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The DIY'rs Cookbook - Page 3

post #31 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnjen View Post

One other 'possible' solution is to ground the entire audio system independently of the ground buss in the panel.
This entails a separate ground rod and run to the power that feeds the audio system.

JJ

I just noticed this old post.

 

No, No, No!

Never ever use a separate ground rod. This is dangerous and very much against code.

And the ground rod has nothing to do with audio system power problems.

post #32 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnjen View Post

One other 'possible' solution is to ground the entire audio system independently of the ground buss in the panel.
This entails a separate ground rod and run to the power that feeds the audio system.

JJ

I just noticed this old post.

 

No, No, No!

Never ever use a separate ground rod. This is dangerous and very much against code.

And the ground rod has nothing to do with audio system power problems.

 

This is true.  The separate, isolated ground in the IG receptacle should be brought back to the same ground buss bar in the panel.  In commercial/residential wiring, the grounds are all inter-connected with one another in their path back to the panel.  On the other hand, the ground in the IG receptacle is insulated and not connected to any other ground until it gets back to the panelboard.  NEC 250.146 (d)

 

I'm not so sure about your last statement.  Since a separate ground bar (connected to other power circuits) is not code-compliant, we'll never know if that cuts down on interference to an audio system. ;)   However, I think it's an open question whether a code-compliant IG receptacle would, however.  Minimizing electrical interference is one of the primary purposes of using isolated ground receptacle. 

post #33 of 1082

It's the stake in the garden, whether it's correctly or incorrectly connected, that has nothing to do with audio system power problems. Nor AC power quality in general. That stake is there only for safety reasons.

post #34 of 1082
Thread Starter 
Um, did you know that code now mandates using 2 ground rods at least 6' apart?
And that they should be interconnected?

And further as long as the power demand for this one branch circuit is 'low' and the voltage difference between the neutral and the 'new ground' is well under 0.5 volts, which should be the case assuming a good ground connection, the possibility of it being dangerous is nil.

And as an experiment, just to find out if there is ANY audible difference, at all, for my one dedicated branch circuit, I'm going to find out.

What motivates me to want to find out was the improvement I heard after soldering the connections of this one branch circuit, and this was enough to want to further explore this whole topic.

Lastly, and this probably doesn't impact our homes very much, but heavy usage on branch circuits can modulate the neutral (and thus the ground back at the panel).

How much this can or does affect our audio equipment is also a question I've long wondered about.

JJ
Edited by johnjen - 10/12/15 at 6:21pm
post #35 of 1082

Um, did you know that code now mandates using 2 ground rods at least 6' apart?
And that they should be interconnected?

 

I'm not at all sure just who 'you' is?  But those two (or more) ground rods (there are also other approved grounding systems) are there for safety reasons. Some of those reasons are thunder storms, power company high voltage errors and situations like keeping your Neutral & Safety Ground at about the same potential as your swimming pool.

 

Now with regards to normal day-to-day operation of AC power systems. It's a common mis-understanding in many areas of electricity, that bad electricity wants to go into the dirt. Or that bad electricity can be directed into the dirt or a substitute box. The fact is the Mother Earth does not act as a sink or sump for these electrical problems. Really noise currents, interference currents, lost neutral currents and ground currents all want to get back to their voltage source. Just what is their voltage source? Why it's that big power company transformer down he street.

post #36 of 1082
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post

Um, did you know that code now mandates using 2 ground rods at least 6' apart?

And that they should be interconnected?

I'm not at all sure just who 'you' is?  But those two (or more) ground rods (there are also other approved grounding systems) are there for safety reasons. Some of those reasons are thunder storms, power company high voltage errors and situations like keeping your Neutral & Safety Ground at about the same potential as your swimming pool.

Now with regards to normal day-to-day operation of AC power systems. It's a common mis-understanding in many areas of electricity, that bad electricity wants to go into the dirt. Or that bad electricity can be directed into the dirt or a substitute box. The fact is the Mother Earth does not act as a sink or sump for these electrical problems. Really noise currents, interference currents, lost neutral currents and ground currents all want to get back to their voltage source. Just what is their voltage source? Why it's that big power company transformer down he street.
The you was the generic 'you'… atsmile.gif

As for the safety aspect yeah that's very true as well.
And it does form the justification for the existing 3 wire power system we have.

But, in our audio and related electronics (computers, etc.) the ground connection has a direct connection to every chip as well as most circuits 'stand' on the ground connection as the reference from which to operate from.

If ground is 'modulated' so is the entire component.
I have seen this, in the field, screw with industrial and related equipment to the extent that the entire grounding scheme needed to be 'updated'.
And our audio equipment is much more sensitive than industrial electronics.

As for 'bad' electricity, she's a fickle mistress.
If the modulation is high enough (the bad), even ground isn't ground, but that condition is or should be somewhat rare.

