be more linear at specific volume settings. Meaning that you can listen to Qutest at 1V where say the S2100 volume is set at 12 o’clock to you can listen to Qutest at 2V where say the S2100 volume is set at 10 o’clock. Well, if your amplifier’s volume control is more linear and transparent at 12 o’clock than 10 o’clock, then Qutest would sound better at 1V than 2V. The original reason for having the 1V/2V/3V settings was that people were pairing the old 2Qute 3V output with amplifiers that were clipping which would obviously distort the sound. My take is that 1V or 2V should be fine and people should just set it to whatever sounds best to them. I usually think that people should use the highest voltage without clipping. But I’m beginning to understand that because of component synergies, this may not be the best choice for everyone.
  4. Just saw this today. 3V theoretically has better SNR than 1V/2V. However the reason why 1V/2V are available is because many preamplifiers and receivers clips at 3V. I would say that’s one of the major reasons why the old 2Qute had widely varying reviews because it always give out 3V. That’s why Chord added the 1V/2V option. In fact, a friend recently told me he thought his Qutest shipped at 1V/2V. He paired his old 2Qute with his receiver and it was clearly clipping to my ear but he didn’t realize it and thought that’s just the sound of the DAC. He is much happier at 2V Qutest output with his receiver. Clearly, your Elise is compatible with 3V.
  5. In my mind, a more universal product would be a CD transport that can do wireless (and wired) Airplay. Rendus already support Shareport, so obviously owners can play their CDs via Airplay to Rendus. And people who don’t own Rendus with AirPlay capabilities can still play their CDs off their Airplay enabled devices. That’s of course assuming that Airplay doesn’t degrade sound quality. I guess the main advantage of the current proposed setup is that it’s a matter of changing the firmware for Rendu to turn the attached CD drive into a transport. Maybe add the Airplay functionality too? Not sure. Got lazy last night so instead of turning on my Roon server, I just Airplay music to my ultraRendu
  6. Personally, I have not heard a pre-amp that’s totally transparent to a really high quality DAC so I think theoretically, taking out a pre-amp would always offer more transparency as you’ve heard. However, many DACs have issues with low-level linearity (just look at the measurements from Hi-Fi News and Record Review). So if you’re using JRiver to do your digital volume attenuation, you’re relying on your DAC to be sufficiently linear at lower volumes. 30% is still pretty loud so I suspect you’re probably fine. But there are times when you have to lower your volume digitally so much, you’ll find that you hit your DACs low level nonlinearity and in those situations, sometimes it’s better to run the DAC at full volume and then let a preamplifier to attenuate the volume for you. Some people also prefer specific preamps as they can simply add more euphonic second harmonic distortions. Bottomline I think is that for your setup, sell your preamp and get some money back.
  7. I think it is always interesting in terms of how differently we feel about different products and how audio component synergy affects sound. I own Blu2, DAVE and Hugo 2 and I definitely would not say Blu2 is overrated or Hugo 2 is the best sounding. But I think as long as people are enjoying the DACs that they currently own and they think it's the best one for their system, kudos. However, it does make it hard for people who don't have access to these DACs for audition to decide which ones to buy.
  8. I'm still kind of mystified by this review. I feel like I have to bring over my Chord Hugo 2 to my friend's place to test it against his Chord Qutest some day. Because in the mean time... my understanding is that Hugo 2 and Qutest only have two differences: 1) The power supply (which according to Rob Watts the designer is not just the battery vs SMPS but includes all the DC filtering and regulation after the battery/SMPS) 2) Second-order analog noise shaper (which was designed to prevent high frequency distortion when driving low impedance headphones with Hugo 2, which Qutest should not need) I guess it is possible that Qutest's power supply is not as good as Hugo 2 leading to the audible difference but then the offline battery should have improved the performance, especially when Rob Watts the designer has said that he is not convinced that Qutest needs a better SMPS/LPS/battery supply and he also does not think that Qutest needs a second order noise shaper. I, however, suspect that Hugo 2 can provide more power than Qutest by the nature of its power supply design though. The only logical explanation I can come up with is that either the preamplifier is demanding more power from Qutest compared to Hugo 2 or the preamplifier has a lower impedance than expected for most DACs. But I'll have to arrange a test myself to check this out. It's possible that Hugo 2 is simply a better DAC than Qutest.
