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Thread: EVS Oppo BDP-105 Mods, Ground Enhancers, Black Discus & Mounting Tweaks

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    WBF Technical Expert [Technical Expert] tmallin's Avatar
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    EVS Oppo BDP-105 Mods, Ground Enhancers, Black Discus & Mounting Tweaks

    These are discussed in the context of my current "reference" system installed in my basement's dedicated audio room. The basics of that system are:

    • Sources: Day-Sequerra M4.2R HD tuner, Logitech Squeezebox Touch with Enhanced Digital Output software, Electronic Visionary Systems (EVS) modified Oppo BDP-105 (which also acts as a switching preamp/volume control for disc and other source playback)
    • Equalizer: Audient ASP-231
    • Electronic Crossover: Gradient HE Crossover at 200 Hz
    • Amps: Four Sanders Magtech Monoblocs
    • Speakers: Gradient Revolution Actives, augmented by Gradient SW-T woofer towers which add six additional 12" dipoles woofers per side, for a total of eight 12" woofers per side
    • Wires: DNM balanced interconnects and speaker wires, with DNM HFTN high frequency termination networks at each end of every wire; Absolute Power Cords; Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB for connection of Squeezebox Touch to Oppo; XLR-to-coax digital cable for connection of Day-Sequerra tuner to Oppo.
    • Room Treatment: Lots of four-inch-thick classic Sonex
    • Equipment Racks: Arcici Suspense for front end components; Minus K platform for amps.


    For the player mods see: http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Oppo_105_Mods.html (the all-out mod)
    For the Ground Enhancers, see: http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/EVS_...Enhancers.html (used on all electronic components)
    For the Black Discus, see: http://www.madscientist-audio.com/fr...e-blackdiscus/
    For the mounting tweaks, see: http://www.goldensound.com/productlist/dh-cones (the Jumbo model, which is the next to largest one); https://walkeraudio.com/?product=val...ce-control-kit (three Walker 1-inch-thick resonance control discs); http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/prod...ber=18X15X4-CL (Mapleshade Audio 4"-thick, solid maple platform 18" x 15"); http://shop.mapleshadestore.com/products.asp?dept=1 (set of four Mapleshade Audio Isoblock 1 rubber supports)

    The player mods are done by Ric Schultz at his Electronic Visionary Systems facility. The Black Discus is something that Ric recommends that users of his modified player add. The user just lays the Black Discus atop a few capacitors near the DAC which feeds the two-channel analog outputs. The Black Discus is positioned rough side up, approximately centered over the DAC chip, parallel to the circuit board and about a half inch above the DAC chip. It can be held in place by a bit of Blu-Tac if you like; I do.

    The mounting system I'm now using for the disc player came about when, being so impressed with the sound of my system with his player mods and Ground Enhancers, I asked Ric Schultz how he mounted his player in his reference system. Player mounting has always been sonically important, in my experience, from my first Sony 701ES decades ago right down to the present. Ric says he's been using this same method for over six years now and has not changed it "because it just works." He mounts his disc player on the floor--he mounts all his equipment on the floor. I used to do that, too, but it was too inconvenient, even for me, so I've been using an equipment rack for several years now. Other than that, I'm now following Ric's advice as closely as I can while still incorporating my convenient equipment rack. From the floor up, I have, in this order:


    • Air suspension. Ric uses an air bladder on the floor; I use the top shelf of my Arcici Suspense Rack whose top metal/acrylic shelf is directly supported by three 8" air bladders which sit in a wooden tray just under the rack's top metal/acrylic shelf.
    • A Bright Star Little Rock is centered atop the acrylic sheet of the top shelf. This Little Rock is small enough not to touch the following items in the stack.
    • Three Mapleshade Audio Isoblock 1 rubber feet, arranged radially (long axis of the rectangular supports pointed toward the center of the platform) near the two back bottom corners and front center of the . . .
    • Solid Maple platform. I'm using a 4"-thick Mapleshade Audio maple platform with a clear lacquer finish.
    • Three Walker Audio 1"-thick resonance control disks sitting atop the maple platform, arranged so that . . .
    • Three Golden Sound DH Cones, the Jumbo size, which is the second largest version of the DH cones, used points down, contact the resin of the Walker disks, with the cones arranged at the back two corners of the player and at the front center of the player. The thin felt pads which come attached to the flat sides of the DH cones should be left in place so that the felt contacts the bottom metal side of the player. The player's four stock feet--which are located at the four corners--are all removed. The mounting of the foot in the center front is in the valley in the bottom silvery metal piece about an inch back from the front. The footer fits snugly in that valley and this spot is at least as good sonically as any other spot for the front footer.
    • The player with the cover removed.


    The presence of any cover on the player alters the presentation considerably. After using the player with the stock cover, without any cover, and with two different models of Bright Star Little Rock atop it to form a modified cover, I have concluded that coverless is the best sounding arrangement once I arranged the bass equalization of my Audient ASP231 balanced analog 1/3-octave graphic equalizer (used only in the signal path with the woofers, that is, only below 200 Hz) and the Gradient HE crossover volume control to my satisfaction (that is, a fairly rich warm bass).

    Sonic Bottom Line: The improvement in CD/HDCD/SACD,HRx, FM, and Internet streaming playback wrought by the combination of the EVS modifications to the Oppo BDP-105 player (new player and all-out mods cost about $3,000 total), the EVS Ground Enhancers (about $150 worth of those), the free sample Black Discus, about $600 worth of new mounting tweaks for the player, and the extra diddling with low frequency electronic equalization makes a considerable improvement in my listening satisfaction over a very broad range of commercial recordings and program sources.

    Getting the low frequency EQ right makes for improvements in low frequency weight and warmth while not giving up an iota of the bass definition I had before. The rest of the improvements described below were there before I got the bass EQ to its now seemingly just-right state, so I will assume they are the product of the EVS modifications to the Oppo, the EVS Ground Enhancers, the Black Discus, and the mounting tweaks (collectively referred to as the "EVS stuff" below).

    The EVS stuff, changes the fundamental listening experience through a combination of improvements that adds so much to listening involvement that most program material is an entirely new and more realistically involving experience. Things that were wrong with my best playback before are just gone or so reduced as to easily allow suspension of disbelief. Stuff that was right is enhanced. So complete is the transformation in system sound that I could just say that the sound is considerably (not just significantly ) better in every way.

    That would be basically correct. But here's a more specific account, as best as I can express it. This may be inexact and ambiguous verbalization, but I think that the shared experience of those who have played with tuning audio systems will allow most here to get a decent grasp of what I'm hearing.

    I'm in the recorded space and the band is playing RIGHT THERE in front of me in a drastically increased and defined space, with envelopment galore, and enhanced dynamic contrasts at both the soft and loud end. Before, I thought the Gradients had considerable inherent limitations on their ability to play at high levels without dynamic restraint and increased distortion. Not anymore. There is now clean wallop in abundance on tap now at average levels high enough to totally satisfy me on all material.

    All sorts of high frequency nasties are just gone--vanished into thin air. Many recordings that before had such nasties--grit, grain, grunge, edge, excess sibilance, etc.--are now clean as a whistle. The highs are not rolled off. They are there, but smoothed and pristine, with a degree of differentiation and filigreed quality (especially noticeable in cymbal sounds) which was previously absent. Remarkable, sometimes astonishing. The only time I've experienced anything like this before was with the Sanders 10C electrostats, but even they could not make a silk purse out of a seeming sow's ear the way the EVS stuff does. The Mercury Living Presence recordings are still way too bright, but that brightness is now so clean that I could almost care less since I'm standing at the conductor's podium and the brass and woodwinds are RIGHT THERE.

    A word about the EVS Ground Enhancers alone: These have gotten mixed reviews from others online. I had thought that I might hear little effect from these, given that I'm already using the cleanest sounding interconnects and speaker cables (DNM) I've ever heard and that cleanness is further enhanced by a full complement of DNM HFTNs in parallel with the wires. Wrong. With every component, adding a $30 EVS Ground Enhancer to one of the component's ground connections (like a chassis screw, pin 1 of a balanced XLR connection, the black terminal of a speaker binding post, or the outside of an unused RCA jack) cleaned things up yet further to a significant degree and the effects of adding one to every component are cumulative. Going back and forth with and without the things is easy enough and the effect is not subtle.

