My Pinkfaun 2.16 ultra experience

flkin

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An exciting development is happening at Pink Faun, I hear they’re working on their new USB card which will be an Ultra version. It has either 2 or 3 (to be decided) external power supplies and will have ultracaps as a buffer.

I’ll be visiting them to have a listen and maybe pick one up in Aug.
 

flkin

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JjmI’m going sI sold my 2.16x to a friend and he has reported an improvement from upgrades also so I am sure your correct.. presume this is some trickle down from the PF euphony developmemt which I understand is pretty wide ranging and been going on for over a year.. the user interface is also dramatically better.. could be goodbye to roon for me :)
I also prefer Euphony as the player for sure. I think it’s so much better sounding than Roon it’s not funny! But for music discovery and general information, it’s hard to find a better option than Roon.

So I keep both, Roon in a totally separate system with access to a backup of the same music files. I use it for browsing new music and adding Tidal/Qobuz albums to favorites and they magically appear in Euphony
 

pjwd

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I also prefer Euphony as the player for sure. I think it’s so much better sounding than Roon it’s not funny! But for music discovery and general information, it’s hard to find a better option than Roon.

So I keep both, Roon in a totally separate system with access to a backup of the same music files. I use it for browsing new music and adding Tidal/Qobuz albums to favorites and they magically appear in Euphony
Yes I have heard about the usb card .. didn't know about external psu .... just when you think you are done :)
The new euphony still does not blend like roon but it has play history and search all
Haven't started on playlists yet but lliking it so far
 

worldtime

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Have any PF ultra owners installed the new software update.
I am astounded at the uptick in sq... more clarity from top to bottom ... another move towards a more lifelike quality
Bravo !
Phil
Hi Phil
thanks for the update. I updated to the latest version after seeing your comments. Totally agreed with you. The sound is noticeably better, more sparkles and contrast as a whole, very vivid and lively yet in PF natural way of sounding. Highly recommended the update.
 
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Goetzfam

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I also prefer Euphony as the player for sure. I think it’s so much better sounding than Roon it’s not funny! But for music discovery and general information, it’s hard to find a better option than Roon.

So I keep both, Roon in a totally separate system with access to a backup of the same music files. I use it for browsing new music and adding Tidal/Qobuz albums to favorites and they magically appear in Euphony
I was interested in getting the Ultra clock for the USB bridge for the 2.16 Ultra. It sounds like I should wait and replace the bridge. Do you know when the new bridge is coming out?
 

pjwd

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Jun 22, 2015
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I was interested in getting the Ultra clock for the USB bridge for the 2.16 Ultra. It sounds like I should wait and replace the bridge. Do you know when the new bridge is coming out?
I have heard "soon" ... of course that can mean a very long time in highendian :)
Supposedly a big jump .. it never stops !
 

flkin

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I was interested in getting the Ultra clock for the USB bridge for the 2.16 Ultra. It sounds like I should wait and replace the bridge. Do you know when the new bridge is coming out?
The prototype has been working for a while already but not sure when it’s ready for sale. Should be soon I’m guessing. I hope it doesn’t come with 3 external power supplies inputs (was under consideration earlier) as that would be a lot of additional work to arrange for!

I’m hoping to have a chance to hear it in early Aug when I visit Jord. Will write my opinion here after. How I can separate its sound from the rest of the PF system I not sure !
 

pjwd

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Jun 22, 2015
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The prototype has been working for a while already but not sure when it’s ready for sale. Should be soon I’m guessing. I hope it doesn’t come with 3 external power supplies inputs (was under consideration earlier) as that would be a lot of additional work to arrange for!

I’m hoping to have a chance to hear it in early Aug when I visit Jord. Will write my opinion here after. How I can separate its sound from the rest of the PF system I not sure !
Looking forward to your report
 
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Believe High Fidelity

[Industry Expert]
Nov 19, 2015
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Just posted a video walking through all of the latest changes to the Ultra in the latest release.

