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USB to SPDIF converters shoot-out : EMU 0404 USB vs. Musiland Monitor 01 USD vs. Teralink-x vs. M2Tech hiFace - Page 78  

post #1156 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nada View Post
Slim I wonder if you think the DSP1 implemented DACs like the new REF5 will still benefit from the HiFace, or will the DSP1 be so good that the HiFace will make little of no improvement in sound quality over motherboard RCA SPDIF out?
Most mobo's integrated spdif out is pretty crappy, so i wouldn't be counting on that. If you bothered to go through this entire thread you would have read of people with ref 1s (dsp1) hearing a difference with a better transport.
post #1157 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fujak View Post
I've got mine from thoppa. If you send me your e-mail, I would send it to you directly.

Kind regards
Fujak
Hi Fujak,

I just sent you a PM with my e-mail address. Thanks a lot.

Regards,
post #1158 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
I thought the Oyaide was a slight improvement over the BJC coax. The difference isn't night and day but it's there (with my setup). There are a couple people in your review thread who also feel the same was as t/sound. They prefer the Stereovox over the Oyaide.
EDIT: t/sound is using the HiFace, which I thought sounded worse with the Oyaide (as I mentioned earlier in the thread).
Hi Shahrose,

If you re-read my review I described the following:
The Sterevox is leaner than Oyaide, with extra sizzle in the highs.
The Belden is warmer and softer compared to the Oyaide.

So if a specific system is already tonally well balanced when using the Stereovox XV2 or the Belden, inserting the Oyaide will definitely upset the tonal balance. So I am not really surprised to see that a few people don't like it in their specific system.

When I described the Stereovox XV2 being leaner and not the other way around is that I have tried 4 high performance digital cables (the Stereovox being one of the cheapest to give an indication).
3 of them sounded similar in tonal balance (Oyaide, Hifi Cables & Cie Sobek, Actinote Aria). And the Stereovox XV2 sounded a lot leaner and harder in comparison. As I mentioned in the review, I had a friend listen to them and he gave similar descriptions.
So of course the 3 cables could be wrong and the Stereovox XV2 could be more truthfull. But I doubt that because the 3 cables were very different in construction: The Oyaide was pure silver, the Sobek is silver plated (with every shielding known to mankind), the Actinote was pure copper.

I think that a lot of people on head-fi (and I was one of them) think that by using a bunch of expensive and neutral equipment, one can achieve a good sound. I say it is necessary but nearly not enough. Here are 2 areas that a lot of people overlook but that can make a huge difference in audio systems:

Power supply:
The power cord and the power filter are essential to having a good and resolving system. I have gone through a lot of power cords, power filters before settling on my current system. Just to give you an example, I tried 6 or 7 different aftermarket power cords between my power filter and the wall outlet. Overall, the best power cords I have found are made by Hifi Cables & Cie: they are shielded power cords with increased capacitance to gently filter out the mains. So it is not voodoo, and I guess that with the right measuring equipment, the drop in noise floor could be noticeable.
I am also using a good parallel filter (The Essential Audio Tools Noise filter). It doesn't limit the dynamics and filters out all the high frequency junk in the mains. It also help prevent audio equipment from polluting each other.
So obviously, I am not saying that if you use the specif power filtering equipment I have I have, you will have good sound. It probably won't. What it means is that I tried to identify sources of pollution in the mains at home, and I tried to treat the best I could through the means of power filters, shielded and filtering power cords, parallel filters ... What I have achieved I think is to minimize the effects of the mains on my system. If I had the funds, I would probably go for a PS Audio or better an Accuphase power regenerator.

Vibration control:

Again, in building my system, I tried to minimize the effects of vibration control on it. First I tried different feet under the equipment (Vibrapod, brass cones ...) then I tried different platforms (plywood, mdf, fiber carbon, acrylic...). It was a lengthy process but very fruitfull at the end.
If you look at the pictures of my system (first post), you will see that I am currently using a Spider Rack made for Audio, I am using Maple platforms (decoupled from the rack with sandboxes and acrylic), and I am usually using either Yamamoto Ebony cones or Herbie's Audio Lab Tenderfoot. I have also tried with different weights and stabilizers on top of my equipment.

Overall:
I have tried at each stage of building my system to minimize the coloration. I try to combine both the scientific understanding of what makes good designs (when purchasing new equipment) with subjective listening for fine tuning.
That way, I try to avoid building a system by canceling out components colorations, but rather by revealing the true sound of neutral and faithfull equipment.

