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  1. bgarris

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    The Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings’ primary goal is the preservation, publication, and education of music awareness. It seeks to accomplish this through its vast catalog of recordings, currently 3000 albums and 43,000 tracks, as well as a national educational initiative. Please help a group of MBA students assist this non-profit record label with this short survey (approx. 2 min).  We need your opinion to assist in the survival of this important music collection.





  2. For months my current setup has been dead ... variety of reasons, primary was a loss of interest in "doing this stuff". Anyway, finally bit the bullet, fixed the actual fault that ceased operations - connection to a tweeter broke - and fired it up. As mentioned on the Music forum here, wasn't too bad on first listen; did a few rounds on albums until a key recording showed where I was at - this was https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/melos_quartett/the_string_quartets__melos_quartet_/.


    I've used this quite a bit over recent years - comments by other are "a harsh sound", and "let down by recording quality that is less than distinguished" ... this can sound very flat, the musicians just grinding away playing the notes; the sort of thing that puts people off classical music ... which is what I was getting right now ...


    A very clear reason for this situation was that I had just plugged everything in, with no thoughts for minimising external interference effects - the careful configuration I had earlier for running it was now in disarray, and the loss in quality for not restoring such was obvious.


    This means that work needs to be done to make the rig more robust in itself, rather than relying upon tweaking how the environment is organised to get the good results - this is the longer term process that is required, that I haven't tackled as yet for this combo ... as a short term workaround, get the two audio components, CD player and amp, running off one house circuit - ah, much better! The strings now have some lively tone, and the acoustic is beginning to come through ... BTW, I was reminded that the engineers didn't do their job so well on one day - on the outside of the hall, one can clearly hear a tram on a track crossing at one point - the clack as each set of wheels jumps the gaps.


    OK, this is just to give an initial idea of how I go about doing things - everything's always a work in progress, and step by step I look at what is easy to do, that will likely have the greates effect, and then build from that.


    Just now, getting a nice big acoustic from a DGG Verdi Opera Choruses CD - brass tone is very nice ....


  3. This is a brief blog outlining my journey through various audio management & playback apps which took me to where I am today.

    Dial the clock back to around 1997. I had gotten into minidisc as a way of making my own compilations and recordings of music - a definite step up from cassette. Also in the mix were CD-Rs which would allow music to be burnt to a CD and played in a regular CD player. Though as time went on, the step of copying the music to some form of physical media became increasingly redundant; the advent of the iPod a few years later in 2001 further accelerated this trend. 

    I began with keeping my "digital" music collection in a folder on my PC (at the time, probably a 486 or equivalent). Downloading was of individual tracks due to low connection speeds. As my collection expanded, full albums were placed into individual folders within Windows. As it grew further, the root folder was divided into genres and the album folders placed within those. As I was keen on being able to browse via album art, I set the folders to be displayed in "thumbnail" mode, which allowed an image (called folder.jpg) to be superimposed on the folder icon. I spent some time acquiring the front covers of the albums, renaming to folder.jpg and placing them within the individual folders. If a folder had a few albums in it, then up to 4 album covers could be displayed on the thumbnail icon. Eventually it looked something like this:


    At this time I was using Winamp to play the music. As can be seen in the screenshot above, it allowed for a small unobtrusive player to be situated somewhere on the screen. Winamp could also read and display some of the basic file metadata such as artist and song title. At this time I also used the "visualisation" feature that a lot of these players had - graphics that moved in time with the music. Bit of a gimmick, looking back :)

    Around this time I also experimented with Windows Media Player. This was the next step up, as it improved on folder structure-based browsing by using file metadata to arrange and display the music. You could then browse by artist, album, genre and year. Album art was shown without the folder icon in the background, and if there were a number of albums by a particular artist, it would show a "stack" effect which was quite nice. I don't have any screenshots of my own of this, though it looked something like this:


    Always on the lookout for improvements, I think around 2006 I discovered Mediamonkey. This was a more versatile app and allowed for user customisation. What was great was that instead of just growing by artist, album and genre, you could define your own criteria and be able to browse via these criteria in the menu tree. As well as the above, I set it to be able to browse by "compilations by album" and "compilations by genre". As a snapshot, my setup around this time looked like this:


    Eventually, two other useful features came along. The first was "coverflow" type browsing as popularised by Apple. This was meant to emulate the act of flicking through CDs/the physical media. I found this more of a novelty rather than anything else, as I preferred the "grid view" which allowed a more organised and higher-level look. The second feature was the ability to display a second image relating to the album in a sub-window. For example, the rear album art could be displayed alongside the front album art - the following screenshot shows these two features:


    The problem with this particular setup was that the rear album art image was quite small - unless you resized the window, in which case it encroached on the browsing tree and made the main window too small. However it was a nice addition, though required quite a lot of extra work to make sure that all the albums had a rear album art image in their folder. The customisability of the browser tree allowed for some other useful features - for example, showing the number of items within each folder or sub-folder.

    I was happy with Mediamonkey for a few years, though soon something better came along: JRiver Media Player. This just seemed to be a slicker and more polished product than Mediamonkey. It was similarly customisable and had a very helpful user forum with good input from the development team. This forum was necessary, as modifying the tree required the understanding of the particular code that it used, which (to my mind) was not particularly intuitive! It also seemed to be in active development with regular updates. I was able to customise the tree further, e.g. to browse via decade before drilling down to year, along with a range of other customisations over time. It also had the "stacked" album view that I enjoyed in Windows Media Player. Here is a screenshot of my JRiver setup in October 2010 (ignore the albums themselves, as I was having an issue with the code at the time and the screenshot was to show an error):



    Here is another screenshot, showing the individual album view:


    However my quest to improve the album art aspect of things continued. I tried a range of media management apps including MusicBee, iTunes, Album Player and many more. Eventually I settled on FooBar2000. This took customisation to the next level, and finally (with a great deal of effort and input from the helpful user forums) I was able to customise it to show what I wanted - including the front and rear album art. It looked like this:



    To me, this made for a much more realistic browsing experience. Extra features which I added to the app included a detailed waveform seekbar (even the colour of the progress bar was customisable), having the front album art show in a jewel case, a number of information panes (including artist info, news & reviews, comments and other images in the folder), a customised information panel at the bottom (showing information including bit rate, bit depth and sample rate) and having the rating show after each file in the tree. A number of these addons required the installation of special modules - Foobar2000 is quite a modular app. 

