What is your digital source?
41 responses Add your response
I have a monarchy nm24 as well, no edginess when using it with my powered monitors or my devores. I use a computer source. I am sure you know that the monarchy DAC's tube outputs are the lower connectors - the SS output is much "crisper" than the tube output.
You have your answer, your analog doesn't have this problem, the DAC is your problem. You can either tweak, mod or get a new DAC. At $1k it may be impossible to get both resolution and smoothness, I think you have to go to a higher price point to get both. If you are handy with a soldering iron, or hire a tech you could mod your DAC to smooth out the edginess. Some tweaks, those mentioned above could also be all you need.
Steakster and Bob are absolutely correct, clean power and a good power cord can make all the difference. Clean power and a nice power cord can make less than state of the art digital reach far above it's station. I would also investigate having the Monarchy modded, some nice capacitors, resistors and op amps go a long way, and much less expensive than a new DAC. Go with the power conditoner and cord first, I bet you'll be surprised.
I also use an 845 amp, using an 845 amp with those speakers should give you first rate sonics. Your preamp will also benefit from power conditioning. And then there are dedicated AC and isolation to think about, I know, it never ends!
I've not known the Monarchy to be edgy in it's digital presentation. I had the M-24 which was only tube output stage that I used with a Northstar transport. In this price range a transport can make a difference. CC Poon at Monarchy sometimes recommends a jitter device between the transport and DAC, like his Monarchy DIP or a Genesis Digital Lens. Maybe that's worth a try, they're pretty cheap used. Otherwise maybe speaker positioning.
What's your room like. Room treatments could help if you're not using any. The people who suggested power conditioning may be on to something as well. RFI/EMI can add that edginess to the sound you are describing.
Jim Austin of Stereophile wrote in Oct 2007......
'My next Marantz player, which I still own and enjoy, was an SA-15S1. It's a beautiful thing, silver with a blue glow, and very well put together. It sounds very goodsmooth and lovelyand not once has it failed to read a disc. Yet its display window is very reflective, which makes the display hard to read except in low light, and it has the same kind of flimsy plastic drawer found in all but desktop computers and all but a very few expensive players. These two things together suggest a certain slickness; my SA-15S1 is a very substantial player, but for me, the designer's ratio of prettiness to utility is a little high. Still, it remains my current standard.'
Is it a expensive ($1600?) garbage cd player?
IMHO Sony/pioneer make some awesomely cheap superb sounding cd players that are as expensive as a donut.
I can start with saying I understand what you are talking about.
Yes some speakers depending on design can help... Its all about balance, not just bringing your mid's or tweets down, but also having a good output across the whole spectrum, increased bass speed and resolution can result in a better integration via tipped up digital harsher recordings just as much as trying to turn down the tweets etc...
And also yes Zu's if newer versions with the mundorf Silver oil caps on them (not sure if they are offering that anymore) can in fact help spread out and eliminate some of the "Beaming" associated with cheaper caps and drivers emphasising digital hash and distortion.
Beyond that you do have a good DAC, so not wanting to go out and spend more to take a chance being even further disappointed, Power cable, and interconnects can in fact help smooth out the tone and frequency response with that piece.. It will all depend on the component matching and synergy as to how effective some cables can be.
A few years ago I found a cdp that allowed me to enjoy my cds thoroughly; a Resolution Audio CD-50. This player is way outdated by today's standards but it is smoother and more relaxing than any player I've heard.
After owning the CD-50 for a year I sold off my vinyl. Ok, so that was probably a mistake but I had stopped listening to lps altogether.
Somewhere near the beginning of this thread a non-oversampling cdp or dac was suggested; it's worth investigating.
I mention this since others suggested a NOS DAC to address the "digital edge."
Toufu is using a Monarchy NM24 DAC. This DAC -is- a non-oversampling(NOS) tube DAC. This DAC uses Burr Brown PCM1704 chips which are 24bit, but do not over- or up- sample the source signal. (As previously stated, I use a NM24)
One idea, Toufu, you might want to try is different tubes to mellow out the sound. On another note have you tried any other speakers with your DAC/amp system?
As always a systems sound is about synergy between the components. Seems like something needs to get swapped out. maybe your first idea of a different speakers may provide a more preferred result?
BTW: Is your amp the Art Audio 845 SET? That's quite a piece!
Digital will alwas sound digital to some extent. vandersteens mentioned above are very smooth and netural even laid back speakers and do help alot, I have had several and they are my favorite brand for the price. Something brigher will sound more digital. So yes speakers can help, but as stated above I think other things cause it as well like the source and wires. What are you running for a amp and pre amp? I found when I went to tube amps and pre amp it smoothed everything out. I also run a cary 303 cd player that has a tube stage, you can turn it off swap out the tubes, upsample so I have alot of choices how the sound comes out. Generaly I don't like Cary but this they did a good job on.
I think the short answer to this question is, Yes good speakers can take the edge off digital. AND, no, good speakers can't take the edge off digital.
Trelja, is making the right point. If we have to use a filter to eliminate 'digital problems', then we have a digital problem. And as he says a speaker which is 'forgiving enough' to do this, is obviously acting as that filter.
This is, of course, the age old question, dispute. What is neutral? THIEL has taken the rap of being stark sounding, rising high end, etc, for years. No speakers measure flat, but they are reasonably so. How many manufacturers have the guts to use a 'step signal' as a measure of their designs, then print it in their literature? I know that I certainly didn't at LSA. Most speakers butcher the output so much that a true 'step' is not recognizable.
That being said, I think that the missing element of the loudspeaker as a music reproducer which 'doesn't sound harsh', depends at least to some large degree, on MIDRANGE dynamism, which can literally, if dynamic enough, 'mask' the grain we define as 'edge' in digital. This may explain in a very, very small way, why some people will have nothing but Horn speakers in their systems.
Typical measurements of loudspeakers, one in which a static volume, say 85db input signal ranging from 20Hz to 25Khz can be meaningless if in 'dynamic' situations, (read real music) the result is that the midrange doesn't come to life, or compresses important parts of the musical spectrum. And, since we hear the mid range better than any other spectrum, we are very sensitive to any anomolies thoughout the midrange, which is why some people can pick up colorations in voice and the middle range of a piano.
Quad's not known for their dynamic range as compared to dynamic speakers, don't sound 'digitalized' in the negative sense, at least, not to me, and never have. Even back in the late '80's when CD's were a (still are I suspect) work in progress. Which is to say, they didn't exascerbate the 'problem' we identify as 'edge, which accompanies digital.
I own the active version of the Quad 11L. The speaker does many things very well, but there is a definite hot spot in the tweeter output. A hump from 5kHz to 10kHz gives many recordings an edginess that I can't tolerate- particularly with compressed, forward vocals (Lucinda Williams album "West" is a good example).
One thing that really did help, and was measurable improvement, was wool tweeter surround to reduce baffle diffraction.
Next week I'll be in a city where I can listen to more monitors and I am hoping to find the right speaker (maybe Dynaudio) even if I have to move away from active design.
I agree with Tholt.I have the first oppo 970.Before spending a lot of money try top and bottom vibration cheap tweaks.The biggest gain for my oppo is 3 m1 garrand ammo clips with full metal jacket 3006 ammo right on top of the CD tray,a new world,goes from a flat boring soundfield to making speakers disappear,edge gone.