 

Goetzfam

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My Ultra is currently plugged directly into the wall using the Pink Faun Ultra cable. This was Jord's recommendation. However, I didn't mention to him that I live in a rather large (500 unit) apartment building. Does anyone have any experience with power conditioners in a situation like this. I'm assuming that Jord's advice stems from the amazing power supplies and isolation inherent in his product.
 

flkin

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Mar 7, 2019
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The prototype has been working for a while already but not sure when it’s ready for sale. Should be soon I’m guessing. I hope it doesn’t come with 3 external power supplies inputs (was under consideration earlier) as that would be a lot of additional work to arrange for!

I’m hoping to have a chance to hear it in early Aug when I visit Jord. Will write my opinion here after. How I can separate its sound from the rest of the PF system I not sure !

Just visited Jord at Pink Faun in Rhenen, Netherlands. The new Ultra USB bridge card is not quite ready yet. Will be out later this year - likely before the end of 2023. It's a significant upgrade to the existing bridge, perhaps an entire new device is a better description not just an iteration. It will have only one external DC input.. phew!

Still in the prototype stage with only 2 boards competed. But fortunately I had a chance to listen to it. Looks like we're going to have spend a little on this... :-D

More descriptions and pics to come when I find time to write up the visit. The case below isn't the final one.

1.jpeg
 
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pjwd

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Jun 22, 2015
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Just visited Jord at Pink Faun in Rhenen, Netherlands. The new Ultra USB bridge card is not quite ready yet. Will be out later this year - likely before the end of 2023. It's a significant upgrade to the existing bridge, perhaps an entire new device is a better description not just an iteration. It will have only one external DC input.. phew!

Still in the prototype stage with only 2 boards competed. But fortunately I had a chance to listen to it. Looks like we're going to have spend a little on this... :-D

More descriptions and pics to come when I find time to write up the visit. The case below isn't the final one.

View attachment 114244
Good and bad news! If its not one thing its another :) nothing stands still
 
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Goetzfam

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Just visited Jord at Pink Faun in Rhenen, Netherlands. The new Ultra USB bridge card is not quite ready yet. Will be out later this year - likely before the end of 2023. It's a significant upgrade to the existing bridge, perhaps an entire new device is a better description not just an iteration. It will have only one external DC input.. phew!

Still in the prototype stage with only 2 boards competed. But fortunately I had a chance to listen to it. Looks like we're going to have spend a little on this... :-D

More descriptions and pics to come when I find time to write up the visit. The case below isn't the final one.

View attachment 114244
Will the bridge be internal or external to the 2.16 Ultra?
 

flkin

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Mar 7, 2019
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Will the bridge be internal or external to the 2.16 Ultra?
It’s an internal PCIe card. You plug it inside then power it using the internal ATX supply wires or an external DC supply.

The black cover is a 3D printed temporary plastic cover. The actual one will be in copper or aluminum for isolation and heat management purposes.
 

flkin

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Mar 7, 2019
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As promised

Visit to Pink Faun, Rhenen, Netherlands 2023
USB Ultra Bridge


After hearing from Jord that they were working on a new Pink Faun USB Ultra bridge powered with super capacitors, I got excited. Just recently I had completed a SOTA DC power supply and used it as an external 5V to my existing PF USB bridge in my 2.16x streamer. The sound improvement was significant and reminded me how important a good power supply is for good music.

Having experienced this personally, I rank the bridge used in the streamer as the data leaves for the DAC very high in the list of components that matter a lot in digital playback. So what changes can be made on the USB bridge that has not already been done? The current PF USB bridge already has an external power option and the internal Ultra clock module so what else can be done to improve the bridge?

A lot it seems!


1.jpeg
Streets of Renhen

Despite being a family holiday in the Netherlands, I managed to persuade my wife and kids to spend half a day walking through the pretty town of Rhenen where Pink Faun is located. They had a good time, managed to learn a bit about the history of the place in they museum and even tried some Dutch Bitterballen meatballs.