    Foobar2000 was my music manager and player for a number of years. As always, I remained on the lookout for any new and interesting alternatives. Foobar2000 was great, and I liked the amount of detail you could get on a single screen (i.e. as per the screenshot above), though it looked a bit "computery". In 2006 the company Sooloos came on the scene; they offered a very slick and elegant bespoke media browsing experience, with great integration of a range of metadata (imported from the AMG service) - though tied in with hardware and with a price to match. In 2008, Sooloos was purchased by Meridian, an AV manufacturing & distribution company founded in 1977 and based in England and the product became (and remains) Meridian Sooloos. In 2015 however, some members of the original Sooloos team formed an agreement with Meridian to start their own new enterprise: Roon Labs. Further details are provided in a blog entry by Enno Vandermeer, founder/CEO of Roon Labs:


    Roon took all the things that were great about Sooloos and released it as a standalone software app that could be installed onto any PC or Mac. When it was released in May 2015 I knew that it was the app for me. The interface and paradigm was completely different to all the previous media managers (apart from Sooloos). It presented your music collection in a much more visually appealing way - in part due to the ability to run it via a touchscreen. It also (like Sooloos) drew on online sources to recognise your media and pull the appropriate metadata. Roon also has a very active user base with excellent input from the developers onto the forums - and has undergone a number of updates since the initial release, now up to version 1.3. There is also a strong focus on sound quality and compatibility with various devices. There are still a number of features that I would like included (in particular relating to its management of album art) - though there is a new version (perhaps version 2.0) in the pipeline with some big changes in store, apparently. Hopefully I have found my media management endgame.


  4. foodfiend
    Latest Entry

    11,000 Virgins: Chants for the Feast of St. Ursula was both my introduction to the works of Hildegard von Bingen, as well as to Anonymous 4. What an introduction it was! The recording surrounds pieces written for the Feast of St. Ursula, who, according to legend, was massacred by the Huns together with her 11,000 virgin handmaidens. While Hildegard von Bingen wrote only 7 of the 18 pieces, the imprint is clear. Having the four voices of Anonymous 4 then sing the pieces is amazing. Chants sung by ladies are very different from those sung by men, since they have a more ethereal quality. Anonymous 4 does well by letting the melodies waft into the soundscape.



    Link to the Album on amazon.com

  5. I am a big Raidohead fan.  


    They use quirky percussion tracks.  

    They do not resolve chords in a traditional way.

    They give concerts in Israel despite the outrage of people who should know better.


    They are a counter argument to those who say there has not been any good (or at least interesting) music produced since 1969.  




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    I live at the bottom of a Helmholtz resonator.

  6. I recently replaced the bridge rectifiers with CREE SiC Schotty diodes in my Vega DAC and then Antipodes DX music server with very positive results. Mainly enhanced resolution, better space, blacker backgrounds, wider soundstaging and removal of glare. I had read some very old posts that advised against using Schottky diodes for audio power amps but these posts were ten years old so after getting good results from my front end I took a leap that these newer CREE SiC diodes would deliver in my Krell amp. When I first powered the amp up after the mod it initially sounded better but as time went by the sound got very squirrelly with a lot of added glare. After then adding shunting cap and resistor across each of the diodes and then across the secondary windings it marginally improved but something was still very wrong. I deduced that the Schottky's in the amp must be emitting EMI into the circuitry which I planned to absorb with some leftover TI shield which I have laying around. Maybe, as an outside possibility a neighbor coincidentally added some AC load that helped pollute the line. I could go back to the original 35A bridge rectifier in the amp to see what that sounds like but the more times you touch a mod in a tight space, the more you risk of breaking joints/wires etc...

    I randomly had planned on doing an AC line filter plugged into outlets distributed throughout the house and admittedly better lucky than good, this not only fixed whatever was occurring after the amp Schottky mod but took my system to the next level in lowering noise and glare and delivering spacial detail that I had to tell people about.

    I believe  this inexpensive mod will incrementally improve many-a-system for the cost of about $2 per filter.

    The cap is a WIMA  part number MKX2AW21002C00KSSD which is a  premium .01uF "X" capacitor meant to be applied across the AC line. It is rated for 305V continuous but is meant to take pulses of thousands of volts across the line and if overwhelmed by a lightning hit, is designed to blow open and not short like other capacitors....

    The size of this specific cap happens to fit perfectly into the rectangular cavity inside a  97cent Cooper Wiring Devices 2601W-BU Plug which passes the WAF in the 12 outlets I have these plugged into so far. I used WBT silver solder to solder the 1" 26AWG leads to the cap and I dipped the other end of the leads that I compression fit to the plug with CAIG contact enhancer. I opened the prongs which revealed a small opening near the hinge for the 26AWG leads. When the prongs are closed it will hold the wire with a tight compression fit. The 1" or so leads allow the cap to insert to the cavity sideways then rotated 90 degrees to fit into the rectangular cavity in the back of the plug housing. I used a woodblock to push and compress the plug prongs all the way into the housing. Then I checked with a continuity meter to make sure nothing was shorted and then measured the capacitance. It took me doing two or three units to get the hang of it. 

    I plan on doing the other 18 plugs in the next several days as I ran out of silver solder. The more plugs added the less effect the antennae effect of the house wiring and noise polluting loads will have. 

    Cooper 2601W-BU Add-A-Plug, Male, White





  7. After some time with Wordpress I've decided to move my blog to their platform at Melvin's Foolish Things. I have no interest in maintaining 2 blogs and unfortunately I've been unable to edit or delete the posts here (which have been tweaked/updated on Wordpress). Thanks for having a look.