    Back to the cumulative effect of all the EVS stuff: Details captured in recordings that either weren't audible at all before or were only vaguely there, are revealed in an obvious way which adds to musical meaning, involvement, and my ability to hear "into" the recording--what was happening in front of the mikes when the recording was made. The energy and life of the musicians is so much more obvious, as is keeping track of what each player is doing at any given moment. This is so despite the top octaves seeming considerably smoother and more naturally integrated than before. Different recordings sound considerably more different from each other than before, but most all of them sound more naturally real in tonal balance and clarity. Real detail and real clarity, in other words, not "ruthless revelation."

    Bass sounds deeper, punchier, with more power and growl, and yet more defined and differentiated. The definition part is already a strong point of these dipole-woofered speakers, but the EVS equipment takes this to a new level.

    Besides the larger space and envelopment, what we normally think of as imaging and staging has changed a lot for the better. Individual images--especially soloists near the front of the stage centered or left or right--have an unprecedented amount of palpable presence, roundness, and three dimensional body to them, while at the same time sounding startlingly clean and naturally balanced. The stage is expanded both front to back and top to bottom.

    Without very careful set up, the point-source-like Gradient Revs can sound like the sound is coming through a horizontal slit, without much height to the stage. My previous set up greatly ameliorated this problem. But now, without changing the physical positioning of anything in my system, the stage height bears no relation to the physical height (short) of the speakers at all, allowing all instruments to emanate from straight ahead, at a natural height on the stage and projecting their ambiance way up on many recordings. I can clearly hear sounds emanating from the placement of instruments and voices on the stage and expanding outward, upward, and/or from one side to the other as they often do live. Even so, the placement and stability of images on the stage is yet more defined.

    The sonic background is blacker. This seems primarily to relate to the particular way the player is now mounted. By comparison with this new mounting system, the background can seem a bit or more "gray" or "noisy" without this mounting method. My old method was the best I knew about until now, and I've tried many different support methods and combinations, looking for the best combination of black background, tonal balance, clarity, reduction in high frequency nasties, and spatial characteristics. This new method is very obviously better in terms of sonic results--a no brainer which takes just a few seconds to hear.

    There is a larger space for my head within which the spatial aspects of the presentation are stable. I've never experienced this sort of spatial stability before. Moving a few inches this way or that does not cause the spatial effects to fall apart as they did before.

    The physical position of the speakers disappears entirely on many recordings. The "carved in space" presentation is very strong without sounding at all phasey.

    Think a greatly lessened awareness that electronics are between you and the music. Think unamplified. That's the direction these things move the system sound. And it's a quite considerable move in that direction.

    I have no real idea why the EVS equipment and recommended tweaks do what they do. Reduced jitter and just finer analog electronics perhaps, but that's pure speculation. I can't blame those who dismiss my claims of sonic improvements as ridiculous and unverifiable since I have no plausible explanation for what seem to me to be the considerable improvements in the presentation. For me the communicated connection with the music and the space (real or electronically fabricated) in which the music was performed is overwhelmingly stronger and better now than when I was using the stock Oppo BDP-105 without the Ground Enhancers and the player support methods now used in this otherwise-unchanged system.

    Back to the sum total of the changes wrought by the EVS stuff and the EQ changes: The naturalness of the tonal balance of the system seems greatly improved. The sum of subjectively lowered distortion, more powerful yet more defined bass, more warmth, greater midrange naturalness and detail, and subjectively more relaxed highs moves the result further toward tonal realism. I'm not saying that this system yet sounds as tonally realistic as my Harbeth M40.1s in the midrange. The Gradients still sound a bit less tonally natural than those. There is an area around 800 Hz which needs to be pulled down a bit in level if I can find an EQ device which doesn't screw up the gains wrought by the EVS stuff. But the moves are all in the right direction and this combination of better subjective balance plus all the other improvements means that I find the Gradient system totally superior to any system I've set up around the Harbeths--or any other speakers I've ever owned, for that matter. But, if maximal midrange magic is most of your major musical mojo, I suspect that my living room Harbeth M40.1 system could be yet closer to what you're after.
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    Last edited by tmallin; 05-13-2015 at 12:52 PM.

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    Tmallin,

    I have enjoyed reading your posts, very detailed and very passionate. Thanks! An off topic question...if you wish to create a new thread, I am happy to oblige or follow you over to it.

    What is the benefit of 8 woofers per side in terms of scale? Specifically, how far up the "it's real!" curve does the tower sub take "ordinary" floorstanders?

    I have heard the Genesis 1.1s...magnificent scale...which is obviously partly the tower subs...but I know the panels are equally huge at over 7 feet and much scale lives in the mids.

    I use a Velodyne DD18 in parallel with my Wilson X1s so I have a little experience with scale and what a sub adds to it. But I have often wondered given that the velodyne operates below 40hz in my system...what happens if I went to: Krell master ref sub, Magico sub, Tower subs, etc

    Is it the effortless bass power bringing effortless sense of space? Is it that perhaps your towers cut off years floorstanders so the floorstanders have less work to do and thus have greater effortlessness?

    Thanks for any guidance...the towers subs of Tidal, Genesis, Nola, Verity, Gryphon and even the dual Wilson Thors
    Krell Master Ref or Magico QSub have always intrigued me.
    Speaker: Wilson X1/Velodyne DD18+
    Source: Zanden 4-Box Digital
    Amps: CJ GAT/Gryphon Colosseum
    Cable: SC/IC:TA Opus 5/RefMM2 PC:PAD25th/Sablon GCUber
    16 Isolation 'Sandwiches': Under: HRS/Stillpoints/Auralex Top: HRS/Artesania/Entreq/EAT/90kg Mass Damping
    Power/Ground/Shield: 4 x 16A Lines w/ Furutech Outlets / Burmester948/NordostQX4 / Tripoint (TroySig+Thor) / Entreq (Atlantis/Receivus/Everest/Wrap)
    Room/Tube: Stillpoints Apertures / Amperex7308 Mullard(6922 6CA4 6X4) TeleE88CC

  3. #3
    WBF Technical Expert [Technical Expert] tmallin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LL21 View Post
    Tmallin,

    I have enjoyed reading your posts, very detailed and very passionate. Thanks! An off topic question...if you wish to create a new thread, I am happy to oblige or follow you over to it.

    What is the benefit of 8 woofers per side in terms of scale? Specifically, how far up the "it's real!" curve does the tower sub take "ordinary" floorstanders?

    I have heard the Genesis 1.1s...magnificent scale...which is obviously partly the tower subs...but I know the panels are equally huge at over 7 feet and much scale lives in the mids.

    I use a Velodyne DD18 in parallel with my Wilson X1s so I have a little experience with scale and what a sub adds to it. But I have often wondered given that the velodyne operates below 40hz in my system...what happens if I went to: Krell master ref sub, Magico sub, Tower subs, etc

    Is it the effortless bass power bringing effortless sense of space? Is it that perhaps your towers cut off years floorstanders so the floorstanders have less work to do and thus have greater effortlessness?

    Thanks for any guidance...the towers subs of Tidal, Genesis, Nola, Verity, Gryphon and even the dual Wilson Thors
    Krell Master Ref or Magico QSub have always intrigued me.
    Good questions!

    First, recognize that the basic Gradient Revolution Active speakers are very different animals from large speakers of any kind, especially large line sources from Maggies to Pipe Dreams. Any speaker whose midrange and high frequency radiating element or elements is tall enough so that it is a substantial percentage of the distance from which you listen to the speakers will tend to produce a sense of tallness or height to all the images. We call such speakers line sources. While the precedence effect tends to keep images centered in front of your eyes, the fact that the same frequencies are being radiated from substantial angles above and below the center line produces a certain vertical stretch to the images. Many people like this effect because it does, as you say, give a sense of scale or larger size which is interpreted as "life sized" images even when listened to from 10 or more feet from the plane of the speakers. Large speakers tend to be used in fairly large rooms and listened to from 10 feet or more away so that the inter-driver integration is acceptable.

    In contrast, the Gradient Revolution and Revolution Active have a single coaxial midrange and tweeter driver housed in an enclosure you can easily cradle in one hand--it's small and light weight. That small "head unit" produces all the sound from 200 Hz up--everything above the bass range, in other words. A coaxial arrangement like this tends to produce very small, sharply focused images without much vertical height illusion. The fact that the Gradient coaxial array is angled back a bit can produce some ceiling bounce which ameliorates the "narrow horizontal slit" effect. The images and stage does have some apparent height after all from most any listening distance from just a couple feet away to many feet away. But such an array will not produce vertically large images the way a vertical line source does.

