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pga, July 19, 2008
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Posted July 19, 2008
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Now that I've been living with the Mac Pro / Lynx / BADA for a month using Itunes, I can tell you it's the best sound I've had in my home. Perhaps we can still optimize the system a bit as it is annoying that the sample rate does not change on the fly with Itunes. Also, still get some clicks and pops when multitasking (not loud but audible). But other than that, I find the sound very rich, detailed and satisfying. Using Itunes is a real pleasure. The new remote Ipod Touch is great (except it does not control the volume on a pre-amp or BADA). Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
The system configuration is as follows: single quad core Mac Pro with 6G memory, 320g system drive, 1T Seagate RAID1 Array (internal) for Itunes data, LYNX AES 16e card, BADA Alpha DAC, MSB M200 mono amps (100hz up), Bel Canto Ref 1000 mono amps (active drive for 100hz down), PS Audio Power Plant and TAD M1s.
Hey Hey pga - Thanks for posting the details and your opinion of the sound! (Note: pga and I have been discussing his configuration offline a bit over the past couple months). That BADA DAC is really something else. I'm trying to get one a we speak/write. Major back order issues though.
I agree the new remote application is pretty cool. It works better than the non-Apple options. It's quite funny that you bring up controlling the volume on the BADA or pre-amp. I am working with Tim M. on that issue now. We're making some progress. I actually started writing this response 45 minutes ago, but Tim called and we chatted until 30 seconds ago.
Anyway, thanks again for the post!
Posted July 21, 2008
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Glad to hear this combination is working so well for you. I'm roughly the same length of time with an identical setup. I'm also very impressed with the sound quality, I'm finally satisfied with using a computer as a digital transport. One issue I've come across is with HDCD content. I've made lossless rips of several HDCDs (WAV format) and I've noticed when playing them back through iTunes/AES1e the BADA does not recognize them as HDCD content. They playback just fine, essentially at CD quality. Have you experimented here? Same results?
The next step for me is to start archiving my vinyl library into high res digital. So far I've experimented with 24/96 recordings that I've made with a Sony PCM recorded connected directly to my phono stage. The results are pretty good but the workflow is tedious (Recording, transferring, splitting, cleaning up, etc). I'm considering adding an external D/A converted and feeding that directly into the Lynx. The Lynx Aurora is an obvious starting point but I have no direct experience with it. Does anyone here?
Hi igolem - I've used the BADA Alpha with my Music Server and HDCD albums. The only time it didn't illuminate the HDCD indicator is when I have the volume set less than 100%.
You may also want to check to make sure the equalizer is off.
I'm using AIFF for my redbook HDCDs (16/44.1). It works as expected and HDCD light turns on. Any attempt by the Mac to EQ or reduce volume affects the 16th bit and you will not get HDCD flag passed on to the DAC properly. Make sure you have the BADA set to the default filter (I believe it's 1.16, not 1.24). If you use the 1.24 filter, then BADA looks for HDCD flag on the 24th bit (for pro use), Redbook CD's have it on the 16th bit. 1.16 attenuates non-HDCDs 6 db per the consumer specs for HDCD. 1.24 does not attenuate. Also make sure you have the Lynx set for 44.1 sample rate. If you upsample, then the processing will also destroy the HDCD flag info.
Dr. Johnson's RR data files at 24/176 (in WAV, have not tried AIFF yet) also play with the HDCD light on at the BADA, but for this the Lynx has to be set to the 174 sample rate. However, if you then play regular redbook HDCD, you have to reset the Lynx to 44.1 in the Apple Core Audio and reopen Itunes.
Hope this helps.
Excellent advice, your checklist exactly matched mine. Bit perfect as it were, except for one part: Restarting iTunes, and I know better than that .
Everything is working great now. Thanks for the help!
My sense is soon (CES) we will have more options for the Mac/Lynx/BADA so you may run Itunes and have a "more bit perfect" pass through at various sample rates. I don't have too many HD tracks, so I mostly leave my setup at 16/44.1, but otherwise, changing sample rates back and forth (and reopening Itunes) is a bit of a pain.
Overall, the sound seems very, very good on the Mac/Lynx/BADA. Better than the Spectral 2000/3000 combo I had for years, and better than a Denon/MSB Platinum Signature setup I just recently sold. The MSB setup is very nice since it plays eveything, even SACDs, but the Denon does not sound great on redbook.
I don't believe the MAC(Itunes)/Lynx/BADA combo is messing at all with the bits if you keep eq off, vol at 100% and sample rate native. Otherwise I can't imagine how the HDCD flag would turn on. However, I've heard from reliable sources that the BADA sounds a bit better on a Windows XP PC, but you have to use the older Lynx cards, Media Monkey and older drivers that are less than 100% reliable. I would think something about the two systems allows more jitter / data interupts to take place in the Mac than the PC, but who know ... The Mac sounds better than most high end players and Itunes is just a joy to have.
