The effects of electronic noise reduction in a system

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,775
1,175
580
Boston, MA
There have been many scattered comments about the effects of electronic noise reduction in a system, and I wanted to do two things: a) share my experience , and b) invite others to do the same about theirs and and/or link to previous posts (e.g. Steve, Marty, et al). Let's leave mechanical noise reduction for another thread.

So I didn't want to start such a thread until I had had a chance to demonstrate it to someone, therefore, this is the right time after having had PeterA in here yesterday, where the only change since his last visit was my all-out assault at hum and RF interference related to the XP-25 (including cables and arm) and Berkeley Alpha DAC. I think what I am about to share comes, more or less, with 100% agreement from him.

My overall approach was broken down into two types of attacks: a) power line noise attenuation; b) electronic component modifications. Specifically:

1) Power line noise attenuation: with the use of Shunyata power cords and the Typhon (that was Peter's last audition here)
2) Electronic component modifications (details at the bottom; this was the purpose of Peter's visit yesterday)

A lot has been written about the former - and there are, I think, undisputed benefits similar to what about I am about to describe - so I am going to concentrate on the latter, and I like to get to the point sooner rather than later, so here are the results of addressing hum and RF interference collectively, that I have observed over the last 6-9 months in my source components (and mind you, I have been working on this since 2013 and have posted bits and pieces here and there before); most should come with no surprise, but the last one may:

1) Very significant increase in resolution and transparency (and everything that goes with it)
2) Very significant increase in truth of trimbre
3) Very significant increase in micro-dynamics (e.g. going from fairly flat sounding strings to getting that all important string "bite", that makes these instruments more life-like)
4) A more illuminated sense of space
5) A major smoothing of the treble (which to Peter resulted in virtually no fatigue, unlike his last visit; here, though, I had also re-adjusted SRA, but obviously the benefit to digital is purely attributed to noise attenuation)
6) Significant reduction in electronic congestion with large-scale material (e.g. organ symphonies, choral)
7) A tremendous gain in dynamic headroom, subjectively and measurably ~3-5dB (i.e. at the same preamp gain level as always); and also a gain in sheer body of instruments. Peter brought his Appasionata 45rpm/RCA-JVC LP (on HP's super-disc list), and this is the first time I heard piano reproduced really well in my system. I subsequently bought a copy (at $230 - ouch! - but that's a HELL of a direct-to-disc recording).

Overall, the net effect is major gains in articulation of the recorded event.

Regarding the last item, yes, it came as a surprise to me too. However, Steve and others have posted that their systems just played louder after electronic noise reduction; in my case, that too (the sheer gain in "body" I mentioned), plus the significant increase in dynamic headroom. I demonstrated this very easily to Peter with both analog and digital. We only had about 3 hours, so next time, I'd like to demonstrate sheer scale with three full symphonies: Mahler's 2nd with the BSO/Ozawa on Philips digital, Berlioz's Symhonie Fantastique (Utah/Kojian) on RR analog, and Berlioz's Requiem on Vanguard LP (Utah/Abravanel).

I will post pictures of the Berkeley mods soon, and regarding the analog chain (and since some folks like to mirror WBF threads onto their sites) here's a link to the mods video I posted before and overall discussion here and here. The mods involved:

1) mu-metal and copper shield virtually all around the XP-25; copper shield on the VPI arm; mu-metal and copper shield on the MIT MA-X phono network box; mu-metal shield around all RCA/XLR connectors; "loading" the unused input of the XP-25 with shielded resistors (using custom RCA plugs to host the resistors) - all shields routed to ground
2) mu-metal wrapping of the XP-25 transformer in the external power supply
3) A dedicated line for the XP-25 with a Shunyata defender next to it
4) An MIT Magnum Z-Trap power filter inline with the XP-25 power cord
5) Lifting the ground on the Berkeley and Spectral amps
6) Star-grounding everywhere else except the phono
7) mu-metal isolation of the Berkeley power supply board from the main board
8) mu-metal and copper-shielding of the Berkeley analog output section

-ack
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
There have been many scattered comments about the effects of electronic noise reduction in a system, and I wanted to do two things: a) share my experience , and b) invite others to do the same about theirs and and/or link to previous posts (e.g. Steve, Marty, et al). Let's leave mechanical noise reduction for another thread.

So I didn't want to start such a thread until I had had a chance to demonstrate it to someone, therefore, this is the right time after having had PeterA in here yesterday, where the only change since his last visit was my all-out assault at hum and RF interference related to the XP-25 (including cables and arm) and Berkeley Alpha DAC. I think what I am about to share comes, more or less, with 100% agreement from him.