  8. This USB configuration has been in place in my system since November 2016, so I'm just catching up with this BLOG post, but I think there are a few things worth saying about it.


    After fooling around with Regens and various USB cables, and with a lot of input from CA Forum experimenters reporting their experiences, last Fall I came to the conclusion that a galvanic isolator like the Intona, followed by a USB ‘cleaner’ like a Regen, and then the best short cable (Curious) I know of, was probably as good a USB connection as one is likely to get. A number of CA reporters found this or similar configurations to be their favorite. When I found a good deal on a used Intona isolator, I set out to complete my implementation.


    Now, as I complete this writeup, the UpTone Audio “Iso Regen” is marching its last steps towards its public release, I feel vindicated in my ‘design’, and confident that my SQ is not too far behind Alex’s and John’s fine new device !



    The six parts of my 'In-iso-Regen' USB connection:


    * A Supra .7m USB cable from my Mac Mini to the Intona input. Nice, but nothing special. I don't consider this cable all that important to the sound of the entire 'connection’. It was available and is generally good quality. The +5v line is unnecessary and blocked by a little tape strip on the A connector. ***


    * Intona ‘USB Isolator’ (the Standard version is fine with me, and I got mine used, so less expensive), I wrapped the circuit board in copper foil for RFI protection. *


    * USB ‘hard’ adaptor (similar to UpTone supplied one). The Regen input is closely attached to the Intona output by this adaptor **. I got it online because it fit better in the tight spaces behind my Benchmark DAC, also was useful in my dual Regen experiment.


    * Uptone Audio Regen - ‘Green’ version (I still like the sound of the original version, and don't think the the ground lift resistor in the ‘Amber' version is important in this isolated configuration) Managed to obtain a metal case for it (Thanks, Alex !), to protect from RFI.


    * My DIY low noise LPS (adj. voltage, 1 amp) for the Regen (see previous BLOG post for description). Unfortunately in this configuration the power cable plug into the Regen is pretty cramped, but doable.


    * Curious Cable 200mm "Regen Link" USB cable from Australia (also bought used for a savings) ***. Short, stiff, but oh, so transparent :)



    Implementation details:


    * Intona RFI upgrade: With a metal case for the Regen, I didn’t want to leave the Intona ‘out in the cold’, so I ordered some RFI blocking copper foil from eBay. After removing the Intona PC card by separating the halves of the plastic case, I insulated the bottom of it with bits of regular black electrical tape over the largish USB connector leads (trimmed short with nippers, and a little filing), then added a piece of packing tape over the entire bottom of the PCB. I built up a little (upside down, ‘U’ shaped) box from scribed and bent clear acetate to cover the lumpy top of the PCB, and taped it in place with transparent wrapping tape.


    Now that all the circuitry was protected from shorts, I wrapped the ‘box’ with the copper tape. First one end got two complete warps of the copper, then the other end, and then the middle, gently smoothing the foil down with a fingernail. I cut two 2” x 2” pieces of foil for the ends and pushed the foil side into the protruding part of the two USB connector shields to guide my X-acto knife in cutting out the holes for them. I left a gap around the ‘Device’ (A) connecter shield, and made the ‘Host’ (B) connector hole undersize to have the copper wrap grounded to the shield there, and open on the other side. Make sure of no ground loops through the cable shield, otherwise the whole point of the Intona (Isolation) is lost ! I figure that if radio waves are going to induce a charge into my shield, then, like an antenna, that charge should be routed to ground IMNSHO.

    The holes for the PCB hold-down screws are inaccessible now, but the wrapped PCB fits snugly enough inside the box that a small piece of foam is sufficient to hold it in place.



    ** Regen case support: I found a 2” x 4-1/2” piece of .090” ABS sheet to glue to the bottom of the Intona case (off-center to lineup w/ Regen) and cantilever out 3-1/2“, to support a small (1” x 1-1/2” x .090”) shim pad for the Regen. After applying Cramolin contact enhancer to all USB connectors, a piece of double-stick tape under the Regen, tucked it, the Hard Adaptor, and Intona solidly, and safely, in place together.



    *** Cabling: My two USB devices are now combined in one physical unit, making connections with the two USB cables easier and cleaner. The Supra cable has a ’S’ shape, coming from the back of the Mini server (sitting to the left of the DAC), looping to the front, secured to the side of the Intona box with a Velcro strap, and curving 180° around to enter the front of the Intona, sitting on top of my DAC. The Curious ‘Regen Link’ is bent to a ‘U’ shape, to curve down from the back of the Regen, into the back of the DAC. Short and sweet :)



    The Results (drum roll, please):

    My total cost ran to about $385 (excluding an Uptone Amber set, now available). Not too bad considering, but limited to my experiences. As they say YMMV. Well, that is if, you attempt to replicate my experiment here :) It’ll be interesting to see how the new Iso Regen prices out. But, of course, you have to add in an LPS-1 to the package ! As a matter of fact, I am rushing to get this write up done and posted before Alex release his new toy. Bragging rights ? Nah… :)


    After assembling all these parts, I was so pleased, I just wanted to listen to all my favorite music all over again ! You probably know that feeling, it is one of the reasons we are audiophiles :)


    I found the most obvious SQ improvements in Redbook material, not all, but the better stuff. The differences are more subtle with Hi Res files. As I attempted to quantify the magnitude of SQ changes I feel as if the SQ improvements I perceived with the initial Regen has been increased by about 3x with this new USB connection configuration, and along the same veil-lifting lines. I’ll call that 3RE (Regen SQ Equivalences). This is my new attempt to quantify SQ changes at this level. Will it catch on ?? Nah… :)


    What it comes down to is, color me a very happy camper :) !


