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post #681 of 826
Hi,

My system is sort of rough around the edges in some ways, it's mostly all diy scraps put together and tweaked out, but it pulls together an experience you'd remember. The idea sort of competes with big systems but on a small budget.. considering.

Starts with a long life, and low noise, Ep45t-udl3r, mildly overclocked E6400, 4 gigs of low volt eco gskill ram that I can run stable as low as 1.2 volts. All bios settings can be drastically low as well owing to the power stability of the boards multi phase supply. Passing through the lower tier of voltages in bios to run everything nearly current starved produces the most lifelike audio results, beyond which it becomes unstable and detail even becomes lost.

Power supply is a fairly low noise 850W XFX Black Edition which is hardly awoken by this system's draw.

Then feeds an EMU 1820M PCI card, on which they included a step up switching supply to 48V, later down converted in the Audiodock. Not ideal from noise perspectives but at least it gives it a good power factor, and the noise is delt with the use of judicial filtering improvements in the various power rail stages feeding all IC, output stages, voltage regulators and references.. unfortunately largely done with the use of the highest quality audiograde components. However after plenty of testing, I've found the best results are largely still with some of the cheapest priced audiograde components. There's no use or reason to hunting down expensive antiquity like black gate caps that were designed and common place 20 years ago, 10$ parts of today put them to shame but you have to know how to use them.

Future improvements in this area are potentially cutting the power umbillical to the audiodock and running a seperate supply, but there's no improvement seen in upgrading the computer's SMPS so I consider it isolated enough, as the only truly worthwhile improvement in that area would be to disect the actual onboard switching supplies and replace them superior, lower noise alternatives. With the filtering improvements it's actually quite free from voltage rail/load influences unfluences and linearity, but further work as least effort/highest gains will include additional point of load regulation for Vref at the DACs, on at least one or two favored channels, no need expending the area having it on all of them.

Thus far the output stages are just swapped out op amps that are current source loaded to improve their internal noise immunity. It's actually done with SMD SST 511 current regulating diodes that I think are SOT-23 package, soldered deadbug style with with .. yep, small gauge solide core silver wire jumpers and silver solder. They sit directly on the op amps, staggered across it as there's 2 op amp outputs to bios per package, so it keeps the wire links and thusly overall loop area for noise reception small. Straddling them are improvements to the abysmal output stage's abysmal bypassing which again is a least area point of load bandaid. Planned improvements here aren't just the supplies but the entire output stages will be changed for a truly balanced output.

Currently flaws in an "as advertised" balanced output "theory", considered award winning but some, are largely bandaged with the use of a cheap balanced mic cable that's copper foil wrapped and grounded end to end which reduces the impedance, including HF Z, and thusly the influence of ground flow currents in the per AES-48 balanced I/O's. This ground flow error "SCIN" current is a further influence with cheap, or less than ideal wires, but you still a lot more for esoteric "ideal" wires than a simple low Z shield improvement happens to cost. The improvement is drastic, 60$ wires, 1/8'th of a 60$ roll of tape, 25' of "balanced" outputs. The cable wrapping even has other noise reduction avenues that I won't even scratch here, but I will add, it makes it shiny, which adds to the noise because people always point out how shiny it is.

Then feeds a stereo pair off an exclusive supply of 500VA Plitron with static and magnetic shielding, dual "iron tank" bridge rectifiers, paralleled Jensen T-network ground isolated power rail caps, and further snubbing in some areas using very clean sounding audio grade but still respecteably priced components. All LITZ wire and silver soldered.

That powers a set of Hypex UCD 400 HG 400W RMS Class D amp modules with HXR voltage regulators that are what I would call sensibly modified toward great improvement, yet still ghastly stock. It doesn't need much if you know what you're doing.

They only get half power at the voltage they're fed, for no real reason other than the lack of need for a change. They're currently passively cooled in free air and by the thermal mass of their mounting structure, which is just a plate for now.

They are run fully and completely balanced, with their inputs unattenuated to receive the full available voltage from the DAC in the audiodock which controls the volume via whatever audio player. It's perfectly and completely silent, you don't know the amps are on until you send a signal to it and it makes a noise, and can easily survive a power failure or PC power failure while the amp remains powered with minimal squelch or thump, and reboot cycles are silent as the supply maintains power of the audiodock and actively mutes its outputs in such an instance. The system is DC coupled from the DACs, filters, output stages, balanced inputs, front to back and all around with maybe 25mV offset at the speakers, quite acceptable.