  9. Someone on Head-Fi asked for measurements comparing the two DACs and it seems DAVE measures better on Hi Fi News https://www.hifinews.com/content/dcs-bartók-network-dacheadphone-amp-lab-report https://www.bluebirdmusic.com/edit/files/pdf_documents/chord_electronics/hfn_chord_dave_lowres.pdf I like DAVE better and I haven’t listened to Bartok which I should. I think at this price range, one should always audition the product and whatever people prefer is the “right” DAC for them.
  10. @The Computer Audiophile, I am a little confused. I thought Audio Perfection is your local Wilson dealer so I just assumed somebody from Audio Perfection would set your speakers up. Is it because you’re VIP that Wilson is sending their own representative over? Or is it because you got Alexia (instead of the lower end models?)
  11. Yes. I was anticipating a headphone amp using Hugo TT2 technology and a streamer (though not 2Go) for the desktop now that they have refined their Poly firmware & iOS app. That said, I do like their new amplifiers. They are not the only ones to use "feed-forward feedback" as Hegel, Benchmark seemed to use similar schemes and the Bryston new Cubed amplifiers sound fantastic with their own feedback scheme. I do appreciate how Chord Etude sounds wonderful. I guess for the people who can afford the "cheaper" Ultima amplifiers, good for them?
  12. I think the audibility of jitter is a very challenging discussion if people want a scientific blinded study in support of audibility. At least from what I've read by Rob Watts, the Chord DAC designer, he said when he used to design DAC chips for companies, he usually gets told what specifications are desired, e.g. noise floor and jitter and he would create the design and if the company wants a different target, he would design a different chip. He says there is an audible difference with different levels of jitter but in my mind, it's hard to know what sonic differences for these chips are due to the noise floor and what is due to jitter. Moreover, now that he stops designing DAC chips, he claims that depending on the jitter immunity of his design, he can hear a difference. Now I'm sure he can change his prototype for different levels of jitter but that's not something that we can do. Ultimately, if there is a very low threshold for jitter that is audible, only DAC designers who can tightly control jitter levels can truly A/B or ABX various jitter amounts and see if they are audible. For most of us, if we are to compare various levels of jitter from different recordings, we would be limited by the jitter level of the DAC we are listening through. If we are comparing different DACs with different jitter amounts, our listening experience would be altered by other aspects of the DAC design. I personally believe that very low levels of jitter are audible based on comparison of different DACs but like I just said, I actually don't know whether I'm just hearing differences in noise shaper, noise floor, digital filters, etc. and then attributing the sonic improvements to lower amounts of jitter.
  13. The first time I read that USB cables should be 1.5m was from the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB manual: “1.5 meters is a good default length for USB, SPDIF and AES cables.” And I believe some audio reviews also reiterated this and went more into the explanations I’ve always thought the USB part didn’t make much sense but I don’t know enough to really know for sure. Good to hear from a few experts it’s not true. Too bad I already bought a 1.5m cable. I could have used a shorter one.
  14. I suspect ESS chips when fed DSD512 just plays it like a DSD DAC as if it's a 64-element shift register DSD design. So I don't think there's any additional noise shaping involved. But when you're playing a PCM file on an ESS chip, I'm not sure if we can easily know whether it upsamples and noise shapes to 5-6 bits at 64fs, 128fs or even at higher fs. We also don't know whether it upsamples to say 16fs 24-bit first and then to say 128fs 6 bits or whether it'll be a one-step process. But I think whatever the process is, it's almost a little irrelevant. First of all, I am quite certain ESS chips do not upsample from PCM and noise shape directly to DSD512. Moreover, the computational power involved in the ESS chips would be dwarfed by what HQPlayer can do when it upsamples and noise shapes to DSD512. Similarly, if ESS chips upsamples to 16fs first like M-Scaler, the computational power for the upsampling filter with ESS would be dwarfed by what the M-Scaler can do. And the subsequent upsampling or noise shaping to 5-6 bits at say 128fs to be output to the 64 elements SDM would be computationally significantly less intensive than say the Chord Qutest upsampling from 16fs to 256fs and then to 104MHz then noise shaping for playback on the 10 discrete elements of the pulse array DAC. I think the bottomline, whether you're going with a final DAC output of DSD512/DSD1024 or a multi-element discrete SDM design is that the more computational power (and superior algorithm) you can throw at it for upsampling and noise shaping, the better the sonic result. (Unless you believe that all DACs measure the same and all noise/distortions measured are already beyond the threshold of hearing in which case you should stick with your headphone amp/DAC/jack that comes with your cellphone...)
  15. https://chordelectronics.co.uk/product/qutest/ Or more specifically https://chordelectronics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Windows-10-768KHz-driver.zip
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