George 47

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About George 47

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  • Location
    United Kingdom

Wigwam Info

  • Turn Table
    Voyd Ref 0.5
  • Tone Arm & Cartridge
    SME V/ IoII
  • SUT / Phono Stage
    Audionote s2
  • Digital Source 1
    Auralic Aries
  • DAC
    Audionote DAC2.1x
  • Integrated Amp
    Nord One NC500DM
  • Pre-Amp
    Pass Labs XP12
  • Power Amp/s
    Pass Labs XA30.8
  • My Speakers
    Audionote E/HE
  • Headphones
    Stax 303
  • Trade Status
    I am not in the Hi-Fi trade

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  1. George 47

    RME ADI-2 DAC

    Please do. It will be good to get another view.
  2. George 47

    RME ADI-2 DAC

    Thanks for the comments. I enjoyed my time with the RME. I used the loudness control and found it a good implementation that works well when the music is quiet. Some loudness controls use more extreme bass and treble boosts and make the music very unreal. So I tend to avoid them but RME know what they are doing. I like finding new products especially if they sound good, are great value and measure well. Sometimes some of the well known products are ‘treading water’ and do not add much to what is out there.
  3. George 47

    RME ADI-2 DAC

    I have just finished my review of the RME ADI-2 DAC and uploaded it onto members reviews pages. I was really surprised by this DAC and it was not what I expected.
  4. George 47

