Interesting observation

Rupp

New Member
Jul 31, 2021
6
4
3
61
Madison Wisconsin
I have been comparing my two systems side X side and cannot hear a difference.
My setup:
I have two systems that share the same set of speakers with DC relays to switch between the two systems. The setup allows easy switching for comparison.
System 1: Bluesound vault feeds my McIntosh C47 with builtin DAC. The Mcintosh preamp feeds a Bryston 4BSST2 amp which feeds my Harbeth Anniversary 40.2 speakers.
System 2: The same Bluesound Vault feeds a Bryston BDA2 DAC which feeds a Audio Research LS27 preamp which feeds a Luxman M900U amplifier which feeds the same Harbeth 40.2 speakers.
I should explain that the Bluesound Vault has a coaxial splitter so the same streamer feeds the two DAC's.
Both systems sound excellent in my opinion, but I really can't tell a difference between them. I set the volume controls so one system is not louder than the other then I have a toggle switch to switch back and forth. With my eyes closed and not being aware of which system is active, I simply don't hear a difference.
I may not be a critical listener, unable to hear the subtle differences or maybe they just don't sound different...Just don't know.
Given the outcome of my listening experience, it would appear that I spent a lot of money on components that don't have an audible difference e.g. the used Luxman power amplifier vs the much cheaper used Bryston amplifier. In my mind I want to have the Audio Research, Luxman pair sound better given the ARC/Luxman popularity and the McIntosh bashers on the negative, but it aint so! Also curious that the Audio Research with two preamp tubes sounds the same as the McIntosh C47 preamp that is solid state...
As time allows, I may try to swap my existing components around to see what I make of the different combinations. I will also try listening a louder levels to see if that brings our difference.
I guess no questions in the post just looking for feedback.
I do know that the best sound improvement I had was buying the Harbeth 40.2 speakers. They replaced Paradigm S8 V3 speakers and I have been in audio heaven since. Maybe the lesson (for me) is put your dollars in the speakers.

On a separate note FWIW:
I have a third system (grin) in another room which is made up of a Audio Research VSI60 tube integrated fed by a bludsound node and Focal Aria 906 speakers. I didn't do a side X side with that system, but it is a very different sound signature than my other systems. I wouldn't say it's better or worse, just different and satisfying.
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,909
487
505
Alto, NM
I guess no questions in the post just looking for feedback.
Nobody knows except you. If you are happy, that's all that matters.
 

MTB Vince

Well-Known Member
May 11, 2019
177
193
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Dundas, ON Canada
What sort of room do you have the two parallel systems currently set up in @Rupp and is it a dedicated and/or acoustically optimized space which they occupy? I've seen and heard countless systems composed of otherwise great gear, handicapped by poor set-up over the years. Sub-optimal loudspeaker and MLP placement and untreated overly reverberent rooms will allow the room's overly energetic contribution to the overall sound to drown out the sonic differences in gear and tweaks. On the other hand, a system featuring well matched components and optimized placement in a sensible room along with appropriate acoustic treatment (best determined and optimized via measurement and iteratively fine tuned by ear) will lay bare the differences in upstream gear and sonic tweaks like cabling, racking, and vibration mitigation/isolation products for any listener to hear.
 
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Solypsa

Well-Known Member
Jun 7, 2017
1,206
825
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Seattle
www.solypsa.com
Just for fun try noting if you listen to one front-end more often or for longer time vs the other. Your subconscious may know which you prefer ;)

Are you using 'fancy' power &/or signal cables?
 

Rupp

New Member
Jul 31, 2021
6
4
3
61
Madison Wisconsin
What sort of room do you have the two parallel systems currently set up in @Rupp and is it a dedicated and/or acoustically optimized space which they occupy? I've seen and heard countless systems composed of otherwise great gear, handicapped by poor set-up over the years. Sub-optimal loudspeaker and MLP placement and untreated overly reverberent rooms will allow the room's overly energetic contribution to the overall sound to drown out the sonic differences in gear and tweaks. On the other hand, a system featuring well matched components and optimized placement in a sensible room along with appropriate acoustic treatment (best determined and optimized via measurement and iteratively fine tuned by ear) will lay bare the differences in upstream gear and sonic tweaks like cabling, racking, and vibration mitigation/isolation products for any listener to hear.
It's set up in my living room which is 14' X 24' with 8' ceilings. Probably not optimized but with all things equal with the two systems, I would have thought I'd hear a difference.
 

