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Chord Electronics - Blu Mk. 2 - The Official Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by ChordElectronics, Jan 5, 2017.
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  1. AndrewOld
    In the particular case of the Blu2 and the DAVE which are designed by the same person to work together and manufactured and sold by the same manufacturer, it should be the designer that defines the optimum interface, and it should be the manufacturer that supplies it.
    Clive101, Amberlamps and Christer like this.
  2. jrfmd
    this is obviously a design flaw in the pretty expensive blue 2 that should result in a recall. instead we are given patches and partial fixes and it becomes part of the owners problem to make the flawed piece of equipment work
  3. EndGameSearch
    I think all of this ferrite and cable talk is a true disservice to BluMK2. I've been reading this thread off and on since it started and finally ordered my Blu in February. After four months of waiting and reading I was convinced that RF was a "problem" that had to be fixed. I don't doubt that different cables can impact the sound but I surely do not see this as a flawed piece of equipment. My BluDave sounds amazing and I'm using $40 cables. I will likely play with ferrites and/or buy a higher end cable since I enjoy optimizing, but I do not see this any differently than upgrading headphone cables. Upgraded HP cables can "improve" (change) the sound but it does not mean the product is flawed, and no matter what cable the manufacturer uses, users will want to personalize their listening experience regardless. It's part of the gear process and part of the fun. If chasing perfection was not part of the fun we wouldn't all be reading this site.
    onsionsi, xxx1313, AndrewH13 and 7 others like this.
  4. ecwl
    It feels like this forum has gotten into a fever pitch on the perceived "flaws" of Blu2. And frequently from non-Blu2 owners.
    I'm seeing arguments along the lines of a product must be flawed because:
    1) noisy AC power sources worsens the sound and power conditioners and cables can improve it so the product should have provided extreme amounts of power noise filtering in case the AC power source is extremely noisy.
    2) noisy digital sources worsens the sound and cables and improved digital sources can improve the sound so the product should have provided extreme amounts of digital source noise filtering in case the digital source is extremely noisy.
    3) I live under a cellular tower and my product sounds worse at home than at my neighbor in the country so the product is flawed because they did not build a huge Faraday cage around the product so that the sound won't worsen even if I live right next to a nuclear power plant with a cellular tower nearby

    Having owned the Blu2 for over a year, let's reset the reality on how susceptible Blu2 is from noise and how much noise Blu2 really injects into DAVE
    1) The improvement of Blu2 over DAVE is dramatic with stock cables (so this RF noise thing is extremely minor relatively speaking)
    2) Blu2's dual BNC output to DAVE is galvanically isolated so the vast majority of noise is eliminated
    3) Most of the time, when people are hearing deterioration in sound/performance (and it is usually subtle) in Blu2's performance, the source of the noise is from the upstream digital source sending signals into Blu2 via digital coax or USB. I know this comment upsets a lot of people because they (and I) spent a lot of time and good money on our favorite source or cable. But this has definitely been my experience on the matter. It's also why I've refrained from joining the fray for so long. No one (including myself) likes to say that the source I spent hours and days researching and lots of money on turns out to be inferior so let's blame Blu2 because Blu2 is more expensive and I didn't waste that much time on it.
    4) If there are no noise issues from your digital coax/USB source, or if you're playing CDs directly from Blu2, there maybe/is a very subtle improvement with superior dual BNC cable filtering of RF noise because the FPGA of Blu2 inherently can generate a little bit of RF noise that can get into DAVE which Rob Watts has acknowledged. I honestly don't think this is worth changing BNC cables or adding ferrites but I understand some perfectionists would prefer to do so and I think we are passionate about our hobbies so why not...