My overall approach was broken down into two types of attacks: a) power line noise attenuation; b) electronic component modifications. Specifically:

1) Power line noise attenuation: with the use of Shunyata power cords and the Typhon (that was Peter's last audition here)
2) Electronic component modifications (details at the bottom; this was the purpose of Peter's visit yesterday)

A lot has been written about the former - and there are, I think, undisputed benefits similar to what about I am about to describe - so I am going to concentrate on the latter, and I like to get to the point sooner rather than later, so here are the results of addressing hum and RF interference collectively, that I have observed over the last 6-9 months in my source components (and mind you, I have been working on this since 2013 and have posted bits and pieces here and there before); most should come with no surprise, but the last one may:

1) Very significant increase in resolution and transparency (and everything that goes with it)
2) Very significant increase in truth of trimbre
3) Very significant increase in micro-dynamics (e.g. going from fairly flat sounding strings to getting that all important string "bite", that makes these instruments more life-like)
4) A more illuminated sense of space
5) A major smoothing of the treble (which to Peter resulted in virtually no fatigue, unlike his last visit; here, though, I had also re-adjusted SRA, but obviously the benefit to digital is purely attributed to noise attenuation)
6) Significant reduction in electronic congestion with large-scale material (e.g. organ symphonies, choral)
7) A tremendous gain in dynamic headroom, subjectively and measurably ~3-5dB (i.e. at the same preamp gain level as always); and also a gain in sheer body of instruments. Peter brought his Appasionata 45rpm/RCA-JVC LP (on HP's super-disc list), and this is the first time I heard piano reproduced really well in my system. I subsequently bought a copy (at $230 - ouch! - but that's a HELL of a direct-to-disc recording).

Overall, the net effect is major gains in articulation of the recorded event.

Regarding the last item, yes, it came as a surprise to me too. However, Steve and others have posted that their systems just played louder after electronic noise reduction; in my case, that too (the sheer gain in "body" I mentioned), plus the significant increase in dynamic headroom. I demonstrated this very easily to Peter with both analog and digital. We only had about 3 hours, so next time, I'd like to demonstrate sheer scale with three full symphonies: Mahler's 2nd with the BSO/Ozawa on Philips digital, Berlioz's Symhonie Fantastique (Utah/Kojian) on RR analog, and Berlioz's Requiem on Vanguard LP (Utah/Abravanel).

I will post pictures of the Berkeley mods soon, and regarding the analog chain (and since some folks like to mirror WBF threads onto their sites) here's a link to the mods video I posted before and overall discussion here and here. The mods involved:

1) mu-metal and copper shield virtually all around the XP-25; copper shield on the VPI arm; mu-metal and copper shield on the MIT MA-X phono network box; mu-metal shield around all RCA/XLR connectors; "loading" the unused input of the XP-25 with shielded resistors (using custom RCA plugs to host the resistors) - all shields routed to ground
2) mu-metal wrapping of the XP-25 transformer in the external power supply
3) A dedicated line for the XP-25 with a Shunyata defender next to it
4) An MIT Magnum Z-Trap power filter inline with the XP-25 power cord
5) Lifting the ground on the Berkeley and Spectral amps
6) Star-grounding everywhere else except the phono
7) mu-metal isolation of the Berkeley power supply board from the main board
8) mu-metal and copper-shielding of the Berkeley analog output section

-ack


Very very interesting ack as I have experienced this overall effect of net gain in head room such that with each addition to my system of either a Shunyata Hydra (I have one Triton and 3 Typhons) or most recently a stepwise introduction of 8 Shunyata Sigma PC's into my system has left me with all of the same observations as Peter has found above. So much so that I started the following thread

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showt...er-Cord-Review&p=300345&viewfull=1#post300345

My only thoughts of the why and how are only speculation but like ack I have to surmise that the perceived notion of increased sound has to be as a result of elimination of all noise from my system. Based on this and my complete amazement of the sonic improvement gained in my system with the addition of the Triton/Typhon I have already put my name on the list for the newly announced Triton V2. One thing that I find most interesting in this newer version is the addition of 4 grounding lugs which is designed NOT for components plugged into the Triton but rather for components that aren't plugged into the Triton. This then becomes a form of Star Grounding as these 4 lugs are grounded to the central common ground of the Triton. IOW these 4 components benefit from grounding with those components that are plugged into the Triton

Good job ack as your results are like mine with respect to a perceived increase in dynamic head room

you might hear from some about the potential adverse effect of lifting the ground on your Spectral amps and Berkeley
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,295
1,645
698
Great thread...and i have learned a lot from my own personal experience over the last 18 months on various kinds of tweaks that apparently help remove grunge (apparently distortion)...mechanical, grounding, emi/rfi, etc. And i also have learned a lot from this Forum and the many people who have shared their own experiences.