    The give back is that the sound from a coaxial radiator like the Gradient Revolution remains spectacularly focused in all the spatial dimensions even when listened to from very close up and with the speakers separated by a subtended angle of 90 degrees or more. When such speakers are listened to from the near field, the stage can thus be very large in angular width, have stupendous depth and layering in depth, great immersive wrap-around of the recorded space and can reveal very expansive vertical space of the recording venue around and above the stage on which the musicians appear to be playing. The Gradient Revolution head unit further enhances these qualities via the tilt back of the coaxial array and the fact that this array produces very little sound to the sides and almost nothing to the rear. Compared to almost all other speakers, it reproduces recorded space with very little "second venue effect" from the acoustics of your small (in comparison to the recording venue) listening room. You hear the recorded acoustics to an almost unprecedented extent. Thus, while the images may not be as vertically large as those regularly produced by line source speakers, the recorded space can be vast, with some images right in front of your nose and others in the next county, plus a focused left/right effect over a very wide 90-degree angle, the angle a symphony orchestra on stage has when viewed from the first few rows in a concert hall.

    Now the woofers: The Gradient Revolution Active woofers are dipole in nature. The basic system has two 12" woofers filling in the low end from 200 Hz down to an honest 20 Hz when the crossover is properly adjusted. I've measured them and they easily produce bass at 20 Hz in my room at the same level that 1 kHz is produced. The basic system is unique in my experience for producing such bass extension from so small and lightweight a cabinet (30" tall, a small triangular shape just big enough to accommodated the woofers and weighing only about 30 pounds). The woofer drivers are similar to those used in the Linkwitz Orion speakers (which also use the woofers in dipole mode) which I used to own. The Gradient woofers outperform the Orion in terms of the undistorted low bass SPL they reproduce. Even without the extra woofers, the basic Gradient Revolution Active speakers will reproduce even the wildest bass spectaculars in my classical collection at quite satisfyingly loud levels. The Orions, in contrast, could not reproduce deep bass at levels above about 88 dB in my room without literally hitting their stops and obviously distorting. I primarily attribute this to the fact that the Gradient HE crossover, unlike the Orion's electronic crossover, rolls the bass off steeply below 20 Hz, preventing subsonic overload of the dipole woofers.

    So why did I add the SW-T 90-inch-tall woofer arrays which add six more 12" woofers per side? Well, it wasn't to extend the bass any lower. The woofers in the SW-T are exactly the same as the two 12" woofers in the bass section of the Gradient Revolution Active. In fact, the SW-T is merely three of the Revolution woofer sections bolted together vertically and connected to each other electrically. All the woofers play over exactly the same range--200 Hz on down. There is no added crossover; all the woofers are driven from the low frequency output of the two-way Gradient HE active analog electronic crossover (the crossover between midrange and tweeter is passive and is located inside the Revolution head unit).

    No, what I get by adding the six additional woofers per side is at least 12 dB additional low bass headroom, more air movement, and lower distortion from both the speakers and the amps. The woofers are wired in series. With just two woofers per side the amps see a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. With eight woofers per side, the nominal impedance is 16 ohms. Little current is thus required from the amps and the amps can act as true voltage sources. Excursion of each driver for any in-room bass SPL is greatly lowered, lowering the bass distortion from mechanical effects. And since the impedance is 16 ohms, the amps produce less electronic distortion even when producing high-level low bass since the amps are loafing along even at high SPLs. Of course, the fact that I'm using Sanders Magtech Monoblocs to drive both the head units and the woofers means I have plenty of power on tap. Each of the four amps is rated at 1600 watts into an 8-ohm load, 2000 watts into a 4-ohm load.

    The addition of the woofer towers in this special case of the Gradient Revolution Actives lowers the apparent distortion of the bass. The bass is stupendously clean and well defined in pitch. It also has considerable punch. I can play the wildest bass spectaculars as loud as I care to without fear of overloading the dipole woofers even in the bottom octave and even with the low bass goosed a bit, as I prefer. I also think that adding the woofer towers does add some additional scale to the apparent size of the images and stage, but nothing like a speakers with a line source in the mids and highs would produce. There is no doubt that deep, low distortion stereo bass helps produce the impression of large recorded space.

    But even with my preferred equalization to goose the bottom end of the system a bit, the Gradient woofers will not produce the kind of punch or kick that high-end big box woofers or box subwoofers can easily produce. The Gradients emphasize bass naturalness, bass of the type you'd hear in a concert hall. Live bass seldom has subwoofer-like punch. The Gradient woofers will startle me just like a sudden unexpected hard strike of a big beater on a big bass drum in a concert hall will. But I do not kid myself into thinking that my woofers can rock the planet with earthquake and dinosaur footsteps the way big closed box woofers will. Dipole bass just doesn't pressurize the listening room that way. You pay your money and you make your choice.