The thing is ground, as in the ground rod supplied reference voltage itself, isn't even absolutely stable nor consistent from location to location.
And ground, as I mentioned above, is used as a voltage reference, at least for our audio equipment anyway.
For more normal uses it is a safety thing, including our audio gear.
But (another but) the likelihood of being 'shocked' by 5 volts of nasty modulated voltage residing on ground is like a non-issue.
But (yet more buts) it absolutely WILL screw with the SQ of our audio systems.

Just like in the example that initiated this whole line of posts, i.e. turning off the fan and hearing a pop.
It doesn't take much to affect our systems.
And if this modulation were ongoing, instead of sporadic, well that's what power regen units are for, to isolate (as much as possible) the noise from the ac power that feeds into the audio system.

And I agree, the grounds for the distribution of ac power is a local function.
As in, the step down transformer on the pole that feeds our homes is grounded, which is in relative proximity to the house grounds being fed by that transformer.

But (yet still more buts) the noise doesn't originate from the step down transformer, it comes from the use of that power, from the load itself, and the ground does or can act as a sink for that 'noise'.
There simply isn't any other reference with the potential and capacity to absorb said noise.
I.E. it needs to go somewhere and if the grounding scheme is adequate, then the noise will 'go to ground' since it is usually at a much lower potential than any other portion of the ac power distribution system.

And this entire topic is WAY more complex than my simplistic explanation, especially when we are talking about multi-phase ac power distribution systems where imaginary and reactive power come into the picture.

And as a side topic have you looked into Eric Dollard and his exploration of just precisely what electricity really is, where it resides and the mathematics involved?

I took notes from his 3hr Tesla Society lecture where he laid it all out.
This topic is but one I was going to go into after I finish my series on 'better'.

JJ
post #37 of 1082

Guys, I think Speedskater correctly pointed out the futility/illegality of a separate ground rod to do anything with audio circuits.  I think it was incorrectly assumed and stated from the beginning as an incorrect way to describe what was meant by an IG receptacle.  Those have proven value, but have nothing to do with sticking a metal rod into the ground.

post #38 of 1082
Thread Starter 
1st off I'd like to thank both of you for the manner in which you both have contributed your opinions and experience in these discussions.
It hasn't even begun to approach a display of ego.
This is very much appreciated by me.
So thank you for the degree of civility you have brought to this discussion! beerchug.gif

And in continuing this discussion…

I agree that people shouldn't just elect to go out and drive another ground rod into the ground, and certainly not because they read it on the internet.
Besides it’s a major PIA to push a 10' rod into the ground… atsmile.gif
Having done it a few times already, I don't look forward to that portion of the job in any way, at all, no sireee.

But in all reality that wasn't really what I was suggesting in the first place.
And I also agree that some could read what I wrote as suggesting that this would be a 'good thing' to do.

So no one should think that a separate ground is going to 'fix' anything, unless you consult with an electrician and follow the local codes.

But I'm still going to experiment and find out for myself, because I can.
Besides I have a few other experiments that deal with earth ground that don't involve audio, that I want to pursue anyways… atsmile.gif

Lastly,
No one should go poking around in their electrical panel without proper equipment and knowledge of just what the fraque they are doing.
It's very dangerous and could be lethal if the unthinkable should happen.

But then I figure those who venture into the DIY section of this site have at least a modicum of experience with tools and dealing with potentially dangerous equipment, such as tube gear especially power amps and the like.
Of course this too is an assumption on my part, so it could be wrong, or sumpt'n…

This reminds me of the advice Mr Science gave Jimmy,
"Here, hold these 2 wires…" atsmile.gif

Anyway, I've had my say and I'm going to post up part 2 of "Better" next.

JJ
Edited by johnjen - 10/13/15 at 1:50am
post #39 of 1082
Thread Starter 
So here is part Deux

What and how do we know what IS ‘better’?
or
It’s all in our heads, or is it?

Part 2


To continue, here are the 1st three tools which loom large on my audio plate.
I find them to be very useful and once a degree of familiarity is reached, when there are changes, they can be more easily noticed.
And since these aren’t common audio terms most are familiar with I’ll add my ‘definition’ for them and describe how I use them and how their manifestation is identifiable so that these terms may make (more) sense and be useful.

The 1st Big 3 are;
Cohesion
Coherence
Coupling


Cohesion
This 1st term applies to individual voices (by voices I mean both organic and instrumental for the rest of this missive) and is a descriptive ‘measure’ of the completeness of all of the associated harmonics and related nuances that are created as a result of their ‘parents’ voice.
As this aspect improves new nuances and subtle portions of each voice will become apparent.
Such as hearing HOW a guitar string is plucked, for example.
Think, hearing your music anew.

