On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,572
3
38
#61
MadFloyd,

That is great news!!! I am really happy for you...you have worked incredibly hard on your prior two setups...if not even further back than that. It is nice to see when a well conceived design just works so well. I can imagine that further removal of distortion as you have described it has been a great thing in a system that is already probably exceptional in this regard already given your attention to detail.

As for explosive dynamics, i would guess two things for the moment. One, wait...you are still experiencing improvements. Two, speakers that are effortless and lack distortion sometimes lack what APPEARS to be explosive...until perhaps (at least in my case) one realizes the extra bit of 'explosion' in certain notes might actually have been a teeny bit of distortion attached to the end of a few extreme notes...and when the speaker does not distort that infinitely small bit, it seems to 'lack' explosiveness. But GO BACK to the other speakers, and you might just find that in truth, all the 'real explosion' is there, and the distorted bit is gone.

Hey, just a random guess based on my own personal experience where i thought i knew the difference between explosive and a touch of added distortion, and it turned out the improvements brought what at first appeared to be a 'calmer' explosion/transient...but in fact going back made me realize the older setup just had a bit of distortion. This is on my same exact system...no changes other than adding vibration control, damping, or rfi/emi shielding.

In all, a great report and hope you continue to enjoy every day...congrats. a Big congrats.
 
Last edited:

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,397
6
38
Mass
#62
Thanks so much, guys!
 

Mark Jones

[Industry Expert]/Member Sponsor
Jul 9, 2014
57
0
0
#63
MadFloyd,

That is great news!!! I am really happy for you...you have worked incredibly hard on your prior two setups...if not even further back than that. It is nice to see when a well conceived design just works so well. I can imagine that further removal of distortion as you have described it has been a great thing in a system that is already probably exceptional in this regard already given your attention to detail.

As for explosive dynamics, i would guess two things for the moment. One, wait...you are still experiencing improvements. Two, speakers that are effortless and lack distortion sometimes lack what APPEARS to be explosive...until perhaps (at least in my case) one realizes the extra bit of 'explosion' in certain notes might actually have been a teeny bit of distortion attached to the end of a few extreme notes...and when the speaker does not distort that infinitely small bit, it seems to 'lack' explosiveness. But GO BACK to the other speakers, and you might just find that in truth, all the 'real explosion' is there, and the distorted bit is gone.

Hey, just a random guess based on my own personal experience where i thought i knew the difference between explosive and a touch of added distortion, and it turned out the improvements brought what at first appeared to be a 'calmer' explosion/transient...but in fact going back made me realize the older setup just had a bit of distortion. This is on my same exact system...no changes other than adding vibration control, damping, or rfi/emi shielding.

In all, a great report and hope you continue to enjoy every day...congrats. a Big congrats.
I have always liked to use the word calm to describe Magico. A function of a lack of distortion. So... Yes I agree with what you are saying big time.

But, I would just like to add that efficiency is obviously very important when contributing to Explosive dynamics.

I believe everything audio is a compromise of some sort. Having the right system is about choosing the right compromise, Luckily Ian's Big M's probably don't compromise much!
 
Last edited:
Jan 31, 2014
391
3
18
Italy
#64
I have always liked to use the word calm to describe Magico. A function of a lack of distortion. So... Yes I agree with what you are saying big time.

But, I would just like to add that that efficiency is obviously very important when contributing to Explosive dynamics.

I believe everything audio is a compromise of some sort. Having the right system is about choosing the right compromise, Luckily Ian's Big M's probably don't compromise much!
The concept of “explosive” dynamics is problematic in audio reproduction. No stereo system, or recording of any kind, can capture the dynamic swigs of let’s say a kick drum (>130db).
The illusion of greater dynamics in loudspeakers usually comes from efficiency manipulation of the bass. By “tricking” our psychoacoustics to hear/feel more bass we destroy the clarity of the mids/high. Look at our hearing equal-loudness contour (Fletcher-Munson curves), and understand that as we push the bass efficiency, we “ruin” our loudness contour. Our ability to hear/perceive highs is compromise. It is all very evident in any ported loudspeakers. Impressive at the beginning, but so tiring after a while….
 

Mark Jones

[Industry Expert]/Member Sponsor
Jul 9, 2014
57
0
0
#65
Agreed, the biggest difference between live music and reproduced is not frequency response, warm or analytical, detail or distortion. It's dynamics, and will probably always be.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,942
35
48
North Shore of Boston
#66
I heard Ian's system again today after his electrician installed two 20 amp circuits, bypassing the two undersized Equi=tech transformers. What a difference this has made. The system, anchored by the incredible Magico M Project speakers and Pass electronics, sounds unbelievable now.