    Sure, I could supplement the Gradient woofer bass at the very bottom with subwoofers, like the JL Fathoms I used to use. But even with proper equalization, that tends to muddy the bass at least a bit. I prefer the clean, defined-but-weighty effect I now have.

    I don't want to leave you with the impression that the Gradient Revolution Active + SW-T bass is wimpy in any way. Rock music lives and breathes on this system. A good tape of a Grateful Dead concert fully reveals the spectacular bass the Dead got from their Wall of Sound PA system--and that's even via 100 kHz internet streaming from the Sirius Grateful Dead Channel. Drums have the requisite punch, Lesh's bass has just the right purr, and every complex bass pattern he plays is precisely followable up and down the scale. And the imaging and staging, not to mention the clarity of the upper ranges on such material (the Dead REALLY cared about their sound quality in concert) is otherworldly on this system--and that's from a low-bit-rate digital source. CDs and high-rez material is in another universe compared to most systems, even my prior systems in this room.

    A picture of the speaker set up follows. Sorry for the optical and perspective distortion. I had to use a wide-angle lens and take the picture from as far back in the room as I could get. The woofer towers are actually straight up and down and positioned directly behind the main (short) Gradient Revolution Actives, as close to the main speakers as possible. As viewed from seated in the listening chair the main Revolution speakers subtend almost a 90 degree angle. The main speakers are 105 inches from the wall behind them and 36 inches from the side walls. The listening position is 145 inches from the wall behind the speakers and thus only 40 inches from the plane of the main speakers. The main speakers and woofer towers are both toed in by 30 degrees. I thus listen to the speakers about 15 degrees off their horizontal axes.

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    Fantastic!! Thank you!!! And thanks for taking the time by adding the photo as well! I have read thru and understand some of the technical description you added, particularly the main tower subs adding 12db of bass in the exact same region of bass where the original dual 12" cones are designed to play...thus lowering distortion.

    From a sound perspective, what happens to the sense of scale/dynamics if you remove the tower subs? Does the soundstage 'collapse' and feel smaller/less full-bodied because the effortless power is not there? For example, when I shut my sub off, the 'surround' sensation of music stops instantly, and the music tends to radiate less...and instead feel more like a true 'stereo' coming only from one side of the room...it feels flatter so even if the individual instruments technically are the 'same size' from the main listening position...it feels like the whole presentation is much flatter, less surrounding, more artificial and I suppose while not 'smaller' per se...it definitely feels less 'real'.

    But with your amount of bass being added/subtracted from the system...does more than what I describe above happen if you shut off the tower subs? Just curious, because of course the next question is...what would happen if I added tower subs/Thors/larger subs to my room in terms of the above? Thanks again!
    Speaker: Wilson X1/Velodyne DD18+
    Source: Zanden 4-Box Digital
    Amps: CJ GAT/Gryphon Colosseum
    Cable: SC/IC:TA Opus 5/RefMM2 PC:PAD25th/Sablon GCUber
    16 Isolation 'Sandwiches': Under: HRS/Stillpoints/Auralex Top: HRS/Artesania/Entreq/EAT/90kg Mass Damping
    Power/Ground/Shield: 4 x 16A Lines w/ Furutech Outlets / Burmester948/NordostQX4 / Tripoint (TroySig+Thor) / Entreq (Atlantis/Receivus/Everest/Wrap)
    Room/Tube: Stillpoints Apertures / Amperex7308 Mullard(6922 6CA4 6X4) TeleE88CC

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    WBF Technical Expert [Technical Expert] tmallin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LL21 View Post
    Fantastic!! Thank you!!! And thanks for taking the time by adding the photo as well! I have read thru and understand some of the technical description you added, particularly the main tower subs adding 12db of bass in the exact same region of bass where the original dual 12" cones are designed to play...thus lowering distortion.

    From a sound perspective, what happens to the sense of scale/dynamics if you remove the tower subs? Does the soundstage 'collapse' and feel smaller/less full-bodied because the effortless power is not there? For example, when I shut my sub off, the 'surround' sensation of music stops instantly, and the music tends to radiate less...and instead feel more like a true 'stereo' coming only from one side of the room...it feels flatter so even if the individual instruments technically are the 'same size' from the main listening position...it feels like the whole presentation is much flatter, less surrounding, more artificial and I suppose while not 'smaller' per se...it definitely feels less 'real'.

