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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. Amberlamps
    I didn't know that the reclocking was done in the fpga, I thought that crystal oscillators were used for reclocking/timing purposes.
  2. Carmantom
    Do I understand correctly that this scaler needs original wav files, I would have to re- rip my CDs, since other than my dad files all were ripped to flac. Seems like a grueling tasks. Thanks for any comments
  3. ZappaMan
    No flac is perfect, wav is an uncompressed form of flac which most people can’t hear a diff between.
    You want flac because it hasn’t had excessive compression applied to it.
  4. Drewligarchy
    I think the M Scaler naturally creates a sharper sound, RFI aside, by it's ability to better time leading edges with transients.

    I mean I can't really say RFI aside, because I don't know how much is leaking into my system - but have taken significant measures.

    It's really an astounding piece of gear in what it's able to do. My sense, however, is that - especially with headphone - if they lean to the bright side - it could be too clear (e.g. Abyss, Utopia) and cause fatigue. In those cases, blurring the lense slightly with a Dave alone - might create a more pleasurable tonal synergy, albeit with significantly less depth (and all the other advantages of the M Scaler.

    There seems to be a slightly greater focus to the sound going pass through on m-scaler via optical (may be due to reclocking) - than Dave direct via optical. The depth and focus becomes greater as you up sample further.

    Sometimes I feel like this guy. Too much truth!

    xxx1313 likes this.
  5. feddar
    Is PCM 44.1kHz (redbook) simply the best format to use with the Mscaler? In theory, that would appear to be the case. Here is my reasoning, assuming the same originally great master recording in each case.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but MQA is slightly lossy. I believe MQA sacrifices 2 bits of the wrapped base file to be able to store the unwrapping/high res information. That means that using the base file with the Mscaler would result in faulty upscaling, and increased artifacts. Using the fully unwrapped MQA file would likely cause artifacts as well, as the base file is lossy. Is this why the Mscaler does not include MQA unwrapping?

    DSD is best when recorded directly to DSD, without processing (which rarely happens), and then played back directly as DSD. Does the Mscaler convert the DSD to PCM before upscaling, removing the advantages of DSD and possibly introducing artifacts?

    Theoretically, all the information is present in a 44.1kHz file for full sound reconstruction. The Mscaler does this to a degree (1 million taps) that effectively yields the original sound. If this were true, is there any advantage of higher than 44.1kHz sampling?

    Maybe I am missing some other formats, but these were the obvious heavy hitters to me. Please let me know if I missed anything, or if my reasoning is wrong.

  6. rkt31
    Like all dac ,m Scaler too takes input in pcm stream. It won't matter what is the encoding of the file. All encoded lossy or lossless formats have to be first decoded back into pcm ( wav, FLAC, DTS, mp3 all these are 'files type' while pcm is 'data type ' ). Ie the missing bits of MP3 lossy files are filled up to make it 44.1khz 16bit pcm stream by the decoder for the consumption of dac . All dac process anything after it has been decoded back to pcm. In case of mqa if it is not unfolded by the decoder,it will pass on 44.1khz pcm, if it is unfolded it will be passed on as 88.2khz pcm etc based on the decoding. Dsd is rarely native both during processing or during playback. Idea of dsd was to simply pass it through low pass filter so that it did not require any processing. but with advancement of digital processing dsd can sound better with 'processing' during playback. See if dsd without processing and simply passing through low pass filter could sound ok, there would not have been dac/upsampler which upsample dsd before passing it for conversion. As far as I know HMS converts dsd into pcm. But as you know HMS has lot more processing power so it's not simple korg audiogate dsd to pcm conversion.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
  7. jarnopp
    I think the best would be the native recording format would be best. 2nd best would be an even conversion, like 48kHz if recoded at 96kHz. 44.1kHz I believe is too often converted from something else.
  8. Rob Watts
    Please remember that pass-thru is not bit perfect - it's intent is to allow one to easily hear the effect of the M scaler. Now the M scaler has an insertion loss, and this is essential to avoid clipping from inter-sample overloads and from Gibbs phenomena. The loss is 2.76dB; and to make the pass-thru comparison fair that also has the same insertion loss. So when comparing pass-thru with Dave direct you need to reduce the volume by 3dB when Dave direct is compared to pass-thru - and even then it's still not exactly volume matched.
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    xxx1313, Paul Bjernklo and zenlisten like this.
  9. JaZZ Contributor
    I often convert hi-res recordings to lower-res files. The reason is that I need the latter for my FiiO DAPs – with the goal to save space and to enable the built-in equalizer, which only works up to 48 kHz. The comparison between the two tracks – let's say 96/24 against 48/16 – still shows some advantage in favor of hi-res even through the M Scaler. But it's so small that I couldn't identify it without direct comparison. Now the M Scaler itself makes everything hi-res anyway. So I prefer a lowly 48 kHz recording through the M Scaler to the same recording in 192 kHz without the M Scaler, through the DAVE alone. Still the 192 kHz track is superior when both recordings have been processed by the M Scaler. Sadly I only have one 192 kHz recording that's worth the format from the recording quality: the old CSNY album «Déjà vu».