Pertaining to this thread, i use nearly 2 dozen Entreq Wraps designed to help reduce emi/rfi/grunge...dont know if they actually do...but i DO know i like the system better with them wrapped around several RCA, i2s and power cables. Choral music words are literally more understandable...a nice test since without the Wraps, i go back to understanding fewer words. I also use Entreq Wraps around the various internal cables of the X1s...i am told someone also uses them on his Focal Grand Utopia EMs.

All in all, when i hear a few instruments in a band suddenly bang out a passage after a quiet section of music, there is a clarity in the room with "only" those instruments suddenly filling the room for those few bars that i have not experienced before...that sudden dynamic blast clarity came (for me) only after a long period of working to reduce distortion. I think distortion 'drags' on the systems ability to really respond to these kinds of transients...or something...

...really a lot of fun given that this kind of work takes time, but not nearly as much money as component upgrades. And the differences can be significant or certainly very rewarding.
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,880
907
600
Manila, Philippines
My combo is a bit oddball. Wall>Shunyata Hydra (Baby Cyclops now sadly discontinued) for noise>Nordost QB8 for grounding.

Too chicken to do equipment mods.
 

astrotoy

VIP/Donor
May 25, 2010
1,386
779
535
SF Bay Area
I took the pro studio route, hiring Art Kelm to analyze my power and install his Ground One system, which he mainly does for recording studios. Knocked the noise level of my system to inaudible. My consultant Tim Marutani has been experimenting with battery supplied power - completely off the grid, to good effect.

Larry
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,455
19
405
I took the pro studio route, hiring Art Kelm to analyze my power and install his Ground One system, which he mainly does for recording studios. Knocked the noise level of my system to inaudible. My consultant Tim Marutani has been experimenting with battery supplied power - completely off the grid, to good effect.

Larry

Art did write a few posts for the WBF and sadly went silent. I am very partial to going off-grid . Battery + Double conversion UPS. In my mind results are well worth the (minimal) effort. it is to me very starnge that more audiophiles have not taken this route.
 

jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
3,374
41
383
Ireland
I have always used battery supply as when I first experienced the effect of this route I was amazed at the realism it brought.
But, IMO, it's not about noise that we can actually hear - it's about inaudible noise that has a detrimental affect on our auditory perception, in some way.
Interestingly, I believe the most damaging noise is very low frequency noise & this also tends to be the most difficult to tackle.
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,878
235
500
Monument, CO
A clean off-grid system is no small feat and can be very expensive even for just 5-10 kW. Of course, on WBF the average audiophile investment appears to be far above the level of the general population of audiophiles (I am in the latter group, natch).

Batteries are not a complete panacea as their internal impedance can be rather high. And of course they have lifetime and disposal issues.
 

jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
3,374
41
383
Ireland
A clean off-grid system is no small feat and can be very expensive even for just 5-10 kW. Of course, on WBF the average audiophile investment appears to be far above the level of the general population of audiophiles (I am in the latter group, natch).

Batteries are not a complete panacea as their internal impedance can be rather high. And of course they have lifetime and disposal issues.
Not with A123 LiFePO4 batteries - down around 8mOhm.
With care, battery life should be about the same as electrolytic capacitors.
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,878
235
500
Monument, CO
Guess I don't know how much power we are talking about. It would take a lot of A123's to power a stereo system (let alone a house).

As for battery life, that depends heavily upon the type (chemistry) and how they are cycled (discharged/recharged) as well as operating temperature and so forth. I have yet to see a battery last me ten years; many electrolytic caps have lasted that long or longer.

However, this is not my field of expertise by any means, so I shall bow out.
 

jkeny

Industry Expert, Member Sponsor
Feb 10, 2012
3,374
41
383
Ireland
Guess I don't know how much power we are talking about.
Yea, voltage & current requirements are crucial but 120Amps instantaneous power is what they will put out. I've used 4 in series to start my car
It would take a lot of A123's to power a stereo system (let alone a house).
IMO, it's important to pick the critical areas where noise is most detrimental & apply them in these locations. I certainly wouldn't think a whole house off-grid is beneficial

As for battery life, that depends heavily upon the type (chemistry) and how they are cycled (discharged/recharged) as well as operating temperature and so forth. I have yet to see a battery last me ten years; many electrolytic caps have lasted that long or longer.

However, this is not my field of expertise by any means, so I shall bow out.
True but some of these newer battery technologies have far greater cycle counts than older battery technology - remember a lot of these were developed for electric powered vehicles so long life/increased cycle counts are important
 

microstrip

VIP/Donor
May 30, 2010
19,278
3,435
850
Portugal
I took the pro studio route, hiring Art Kelm to analyze my power and install his Ground One system, which he mainly does for recording studios. Knocked the noise level of my system to inaudible. (...)

