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Tassie Devil

Upgrading The Audio System - What To Tackle First?

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Just because the player has all electronics controlled by the one internal clock chip is no guarantee of low jitter. It all depends on the accuracy of the clock

Does that make sense?

John

Hi again TD,this was my understanding of jitter and clocks.

Thanks.

Also is it the clocks duty to reproduce the timing correctly as is presented on the disc?

The manufacturer of my DAC is very critical on the quality of his clocks (so he says).So is it in the dac that the clock is the most critical,ie this is where all the info is put together correctly??

PS,I have no idea at all what to look for re jitter and probably would no know if it bit me on the arse :ph34r:

EDIT: this post added to jitter thread,sorry :mellow:

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John can you describe the audio effect of jitter? What does it sound like? What tracks should one play to find it?

Mr. RodN the most common manifestation is a smearing of the high frequencies and soundstage. At its worst, voices can take on a processed quality. Jitter is only noticable by its absence. Here is an experiment you could try, and it will cost you less than $1. Rip your favourite CD twice. The first time, do it at 1x speed. With the second CD, do it at 52X and ensure that you have many processes running on your computer to stress the buffer. Make sure your computer performs data verification at the end of each burn. Now play both CD's and see if you can hear a difference between them.

Also, if you have a seperate DAC you could listen for the differences between SPDIF, AES/EBU, and optical. For this you will have to acquire seperate cables for each. Please let us know what you find.

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Mr. RodN the most common manifestation is a smearing of the high frequencies and soundstage. At its worst, voices can take on a processed quality. Jitter is only noticable by its absence. Here is an experiment you could try, and it will cost you less than $1. Rip your favourite CD twice. The first time, do it at 1x speed. With the second CD, do it at 52X and ensure that you have many processes running on your computer to stress the buffer. Make sure your computer performs data verification at the end of each burn. Now play both CD's and see if you can hear a difference between them.

Also, if you have a seperate DAC you could listen for the differences between SPDIF, AES/EBU, and optical. For this you will have to acquire seperate cables for each. Please let us know what you find.

Thanks Camcon I'll give it a shot.

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Thanks Camcon I'll give it a shot.

will be interested wat you find rod if you give it a try, my burner is shot at present or I'd give it a go myself :)

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Adding to the general discussion:

It might seem obvious, given this discussion is largely rhetorical, but I identify with 4 key guidelines for upgrading your system:

1) Where you're coming from

2) Where you want to get to

3) How much you're prepared to spend

4) And how long you're likely to take to get there

The biggest lesson I learnt (the hard way), was to think about each component upgrade in terms of the bigger picture I wanted to achieve. My recent speaker upgrade was a no-brainer, because it was far and away the biggest gain for me to make in the short term. However, one of the subtleties of the choice, was with a view to the far distant future. I am hoping in about 10 years time to have separate 2-channel and HT set ups. The mains were chosen to end up in the 2-channel room (sans sub). Thus, I spent a disproportionate amount on the mains than the centre, as for HT duties all 3 will eventually be replaced (hopefully with commercial LCR's behind an AT screen). The centre I went for still kicks arse, but I could have spent an extra $500 on the bigger, better matched one. I'd already stretched $1,500 for the bigger, better mains... :blush:

I would endorse anyone looking to upgrade their system, to really think about not just what they want now, but where they hope to take their system in the longer term. That speaker upgrade might not be the best thing if your budget doesn't get you what you'd prefer to have long term. It may however get you the transport you're after, and still deliver some improvement to provide some short term satisfaction.

It's a real labour of love, isn't it?!? :wub:

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Love?, often more like lust I'm afraid :blink:

You make some good points but I'm afraid that when the lust, sorry love, hits then logic goes out the window. Most of us change items haphazardly so it is often as miracle the end result turns out so well. I suppose it has done that here because I've made so many mistakes so have finally blundered my way to something really good.

I'm interested to hear why you are aiming at two systems. I can see it makes a lot of sense if the HT is in the family room with kids etc dominating, but if not I like quality audio from video as well as audio only. The main difference in general terms is that the centre channel is as important as the L/R stereo for HT as so much speech comes through it. In both the main system and a secondary one I'm setting up, I've gone to considerable trouble to match that centre speaker with the mains and it has paid off handsomely. In the main system I had Sound Labs in the USA make me two more Majestic speakers that were not as tall as the mains. Subsequently I found that one would have sufficed but two are here now so two are fed from a stereo amp (Plinius 250 III). In the secondary system, a clever friend had made up a stereo system with Audax speakers so when I decided to go MC there I imported an Audax centre speaker kit from Madisound in the USA. Not too much trouble to hook together and it works like a charm, integrating seamlessly into the mains. But I digress. This forum is supposed to be about 2CH.

John

Adding to the general discussion:

It might seem obvious, given this discussion is largely rhetorical, but I identify with 4 key guidelines for upgrading your system:

1) Where you're coming from

2) Where you want to get to

3) How much you're prepared to spend

4) And how long you're likely to take to get there

The biggest lesson I learnt (the hard way), was to think about each component upgrade in terms of the bigger picture I wanted to achieve. My recent speaker upgrade was a no-brainer, because it was far and away the biggest gain for me to make in the short term. However, one of the subtleties of the choice, was with a view to the far distant future. I am hoping in about 10 years time to have separate 2-channel and HT set ups. The mains were chosen to end up in the 2-channel room (sans sub). Thus, I spent a disproportionate amount on the mains than the centre, as for HT duties all 3 will eventually be replaced (hopefully with commercial LCR's behind an AT screen). The centre I went for still kicks arse, but I could have spent an extra $500 on the bigger, better matched one. I'd already stretched $1,500 for the bigger, better mains... :blush:

I would endorse anyone looking to upgrade their system, to really think about not just what they want now, but where they hope to take their system in the longer term. That speaker upgrade might not be the best thing if your budget doesn't get you what you'd prefer to have long term. It may however get you the transport you're after, and still deliver some improvement to provide some short term satisfaction.

It's a real labour of love, isn't it?!? :wub:

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Love?, often more like lust I'm afraid :blink:

You make some good points but I'm afraid that when the lust, sorry love, hits then logic goes out the window. Most of us change items haphazardly so it is often as miracle the end result turns out so well. I suppose it has done that here because I've made so many mistakes so have finally blundered my way to something really good.

~

Lust? For sure... :blush::wub:

Yeah, it's hard to know how it's all going to unfold, and upgraditis is in some senses, inevitable. But my methodology is to avoid the somewhat expensive mistake of otherwise avoidable upgrades. For example (and perhaps not the best one, given this is a 2-channel discussion) - I wouldn't be buying an AVR right now, given the uncertainty over HD audio formats and implementation. Better to stick with what you've got, or pick up something second hand without HDMI from a bleeding edge enthusiast.

~

I'm interested to hear why you are aiming at two systems ...

~

4 actually. :blush:

System 1: Living room viewing / listening. I'd design the central hub of the house around an open space where kitchen, dining and living room has a nice big flatscreen, bookshelf / ceiling mount based surround sound and maybe a high light output projector for watching the odd movie and the footy grand final with a crowd. This space would be fairly bullet proof, with decent but not top end sound. Acoustic treatments would be variable, depending on who is in the room, what they're wearing and where they sit!! Basically, this is your run of the mill Harvey Norman catalogue living room.

System 2: As a boy, my grandfather had what he called "The Quiet Room". Wall to wall bookshelves, a couple of nice sitting chairs, a radiator, an old school hi-fi and plenty of charm. This would be a retreat from the noise of the day, somewhere to sip a whisky or wine, and enjoy a good book or album.

System 3: Integrated music throughout the house, courtesy of a Sonos or similar style compressed digital music source. Not really fussed if this does or doesn't happen.

System 4: Dedicated Home Theatre, preferably underground. ;) This is the ultimate dream bit, and would obviously be the last one to build. The works: room within a room, IB subs, AT screen, CRT etc.

Oh, and not a single TV in any bedroom. A second TV might be provided in a games / rumpus / kids room if necessary.

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LOL, and I thought I was nutty!!! :blush: Great to read about other "enthusiasts" - a great term to explain the mania.

Ok, time to confess to 7 systems (some not all that impressive):

1. Main combined MC audio & HT system in the main pentagonal lounge

2. Secondary big system in Dining room with Sony 70" SXRD, Audax speakers & Denon electronics (still being played around with). Also composite video + stereo audio feed from main system.

3. Home Office - FM tuner & modded Denon 3000 CDP -> modded Benchmark DAC 1 (yes I have two of them) -> modded 3 way speakers with 15" woofers. Stereo audio feed from main system here also.

4. Kitchen - a system & TV there, the systemr 2 CH audio is a DIY amp & preamp -> Polk speakers with feed from an FM tuner & also from the main system. The TV is unconnected to the system & is a 32" Regal HD unit that I've modded with speaker jacks to feed better speakers.

5. Bedroom - also a system & TV. The system is 2CH fed by a NAD 7200 receiver -> Celestion speakers. The TV is a 37" Regal HDTV, unmodded or messed around with at the moment (but it needs to behave or I'll be at it)

6. Bathroom - an old TV fed by a Strong STB -> NAD 3130 amp -> crummy speakers (must do something about that some day)

7. Downstairs (exercise room) - 34" Sony monitor, Proton amp, VASS electrostat speakers - still playing around with that one. And yes, feed from the main system down there also.

A lot of this has resulted from surplus gear I'm too lazy to sell. And it is fun playing around with it all!!! :rolleyes:

John

Lust? For sure... :blush::wub:

Yeah, it's hard to know how it's all going to unfold, and upgraditis is in some senses, inevitable. But my methodology is to avoid the somewhat expensive mistake of otherwise avoidable upgrades. For example (and perhaps not the best one, given this is a 2-channel discussion) - I wouldn't be buying an AVR right now, given the uncertainty over HD audio formats and implementation. Better to stick with what you've got, or pick up something second hand without HDMI from a bleeding edge enthusiast.

4 actually. :blush:

System 1: Living room viewing / listening. I'd design the central hub of the house around an open space where kitchen, dining and living room has a nice big flatscreen, bookshelf / ceiling mount based surround sound and maybe a high light output projector for watching the odd movie and the footy grand final with a crowd. This space would be fairly bullet proof, with decent but not top end sound. Acoustic treatments would be variable, depending on who is in the room, what they're wearing and where they sit!! Basically, this is your run of the mill Harvey Norman catalogue living room.

System 2: As a boy, my grandfather had what he called "The Quiet Room". Wall to wall bookshelves, a couple of nice sitting chairs, a radiator, an old school hi-fi and plenty of charm. This would be a retreat from the noise of the day, somewhere to sip a whisky or wine, and enjoy a good book or album.

System 3: Integrated music throughout the house, courtesy of a Sonos or similar style compressed digital music source. Not really fussed if this does or doesn't happen.

System 4: Dedicated Home Theatre, preferably underground. ;) This is the ultimate dream bit, and would obviously be the last one to build. The works: room within a room, IB subs, AT screen, CRT etc.

Oh, and not a single TV in any bedroom. A second TV might be provided in a games / rumpus / kids room if necessary.

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~

Ok, time to confess to 7 systems (some not all that impressive):

~

You've well and truly earnt the first line of your signature!!! :P

Awesome stuff John!! :D

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Thanks, but there is a downside to it all. There is usually something going wrong somewhere. Cables coming loose, my wife madly pressing the wrong buttons, ...... But I suppose it keeps me out of mischief, well sort of :unsure: Last big blowup here was an older NAD receiver. Nastly smell and sight of burning resistors as it expired. Not worth repairing. Free to anyone who would like to pay the postage before I turn it into a boat anchor. Only one problem with that, I do not own a boat. With all the rain today I really should re-examine that I guess. But for all the audiomania, it is still cheaper than some other hobbies. Isn't it? PLEASE nominate some so I can feel better. :mellow: :mellow:

John

You've well and truly earnt the first line of your signature!!! :P

Awesome stuff John!! :D

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... But for all the audiomania, it is still cheaper than some other hobbies. Isn't it? PLEASE nominate some so I can feel better. :mellow::mellow:

I always comfort myself with this:

I don't necessarily agree with it but I follow the logic.

More expensive speakers will sound different but its all just sound to me.

