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My music room and hi-fi system
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September 02, 2011, 09:38:22 AM
  • lshin80
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My stereo system is located in a dedicate room. The components are:
Pro-ject RPM 5.1 turntable with Denon DL-110 cartridge;
Sony PS2 for CD and DVD playback;
Nuova Elettronica solid state preamp, amplifier and headphone amp;
Mission 701 series speakers.
Cables by ClickTronik.
The Philips TV headphone out (no line out) is plugged to the preamp to listen to the TV through the Mission speakers.

Shelf for hi-fi housing and chair in listening position:

The speakers are temporarily positioned on a pair of old German speakers wich act as stands. Eventually I'll build two decent stands.

Shelf open showing preamp, amplifier and headphone amp:

Turntable:

Preamp and amplifier:

Speaker:
« Last Edit: September 02, 2011, 09:49:56 AM by lshin80 »
Pro-Ject RPM 5.1 Denon DL-110 Sony BDP-S373 Fred Nachbaur High Precision Tube Phono Preamp Nuova Elettronica FET preamp Nuova Elettronica IGBT power amp Mission 701 Clicktronic cables Norstone Loudspeaker Cable


July 09, 2012, 06:14:20 AM
  • lshin80
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Update.

The Philips TV died early this year, so I've replaced it with a Thomson 24'' led full HD TV.

The biggest change was, some months ago, the decommission of the PS2, replaced by a Sony BDP-S373 Blu Ray player. Cheaper but with a way better sound, actually so good that I decided to use it also as a DAC for a Toshiba USB external 1 Tb hard disk, which acts as storage for high definition digital music (96 kHz or better).
Much better now :D


July 11, 2012, 07:58:55 AM
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Nice!

My PS2 stopped responding to the joystick controls. The wireless remote (which uses a dongle in the joystick port) also doesn't not work.  :(

I use a PS3 on my main system, and the sound quality is very good. I use an optical cable to my Parasound C2 preamp, which does the D/A conversion.

I store my photos, music and video files on a custom home server, located on my back porch. It has 9TB of hard drive space with 930GB free. The server is a low-end quad core (Intel Q8300, 2.5Ghz) with 4GB RAM running Windows Home Server. I also run PS Media Server and Serviio which allows the PS3 to stream from the server over the network. Filezilla is also running for remote access to everything stored on it.

I haven't messed with the settings yet on PS3 Media Server or Serviio to allow 96k/24bit pass-through to the PS3 - everything is still down sampled to 44.1k/16bit.  :(

One of the issues I have with the PS3 is Sony adding Cinavia support for digital rights management. Sony is a big proponent of Cinavia and I'm sure all of their products that support DLNA streaming will have it enabled. Sony slipped it into a firmware update on the PS3 and some of the HD movies I have stopped working. I suspect their blu ray players have it installed by now (or will with a future firmware update), especially if you have it connected to the internet. In essence, Sony killed off one of the biggest features I use on the PS3 - to play HD movies in .mkv format. Going forward, playing .mkv HD movies will be hit or miss. If Cinavia catches on, the video playback on the PS3 will be limited to blu-rays and streamed content from 'approved content providers' like Netflix, Hulu or Sony - which really sucks.  >:(

The funny thing is, I have a cheap Western Digital TV Live media player ($45 from eBay.com) that plays every file format I throw at it. The only problem is, the audio quality leaves a lot to be desired. With both connected using an optical cable, the PS3 sounds way better.
Rega P25 Zyx Omega G Zyx R100H Audio Research PH5 Denon DP-52F Denon DL-103D Burson HA-160 Sennheiser HD-650 and HD-800