I hope Ian creates a system thread to discuss the specifics of his tremendous system.
 
Jan 31, 2014
391
3
18
Italy
#67
I heard Ian's system again today after his electrician installed two 20 amp circuits, bypassing the two undersized Equi=tech transformers. What a difference this has made. The system, anchored by the incredible Magico M Project speakers and Pass electronics, sounds unbelievable now.

I hope Ian creates a system thread to discuss the specifics of his tremendous system.
I have to say, this is one weird ordeal. Everyone but Ian is raving about the system (I just read another raving report on a different site). Maybe these speakers are simply not for him... BTW, just saw these super photos: http://www.audionet.com.tw/a/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=7177
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,397
6
38
Mass
#68
I have to say, this is one weird ordeal. Everyone but Ian is raving about the system (I just read another raving report on a different site). Maybe these speakers are simply not for him... BTW, just saw these super photos: http://www.audionet.com.tw/a/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=7177
If I don't rave I don't like them? For the record: I like them. :)

I was having a tonal balance issue due to my amps being somewhat starved electrically (there was a thread about it) but that has been resolved.

Thanks for the link - I love this room:
164250triirxb2dcjd0cpr.jpg
 

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,077
0
36
Silicon Valley
#69
Those speakers are really out in the room. I should move mine a foot more out to hear what that does.

Does anyone know where I can those 4-sided pyramids in the middle on the wall, or something similar. Now I have a piece of Auralex Acoustic Pyramid foam on the wall, but I suspect I need something like in this picture.
 

MadFloyd

Member Sponsor
May 31, 2010
2,397
6
38
Mass
#70
Those speakers are really out in the room. I should move mine a foot more out to hear what that does.

Does anyone know where I can those 4-sided pyramids in the middle on the wall, or something similar. Now I have a piece of Auralex Acoustic Pyramid foam on the wall, but I suspect I need something like in this picture.
I always thought yours were too close to the front wall.
 

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,077
0
36
Silicon Valley
#71
Yes, I can't come too far out without getting in the way of traffic, but maybe a foot or so more is doable.
 

Frank750

VIP/Donor
Jul 9, 2011
817
0
16
Chicago, IL
#72
Those speakers are really out in the room. I should move mine a foot more out to hear what that does.

Does anyone know where I can those 4-sided pyramids in the middle on the wall, or something similar. Now I have a piece of Auralex Acoustic Pyramid foam on the wall, but I suspect I need something like in this picture.
Why don't you try a few Stillpoints Apertures? They're fairly effective and aren't all that expensive in the grand scheme of things.
 

BlueFox

Member Sponsor
Nov 8, 2013
1,077
0
36
Silicon Valley
#73
Thanks. I will look into them. I just read a thread on AA about them.
 
#74
This past weekend I visited with Ian to listen to his system. The trip coincided with a little wine tasting party he had thrown for some of his local wino-phile friends, so I would like to say thanks for the great wine, and the coffee to combat the headache the next morning.

He had his new two channel Merging NADAC in the system. On a recently historical note, the previous time I had been to his house, he had his Playback Designs DAC in the system as well as his current analog rig. During that trip, I mainly only listened to analog, as the few times we had switched to digital I was disappointed compared to the amazing sound of his analog rig. I've always enjoyed the Playback Designs DAC compared to other DACs in his system, even if it sounded a little thick in the low end. It just did not stand up in comparison to his current analog rig. At that time, I felt I finally heard what a great analog system sounded like, and it was the only time I remember being disappointed by digital in direct comparison to analog.

This time, I thought the analog sounded really good, but was ultimately disappointed with the analog in comparison to the overall performance of the new digital rig. His digital chain currently consists of a reasonably high power computer that is upsampling all of his digital files to quad DSD via software filters in HQ Player. The computer ties into the DAC via his local Ethernet network.

When I first arrived, I was surprised by how detailed and dynamic and squeaky clean the new rig sounded. I felt the sound was more akin to how I imagine a mastering rig in a studio would perform. The sound was immediate with a lot of presence, but also very smooth as well - no glare or other artifacts, and very tight bass. However, the overall frequency response sounded slightly thin in the low bass and had me thinking we might consider bringing the subs back into the room. Then the party began and continued quite late, so no critical listening was done until the next morning.

