You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that much can be achieved by changing your digital cable.
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I have done some modifications to the DAC. I have upgraded some caps to black gates and some resistors on the output board per Peter Q of AN. I have used some Amperex tubes and changed the DAC chip to the K version. I have not tried a longer digital cable. The Zu Firemine I am using is .75 meters long. I am getting the feeling that upgrading to a newer single box player is not recomended.
I use a Zu Ash digital cable and I like it a lot, but it cost more than the one you have. I think the Ash can be bettered, but not at the promo price I paid on eBay and probably not at list either. I agree that your front end justifies a better cable.
I have yet to test Audioengr (Steve Nugent)'s contention that 1.5m is better than 0.5m length, when it comes to digital. However I do feel I need to test it, since it appears to depend on poor transport design. I would like to think that is not a given.
I am using an Apogee DA-1000E-20 DAC with my Zu Ash cable. It has balanced outs and, with its power supply, goes for $400-$600 on eBay. I am quite happy with its impact and detail.
If you get the chance, let us know what changes you make, and the results.
Hello Steve, thanks very much for responding. I humbly aver that I did read the article; however, "poor transport design" is my own interpretation of the situation. In other words, I consider the manufacturers' practice, which you describe as "designing-in the slower than necessary 25 nanosecond rise-time", to be poor design because it appears to be an intentional handicap of their products' potential.
Of course, you imply that without this design approach, which I call handicapping (if not kneecapping), the products would not reach the market at all. Under such conditions the manufacturers' approach is understandable, if unfortunate.
You write that you "have never seen impedance control on any Transport or DAC circuit board. " Have you tested a good many stock transports to find that they all have the slow rise time "bug", or is there a "good" group? If so, is Stereo's Proceed in it? How about my own TEAC VRDS T1?
I am interested in any way to be certain that I need to spend twice as much as I thought, or more, on a longer high-end digital cable.
I tried another digital cable (Stealth 99.999 silver digital .5 meter) and it sounded worse. The soundstage was not as good and it seemed brighter. I used King Crimson's In The Wake Of Poseidon track 6 Cat Food to do the testing. Awesome song. The drums are much more outside of the speakers with the Zu Firemine. The main reason for this thread is I want more slam on the snare drum. The CDD and 1.1x do a great job in the area of detail and imaging, but I am looking for more speed and slam. I must say that the digital cable did make a noticeable difference in sound. I am not sure if I get a more expensive and longer digital interconnect that slam and speed will emerge from the combo.
Stereo, I'm not sure either. I have never had a digital cable longer than one meter. When I upgraded my present cable, I went from a 1-meter Wyde Eye to a half-metre Ash. I got more focus, detail and timbral accuracy, and that helped my perception of the bass, certainly. Going to my present DAC made much more difference in extension and energy at the low end, though.
Steve Nugent is a very competent engineer. His advice is worth considering carefully, and although his modding service is not cheap, his clients say you get what you pay for. If you contacted him , he might suggest a way to get more slam out of your current DAC. I really don't know if that would be the most cost-effective way, or how it would affect your DAC's resale value if you ever wanted to move up.
Your second digital cable sounded worse, and it was a short one. It may not have represented a big enough step up. Price is not an indication, BTW--I've listened to one or two very costly cables I thought way overpriced, and one or two I didn't.
There are three of us who look at your list of gear and say the quality of your cable could be improved, and one who seems to be saying it is the cable's length that is most important. Beyond that, Steve Nugent seems to be suggesting your source could use some work. I haven't heard the AN DACs, so I would be guessing if I said your DAC lacked slam. (Steve has heard them--the DAC 4 at least, because he mods it.) I have no problem with the slam of my own DAC, but YMMV.
It would cost you $69 plus shipping, according to Zu's page, to test a 1.5m Firemine, minus resale of the cable you don't keep ; less if you win a promo auction. You might still be looking for more slam afterwards. So it goes.
I'll try 1 meter vs. 1.5 meters of Wyde Eye ( I'm such a skeptic ) in the next week or so, and post the result. I bet I prefer my Ash, and will continue to suggest you try one, but we'll see.
Try an isoaltion device if you do not have one. I tried the promethian stand with the springs and it was significant. Without them everything was bloated which affected the detail. Now I cannot and will not live without them.
FYI, I have no affiliation with promethean and it has been the only isolation device I have tried.
I have my CDD on Sorbathane? feet, but the dac is on what it came with stock. The whole system is on a target rack. I am thinking like Tobias that a longer or differant cable may help, but may not and I might still be wanting for more. This brings me back to the beginning. Maybe I should sell the DAC and CDD and by a good quality used redbook player. The Merlins have only been in my system for 1 week. I will need to change my system listed here.
Tobias wrote: "Have you tested a good many stock transports to find that they all have the slow rise time "bug", or is there a "good" group? If so, is Stereo's Proceed in it? How about my own TEAC VRDS T1?"
Yes, I have modded a few different transports for customers, including:
Have not modded a Proceed or the Teac, but all of them have similar problems that need fixing. There is no "good group" stock. The ones that turn out the best are the Pioneer DV47A or Ai and the Sony DVP-S7700. These can become truly world-class transports. The reason is the mechanisms and the lasers in them.
I have finally made up two Apogee Wyde Eye digital cables, identical except for length. They are breaking in right now, but my initial impression is that Steve Nugent is right, and there is an improvement with a 1.5 meter cable over one meter of the same thing.
I'll post with details in a separate thread once I get through testing. I'll title the thread "One meter digital vs. 1.5m--is Steve Nugent right?"
This looks very interesting. It's always fun when something counterintuitive turns out to be fact.
I sold my Proceed CDD and my Audio Note DAC1.1x. I purchased a CD-PRO2M transport kit (diy sites) and just finished building it. This transport is easily as good as the Proceed CDD using the DAC1.1x and the same Zu Firemine digital cable. I am now searching for a new dac. The Stello 220 looks interesting, but I may do more research and build my own 0x oversampling dac.