The DIY'rs Cookbook
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tonykaz

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Mr.AB,
 
That is quite a story.  
 
Hmm, seems right outa the blue you stumble over a greatness.  Of course I realize that you were prepared from all the experience with all the gear you surround yourself with.  
 
Another greatness is that folks can simply follow along in your wake and achieve nice results.  Wonderful of you to share.
 
I was reading along on one of your renderings when you suggested that you had future hours planned for the PS111 & Bifrost Multi.  I wasn't quite paying attention and thought you were talk'n about a PS Audio piece.  Having sold scads of PS Audio stuff 30 years ago, I just gave it a pass and though you were a bit looney or had a bit extra of that wine in the Picture ( or was it NyQuil?) .   But I couldn't get it outa my back thoughts that you were saying something here, something profound. So I went back and took a much closer look and realized you were talking Sunrise here.  Hmmmmm, again! 
 
So, now I'm seeing a path, much like the path you recommended those many months ago, the Bottlehead path that I heard and liked at the Ann Arbor meet but also heard the Yggy and didn't like it at all. Confused and worried I had the University of Michigan Medical help me with my hearing needs.  They did just that and now I'm hearing better than I ever remember hearing. 
 
So I was about to go back down that Bottlehead Path or the Schiit Valhala 2 path. But your ( initial?) reporting on the Bi Multi & Sunrise brought me to a full stall.   
 
Now, I have more to be patient about. But I'm taking the first steps.
 
Thank you for writing. 
 
Geez, I feel lucky over this discovery.
 
Tony in Michigan
 
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kstuart

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For those contemplating purchases.
 
The Project Sunrise III is designed for 32-64 ohm headphones like the HE-500s, and the same designer has a similar amp - probably the same circuit - specifically designed for high impedance headphones like the HD650 (and HD600 and HD800, which he calls "Project Horizon III".  The following link has graphs that illustrate the performance of both amps at various impedances, making the choice clear for people who are dedicated users of a particular model headphones:
 
http://www.garage1217.com/G1217PRODUCTS/Guide/Comparison%20Guide.pdf
 
There is undoubtedly a "Project Horizon III" thread somewhere on Head-Fi for those who are interested.
 
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landroni

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  For those contemplating purchases.

 
The Project Sunrise III is designed for 32-64 ohm headphones like the HE-500s, and the same designer has a similar amp - probably the same circuit - specifically designed for high impedance headphones like the HD650 (and HD600 and HD800, which he calls "Project Horizon III".  The following link has graphs that illustrate the performance of both amps at various impedances, making the choice clear for people who are dedicated users of a particular model headphones:

 
http://www.garage1217.com/G1217PRODUCTS/Guide/Comparison%20Guide.pdf

 
There is undoubtedly a "Project Horizon III" thread somewhere on Head-Fi for those who are interested.

I know little and less about Project Sunrise III, but from their product page:
http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_002.htm
 
Suitable for: 32 - 300 Ohm HeadphonesTubes
 
 
Probably not for 600 Ohm, but this seems to be suitable for 300 Ohm headphones...
 
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landroni

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  Am I glad now I took this chance. Subbing a Linear Power Supply for the SMPS, pairing with a Mousai MSD192 and HD650 and before i new it I had a rocking budget system. Recently we put the Schiit Bifrost MB in place of the MSD192. The evolved budget system busts preconceived notions that you have to spend enormous amounts of money to achieve auditory delight. Now I have other systems that can delivery higher resolution or greater (name your favorite parameter here), but they require a lot more investment. Sure the Liquid Crimson or ZDSE rocks. At 10x the price of the PS-III. And I do appreciate the Liquid Crimson and ZDSE for the extra performance that they deliver. Not everyone can justify such investment. So the goal is how far up the Receiver Operating Curve of price performance can we put a budget system. This one will be hard to beat.

Did you ever get the chance to pair Bimby with the Liquid Carbon amp? I hear it's a Cavalli budget beast at 600$, and many seem to be grabbing it for their R2R systems...
 
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atomicbob

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Did you ever get the chance to pair Bimby with the Liquid Carbon amp? I hear it's a Cavalli budget beast at 600$, and many seem to be grabbing it for their R2R systems...
My Liquid Carbon doesn't ship until next week at the earliest. I'm still power aging the Liquid Crimson. I will have to be careful and not use the typical LC abbreviation, used by many elsewhere, or everyone (including me) will be confused as to which amp is being discussed.
 
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atomicbob

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I know little and less about Project Sunrise III, but from their product page:
http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_002.htm
 
Suitable for: 32 - 300 Ohm HeadphonesTubes
 
 
Probably not for 600 Ohm, but this seems to be suitable for 300 Ohm headphones...
The Project Sunrise III works fine for me with HD600, HD650, HD800. I haven't noted any deficiencies, just a very natural, enjoyable sound when combined with either the MSD192 and especially the Bifrost MB.
 
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kstuart

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  For those contemplating purchases.

 
The Project Sunrise III is designed for 32-64 ohm headphones like the HE-500s, and the same designer has a similar amp - probably the same circuit - specifically designed for high impedance headphones like the HD650 (and HD600 and HD800, which he calls "Project Horizon III".  The following link has graphs that illustrate the performance of both amps at various impedances, making the choice clear for people who are dedicated users of a particular model headphones:

 
http://www.garage1217.com/G1217PRODUCTS/Guide/Comparison%20Guide.pdf

 
There is undoubtedly a "Project Horizon III" thread somewhere on Head-Fi for those who are interested.

I know little and less about Project Sunrise III, but from their product page:
http://www.garage1217.com/garage1217_diy_tube_headphone_amplifiers_002.htm
 
Suitable for: 32 - 300 Ohm HeadphonesTubes
 
 
Probably not for 600 Ohm, but this seems to be suitable for 300 Ohm headphones...

Suitable and optimal are two different things.  Look at the graphs.  Here is their description:
 
" Project Horizon III Tube Headphone Amplifier - Pre-Amp:
Project Horizon is a sister amplifier to Project Sunrise III even sharing the same PCB. Understanding the want and need for a version specifically built for high impedance headphones, Project Horizon was born. Horizon costs a bit more than Sunrise III as it takes quite a few more parts and a much higher voltage power supply. Horizon is quite a beast and just like Sunrise III, she is very musical and offers loads of adjustability combined with the ability to roll a ton of tubes. Horizon is a real staple to our lineup and also has been reviewed and loved globally! "
 
The actual difference in price is $25, about 10%.
 
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atomicbob

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Suitable and optimal are two different things.  Look at the graphs.  Here is their description:
 
" Project Horizon III Tube Headphone Amplifier - Pre-Amp:
Project Horizon is a sister amplifier to Project Sunrise III even sharing the same PCB. Understanding the want and need for a version specifically built for high impedance headphones, Project Horizon was born. Horizon costs a bit more than Sunrise III as it takes quite a few more parts and a much higher voltage power supply. Horizon is quite a beast and just like Sunrise III, she is very musical and offers loads of adjustability combined with the ability to roll a ton of tubes. Horizon is a real staple to our lineup and also has been reviewed and loved globally! "
 
The actual difference in price is $25, about 10%.
That may be true about suitable vs. optimal. The graphs show maximum power optimized to different nominal impedances. Yet either will deliver 100mW easily to a 300 ohm headphone. With a sensitivity of 102 dB/mW for the HD600 / 650 / 800 family, 100mW will deliver an ear splitting 112 dB SPL avg and 122 dB SPL peak for music with 10 dB of crest factor. I am intrigued by the differences though, and may have to add one to my already burgeoning headphone amp collection. Any of the Garage1217 are really good amps. Highly recommended.
 
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kstuart

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I have to assume they would not go to all the trouble of creating a new amp specifically for high impedance headphones, if there was no benefit to using it, in place of the existing Sunrise amp.
 
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atomicbob

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One reason might include having 48V available for the tube plate rather than 24V. You'll notice I always mention using a particular 12BH7 with my Project Sunrise, which happens to have a nicer sound and lower noise than other 9 pin tubes, and much less than any of the 8 pin octals that I have tried. 24V isn't a lot but it works given the topology requires only approx. 400 uA of plate current. Project Horizon puts the plate voltage available into a higher region on the current - voltage tube plate characteristic curves. That alone will probably push me to acquire one.
 
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kstuart

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If you do get a Horizon, keep us posted on your impressions, thanks !
 
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johnjen

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Hoo Boy…
Part Deux


Hoo Boy is back for a 2nd test of the differences between these 2 Schiit DACS.
And they are even smaller than I thought, while running in SE mode.

During our preceding exploration of these 2 dacs using the Sunrise amp and HD650, the differences were so slight that it was hard to pick one over the other in terms of SQ alone.

In my research I have found that when the differences are ≈10% or less, the ability to reliably differentiate such differences, as slight as these, is essentially naught.
IOW I couldn’t tell one from the other in terms of which was ‘better’.
And as I stated, “Yes there were barely perceptible differences, but they were so slight, I lack the vocabulary to enunciate them with any real degree of elucidation… :D”, and this evaluation still holds true.

So for this next stage of evaluation we substituted for the ‘lowly’ Project Sunrise III, for the brand new, hot off of the production line, Cavalli Crimson amp, which some consider THE hot item right now.
I figured the Crimson’s ‘superior’ resolution, power, SoTA design and tighter tolerances in manufacturing would reveal more of the differences between these 2 dacs.
And so I figured it would be ‘easy(er)’ to pick which dac was ‘better’.
That was my bias heading into this round of tests.

And this time we had a truly hardware matched evaluation setup.
ALL the wires for the Bimby were identical to those used with the Gumby, right down to the power cables, and up to the bel canto SPDIF converter.
This included their lengths, type of wire used, the connectors etc.

The A/B selector switch and stepped attenuator was the same as before (Goldpoint SA2 passive attenuation with switch for A/B selection), but this time the wiring was ‘hidden’ so neither of us victims volunteers knew which dac was assigned to which switch position.

I utterly failed, again, to clearly tell which dac was which.

I knew that there was a 0.5dB gain difference between the dacs but that was the extent of’ my foreknowledge.
Only atomicBob knew which dac was ‘hotter’, so Big Poppa and I were left to figure which dac was which.

Yeah the ever so slight differences remained and we both detected and correctly identified the 0.5dB gain difference using the A/B switch, and we both identified an ever so slight change of nuance in tonality as well.
That we could tell an improvement in SQ of the lowered output Gumby attests to the SQ of these 2 dacs and our ability to peer into the music and counter the difference (albeit 0.5dB) in gain.
And we (at least I) assumed/guessed this was the Gumby, but it was FAR to close to make a definitive assessment.
Both dacs presented a lovely sonic image with detail and resolution and precise image position and outline definition.
I simply couldn’t definitively tell, they were that close.

And when Big Poppa picked out the Gumby he said, “it was splitting frog hairs”.
He figured there was like a 1-2% difference between these 2 dacs, which made it really hard for him to tell them apart.
And he was unfamiliar with the music we were using, whereas I was familiar, so along with hearing the 0.5dB difference in gain, his ability to hear which was ‘better’ is all the more impressive.

And speaking of familiarity of the music…
We have one track that we use to help us with delineating ultra fine inner details and focus.
Have you ever heard a track with the sound of rain falling that actually sounds like rain?
Not a swishing nor a phisssing sound but of actual rain drops falling on the ground and you can actually sense the ‘wetness’ of the rain and hear it change as it rains harder?

This is a real true test of any system’s ability to recreate and present the acoustical signature of rain, such that it is unmistakable, ie. you KNOW its rain and not a facsimile nor some sound effect that sorta sounds like rain.
This is no small task as this sound resembles the sound of masking (white or pink noise), such that only a highly resolving system will be able to differentiate the sound of rain from ‘noise’.

The Bimby can and does fulfill this task, even on the $1500 system we tested before the Crimson amp was put to the test.

But wait, there’s more…
This test track has the rain in the background, which means the foreground instruments are playing over the top of the rain.
This additional foreground layer makes it even moar difficult to hear the rain as rain.

Yet the Bimby and the Gumby deliver enough of the presence and subtle intonation of rain such that rain IS what is heard and not some semblance of rain.
I swear I can hear the moisture in the air change as it rains harder.
And of course living up here in the PNW, where we KNOW rain, certainly helps keep us familiarized with its sound, all to often… :D

Bonus points for those who recognize this obscure quotation… :D
“And now we return you to the further adventures of Nick Danger 3rd eye…”


So our collective sets of ears and experience were stymied by these two sets of tests.

Which also tells us that the differences between the Sunrise III ($250) and the Crimson ($2,850) amps were not enough to help differentiate these 2 dacs either.
They truly ARE that close in SE mode.

And it should also be noted that Bob had listened to “a pile of 9 pin tubes” before settling upon a 12BH7 for the Sunrise III amp because it had;
1. no microphonics
2. minimal internal electronic noise which disappeared upon completion of powerage
3. excellent bandwidth
4. best overall sound
5. current in production and available for $22 (not unobtainum ridiculous prices)
Which points directly at the Sunrise’s versatility and tweakability as it ‘encourages’ tube rolling so easily.

And again we shared stories, and valuable information as to what we have learned, both what works and what doesn’t, which often times is much more valuable.
We listened to some good music and scratched our heads even more than in the 1st session.
And if this keeps up we may need to join the hair club for men… :D

So here is a picture of the setup, in which you can see the sonarworks plugin running in JRiver,
which then feeds the bel canto e.One REFlink usb to spdif DDC (digital to digital converter),
which then feeds both of the dacs,
which then are routed to the A/B switched, stepped attenuator,
with DH Labs Silver Sonic Air Matrix cables used for all RCA interconnects
which then drives the Cavalli Crimson amp,
and lastly the HD650 headphones.






So what does all of this tell us?
1st…
The family resemblance between these 2 dacs is mighty strong.
And even though there are major technical differences (dac chips used) and the change in sophistication of the support circuitry, (the power supplies and digital circuit paths that feed the actual dac chips, not to mention the analog output circuitry), are quite different between these 2 units.
And granted the Gumby delivers both balanced and single ended (SE) outputs of which we have only evaluated it’s SE outputs thus far.

But what they DO have in common is that a DSP controller is feeding the data stream to the dac chips using the “supercomboburrito” filter.
And this one single commonality seems to be the deciding factor in why they sound so similar but also do so independent of the design of the ’support’ hardware used.

This is a remarkable achievement for Mike Moffat, and his design, development and implementation team(s) that have brought to the entire field of audio, by any standard or measure.
To be able to have nearly the same degree of performance of a dac at 1/2 or even 1/4 of the price of its’ progenitors is remarkable for a variety of reasons.

I remain astonished at their technological achievements.

2nd…
Improving the ‘quality’ of the amp did not really aid in differentiating these 2 dacs.
Granted the Crimson needed more break-in time to be able to reach full resolution and focus.
Still the Crimson had some additional resolving capability and dynamics etc. but all of that didn’t help us.
These dacs are so close that if your system is SE only, there is really no reason in terms of audible SQ to spend any more $.

And it should be mentioned that these 2 amps share similar design objectives, namely they both use a dual triode tube for input voltage gain and solid state mosfets for the output current gain.
Which may account for the degree of close similarity between these 2 amps which are at near opposite ends of the $$$-$$$$ continuum.

And as atomicbob noted, the Crimson is like a highly focused race car, its performance so ‘tweaked’ that it richly rewards the listener when used with source components and headphones equally as capable. :D

Whereas the Sunrise is much easier to live with, and tweak/tube roll, and adapt to the specific needs of a wide range of setups.

Lastly, our aim is to pursue audio gear that is truly worthy such that it creates a special auditory experience. These amps, dacs, headphones and related gear are special in that way, and they work VERY well together to create a system that demands that you keep listening, regardless of what time it is, what else you should be doing, no matter how raised the eyebrows of SWMBO become.  :D

These components are magical when used together.
And they deliver an immersive and addicting experience as music you once thought you knew,
is discovered anew,
all over again.

I remain astonished at these technological achievements which atomicbob has brought together which result in astonishing qualitative improvements, along with the IMPERATIVE nature (as in I MUST listen) of the experience.
I think we all are witnessing milestones in the making.

JJ
ps I just discovered that I also have that same track of the Firebird with the guy coughing. It happens about 10 seconds into the piece. And for the first time I have a sonic difference I can directly attribute to the superiority of the Bimby/Gumby dacs vs. my PWD.

