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Hugo M Scaler by Chord Electronics - The Official Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by ChordElectronics, Jul 25, 2018.
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  1. Christer

    Okey dokey...well THAT kind of explains our often VERY different opinions.

    Why didn't you say THAT earlier ?
    Or did you? And I have forgotten it?

    If you are streaming 16/44.1 or MP3 via Tidal/Chromecast, NO WONDER some of the things I have been mentioning here seem to ELUDE you completely!

    Both DAVE on its own and ESPECIALLY combined with HMS are SUPERB and among the very BEST SOTA digital to analogue conversions you can get,possibly THE BEST.

    But they can NOT deliver MAGIC.

    Rob's own comment"You can't make a silk purse out of a pigs ear" is also relevant for 16/44.1 not only MP3 imho.

    When Rob says M Scaler delivers 16/44.1 to better than 16 bits accuracy, he is as I understand it and HEAR IT, NOT saying that 16/44.1 sounds as realistic as 24 bit hi res with everything else being equal.

    And if he does say so,I would like to hear and read it from him here, because it is simply NOT what I keep hearing when comparing live and recorded SQ via these to me still different sounding formats.

    As good as rbcd can sound via M Scaler it is NOT as good and ultimately realistic as well recorded hi res to me.

    My goal with any HIFI has always been since the days of analogue, to get as close as technically possible to how acoustic music actually sounds LIVE in a good hall.

    And when I comment here in these forums,about SQ it is often but not always, from direct comparisons to the LIVE sound in the hall at the actual recording sessions via both direct mic feed sound and the often VERY OBVIOUS differences between both the raw and the final native hi res master file and the downsampled rbcd version.

    But if you are ABSOLUTELY HAPPY with Tidal and Chromecast streaming quality good for you!

    But that does not necessarily need to apply to me and all the dedicated recording engineers ,recording in HI RES because they HEAR it sounds better than 16/44.1, does it?
    By the way do you have an M Scaler or not?
    Cheers Controversial Christer
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
    wswbd, delirium and 514077 like this.
  2. analogmusic
    Controversial Christer

    Been to a number of live shows where I was disappointed and underwhelmed...

    As a result I’m not any longer interested in recreating a live show in my home

    I’m very interested and have spent my hard earned cash on a hi fi system that is optimized for Pace Rhythm and Timing...

    Also I have some cd quality 44.1/16 bit recordings of live acoustic guitar which sound supremely realistic and in the room on my big rig.

    Other recordings do not even if hi res

    So I blame the recording Rather than my system now.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  3. Christer
    Good for you!

    And the M Scaler?

    Cheers Controversial Christer
  4. analogmusic
    It’s on the way.... long waiting lists

    I had access to one for a long time and am amazed with its capabilities
  5. analogmusic

    You may wish to read this which explains the issues well

    “Back in the mid-1990s, I believed that the design of D/A processors was fundamentally a solved problem. The resistor-ladder, multi-bit DAC chips of the 1980s, with their linearity errors, had been replaced by sigma-delta types that had minimal linearity error down to the lowest signal levels. All that remained for the designers of PCM D/A chips was to increase resolution and dynamic range to the theoretical limits, and to improve the mathematical precision of oversampling digital filters to match the performance of the 20- and 24-bit recordings that had just begun to be released.

    Twenty-five years later, nothing seems to have been resolved. The world of D/A processors has split into multiple warring factions. While sigma-delta DAC chips have indeed improved to an extraordinary degree, they are rejected by some hard-core audiophiles for failing to reproduce the force and attack of live music. Conversely, the digital processors featuring resistor-ladder DACs—which, their proponents argue, excel in these areas—can have linearity errors and levels of distortion that raise the eyebrows of conventional audio engineers, especially when those DACs are used without any reconstruction filter (such DACs are usually called "non-oversampling," or "NOS," footnote 1).

    And even when the processor uses a digital reconstruction filter, arguments rage about whether that filter should be linear-phase or minimum-phase, and whether it should be short (have a very small number of coefficients or taps) or as long as possible. And that's without considering newer forms of lossless digital conversion. Single-bit DSD encoding, featured in the Super Audio CD medium, came out of left field at the end of 1990s. And even within PCM, there is the MQA format, which rejects Claude Shannon's 1948 thesis that the initial analog/digital conversion should be performed by eliminating all spectral content above half the sample rate, regardless of its level.

    I recently spent some time with Aqua Acoustic Quality's Formula xHD, from Italy, which Jason Victor Serinus reviewed in June 2018, and in June 2017 I reviewed the DAVE processor, from British company Chord Electronics. Both are expensive—the DAVE costs $12,488, the Aqua $17,000—and each represents one side of the DAC debate: the Aqua is a NOS resistor-ladder design, while the Chord uses the longest, most complex digital filter available.