This is the ‘definition’ I use for cohesion, ‘the sticking together of particles of the same’.
I liken cohesion to ‘voice integrity’ as that is what I hear as it is increased, each voice has more ‘to it’, it has more ‘there’, there.
There are more subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues and harmonic over and under tones.
More audible information is presented from which we create a mental picture in our minds sonic soundstage, based on what we hear, as to WHAT truly makes up each voice.
Like more breath sounds, or a greater perception of the tonality of a cymbal, or drum, and where it was struck and which portion of the stick or brush or mallet was used to do so.
This then directs our focus at the related spatial info that also defines that voice, but these spatial characteristics are the bridge to the 2nd aspect, that being…

Coherence
This sonic aspect’s ‘playground’ is the minds created sonic sound field from which all voices spring forth.
It is not just the acoustic space around each voice but also its placement in 3d space and the relative placement of each voice with respect to all the others.
It also contains the notion of how ‘deep’ and ‘wide’ and ‘tall’ and ‘palpable’ each voice is perceived to be.

IOW how ‘easy’ is it to ‘point right at’ each individual voice, in 3d space, and hear how big it is, where it’s ‘borders’ are?
Also how easily can we locate each voice as distinctly placed in comparison to all the others (behind? - in front? - just to the side? - etc.).
And how sharp or ‘precise’ and stable is the ‘outline’ of that voice in 3d space and how does its presence influence the rest of the voices, including the very room or acoustical environment in which we hear it presented in?

The definition of coherence I use here is, ‘united as, or forming, a whole’.
I associate coherence with ‘sound field integrity’ which also connotes the complete overall presentation of the whole of the music.
Indeed this sound field is where the music ‘comes from’ and it contains and presents the integration of ALL of the voices as they ‘play’ off each other and the acoustic space and so creates the entirety of the musical performance we envelope ourselves within.
This includes low level sounds such as the background noise (the audience, etc.), air handling noise, stage ‘mechanical’ noises (talking, dropping something on the floor, turning pages of sheet music, etc.).
And as coherence is increased, which seems to be directly dependent upon an increase in cohesion, the sonic panorama presented to our ears becomes more ‘real’, more closely knit together, and again there is more ‘there’, there.

Coupling
This is where the rubber meets the road so to speak.
It is a very desirable and impressive attribute that once recognized, and when improved, becomes rather significant, mostly because it can add so much to the overall acoustic presentation.
When coupling is improved the amount of acoustical power transfer that is heard becomes more apparent. This seems to be directly dependent upon achieving ‘adequate’ amounts of both cohesion and coherence such that when they properly ‘align’, more and more of the available energy inherent within the digits and bits is converted back into their ‘proper’ place within the original analog signal.

This 3rd aspect means a greater portion of the original acoustic energy that is generated by musical instruments can be more accurately recreated and presented to our ears during playback.

What this boils down to is, the ability of the system to create and deliver a signal that can ‘faithfully’ transfer the inherent acoustic power and impact of the original voice back into our acoustic playback environment.
This requires the proper timing of all the frequencies that ‘make up’ the original voice along with the proper amount of timed energy at any and every specific frequency.

IOW the ‘absolute accuracy’ of the re-created analog signal more closely matches its original signal in both time and amplitude.
The more precisely we achieve this alignment of these 2 dependent variables (time and amount) in each moment in real time, the greater the transfer of the acoustical energy (power) that is perceived and the more ‘real’ each voice becomes.

The definition I choose to use for this is, ‘coupling is a more accurate alignment between two or more related and interacting components’.
I think of coupling as an indication of the degree of manifestation of the ‘sound field power transfer function’.
As the original signal is more tightly aligned with itself during recreation and presentation in our acoustic space, the palpability and sonic dynamics become more ‘real’, more closely matched with their true original acoustic nature.
This results in increased efficiency in delivering more acoustic power, as in greater instantaneous dynamic range from each voice, individually and collectively.

Another way of approaching this is to use a thought experiment.
Think of a moiré pattern that is created by 2 discs with an identical pattern on each. As these discs are rotated and brought into closer alignment with each other, the original pattern becomes more and more precise and reflects the original pattern all the more accurately.
And then instead of using a static or fixed pattern use the music signal as the pattern.
As the effect of the moiré pattern lessens, due to better alignment, the music signal becomes more exact with less deviation from the original signal.

So what does all of this mean, you ask?
When we have a playback system with enhanced Cohesion & Coherence & Coupling several things happen, seemingly synonymously.

When the level of inner detail of each voice is enhanced along with its associated harmonic structure, we have greater ‘voice integrity’.

When we achieve this enhanced degree of ‘voice integrity’ then the ‘sound field integrity’ can also take a mother may I step up, as the entire sound field is more tightly focused up and unified into a more homogenous whole.

So as the voices become more cohesive, the sound field becomes more coherent, this can also lead to increases in the amount of power transfer from each voice both individually and collectively.

One way to ‘test’ for this is to pay attention to how LOW can you crank the DRC knob DOWN (Dynamic Range Control, aka Moar-Knob) and still hear the lyrics or follow a particular voice.
And as coupling improves, the DRC can be lowered still further while the music will remain distinct and enjoyable.
Another resulting consequence is the acoustic power created by speakers will carry further throughout the house, at ever lowered volume(s), or more accurately SPL (Sound Pressure Level).

These 3 aspects all have similar/common roots and have sonic attributes very similar to those I hear with improvements in jitter.
My use of the term jitter here, includes analog based jitter, along with it’s digital cousin, since I hear their sonic characteristics match each other quite closely.
I’ll go more into my understanding of jitter later on, but simply put, jitter is all about timing and amplitude ‘errors’ that occur during playback.
I hear the results of jitter in both the analog and digital domains.

What I have noted as a result of these sorts of improvements is an increase in the leading edge impact of just about every voice, along with all of the related harmonic structure that is generated by that voice, as each portion of sound is more closely aligned in time and amplitude to its ‘parent’, thus making each voice more complete or more aligned with itself.
The acoustic presentation becomes more real and believable with yet again, more ‘there’, there.

Then as the acoustic presentation continues to improve it becomes magical and takes on a degree of involvement that is both captivating and intriguing to such a degree that there is an involuntary body reaction known as ToeTappingTime and HeadBobbing&Weaving, which I’ll go more into later as well.

The music ‘transports’ you away from merely sitting and listening to the sweet spot, to being swept up in the music, and being carried away to wherever the music takes you, as the ‘richness’ of the experience becomes compelling.

And increases in these aspects also allows us, as we focus our attention, to ‘drill further down into’ a voice or pull our attention back out to the whole sound field, and in such a way that we can easily follow any chosen voice, regardless of what else is occurring in that moment.

End part 2 Next up is I4 and T3 and HB&W and more

JJ
Edited by johnjen - 10/13/15 at 3:04am
post #40 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speedskater View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnjen View Post

One other 'possible' solution is to ground the entire audio system independently of the ground buss in the panel.
This entails a separate ground rod and run to the power that feeds the audio system.

JJ

I just noticed this old post.

 

No, No, No!

Never ever use a separate ground rod. This is dangerous and very much against code.

And the ground rod has nothing to do with audio system power problems.

UM it is code. We do have a Journeyman Electrician to keep things up to spec. And do keep things in order.

post #41 of 1082
Thread Starter 
What and how do we know what IS ‘better’?
or
It’s all in our heads, or is it?
Part 3


I rely upon the terms of C3 & I5 & T3 & HB&W & S/S more so than the traditional terms like FR and S/N etc. because they represent the cumulative results of evaluations and are not simply numbers or single test results. But that isn’t to say single test results are ignored, no not by any means. They have already been taken into account and accepted for what they are by the equipment that has already been chosen.
You could think of these new terms as derivative interpretations, instead of the ‘raw’ or any calculated data itself.
I use these ‘new’ terms as a relative gauge for changes made in their respective domains.
Because after my setup has been modified, these tools are a way of capturing what differences are noticed, as described in these posts.
These audibly characterized changes form the basis of acceptance or rejection which are due to the results of the modification(s) just made.

Let me add that PRaT (Pace Rhythm and Timing) is a close cousin to C3 in that the sonic results of achieving a ‘satisfactory’ amount of PRaT and C3 will yield similar sonic results. Namely our sense of connection to the music, and when the coupling between the external acoustic presentation and the internal experience starts to align, magic happens. I call this trait, this alignment, a ‘Central Nervous System Tap’ (CNST), which I’ll delve into more fully, later.

So up next is I5 (Intelligibility).
It’s a fairly easy technique to use, in that all you have to do is listen to the words sung or spoken and determine if you can understand each and every word,
or not.
Some albums are rather good for this in that the music itself is not overly complex (few(er) other ‘voices’ to interfere) but still the focused resolving ability of the playback system may be insufficient in some way, which can obscure some words.

This term originates from the telephone industry well before cell phones, where intelligibility was THE measure of the quality of the system. It was codified and even quantified so that there was a ‘standard’ by which situations could be compared. The plosive phonemes such as P’s - T’s were the key to the codification process. Plosives (denoting a consonant that is produced by stopping the airflow using the lips, teeth, or palate, followed by a sudden release of air.), essentially contain very low frequency components in their tonal makeup. And sibilant sounds, the S’s, are at the other end of the audio spectrum where articulation is more obscured due to the ‘masking’ nature of this white noise like sound.
These were the major phonemes that were used to quantify intelligibility for the telephone system back in its heyday. Fortunately we have an easier task in that all we need do is to listen and determine if we can hear and know what each and every word is,
or not.
I5 was quite useful back then and remains so now.