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Future Pink Faun efforts

During that time, I left them and spent it with Jord listening to the PF music room setup and discuss some of their passions and beliefs.

From a design perspective, this new USB card certainly deserves the title "Ultra". It's a total new redesign of what would be a bucket list of what to pack into a bridge to make it SOTA. The first major change would be a new power system with incorporates 20 farad super capacitors. Super capacitors have an advantage of high current delivery at high speeds but are generally difficult to implement properly.

1 (1).jpeg
EMI and heat isolation cover

This required a total redesign of the board with a new processor and custom firmware to manage the charging and power switching. There is a soft start which takes 1 minute before the super-caps take over. A bank of LEDs show the status of the power delivery. Originally I was told that they had considered adding up to 3 external power feeds - separately for the clock, the board and the USB power channel. But due to the complexity of implementing the super-caps, the final design is with just one DC input. Phew, having recently taken so long to build my external DC supply, I was not keen to arrange for a further 2 more DC lines for a single bridge!

I am not surprised that PF used super-caps which they have already employed in their clock system inside their 2.16 Ultra streamer. This would be a logical extension of that tech they have already successfully used. Furthermore I understand that Mattijs de Vries of Farad Power Supplies, well established in super capacitor powered supplies, is still a team member of the Pink Faun group and meets regularly so I guess he has some input about the design as well. If any team is able to design and implement a small super-cap system for a bridge it would be them.

This super-caps redesign makes the card act almost like 2 components that happen to be joined together. The design groups the power side components into the end side of the board and places all the power regulators in a line at the junction. This is for a good reason as the new Ultra USB board has a metal (either in copper or aluminium to be decided) cover that has a drop-down division at that junction to act as an EMI isolator for the power side and also to remove heat from the regulators. The entire power section of the card is sectioned off from the rest of the USB components. The rest of the case also has drop-down columns that act as conductors to channel the heat off the IC components, rectifiers and clock into the case. Looks to be a well engineered solution to handle EMI and heat with just one component.

Other improvements come from incorporating the Ultra clock as a permanent part of the board and not as a module allowing the implementation to be more purpose built. Although modules make the bridge more flexible in use, I guess this is the Ultra unit and flexibility has given way to the sonic advantages with the entire bridge unit working as one.

Also the USB connector is now far more solid being designed as a singular piece with the main board. Of note also is the data line noise filtering components which looks to be more robust compared to the previous card, but this I have to check again once I receive my unit.

So that is the design, how about the sound? I had the chance to listen to 3 bridge setups :

- the existing USB bridge (Ultra clocked),
- prototype Ultra USB bridge (1 of the 2 made to date) and
- the existing I2S bridge (Ultra clocked).

The prototype USB Ultra bridge was used without it’s EMI/heat isolation case and was only recently completed with just a few days of burn in time on it. For the sake of convenience, all 3 bridges were installed together and powered internally in the 2.16 Ultra streamer.

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Pink Faun ‘pink’ listening room

Firstly the PF system is pretty impressive to look at. Jord explained that it comprised of their own components from cables to DAC to pre and power amps. Even their Euphrosyne speaker is of their own design. Presently they only offer their streamer, bridges, clocks and cables on their website but they might offer more devices in time. Apparently they have their hands full already with their orders so have little time to expand their line presently.

…cont
 
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flkin

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Mar 7, 2019
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.. cont

At first the sound of the PF system was not as expected. Usually most demo systems try to impress a visitor with aspects to the sound - voluminous bass, extended treble and air, hyper dynamics or details. Not so here. The PF system is far more subtle. I was not blown away with sound characters but instead by how naturally it is delivered. I have tried for years to do the same in my own system - the get the natural sounding music that makes me forget the system but dive deep into the artists intentions. I'm always looking for the emotions behind the music not just the notes and this was what I heard! Wonderful to finally hear a system that is so natural but yet 'check-box' good in traditional audiophile descriptions of good sounds.

Screenshot 2023-08-09 at 4.27.30 PM.jpg

We started off with Blues for Los Angeles, Bill Frisell, East/West album which played really well in the system. This track is something special and in a system so tight and natural, sounds like being on the stage with the band. Close up and personal.