    RME ADI-2 DAC

    And n’er the twain will meet. Pro audio and domestic audio. With both groups aiming for the best sound quality for the money, you would think there would be a lot of crossover products but that does not seem to happen. Pro Audio is seen as a group of people interested only in measurements, tuff boxes as the equipment will be given a rough life, with solid boxes costing 4p and of course, they are not that fussed over peripherals like cables or ultimate sound quality. Domestic Audio is seen as being all about pretty boxes, badly made audio, fluffy things like cables and connectors with endless fussing about non-existent sound quality differences achieved by ultra-expensive foo nonsense. And n’er the twain will meet. But occasionally a cross-over product comes along that works in both camps. RME is a well know German pro-audio company with a great track record of equipment used in recording studios. They have a strong focus on high value. They started business in 1996 and the team are either musicians or sound engineers so they should know about good audio. With such a strong pro audio background there are lots of measurements and technical discussions on their web pages. And surprise, surprise they do seriously listen to their products during development. The product here for review has become something of a ‘darling of the moment’ product. Unfortunately, the problem with the t’internet is that some darlings come and go very quickly especially in computer audio. The RME ADI-2 DAC is aimed squarely at the domestic market and is based on the PRO version released in 2016. RME exchanged some of the Pro’s studio features for typical home and hifi ones. The operation of the ADI-2 DAC is simplified. The ADI-2 DAC focusses attention on the DA process and on headphone outputs with an output for In-Ear Monitors and one for Headphones. The IEM output is not aimed at those silly little white earbuds that Apple give away free (I am surprised they can even give them away) but proper ear monitors. The half-sized case is very well built and has inputs for SPDIF coaxial, SPDIF optical (ADAT compatible) and it has USB to RCA, XLR, TRS and mini-TRS. The ADI-2 DAC has balanced/unbalanced analogue outputs, an Extreme Power headphone output, a super low noise IEM output, SteadyClock FS, 4-stage hardware output level control, DSP-based signal processing, external power supply operation, Class Compliant USB compatibility and sample rates up to 768 kHz as well as DSD and Direct DSD playback. The SPDIF input signal can even be recorded via USB - the DAC is a true 2 channel Full Duplex audio interface. Phew, what a lot of inputs and outputs. The display, function keys, volume knob, even the standby button - all go off after 10 seconds of no user operation when AutoDark is activated. Touching any button or control will turn on all lights for 10 seconds. SteadyClock FS reduces the self-jitter of SteadyClock by improving its second, analogue PLL circuit, and referencing both Direct Digital Synthesis and PLL to a low phase noise quartz crystal. The low phase noise oscillator driving the updated circuit reaches jitter specs lower than a picosecond (ps), an area called FemtoSecond. Hence SteadyClock FS. All of this is explained in the comprehensive 70-page manual, which is quite a read. All of these adjustments are made through various sequences using tiny 5 push buttons and three knobs on the front of the DAC, which can be set through rotation and pushing. The manual is worth a read but I found the YouTube videos explain how to actually make the changes and it is, therefore, more helpful. I asked the designer Matthias Carstens some questions about the ADI-2 DAC and I found his answers gave a great insight into how he and the company works: What DAC chip is used in the ADI-2 DAC (is it the AKM 4490?) Yes. and why did you choose that particular chip? This is a bug-free, matured chip that doesn't cost a fortune but offers very good specs and features. It needs a special analogue output stage to shine, but that is (of course) where we excel :-) How is the NOS DAC filter configured? Does it have no filtering at all, both digital or analogue, or is it ‘similar to NOS’. The output shows the harmonics from unfiltered audio but is some filtering done? Yes, in the digital domain. As explained in the manual this is the Super-Slow mode from AKM. While it looks like NOS with Sines (stepped) and in frequency response (drop below 20 kHz), there is a very slight out-of-band suppression filter active, where real NOS would not have any filter. Clearly, you are proud of the great measurements of the DAC but how important is listening in your assessment process of the design and execution of the ADI-2 DAC? Very important, as that is what we later do with it - listen to music! In fact, in all the years of RME we several times ran into audible problems that were not found with measurements before. Of course, once you know there is a problem you will find the respective measurement later on that allows you to identify and quantify the issue. Meanwhile, the number of available/performed measurements fills a complete book alone, so chances are low that a fully measured/examined unit shows unexpected behaviour. Then again, some things you have to try and not rely on complicated measurement setups. How long is the mute time needed when switching from PCM to DSD? How fast can we switch sample rates within PCM? What are the best default settings to make Bass and Treble sound really good? The Loudness function is a good example where listening alone was done to find and set all parameters, that was then poured into the DSP as options. Does the ADI-2 DAC have precautions taken against noise (such as filters) that may originate from external input sources and the mains? The ADI itself is fully noise- and hum-free. The inputs have HF-filters which prevent the analogue inputs (and outputs) to react on your Smartphone lying beside it (for example). The DC input is fully filtered and switch-regulated with additional super low-noise regulators (see the chapter about that in the manual). So, whatever you feed it there will be zero difference in the technical data and sound on all I/Os. Is the ADI-2 DAC made in Germany or is it designed in Germany and built elsewhere? Designed and built in Germany, by beautiful old men... :-) And who said our German colleagues have no sense of humour!! I found the comments on listening very interesting and not too dissimilar to those of Bruno Putzeys, designer of the nCore Class D amplifiers. Anyway, down to using the product. I set the DAC straight into my big system of an Audionote CD4T, AN 4.1x DAC, Pass Labs XP22, Pass Labs X30.8 and a pair of Audionote E Silver Signatures all connected mainly with Cut Loose silver ribbon cables. As the ADI-2 DAC is a half-sized box it was easy to accommodate in my rack. It is powered by a separated mains power block which is probably an SMPS, hence my question on noisy mains. It switched on without any problem. Setting up is a different issue. Reading the manual is great for getting information about the product and the various functions but the YouTube clips were more informative about how to actually make it happen. And so, I set it up with the SPDIF coax from my Auralic and RCA output to the Pass Labs XP22. I used it with a -7db output to better match the XP22 inputs. And on to listening, there has been a lot of discussion on expectation bias and mine was in full flow: a very technical product, lots of measurements, studio background….oh yes I have heard this type of product before….bright, shiny, lots of details and very wearing…..BUT NO. The sound was neutral, 3D, with great clarity. In fact, I might even say it was on the warm side of neutral. Surprise 1. I tried my list of test tracks and my initial impression was reinforced. I could not hear any warm-up going on and the DAC was ready from the get-go. Surprise 2. I then left the test tracks behind and just played the music that appealed to me at that time as opposed to being in reviewer mode with pen in hand and notebook at the ready. For me, that is a great sign as I am starting to enjoy the music. I played Shelby Lynn singing A Little Loving, the Dusty Springfield song, and this gentle track had a great 3D soundstage (low noise?) with a really intimate recorded voice. Very close. But still human with a solid 3D image and not a paper-thin cardboard cut-out. I followed that with some Essie Jain from her All Became Golden album. A very close recording of her voice with some nicely recorded and naturally balanced instruments. They were all very clear, easy to hear with none of that mid-forward type of sound from other studio-based DACs. This was good. But how does it work with some really powerful bass? Onto Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition by Jean Guillou playing the Great Organ of the Tonhalle, Zurich. The organ sounded nicely 3D in a big environment. And when the bass pedals came in on I.Gnomus they are very deep and tight. I let the whole album play as it is such a good piece of music when played by a master on the great organ; and why not? How about more modern music? James Blake’s Limit to Your Love. The piano sounded really nice with some great reverb and then the bass…….woah some really low synthesised bass that will really test your system. No problem here. OK on to some Led Zeppelin just to rock things out a bit with Dazed and Confused…..forget your audiophile sensibilities this is about a raw rock group with a powerful singer letting go on top of some powerful drumming and bass with a screaming guitar. With some DACs, it can be become a real mess but not here. Clear powerful rock. OK, how about something that could set your teeth on edge? AC/DC. It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll). Compressed, bright, edgy…of course…that is the way it is recorded. It played with real drive and power. And I could hear all the words!! Shakespeare, this is not. But it all stayed together and driving even when the bloody bagpipes came in. A little experimentation now with the filters. There are five filters including the one I started with, Sharp cut off and of all things a NOS filter, which is a very slow filter with some HF roll off. I really liked the NOS filter, not surprising as my Audionote 4.1x DAC is a NOS DAC and has no filters at all. The RME made the sound stage really 3D and warmed the sound up more than the Sharp filters, which could get a little stark with less good recordings. Unfortunately, I have a lot of less than brilliantly recorded music. The ADI-2 allows you to choose. So, for me, the Slow filter (Filter 4) and the NOS (Filter 5) got the most play. I now felt I could do some comparisons and accepting that comparisons are odious it was pretty easy to say that the ADI-2 saw off my current references from Metrum Acoustic and two older Cambridge Audio DACs. Those three DACs are a little old but they play music really well and were my ‘instruments of choice’ for up to £1K DACs. This was getting interesting. How about the AN 4.1x DAC? Errr no there was a real margin here and the comparison was not sensible especially as the AN is £13.5K retail. But against my AN2.1x DAC I would say the AN was more to my taste but the ADI-2 could easily be preferred by others and I would not disagree. This was not what I expected from a PRO audio DAC. Yes, the ADI-2 is a little dryer and a little more stark compared to my AN 2.1 x DAC but your preferences may be different and there is the small matter of a £2-£3K difference in price. One of the problems with reviewing on your own is that you can end up ‘breathing your own fumes’. So, I invited Bryan (Bryfiero) from the Wam over to hear the DAC. I did not say anything after a few tracks but he also preferred the NOS filter. Bryan also said he thought the ADI-2 DAC would have beaten the Metrum in the SQ stakes. He was so enamoured of the DAC I went around to his place a few days later and we heard it in a completely different system. Bryan has the Squeezebox Classic, Chord DAC 64, Karan Integrated and Vandersteen 1 speakers. His system was sounding really good in his room and had a very spacious sound ( a speciality of Vandersteen). We both preferred the Slow filter 4 or Filter 5 NOS. And against his Chord (used to sell at >£2K) it was very close with both of us understanding if someone else chose one over the other. A 2nd great result. I tried using the ADI-2 DAC with its variable output straight into the Pass Labs XA 30.8. The system gave a good account of itself but I preferred my active preamp. Not a bad result as the Pass Labs XP22 costs over £9K. The sound through the Pass Labs had more drive and attack. However, this was such a good result I tried it into my Nord NC 500 power amplifier. This was a much better match and the system really worked. In fact, I can imagine a great set up of the ADI-2 + Nord + good speakers being a great and not too expensive system. Not surprised that Nord sells the RME with their amplifiers as they work really well together. This is only about half of what this DAC can do. I got out my headphones to try out the headphone part of the DAC. My favourite headphones at the moment are Beyer Dynamics DT770s and they sounded excellent. They can sometimes sound a little weak or thin through some headphone amplifiers but not here and I could hear why they are favourites in studios. Impressive for those who can’t always use speakers. There was also a lot of other features including DSP, which I did not try as my system has a fairly flat response in my 30’x20’ room. In conclusion, I was really surprised by the great sound quality of this DAC and it really shows that RME listening to their audio products is giving a great sounding product. Given it was better than my £1K references (already the best sub-£1K DACs I had heard) and it could be preferred to another twice as expensive, then I have to say it is very good value for money especially at its £850 price. It is solidly built and looks as though it will give many years of great service. I liked it and would have bought it if I did not already have 5 DACs. A great product and it will be well worth keeping an eye on these guys in the future. Specifications: Please see https://www.rme-audio.de/en/products/adi_2-dac.php UK Distributor: Synthax Audio : https://www.synthax.co.uk/
  5. George 47