And yes I can hear him cough, but it wasn’t as distinct, nor as individuated.
IOW listening to the Bimby/Gumby, his cough was distinct enough to draw attention to itself, whereas my PWD is more ‘subtle’.
But once I knew what it was and that it was there, it was easier to hear, but it’s just not as distinct.
 
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landroni

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Fascinating account, thank you. A couple of remarks and questions below...

 
Quote:
Hoo Boy is back for a 2nd test of the differences between these 2 Schiit DACS.
And they are even smaller than I thought, while running in SE mode.
User @Stillhart has reported on a previous occasion that:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/763905/finding-a-dac-for-the-cavalli-liquid-carbon-only-four-months-to-go/1005#post_11872598
"The GMB’s SE output sounds noticeably worse (mids are very recessed) than the balanced output. This is very easily tested on the LC [Liquid Carbon]."

Have you noticed anything similar? Does this mean that Bimby is "noticeably worse" than Gumby balanced output (and by extension Yggy)?


 
The A/B selector switch and stepped attenuator was the same as before (Goldpoint SA2 passive attenuation with switch for A/B selection), but this time the wiring was ‘hidden’ so neither of us victims volunteers knew which dac was assigned to which switch position.

I utterly failed, again, to clearly tell which dac was which.
They truly ARE that close in SE mode.
Mike Moffat noted in one post that instantaneous blind A/B testing could lead to erroneous insignificant results, whereas long-term blind A/B testing (e.g. continuous 1h sessions with each individual setup) could allow to reliably identify the source. This has also been discussed in this post:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/779572/r2r-multibit-vs-delta-sigma/30#post_12041382

Did your own testing go more along the lines of instantaneous blind A/B testing, or that of long-term blind A/B testing? If it's more like the former, could this explain your difficulties to tell which DAC was which?


 
And it should also be noted that Bob had listened to “a pile of 9 pin tubes” before settling upon a 12BH7 for the Sunrise III amp because it had;
1. no microphonics
2. minimal internal electronic noise which disappeared upon completion of powerage
3. excellent bandwidth
4. best overall sound
5. current in production and available for $22 (not unobtainum ridiculous prices)
Which points directly at the Sunrise’s versatility and tweakability as it ‘encourages’ tube rolling so easily.
I know little and less about tube amps. Looking at the G1217 tubes listing I notice that there are a  number of 12BH7A flavors: Dumont, Phillips, Electro Harmonix, GE, TAD... Which one should we choose?

 
1st…
The family resemblance between these 2 dacs is mighty strong.
And even though there are major technical differences (dac chips used) and the change in sophistication of the support circuitry, (the power supplies and digital circuit paths that feed the actual dac chips, not to mention the analog output circuitry), are quite different between these 2 units.
And granted the Gumby delivers both balanced and single ended (SE) outputs of which we have only evaluated it’s SE outputs thus far.

But what they DO have in common is that a DSP controller is feeding the data stream to the dac chips using the “supercomboburrito” filter.
And this one single commonality seems to be the deciding factor in why they sound so similar but also do so independent of the design of the ’support’ hardware used.
It's interesting that you mention this, as Jason Stoddard mentioned in the Bimby announcement the importance that the design team attached to the DSP:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/701900/schiit-happened-the-story-of-the-worlds-most-improbable-start-up/8295#post_12031225
"The burrito is the DAC."

 

Thank you so much for all these notes which are incredibly helpful!
 
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atomicbob

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@landroni  - I can address points 2 and 3 above.
 
2) I picked the Electro-Harmonix 12BH7. Current production for $22. There may be others worth auditioning, but this one suited me as stated above.
 
3) the listeners could spend as much time as they wanted on either A or B. The switch made it convenient to change between. Instantaneous if desired, much longer term if desired. No need to get up and move everything around or other distractions allowing more time to concentrate on listening.
 
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landroni

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2) I picked the Electro-Harmonix 12BH7. Current production for $22. There may be others worth auditioning, but this one suited me as stated above.

 
3) the listeners could spend as much time as they wanted on either A or B. The switch made it convenient to change between. Instantaneous if desired, much longer term if desired. No need to get up and move everything around or other distractions allowing more time to concentrate on listening.

Looks like a good approach to A/B testing...
 
As  for the Electro-Harmonix 12BH7, does it have any harmonic distortion worth mentioning?
 
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