    As you can read in our December 2018 issue, while I felt the Aqua DAC didn't commit any egregious sins, its sound quality was not totally to my taste (footnote 2). By contrast, Chord's DAVE was one of the best-sounding DACs I've had in my system. I miss it still.

    So when Chord Electronics announced a new DAC at a much lower price, the Qutest ($1895), featuring technology trickled down from the DAVE and identical to that used in Chord's Hugo2 ($2395, footnote 3), I didn't need my arm twisted to agree to review it.”

    Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content/chord-electronics-qutest-da-processor#RiyGjXrrGT00wKcj.99
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
    muski likes this.
  6. analogmusic
  7. Deano1974
    I recently moved from the supplied optical cable in the M Scaler box to a Qed reference digital optical cable and the difference is very noticeable

    Maybe it is source dependent but i would definitely try a glass cable if you can

    Just my thoughts

    delirium and Deftone like this.
  8. Christer

    Dear analogmusic.

    I LISTEN first and where possible for extended periods and with a lot of diffferent recordings MOSTLY HI RES by the way. Because if you really want to hear the best digital is capable of imho you need HI RES recordings,then I comment, not the other way around.
    You can quote as many reviews as you like. But I still prefer to listen myself, to form my own opinion over trusting what the HIFI Mags say.

    You insist on keeping feeding me information which I am since a long time FULLY AWARE of while I am discussing from my own listening experiences and comparisons of live against different digital formats.

    And you quote the mags!

    But since you post Atkinson's review here ,if if you also read Stereophile's review of Qutest ,did you notice that they also mentioned that it exhibited quite high ringing which they showed in a screenshot?

    What puzzles me a bit from ACTUAL LISTENING,is that I think I can HEAR that ringing/distortion both with rbcd and also HI RES material when using Qutest on its own.

    But it appears to be largely gone with M Scaler in the chain.

    There is CLEARLY more harshness/"ringing"? with rbcd than HI RES.

    To put it my way : "You aint heard nothing yet" until you have heard what the M Scaler adds to EVERY Chord DAC that it can be connected to including DAVE!

    I lack the tech knowledge to explain the reasons for this but it is VERY CLEARLY obvious to me, that M Scaler digs MUCH deeper into low level information present in HI RES material and sounds much more relaxed and smoother and closer to how acoustic music sounds live and without the harshness "digital ringing"? I hear too much of with Qutest on its own.
    Remember? I bought the Qutest only after having auditioned it with BLU2.

    Maybe Rob can explain if it is in fact less digital ringing we get with M Scaler connected or not?
    But in their measurements Stereohile did in fact mention Qutest's ringing.

    It is also something they looked at when reviewing DAVE.

    PS.When you quote others could you please do so in a way that there can be no doubt or confusion in the readers mind that you are in fact quoting someone else.
    Or are you actually Mr Atkinson hiding behind the moniker analogmusic here?

    If so, I am surprised they haven't at least lent you an M Scaler if you can't afford one now that you are leaving Stereophile.
    Cheers Controversial Christer
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
    wswbd likes this.
  9. analogmusic
    Controversial Christer

    No I have nothing to do with John Atkinson or stereophile.

    I think you’re talking about issues over which you have little knowledge.

    I listen to lots of pure analog vinyl and compared to cd version on mojo, Dave and Mscaler

    I don’t hear any issues. What ringing and pre ringing ???

    But of course your ears your perception and your reality...

    Whatever ho hum
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  10. 514077
    I don't believe he's leaving Stereophile. Just resigning as editor. At least, I hope that's the case.
    But, now you make me realllly want to try an HMS.
  11. analogmusic
    Controversial Christer

    I humbly disagree with you.

    If a DAC or digital source like Mojo is well designed and executed, it will play 44.1/16 bit recording properly and there is no need for hi-resolution

    As Rob Watts stated, the whole purpose of Mscaler was for enjoyment of CD and DVD 44.1/48 KHZ files to be played back with reconstruction of transients looking back and forward to 1.4 seconds of music.

    as you increase the sample rate, the error in transients gets reduced, but it is only till reaches 768 KHZ that the Mscaler reconstruction of transients may no longer be needed.

    Spend some more time listening to the Mscaler, over time you will understand.

    I have attached the theory behind the maths, maybe you can read this.

    But again many recordings are not engineered to sound as a live perfomance to begin with.

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 10, 2019
  12. analogmusic
    Controversial Christer...

    oh this is what the review concluded, no mention of ringing or pre-ringing being a problem. what kind of sonic problem is this? I never heard a DAC ringing or pre-ringing?

    the issues in non Chord DAC performance that I can hear are loss of low level details or a softness to the sound. And of course the loudest instrument dominance. There is no sound that pre-rings or post rings... LOL... :ksc75smile: even in a 20 dollar DAC.

    LOL.... again.

    The review does say Tested for its rejection of word-clock jitter with 16-bit TosLink data, the Qutest turned in superb performance....