    Anyway, that's my opinion on the matter. I think for those who are really upset with their Blu2, I am certain there are many people who would be willing to take them off your hands immediately at a slight discount.
  5. ecwl
    As a separate note, less related to Blu2, the other argument I'm seeing is that cables don't matter because we can't measure their differences.
    The problem with that argument is multi-fold.
    1) Sometimes the difference is measureable but we don't measure it. e.g. one of the main advantage of Chord DACs is the lack of noise floor modulation. Most reviewers don't measure that.
    2) Sometimes the difference is measureable and we do measure it but people argue that the measureable difference is inaudible because we already understand everything there is to know about what's audible and what's not. A good example would be jitter a couple of decades ago when people argue there is a hearing threshold to what's audible jitter which inevitably seems to be wrong according to audiophiles (although I admit not necessarily according to ABX testing but ABX testing has its own issues as I don't think a lot people doing ABX would be able to tell the difference between an original singer vs a cover of the same song)
    3) Sometimes the difference is not measureable but clearly exists and it comes down to whether it is audible or not. I would argue the higher tap length WTA filters of Chord DACs would mathematically lead to more accurate timing accuracy. But currently, I don't think there are devices that can accurately measure that (although I presume that's one of the many reasons why Rob Watts is developing DAVINA). Similarly, Rob Watts thinks that digital noise shaping down to -300dB sounds better than -220dB or -180dB which to him is audible (and probably to most of us who owns Chord products) but we would not be able to measure this.

    So with respect to the fundamental question of whether something is audible if you can't "measure" it, I think the debate will always continue. Once again, if people are happier with the money they spend on their gear, I am happy for them.
  6. Crgreen
    As others have noted, the “issues” concerning the interface are for some not that important, or barely noticeable. Personal taste and ancillary equipment have a part to play. I think I might have been the first person to draw attention to these issues (without knowing the cause) and was told that my unit must be faulty. In a way, I’m relieved that it is now acknowledged by quite a few that there is a problem — including some who previously said my reservations were misplaced — and in my view, the WAVE cables are the best solution I have heard in current circumstances, though they do not entirely eradicate the slightly synthetic feel the m-scaler imparts in comparison to the Dave alone. Admittedly, I’m very sensitive to such things.

    As regards an optimal interface, in a perfect world your observation is correct. The problem is, the DAVE was designed before the m-scaler, and the only way the two can be linked is via Dave’s BNC inputs, so without redesigning the Dave, Rob had no other choice. Clearly, his ears didn’t hear a problem, and it may be that enough BluDave owners are untroubled by these issues for Chord not to consider it worth addressing. For what it’s worth, I don’t think anything other than BNC will be used for the foreseeable future, even with a stand-alone m-scaler.

    I’m not sure what Rob thinks about all this, as he appears to have gone AWOL from this forum for the time being. And although he’s candid, I imagine there are limits to how forthright he can be while his services are being retained by Chord.
    AndrewOld likes this.
  7. etnt
    Said time and time again that the cables and ferrites are just tweaks. The issue has been constantly overplayed to be some serious flaw.

    Tweakers will be tweakers, and given that one is in this forum, chances are that one will try to perfect something that's already extraordinary.
  8. Rob Watts
    Definitely not gone AWOL!

    And I am not retained by Chord at all; I give Chord a complete electronic design, they build it, I get a royalty on each unit sold. There are no design fees. I happily work on a project, as I want the product itself, and don't see any financial return for a long time - sometimes decades. There isn't even a contract between us - it's based on friendship and 23 years of working together with John...

    Sometimes it's much more appropriate to bite one's tongue and let other users comment, particularly with comments like Blu2 is flawed.

    Is Dave perfect? No. Is Blu2 perfect? No. But a BluDave is fundamentally more perfect than any other DAC product available at any price today - by IMO a huge amount - and I can back that statement up with the technical info I disclose, the measurements I publish, and the comments of users on the sound quality - let alone the huge number of awards and reviews that have been given.

    Indeed, I got some flak from Chord about talking of ferrites at all; I ignored it. I am not in the business of trying to tell a story that my designs are perfect; all I care about is getting the absolute maximum musical pleasure I can; and that's why I talked about the importance of ferrites with Blu2; my thinking is that somebody with £8000 to spend on a source would be intelligent enough to appreciate that talking about how to get the best out of a device would not be taken as a negative thing in exposing a sensitivity. Remember also that it's merely the icing on the cake; an M scaler makes such a huge difference to the overall musical performance - I for one could not live without one, ferrites or not.
    Chord Electronics Stay updated on Chord Electronics at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
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    onsionsi, fixated, xxx1313 and 13 others like this.
  9. Crgreen
    Glad you’re back Rob, albeit with a slightly serated tongue.

    Just to be clear, if your services are paid for by Chord, whatever form that payment might take, your services are being retained by Chord, even if you’re working as an independent contractor rather than an employee. And I’m quite sure there is a contract, albeit one that might not have been reduced to writing. Otherwise, there’d be no obligation on Chord to pay you, which I’m sure isn’t the case. It may be based on trust and friendship, but that doesn’t preclude contractual relations.

    There is of course, a large middle ground between claiming perfection (which you don’t) and contending that a product is flawed (which you deny). That’s where I’m currently floating. As a matter of interest, where do you stand on the optimal interface between an m-scaler and Dave?
  10. Rob Watts
    Just to clarify - I do not provide services to Chord. They manufacture my designs, for which they pay a royalty. They have no ownership or claim on the IP or designs; if they choose to cease production they may; conversely, if I choose to use another manufacturer I may too. It is a mutually beneficial partnership between my own company and John Fanks' company - that's all.

    As to the ideal optimum interface then that is a complex situation that I am spending a lot of time researching. There are huge practical benefits in using BNC cables, particularly when using future DX power amps, as I can run long lengths without any loss of performance or SQ.
    Chord Electronics Stay updated on Chord Electronics at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/chordelectronics https://twitter.com/chordaudio http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/
    onsionsi, darkless and AndrewOld like this.
  11. Crgreen
    Accepted — you provide Chord with non-exclusive permission to use the fruits of your labour, for which they are obliged to pay you for so long as they do so, and you retain the IP in your designs. A standard licensing contract, save possibly concerning duration.

    Since you’re about, can I raise another short point? I thought you had said that the Blu2’s USB input had the same galvanic isolation as the Dave. Is this correct, and if not, why not?
  12. Rob Watts
    No I hadn't said Blu2 USB had the same galvanic isolation as Dave - it's isolated via the BNC galvanic isolation. Since the really nasty RF stuff is from the FPGA, and around 2GHz, where the galvanic isolation is less effective, then the noise from the source is extremely small beer - as this is ferrite filtered anyway, and does not have the high frequency noise that the FPGA has got. So my thinking was isolating the USB source would make no difference to the SQ, as the source noise is isolated effectively from the DAC.
    Chord Electronics Stay updated on Chord Electronics at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/chordelectronics https://twitter.com/chordaudio http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/
  13. Amberlamps
    Working with a good mate on something that both of you love, that aint work, thats fun, with the added bonus of free money and an Emirates A380.

    < loves fun, especially when using a friends signature as guarantor for a fun time in vegas.

    It’s true, what happens in vegas really does stay in vegas.

    Cops wouldn’t let me leave.

    Fly Emirates A380.

    Currently listening to;

    The Police, Roxanne
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2018
  14. Jawed
    When I got my DAVE home, after about 14 months of using Hugo TT, I was amazed at the improvement.

    I thought RF was a solved problem due to DAVE's galvanic isolation (same as I thought with TT). Well it turns out, in my system, I was very wrong as the sound quality improvement from optical or lots of ferrites proved to be huge. When I say huge, I mean bigger than the gap I first heard between TT and DAVE.

    RF is a problem for all analogue electronics. Maybe DACs are the most sensitive. RF is not a new problem and digital audio companies have been dealing with it for decades now. DAVE is just another component that requires care to ensure RF doesn't cause a problem.

    The ideal DAC would be entirely insensitive to RF - Rob has been working on this topic, let's see what happens. We're on a journey of discovery with Rob. He did, after all, talk candidly about the improvement a Jitterbug produces and he introduced the use of ferrites on the BNC cables twixt Blu 2 and DAVE.

    Not all non-Blu 2 owners have been enthralled by Blu 2...

    The problems you list actually are taken into consideration in DAVE. Rob's talked about all of these things.

    Crgreen couldn't sell his Blu 2.

    Have you decided to buy the WAVE cables?
  15. Crgreen
    Can’t afford them. Spent all my money on a Blu2 :)
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    AndrewOld likes this.
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