July 11, 2012, 12:36:05 PM
  • lshin80
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My PS2 still works perfectly and is in pristine conditions (not more than 400 hours of actual usage), I just wanted a cheap Blue Ray player with good audio quality for the occasional CD reproduction, and for my collection of live concerts on DVD (and Blue Ray in the future, the prices are still too high for me...will the Blue Ray catch on?  :-\ ).
So I looked for a player, and I was about to accept the fact that there Are no cheap players with good audio quality...until I found the Sony 373. In all the reviews they stated it had unbelievable video and audio quality for the price. In 2010, Hi-Fi world declared it "the bargain of the century", being almost on par with audiophile players, but at a fraction of audiophile prices. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. Had to wait for a while until it came as a special offer discount: the 373 / 370 (same model without backlit remote controller) went out of production in late 2011. If you can find it now, it will cost less than 100 $.
Well, at the beginning it sounded horrible...but after 300 hours of break in, it was great, much better than every player I had before. It plays almost every file format (except FLAC  >:( ) and even SACD. It plays also 24 bit / 192 kHz waw files! It has optical and coaxial digital outputs, while there are only stereo analog outputs. And this makes me think this player was also intended for decent stereo analog listening...the Wolfson DAC does a nice job.
I can't tell you nothing about the DLNA stuff because I don't use it, but I heard it doesn't have problems with MKV files, and the last firmware update was in June '11, so it's possible it doesn't have the Cinavia issue.
If you can find a Sony BDP-s370/373, get it, you won't regret.


August 24, 2013, 12:11:25 PM
  • lshin80
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Update!

After building the tube phono preamp prototype, I decided to change the electrolytics and MKP capacitors located in the audio signal path inside the Nuova Elettronica solid state preamp and power amp.

What prompted me to do that is the sound quality of the caps in the phono preamp. They are the Russian KBG paper in oil at the input, Russian K72 Teflons in the RIAA circuit, and Intertechnik Audyn Cap Plus at the output. Actually the teflons came together with the caps for the solid state amps; however even before them, I noticed and extended response in the bass and high frequencies in the phono preamp, when compared to the sound of my solid state amps.
That could have been due to the tubes, but I suspected that tubes just added harmonics, while the capacitors actually broadened the frequencies. I believed that the cheap caps in the ss amps were the weak link in the chain, and that replacing them would have been a great improvement in sound quality. Also I felt the electrolytics to be the worst sounding.

So I decided to get the same kind of caps: Russian PIOs, and Intertechnik Audyn Cap Plus. I chose the Russians to be the bulk of the audio path because of their cheap price (an average of 2 Euros each) and great quality (military stuff). The Intertechniks have one of the best price / quality ratio among the new caps, so I picked them to stand in for the Russians when the latter were not available in the bigger values (above 1 uF, they are rarer and much expensive).

Precisely, I got three different kind of PIOs:
K40Y-9: aluminum foil conductor / oil impregnated cellulose dielectric, grey case;
K42Y-2: metallised cellulose conductor / oil impregnated cellulose dielectric, green case;
MBGT: metallised cellulose conductor / oil impregnated cellulose dielectric, brown square case, high temperature resistant.
They are very similar in construction and thus very similar sounding. The choice was dictated by the values availability at the seller; only the MBGTs were chosen to sustain the high temperature in the power amp.

Before replacing caps, I plugged in the Norstone 6mm oxygen - free copper loudspeaker cable, which added some nice bass, compared to the cheap cable I had before.

Here are the results...the preamp: each channel has three K40Y-9, three K42Y-2, and two Intertechnik replacing electrolytics. Also ultra-fast rectifier diodes in the power supply circuit.
[attach=1]

The power amp: one Intertechnik and one MBGT, plus one silver mica cap replacing ceramics. Note the Norstone cables.
[attach=2]

So how do they sound now? My dad, having built a gazillion of circuits for almost fifty years, was like: "Changing caps will make no difference, you're just wasting money". After hearing them, he was speechless ;D

The electolytic and standard MKP caps sound very thin, with scarce bass and highs, and exaggerated, almost hysteric mids. They lack detail, and they sound very harsh and dazed during complex passages. There's no separation between the instruments, and the sound image is very confused, flat, and lacking in depth. Thin, closed, nervous, confused.