    Dave A


    1) Intona and other parts laid out

    2) wrapping the PCB box in copper foil

    3) wrapping the ends with foil

    4) ready for finial assembly

    5) completed unit

    6) my DIY LPSU for Regen (on power strip)

    7) Curious 200mm USB(yellow), (blue/black) power leads, (gray) Supra USB

    8) front of my digital source with USB upgrade



  9. I think I found your problem. But seriously, it shouldn't that much matter. For convenience sake, use the iFi volume control to match levels with the second input on your Schiit and use the Schiit's volume control to match levels with the other sources to your Yamaha. Use the Yamaha volume to control final playback level.


    If you're using the Schiit volume because it's closest to you, then turn the Yamaha down and set the Schiit to maximum. Turn the Yamaha up to the loudest you'd ever listen, then use the Schiit volume control going forward. The last thing I'd recommend is leaving the Yamaha ragin', full on.


    Thanks, I am now getting more range of volume control with the Schiit SYS. I knew there was good answer out there. With my Schiit Modi2 it was not a problem. The nano has a built-in headphone amplifier and I just had the Yamaha repaired, so I was perplexed on which combo of settings would sound best. The volume control on the nano is great when used as a headphone amp, and my thinking was that Yamaha needed to be running 100%, but everything sounds better with the receiver at 50% output, the nano at 100% and the Schiit has full range of volume control...

  10. Intona is a great piece and they have indeed a great service, for a "poluted PC" it does a great job

    I used to have one intona and after that 2 regen in series with linear power supplies.

    I put that in the garage, because I found this amazing device the 3R by ideon audio.

    I also use 2 in series but with one you get 85% of the improvement

    It is cheaper than the intona, and works way better [than the regen as well]

  11. DM's Blog

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    Group Test: USB gadgets (AQ Jitterbug, Uptone Regen, iFi iUSB3.0, iPurifier, iPurifier2, Intona, w4s Recovery any more …)


    Disclaimer: For people who knew me, they all knew that I can be a bit critical, if you don’t like what you are reading, please simply ignore my reviews and enjoy the music.






    The title may be a little misleading, a few years ago, these groups of USB gears are surely classified as gadgets, but nowadays, I would say they are indispensable in a computer audio system, mainly because:


    1. USB audio device is one of the primary music sources now; and

    2. USB connection is horrible for transmission audio,


    so something has to be done.


    A couple years ago, I did a small group test of the USB DACs, link here.


    With those I started racking up different USB gadgets over time (man needs new toys). Again, I tested those with my Macbook, Shure 535 and Sennheiser HD 800, also with a pair of QMS active speakers. I also included some noise measurements result I took with a friend at his office lab (with a EMU0404).


    1. Computer USB port


    Lab (Power Noise Measurement)




    This is a measurement taken on the computer USB port with loading. In an idea world, the noise line should be around -140dB (~a few uV, the green line), but in reality, the computer USB port is a lot worst. In fact, the computer USB port is ~1000 times (60dB) worse than the ideal.




    When directly connected to the computer, all the DACs had the hallmark of the “digital sound”, dry, edgy, flat, boring and basically horrible.


    2. Audioquest Jitterbug ($49) and iFi iPurifier ($99, discontinued)


    The discontinued original iFi iPurifier probably was the first of its kind filtering both the USB Data and Power, later came the Jitterbug which did a Chinese copy (minus the Aluminum case) at half the price. As those two are so similar I lump those two reviews in one.


    Lab (Power Noise Measurement)




    Both of the iPurifier and Jitterbug’s graphs were so close, they basically overlap with each other, so I only posted one graph. they have almost no measurable effect on power supply noise in the range below 96kHz, above that they did reduce the noise spikes a little.




    Put is simply, they work, but the overall effect is subtle (but any improvement on USB audio is nice). The sound is slightly more coherent and has a bit more depth, jazz vocal is reproduced with a bit more clarity. I found that the iFi iPurifier might have a slightly darker background than the Jitterbug, but it’s very close call.


    Adding one more jitter bug into the system (one on the used port, one on the unused port), improve things a little but really not worth the extra effort.




    Overall, I will rate the Audioquest Jitterbug a score of 49 and the iFi iPurifier 50 out of 100, so so for the money and don’t expect miracle, they both had their days but it’s time to move on. I would not recommend getting any of them nowadays.


    50 iFi iPurifier (discontinued)

    49 Audioquest Jitterbug


    To Be Continued...

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    If you think this seems far-fetched, look no further than to HD video. To produce a Blu-ray player, you must agree to limit the picture to DVD resolution if the display connection doesn't have HDCP encryption. MQA could become the music industry's equivalent of HDCP.
    {just riffing off of your post mansr}


    This is why MQA = DRM in it's current form (which I put at 1.1 - 1.0 being the original hardware only version). You can not produce a hardware or software decoder TODAY without agreeing to limit the output to the 24/48 (putting aside it is only 'really' 17 bits at most) content. As a consumer, you can only access the "Hi Res" content TODAY unless you agree to the terms and conditions (purchasing a license, etc.) and if you do try to access said content you are in violation of the agreement, IP, patent laws, etc. You, as a consumer are being "managed", by a "digital product" - your "rights" are limited legally and technically - what is this called? That's right, it has a name and it is:


    DRM ("Digital Rights Management")


    Now, I know many believe DRM to be something different - they believe DRM = copy protection. This is one form of "digital management" that DRM can take (among many), and it is a specific technical implementation of DRM, but DRM can in no way be reduced to just copy protection, any more than all dogs can be reduced to Chihuahuas. Let's look at the first two sentences of Wikipedia's entry for DRM:


    Digital rights management (DRM) schemes are various access control technologies that are used to restrict usage of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies.


    Notice the generality, the multiplicity, and the emphasis on "proprietary", etc. Copy protection is but one form of DRM, and DRM can not be reduced to copy protection/prevention schemes. It is the larger "Rights Management" of the consumer through "Digital" means, but more than that through legal (i.e. IP, patents, etc.) that is the important take away. DRM turns your software/hardware into a legal mechanism to control your behavior. Open formats and standards have neither the digital implementation and design to do this, and more importantly they do not have the legal status to do this. The Wikipedia entry does not mention "copy protection" until several sentences late when it is listing several ways DRM is implemented as an example.


