System Synergy - Special Sound

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by atomicbob, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    (currently owned in bold)
    NOS:
    • Holo Spring (1) Lvl 3 KTE
    • Metrum Onyx
    • Sonnet Morpheus
    • Spring 2 KTE
    OS:
    • Bifrost MB
    • Soekris dac1541
    • Yggdrasil A2
    Spring 2 KTE is for me clearly the winner among the NOS DACs, and if I could get myself organized to compare it side-by-side with the Yggdrasil (they are at two different locations and I don't want to deal with the transportation and long re-warming), I suspect the Spring 2 would win more than lose for the music I listen to the most (small ensemble modern jazz, modern classical, instrumental world).

    Why? While Spring 2 is distinctly NOS (it has an OS mode but I've not tried it really), it has greater clarity of placement and edges for different sounds, better dynamics, better detail (micro and macro), and an overall "material" presentation, real instruments with real people, what I miss so much from live performances these covid days. Compared with it, the Spring 1 was a bit too much, sometimes a bit smeared, with a weirdly wide soundstage. The Onyx improved on that some, but lost in dynamics to the Yggdrasil, so I didn't use it as much as I thought when the Yggdrasil moved to headphone duty. The Morpheus is very engaging, but a bit slow comparatively, IMHO the Spring 2 beats it in every respect I care about. And it costs less...
     
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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  2. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Inspired by @earnmyturns I am currently listening to this through:

    Bartók String Quartert #4, Heath Quartet (Harmonia Mundi 2017, 96/24 PCM digital version streaming from Qobuz) > Pi2AES > Gungnir MB A2 > ISO-MAX XLR to SE transformer > Saga OG > DNA Starlett > Focal Utopia

    Through my chain this recording is sounding a touch too reverberant and the Starlett is probably rounding off attacks more than some would like, but very nice overall.

    Modern is not for everybody though I enjoy my share. This morning I am thinking I might listen to Holst next as a kind of antithesis ;)


     
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    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  3. earnmyturns

    earnmyturns Smartest friend

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    Interesting. Even though Verité closed have a reputation for cup reverb, that aspect did not stand out when I listened last night. But it could just be that my baseline for reverb is higher (because of headphone choice, listening to lots of ECM recordngis that have a reverb-y house style, having a somewhat reverb-y 2-channel listening room).
     
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  4. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

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    Here's my latest headphone setup. I don't think this will be changing anytime soon.

    [​IMG]

    Setup:
    - HD650 and HD600 (not shown).
    - Studio B, with EML 300B (solid plate), GE triple mica 5670, and Mullard GZ34.
    - Gungnir A2 Gen5 connected balanced-to-SE through Twin ISO 1:1.
    - Old Pioneer Elite player.

    The Gungnir was recently serviced at Schiit to replace a defectivee Gen5 card, so pobably has the latest firrmware. I did not opt to pay for the Unison upgrade due to the synergy Gen5 card. I tried the BF2 w/ Unison in this system, and while it was very engaging, the bass was less defined, and generally it was too lush. The speakers are Omega Super 7 MK2.

    If I were to change anything in this system, it would be the CD player.
     
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  5. farbinator

    farbinator Facebook Friend

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    My favorite experience in this hobby is when I'll be sitting there listening, usually after dorking around with some EQ parameters, when all of a sudden a track or even segment of a track will catch me totally off guard sonically. Like Peter Griffin experiencing Red Bull for the first time it makes you go "whoa, synergy!". Doesn't happen that often, but I happened to catch the moment with this track called The Green Chinese Table.
    20210308_203134_HDR.jpg

    In preparation to receive the Jot2 loaner in a couple more weeks, I figured I better spend some time getting my ears tuned in to my Jot1. After spending a bunch of time fooling around with various settings on the DEQ2496 I really do have a setup I like: Pi2AES -> DEQ2496 -> Bifrost -> Jot1 -> Senn HD6XXs / Verum 1

    I think I just about got Oratory1990's EQ presets programmed in via parametric EQ and then I'll tweak that using GEQ. Unconventional maybe, I'm definitely in that phase of excessive tinkering.
     
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  6. Stuff Jones

    Stuff Jones Friend

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    I don't have as much experience with high end gear as some have. However based on my limited experience, system synergy (and preferences) is more important than absolute technical ability of each component. I have found that the former is not nearly as price-correlated as the latter. With that preamble, here's two affordable setups that I am enjoying a lot.