    Cock ups at work.

    Sorry but Fawlty Towers is no more.
  6. George 47

    Living Voice/Def Audio drop Kondo

    Neither me. They are a Vietnamese company making some really big and superbly built amplifiers at not too bad prices. Could be interesting. Their horn loaded speakers are rather large.
  7. George 47

    Living Voice/Def Audio drop Kondo

    And Soluution, Luxman, Lamm and Thivan. Agree he is a great fella, knows his products and audio stuff. Yep trying to get a really nice product in for review
  8. George 47

    Living Voice/Def Audio drop Kondo

    Tis true, Steve up at Select Audio. Maybe at Cranage with special guests.
  9. George 47

    Living Voice/Def Audio drop Kondo

    The new distributor says there may be a different reason....but hey ho!!
  10. George 47

    Alternative audio Somerset?

    Yes e-mail me......can be variable.
  11. And now as promised here is Part Two featuring the Deluxe Equipment: Show Report – Munich Deluxe 2019 So after an evening of pleasant chat and the odd small weissbier it’s day 2 and off to visit the “rival” Deluxe show in the Munich Marriott. This is a much smaller show, and set up more like a UK show with systems in hotel bedrooms and syndicate rooms. First stop Audio Note UK Who have brought the “full-bollox” money no object system. As well as the new TT3, Arm 3 and an Io Ltd, there’s the CDT Six/Six Force (silver boxes on the right), an M9 Phono (glossy black boxes on the left) and a new DAC (stealth biscuit tins in between.) Power amp is an Ongaku Kensei and the speeks are top-end, externally-crossovered AN-Es. Somewhere around £500k at full RRP for this lot. Does it sound 10 times better than the closer-to-£50k systems they normally bring to shows? Well, not really. It sounds lovely, and very obviously Audio Note – but you can’t help wondering what a pair of much bigger speakers could add… Next is Grandinote, and they are showing the very same amp and phono stage that currently reside in Mibby Towers, as well as the rather odd Volta streamer/DAC. Speakers are Grandinote’s own, and have more drivers than ASLEF. I’m not sure about these! The volume on the Shinai is at 15 (I normally listen at 6 or 7) so it’s LOUD in there. Good sound. In fact the sound at the Deluxe is mostly better than at the MOC, because better rooms. I say hello to designer and company owner Max, then press on. Acapella room: eight foot tall speakers with glowy plasma tweets. Nice. And more horny goodness from Ariamateria Technology With another Ongaku, this time the Japanese one. Not much bass considering the size and number of bass drivers, but may have just been the track they were playing. The thing that looks like the Severn Bridge is a mains cable, LOL. Possibly the world’s most bonkers CD player: Not sure what the bright pink cables were about! Anyway, it’s an Omega Audio Concepts Stream CD player. The rest of the system was Omega Audio Concepts DNA dual-mono integrated amplifier (in four boxes) and some lovely ribbon speakers from Alsyvox Audio Design. Fabulous sound in this room, much more bass than I was expecting from ribbons. The Vivid Audio room featured the worst show music yet, an easy-listening Jazz cover of JS Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Really, WTF? A baby mbl system, unfortunately playing Diana Krall More horns, more noodly jazz shite But I do admire their approach to equipment supports! Drainpipe speakers next Sounding really awesome with Saint Saens Danse Macarbre, huge presence and slam. But even they couldn’t help Diana Krall. These horns were very transparent Final system of the day – some bold design choices here And that’s all folks! And a special thanks to MiB.
  12. Excellent write up from MiB: Show Report – Munich High-End 2019 Another year, another pilgrimage to Munich for the High-End show. If you have only been to UK shows, this is on an entirely different scale. It occupies 4 full halls of the MOC Veranstaltungscenter München, as well as the Atria above Hall 3 and Hall 4 (two levels.) Most of the listening rooms are on the Atrium levels, with the big halls being static displays – although there were a fair few prefabricated listening rooms set up downstairs as well. I started early on the Thursday, with a 6.20 flight from Gatwick. Then the MOC shuttle bus to the show, getting me there bang on the 10.00 opening. Thursday is trade day, so it’s for exhibitors and press only. Friday to Sunday are the public days. So first off I had a wander round the bottom floor. Some oddities, like this turntable made entirely out of bamboo: made in Canada, oddly enough. Do they grow bamboo in Canada? The ground floor is a great place for foo-lovers. Lots of small stands with cables, connectors, anti-vibration devices, mains gizmos, etc, etc. There is also a bit of vinyl for sale, numerous record-cleaning machines, LOTS of headphones and big static displays by companies like Pro-Ject and SME. It was on the SME stand that I found the “new” Garrard 301. This is actually a restored original 301, “factory rebuilt” according to the SME guys. Not certain which factory; the original in Swindon is long gone. It comes with an SME tone arm and a bouncy plinth made using SMEs anti-vibration technology. Anyway it all looks very nice, and thanks to SME for taking off the large, heavy Perspex cover so I could take some snaps: Lovely, although £12k will buy you a very nice reconditioned 301 with an arm and a plinth. Also downstairs this magnetically-levitating turntable: The platter is basically made of magnets, so it won’t work well with every cartridge! I still want one, though. Upstairs then; and off to the Silbatone room where Mr Chung weaves his magic with his own exotic valve amps and 1920s and 30s cinema horns. These horn speakers were originally designed to sit behind a cinema screen and project the sound to a room full of a few hundred people. Mr Chung makes stereo speakers from multiple horn drivers, adding tweeters and sometimes subwoofers that wouldn’t have been part of the original configuration. The black speakers here have two cinema horns, a tweeter (on the bottom corner of the top horn) and a subwoofer (not in picture.) These arrays are then driven by valve amps with tiny power outputs and enormous prices. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The sound is stunning in its scale and realism, with music ranging from operatic solos to Led Zeppelin. Mr Chung is also notable for his, er, relaxed attitude to things like wires, connectors and mains cables… In the same room we find this oddity: No, it isn’t an audiophile disco deck. Thomas Schick himself explains that both platters are driven from the same single motor. He doesn’t explain why. Moving next door, and the system in the Nagra rooms sounds like a child’s toy by comparison. MBL fares better, but it will take a while to get used to “normal” speakers. Time for some refreshment before venturing into some of the more mainstream rooms. The naim/focal room is full of French people with Focal badges. There is a small room where they are demonstrating the second-generation version of their expensive clock radio, the Muso. It was very busy, so I didn’t hear it, but it’s £550 more expensive than the old one. They also have a larger demo room, with a posh streamer, statement amplifiers and some large Focal speakers. It’s very, very detailed. And not in the least bit musical. On this occasion it was playing some acoustic folk music. I’ve heard it trying to play rock music in previous years, which was an unpleasant experience. Onward! Captain Nemo? Your amplifier has been delivered. It’s the Dan D’Agostino “Relentless” monoblock. Yes, it’s really called that. The black thing is a power supply. I’m sure it sells well in Dubai. Chord is about to unveil some new bright and tinkly-sounding gadget. I didn’t wait. Back to a more interesting bit of the show. Yep, it’s the Kondo room. J With some new speakers from Kawero. It sounded jolly nice, as it should for the price of a Space Shuttle. There was also a cheaper (ha ha) system, with the new Gakuoh II power amps. Also very nice. Here’s the amp: Sticking with Kondo, the Living Voice room is also worth a visit. This year featuring the Voice Palladian speakers with Vox Basso bass units Marginally more affordable than the Vox Olympian/Vox Elysium combo. Marginally. Unfortunately Kevin Scott’s musical choices are not what I would pick (massively dirge-like Shostakovich this time) so I still don’t know what they really sound like. Driven by a big pile of previous-generation Kondo, which Kevin prefers. The turntable is Grand Prix audio with Kuzma arm and cartridge; the CDP is a modified Canary. Even bigger horn speakers are available, here from Cessaro: Sounded lovely. The massive black thing behind the rack is the bass unit. It is the size of a small hatchback. But more expensive. The amps are Cessaro’s own. I wonder where they got the idea for the styling? At a more sensible price level, these JBL’s sounded great. A big, bouncy and propulsive sound from their re-interpretation of a 70s classic: Late on in the afternoon, I went to a Linn demo! With free whisky!! They were showing the Selekt DSM a modular upgradable streamer/DAC/pre-amp with optional integrated amplifier. KEF speakers were used. First we heard the integrated version, with Selekt DAC vs Katalyst DAC option. The basic Selekt DAC-equipped model was pretty poor. Playing a St Vincent acoustic track with voice and piano it was very loose in the bass, and neither voice nor piano sounded at all realistic. Swapping in the Katalyst DAC version (an extra 1500 euros) and the loose bottom end firmed up a bit, but the piano in particular still lacked realism. Next the up-market with external amplification and room optimization. A track from the latest Foals album, without the room optimization, was a raucous, barely controlled mess. Room optimization did improve it, but you could now hear obvious compression artefacts which were lost in the mess of the non-optimized version. Finally they played an LP12 through it, which sounded miles better. But the whole experience just reminded me why I don’t like Linn electronics. Or KEF speakers. The free whisky was OK. Final stop at the MOC was the Audiodata room, which was unremarkable except that they were playing The Number of the Beast. Then Paranoid. Both on vinyl. The room emptied, as Audiophiles covered their delicate ears and ran off to find a room playing Diana Krall. And at the High-End show, they wouldn’t have to run far. AND yes there is a Part Two, coming soon.
  13. George 47

    Bollox to most of the science - I'd like a new cable

    Patience.....Skywalker.....good sound come to you will.
  14. George 47

    Bollox to most of the science - I'd like a new cable

    Try the Linn as it is a good cable and made to suit the Linn DS boxes. And top Wamming by Fred, moo-fi. And Nick do NOT do the tests blind. Ensure volume levels are the same. But blind testing adds stress to the test and makes it less enjoyable. It should be a fun event without the white coats, lab feel. It is audio reproduction of music and should be fun and relaxing and when done that way it becomes much easier to tell differences that matter. But then you knew that anyway.
  15. George 47

    Class A watts. And Pass vs Sugden vs Krell

    I have heard two of the amps at home and the Sugden at another audiophile's home. And as always it is complex. Starting with the obvious, if a Class A amp is not superbly designed, uses cheap or out of spec components or badly driven it will not sound good, Class A or not. The Pass Labs is none of those things. But mine, XA30.8, is NOT a 30 watts per channel amp. Pass defines the 30 watts at 0.1% THD whereas all other audio companies use 1% THD. It actually produces 70-90 w/channel. And if more is asked of it then it goes into Class A/B up to 120w/channel. As the Class A amps are always running flat out it is riskier to take chances by using lesser transformers. Most Class A/B do not run flat out for very long so you could get away with a smaller transformer and a lot do. Early Krell amps were also under specified and a 50w/channel could actually produce 70-80 w/ch. Most Class A amps I have seen tend to be big huge beasts to be able to produce their weedy 50w/ch all the time. A lot will actually drive lower impedance speakers as the larger transformers allow larger amounts of current to flow. The original Krell KSA100 was one of the only amps that could drive the Apogee speakers with their very low impedance at certain frequencies. My preference is for the Pass Labs. It not only has no crossover distortion but has a warm musical sound. Some think it needs to be more upfront and sharper, so a Krell can fit that bill. The older Class A Krells still have a warm sound. The newer Krells used a sliding bias system to keep the amp in Class A but without the need for enormous transformers. A nice compromise but they could get a little too bright and somewhat steely. And then there are the new Krells.....don't bother. After Dan left they went through a cost aware phase and it showed.