After three ibuprofen tossed back with three cups of coffee for good measure, I wanted to run some experiments to see how the DAC was performing. First, I wanted to hear how the DAC sounded at native PCM rates without upsampling to DSD. Here we learned that the DAC is clearly designed for DSD. The native PCM rates resulted in a collapsed sound stage with a loss of dynamics. In fact, if I had only heard this DAC played at native PCM rates, I would think it is a rather poor DAC.

I also wanted to hear some native DSD files without upsampling, to see if the great sound from the DAC was only due to the upsampling filters of HQ Player. The native quad DSD files we listened to sounded great to me, which led me to believe that the DAC really should be considered a DSD only DAC.

Ian had mentioned that when we were upsampling to DSD, we were listening to a filter that was designed to highlight transients and cleanliness. He said there was another filter that supposedly offered a more immersive sound stage, with possibly somewhat reduced transients. I wanted to hear it, so he changed the setting in HQ Player.

This, for me, was musical bliss. Beautiful, smooth, enveloping sound with warmth and yet plenty of detail to keep me happy. I no longer felt any compunction to have the subs put back in the system. I was flabbergasted at how good the system sounded. The analog setup sounded smaller and rather dry in comparison. The digital actually had more liquidity and smoothness than the analog, and the bass of the digital rig was far superior.

So maybe I got lucky in a confluence of gear and software and system setup and the fact that Ian had chosen to tell me about that particular upsampling filter, but the result pushed all of my musical buttons. It is clear that the new DAC, when fed DSD, is extremely transparent and capable of rendering what is fed to it with the least amount of artifacts I've ever heard in a digital system. I guess I shouldn't assign this attribute only to the DAC, as the entire system had to be capable of such transparency in order for differences to be transferred through to the speakers from the source, but I was amazed at just how good standard 44.1 kHz files ripped from compact discs sounded. The great thing about having such a transparent DAC with a really good software player is that one can have their cake (sweet musical bliss) with one filter, and then have their teeth cleaned (ultra clean with transients) with another filter, all based on preference of the moment.

If I could afford it, I would buy the eight channel version of the NADAC without any reservation, as I already feed my system with a computer server, and the eight channels would still allow me to implement my crossovers via digital filters. Of course, I don't know if my network could handle four to six channels of quad DSD feeding the DAC. In any event, I was extremely impressed with the performance of his new source.
 
Sep 30, 2015
3,131
0
0
#75
This past weekend I visited with Ian to listen to his system. The trip coincided with a little wine tasting party he had thrown for some of his local wino-phile friends, so I would like to say thanks for the great wine, and the coffee to combat the headache the next morning.

He had his new two channel Merging NADAC in the system. On a recently historical note, the previous time I had been to his house, he had his Playback Designs DAC in the system as well as his current analog rig. During that trip, I mainly only listened to analog, as the few times we had switched to digital I was disappointed compared to the amazing sound of his analog rig. I've always enjoyed the Playback Designs DAC compared to other DACs in his system, even if it sounded a little thick in the low end. It just did not stand up in comparison to his current analog rig. At that time, I felt I finally heard what a great analog system sounded like, and it was the only time I remember being disappointed by digital in direct comparison to analog.

This time, I thought the analog sounded really good, but was ultimately disappointed with the analog in comparison to the overall performance of the new digital rig. His digital chain currently consists of a reasonably high power computer that is upsampling all of his digital files to quad DSD via software filters in HQ Player. The computer ties into the DAC via his local Ethernet network.

When I first arrived, I was surprised by how detailed and dynamic and squeaky clean the new rig sounded. I felt the sound was more akin to how I imagine a mastering rig in a studio would perform. The sound was immediate with a lot of presence, but also very smooth as well - no glare or other artifacts, and very tight bass. However, the overall frequency response sounded slightly thin in the low bass and had me thinking we might consider bringing the subs back into the room. Then the party began and continued quite late, so no critical listening was done until the next morning.

After three ibuprofen tossed back with three cups of coffee for good measure, I wanted to run some experiments to see how the DAC was performing. First, I wanted to hear how the DAC sounded at native PCM rates without upsampling to DSD. Here we learned that the DAC is clearly designed for DSD. The native PCM rates resulted in a collapsed sound stage with a loss of dynamics. In fact, if I had only heard this DAC played at native PCM rates, I would think it is a rather poor DAC.

I also wanted to hear some native DSD files without upsampling, to see if the great sound from the DAC was only due to the upsampling filters of HQ Player. The native quad DSD files we listened to sounded great to me, which led me to believe that the DAC really should be considered a DSD only DAC.