    Cayin N3Pro + Verum 1 - I liked this so much that I couldn't justify keeping my BF2 + SW51+ + Auteur setup. The Verum 1 setup has a more open sound than the Auteur setup - the music breathes more lifelike than the more closed in and resonate Auteur. Both have excellent timbre. The Verum 1 does lack the last bit of details and micro dynamics of the Auteur setup, but overall my preference between the two was close enough that I couldn't justify the much higher expense (and desk space) of the Auteur setup.

    Shanling Q1 + Massdrop Plus - I usually dislike BA IEMs because of their unrealistic timbre. This setup sounds un BA to me. The warmth probably helps mask it, but it's also more punchy than I'm used to with BAs. The Plus also sound more spacious with the Q1 than I'm used to hearing them. To be sure, the detail is not great but that's less important for me on the go. When you combine the small size and great battery of the Q1, the comfort and isolation of the Plus, and their pleasing synergy together, it's a great travel setup.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
  7. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    In case anyone (like me) didn't get this reference ...

     
  8. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    120D131F-3860-441E-86C5-14F4F8B13D9D.jpeg


    Cost breakdown.png

    I have finally reached some equilibrium in my primary headphone setup, so I've decided to share it. This setup is for those that love the Auteur, but are perturbed by some of its limitations: somewhat slow transients, decay that lingers just a bit too long at times, and a lack of macrodynamic slam along with a bit too much of a "laid-back" presentation. The Soekris 2541 is meant to address the first two worries, and the ZMF Pendant the latter two. I also feel like some little things, like the choice of a harder wood for my Auteur, as well as the Eikon Suede pads many recommended here, have helped a lot.

    Since I've aimed to create synergy by having gear that covers each others weaknesses, it has something of a "goldilocks" character, and this is reflected in the choice of gear. We have, for example, the ZMF that is the least characteristically "ZMF-y" and the most neutral, an r2r dac that is said by some (often derisively) to have some delta-sigma characteristics, and a Tube amp that is ultralinear, so tending toward the less characteristically "tubey" and more "solid-state" sound. In short, I've tried to carve out something of a middle road with this gear, since I love a lot of different music and don't know if I really prioritize timbre, tonality, dynamics, or resolution. I've aimed to maximize them all, but not at the expense of the other qualities.

    As a result, I don't think this setup really "wows" in any one quality, and I don't think it would be a favorite at meets. It's more of a "slow-burn" rather than an immediately gripping experience. For me, though, this is the closest I've gotten to the sound that I want. I have the Borealis on show here as well because it provides a nice alternative to the Auteur, with a quicker, more immediate sound that lacks some of the warmth and romance of the Auteur but is fun to swap to every once in awhile. It's taken me awhile to get here, but now I feel no urge to swap around amps and dacs, and will just be trying different flavors of headphone for the foreseeable future to see what can complement my Auteur best. Thanks a lot to everyone who helped me get here - I doubt my ears would be so happy without SBAF guiding me to this wonderful gear!
     
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    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
  9. batriq

    batriq Probably has made you smarter

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    I did make a couple of changes that really elevated this system:
    -- WE 300B tubes ('05 tubes)
    -- Focal Elex
    I also changed the Mullard GZ34 (f32) to my favorite GZ34 which is the Amperex/Siemens (f31) type, but differences here--if any--are probably third or fifth order compared to the above two changes.

    The synergy between the WE300B's and the Elex is outstanding. This is the first time I enjoy a headphone setup as much as a speaker setup (it's different, and doesn't achieve the same staging, yet it's as engaging). I'm also hearing a lot more plankton and detail compared to the HD650. For exmple, I don't just hear a bass string bring plucked, I can hear the player's finger touch the string right before it's plucked.

    What I dislike about this system is that it's expensive, so really making my impressions not so useful.
     
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  10. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Rando

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    Just wondering if anyone has gone down the path of finding an excellent pairing for the Aeolus, to which I can ride on your coattails. I did a search and saw one mention of LP working well with BF2. Sounds like something more neutral and dryer would be best. Also seems like most on the forum here have landed on an Auteur and have found excellent pairings with that. But hoping someone how there has put in the time with an Aeolus and can help. Thanks!
     
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  11. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    I would recommend the following amps with the Aeolus:

    SW51+ with stock tubes: This is neutral and dryer, and manages to make the Aeolus just a tad leaner while improving its microdynamics and sense of nuance. Aeolus more flairful, macro-dynamic focused presentation matches well with this, in my experience.