Rupp

New Member
Jul 31, 2021
6
4
3
61
Madison Wisconsin
Just for fun try noting if you listen to one front-end more often or for longer time vs the other. Your subconscious may know which you prefer ;)

Are you using 'fancy' power &/or signal cables?
That's a good idea. No fancy power, but I think it is "reasonably clean" here in Madison WI. No fancy signal cables. All my interconnects and balanced medium grade and the speaker wires are standard 12 gauge wire.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
7,311
2,914
688
Greater Boston
What sort of room do you have the two parallel systems currently set up in @Rupp and is it a dedicated and/or acoustically optimized space which they occupy? I've seen and heard countless systems composed of otherwise great gear, handicapped by poor set-up over the years. Sub-optimal loudspeaker and MLP placement and untreated overly reverberent rooms will allow the room's overly energetic contribution to the overall sound to drown out the sonic differences in gear and tweaks. On the other hand, a system featuring well matched components and optimized placement in a sensible room along with appropriate acoustic treatment (best determined and optimized via measurement and iteratively fine tuned by ear) will lay bare the differences in upstream gear and sonic tweaks like cabling, racking, and vibration mitigation/isolation products for any listener to hear.

Indeed. A few years ago I compared at home a Berkeley Alpha 2 DAC to my old Wadia 12 DAC and I could not hear any difference.

After installing ASC room treatments, which made my room sound much better even with the Wadia 12 DAC, the difference was very obvious after I had the Berkeley DAC again on loan: better timbre and better resolution with the Berkeley, and not by a small margin. At that time, buying the Berkeley paid off, and the upgrade journey, including further improving my room, continued from there.

As Art Noxon from ASC points out, many audiophiles hit a performance plateau beyond which further electronic upgrades do not make a difference. That is what I experienced, as I just laid out, in my old room with its many uncontrolled reflections. If you want to go beyond that, you have to improve the room.
 
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mtemur

Well-Known Member
Mar 26, 2019
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267
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47
DC relays to switch between the two systems.
Bluesound Vault has a coaxial splitter so the same streamer feeds the two DAC's.
1. I strongly recommend you to get rid of any relays, splitters etc asap. They won’t let you hear the differences. Convenience and better sound quality are enemies.

2. please use a proper cd player instead of bluesound and dac. bluesound may have a strong sound signature.

3. if you’re using stock/low quality cables they may absorb the differences. Use good quality audio cables same on both systems.

4. If you still don’t hear any difference then keep the cheap components and sell the expensive ones.
 

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
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Australia
I have been comparing my two systems side X side and cannot hear a difference.
My setup:
I have two systems that share the same set of speakers with DC relays to switch between the two systems. The setup allows easy switching for comparison.
System 1: Bluesound vault feeds my McIntosh C47 with builtin DAC. The Mcintosh preamp feeds a Bryston 4BSST2 amp which feeds my Harbeth Anniversary 40.2 speakers.
System 2: The same Bluesound Vault feeds a Bryston BDA2 DAC which feeds a Audio Research LS27 preamp which feeds a Luxman M900U amplifier which feeds the same Harbeth 40.2 speakers.
I should explain that the Bluesound Vault has a coaxial splitter so the same streamer feeds the two DAC's.
Both systems sound excellent in my opinion, but I really can't tell a difference between them. I set the volume controls so one system is not louder than the other then I have a toggle switch to switch back and forth. With my eyes closed and not being aware of which system is active, I simply don't hear a difference.
I may not be a critical listener, unable to hear the subtle differences or maybe they just don't sound different...Just don't know.
Given the outcome of my listening experience, it would appear that I spent a lot of money on components that don't have an audible difference e.g. the used Luxman power amplifier vs the much cheaper used Bryston amplifier. In my mind I want to have the Audio Research, Luxman pair sound better given the ARC/Luxman popularity and the McIntosh bashers on the negative, but it aint so! Also curious that the Audio Research with two preamp tubes sounds the same as the McIntosh C47 preamp that is solid state...
As time allows, I may try to swap my existing components around to see what I make of the different combinations. I will also try listening a louder levels to see if that brings our difference.
I guess no questions in the post just looking for feedback.
I do know that the best sound improvement I had was buying the Harbeth 40.2 speakers. They replaced Paradigm S8 V3 speakers and I have been in audio heaven since. Maybe the lesson (for me) is put your dollars in the speakers.