    Now, I understand that many consumers are "ok" with all sorts of DRM as long as it is not the dreaded "copy protection", but remember others are not and DRM is not such a limited concept - never has been and never will. Not only is MQA DRM in its current form, it actually is a good example of it...

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    Hi All- I'm looking into some room treatment options and have found a few suppliers, Auralex and Vicoustic, that seem like good options. Attractive and quality are important for this project. Any ideas?! Thanks.

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    Latest Entry
    Selling Luxman da-06 230V European

    It was bought in march 2015 from Acoustic Gallary Paris

    it was a demo unit

    For paypal please add 4%, price is 3200euro,

    I replaced 7 fuses inside with SR20 fuses. which cost 350euros.

    Any questions are welcome.


  12. I wanted to build a server that is capable of running multichannel pipeline matrix processing (including convolution) and upsampling to the 8-channel exaSound e28 DAC at DSD256.


    One challenge was finding a nice CPU for the task. When the new Broadwell-E generation of CPUs became available the choice became easier. Either 8-core i7 6900K with 3.2 GHz base frequency, or 10-core i7 6950X with 3.0 GHz base frequency. I ended up selecting the 6950X because then there's a core per channel and two extra cores for other tasks like running the OS, Roon, etc. These also have four memory channels for DDR4 2400 RAM to keep the CPU employed.


    Next I wanted to select a GPU. Since the GeForce GTX 1080 (check the full specs) based on the newest Pascal architecture became available recently, it was a natural choice. The newest Titan X and Quadro P-series were not yet available. Since I was earlier happy with ASUS Strix-series GTX 980, I picked up GTX 1080 from the same series. Luckily I didn't choose anything bigger, as you'll see later, this is already a monster. Strix-series has three large fans and a large heatsink, making it fairly quiet because the fans then run at slower speeds making less air noise.


    Next interesting task was to select a motherboard for the system. I wanted something that was available, and some of the features in Gigabyte's G1 Gaming series are interesting. For example the DAC-UP USB interfaces that have noise filtering and also possibility to turn off the +5V supply from BIOS settings!






    Since the microATX size X99M-Gaming5 model had all the necessary features (including UltraDurable), no wireless components and was well available it ended up being selected.


    I wanted the computer look like normal audio gear, so I wanted a HTPC case with brushed aluminum front panel and typical measures. Based on previous good experiences, one from Fractal Design's range was a natural choice the Node 605. Now this choice started to place some interesting constraints. For example based on the specs, the graphics card wasn't even supposed to fit...


    Now it was necessary to find a PSU that could power all this and be silent as possible. The Corsair RM850x matched my requirements, was available in the store and based on the specs would also fit in the case.





    As last items, I selected storage for the OS (music is on a network server) and RAM. For storage, I knew I wanted something extremely fast. Samsung 950PRO M.2 NVMe fit the bill exactly. As an additional bonus it nicely fits on the motherboard which was good since I knew I'd need to remove all the HDD cages from the case to fit the GTX 1080 card. For RAM I ordered fastest spec matching RAM I could get and that was Kingston HyperX Predator DDR4 2400 with CL12 (not available anymore, but similar part is now available in the Savage-series with smaller heatsinks).






    Since this module had long delivery time and large heatsinks I wasn't sure if it's going to fit, I also purchased more regular Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4 2400 with CL16.


    For CPU cooler, the only suitable one, that was both expected to be quiet and also fit the case was Noctua NH-U9B that I already had in storage, now replaced in the product portfolio by slightly updated NH-U9S model. The newer model directly supports LGA2011-3, for the older model I took mounting kit from the NH-D15 cooler kit I'm anyway going to use on another machine with LGA1511 socket.







    Getting started with the installation, the PSU just fit the case, one millimeter bigger and it wouldn't have fit there.





    Looking at the motherboard...







    This one has kind of "hifi" sound card on-board, with shielding on the DAC (box saying "AMP-UP Audio"), Nichicon audio caps, adjustable output gain and swappable op-amp (default is TI/BB OPA2134). I'm not going to use it, but there it is anyway... The board looks pretty neat overall.


    Then installing the CPU, cooler, RAM and the SSD. Here those parts installed, with the Crucial Ballistix RAM modules. Taller RAM modules would get pretty close to the cooler, I don't know yet if the HyperX Predator modules are going to fit or not.





    And then, everything goes into the case. This wasn't easy, I knew it was going to be tight with the Strix-series GTX 1080. In addition to the HDD cages, I had to remove the front panel USB/FW/audio connector board and even then bend top of the rear panel steel for the duration of installation, otherwise the card didn't fit in. But it doesn't matter, because those connectors would be behind front-panel lid and I don't need those anyway. The middle case stiffening rod will need to be left out.





    And at last, the machine running, still with lid open. You can see that only middle GPU fan is running because there's no real load on the GPU yet. Fancy led stripes on the motherboard and graphics card that can be adjusted to do different stuff. Not going to be visible in this case...





    Here are load figures from the first test run. Source is 5.1 channel 48/16 DVD-rip, upsampled to 12.3 MHz DSD256 using full poly-sinc-short-mp and ASDM7. CUDA offload is being used.




  13. I do most of my music listening on my phone in the car. That's where I have the most free time to pay attention to music. It's great when I have an opportunity to sit down and listen to an album all the way through on the HIFI but generally speaking, I'm jamming in the car.



    I used to have an iPod but got rid of it when I got my android as it has expandable storage and is customizable and I can do all my things with one computer (that can call people). So I went looking for the best music player on Android. I found it. It is called GoneMAD Music Player, GMMP. It is easily the most customizable player on android and I have been able to make it look close enough to the ipod to ease the transition. The best thing about it though is smart playlists.