I did a few times a funny test when I had non-audiophiles friends around. I would ask them to my system, play a few different tracks and ask them to criticize/describe the sound. However, they usually don't answer directly my question: they usually are amazed by the timber of instruments and voices, but they also start criticizing the quality of the recordings. If a system is laid back on one track, forward on the other and absolutely beautiful on the third one, they didn't need to be audiophiles to understand that the system was relatively truthfull to the source. In fact, I had 2 "complaints" about my system: one friend said that he didn't like it because it made James Blunt sound too enjoyable to listen to (he was kidding I guess), and another one said that it made watching movies weird because he felt "being there" and that disturbed him and could make it scary in some scenes.
I have done those tests with non-audiophiles not because I wanted an "easy" audience but because I wanted to try it on fresh ears. Most non-audiophiles have the live event as the reference and not some dream they have been chasing after for a few years. I think that audiophiles can drift over time and start pursuing something very specific that can get them farther away from the live event. Because, I fear that such a thing can happen to me over time, that is why I ask from time to time non audiphiles to listen to my system. If one has to explain that the "true bass" is supposed to sound like this or that ... then there is something wrong with the system.
In my opinion, a natural and resolving system should draw people (whatever their background is) closer to the music and instantly. Obviously, I have made compromises in building my system (since I don't have the most expensive headphones, or the most expensive amp out there), but by applying logic and spending countless of hours tweaking it, I believe that I had achieved at one point a system that was relatively neutral and resolving. Now that I got a new DAC and headphone amp, I might have to make a few adjustments but it probably won't be the source or the digital cable.

To sum up:

I hope that this post will help the reader understand why the same audio component can sound very differently in "similar" systems. There are a lot of things that can affect a system. I have mentioned 2 important factors (power supply and vibration control) that are often overlooked by head-fiers but there might be other factors (besides the usual) that I haven't identified yet. If someone that uses a Stereovox XV2 hasn't addressed yet the power supply and vibration control, it is a true waste of time and money (in my opinion) to go and try something "better". At best they would end up changing the tonal balance to something different than they already have. The same can be said with the Belden vs. Stereovox XV2/Oyaide. The increase in resolution that a high performance cable such as the Stereovox XV2 or the Oyaide cable cannot be heard unless the system is resolving enough. If the system is not resolving enough, the vast increase in resolution in details will be overlooked and the only differences that will be audible will be perhaps the size of the soundstage or the tonal balance.
That is to say than one has to be critical when reading reviews and "upgrading" equipment. One has to understand where are the real limitations of their system. So when having a "limited" budget to spend on audio gear, one has to understand the limitations of their system in order to make the improvement where they are needed most.
post #1159 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nada View Post
Slim I wonder if you think the DSP1 implemented DACs like the new REF5 will still benefit from the HiFace, or will the DSP1 be so good that the HiFace will make little of no improvement in sound quality over motherboard RCA SPDIF out?
I think that the DSP1 can still benefit from a good source such as the Hiface for 2 reasons:
1- It has been reported by many Ref-1 users that a change in transport can affect the sound
2- Kingwa, the designer of the DSP-1, told me that even if in theory it shouldn't make a difference, the DSP-1 proved to benefit from good transports in subjective listening tests.

I should receive next monday the dac19dsp (which uses a DSP-1), and I will try different converters and digital cables to see if it will make any difference. However, the good thing about the DSP-1 is that if there is any difference it should be a lot less than with conventional digital filters (DF1704, PMD100, ...) according to Kingwa.
Anyway, I will report back my findings when I get the dac19dsp.
post #1160 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post

.... Most non-audiophiles have the live event as the reference....
Slim, what do you mean by this?

USG
post #1161 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Slim, what do you mean by this?

USG
Well, for most non audiophiles the gap is so big between their iPod earbuds and the live event that they think it is possible to achieve such a thing.
Their ears haven't "burned-in" with reproduced music but their subconscious reference is live music (concerts, ...).

On the other hand, most audiophiles spend a lot of time listening to reproduced music at home. So the absolute reference start to slowly slide from the live event to their specific system. Every change (be it good or bad) is no longer compared to the live sound but to an ideal reference not too far from their system.

If you read my reviews, you will see that among the many live recrodings I use, I also use a special test CD called "Soundrama the Pulse". It is an old japanese CD recorded at extremely low volumes with a lot of natural sounds (waterfalls, rain, sea, nature, car noises, ...) that are easier to relate to. It also has a realistic dynamic range (i.e. no compression).
When I start having doubts about my system, I play that test CD among other things to check if it didn't drift too much from the live sounds.