    Personally I don't care for DSD. Apart from the doubtful technical merits of the format and the fact that just very few DSD recordings are «pure DSD», my main objection is the intolerance against DSP (→ equalizing, a major component of my audio philosophy!). At the same time that's also a huge disadvantage in view of recording quality and musical expression (certainly an important reason for the small number of pure-DSD recordings).
    zenlisten likes this.
  10. zenlisten
    After 5 weeks of service I got back the M Scaler, unchanged. They could not reproduce the issue. I have been listening for an hour now and I also didn't experience the dreaded occasional suble crackling so far.

    But oh boy, what a miracle this M Scaler is! It blows my mind. While the M Scaler was in the service I used the software player HQPlayer through Roon to send 702/768 upscaled music to TT2, and it was definitely an improvement over unscaled music. But the M Scaler is clearly another level. It's good with every genres but especially with natural instruments. Violin sounds much more like violin. Guitar is much more like guitar. I am so surprised. I forgot how good the M Scaler sounds. I feel again like I never want to stop listening.

    And so far no crackling. We'll see what happens.
  11. Progisus
    If setup properly and with the right filter, HQPlayer is extremely close to M Scaler. At least in my listening environment. I did an AB comparison with volume matched levels and by the end of the album I did not know which I was listening to. Perhaps my RFI is less than others though. I really feel that the lack of emphasis on the improvements possible with M Scaler and other 384k or 192k dacs is unfortunate. The benefit it has provided for my aging Hugo TT(1) is very noticeable. It would be fun to hear from other users of M Scaler and third party dacs as to their results. (if there are any. Most are using HQPlayer through Roon).
  12. dmance
    Try to swap USB cables (if USB is your input). I had a similar issue ...all due a good cable that went bad.
  13. zenlisten
    I was following your setup which you posted here. Didn't do A/B testing back and forth. The difference was obvious as soon as I listened to the same violin piece within a couple of minutes. Also I was used to HQPlayer sound and the M Scaler sound seems to be different. Cabling was different though, see below:

    Yes, cabling is different. Although the same USB cable is used there is a USB>Optical converter before the M Scaler. Will also try the naked USB into M Scaler.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  14. zenlisten
    Been playing this A/B thing for an hour now but it's damn hard. Even tried A/B/C: HQPlayer, M Scaler with USB, M Scaler via optical.

    But switching takes quite some time and hassle (change cable, change Roon, change TT2 input, volume match). Also, my mind adapts so quickly to the new sound. It looks like I am much more interested in the music itself than in analyzing the sound quality. I guess I am more a music fan than an audiophile. Setting up to identical systems for an immediate switching ability could work but would be too expensive. Maybe if I would focus on critical parts in specific songs? Anyway, I give up. Just want to enjoy music. But go ahead if you have a proposal for such a situation.

    One could argue that my surprise after the 5 weeks break was a better indication. I was accustomed to the sound signature of the system and switching to the M Scaler caused a clear difference. On the other hand, I also switched to optical instead of USB which could also explain the difference.

    But the other indication is that I enjoyed listening so much this afternoon, I couldn't stop listening for several hours. I didn't have this with the HQPlayer although I used it a lot during the last five weeks.

  15. Progisus
    I say give up and listen and forget about RFI too. My AB system was easier as it to the same endpoint over wifi. Grouping outputs in Roon is cool to. I just needed to change inputs on the H2 with the remote.

    I’ve spent enough on ms and now it’s time to collect some more Prog.
    highfell and zenlisten like this.
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