    Even without taking into account its small size, the fact that it's powered by a 5V wall wart, and its relatively affordable price, Chord's Qutest offers state-of-the-art measured performance.
    Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content...da-processor-measurements#mZDGIXez9t0xvs3e.99
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
  13. Christer

    I really knew you are not Atkinson.

    I was just trying to introduce a little bit of humour to our "discussions" again.

    I am quite sure you will enjoy the M Scaler when you get it.

    It can be really transformational with 16/44.1 material.

    Meanwhile keep enjoying what you already have.

    DAVE on its own is still one of the very best DACs I have ever auditioned.

    We don't know "Watts Up" next?

    But Rob has already hinted that 1M taps may not be THE absolute endgoal.

    24 bits full recovery obviously takes 256M taps to do, so we will probably both see and hopefully hear more progress in coming years from him.

    At a seminar at Canjam in Singapore last year,he said he did not think that 256M taps would become possible within his life time though.
    But maybe 10M taps or even more could be the next step with even more capable FPGAs.

    And I would not be terribly surprised if I would hear the difference between 1M and say 10M taps as easily I can hear the advantage of 1M taps over other dacs with fewer taps with PCM material.

    DSD in spite of its known limitations is a slightly different story if decoded natively as I understand it. And as the "true believers" in that format put it.
    And may I add, as I sometimes HEAR it at its very best,unedited and raw and with amps that don't freak out over the DSD noise.
    No wonder many former vinyl fans still love DSD.
    At its introduction DSD 64 definitely sounded better and more analogue in the best sense of analogue, to me than any 16/44.1 I had heard.

    As far as the "pre and post ringing" is concerned I am also asking a question?

    I don't have the tech knowledge to state that ringing is the culprit. I am only saying what I hear without and with M Scaler in the chain.
    But I would sure like to know if it could be ONE of the reasons why I find Qutest without M Scaler a wee bit hard and harsh and not as resolving with the most demanding material.

    Cheers Controversial Christer
  14. JaZZ Contributor
    Rob Watts has explained multiple times that the ringing isn't a problem, since it happens in the ultrasonic range. In fact the ideal DAC should produce infinite ringing – due to an infinitely sharp and steep low-pass filter (→ reconstruction filter/antialiasing filter...). I'm surprised about John Atkinson's lack of insight into digital technology.

    However, since we're not quite there (in terms of perfect filtering), the current WTA filter is the best that's currently available – culminating in the M Scaler. And as I hear it, 44.1 and 48 kHz recordings processed by the M Scaler sound at least as good if not better than hi-res recordings up to sampling rates of 176.4 and 192 kHz. I must say that it's a massive gain of musical enjoyment to get this quality level from simple redbook recordings that will never be (re)produced with higher sampling rates. That said, to my ears hi-res recordings processed by the M Scaler still sound better, although it's not a night-and-day difference. But generally I would say that the M Scaler indeed provides hi-res sound with «low-res» recordings, which is a great achievement!

    Theoretically, if the million taps is close enough to the theoretical ideal, 44.1 and 48 kHz recordings may be able to sound as good as any über-hi-res recordings, but one decisive precondition is that the quality of the obligatory pre-filtering before A/D conversion or decimation is comparably high. So we have to wait till Rob's Davina project will yield fruit.

    One thing to note (especially addressed to CC) is that the advantage of hi-res isn't in the frequency extension per se (since we don't need ultrasonics for a perfect recreation of a live event), but in the perfect timing (→ transient reproduction). Rob's WTA filter promises to deliver exactly this even with «low-res» recordings.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2019
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  15. Christer
    my question regarding ringing was related to the following under measurements in the review:

    "The Chord's impulse response with 44.1kHz data and the Incisive Neutral reconstruction filter (Filter button glows white, fig.1) indicates that this filter is a conventional linear-phase type, with a large amount of time-symmetrical ringing to either side of the single sample at 0dBFS"

    Read more at https://www.stereophile.com/content...da-processor-measurements#W0ZbUf73dCd88dzt.99

    I ,maybe wrongly? guessed that this "large amount of time symmetrical ringing"mentioned in the review could be some audible artifacts that might be at least ONE of the reasons why I hear such a clear and very obvious improvement with M Scaler in the chain over Qutest on its own.

    I have NEVER claimed to have much tech knowledge.

    On the contrary I mention my lack of it in many of my posts and maybe some of my questions are very naive?

    But I have quite a few times had direct access to a more objective way of comparing DACs and other HIFI than those who do NOT compare the sound of their HIFI to LIVE acoustic music.
    I am all ears and always keen to learn!
    So once again I pose the question to Rob or anybody else with more tech knowledge than me who feels like responding to my naive question:
    Can digital ringing be heard or not?
    And if it can not be heard at all,why is it even mentioned in this and other reviews?

    But if it can be heard,does M Scaler also make ringing less of a problem?
    Sorry for my ignorance but all I have to go by in my ignorance is what I actually hear.
    Cheers Controversial Christer
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