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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. Sound Eq
    i have few questions bout the mscaler

    1- how come when you upsample a file that then makes it sound better
    2- is the mascaler going to make a difference to the extent if in a blind test you would always know when the music is played back with the mscaler in the chain using Hugo TT , or is it something that is difficult to notice in a blind test. Can someone share if they did a blind test and if they nailed it every time with and without the mscaler in the chain.
    3- does the mscaler have a more pronounced effect in home systems setups than in headphones
    4- I still do not get how up-sampling files will make songs sound better, in what way exactly, will it add more clarity and detail is that it, as I feel the hugott2 has already enough detail and clarity and I think one step more in that direction it throws musicality out the window, will it give more body, better bass and sound stage to music with a more natural tonality
    5- who will benefit more from mscaler, people who listen to classical music or all genres regardless , as this is important for me as I do not listen to classical music, I am more into electronic, rock, hip hop, progressive rock and synthpop music
    6- I just don't get why after paying 5k usd I still need to add bout 4k usd to make it something better, if people did not like what they heard from hugo tt2 then why not just get another dac and be done with it, if u seek more body or a different tonality
    7- so when someone designs something like an mscaler like Rob watts, was his design aimed mainly for home systems, or did he also specifically mention that it would be suitable for headphone users as well, and what headphones does Rob Watts use, I hope its not the Nighhawk, I don't know why I mentioned the Nighthawk maybe I read it somewhere that he adore it, but I might be mistaken and what music he listens to in general.

    sometimes i just feel i am spending so much money in hopes to listen to my favorite music in a better way, but the more i spent, the more bands i used to love, i simply can not listen to them anymore, which sucks big time, and this includes all my fav artists ( depche mode, the cure, tears for fears, pink floyd, etc.... ). dam I think I should go back to beats headphones and my mobile phone. Sometimes I feel that I should not have gotten into this audiophile thing, as great music sounds good on most setups anyway, even with a cheap beats headphone :)

    Finally I despise those great bands who just throw crappy recording quality on us, do they not give a dam how their music sounds, and the fools like me go overboard in spending in hopes they can enjoy their music a bit better and then you realize their recordings even sucks more in high end setups
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
    ruthieandjohn and JM1979 like this.
  2. jarnopp
    Lots of great questions and points. Also, a lot already posted on these topics. You might start with this one post and then explore that thread, as well as the BluMk2 and mScaler threads:
    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/watts-up.800264/page-12#post-13150760
     
  3. Sound Eq
    i will read more, but i am just wondering if I am moving in the right direction, or should I simply stop as after all my spending, I feel i am chasing a mirage and that the music I like to listen to no matter what i spend it will never sound great. I am simply not the person who listens to classical music . I am the average guy who used to like bands like the ones mentioned above in my post, and spending and spending money but I am not getting anywhere, except more excluding bands I used to like. I do not know what else to do, I have bought so much and have few of the best headphones out there and now a great dac/amp but what is it adding my enjoyment ? its a fact crappy recorded music sounds still crappy no matter what u buy

    I am always adding looking for artists that have great recording qualities, but those are not my fav bands so I am listening sometimes to them while thinking dam if my fav bands sound quality could sound as great as this recording .
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
    musickid likes this.
  4. jarnopp
    On the contrary, I’m listening to Mojo with Aeon 2 Closed right now and it sounds great (Cure live in Hyde Park). I listen to all genres, and I feel a lot is poorly recorded. But the extra detail of better gear, even on poor music, brings more musicality, not less, as I believe no one is aiming to make crap. TT2 sounds better, yes, and Focal Elex provides more open sound and speakers like the Omega’s sound even more natural. But like you, I am pausing on the mScaler. Will I go there? Probably. But the music is enjoyable now. So I’m enjoying it, and not worrying about what I could be missing. Jeez, I’d have wasted the last 30 years and wonder why I had bothered listening at all if I dwelled on how great Mojo is compared to even “Hifi” (very good mid-if) components of 20 years ago.