Low noise performance is critical since it's left on virtually 24/7, and it's so efficient never having seen it much above room temp that you can not worry about it greatly provided the safety and reliability is built in as well and noise on poor implementations of amps and there setups can result in a jet on the runaway at take off like "background" problem with hints of the space shuttle and birds chirping. If you can't manage these things properly in a system, all expectations for long term enjoyability and performance fail, but can still be OK for short term gaming and movies. A great system will do everything well though. You can see how "audio" special cards and "movie/home theater" versus "gaming" is all purely marketing, clear audio with low noise floor, high dynamic range, signal integrity and low distortion sound the same for each of them and I appreciate quality audio for music in games or movies or just personal music collection listening.

The speakers are Cerwin Vega VS-150 with modified cross overs. Merely swapping to high quality components that are again, still cheap but sound better than audiophile components that cost 10X as much, thereby the difference between "audio grade" and "audiophile", improves clarity and accuracy tremoundously. These Vegas can actually do orchestral holographically while maintaining seperation in space and imaging in small complex passages.... nothing confuses them anymore. They still have a full on diffused soundfield but manage a cleanly precise image within that doesn't have any detectable edge to it, it therefore they can fill an entire room with a full sound and a stronge sense of image even if the room completely sucks, and with far less regard to where you are in it.

It's great for a full on soundfield in movies and even games, though for the later it lacks the ultimate in directional accuracy, that I find inconsequential. A simple pair of desktrops can make for a nice quasi setup though, and there's plenty more channels to spare.

I've recently had the experience of of a home theater/blueray/projecter style setup with full surround and room correction. With all the toys I found it's soundfield artificial, it projected in a way that sounded focused from cheap box speakers highly grained/edgy hardware, blurred and distorted even at low volumes. Mostly I Think a system like that is for playing around with the remote's endless loops, while the realism achieved with a very strong stereo setup can present a fuller and more highly focused, full on 3D like image. Certainly I've also no need of additional sub woofers or LFE.

Power from it and fidelity are both heart stomping. The speakers are driven like the amps, at half their rated continuous power power, which is more beneficial to the speakers than it is for the amps as it allows them to play full out while maintaining lower distortion that would occur while running them at the edge of destruction.

Gains across the system allow for the amp to play at full volume from the balanced outputs of the DAC, with no noticeable clipping, distortion, coloration, shifts in soundfield of focus, anything. Electrically distortion at these levels should be below 1%, maybe .05, and despite the speaker adding a far greater distortion mechanically, it's all additive and audible with a clean and accurate enough system, so it's worth having a boatload of clean power even in big speakers versus running "high efficient" speakers like these with modified radio alarm clock, like sonic impacts.

As a result of such clean power the dynamic capability easily approach lifelike whether in game, feel and power of "concert hall" in symphony and orchestra, dynamic bass and control in metal and electronic or LFE effects in movies.

It's so clean I can easily set the volume at half and skip through a variety of programs and songs without level matching of any kind and just deal with the dynamic consequences that just aren't perceived as loud.

I have quite a few more amps to build and always more finishing touches to put on but if anything it's a good exercise in tomorrow's technology today and I think achieving at least the same level of performance that was considered out of this world yesterday, when you actually go back and look at what was there.

Class D amplifiers were never considered truly audiophile until recently and most people doing them don't understand the what, how and why's of it, only the how much, but it's all in the detail from start to finish and it can be done.

Computer audio as well was never considered truly audiophile, but it's easily equivalent in lack of quality to typical consumer gear, which is how we can plug it in and wow ourselves with it for short duration.

The situation seems to be improving in software marginally, and I think also in hardware, almost accidentally or at least consequently. Even for example just the BIOS tuning options of my motherboard, which are aplenty, make it more possible to open up a stabile settings profile for super high quality sound that might not be achievable on more ordinary boards, and like engaging a clutch in a trans am, despite the span, all the grip happens in that one lil bit..beyond which it just goes from bad to worse.
post #682 of 826
tl;dr version
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post #683 of 826
Computer:Bose Companion 5
Earphones:Shure SE530 PTH
Home Theater System:Bower & Wilkins 800D
     
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post #684 of 826
How can one own both a B & W system and a Bose system!?
post #685 of 826
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post
How can one own both a B & W system and a Bose system!?
Not quite the same contrast but I have a pair of bose 301's on my TV downstairs, they don't sound anywhere near as good as my hi-fi but as it's only for TV I don't mind. By the same account, he probably only uses the computer setup for light listening; youtube etc.
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post #686 of 826
Maybe the ghetto design meshes well with his 1992 IBM PC
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post #687 of 826
Speakers: Boston Acoustic A150's thats right these are over 20 years old but with new woofers. I do love my dad for giving me these

Amp: SONY STR-DE595

Headphones: SONY MDR-V700 an old boyfriend of my sister gave me these cause it needed a new jack. $7 fix for $100 headphones

Computer: Onboard sound
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post #688 of 826
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollemup View Post
Hi,

My system is sort of rough around the edges in some ways, it's mostly all diy scraps put together and tweaked out, but it pulls together an experience you'd remember. The idea sort of competes with big systems but on a small budget.. considering.