    I have almost 8000 songs on my phone and mostly like to listen to albums but I do like to shuffle every once in a while and when I do, I don't want to hear and bunch of either intro tracks or 30 minute songs that take up the whole ride by themselves. So I made a smart playlist that only gives songs over 90 seconds, under 15 minutes and only greater than or equal to 3 star rating.



    Having so much music there's bound to be stuff I come across on shuffle that I don't like. Smart playlists to the rescue. I set the default rating of all my music to 3 stars out of 5. I have swipe gestures where if I swipe up it increases rating, swipe down decreases rating, left skips track forward and right skips backwards. So when I hear a crap song, I swipe down and then left. This decreases the rating to less than 3 and skips it. Given that my smart playlists update automatically, I'll never hear that song on my shuffle playlist again since it has to be at least 3 stars based on the rule.

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    My name is May and I’m working for SOtM as a marketing manager. It’s so pleasure to introduce myself here officially and great chance to announce the sMS-200 availability through this chance.


    Some may already have known our sMS-200 but some may not know about this brilliant mini network player, so here I briefly introduce what sMs-200 is,


    It features

    - Excellent modern design.

    - Use the separated audio power board.

    - Use the exclusive large audio condenser.

    - Use the exclusive audio components to reach forward to analog sound.

    - Use the heat sinks for the stable operation and anti-noise.

    - Use the high standard noise reduction technology which has been qualified by SOtM’s tX-USBexp, SATA filter and others.

    - Use the high standard active noise filter and UKJC which has been qualified by SOtM’s tX-USBexp, sDP-1000EX and others.

    - Use the High-End audio grade USB port.

    - Use the 2 x standard USB ports for USB storage device.


    The pictures below prove how sMS-200 is valuable. And the new features are planning to be also updated step by step.



    And there will be the same series of products coming up, the USB audio signal re-generator called tX-USBUltra will be the next up which has the upgraded "sCLK clock" board installed and the audio grade power supply will be following up soon. All these combinations will bring you the most satisfaction.


    This is the certificate of Richard Beers Innovation Award, the award honors “those who contribute to the growth of our industry and encourage innovation every year”.


    Please check more details including specification on our website, click here. and also you can purchase sMS-200 through our website. Click ‘Buy sMS-200’ button and it will lead you to SOtM shop to purchase sMS-200.


    Every user who purchases a sMS-200 would get a 2 months free trial Roon license and we can offer a 1 year Roon license at the very special price if you request.


    Lastly, we are preparing the event for our valuable customers who are currently using our sMS-100.The event will be arranged by this simple way, but this is not fully confirmed yet, I will need to discuss more details in next few days and get back to you shortly..

    Step 1. Return your sMS-100 to us.

    Step 2. Buy sMS-200 in US$350.


    Thank you for taking your time to see what sMS-200 is and how valuable it is. I may need to update few more information after this weekend. In the meantime if you have any question regarding sMS-200 or our products, please feel free to leave a message or question.


    Thank you very much.

    Warmly, May




    Do not allow cheap products. Don’t be blinded by well-advertised products. But enjoy your music life with the valuable audio products made by SOtM.

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    Thanks for the reply,My dac ( Ayre QB9 DSD ) does not do this , I have to do from the Audirvana . The question is whether a sample etched , for example , 44/16 , wins by upsampling resolution ... if the information is not in the sample how can you make it sound better upsampling doing ?


    Please see:


    Q&A with Charles Hansen of Ayre Acoustics Page 2 | AudioStream


    for a discussion of how the QB9 does upsampling / oversampling.


    The real issue is whether you think the QB9 does *better* upsampling than an external software player can do. Many of us think that that doing the upsampling outside of the DAC can sound better, given your PCs higher processing power, better flexibility in choosing upsampling filters / modulators, etc.




    Thanks,So my conclusion is that better not to apply any filtering ( now I have Audirvana so on ) but yesterday beta probe with the DSD filter on and does not convince me the result. I think my MacBook Air with 4GB of memory is not enough, the CPU load is very high and stopped working twice

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    There is so much in audio (and not only in audio) that we can't explain, or only can make up some sort of dubious technical explanation for, it's sheer incredible.


    Robert-Jan Kamstra was here today, and he was so kind to come with his Windows laptop (huge as it is), and update my Brooklyn with the MQA activation. NICE! GREAT! THANKS! I don't mean MQA, but Robert-Jan.


    MQA will be the next item to consider here. I have one bought album from 2L and some (not all) free downloads, and will try to see/hear for myself if it was worth waiting for.


    But now it's time to go to the kitchen.



    It is Kamsma not Kamstra ;-)


    There is new verwoon of the manual 1.3


    To be able to manipulate the filter settings of PCM one must first disable MQA otherwise the default of minimum phase remains on.

  14. This was actually a reply to a forum thread, but I thought it should have its own blog entry. These are a list of things to try to explore for better sound within the context of computer audiophilia and documents some findings along my journey.

    1. Studying and researching computer audiophilia with the following viewpoints:



    a. There must be a way to make digital sound at least as good as analogue



    b. Just as we used to do with Hi-Fi analogue systems, we should optimise the digital playback chain



    c. There's more to great music reproduction than just frequency response, which is a solved problem. Things like phase, attack transient smearing, filter ringing, etc...



    d. If you can't afford to buy it, build it yourself



    This costs nothing except time, and allows me to move forward and get great results while others are still debating 'bits-are-bits', which format is better, cables make no difference, and while trolls are thinking posting here is a kind of popularity contest and that being able to research is a kind of disease.



    2. Room diagnosis with R.E.W.



    This is free as well with just a forum registration, and you can't really hear your gear until you have tamed your room response, so it's a good first thing to do.



    So if you think you're getting great sound but haven't yet done that, you may be surprised when you come to it and in the meantime, you aren't yet hearing your system.



    3. Acoustic Room treatment with DIY acoustic panels and bass traps.



    Not very expensive: looked for glass fiber/wool at the hardware store (they were already cut in useable panel sizes), and a suitable textile material from curtains. Also took some rolled up glass/fiber material that I placed in the corners of the room for bass standing wave trapping.