I like to use Dire Straits for this test because it is easy to hear Mark Knopflers voice, yet knowing exactly which words are being sung can be quite a challenge, well, at least for some words. This ability to hear precisely all the words, or now hear the words not understood before, is an easy test to use to determine if any changes to the setup result in an increase in the systems resolving ability, and specifically it points to the degree of Cohesion that each ‘voice’ has, and if it has been improved.

Next up is T3 (ToeTapp’nTime) and HB&W (HeadBobbing & Weaving) and this test is also rather simple.
Does you foot start moving in time with the music?
Does your head start dancing on your neck when the music grabs your attention?
If so, the playback system has extended bass response capabilities.
This can be heard in the leading edge of most every voice, especially percussion instruments and the like, that have properly coupled acoustic impact and power.
Even piccolo’s can have a sharp leading edge that once heard and noticed can be picked out by this test.

A sure fire way to tell if the playback system has extended bass response is to perform the absolute phase reversal test, which is easy to do via s/w or h/w means by flipping the absolute phase ‘switch’.
This is also a good way to find those tracks that indeed DO have extended bass down to the very lowest (and lower) octaves.
Not all recorded music includes this portion of the acoustic spectrum.
So once you hear these portions of the frequency response spectrum, note what the album and track is for future testing/evaluation.
I have a playlist called Bass 2 the MAX, just for this very purpose.

If there is no real difference in the bass impact between one absolute phase setting and another, assuming the music you are using actually has deep extended bass, then there is a ‘choke point’ somewhere in the system that is effectively truncating the lowest octaves.
I ‘stumbled’ upon this when I made my own AC power cables, where all of a sudden this ‘choke point’ was removed.
My immediate reaction was OH YEAH!!!!
The increase and extension of the bass response was quite apparent.
And yes it did take hundreds of hours to reach their full bass capability.
And it took over 500 hours of break in to know if my current cables were capable of passing this one single test. AND only after cooking the cables on an ‘industrial’ strength cooker, did they actually pass.

And it should be noted that the capability of the systems bass response itself doesn’t need to be extended, because once a degree of coupling is achieved what bass response that does exist WILL be enhanced.
And not just in extension, but I also noticed improvements in the leading edges of every bit of sonic information.
Every voice’s primary tones (the parent, if you will) and all of it’s harmonically related resonant series of tones such as the ‘air’ that surrounds each voice, will be enhanced.
As will the sound field’s contribution of resonant tones which are derived from the parent’s primary tones, and the physical device’s own resonant contributions, which helps form the parents primary tonalities.
All of these unique resonances have tonal contributions which can be enhanced as well.

All these separate series of harmonically related resonant tones ‘ride’ on top of the primary tones produced while playing. And as they get ‘locked back in’ with their parents with greater ‘precision’, the increase in the ‘punch’ or ability to deliver ‘power’ to those voices (along with their related resonant tones) increases. And those that contain plosives or are percussive in nature, get an increase in the smack or impact they can deliver.
This greater precision in the alignment of all the harmonically resonant tones to their ‘parent’ creates a tighter, more focused coupling of the energy available during the recreation and delivery of the analog signal.

I usually like to use bass that is electronic or orchestral works where they haul off and smack one of those 6’ drums, as but two suitable examples.
It’s also fun to hear the entire acoustic space ‘Light Up’ or get resonantly energized and then hear this acoustic energy decay and recede into the distance.
Many of the Telarc albums have tracks that can have powerful bass with sharp percussive leading edges to those voices. Also many DMP recordings (Flim and the BB’s for example) and Béla Fleck and the Flectones are good examples to use for this.
When the impacts hit, the extended lower harmonics can be surprising in how far they extend down.
This is an example of Coupling in action and it can be quite satisfying.
This can result in hearing low frequency rumble, and when you first hear it and immediately know what it is, you’ll know your system has C3 dialed in!
And sometimes when you recognize that it’s the air handling system you’re hearing, it can be quite an eye opener! biggrin.gif

When all of these individual leading edges become effectively coupled with their ‘parent’ voice, I have found that T3 and HB&W just automatically starts, seemingly all by itself. I know I can’t help myself, indeed I welcome these forms of confirmation that the sonic presentation is involving and engaging to that degree. Because when these attributes are all present and fully functioning, the music sucks me in and my analytic processes give way to being carried along with the music, which is one of my goals in listening to music to begin with.
An unanticipated and unexpected consequence of this degree of getting engaged in and with the music, is when you realize you’ve memorized all the lyrics to whole albums. And so to, is being able to effortlessly follow each and any individual voice, amid the complexity of the rest of the music. biggrin.gif