Ian had mentioned that when we were upsampling to DSD, we were listening to a filter that was designed to highlight transients and cleanliness. He said there was another filter that supposedly offered a more immersive sound stage, with possibly somewhat reduced transients. I wanted to hear it, so he changed the setting in HQ Player.

This, for me, was musical bliss. Beautiful, smooth, enveloping sound with warmth and yet plenty of detail to keep me happy. I no longer felt any compunction to have the subs put back in the system. I was flabbergasted at how good the system sounded. The analog setup sounded smaller and rather dry in comparison. The digital actually had more liquidity and smoothness than the analog, and the bass of the digital rig was far superior.

So maybe I got lucky in a confluence of gear and software and system setup and the fact that Ian had chosen to tell me about that particular upsampling filter, but the result pushed all of my musical buttons. It is clear that the new DAC, when fed DSD, is extremely transparent and capable of rendering what is fed to it with the least amount of artifacts I've ever heard in a digital system. I guess I shouldn't assign this attribute only to the DAC, as the entire system had to be capable of such transparency in order for differences to be transferred through to the speakers from the source, but I was amazed at just how good standard 44.1 kHz files ripped from compact discs sounded. The great thing about having such a transparent DAC with a really good software player is that one can have their cake (sweet musical bliss) with one filter, and then have their teeth cleaned (ultra clean with transients) with another filter, all based on preference of the moment.

If I could afford it, I would buy the eight channel version of the NADAC without any reservation, as I already feed my system with a computer server, and the eight channels would still allow me to implement my crossovers via digital filters. Of course, I don't know if my network could handle four to six channels of quad DSD feeding the DAC. In any event, I was extremely impressed with the performance of his new source.

This is incredible that this DAC combined with HQplayer is capable of sound like this compared to his uber high end analog rig! Do you know which filter it was in HQplayer that you preferred? The beauty of HQplayer is you can tailor the exact sound you want based on your personal tastes. Also, which file formats did you try out? I know it's most impressive with redbook as the SDM/SRC built into DAC chips is mediocre compared to HQplayer.

As an alternative, the Merging Hapi is 8 channel and the exact same DAC board inside the case. Only $4200 as well. I sent Ian all the info on that so you should consider it if you like the NADAC sound, but don't want to spend the money just to have built in XLR jacks rather than having to use a DB-25 to XLR adapter cable.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#76
This past weekend I visited with Ian to listen to his system. The trip coincided with a little wine tasting party he had thrown for some of his local wino-phile friends, so I would like to say thanks for the great wine, and the coffee to combat the headache the next morning.

He had his new two channel Merging NADAC in the system. On a recently historical note, the previous time I had been to his house, he had his Playback Designs DAC in the system as well as his current analog rig. During that trip, I mainly only listened to analog, as the few times we had switched to digital I was disappointed compared to the amazing sound of his analog rig. I've always enjoyed the Playback Designs DAC compared to other DACs in his system, even if it sounded a little thick in the low end. It just did not stand up in comparison to his current analog rig. At that time, I felt I finally heard what a great analog system sounded like, and it was the only time I remember being disappointed by digital in direct comparison to analog.

This time, I thought the analog sounded really good, but was ultimately disappointed with the analog in comparison to the overall performance of the new digital rig. His digital chain currently consists of a reasonably high power computer that is upsampling all of his digital files to quad DSD via software filters in HQ Player. The computer ties into the DAC via his local Ethernet network.

When I first arrived, I was surprised by how detailed and dynamic and squeaky clean the new rig sounded. I felt the sound was more akin to how I imagine a mastering rig in a studio would perform. The sound was immediate with a lot of presence, but also very smooth as well - no glare or other artifacts, and very tight bass. However, the overall frequency response sounded slightly thin in the low bass and had me thinking we might consider bringing the subs back into the room. Then the party began and continued quite late, so no critical listening was done until the next morning.

After three ibuprofen tossed back with three cups of coffee for good measure, I wanted to run some experiments to see how the DAC was performing. First, I wanted to hear how the DAC sounded at native PCM rates without upsampling to DSD. Here we learned that the DAC is clearly designed for DSD. The native PCM rates resulted in a collapsed sound stage with a loss of dynamics. In fact, if I had only heard this DAC played at native PCM rates, I would think it is a rather poor DAC.

I also wanted to hear some native DSD files without upsampling, to see if the great sound from the DAC was only due to the upsampling filters of HQ Player. The native quad DSD files we listened to sounded great to me, which led me to believe that the DAC really should be considered a DSD only DAC.