    Valhalla 2: If you can't afford a SW51+, the Valhalla 2 ought to go nicely with the Aeolus: it should significantly expand its stage. It certainly is on the "dry" side - its even drier than SW51+, if I recall correctly.

    CTH + Linear Power Supply: This is an amp to consider. A lot of folks on SBAF loved this combo, and it is definitely on the neutral, or even bass-lite side.

    If you're willing to go solid state, I would look into the Rebel Amp or BHA-1. Though neither of those amps have been discussed that much here, they both have been received elsewhere by people whose ears I trust. I've tried the BHA-1 and the Aeolus, and the pairing is generally excellent, with a great sense of tonal balance and punchiness, though I occassionally found the microdynamics to be a little flat.
     
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  12. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    @ColdsnapBry

    Regarding system synergy for the Aeolus -

    You can have a dry DAC or you can have a dry amp, but not both. I've gone down the path of rich, slammy, dense DACs (Yggdrasil A2, Bifrost 2, Gungnir Multibit A1) while chasing all-tube amps that are extremely neutral and very linear.
    Don't go Bottlehead Crack or Feliks Echo, or warm on top of warm in my opinion.
    Some people report great things with Liquid Platinum, Lyr 3, but I think you're better off chasing something like a Haggerman Tuba if you can't get your hands on a SW51+. Ideally you'd procure a Studio Jr, but that's a different price bracket.
     
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  13. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Rando

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    Haggerman Tuba is a very easy pickup for me, as it ships to my country for free (which is rare). I've inquired about the SW51+ to see what the cost will be. Valhalla 2 is also and easy pickup as I can have it shipped with whater DAC I chose to.

    Cool, so AMP seems straight forward then. Dry AMPS sound like the solid reccomendation here...

    Combine it with a slighlty musical DAC like a Bifrost 2 and I'm good? Any other DACS I should be looking at? Thanks so much.
     
  14. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    Unless you want to get into expensive territory, just pick up a Bifrost 2.
    I don't know what your budget is. If you have a lot more room in your budget, we can definitely recommend other things.
    Pick up a Tuba for now. If you're able to pick up a SW51+ later, then do that. Either will be great for you.
     
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  15. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Rando

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    Yea about $700 for the DAC and $700 for the AMP is a good place for me right now.

    Thanks!
     
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  16. Cooper32

    Cooper32 Facebook Friend

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    Currently waiting on BF2, SW51+, and Aeolus. I ordered them throughout 2021 hoping I was going to get one component at a time but now, it's looking more likely that they'll all arrive next month.

    I don't really have a lot of experience beyond entry level setups (currently have: Eitr -> Modi MB v2 -> Asgard 3 / Vali 2 -> HD 6XX) so buying all this is a huge leap of faith. I wanted a super-6XX so went for Aeolus. SW51+ is highly recommended here for a tube amp with neutral signature. Based on reading the SW51 and Aeolus threads, it's a very good pairing. BF2 seemed like the natural step up from Modi MB. I was a bit concerned about a BF2 given it's warm-ish signature with a warm headphone would be too much of a good thing but based on @dematted and @Erroneous, it seems it pairs well with the SW51+ and Aeolus.

    I will post impressions on the new system after a couple months of listening.
     
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  17. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    Bifrost 2 + SW51 + Aeolus is end game. Just stop there and save yourself thousands of dollars chasing the last 2-3%. You've made some great choices and will be heavily rewarded for your efforts.
     
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  18. Cooper32

    Cooper32 Facebook Friend

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    Yeah, I figured out after this, the future improvements will be to my source gear (generic laptop -> Pi2AES coax SPDIF out) and streaming source (currently have Amazon Music HD -> will try Qobuz). All in due time...
     
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  19. ColdsnapBry

    ColdsnapBry Rando

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    Yea, that's going to be an awesome setup! Something I'm working towards.

    As someone who owns the 58X, 6XX and 600, I was very happy when my Aeolus arrived and wasn't dissapointed. It does still make you appreciate how great the 6XX is though as it can still hang with the Aeolus, but it gets outpaced in most areas.
     
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  20. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    Seduced by the dark side ... R2R ladder DAC with near NOS filter into an extraordinary 300B amp. This combination has exceptional alignment with my personal auditory preferences. More DAC + Studio B + HD800-Jmod evaluations to occur over the next several months.

    DSC_0610_small.jpg
     
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