Another anecdote:
At one time, I was visiting an audiophile friend. He was comparing 2 cables and here is how he described them
Cable A: natural voice, violins didn't sound right to him
Cable B: unnatural voice, good sounding violins

He ended up preferring cable B over cable A. When I asked him when was the last time he had listened to a live violin, he couldn't remember. So he was chasing after an ideal of what good sound should sound instead of the real event.
Personally, I would have chosen A over B just because I am more familiar with voices than with violins.
post #1162 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Hi Shahrose,

The Sterevox is leaner than Oyaide, with extra sizzle in the highs.
The Belden is warmer and softer compared to the Oyaide.
My Belden 1694 Coax is 1.5 ft so that might explain why my experience doesn't match yours because I find the Belden to be leaner and a bit brighter than the Oyaide. The Oyaide has a bit sharper imaging with a deeper depth, but the Belden produces a slightly wider soundstage.
post #1163 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
My Belden 1694 Coax is 1.5 ft so that might explain why my experience doesn't match yours because I find the Belden to be leaner and a bit brighter than the Oyaide. The Oyaide has a bit sharper imaging with a deeper depth, but the Belden produces a slightly wider soundstage.
Yes the cable you are using is a lot shorter than mine. So it would explain the difference.

Did you notice any difference in resolution and low level details? To me there is simply no comparison between the entry level stuff such as the Canare (1m), Belden (18ft.) and the high peformance stuff such as the Stereovox XV2, Sobek, Oyaide, ... Those differences were not subtle at all.
post #1164 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Well, for most non audiophiles the gap is so big between their iPod earbuds and the live event that they think it is possible to achieve such a thing.
Their ears haven't "burned-in" with reproduced music but their subconscious reference is live music (concerts, ...).

On the other hand, most audiophiles spend a lot of time listening to reproduced music at home. So the absolute reference start to slowly slide from the live event to their specific system. Every change (be it good or bad) is no longer compared to the live sound but to an ideal reference not too far from their system.

If you read my reviews, you will see that among the many live recrodings I use, I also use a special test CD called "Soundrama the Pulse". It is an old japanese CD recorded at extremely low volumes with a lot of natural sounds (waterfalls, rain, sea, nature, car noises, ...) that are easier to relate to. It also has a realistic dynamic range (i.e. no compression).
When I start having doubts about my system, I play that test CD among other things to check if it didn't drift too much from the live sounds.

Another anecdote:
At one time, I was visiting an audiophile friend. He was comparing 2 cables and here is how he described them
Cable A: natural voice, violins didn't sound right to him
Cable B: unnatural voice, good sounding violins

He ended up preferring cable B over cable A. When I asked him when was the last time he had listened to a live violin, he couldn't remember. So he was chasing after an ideal of what good sound should sound instead of the real event.
Personally, I would have chosen A over B just because I am more familiar with voices than with violins.
This might be a good time to discuss the "Live Event."

I've see operas and classical concerts at Lincoln Center, Rock events in stadiums and small venues around town. None of them could compare with a well done recording.

I recently saw Yo-Yo Ma at Lincoln center. I was sitting in the middle of the auditorium and I couldn't hear finger squeaks, page turning or any cues from the stage and his cello sounded, for lack of a better word, subdued. Stadium concerts are loud, the bass is usually muddy and the highs distant and muffled. I saw Woody Allen and Jonathan Schwartz perform at Micheal's Pub (which is a small venue). Voices were unnatural and Woody's clarinet wasn't clear and distinct during his solo. I remember seeing the Beach Boys at Jones Beach and wishing they could have EQ'd the concert as good as an album. I only wish I could go to a jazz club and hear something like the live club recordings on Ramsey Lewis' Greatest Hits CD.

There may be those who think a live event is reference point, but IMHO "the Live Event" just plain sucks compared to a well mic'd and mastered recording. This might be why our non-audiophile friends are so "wowed" when they listen to a good system.

USG
post #1165 of 1712
Very interesting reflections Slim.a but I believe it is dangerous to generalize, as many audiophiles probably do attend regularly live musical events and know the sound of real instruments while others non audiophiles might only have as reference the sound of distorted and amplified electronic/rock music at best. Nevertheless, I also believe a true reference is indeed needed when building a system with the least colorations possible in mind.

PS: I owned the HD650 for half a year and to my ears, it was far from beeing accurate and natural.
post #1166 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
This might be a good time to discuss the "Live Event."

I've see operas and classical concerts at Lincoln Center, Rock events in stadiums and small venues around town. None of them could compare with a well done recording.

I recently saw Yo-Yo Ma at Lincoln center. I was sitting in the middle of the auditorium and I couldn't hear finger squeaks, page turning or any cues from the stage and his cello sounded, for lack of a better word, subdued. Stadium concerts are loud, the bass is usually muddy and the highs distant and muffled. I saw Woody Allen and Jonathan Schwartz perform at Micheal's Pub (which is a small venue). Voices were unnatural and Woody's clarinet wasn't clear and distinct during his solo. I remember seeing the Beach Boys at Jones Beach and wishing they could have EQ'd the concert as good as an album. I only wish I could go to a jazz club and hear something like the live club recordings on Ramsey Lewis' Greatest Hits CD.

There may be those who think a live event is reference point, but IMHO "the Live Event" just plain sucks compared to a well mic'd and mastered recording. This might be why our non-audiophile friends are so "wowed" when they listen to a good system.