    Edit: and if I buy mScaler and it makes me feel Mojo is unlistenable, then I would send it back and “unlearn” what mScaled music is like.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2019
    zenlisten and Sound Eq like this.
  5. Amberlamps
    Cure "Mixed Up" album is one of my fav's.
     
    jarnopp likes this.
  6. kelly200269
    Lots of questions, and a simple answer:
    The HMS is the biggest ‘disrupter’ in digital audio playback that I have EVER heard.
    Listening to it is the only thing you can do.
     
    JM1979 likes this.
  7. jarnopp
    Your profile pic is distracting.
     
    kelly200269 likes this.
  8. Amberlamps
    Yup it is, and by the looks of it I'm only 5 years her junior.

    So how about it @kelly200269

    Just think, if we hooked up, we could have a TT2 and MScaler upstairs and downstairs :)
     
    zenlisten and kelly200269 like this.
  9. spotforscott
    It looks like the DXP-1A5S LPS on puts out 1.5 amps, far less than the 4 amp PS that comes with the Mscaler. Is that really enough power? Are the dynamics restricted at all vs the Mscaler brick?
     
  10. Rob Watts
    Quite a few questions! I will try to answer the technical ones as simply as I can.

    "1- how come when you upsample a file that then makes it sound better"
    OK firstly every single DAC on the planet upsamples - as a DAC converts sampled data into a continuous waveform, and to do this we are upsampling. Some of the upsampling is done digitally (before the conversion from digital data to analogue), and some is done in the analogue domain by sample and hold and analogue filtering. So the real question to ask is not whether a DAC upsamples, but how well it does the upsampling - and by this I mean how accurate the continuous analogue signal is to the original analogue signal in the ADC - in short how accurate the reconstruction from the sampled data is to the original analogue signal when recording. We know from sampling theory that if you want to perfectly reconstruct the original bandwidth limited analogue signal, you must use a sinc function interpolation filter.

    There is no other way to do it; if you do not use a sinc function filter, you will get differences between the original and the reconstructed - and that's a fact, something that nobody can disagree with. The issue that designers can disagree upon is why an exact reconstruction is important - and this is the contentious part. Most designers just use simple sine waves, and on that basis any simple FIR filter will do. But the brain requires accurate transients (a transient is when a signal suddenly changes - the initial crack as you strike a wood block for example) as transients are used by the brain for perception. Without the accurate reconstruction of the timing of transients, we have difficulty to perceive bass pitch, timbre, soundstage and perceiving instruments as separate entities. All these things are absolutely essential in order to enjoy music.

    So if we do not use a sinc function filter, then we will get transient timing errors - as transients will constantly move backwards and forwards in time, depending upon the filter, the music signal in the future and the past. But the closer the interpolation or upsampling is to an ideal sinc function, the more accurate the timing of transients becomes, and the better the sound.

    I realised this right at the start of digital in the early 80s. And since then, I have taken a rather simple view - that my filters would get more like a sinc function, and so more accurate the reconstruction will become, and keep improving the accuracy of reconstruction until I can hear no further improvement. Hence the path to the M scaler.

    So how can we define the accuracy of reconstruction? A digital FIR filter (this is the only way of doing a sinc function filter) is determined by two things - the algorithm (the recipe to make the filter coefficients) and the number of taps. One tap is one unit of processing - it's one data sample multiplied by one coefficient - and as we double the taps, and using an algorithm that is sinc accurate - like my WTA filter - we double the accuracy. The key about the M scaler is that the coefficients are exactly the same as sinc to better than 16 bits, and this means that we are guaranteed to perfectly reconstruct the original bandwidth limited signal to better than 16 bits at 16FS. This means that transient timing is more accurate, and we get better sound quality as a result.

    "2- is the mascaler going to make a difference to the extent if in a blind test you would always know when the music is played back with the mscaler in the chain using Hugo TT , or is it something that is difficult to notice in a blind test. Can someone share if they did a blind test and if they nailed it every time with and without the mscaler in the chain."

    Well that depends upon how well the blind test is conducted, how good the gear is, and how relaxed you are when doing the listening test. Blind tests are not very sensitive, as people worry about what they are trying to listen too. Moreover, these tests are useless to determine musicality - to do that simply plug in the M scaler, and if you enjoy your music more then keep it.

    "3- does the mscaler have a more pronounced effect in home systems setups than in headphones"

    That depends upon the transparency of your home system against headphones. The M scaler is equally valuable with HP or home, if both are transparent. I have heard some loudspeaker systems where I can struggle to hear a big difference; then plug it into a transparent system and the difference is absolutely huge.