And lastly there is the S/S (Spooky/Scary) description of hearing and describing music, seemingly anew, even though it’s exactly the same track that has been repeatedly listened to countless times before. Sometimes, hopefully more often than not, the music ‘clicks into place’, every voice is recreated as a whole, and all of the sonic effects, be they natural (in a concert hall) or electronic (effects boxes, to studio magic) just all ‘line up in their proper time and place’. Each and every bit of acoustic information, and/or voice, in each moment, everything, just snaps into place, nothing is missing and it’s easy to tell because everything is clearly heard. This allows us to identify each voice and all of it’s related harmonic resonant tones for what they are and where they are and who they belong to…
For the entirety of all that is heard, all in real time.

THIS is S/S Spooky/Scary

One of my goals is to ‘increase’ the ratio of having Spooky/Scary ‘show up’, more often than not.
So when my minds nitpick ‘function’ gives way to enjoyment and the timeless experience of being enveloped IN the music, that’s when I know I am getting close to the degree of ‘realism’ I am seeking.

JJ

END Part 3 Next up Jitter & tLFF & DRC
Edited by johnjen - 7/29/16 at 8:48pm
post #42 of 1082
Thread Starter 
Hoo Boy…
1st up, a hearty THANKS to atomicbob for this opportunity to explore the differences between the Bimby and Gumby dacs.
We talked about a great many things, listened to some fine music, tweaked the setup, compared notes, and we both learned a great deal.
Which really is the best part.
AND since we both agreed with a great deal of the info we shared, we both confirmed (to ourselves anyway) we AREN'T CRAZY, or, er, well, any more crazy than the rest of you who will read this. atsmile.gif

And now the rest of the story…

So to set the scene and paint a picture of who and what was involved here…
Think DR. Science and the neighborhood kid, Jimmy, in the back of the good DRs. laboratory with all of the sciency stuff glowing and humming with a bunch of ongoing experiments in one state of operation or another.
And then DR. Science sez,
“Here Jimmy, hold these 2 wires…”
So of course Jimmy gets to experience, first hand, atsmile.gif the wonders of electricity and for these experiments some acoustics as well.

These are the results of this joint effort…

We were using a bel canto e.One REFlink DDC (digital to digital converter) to send a SPDIF data stream to both DACS which was fed via usb from the laptop, running JRiver, Sonarworks Ref 3 plug-in, in Windoz 10.
And we used a Radial Engineering TwinISO balanced to SE converter, which uses Jensen transformers, so it’s a passive conversion.
This way we could try either the balanced or the SE outputs from the Gumby and compare them to the Bimby.

We also were using a Goldpoint (SA1X) passive balanced attenuator to level match the balanced to SE converted outputs of the Gumby to the Bimby.
We did manage to get them matched within ≈ 0.26dB.
And we used a 2nd Goldpoint (SA2) passive attenuator and selector, for the A/B function to control (with fixed steps for easy repeatability) the overall gain to the amp.

Our conclusions are (the envelope please)…
The Bimby (SE only) and Gumby (using the SE output) are or can be REALLY close.
Cables will have a greater net effect, (ie. will further 'color' the end results), MOAR than the differences between these 2 dacs, in SE mode.

We played around with SE interconnects and where the 'best' cables went, that was the 'better' sound.
In fact when we 1st started, the Bimby had the ‘best’ cables and the Gumby had the ‘not best’ cables.
I figured (not yet knowing this) based upon the overall sound signature I was listening to the Gumby when in fact it was the Bimby.
So we switched the SE cables and even tried a pair of real short Pyst cables, and that’s when we figured out that the ‘best’ DAC followed the ‘best’ cables.
When identical cables were used the differences were so close, it was simply amazing.
Yes there were barely perceptible differences, but they were so slight, I lack the vocabulary to enunciate them with any real degree of elucidation… atsmile.gif

In addition I heard a reduction in output of upper mid to top end when the signal passed thru the balanced to SE passive xfrmr and passive balanced attenuator. Which in some cases (think poorly mastered CD’s with ‘etch’) could be of benefit.
So the SE outputs from the Gumby was ‘better’ than the converted balanced outputs, in terms of matching the SQ output to the Bimby, when driving a SE’d amp, using this setup.

So in effect if you’re running in SE mode only, the Bimby is a no brainer at $600.
And if you have a balanced amp then, perhaps, the Gumby or Jggy might be worth twice or 4 times the cost of the Bimby.

We were using the Project Sunrise III amp and after we dropped the output impedance to it’s lowest setting while feeding both the 800's or the 650’s, the bass came up nicely as well as a tetch bit more 'sparkle' (slightly better inner details and definition) in the mids and up.