    But with your amount of bass being added/subtracted from the system...does more than what I describe above happen if you shut off the tower subs? Just curious, because of course the next question is...what would happen if I added tower subs/Thors/larger subs to my room in terms of the above? Thanks again!
    Because of the way the woofer towers are wired in series with the woofers of the Gradient Revolution Active speakers, and since all the speaker wiring is done on the bottom of the woofer box (is that dumb, or what?), I have not tried disconnecting and reconnecting the woofers since I added the EVS-modified equipment. To change the wiring necessarily involves moving the speakers--laying them down on the floor, actually, in order to get at the binding posts of both the Revolution woofers and the woofer towers. Set up is critical and is done "just so" (with a Leica Distagage laser distance meter) and it is not fun to get the speakers back in exactly the right position.

    Thus, I can't really answer your question. From memory, adding the woofer towers added some scale, as I said. One would hardly expect otherwise. While sounds from 80 Hz on down cannot usually be localized by our ears, my experiments with various woofer crossovers show that in my room, by 160 Hz some minimal amount of stereo effect is audible. So with the woofers operating up to 200 Hz, the woofers are producing a bit of stereo effect. Stringing the woofers out from floor to ceiling could thus be expected to audibly add a bit to the height of images. It certainly would not make the images and the stage appear smaller.

    In my experience in this room with many different speakers, the big influencers of scale are deep bass extension, stereo bass (as opposed to a summed mono subwoofer), and how the main speaker drivers are arrayed. Even the basic small Gradient Revolution Active speakers have stereo bass at full level down to 20 Hz. Thus, they produce a very large stage with appropriate set up. Adding the woofer towers doesn't add much height to images, maybe just a bit, since the woofers only go up to 200 Hz and positional localization is not fully operating by that frequency. Adding the woofers does nothing to change the point-source radiation of frequencies above 200 Hz. Speakers with quasi-line-source mid- and high-frequency radiation (like Maggies and Pipe Dreams) will produce taller images. So will the usual three-way arrangement with woofer on the bottom, midrange in the middle, and tweeter higher up, like my Harbeth Monitor 40.1s.

    One of the reasons many find the Quad electrostats to sound "small" is that their quasi-point-source radiation makes the images short and seeming to appear from a narrow horizontal slit. The Quads are usually not angled back enough to combat this via ceiling reflections. The Gradient Revolution coaxial midrange/tweeter is angled back by 30 degrees or so, and thus does engage the ceiling reflection a bit, allowing a bit taller image than would otherwise result.

    Another way of increasing scale via add-on woofers is to place the additional woofers further to the left and right than the main speakers are, so that the subtended angle between the additional woofers is larger than the subtended angle between the midrange and tweeters. Widening the low-frequency angular separation mimics an effect called stereo shuffling or Blumlein shuffling. Our ear/brain tends to hear high frequency sounds as more separated left/right than bass sounds. This causes a smearing of imaging if not corrected for in some way. One way to very roughly correct for it is to place the woofers further to the left and right than the upper range speakers. I used to have my woofer towers very close to the side walls when I had the main speakers subtending only a 60-degree angle as viewed from the listening position. This technique is quite helpful. You can do shuffling either with analog or digital processing of the signal as well. See, for a modern example: http://www.phaedrus-audio.com/shuphler.htm My old Legacy Audio Whispers had adjustable low frequency separation built right into the electronic equalizer which was part of the Whisper system. The Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer I once used also has adjustable stereo shuffling in the digital domain.

    One of the reasons analog LPs can often seem more spacious than even the best digital playback of the same program is related to the automatic stereo shuffling done by almost all phono cartridges. Back in the day when phono cartridge test reports had graphs of frequency response and stereo separation, it was very clear from the graphs that phono cartridges have greater left/right stereo separation in the low frequencies than in the highs. Stereo separation of carts could be 30 dB in the bass, but only 10 dB or less in the top couple of octaves. Voila, stereo shuffling with increased perceived separation and clarity of imaging/staging, even though digital systems have wildly greater and more consistent stereo separation with frequency.