Starts with a long life, and low noise, Ep45t-udl3r, mildly overclocked E6400, 4 gigs of low volt eco gskill ram that I can run stable as low as 1.2 volts. All bios settings can be drastically low as well owing to the power stability of the boards multi phase supply. Passing through the lower tier of voltages in bios to run everything nearly current starved produces the most lifelike audio results, beyond which it becomes unstable and detail even becomes lost.

Power supply is a fairly low noise 850W XFX Black Edition which is hardly awoken by this system's draw.

Then feeds an EMU 1820M PCI card, on which they included a step up switching supply to 48V, later down converted in the Audiodock. Not ideal from noise perspectives but at least it gives it a good power factor, and the noise is delt with the use of judicial filtering improvements in the various power rail stages feeding all IC, output stages, voltage regulators and references.. unfortunately largely done with the use of the highest quality audiograde components. However after plenty of testing, I've found the best results are largely still with some of the cheapest priced audiograde components. There's no use or reason to hunting down expensive antiquity like black gate caps that were designed and common place 20 years ago, 10$ parts of today put them to shame but you have to know how to use them.

Future improvements in this area are potentially cutting the power umbillical to the audiodock and running a seperate supply, but there's no improvement seen in upgrading the computer's SMPS so I consider it isolated enough, as the only truly worthwhile improvement in that area would be to disect the actual onboard switching supplies and replace them superior, lower noise alternatives. With the filtering improvements it's actually quite free from voltage rail/load influences unfluences and linearity, but further work as least effort/highest gains will include additional point of load regulation for Vref at the DACs, on at least one or two favored channels, no need expending the area having it on all of them.

Thus far the output stages are just swapped out op amps that are current source loaded to improve their internal noise immunity. It's actually done with SMD SST 511 current regulating diodes that I think are SOT-23 package, soldered deadbug style with with .. yep, small gauge solide core silver wire jumpers and silver solder. They sit directly on the op amps, staggered across it as there's 2 op amp outputs to bios per package, so it keeps the wire links and thusly overall loop area for noise reception small. Straddling them are improvements to the abysmal output stage's abysmal bypassing which again is a least area point of load bandaid. Planned improvements here aren't just the supplies but the entire output stages will be changed for a truly balanced output.

Currently flaws in an "as advertised" balanced output "theory", considered award winning but some, are largely bandaged with the use of a cheap balanced mic cable that's copper foil wrapped and grounded end to end which reduces the impedance, including HF Z, and thusly the influence of ground flow currents in the per AES-48 balanced I/O's. This ground flow error "SCIN" current is a further influence with cheap, or less than ideal wires, but you still a lot more for esoteric "ideal" wires than a simple low Z shield improvement happens to cost. The improvement is drastic, 60$ wires, 1/8'th of a 60$ roll of tape, 25' of "balanced" outputs. The cable wrapping even has other noise reduction avenues that I won't even scratch here, but I will add, it makes it shiny, which adds to the noise because people always point out how shiny it is.

Then feeds a stereo pair off an exclusive supply of 500VA Plitron with static and magnetic shielding, dual "iron tank" bridge rectifiers, paralleled Jensen T-network ground isolated power rail caps, and further snubbing in some areas using very clean sounding audio grade but still respecteably priced components. All LITZ wire and silver soldered.

That powers a set of Hypex UCD 400 HG 400W RMS Class D amp modules with HXR voltage regulators that are what I would call sensibly modified toward great improvement, yet still ghastly stock. It doesn't need much if you know what you're doing.

They only get half power at the voltage they're fed, for no real reason other than the lack of need for a change. They're currently passively cooled in free air and by the thermal mass of their mounting structure, which is just a plate for now.

They are run fully and completely balanced, with their inputs unattenuated to receive the full available voltage from the DAC in the audiodock which controls the volume via whatever audio player. It's perfectly and completely silent, you don't know the amps are on until you send a signal to it and it makes a noise, and can easily survive a power failure or PC power failure while the amp remains powered with minimal squelch or thump, and reboot cycles are silent as the supply maintains power of the audiodock and actively mutes its outputs in such an instance. The system is DC coupled from the DACs, filters, output stages, balanced inputs, front to back and all around with maybe 25mV offset at the speakers, quite acceptable.