USG
Well, I have also noted that some people described reproduced music as being better than the live event.

It all depends on what specific parts of music you focus on and what matters most to you. I think you would be intersted to read this article : Thoughts on the “Absolute Sound†and Perceived Musical Realism (Part 1) | AVguide
post #1167 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamu144 View Post
Very interesting reflections Slim.a but I believe it is dangerous to generalize, as many audiophiles probably do attend regularly live musical events and know the sound of real instruments while others non audiophiles might only have as reference the sound of distorted and amplified electronic/rock music at best. Nevertheless, I also believe a true reference is indeed needed when building a system with the least colorations possible in mind.

PS: I owned the HD650 for half a year and to my ears, it was far from beeing accurate and natural.
I didn't generalize my comments about all audiophiles. I just said that a "drift" from the live event can happen under certain conditions.
And you are right, generalizations are bad. If I was unclear about it in my post, I wasn't trying to say that all audiophiles or all non-audiophiles behave the exact same way.
As for non-audiophiles not all of them go to electronic/rock music. Some non-audiophiles that I cited were fans of classical music and opera and attended live events regularely.

Edit -- As for the sennheiser hd650, I have tried 5 different aftermarket cables so far (3 pure silver and 2 pure copper) and going silver makes it a lit bit more balanced a lot cleaner and more resolved sounding. And personally, I like having neutral electronics and cables and a slightly colored headphone than the other way around. I tried the AKG K702 (with stock cable) for a brief period in my system and they sounded excellent but they had less overall resolution than my recabled hd-650. Since the system worked very well with the AKG K702 without the need of changing a single component or cable, I feel that my electronics/cables had less colorations than the headphones themselves and were not specifically tuned for the hd-650.
My next can purchase will probably be the Hifiman HE-5 not to improve on the hd-650 but just to get another perspective on the sound.
I have seen a lot of bashing of the hd650 but they are still used by many recording studios. 2L that make excellent high rez recordings use the hd-650 for their editing/mastering along with B&W 801 and Genelec pro monitors (see here: http://www.lindberg.no/english/editing.htm). If they were so horrible and unnatural sounding I doubt that those recording studios would use them for mastering/editing purposes.
post #1168 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Did you notice any difference in resolution and low level details?
Yes, low-level details are in-fact more apparent on the Oyaide relative to the Belden. You articulated the difference nicely by describing the Belden as "smearing" the notes a bit to produce a softer, more distant/diffused sound. I have to say though, the difference in my setup still remains subtle. I did not, for example, hear any significant differences in dynamics as you did. I do feel the midrange became clearer and more distinct, highs became smoother yet retaining detail and bass quantity increased and became a bit tighter, with better attack.

Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
This might be a good time to discuss the "Live Event."

I've see operas and classical concerts at Lincoln Center, Rock events in stadiums and small venues around town. None of them could compare with a well done recording.

USG
I agree somewhat. My reference is an unamplified live event. My friends play in a band and I've heard them play in their mini-recording studio. No speaker or headphone has ever been able to match the sound I hear from the real thing up close. I do not consider amplified rock concerts or anything of the sort to be reference. It's almost always worse than a good recording IMO. Some people just like the visceral, dynamic presentation of such an event and call it "better" but better is a very subjective term.

I have also attended orchestral performances at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and I enjoy the shows but in terms of sheer detail, a good revealing HiFi system will reveal more (depending on where you're seated in the hall), but that doesn't always translate to a a more involving experience.
post #1169 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Well, I have also noted that some people described reproduced music as being better than the live event.

It all depends on what specific parts of music you focus on and what matters most to you. I think you would be intersted to read this article : Thoughts on the “Absolute Sound†and Perceived Musical Realism (Part 1) | AVguide

Too late to read the article tonight, but think back.... when was the last time you got to sit up front and right in the "sweet spot" at a live venue and when was the last time you attended a live event that wasn't amplified?

I play the piano. I've never been to a concert where the piano sounds like the Steinway in my home....

But listening to someone play the piano in a home might be a good example of what a real piano sounds like.

USG
post #1170 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamu144 View Post
Very interesting reflections Slim.a but I believe it is dangerous to generalize, as many audiophiles probably do attend regularly live musical events and know the sound of real instruments while others non audiophiles might only have as reference the sound of distorted and amplified electronic/rock music at best. Nevertheless, I also believe a true reference is indeed needed when building a system with the least colorations possible in mind.

PS: I owned the HD650 for half a year and to my ears, it was far from beeing accurate and natural.
I couldn't agree more about the HD650's being a far cry from a live performance. I listened to them for 3 years thinkings this was as good as it gets with headphones, I am very glad I branched out.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › USB to SPDIF converters shoot-out : EMU 0404 USB vs. Musiland Monitor 01 USD vs. Teralink-x vs. M2Tech hiFace