Larry

Wise move. I have been considering his advice of using bentonite for ground rods, but recently found this article on marconite earthing products. http://www.cablejoints.co.uk/sub-product-details/cable-socks/bentonite-marconite-earthing-compounds. Unfortunately I have not been able to get it yet in my country.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,775
1,175
580
Boston, MA
Is this the Art Kelm you are talking about? http://www.ground1.com/about.htm Why bentonite over copper? Read about it, seems interesting, but why...

Meantime, here are the Berkeley shielding mods; the one around the output section needs to be set carefully as to not short things (there is very little wiggle room), and must be connected to chassis to be effective; not shown is the bottom plate, which looks similar to the top; notice how the copper strip around the output section (with the adhesive side still covered) is carefully bent on the bottom in order for the adhesive there to stick to the board, and that it very slightly extends above the top of the unit so that when the top plate is placed back on, the copper strip is slightly deformed.

No rocket science here, just simple good stuff...

alpha-mod-1-annotated.JPG
alpha-mod-2.jpg
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,880
907
600
Manila, Philippines
My Lamm LP2 and LP2.1 come with copper cages. Interesting.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,295
1,645
698
My Lamm LP2 and LP2.1 come with copper cages. Interesting.

Agree, very interesting...here is a shot of the inside of a Zanden 5000S DAC...key elements do have some kind of white shielding around them including the capacitor or something and the tube. Not sure if its comparable, as i dont think its grounding (like a copper cage?). i think it is similar to ERS Stillpoints paper or something...this white 'paper' is quite thick, stiff and laminated somehow...its trademarked 'Pulshut' from Japan...they said it can provide comparable shielding to a pretty thick amount of aluminum or something...

Zanden_5000open.jpg
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,878
235
500
Monument, CO
From the trademark registration for Pulshut:

Electromagnetic shields for use to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Sheets of non-woven fabric for use as electromagnetic shields to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Sheets and films of plastic, resin and/or elastomer for use as electromagnetic shields to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Electronic components, namely, transistors, diodes, thermistors, hall elements, magnetoresistive elements; Chips; Integrated circuits; Large-scale integrated circuits

HTH - Don
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
13,295
1,645
698
From the trademark registration for Pulshut:

Electromagnetic shields for use to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Sheets of non-woven fabric for use as electromagnetic shields to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Sheets and films of plastic, resin and/or elastomer for use as electromagnetic shields to prevent or diminish electromagnetic interference in electric apparatus; Electronic components, namely, transistors, diodes, thermistors, hall elements, magnetoresistive elements; Chips; Integrated circuits; Large-scale integrated circuits

HTH - Don

Wow! Thanks, Don!
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,878
235
500
Monument, CO
NP. I am surprised more don't use mu-metal sheets, alone or attached to copper, to dampen magnetic as well as electrical fields and provide additional HF shielding.
 
I have sought various cures for the crap on our ac lines. I think I have had 20 plus unit ranging from isolation transformers to various exotic solutions such a magnetics and the effects of bead of difference sorts. At this point I rely on the High Fidelity Cables Waveguide power center as well as their Ultimate Reference Rhodium power cords. This has greatly reduced the noise level and brought out more detail to the music. My other focus originating with the which was intended to reduce humm, had little effect, but this was shortly followed by the Tripoint Troy with its Silver grounding cables. This unit with all components grounded to a single star grounding did marvels to the realism of the music. Later I sought to get this with a simple polished copper grounding bar, but this did very little. Something else was going on in the Troy.

Much later, I bought the new Troy Signature which proved far superior to the Troy. It gave more sense of the sound stage and presence of the musicians and singers. I have had it for the last three year. Along recently came the shielded Thor SE cables. On installed three, I was in utter shock with the improvement in the sound. What I thought was utter realism prove to be well short of what was realism with these new outstanding grounding wires. I thirst for yet more of these Thor SEs as each represents a great improvement. Now I have learned that grounding to the chassis on components can be greatly improved with proper use of a binding post connecting to the circuit board. This is, of course, where the Entreqs are where they seek to have their influence. I have heard the impact of one Entreq unit attached to the preamp and know that the effect of the Troy Signature and the use of their Thor SE is about five times as great. Personallly, I have yet to put ground binding posts of my amps or sources but that is coming.

I have previously experienced the substantial benefits of vibration isolation on my speakers and other components and of better power cords. Now grounding to reduce noise introduced by airborne waves, power line corruption, and noisy components is the quest. Call all of this tweaks if you wish, but these are as important as a substantial step up in amps or preamps, etc.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
18,482
8,358
1,515
London
The lowest noise I have heard is in a Datasat RS20i with Dirac system. The room correction cleaned up everything. He had a Shunyata Hydra, but said he didn't notice much difference on it. He downgraded his cables as well, and had no isolation. Biggest soundstage, details, and lowest noise floor with a 13.4 Datasat RS20i system
 

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing