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Looking for ways to improve the sound on my system.


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Hello - I pop in every once in a while looking for ways to improve the sound of my system. My current system is comprised of Khorns with ALK extreme slope x-overs, Volti Mid Range horns with 4592-mid drivers, DE-10 tweeter drivers with CNC tweeter lenses. My Amp is a MA352 McIntosh fed by an RME ADI FS 2 DAC. Music is streamed via a mini PC 16 gig memory AMD Ryzen 7 3750H  with an external power supply. Basically a notebook processor with no keyboard or screen. Controlled by Remote desktop.

 

I had an in home Demo of a Western Electric 91 E 300B Tube amp. While it did sound slightly better I don't think it sounded $15,000 better, it was subtle maybe a bit warmer. Also demo'd was a Linn music streamer priced at $13,000. I could hear no difference between the streamer and the dac/pc that I currently have.

 

Tomorrow I am going to a shop to listen to a Furman power conditioner that sells for $2500. Since my house has a basement I can easily pull a 20 amp dedicated circuit for my system and swap out my speaker cables for a newer set. The cables I have are 25 years old and probably need a refresh. Will the 20 amp dedicated circuit make a difference versus the 15amp shared circuit? 

 

Any thoughts? 

 

 

Rick

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, RickD said:

Hello - I pop in every once in a while looking for ways to improve the sound of my system. My current system is comprised of Khorns with ALK extreme slope x-overs, Volti Mid Range horns with 4592-mid drivers, DE-10 tweeter drivers with CNC tweeter lenses. My Amp is a MA352 McIntosh fed by an RME ADI FS 2 DAC. Music is streamed via a mini PC 16 gig memory AMD Ryzen 7 3750H  with an external power supply. Basically a notebook processor with no keyboard or screen. Controlled by Remote desktop.

 

I had an in home Demo of a Western Electric 91 E 300B Tube amp. While it did sound slightly better I don't think it sounded $15,000 better, it was subtle maybe a bit warmer. Also demo'd was a Linn music streamer priced at $13,000. I could hear no difference between the streamer and the dac/pc that I currently have.

 

Tomorrow I am going to a shop to listen to a Furman power conditioner that sells for $2500. Since my house has a basement I can easily pull a 20 amp dedicated circuit for my system and swap out my speaker cables for a newer set. The cables I have are 25 years old and probably need a refresh. Will the 20 amp dedicated circuit make a difference versus the 15amp shared circuit? 

 

Any thoughts? 

 

 

Rick

 

 

 

Based on my experience, the cables will definitely make a difference. For the 20amp vs 15amp upgrade, your system definitely wants the 20, so that should be an improvement as well.

I'm using the Volti crossovers. They give my vintage La Scalas a more natural, open sound. I also twisted four strands of 14awg solid copper wire, and used them for my crossover to driver connections. Kember Kable has a similar design. That definitely upped the current, giving me more presence, detail and volume, and a much quieter background. 

Changing out my Cat8 cables for solid core Cat8 cables also yielded a night and day difference. I've seen the audiophile Cat8 cables, but the usual fat yellow cables work fine so far. I may try the audiophile versions later.

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7 minutes ago, the real Duke Spinner said:

Cat cables were never meant to carry Current. ,,🙄

 

I use #14 romex

 

Never said they did. At least the Cat8s are doing something right. They just sound better for my router, modem and streamer.

Are you using the #14 Romex for your digital setup?

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1 hour ago, the real Duke Spinner said:

DIGITAL ??

😀😀😀

We are all Analog here, with the exception of CDs

2" Tape rocks. 🙂🙂🙂

 

I'm on track to get streaming up to CD quality. It can be done, but it'll cost a bit more. DSD files are currently the audio boss around here.

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17 hours ago, RickD said:

Tomorrow I am going to a shop to listen to a Furman power conditioner that sells for $2500. Since my house has a basement I can easily pull a 20 amp dedicated circuit for my system and swap out my speaker cables for a newer set. The cables I have are 25 years old and probably need a refresh. Will the 20 amp dedicated circuit make a difference versus the 15amp shared circuit? 

 

Any thoughts? 

 

 

Rick

 

 

 

No it won't sound better, unless you are getting noise over your incoming power lines, or you trip your 15 amp breaker - which isn't a sound quality issue, just starving your system of power, which is highly unlikely in your case, ever.

 

You are starting to get it with your thoughts on the expensive gear you listened to. This hobby is infested with high-priced money-making gear (for sellers) that even though people rave about the sound improvement, in reality they wouldn't be able to identify sound differences in statistically valid A/B listening tests. This has been proven time and time again.

 

Save your money 

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You have an incredible set up already.  Congrats.  I have been turned off by most power conditioners, because many (maybe most?) do not have isolated grounds.  In other words, any noise on your house wiring is also going to be on the accompanying ground wire (in the Romex), and it will come right into the power conditioner (via the power conditioner plug you plug into your house outlet) and into your system.  So even it the conditioner claims to be isolated, it true up to a point.  And the point where it isn't, basically nullifies any benefit of noise reduction.  Please, any power conditioner experts help me do a better job explaining the grounding issue.

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You're looking in the wrong place for improvement.

 

Two words: Room acoustics.

 

While you can't change a room's dimensions, you can change its acoustic properties.

Considering the equipment you have, I'd say you have the funds to hire a consultant to

analyze your listening space and suggest improvements.

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15 hours ago, RobMarshall said:

 Please, any power conditioner experts help me do a better job explaining the grounding issue.

I will admit that I have not looked at the technical details of "power conditioners" because I considered those to be over priced and in most cases unnecessary. If you have audible noise in your system caused by the incoming power supply, then the most cost effective way to mitigate that issue is to install isolation transformers. Another benefit to isolation transformers is they are protection against short duration voltage spikes that can fry electronics.

 

Another solution is "always on-line " or double conversion configured UPS's (uninterruptible power supply) but these are expensive and require maintenance (batteries).

 

If "power conditioners" are essentially one or both of these concepts then they will work, but again too expensive. If all they do are voltage regulation definitely don't buy them. If voltage swings to your house are so great that your normal sound system's power circuitry can't manage it, you need to have discussions with your power company.

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15 hours ago, RobMarshall said:

In other words, any noise on your house wiring is also going to be on the accompanying ground wire (in the Romex), and it will come right into the power conditioner (via the power conditioner plug you plug into your house outlet) and into your system.  

This isn't necessarily true, if power conditioners have isolation transformers with Faraday shields. The output of the isolation transformers is completely isolated from the source power, including the grounds. The output is a new source of power derived from your power source and isolated. Same if the power conditioner is a double conversion UPS system

 

Noise can also originate when there is a voltage difference between the ground and neutral wires (they are tied together at your electrical panel so the voltage difference should be zero). Noise can also originate from TV cables that are tied in some way to your audio system, and digital sources within your system (CD's, NAP's, etc.) if they share power with your amplifiers and analog audio equipment.

 

Noise is a complex subject that takes books to explain. Unless you can hear noise on your audio system you don't need any of these. If you have noise, investigate and find the source, then investigate ways to mitigate.

 

If you have voltage swings so great that your system cannot handle it, you have big problems in your house way beyond your audio system, or you have absolute junk equipment.

 

If you are worried about voltage spikes, isolation transformers and SPD's will protect your system. (forget about power strip protection, they are useless). 

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I agree with the suggestion about addressing your room. Big improvements to be had there for sure. 

 

If streaming is your only source, you can reap huge benefits here by upgrading to a dedicated streamer and improving your DAC. 

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