The volume control is the only differentiating factor I'm interested in, other than having surround sound.

I just dont rate audio as any where near as important as video. Never bought a CD or music of any description outside of ipods for the gf.

But hey, I spend $20-$30k a year on golf so you all probably think thats a waste of money.

Each to their own.

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Not sure about focusing on something in the future. Enjoying the journey is so much fun. I guess if ones work requires future focus all the time its really quite nice just to revel in the present of your system and upgrade for pure pleasure!

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Hedonist :blink: What are you doing lurking here among us serious upgraders? No focus - bah. You are as bad as the rest of us. :blush: You should have realised by now how illogical my journey has been. Hence my logical posting set up to taunt you BUT you are not taking it seriously :ph34r: I think we should take a vote about condemning you to listening to MP3 on Bose speakers. :blink:

John (he who MUST be taken seriously)

Not sure about focusing on something in the future. Enjoying the journey is so much fun. I guess if ones work requires future focus all the time its really quite nice just to revel in the present of your system and upgrade for pure pleasure!

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But for all the audiomania, it is still cheaper than some other hobbies. Isn't it? PLEASE nominate some so I can feel better. :mellow::mellow:

John

Motor racing/sports

Yachting/powerboat racing.

Polo.

Aviation...................I know there are plenty more aswell.At least this one(audio) kind of keeps you at home.Unless there's GTG's.

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Not sure about focusing on something in the future. Enjoying the journey is so much fun. I guess if ones work requires future focus all the time its really quite nice just to revel in the present of your system and upgrade for pure pleasure!

I understand what you are saying.

To clarify - if your dream system (and you consider, in all likelihood, that you will one day get there) is something to rival Gino's, then you would probably consign yourself to going through a few variations and combinations to get there. The experimental phase, if you will. And with that kind of end result, you'd be mad if you didn't.

But if your goal is to have a projector hanging from the ceiling of the living room and a bit of surround sound to watch a few movies, check out the grand final with your mates, and maybe the odd special TV event, then you'd be gutted if you invested your limited budget on an item that didn't really deliver the best you could get for the eventual purpose. It's why we all so often advise people against spending $2k on 5.1 speakers, if they have every intention of spending $6-7k in the long run. Speakers are one of the few items you can get bit by bit, and hang onto for the long term. If you get the right ones to begin with... :blush:

Of course, upgrading for the sake of it, from a hobby perspective, is why the rest of us are here!! :lol:

EDIT: I realise this post is rather 5.1-centric, but I don't think the logic is entirely unsuitable for 2-channel systems either.

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ah enjoy and savour the upgrades I reckon. I've never jsut bought everything in one hit. more of a one step at a time type. allowing each step to be appreciated on its own standing :)

it sure is a hobby though no question ! and yeah sure cheaper than buying a jet ski or a pool table I keep telling my wife :) hehe

like the bit about "At least this one(audio) kind of keeps you at home" as a hobby joz. I'll stash that away in the locker so can be pulled out at the appropriate moment when needed for defense ! hehe

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Speakers are one of the few items you can get bit by bit, and hang onto for the long term. If you get the right ones to begin with... :blush:

Of course, upgrading for the sake of it, from a hobby perspective, is why the rest of us are here!! :lol:

EDIT: I realise this post is rather 5.1-centric, but I don't think the logic is entirely unsuitable for 2-channel systems either.

I couldn't agree more with you there, MM.

The purchase of my 801's in the early 90's, was a huge expense, as I was a young commis chef (brigade (kitchen team) title, given to a recently qualified chef) at the time, but has become a massive investment to me as they still provide excellent sound and a huge enjoyment today and beyond :wub::) .

Though over the years, my greatest expense has been chasing the HT upgrade path. And mostly due to upgrades, I also can confess to having 6 dedicated and running audio/ht systems :o:) .

This starts me to reflect...

*From an all-in-one sound system to intergrated: been there.

*From intergrated to receiver (remote): been there.

*From receiver to pre/power amp: been there too.

*From vinyl to many cdp: here as well.

*Trying to intergrate many add-on surround processors: me too.

*Adding visuals to the mix: ah hah.

*Upgrading to dream main speakers: yes please.