I think that was when we heard a guy cough/wheeze at the beginning of the Reference Recording of the Firebird suite in 172.4K native rez.
What I heard was a guy semi-stifling a cough (he exhaled/wheezed over a second or 2 instead of a plosive cough) during a sorta quieter passage in the first minute or so.
It’s like when you hear someone drop a pencil or pen on the floor, or the shuffling of paper (sheet music?) or the musicians joking in the background, or hear the ‘degree’ of audience participation etc., all while the musicians are playing.
But what is truly significant here is not that you can hear these background ‘events’, but that you can clearly identify them for what they are.
THAT is when you know you’re hearing something special.

And now that this level of ‘transparency’ has become available in a $600 dac, well I figure the dac world is in for, shall we say, a bit of a re-shuffle.

We both agreed that the Sonarworks EQ plug-in REALLY helped as well, especially when it gets dialed in by playing with the ‘knobs’ just a bit.

Interesting Observation Alert!
Has anyone else noticed the comments being made recently, with increasing regularity, that people are finding it REALLY HARD to take their headphones off and STOP listening?
These Multibit dacs are delivering this level of IMPERATIVE involvement at a price point that ANYone who wants a decent headphone based audio system can afford, even if it’s one piece at a time.
Lately, I too have been subjected to this extra late night, blurried eyes in the morning routine, but my dac didn’t cost $600.
And to be able to listen to a system that is so captivating and involving that it DEMANDS your attention to the point that it’s 3am and you think, just one more, and no I won’t look at the clock, I don’t want to know what time it is… atsmile.gif

I’m seeing more and more evidence of this is happening…

And now back to our regular program of dance music…
er no, wait,
what…?


So in this case, when the phase reversal trick, along with, the Sonarworks DSP plugin, (after tweaking it just a bit), and adding just a touch of subsonic bass, are all combined with this system, the end results are most gratifying.
And in some cases the results can be quite unexpected.

Next we simplified the entire setup and used the Bimby via a direct USB data feed from the laptop to the Sunrise amp driving the 800’s and 650’s.
I immediately noticed a change in the ‘density’ of the acoustical soundstage. The USB had more ‘there’ there, when compared to the usb to spdif converted signal we were using previously.
It had greater impact and what I refer to as coupling. This is where the acoustical energy has more ‘power’ behind it.
IOW the signal presented to my ears had more presence, power, and impact due to what I describe as better timing and precision in terms of the reconstructed analog signal from its digital source.

THEN we played around with the short (11" to ≈ 24") 4pin xlr to 1/4" balanced to unbalanced adapters, which we used to plug in the balanced HPs into the Sunrise amp.

I really was amazed at how much difference we could hear between the 6 different adapters.
I figured it might be rather slight to near impossible to tell, I mean it’s like all we did was try 6 different chunks of 1-2’ of wire, but instead there was a great deal more variation than I anticipated.
It may have had something to do with the different lengths, except the 2 ‘best’ were almost the longest and almost the shortest cables of the bunch.
It may have something to do with metallurgy, or perhaps the physical construction of the wires, but again the 2 ‘best’ were radically different types of wires, so I really can’t say why these 2 were the ‘best’ of those we had on hand.

Here is the collection of cables we used.
Maybe we should see who can guess which pair were the best?


And here is the whole setup after being reduced down to it’s simplest configuration.


That Sunrise amp is a real sleeper.
To be able to pair well with both the 650’s and 800’s means it scales really well right along with the Bimby and with other ‘optional’ hardware tweaks (like a better outboard power supply, cables, etc.)
It has the best of all worlds, (runs in class A, NO feedback, tube and mosfet, 6 or 12 volt tubes, easy bias etc. etc.) all neatly setup in an easy to tweak/configure/tube roll/package.
And it scales REALLY well right along with the HD 650’s

Which all combine in this killer ≈ $1500 system to make for hours and hours of tweaking and listening enjoyment.
AND this is not only a REALLY good starter package, but is good enough to act as a reference system for any further improvements, or for building a second system.


Here is the list of equipment we used during all of this.