The new caps are unbelievable.
1. Frequency normalization: less mids, more bass and highs. The bass is so deep and woody. Compared to the cheap caps, you get less upper bass, which was unpleasantly boosted along with the mids, but this bass is the real McCoy: finally I can decently hear those Fender Jazz electric basses. And I'm listening through 6'' woofers...if you got 12'' woofer, you're in heaven. The Russian PIOs are known for this phenomenal bass.
2. Detail: plenty! Stuff like people breathing while singing in choruses, or backround voices, or picks hitting guitar strings, with the cheap caps was lost in the musical mass, while now it's clearly audible.
3. Less mids = calm relaxed sound. And yet very detailed, not sloppy. At first it seems to slow down a bit, but then you realize it's not nervous as the sound of the cheap caps is. You can definitely hear the "black" around instruments.
4. Sound image: three-dimensional! The instruments are huge, and yet very separated, with a lot of black around them. The clocks in "Time" by Pink Floyd are coming from everywhere! On Vivaldi's Four Season, I can hear the harpsichord on the right, but the lower notes come almost from the middle, while the higher notes are on the far right. If the recording is well made, you can truly hear the acoustics of the hall, or of the studio. Watching the "Queen live in Wembley" DVD, you get the stadium echo and reverb.

I feel the Russians are rich and more bloomy, while the Intertechniks are more precise, and they blend very well together, creating a wonderful sound.
I'm very happy now: 90% of the harshness is gone, and the remaining is due to the cheap caps in the loudspeakers crossover. I will replace them eventually, since they are the only weak spot remaining.

I can advise everybody to replace the cheap caps in their audio path, before spending big money on cartridges or DACs, because no matter how good is you equipment: cheap caps will literally ruin the sound.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2013, 06:45:48 AM by lshin80 »


August 26, 2013, 04:20:18 PM
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  • BSD2000
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Awesome work!  8)

I was looking around on the net and was surprised how affordable the Russian PIO's are, especially values ideal for use as bypass caps. Would PIO caps work in speaker crossovers with similar benefits? I'm in the middle of a DIY speaker build and I'd like to experiment with other cap types.  :)


August 27, 2013, 01:11:50 PM
  • lshin80
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The Russian PIOs and Teflons are so affordable because they were mass produced until the 90's, so there is still a lot of them around. Mine are out of a stock from the mid 80's. Their quality is at the top: the Teflons I got are rated at 200 Volts but they work flawlessly at 390 Volts!

If a capacitor works great in an active circuit, it's not guaranteed it will be great in a crossover, and vice versa. I heard many to be good in one application, and bad in the other one.
However I do remember reading about someone using Russian Teflons in a crossover with great results.

Anyway, I wouldn't recommend them for bypass, for two reasons.
1. If you're bypassing a bad sounding cap, benefits will be minimal. No good cap can improve a bad one. Better to use a single good one.
2. If you're bypassing a good cap, results could be either great or bad. That is: the way two good sounding yet different caps interact is totally unpredictable. You need to experiment to see what works.

For big values, like 4,7 uF and so on, I'd recommend the Intertechnik Audyn Cap Plus. They're the least expensive caps among the really good caps, and with good I mean magical. They're equally good sounding as the Mundorf Mcap Supreme, but they cost half the money.
Prices:
http://www.parts-express.com/cat/metalized-polypropylene-capacitors/294?m=501
Also check out this capacitors review, it's made with crossovers in mind, and it prompted me to get the Intertechniks:
http://www.humblehomemadehifi.com/Cap.html
And this one, with the various caps tested in different applications:
http://www.laventure.net/tourist/caps.htm
« Last Edit: August 27, 2013, 01:24:26 PM by lshin80 »


September 23, 2013, 11:06:34 PM
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Lately, most of my projects have been DIY speakers and crossovers. For most of my crossovers designs in the past, I used basic air-core inductors from Solen, Erse, Jantzen and Madisound steel laminates. I also experimented with copper foil inductors from Alpha Core and Goertz. For resistors, I prefer either Mills or Eagle; although I've also used Dayton ceramics from time to time. For capacitors, I mainly use Solen, Bennic or Dayton polypropylene caps, but I have experimented with Carli (mylar's), Hovland, Aerovox, Jantzen, GE and Cornell-Dubilier WMF series film/foil poly caps.

Fo my latest project - a small 4" two-way bookshelf speaker - I picked up some Clarity PX series caps, although I may buy a few Audyn caps and give them a try instead.  8)
« Last Edit: September 23, 2013, 11:25:39 PM by BSD2000 »


September 24, 2013, 10:47:14 AM
  • lshin80
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The Audyn Cap Plus are well worth the money. To me, they are the caps with the best price/quality ratio around. Mandatory: 250 hours of burn-in, since out of the box they sound horrible...but once they are well-adjusted... O:-)



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