    However, with the wider separation of the mains that I now employ, this technique became unnecessary. In addition, placing the additional woofers closer to the sidewalls produced a suck-out in the frequency response in the midbass compared to the response with the woofer towers directly behind the main speakers.

    Yet another way to increase scale, especially the feeling of spaciousness, is to just crank up the low frequency level a bit. Make the bottom octave, especially, a few dB louder than 1 kHz. That is a technique I employ. Having the eight 12-inch woofers per side allows me to get away with that and still keep distortion low, even with the woofers operating as dipoles. You could do that, too, just by raising your woofer/subwoofer level a bit. If you are running out of low-frequency dynamic range, add more subs or more capable subs, not necessarily tower subs.

    Much of what we interpret as spatial effects is caused by plain-vanilla frequency response changes. These are cheap to produce with an electronic equalizer. Learning how to employ such frequency response tweaks to produce the desired spatial effects without introducing painfully obvious frequency response colorations is a handy technique employed by both advanced audiophiles and speaker manufacturers. Unfortunately, since most audiophiles are electronic-equalization averse, they are willing to pay big bucks for speakers whose manufacturers have engineered in various small departures from response flatness in order to maximally appeal to what they view as the desires of the targeted segment of the audiophile market. Most audiophiles don't realize and/or don't care that they could get the same effects from much less expensive speakers and electronics if they were only willing to learn how to use electronic equalization. A few examples:

    Want to create that reach-out-and-touch-it midrange on female vocals? Just boost the range between 500 and 1000 Hz a bit.
    Want extra high frequency "air" and better definition of brushes on cymbals? Just boost the top ocatave 10 k to 20 kHz, a few dB.
    Want a very powerful deep bass and great midrange definition? Just boost the mid and low bass, and allow the "usual floor bounce" to suck out the response in the 100 to 300 Hz range by a few or more dB.
    Want to enhance stage depth? Just produce a BBC/Gundry dip in the presence range response of 3 kHz to 5 kHz to "back off" the sound from the plane of the speakers. Almost all speakers of BBC heritage have such an effect designed in, including my Harbeth M40.1s.
    Last edited by tmallin; 09-10-2014 at 01:53 PM.

  6. #6
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    Wow!!! Talk about THOROUGH! I will have to re-read this a few times to get thru it properly. Thank you for taking the time. This is really great for audiophiles like me who want to learn but are not techies by background.
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  7. #7
    Addicted to Best! thedudeabides's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Will be replacing my Cary 306 SACD in the near future.

    Was thinking about the Esoteric K01, the Playback Design MP5, or the Dcs Puccini with clock.

    How would you compare the above three units with a fully modded DVS 105?

    Assuming it's close, $3K or so seems like a real steal?

    Also, do you have a contact information for DVS?

    Best.

  8. #8
    WBF Technical Expert [Technical Expert] tmallin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedudeabides View Post
    Hi Tom,

    Will be replacing my Cary 306 SACD in the near future.

    Was thinking about the Esoteric K01, the Playback Design MP5, or the Dcs Puccini with clock.

    How would you compare the above three units with a fully modded DVS 105?

    Assuming it's close, $3K or so seems like a real steal?

    Also, do you have a contact information for DVS?

    Best.
    I have no experience with the units mentioned, unfortunately. The contact info for Electronic Visionary Systems (EVS) is here: http://www.tweakaudio.com/EVS-2/Contact_Info.html

  9. #9
    Senior Member DSkip's Avatar
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    Question - have you tried the Oppo without the Black Discus in position? I know several people who tried his sample products in various places in the rig, and everyone had almost the same feedback: while it offered a slightly blacker background, the dynamics and soundstage became much more restricted. I had the same experience, but I will admit to not having put them on top of capacitors.
    https://www.audiothesis.com/
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedudeabides View Post
    Hi Tom,

    Will be replacing my Cary 306 SACD in the near future.

    Was thinking about the Esoteric K01, the Playback Design MP5, or the Dcs Puccini with clock.

    How would you compare the above three units with a fully modded DVS 105?

    Assuming it's close, $3K or so seems like a real steal?

    Also, do you have a contact information for DVS?

    Best.
    I found an earlier Esoteric X03 SE too clinical and unable to render any emotion or communication. Can't really comment on the MP5, but can highly recommend th DCS Puccini/UClock pairing. Lovely sound more reminiscent of analogue than digitalwell built. good looks.

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