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Audio System

About Me

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  1. Background If you are reading this review, then you probably already appreciate the key role that power plays in the sound quality of an audio system. I own or have owned a JS-2, two LPS-1, two LPS-1.2, and two sPS-500. I have also heard the benefit of a double regulated SR7 powering my OCX-10 master clock. With one exception, all of my DC cables are Audio Sensibility Signature Silver DC cables. The Audio Sensibility cables are made from cryogenically treated Neotech twisted pair 16 AWG solid core silver wire and terminated with cryogenically treated Oyaide connectors. The exception is a Linear Solution DC cable made from Neotech twisted pair 16 AWG solid core silver wire and terminated with Oyaide connectors. I have not had time to compare the Audio Sensibility and Linear Solution cables. Earlier this year, I decided to start migrating to double regulated power supplies for their superior performance. The obvious solution was to buy a second Paul Hynes SR7. However, from my perspective, the SR7 is no longer a practical alternative. I am now in the 14th month of waiting for my first order, and there is still no hint of a delivery date. One day, while looking at The Linear Solution website, I noticed that the LPS-912 power supply specifications were remarkably similar to those of the SR7. Was Adrian using the same transformer as Paul Hynes? Were these numbers even real? I knew some trusted sources had found the power supply that shipped with his OXCO switch to be lacking. Was Adrian capable of building a power supply equivalent to a double regulated SR7? I decided to find out. I had numerous exchanges with Adrian discussing my objectives and expectations while doing my best to assess his ability to build a power supply meeting his published specifications. Ultimately, I decided to take a chance and placed an order. Once Adrian began work, I found his commitment to be exceptional. He went through several design iterations until he was completely satisfied with the sound quality. One of his key goals was to create a circuit that worked equally well for both digital and analog devices. He delivered the power supplies only after he felt that they met his objectives and designated them as Reference 1. I took delivery 5 months after placing my order. The final build is as follows: Single rail 12v/6A with dual regulators Cryogenically treated transformer Class A circuit Parallel super diodes Quad rectifier diodes Neotech 16 AWG stranded silver internal wiring Mundorf capacitors Furutech FI-06 NCF IEC Ground post Black case Dimensions - L: 16” W: 12” H: 4” (ground post adds another 1.75” to overall length) As you can see from the photos, there is a large heat sink attached to the case. Consequently, it is always cool to the touch. Impressions Back in August, I had the opportunity to meet with @austinpop and @limniscate for a master clock comparison. One protocol was to determine the best power supply for my modified OCX-10. Listening to The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (96-24 version) on Eric’s Magnepan 3.7i speakers with dual Rythmik F12G subs, we compared the JS-2 and SR7. The SR7 was unanimously declared the clear winner. I am very familiar with The Chain, but with the SR7 powering the OCX-10, I heard elements of the music that I never knew existed. When I returned home, I was naturally disappointed to find my JS-2 powered OCX10 was unable to reproduce virtually all of those elements through my HE1000 v2 headphones. After the Reference 1 was burned in for a few days, one of the first songs I played was The Chain. Now, I can hear all of the missing elements just as I remember them on Eric’s system. Am I claiming that my headphones now sound like Eric’s speakers? Certainly not. I am simply saying that to the best of my memory, the previously missing musical elements are now all present just as I heard them in August. More generally, detail and dynamics are enhanced, with a better sense of space and image separation. The bass is tighter and more well-defined, extends deeper, and sounds more natural overall. The texture of instruments and voices is richer and more complex. For example, I have been enjoying and appreciating the vocalizations of Mark Knopfler and Robert Plant more so than in the past. It is as if the microphone feed goes directly to my headphones. Overall, the music has more energy and is more palpable. Limehouse Blues from Jazz at the Pawnshop (192-24 version) has always sounded dynamic and lifelike on my system, but now I seem to be present in the room, a mere 15 feet in front of the musicians, and surrounded by others in the audience. I also have experienced Jimmy Page’s guitar in a new way. There are now times when I can feel the speed and energy emanating from it. I have made a few tweaks that have yielded varying results. First, I connected the ground post to my Synergistic Research ground block via a Synergistic Research HD grounding cable. Grounding the Reference 1 in this way had a surprisingly noticeable and positive effect. The primary enhancement was to further extend the bass with even better definition. Second, I replaced the stock fuse with an Audio Magic ultimate beeswax SHD fuse. I could hear a small improvement, but I believe Adrian did a good job of selecting a fuse. I would recommend first applying those funds to a better power cable. Finally, I replaced my Audio Sensibility statement power cable with a Synergistic Research UEF blue high current 10 AWG power cable. This cable had a dramatic effect in terms of lowering the noise floor while improving the soundstage and dynamics. I highly recommend it. At some point, I will compare a Synergistic Research blue quantum fuse to the Audio Magic fuse. The blue quantum fuse produced a startling improvement in sound quality with my Auralic Vega DAC. I will also place some EMI paper on the inside of the case. Adrian has endorsed EMI paper as long as it is applied in moderation. In conclusion, the Reference 1 is an excellent product worthy of consideration by anyone who is interested in a bespoke, custom linear power supply as a means of extracting the best performance from their audio system. It is clearly head and shoulders above all of the other power supplies that I have owned. Until I am able to hear one side-by-side with an SR7, there is no way to conclusively state that they are truly equal. Hopefully, @austinpop, @limniscate, and I can find a time and place to perform such a comparison. For perspective, my chain at the time of these listening impressions can be described as follows: FMC > switch > sMS-200ultra > tX-USBultra > DAVE > HE1000 v2 The OCX10 re-clocks the sMS and tX, which in turn re-clock the switch and both FMCs. (The FMCs and switch were modified by SOtM.) The OCX10 and tX are each powered by a Reference 1, the sMS and switch are each powered by an LPS-1.2, and the downstream FMC is powered by a JS-2 rail. I utilize a Synergistic Research ground block and HD cables to ground various components and cables, as well as a Gutwire HD cable to ground the DAVE.
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