    "4- I still do not get how up-sampling files will make songs sound better, in what way exactly, will it add more clarity and detail is that it, as I feel the hugott2 has already enough detail and clarity and I think one step more in that direction it throws musicality out the window, will it give more body, better bass and sound stage to music with a more natural tonality"

    I covered this earlier - every DAC upsamples, it's about how accurate the reconstruction is. But the effect of the M scaler is twofold - on one hand it's faster and sharper, as transients are reproduced more accurately, so you can actually perceive the crack of the woodblock; on the other hand, instrument separation and focus is better, with more accurate timbres - and this makes it sound warmer and more natural.

    "5- who will benefit more from mscaler, people who listen to classical music or all genres regardless , as this is important for me as I do not listen to classical music, I am more into electronic, rock, hip hop, progressive rock and synthpop music"

    I listen to mostly classical, but also prog rock and electronica. Electronica is much better with the M scaler, as rhythms are much tighter and faster, as you can perceive the starting and stopping of notes better; also electronica is created with a huge layering of instruments, so having a believable sense of depth helps ones enjoyment too. The M scaler oddly opens up the soundstage greatly.

    "6- I just don't get why after paying 5k usd I still need to add bout 4k usd to make it something better, if people did not like what they heard from hugo tt2 then why not just get another dac and be done with it, if u seek more body or a different tonality"

    You cannae break the laws of physics, cap'n... So if you want to more accurately reconstruct then you have to use more taps to make it more sinc like. And taps means more processing, and that costs. Moreover, the downside to more processing is more noise, which will degrade the DAC performance - so I spend a lot of effort in isolating the processing noise from the analogue section of the DAC. Fortunately, we are only worrying about 12W of processing power - that's the huge benefit of doing it within an FPGA rather than a PC, which would need orders of magnitude more power and so more noise. You can't get the accurate reconstruction unless you use the M scaler - another DAC won't do it.

    7- so when someone designs something like an mscaler like Rob watts, was his design aimed mainly for home systems, or did he also specifically mention that it would be suitable for headphone users as well, and what headphones does Rob Watts use, I hope its not the Nighhawk, I don't know why I mentioned the Nighthawk maybe I read it somewhere that he adore it, but I might be mistaken and what music he listens to in general.

    M scaler is for both systems. I use the Aeon closed 2 generally, as most of my HP usage is on 'planes.


    Just to re-cap - M scaler will much more accurately reconstruct the original analogue signal - and that's a simple fact. The only issue left is whether you yourself can appreciate the difference, and whether the difference is worth the cost to you. And you can only find this out by listening yourself and making your own mind up.

    As to myself - the M scaler makes a transformational change to my enjoyment of music - and I would be completely lost without it - it's simply essential. But that's just my personal opinion.

    Happy listening, Rob
     
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    miksu8, onsionsi, muski and 29 others like this.
  11. Amberlamps
    I misread the big post above. For a moment I thought Rob listened to Hip Hop.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
    Ragnar-BY and ZappaMan like this.
  12. xxx1313
    No, dynamics are not at all restricted. The housing of the DXP-1A5S does not even get warm. I am still very happy with it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  13. xxx1313
    .
     
  14. racebit
    Great post Rob, as usual, but I am not sure I agree with the PC statement. In last 2 months my system changed significantly. I bought a TT2, and am using HQPlayer to upsample to 768K, and I am quite happy with both. It is a fact that I never heard MScaler to compare it with HQPlayer, but on the short term MScaler is on hold to me.
    You mention PC needs orders of magnitude more power and so more noise. But none at all in my case, and no GPU being used, just regular CPU. I was already playing my music on my PC, so now I just use a player with integrated upscaler, no more power or noise, just better sound. Again that is not to say MScaler is not better (I can't say), but there is no doubt HQPlayer is much more easy to setup and use in my case. MScaler still on my radar, specially with eventual future versions, improved or integrated in new chord dacs.
     
  15. Progisus
    Try poly-sinc-long-lp. I use both mscaler and HQPlayer. It gives me very satisfactory results especially at 768 to a mojo.
     
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