    At this point, it made a huge change already.



    I recommend doing the organic, acoustic treatment and solely this if you can. The goal isn't to make your room completely dead, but tame the biggest peaks and troughs of the room response.



    It's only in case of very stubborn or difficult to tame peaks and troughs that you can consider DSD for room treatment as this also has its own sonic signature and will colour the sound to some extent.



    People who head for the easy DSP EQ right away aren't getting as good results than those with a more natural/organic treatment process.



    4. Building stands for my Studio Monitors.



    Just the cost of wood and wood glue and wood screws, and some time figuring our how to do the geometry properly (I'm more of a Computer Science Engineering guy than a manual work guy).



    This allowed me to move the monitors off the desktop (which was vibrating with music) to the stands, and hence dissipate any remaining cabinet vibration down to the stand.



    Very, very large improvement in sound definition, more clarity in the high frequency range.



    I since obtained Totem Mite bookshelf speakers which are now on the stands with fantastic results.



    Bookshelf speakers on stands is one of the best things you can do, rather than get huge speakers with a lot of cabinet resonance (Vivid might be one of the rare exceptions, Dickie was working in sound reinforcement before doing speakers, so he brought a lot of his expertise from there to speakers).



    In other words, don't think that 'bookshelf' means you have to put them in yours - that's the worst you could do. Instead, build or buy stands for them.



    5. Trying DSD



    That has made a tremendous different for me, with regards to 1 (a) above, even when I was merely listening with Audirvana -> PCM soundcard.



    6. Researching and trying audiophile players, and getting Audirvana+ for playback instead of iTunes.



    Damien is clever and on top of that, has a great ear for good sound.



    Doing this is paradigm-shifting.



    7. Researching about DSD vs PCM and getting a native DSD128 DAC, the iFi iDSD Nano



    Finally, native DSD at home for around $200, and a huge, huge sound that is worth 10+ times more that it goes for! Total game-changer by Thorsten's team at AMR/iFi - it changed the industry.



    8. Studying what these guys came up with: John Swenson, Thorsten Loesch, Bruno Putzeys, Dieter (Trinity DAC), Lukasz Fikus (Lampizator), Jon Risch, Miska, Hiroyuki Yokota, PeterSt, sbgk, Damien Plisson, Caelin Gabriel, Charles Hansen, Ted Smith, David Berning, Townshend, del Sordo, Tony Lauck, Kimura, Kusunoki, Lawrence Dickie, George at Tubelabs, Y.N. (cPlay), and many more.



    Paying attention to credible people in this forum on top of those already mentioned, like Chris, Jud, Superbad Alex, Sandyk Alex (you may find some of his claims outlandish, but once you step in the realm of Yokota as well as the DRAM thread and do some tests, they aren't at all), EuroDriver, Geoffrey Armstrong, jabbr, tranz, etc... The people who know what they're talking about, have actually tested things and freely share information for the greater enjoyment of the community and this is info you can use to test things yourself. Just Superbad Alex and John S. have made tons of free contributions that are worth several times their new product price IMO.



    Costs nothing except dogged determination and intellectual effort, and gives me a thorough understanding of how the field clicks and where it's going, while the idiots clamor you're here to increase your post count and say you know how to use Google as if it's something to be ashamed of. Eff' em: their mediocre thinking will only bring them mediocre sound unless it's handed to them as a product. Conclusion: waste no time with the idiots and trolls and instead read what the above-mentioned guys say and try to understand why and/or apply in a DIY build.



    9. Critical listening sessions for comparisons between:



    - lossy and lossless

    - lossless compressed vs uncompressed

    - PCM and DSD

    - lower-rate DSD vs higher rate DSD

    - different HQ Player setups (computer to DAC direct vs client-server mode, different filter and modulators)

    - realtime PCM-to-DSD vs offline up-conversion

    - different DAC filter settings

    - different Audirvana+ filter settings (esp. regarding phase)

    - different Audirvana up-sampling settings (Redbook to DXD, no over-sampling, power of 2, etc...)

    - FLAC/ALAC vs WAV

    - Solid State amplification vs Tube amplification

    - Generic USB cable vs DIY USB cable

    - Default power cable vs DIY power cable

    - Default equipment support vs DIY equipment vibration isolation

    - Default room response vs DIY room treatment response

    - Default AC power vs DIY AC filtered power

    - Default equipment system connection vs DIY System Chassis Grounding

    - Default equipment system connection vs DIY Signal cleanup (some say 'Grounding' here, but it isn't that in reality)



    This costs just time, but is crucial in honing my listening skills as well as filtering out what works from what doesn't (while the others are wasting time debating double blind, blind, measurements, ABX, etc... which only matter if the effects are too close to discern convincingly and if you're trying to prove something for science), give me a good reference for tweaks/changes, makes me know my system inside out and finally allowed to find the sweet spot of my system. The sweet spot is DSD128 and above. Hence:



    10. Re-ripping and/or converting all my library in uncompressed (AIFF)



    Best foundation for high-quality reproduction (you could choose WAV on a non Apple system too).



    11. Up-conversion of my tracks to DSD128/DSD256 for critical listening and musicophilia



    This is sublime. If you think about it, I am doing a smaller version (with less features and a few different steps missing) of what the PS Audio DirectStream does with PCM.



    Last night's example: my gf asks to listen to Billy Ocean, I play 'Loverboy' first in PCM, then in offline up-converted to DSD128. At the beginning of the DSD version she says she finds no difference (while I already hear much clearer sounds, what I call 'texture', i.e. the individual constituents of the sounds), then when the vocals hit, she agrees there is a large difference, and then when a percussion hit, we both simultaneously point to the speaker where we heard the sound, then look at each other quizzically and smile.