*Spending big money on Monster cable snake oil: I'm trying to hide in the corner, but my hand is raised.

*Putting green pen on all of my cd's edges for (alleged) improved cd sound: I'm really trying hard to hide somewhere.

*Buying a laser disc player (the future of sound & video) & upgrading it: Damn you spotted me.

*Putting green pen on LD's: I'm seeking help.

*Upgrade to surround amp for AC3: I did....twice.

*Big tv screens: a mesmerizing yeeees.

*Update surround/centre speakers for new sound: a few times, getting tears in my eyes.

*Upgraded many times to the unbeatable quality of DVD: guilty, sniff, sniff.

*Thinking of uprgading to blue ray/hd dvd: I want to but I'm vulnerable & afraid of getting hurt by now.

*New sound formats/processors coming out: pleeeeease stop, my therapist can't take it anymore.

Taking it back to the start & finding bliss in glorious 2ch sound: priceless.

Newbies, your ht journey awaits you! Stick to 2ch sound, it's much more enjoyable and alot less painful.

chef.

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Lot of common sense here Chef but don't downplay MC. My take is that most MC addicts have the surround channels at unrealistically high levels and some recordings are guilty of this. Surround should be subtle with as clean as possible L/R 2 CH. In HT the centre channel is as equally important as the L/R as it carries so much of the speech, but is less important in MC music.

I guess what I'm saying supports your thesis about the joy of excellent 2Ch but I'm arguing that MC, done properly (which it often is not) adds rather than detracts to the musical enjoyment. I've been messing about with added ambiance extracted from 2 CH for close on 30 years, generally successfully with a couple of notable exceptions, one being an earlier model Lexicon which well and truly turned the signal into mush. What I generally do is to keep the 2 CH away from any processor but feed back 2 CH from the preamp into a processor for surround. Works well as you can independently control the 2 CH and the surround from the processor + gives you the option of playing around with different DSP settings for the surround without corrupting the mains.

Now there's an idea for more toys to play with folks :unsure:

John

I couldn't agree more with you there, MM.

The purchase of my 801's in the early 90's, was a huge expense, as I was a young commis chef (brigade (kitchen team) title, given to a recently qualified chef) at the time, but has become a massive investment to me as they still provide excellent sound and a huge enjoyment today and beyond :wub::) .

Though over the years, my greatest expense has been chasing the HT upgrade path. And mostly due to upgrades, I also can confess to having 6 dedicated and running audio/ht systems :o:) .

This starts me to reflect...

*From an all-in-one sound system to intergrated: been there.

*From intergrated to receiver (remote): been there.

*From receiver to pre/power amp: been there too.

*From vinyl to many cdp: here as well.

*Trying to intergrate many add-on surround processors: me too.

*Adding visuals to the mix: ah hah.

*Upgrading to dream main speakers: yes please.

*Spending big money on Monster cable snake oil: I'm trying to hide in the corner, but my hand is raised.

*Putting green pen on all of my cd's edges for (alleged) improved cd sound: I'm really trying hard to hide somewhere.

*Buying a laser disc player (the future of sound & video) & upgrading it: Damn you spotted me.

*Putting green pen on LD's: I'm seeking help.

*Upgrade to surround amp for AC3: I did....twice.

*Big tv screens: a mesmerizing yeeees.

*Update surround/centre speakers for new sound: a few times, getting tears in my eyes.

*Upgraded many times to the unbeatable quality of DVD: guilty, sniff, sniff.

*Thinking of uprgading to blue ray/hd dvd: I want to but I'm vulnerable & afraid of getting hurt by now.

*New sound formats/processors coming out: pleeeeease stop, my therapist can't take it anymore.

Taking it back to the start & finding bliss in glorious 2ch sound: priceless.

Newbies, your ht journey awaits you! Stick to 2ch sound, it's much more enjoyable and alot less painful.

chef.

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ha ha chef,

had me giggling a few times, good work. :rolleyes:

It's good to hear your success with multi channel on the stereo TD, the more you mention it the more my curiosity is aroused. It is most definitely on my 'to do' list.

Seeing as how you brought it up, I for one would love a thread from you explaining the concept of ambience in 2 ch, the traps and pitfalls, optimum setups et al. :blush:

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