JRiver MC20 in Windoz 10
Sonarworks Ref 3 HP compensation DSP plug-in
bel canto e.One REFlink USB to SPDIF converter
Schiit Gungnir MB DAC (Gumby)
Schiit Bifrost MB DAC (Bimby)
Garage 1217 Project Sunrise III amp with Electro-Harmonix 12BH7 tube
Talema LPS 25VA linear power supply for PS-III
Goldpoint SA2 passive attenuation with switch for A/B selection
Goldpoint SA1X balanced passive attenuation (Gumby balance output matching)
Radial Engineering TwinISO with Jensen transformers (balanced to unbalance conversion)
Sennheiser HD650 headphones (stock) BTG Audio Sunset cable
Sennheiser HD800 headphones (stock) Norne Audio Draug cable
Sennheiser HD800 headphones (modded) SAA Endorphine cable, hardwired
Tecnec SPDIF cables with Canare LV-77S broadcast video 75 ohm cable.
AudioQuest Forest USB cable
Sescom XLRM to XLRF cables with Neutrik connectors and Canare L-4E6S starquad cable
Sescom XLRF to RCA cables with Neutrik connectors and Canare L-4E6S starquad cable
Custom XLRF to XLRM four pin polarity reversal adapter with Neutrik connectors and Canare L-4E6S cable
DH Labs Silver Sonic Air Matrix RCA interconnects
Schiit Pyst RCA interconnects
Blue Jeans cables RCA interconnects
* Q Audio TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter
* Custom TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter (Neutrik TRS and XLR connectors, Canare L-4E6S cable)
* BTG Audio Sunset TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter (Furutech TRS, Neutrik XLR)
* Norne Audio Draug TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter
* Custom TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter (Neutrik connector and cut end of HD600 stock cable with TRS connector)
* Zy Hifi TRS to 4-pin XLRF adapter

Music from 44.1K to 192K
HD Tracks and Reference Recordings for high rez sources.


The *’d items are the adapters we tested…

All in all, we learned some really ‘gud’ stuff’!


So Jimmy did live to tell the tale, for one and all to read and gain a few more data points from, even after holding those 2 wires. atsmile.gif

But now Jimmy’s dilemma has grown even greater…
Bimby - $600 ?
Gumby - $600 x 2 ?
Jggy - $600 x 4 ?

Which one is the ‘right’ one for Jimmy’s requirements…?

Choices - choices, decisions - decision,
It’s so hard to choose, any more.
B, or G, or J?


JJ
Edited by johnjen - 10/28/15 at 10:48pm
post #43 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnjen View Post


Here is the collection of cables we used.
Maybe we should see who can guess which pair were the best?

 

Thank you for your great write up!!! This is the type of info I think a lot of people are clamoring for. Having never heard any Schiit products, their multibit DACs have my curiosity piqued!

 

Regarding the cables, I have always been under the impression that any Monoprice cable will suffice, and thus, have never moved on from them. However, I do not detect any sort of agenda or pre-conceived notions creeping into your analysis, so I MUST ask...what two cables were the best? I seriously would have no clue when it comes to cable upgrades/swapping.

 

Thanks again, excellent write up!  :cool:


Edited by painted klown - 10/29/15 at 1:51am
post #44 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by painted klown View Post
 

Thank you for your great write up!!! This is the type of info I think a lot of people are clamoring for. Having never heard any Schiit products, their multibit DACs have my curiosity piqued!

 

Regarding the cables, I have always been under the impression that any Monoprice cable will suffice, and thus, have never moved on from them. However, I do not detect any sort of agenda or pre-conceived notions creeping into your analysis, so I MUST ask...what two cables were the best? I seriously would have no clue when it comes to cable upgrades/swapping.

 

Thanks again, excellent write up!  :cool:

The 6 adapter cables were listed in the preference order. Note that number two on the list is a custom made cable using Neutrik TRS and 4-pin XLRF connectors with Canare L-4E6S cable which anyone with soldering skills can make. About $10 in parts.

post #45 of 1082
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnjen View Post


Interesting Observation Alert!
Has anyone else noticed the comments being made recently, with increasing regularity, that people are finding it REALLY HARD to take their headphones off and STOP listening?
These Multibit dacs are delivering this level of IMPERATIVE involvement at a price point that ANYone who wants a decent headphone based audio system can afford, even if it’s one piece at a time.
Lately, I too have been subjected to this extra late night, blurried eyes in the morning routine, but my dac didn’t cost $600.
And to be able to listen to a system that is so captivating and involving that it DEMANDS your attention to the point that it’s 3am and you think, just one more, and no I won’t look at the clock, I don’t want to know what time it is… atsmile.gif

I’m seeing more and more evidence of this is happening…

And now back to our regular program of dance music…
er no, wait,
what…?

Just talking about this quote above.

 

This is the inverse of a phenomenon that has been reported frequently over the past 20 years or so.... which is that people listen to music for shorter periods of time since the advent of Digital Audio.   (Which probably explains the shift back from albums to single songs, that became set in stone by the iPod Playlist.)

 

Digital Audio, using cheap components, has a hard, cold sound without details and without normal room ambience.  So, it is fatiguing to listen to Digital Audio for 99%+ of people.  This is one reason for the resurgence of vinyl.

 

So, what people are experiencing with a Multibit DAC with normal detail and ambience, is the actual musical performance. 

Not perfect fidelity, but close enough that the mind can actually listen without fatigue.

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