The existing USB bridge sounded wide and analogue. Comfortable listening with good tone, texture and details. Not unlike my own system but different. I heard more details with better placements in the soundstage. Given the bridge setup isn’t optimal playing from internal power, my first impression was very good. Focus was a little off though, good but not at the very best levels.

It was good to hear this first as it was like a calibration for my ears. When switched over to the new Ultra USB bridge, the sound clearly tightened up. There was better focus but it sounded not quite as wide as the previous USB bridge. The ambient sounds also a touch less. It sounded like an upgrade but, from experience, the sound of one that had not opened up fully yet. Nevertheless overall there was an improvement.

During the session we switched back and forwards from the USB bridges to the existing I2S bridge (ultra clocked). Of the 3 bridges I listened, this was my preferred sound for the day. Perhaps it was best matched to the PF DAC which uses an older Burr Brown chip which I believe plays up to 192kHz/24bit but it sounded glorious.

celibidache.jpg

We moved on to some classical selection which really was special. First was Pictures At An Exhibition, Promenade by Münchner Philharmoniker, Celibidache. The horns here were spookily real and placed in the soundstage so clearly. Nice!

Screenshot 2023-08-09 at 4.32.13 PM.jpg

And then we tried Michel Godard's Monteverdi: A Trace of Grace. For those that are into baroque music and opera together with a touch of jazz this is will be a real gem as it contains a bit of everything. I didn't take note of the track we played but I recall the Serpent instrument and the Theorbo Lute. The Theorbo, for those that aren't aware, is an elongated lute allowing it to play deeper into the bass allowing the lute, conventionally used in smaller ensembles, to play in larger orchestras. In PF's natural sounding system with their I2S clocked bridge the experience was really special. The standout was how together the ensemble sounded with the Lute totally coherent in the bass notes. Good enough to make this my nomination as the album of the year!

We ended up listening to a number of my familiar tracks on Tidal or Qobuz of which the stand out was the Coldplay Live in Bueno Aires, Fix You. I am very familiar with this track as when played in my own system the soundstage presented is deep and wide and amongst the best to show the effect of being in the audience. In the PF system the effect was astounding, 180 degrees enveloping with such clear placement of the music and audience it truly was the best I have ever heard of this track in any system, period. ‘Like being in the audience’ is an overused phrase but in this case, totally appropriate.

Screenshot 2023-08-11 at 12.11.25 PM.jpg

And then 2 more tracks Jord suggested from Johnny Cash, American Recordings, Bird on a Wire and from Syml, Sacred Spaces, Take Me Apart. Both of these were again real ear openers. The emotional connection to the music to Johnny Cash's last months recordings was tear jerking and that ambience of Syml's recordings in St. Mark's cathedral is so totally euphoric. These are the reason why we are audiophiles.

At the end of the session, I reconfirmed my past conclusion that the Pink Faun's chase of the natural sound is still so well matched to my own preferences. And that their prototype USB Ultra board is enough of an improvement over the existing board for me to make an upgrade. What I heard was very good and was achieved without using an external DC supply, without the EMI/heat isolation case, in a streamer with 3 bridges installed internally powered all at the same time. I expect that by the time the final unit is out, with an optimised install, it will sound even better than what I heard that day.

Jord indicated he will have the cards ready later this year. At the time of my visit, the team was still tinkering with the firmware and the final case material wasn't chosen. Initial batch to be 20-30 units and may be for existing Pink Faun owners only.

Oh and the white, ‘Future Pink Faun efforts’ in the photo above is just a new toilet that they will be fitting into their office shortly. Not part of their audio efforts but just as important, staff happiness! :-D

Kin
 

Goetzfam

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Yes when I listened, that was the one I preferred most. Jord mentioned they will be applying the same super cap tech to the I2S bridge in time but didn’t commit to a date.
By the way, have you had a chance to listen to the Dual Ultra?
 

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