Member’s Systems

Digital Mini-Smackdown in Marin

 By Guest BAAS Blogger Dan Rubin

1009ayre.1 1Synergistic-usb

Leslie Lundin, Peter Truce and I spent a delightful few hours at Lee Mincy’s in Kentfield on Saturday, March 15. The excuse was a casual shoot-out focused on USB DACs with sidebar consideration of USB cables.

Lee had the new Chord Hugo on loan ($2395), I brought my Chord QuteHD ($1795) with Paul Hynes linear power supply ($550) and Leslie brought her Ayre QB-9 ($2750, not yet upgraded to latest DSD version).  We were careful to change just one variable at a time and we made a modest effort at level matching, but there was otherwise not much rigor to our method. We listened to digital files played from a Mac Mini running Amarra, playing though Lee’s DIY Randall tube linestage (2 Telefunken EF 804S) into a newly rebuilt/cap-upgraded Threshold S-500 amp feeding floorstanding Hales Transcendence 5 loudspeakers. This is a clean, high-resolution, full-range system but with minimal tweaks, fancy cables or the like.

In Lee’s system, we all generally preferred the Ayre DAC. It sounded warm and smooth with rich tone color, dimensional images and a vivid, organic quality. The Chord DACs, which sounded quite alike, were perhaps more resolving but less complementary to the system, sounding leaner and less interesting.  The Chord Hugo was disadvantaged in this comparison by not being able to use any of the upgrade USB cables (see below for why).

I will add when I was evaluating DACs a couple of years ago, I did a shoot-out between the Metric Halo ULN-8 and the original Ayre QB-9 and ended up purchasing a Metric Halo LIO-8 when it came out. I subsequently sold it when I got the Chord, which I preferred. My takeaways from this: system inter-dependencies are critical but, nevertheless, Ayre is back on my list of DACs to hear in my own system. (Lee liked the Ayre so much that he bought one after our session!)

As for the USB cables, we listened to these:

  • Mapleshade Clearlink ($95)
  • Synergistic Research Basik USB Active ($395)
  • Synergistic Research USB Active SE ($595)
  • Light Harmonic Lightspeed ($999)

No surprise, but worth mentioning that we all heard meaningful differences between these cables. The differences tended to be mainly in the areas of harmonic richness and ambient information. The better the cable, the more engaging was Lee’s system, with a greater “being there” quality. I brought both the Mapleshade, which I consider a value champ, and the Lightspeed, which has been widely and very favorably reviewed in the ne plus ultra realm. Nevertheless, the Synergistic USB Active SE won the day while the others offered varying degrees of “just okay” in this shoot-out.

The Chord Hugo, which was designed for mobile/portable use but is getting attention for other applications, could not participate in the USB cable evaluations because it only accepts a micro USB connector, not the USB B-type connector on the downstream end of all of the cables we tested.

We had a lovely time, highlighted by delicious lasagna from Comfort’s in San Anselmo and an excellent Kosta Browne Pinot Noir.  I love hanging with audiophiles who have good taste!

Personally, while I very much enjoy these shoot-out sessions, I prefer longer-term evaluations when making buying decisions. I want to balance the sonic differences between components – which are highlighted in shoot-outs –­ with how I experience and enjoy music over the longer haul. But that’s a luxury we don’t always have.

I think it would be great if, as members of BAAS, we could get a few people to bring over components for listening sessions like this one in our own systems. Not as a formal BAAS event, which needs to accommodate a lot of us, but as an informal, personal audition with a few guests bringing along components of interest.

Dan Rubin

March 30, 2014

Monday, March 31st, 2014 Alón's Posts, Member Posts, Member's Systems Comments Off

Alón’s Audio Array

Updated March 12, 2014
Analogue Source: Townshend Rock 7 Turntable, Merlin 3 Power Supply, Excalibur 3 Tone Arm, Ortofon Cadenza Bronze.
Digital Source: Macbook Pro, Audirvana, Micromega MyDac.
Preamp: VAC Signature 2a with MC/MM Phono Stage
Amps: VAC Phi 200 mono blocks
Speakers: Thiel CS 3.7
Sub Woofers: Twin REL T5 Sub Bass System
Speaker Cables, Power Cords, and Interconnects: Speltz Audio Lab
Power: PurePower+ 2000 AC Regenerator With Battery Back-Up
Room Tweaks: Synergistic HFT (crazy voodoo product that shouldn’t work, but does anyway)
Headphones: Audeze LCD 3, Mr. Speakers Alpha Dog, AKG K702, Etymotic HF2
Headphone Amp: Ray Samuels Audio Raptor 3-tube Amp
RCM:  Audio Desk Systeme Ultrasonic Vinyl Cleaner
Electrical: 2 dedicated 20Amp circuits with Cruz Maestro Receptacle
Here’s a photo of my Rack of VAC in Black. This is the pure 2 Channel Analogue side. The digital components are separate and housed in the armoire on the right. More photos coming!
photo

 

Sunday, February 5th, 2012 Analog, Audiophile, Equipment, Member's Systems 1 Comment

Kevin’s System = Music Server + Open Baffles

 dsc_1604.jpg

I have the Linkwitz Orions and I recently added a music server. I am running a Logitech Transporter with the Modwright Platinum  analog stage. I run the software on a Netgear NAS. No need to have a PC running to make it work and the NAS has mirrored drives, so my music is backed up.

I have also found some excellent software for ripping CDs that collects all the CD tracks, composers, music catagories etc., with little or no input from me. I use FLAC and the sound is tremendous. Add to that the ease of accessing my music library.

This is all controlled with a remote or from a PC which displays album art. There are so many ways to stream music and it is all confusing. I listened to a Berkeley DAC but it was difficult to evaluate due to all the other system and room differences. I really chose the Transporter due to the ease of use and some positive press.

I am very happy with my choices.

dsc_1567.jpg

dsc_1582.jpg

dsc_1594.jpg

dsc_1600.jpg

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009 Equipment, Member's Systems 4 Comments

Building a Music Server By Lee Mincy

zalman.jpgEarly last year I began listening to a number of dac/music server combinations with the hopes of discovering a better alternative to my 16 bt/44k cd player. I’d already been considering a used turntable and phono pre as one possible option. But I had sold all my records years ago and the thought of buying back into vinyl all over again was a tough swallow. Fact is, my modified Shanling cdt-100 tube player sounded pretty good and was silky smooth, even did upsampling to 24/96k and native HDCD. Well, that player is now for sale on Audiogon. In the end, my listening and research paid off and now I have a pretty solid music server storing all of my 500+ cd’s and much downloaded music on a 4TB NAS drive (along with reams of photography).

Now, is that really such a big deal you might think? So, my cd collection is now ready for eBay. Yeah, I’ve got my Redbook collection, along with a handful of HDCD albums and HRx DVD’s, accessible from a networked hard drive. Big deal. So what’s it sound like? Well, my answer to that is pretty darned good, significantly more analog than my previous digital rig (to get the attention of some of you vinyl hard-liners) but more importantly, the collection is unified, like a jukebox, so that I find myself playing all of my music, discovering stuff I didn’t know I had, and actually feeling so in touch with my collection that I actually want to commence lessons in guitar (yet again). And piano. And maybe after that, sax… It’s amazing! Read on. You might too…

› Continue reading

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 Equipment, Member's Systems, Music Server 1 Comment

GerryG’s System

gerry.jpgVinyl Focused System

Digital Source:

* Denon DVD 3910
* Spectral 330 interconnect

Analog Source:

* Basis 2500 Signature
* Graham Phantom / Two Wands
* Koetsu Onyx Platinmum Signature
* Lyra Titan Mono
* Hovland phono interconnect
* VPI SDS
* VH Audio Airsine PC

› Continue reading

Monday, June 2nd, 2008 Member's Systems 4 Comments

FrankC’s System

system-2008.jpgFrankC’s system:

MAIN SYSTEM

Digital Source:

  • Mark Levinson #37
  • Sonic Frontier SFD2 Mk II (Amperex 6DJ8s)
  • I2Digital DX-60 digital cable
  • Synergistic Research Absolute Reference X2 XLR interconnect

Analog Source:

  • Michell Orbe SE
  • SME V
  • Shelter 901
  • Graham IC-70 phono cable
  • Kimber KCAG interconnect

Amplification:

  • ARC PH3 SE (Amperex white label 6DJ8s)
  • ARC LS25 Mk I w/ GNSC Reference mod (Amperex white label 6DJ8s)
  • Pass X350.5/Aleph Os
  • Synergistic Designer’s Reference X2 XLR interconnect

Speakers:

  • Verity Parsifal Encores
  • Synergistic Resolution Reference X2 speaker cable

Power:

  • Dedicated lines
  • PS300
  • Ultimate Outlets
  • Audio Prism
  • Various powercords from BMI, Electraglide, and VH Audio

Stands:

  • SolidTech Rack of Silence Reference

HEADPHONES
Digital Source:

  • Sonic Frontier SFT-1
  • Genesis Digital Lens
  • Mark Levinson #36
  • Illuminatti X-60 digital cables
  • Cardas Neutral Reference interconnects

Headphone amps:

  • Consonance Cyber 20 (EL84 based SET)
  • Consonance Cyber 30 (2A3 based SET)
  • Rudistor RP5.1cav
  • Sennheiser HD600 (Cardas cable)
  • Sennheiser HD650 (Zu Mobius cable)

Next upgrade: building a dedicated listening room from the ground up with the house remodel. Scheduled to be completed in late Fall, 2009.

Yes, members can visit. My current house is fairly small, and I have a young boy that likes to run around crazy mad. I work from home, so afternoons work best.

Sunnyvale, near 280 and 85 intersection.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

New Interconnect Design

Here’s what a single I/C looks like before termination:IC Before Deployment

And here’s the back of my rack (L chan only):
ics-after.jpg

Two days late, but “April Fools”!

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 Bob, Equipment, Member's Systems Comments Off

RobertD’s System

General location:

  • San Ramon

Digital Sources:

  • Parasound DVP1000
  • Marantz DV8400
  • Marantz CC4000

› Continue reading

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

DerrickY’s System

I am in the Oakland area and welcome interested visitors.

Main listening system

Amplification:

  • Air Tight ATM-3 tube monoblocks modified by Tom Tutay for main speakers, 1960s Mullard El34s
  • Onkyo Grand Integra M-508 -to run Subwoofers

Preamp:

  • Aloia Pst11.01 with Separate inductive power supply

Analog:

  • Well Tempered Classic, Sumiko SHO med output MC
  • PS Audio Phonolink

Digital:

  • Audio Matiere Dialogue transport
  • Sony CPD-x779es transport modified by APL
  • VAC DAC 2 Mk 2 D/A converter
  • Genesis Digital Lens

Speakers:

  • Celestion Sl700 Special Editions
  • Celestion System 6000 Subwoofers
  • Celestion DLp6000 crossover

Power Conditioning:

  • PS Audio p1000

Cabling:

  • Straightwire,Virtual Dynamics,Kimber, Yamamoto,

Room Treatments:

  • Shakti Holographs
  • Argent RoomLens
  • Michael Green Room Tunes

Living Room System 2

Amplification:

  • Klimo Linnet Tube Monoblocks-70s Siemens El34s

Preamplification:

  • Jeff Rowland Consanance w/ Phono Module

Analog:

  • Michell GyroDec, Linn Akito 2 tonearm, Sumiko SHO Med-output MC
  • Lazarus MC tube Step up

Digital:

  • Sony Cpd-x707Es transport
  • AudioLogic 34 D/a converter
  • Genesis Digital Lens

Speakers:

  • Michael Green Chameleon IIIs modified by Jason Serinus

Power Conditioning:

  • Dedicated lines analog/digital/amplification/
  • PS Audio P600

Cabling:

  • Straight Wire Crescendo speaker, Virtuoso, Yamamoto

All Systems have Versasound Copper Damping Sheets, Connections CAIG
de-oxified, and Mapleshade Audio Silver contact enhanced.

Sorry for the long list, this is what 20 years of audio gear obesssion gets you.

Monday, March 24th, 2008 Member's Systems 1 Comment

You Know You’re a Crazy A’phile When….

33mfd-clarity.jpgYou start buying capacitors for your speaker crossovers that are as large as a baseball and weigh a half-pound each!

These ClarityCap SA’s are for the midrange circuit of my Usher Dancer’s.

It’s the type of thing Alon might put in his Magico’s. (Actually, this part is a bit low-end for the Magico!)

Monday, March 24th, 2008 Bob, Equipment, Member's Systems 1 Comment

WillC’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • Sony JA333ES Mini Disc Recorder
  • Sony C555ES 5-disc SACD/CD player
  • Pioneer PDR-w839 CD Recorder

ANALOGUE SOURCES

  • None

PREAMP

  • NAD C162 Stereo Preamp

› Continue reading

Thursday, March 6th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

WilliamT’s System

Digital Source:

  • Abbingdon Music Research: CD-77 (pic)

Analog Source:

  • Raven One Turntable (pic)

Tonearm:

  • Dynavector: 507 MKII (pic)

› Continue reading

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

DanF’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • Sony CX90es
  • Monarchy Audio DIP
  • Sony DVPCX995V

ANALOG SOURCES

  • None

PREAMP

  • Sony TAE-9000es

› Continue reading

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

ChrisK’s System

Digital Sources:

  • Arcam DV137
  • HTPC (FLAC) – ditching this, tired of dealing with it
  • Squeezebox
  • Lavry DA10 DAC

Analog Sources:

  • Denon TU-660 AM/FM Tuner
  • Yamaha turntable w/Grado cartridge & Rolls Bellari VP129 phono amp (turntable recently stored for a while)

Preamp:

  • Rotel RSP-1068 Pre/Processor

› Continue reading

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

DavidH’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • Oppo DV-970HD Universal Player
  • Cambridge Audio Azur 840C Upsampling CD Player
  • Sony SCD222ES SACD player – Modified by SACDMods.com
  • Oritech DAC
  • Teac R-WD 250 CD Recorder
  • Tivo Series 3 HD DVR Dual Recorder w THX 5.1 Sound
  • iPod Gen 5

ANALOG SOURCES

  • Oracle Delhi MKV Turntable – Turbo Power Supply – SME Series lV Arm – Shelter 90X cartridge
  • Jolida 402 Tubed Tuner

PREAMP

  • Audio Research LS25 MKll
  • Audio Research PH3 Phono Stage (modified)
  • Jolida JD9 Tubed Phono Stage
  • Dynaco Pass 3

› Continue reading

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 Member's Systems 1 Comment

Craig & Christina E’s System

Digital:

  • Denon DVM 4800 DVD

Analog:

  • SME Model 10A turntable with model 20/30 arm mounting plate
  • Shelter 901 cartridge
  • EAR 834P phono-preamp modified by Scott Frankland Tube Amps and Services
  • EAR MC-4 step-up transformer

Preamp:

  • Quicksilver remote preamp w/Amperex A-frame 6DJ8s

› Continue reading

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008 Member's Systems 2 Comments

BlaineH’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • Sony 9100es

ANALOG SOURCES

  • None

PREAMP

  • Placette passive RVC

› Continue reading

Thursday, February 28th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

MiguelDF’s System

Sources:

  • Linn Pekin Tuner
  • Rotel DVD/CD RDV1040
  • C. E. C. CD Player TL51XR

Integrated Amp

  • Audiomat Opera

Speakers

  • Silverline Audio’s SR 17.5s

› Continue reading

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

ChrisG’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • Sony 777ES Modified by Vacuum State to Level 6

ANALOG SOURCES

  • None

PREAMP

  • BAT VK 5i

› Continue reading

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off

CraigS’s System

DIGITAL SOURCES

  • @tunes SB+ Streaming Device (coming)

ANALOG SOURCES

  • Garrard 301 Turntable; Denon 103R; OL Silver Tonearm
  • Marantz SLT 12U Turntable; Denon 103R

PHONOSTAGE

  • Decware ZP2

PREAMP

  • Eastern Electric MiniMax (upgraded by Tom Tutay)

› Continue reading

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 Member's Systems Comments Off
July 2014
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031