    12. Taming Equipment vibration:



    This, with Room Acoustic and Room treatment is a fundamental issue you need to take care of, and here, it's not just vibration from outside into your equipment, but also vibration internal to the equipment, and from equipment to another as well.



    This can make a large difference, especially when it comes to bass response, DIY and materials do not cost a lot.



    I designed a way to tame vibrations for large and small speakers, the description of which is in the related thread.



    13. AC filtering, isolation, conditioning, linear power, balanced power



    [NB: safety first if you tinker with this yourself]



    This is a third (not necessarily in that order) fundamental issue you need to take care of. Not only can noise enter your system from outside, but it can also be from inside in two ways: other non-audio equipment, but indeed, shockingly (ah ah ah) from your own audio equipment.



    With my DIY AC filter box this brought a lot of presence, clarity and detection of 'new' sounds and performances from albums I know very well.



    I have more experiments along the way with this, including implementing a design I invented but which is the subject of quite recent scientific research, so getting the proper material for DIY may be difficult for now.



    Some designs are described in the thread.



    Read about great products from manufacturers and what they use in them. Many use Plitron transformers and there are reasons for that.






    14. Grounding, eliminating Ground Loops



    This is also fundamental and you won't know what you're missing until you do this properly. Here again, do not listen to nay-sayers who tell you it shouldn't work or how this is supposed to work: the reality is that in heterogeneous systems you are likely to end up with (many different manufactures and cable constructions and different grounding schemes, coupled with dirty AC power), there are a lot of issues.



    Moreover, and you should find this flabbergasting as I did: the subject is quite complex, and many manufacturers have seriously compromised the engineering of their equipment by cutting corners. Some of them make the issues worse!



    By all means, check the related thread (it's the same as the AC one), and read about the Tripoint Troy devices, as well as the Entreq Tellus ones and what they do and the results people are getting with them then go and do the same.



    Many learned people will give you an incomplete or outdated theoretical model of how things should work here. They are WRONG, as they forget to include the modern situation of being surrounded by cellular EMI/RFI.



    In fact, many just ignore the issues surrounding EMI/RFI completely when it comes to computer audiophilia (and cables...).



    Read everything you can get about Electromagnetic Compatibility. In particular, read everything from Ott, Morrison, Keith Armstrong, Jim Brown, Neil Muncy, Bill Whitlock, Philip Giddings. Apart from Ott, Morrison, and Giddings, many of these references came from Speedskater, but who gets the basics wrong when he forgets to add that currents want to loop back to their source distributed preferentially through lowest impedance paths. Additionally, IMO he also gets it wrong when he talks about 'at these low frequencies it doesn't matter' where I specifically talked of high frequencies and make no assumption on their source.



    Read, then go and do it, or if you can, just go do it. The results are immense: tall soundstage, clarity, presence, much of what you get with cleaner AC power.



    15. DIY USB cable



    This was mind-blowing: I didn't expect any results at all here, and in fact expected the worse: drop-outs or total disconnection or no detection of the DAC.



    My cable sounds stellar. This proved to me that a 'digital' cable can have a bearing on SQ. The difference is big especially when it comes to attack transients, soundstage, reverb tails, dynamics. This cable makes you want to get up and dance.



    It isn't the kind of difference that is close so as to make you even think 'it's close I should perhaps do a DBT'. It is a 'night-and-day' difference.



    This is all about shielding and geometry. I have posted the design on a thread somewhere here. Doesn't cost more than some time, some shielding and a normal USB cable as donor.



    16. DIY Power Cable



    If there was a second thing expected to make no difference just like 'digital' cables, it sure was power cords. So, I jumped in and built my own power cable for the amplifier. Right, right, here's another myth busted from the get-go: I have a much larger detailed audio range now with my DIY power cable.



    Here, it's about shielding again, but also using solid-core wire. Very low-cost but high return!



    17. DIY Single-Ended Triode Tube Amps



    While researching Tube amps for my build, I settled for the Single-Ended Triode architecture which isn't perfect technically but is revered for SQ. Further research and study brought me to the Tubelab section on diyaudio, and to George's website. I liked what he wrote and his methodology, ordered the PCB (looks stunning), researched transformers and ordered 3 large Edcor ones, researched Tubes and got a whole Russian set (Electro-Harmonix KT-88 and others).



    It sounds sublime, totally beats my SS amp when it comes to fast attack transients. Needless to say what this does to: soundstage, presence, rhythm/timing, etc...



    The cost here was mainly in the transformers, the other parts do not cost a lot, even the tubes aren't that expensive. In all, it probably cost me in the range of $300-375.


    18. Learning about the inner workings of computer audiophile setups and the preponderance of gray areas and EMI/RMI



    The DRAM bit-flipping thread and the papers I researched with as well as the great ensuing conversations with John Swenson, Miska, PeterSt, and sbgk had a lot to do with furthering my knowledge of what really happening in digital land.



    Digital land has a lot of gray areas which have a lot to do in reality with analogue phenomena and the issues with them.



    The gray areas are related to A/D and D/A and the EMI/RFI of digital equipment along the processing chain. It's near the little magnets in HDDs, around the caps in your DRAM, the analogue signals in your USB cable, in the memory pathway you use in your audio software...



    This brought me to start work on a prototype DIY audiophile player which sounds great out of the box, but whose next iteration should be mind-blowing if I get it right.



    In the meantime, the clueless are still stuck in the 'bits-are-bits' paradigm, so far removed from the challenges we face in reality.



    Bit-perfection is necessary but not sufficient for great SQ.



    Reading that thread costs time but that's it.



    19. Continuing to read, research, learn and build and optimise along the whole digital playback chain



    This costs just time, and allows for fruitful exchanges with other knowledgeable people intent on furthering the field, and also allows you to filter out the trolls (like Daudio, 4est, kumakuma, etc... who haven't done the tenth of my efforts to date) to spend more time with the former.



    I have already designed my ultimate setup, and one day I will build it. While it may take me years to get there, I already know what is going to be in it and it will require me to build my own speakers among a few other things.