Workmanship and design of the Mac Pro is amazing. If Levinson or Krell made anything like this, it would cost $50,000. Too bad we're only using a fraction of the computer's capabilities for the audio and the operating system gives audio such a low priority (thereby the clicks and pops).
Posted July 22, 2008
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I hope your right on the iTunes pass through and responding to better sample rates. There's no reason I can think of that this shouldn't be easily doable. There's no reason in software architecture to tightly couple these things. In standard SW architecture terms. iTunes should only be the view. CoreAudio the controller. Allowing the end user to swap either of these pieces at their whim
I'm very satisfied with the sound quality. I've not compared it to an XP based system but knowing how difficult it is in general to separate XP from drivers from applications, I think I'd happily trade off a small quality drop for improved stability. I don't want to be in the position of saying, "this would sound great if I could get it to stay up for any length of time" iTunes certainly is a joy to work with, it's a killer app and now that it can be remote controlled from the iPhone or iTouch, it's just endeared itself to me that much more.
Out of curiosity, are you running your BADA directly to you poweramp, or running through a pre?
Have you tried 'renicing' the coreaudio process to tell the kernel to give more CPU to that process and it's threads?
I've not had the same issue you're experiencing but this should help. I'm traveling at the moment, but when I get home I'll try the reverse (lowering CoreAudio's priority to see if I can induce this behavior).
Agree someone that knows what they are doing should be able to get the data that's being selected by Itunes to the Lynx card using the native sample rate, and there are people working on this now, perhaps ready for CES.
Also totally agree on Itunes and Mac being a great application / platform. Much better user interface than PCs. It sounds very, very good. Agree the new remote is really cool. Overall a very compelling interface.
I do use the BADA as a pre-amp, sort of. I had a custom switch box made that selects (with a 12v trigger) either a Krell surround processor or the BADA as the source for the amps. The BADA has just enough gain for 99% of the CDs I own and the digital volume control on the BADA is very good (probably less real noise/distortion than any pre-amp, even with the digital attenuation). You can surely use the BADA with most speaker/amp combos.
I have no idea what renicing is, but certainly giving more priority (memory and CPU time) in the operating system to the Core Audio seems like a good idea. Any guidance on this would be much appreciated.
So niceness is the Linux/Unix concept of how much time the kernel dedicates to tasks in a multiuser/multitasking environment. Some tasks by their very nature run at a higher priority than others. Typically to have a smooth end user experience those apps run at a higher priority than say routine maintenance tasks. File conversion/encoding tasks can typically run at a lower priority than say a web browser.
Every process that runs on a system has a niceness value associated with it. In essence reflecting how "nice" that process is playing with others, in terms of CPU resource demands. The higher the value the nicer the process is, the fewer resources it consumes. nice and renice are the commands that are used to set this value for a process. nice sets it when the process is first started, renice changes it for processes already running. The values range from -20 (highest priority, least nice) to +20 (lowest priority, most nice) with 0 being typical default.
You can do this by hand in a terminal window:
First get the process ID for coreaudio:
ps -axl | grep -i coreaudio | grep -v grep
0 209 1 4000 0 97 0 86688 7264 - S < s 5a93060 ?? 116:03.67 /usr/sbin/coreaudiod
Don't worry about all the crap on the line, just a few parts are relevant (btw you will see different values)
The 2nd value '209' is the process ID (you will have a different value -- make note of it). The current niceness value is shown by the '0' following the 97. We will change that value with the following command: (note you will need administrator password for the following)
sudo renice -5 209
This command tells the kernel to set the niceness value of process 209 (coreaudio) to -5 (more greedy)
Executing the first command again shows the result:
0 209 1 4000 0 97 -5 86688 7264 - S< s 5a93060 ?? 116:03.67 /usr/sbin/coreaudiod
If that doesn't solve the problem you could try the 2nd command again using -10 or-15 until the dropouts go away
Sorry for all the command line stuff, I'm sure someone has written a nice GUI to do this. i just don't know of one and I'm kind of old school that way
Posted July 23, 2008
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Hey igolem - I love the speed of the old school commands myself, but I have a feeling many of the readers here just checked out :-) Your post got me looking for a slick gui to make this simple for the CA readers and it looks like I found one
Redistributes CPU time to give the frontmost application about 20% to 30% more processor time than it get’s normally. It uses the UNIX command “renice” to change the priority of the frontmost application so that the processor gives it more time. You can also manually set the priority of all application via the “Status” window, where you also can force quit and check the priority of applications and processes.
What’s New in this Version
- Universal Binary support. So now it works natively on Intel Macs.
- Various fixes.
- Changed the eSellerate integration.
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