Low noise performance is critical since it's left on virtually 24/7, and it's so efficient never having seen it much above room temp that you can not worry about it greatly provided the safety and reliability is built in as well and noise on poor implementations of amps and there setups can result in a jet on the runaway at take off like "background" problem with hints of the space shuttle and birds chirping. If you can't manage these things properly in a system, all expectations for long term enjoyability and performance fail, but can still be OK for short term gaming and movies. A great system will do everything well though. You can see how "audio" special cards and "movie/home theater" versus "gaming" is all purely marketing, clear audio with low noise floor, high dynamic range, signal integrity and low distortion sound the same for each of them and I appreciate quality audio for music in games or movies or just personal music collection listening.

The speakers are Cerwin Vega VS-150 with modified cross overs. Merely swapping to high quality components that are again, still cheap but sound better than audiophile components that cost 10X as much, thereby the difference between "audio grade" and "audiophile", improves clarity and accuracy tremoundously. These Vegas can actually do orchestral holographically while maintaining seperation in space and imaging in small complex passages.... nothing confuses them anymore. They still have a full on diffused soundfield but manage a cleanly precise image within that doesn't have any detectable edge to it, it therefore they can fill an entire room with a full sound and a stronge sense of image even if the room completely sucks, and with far less regard to where you are in it.

It's great for a full on soundfield in movies and even games, though for the later it lacks the ultimate in directional accuracy, that I find inconsequential. A simple pair of desktrops can make for a nice quasi setup though, and there's plenty more channels to spare.

I've recently had the experience of of a home theater/blueray/projecter style setup with full surround and room correction. With all the toys I found it's soundfield artificial, it projected in a way that sounded focused from cheap box speakers highly grained/edgy hardware, blurred and distorted even at low volumes. Mostly I Think a system like that is for playing around with the remote's endless loops, while the realism achieved with a very strong stereo setup can present a fuller and more highly focused, full on 3D like image. Certainly I've also no need of additional sub woofers or LFE.

Power from it and fidelity are both heart stomping. The speakers are driven like the amps, at half their rated continuous power power, which is more beneficial to the speakers than it is for the amps as it allows them to play full out while maintaining lower distortion that would occur while running them at the edge of destruction.

Gains across the system allow for the amp to play at full volume from the balanced outputs of the DAC, with no noticeable clipping, distortion, coloration, shifts in soundfield of focus, anything. Electrically distortion at these levels should be below 1%, maybe .05, and despite the speaker adding a far greater distortion mechanically, it's all additive and audible with a clean and accurate enough system, so it's worth having a boatload of clean power even in big speakers versus running "high efficient" speakers like these with modified radio alarm clock, like sonic impacts.

As a result of such clean power the dynamic capability easily approach lifelike whether in game, feel and power of "concert hall" in symphony and orchestra, dynamic bass and control in metal and electronic or LFE effects in movies.

It's so clean I can easily set the volume at half and skip through a variety of programs and songs without level matching of any kind and just deal with the dynamic consequences that just aren't perceived as loud.

I have quite a few more amps to build and always more finishing touches to put on but if anything it's a good exercise in tomorrow's technology today and I think achieving at least the same level of performance that was considered out of this world yesterday, when you actually go back and look at what was there.

Class D amplifiers were never considered truly audiophile until recently and most people doing them don't understand the what, how and why's of it, only the how much, but it's all in the detail from start to finish and it can be done.

Computer audio as well was never considered truly audiophile, but it's easily equivalent in lack of quality to typical consumer gear, which is how we can plug it in and wow ourselves with it for short duration.

The situation seems to be improving in software marginally, and I think also in hardware, almost accidentally or at least consequently. Even for example just the BIOS tuning options of my motherboard, which are aplenty, make it more possible to open up a stabile settings profile for super high quality sound that might not be achievable on more ordinary boards, and like engaging a clutch in a trans am, despite the span, all the grip happens in that one lil bit..beyond which it just goes from bad to worse.
Very nice. Our setups are very similar, except I have larger/newer everything. I am proud of you for not thinking you need a surround sound system or a "subwoofer" for a home theater.
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post #689 of 826
I have reached my audio nirvana for my computer! (for now)
-Auzen X-Fi Prelude
-Music Hall DAC/Amp
-M-Audio BX5-a Speakers
-Denon D5000 Headphones
Auzen X-Fi Prelude
post #690 of 826
i just finished making them yesterday, so here ya go. went from a 5.1 to a 2.1 and im lovin' it.
also a ss amp(wood box you see next to them) driving some a700/hd555





sorry for grainy pics, its the cheap camera.
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