Ian had mentioned that when we were upsampling to DSD, we were listening to a filter that was designed to highlight transients and cleanliness. He said there was another filter that supposedly offered a more immersive sound stage, with possibly somewhat reduced transients. I wanted to hear it, so he changed the setting in HQ Player.

This, for me, was musical bliss. Beautiful, smooth, enveloping sound with warmth and yet plenty of detail to keep me happy. I no longer felt any compunction to have the subs put back in the system. I was flabbergasted at how good the system sounded. The analog setup sounded smaller and rather dry in comparison. The digital actually had more liquidity and smoothness than the analog, and the bass of the digital rig was far superior.

So maybe I got lucky in a confluence of gear and software and system setup and the fact that Ian had chosen to tell me about that particular upsampling filter, but the result pushed all of my musical buttons. It is clear that the new DAC, when fed DSD, is extremely transparent and capable of rendering what is fed to it with the least amount of artifacts I've ever heard in a digital system. I guess I shouldn't assign this attribute only to the DAC, as the entire system had to be capable of such transparency in order for differences to be transferred through to the speakers from the source, but I was amazed at just how good standard 44.1 kHz files ripped from compact discs sounded. The great thing about having such a transparent DAC with a really good software player is that one can have their cake (sweet musical bliss) with one filter, and then have their teeth cleaned (ultra clean with transients) with another filter, all based on preference of the moment.

If I could afford it, I would buy the eight channel version of the NADAC without any reservation, as I already feed my system with a computer server, and the eight channels would still allow me to implement my crossovers via digital filters. Of course, I don't know if my network could handle four to six channels of quad DSD feeding the DAC. In any event, I was extremely impressed with the performance of his new source.
bolded... One of the most important aspects of digital and one many DACs just get wrong imo. Sounds amazing, seems like a clear upgrade path from my Sony HAP-Z1ES. Going to wait for DACs with the next ESS chip though, if I can wait a year and get similar performance for much less $ that would be great.
 
Sep 30, 2015
3,131
0
0
#77
bolded... One of the most important aspects of digital and one many DACs just get wrong imo. Sounds amazing, seems like a clear upgrade path from my Sony HAP-Z1ES. Going to wait for DACs with the next ESS chip though, if I can wait a year and get similar performance for much less $ that would be great.
Just keep in mind that much of the improvement with the new Sabre chip is in the SDM/SRC department. By using HQplayer in conjunction with this DAC, the SDM/SRC section of the chip is bypassed anyways. Without HQplayer, this impression wouldn't of been the same.
 

Harlequin

New Member
Jul 30, 2013
741
0
0
N/A
#78
bolded... One of the most important aspects of digital and one many DACs just get wrong imo. Sounds amazing, seems like a clear upgrade path from my Sony HAP-Z1ES. Going to wait for DACs with the next ESS chip though, if I can wait a year and get similar performance for much less $ that would be great.
Pretty much sums my own recent considerations with regard to a prospective change to my digital front end that I had planned for this coming year, the recent pace of the development, in both hardware and software, should hopefully see ever more capable equipment, at real world RRP's, coming to the market.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,216
9
38
#79
Just keep in mind that much of the improvement with the new Sabre chip is in the SDM/SRC department. By using HQplayer in conjunction with this DAC, the SDM/SRC section of the chip is bypassed anyways. Without HQplayer, this impression wouldn't of been the same.
So we can get the same performance with the new chip without using the server > streamer setup? I guess the computer still needs to be capable of DSD upsampling though...
 
Sep 30, 2015
3,131
0
0
#80
So we can get the same performance with the new chip without using the server > streamer setup? I guess the computer still needs to be capable of DSD upsampling though...

I'm not saying the same performance, but I can assure you the impressions wouldn't had been the same without HQplayer. He was most impressed with the redbook performance after hqplayer resampling to DSD. Read his comments on PCM performance without the resampling. The 9038pro will be much better without any pre-chip SDM/SRC preformed. It also has better performance in other areas. Especially when used with the LDO. But lots of these upgrades are made specifically to lower the cost of getting top quality sound. You need to look at the market for these chips. Less than 2% goes to uber high end DAC manufacturers. The other 98% goes to mid grade DAC's. So priority was to optimize the performance for the main products that they are used in. So think of DAC's like the Oppo's or home theatre receivers etc, having performance that exceeds what used to cost several times more to even get into the ball park.

Yes if a $500 server is a deal breaker, then going the HQplayer route isn't for you.
 

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