On a separate note FWIW:
I have a third system (grin) in another room which is made up of a Audio Research VSI60 tube integrated fed by a bludsound node and Focal Aria 906 speakers. I didn't do a side X side with that system, but it is a very different sound signature than my other systems. I wouldn't say it's better or worse, just different and satisfying.
Have you heard the 40.3xd? I wonder how much better they are compared to the 40.2.
 

Hear Here

Well-Known Member
Feb 14, 2020
456
230
50
Portsmouth, UK
I do know that the best sound improvement I had was buying the Harbeth 40.2 speakers. They replaced Paradigm S8 V3 speakers and I have been in audio heaven since. Maybe the lesson (for me) is put your dollars in the speakers.

Never a truer word! I home tested a dozen amps with my Avantgarde speakers and difference were glaring with some, but others sounded virtually identical despite big price differences. I went for the one that offered far and away best value and was the equal of the best of the rest in sound quality. I suspect you may have chosen your items to suit your own preferred sound and that's why they sound so similar. There'd be a more noticeable difference if you compared a tube amp with a Class AB for example. With Class D, my feeling is that you can now find one that will mimic (wrong word but you get my drift) tube or A or AB, depending on your preference.

I don't agree with mtemur that you should ditch your splitter and switcher for comparison purposes as both systems will suffer equally from these undesirables. Get rid of them when you've decided which kit to keep connected to the speakers.

Incidentally, though I have little experience of Harbeth, I thought their 40.2s at a UK show a couple of years ago, the best sounding system all day. There were much costlier speakers (but no real exotica) but the big Harbeths delivered such a natural and unforced sound, they struck me as best sound at the show. Peter
 

stehno

Well-Known Member
Jul 5, 2014
1,333
272
240
Salem, OR
I have been comparing my two systems side X side and cannot hear a difference.
Let's look at all the possibilities.

- The 2 systems are sonically identical.
- You're hearing impaired.
- Sometimes listening fatigue can set in where it becomes difficult to discern differences while other times it seems rather easy.
- You make no mention of any tuning / tweaking of any system. That implies to me that all of your playback systems may be performing closer to their base performance levels rather than closer to their optimal performance levels? Evidence of this possibility is the closer to their base performance levels the more everything starts to sound more similar than different - including distortions. The only way I know how to get closer to optimal performance levels is lots of tuning and tweaking. If you're not already do so.

My setup:
I have two systems that share the same set of speakers with DC relays to switch between the two systems. The setup allows easy switching for comparison.
System 1: Bluesound vault feeds my McIntosh C47 with builtin DAC. The Mcintosh preamp feeds a Bryston 4BSST2 amp which feeds my Harbeth Anniversary 40.2 speakers.
System 2: The same Bluesound Vault feeds a Bryston BDA2 DAC which feeds a Audio Research LS27 preamp which feeds a Luxman M900U amplifier which feeds the same Harbeth 40.2 speakers.
I should explain that the Bluesound Vault has a coaxial splitter so the same streamer feeds the two DAC's.
Both systems sound excellent in my opinion, but I really can't tell a difference between them. I set the volume controls so one system is not louder than the other then I have a toggle switch to switch back and forth. With my eyes closed and not being aware of which system is active, I simply don't hear a difference.
I may not be a critical listener, unable to hear the subtle differences or maybe they just don't sound different...Just don't know.
Given the outcome of my listening experience, it would appear that I spent a lot of money on components that don't have an audible difference e.g. the used Luxman power amplifier vs the much cheaper used Bryston amplifier. In my mind I want to have the Audio Research, Luxman pair sound better given the ARC/Luxman popularity and the McIntosh bashers on the negative, but it aint so! Also curious that the Audio Research with two preamp tubes sounds the same as the McIntosh C47 preamp that is solid state...
As time allows, I may try to swap my existing components around to see what I make of the different combinations. I will also try listening a louder levels to see if that brings our difference.
I guess no questions in the post just looking for feedback.
I do know that the best sound improvement I had was buying the Harbeth 40.2 speakers. They replaced Paradigm S8 V3 speakers and I have been in audio heaven since. Maybe the lesson (for me) is put your dollars in the speakers.

On a separate note FWIW:
I have a third system (grin) in another room which is made up of a Audio Research VSI60 tube integrated fed by a bludsound node and Focal Aria 906 speakers. I didn't do a side X side with that system, but it is a very different sound signature than my other systems. I wouldn't say it's better or worse, just different and satisfying.
 

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