It works very well with older cdps prone to high frequency distortions - the wiry and gritty sound of the 80's and 90's. It is defimitely not a gimmick.
It has little or no effect (in my system)with modern, high quality cdps (which don't need correction anyway).
If you've already got tubes somewhere in the chain, it won't make a huge difference, but otherwise, in an all solid state system, it will definitely give a liitle of that tube warmth and body.
In my experience, the original MF X-10 added warmth but at the expense of narrowing the soundstage and losing a bit of resolution. I had more success taming the digital nasties by adding Stillpoints ERS paper to the inside of my transport. Don't use too much though.
I used the old one in an old system and it did not float my boat.
Technically speaking it's a dual triode set-up in differential connection for each channel making it two dual triodes.
A differential connection is a stage with 100% feedback.
This device simply makes an output more linear in any output you use.
Depending on linearity of the output of the source device this unit will or will not bring a substantial difference.
My system is getting closer and closer to nirvana, spoiled only by a slightly fatiguing high end which I usually suspect is the CD player.
Is anyone willing to place a bet on what this would or would not do in between my SCD-1 and ARC SP-11 Mk II preamp?
I bet you can patch it at the pre main output for the best results.
Decware makes an item like this as well. It's called the ZBOX. I just bought a phono stage from them on a 30 day trial and saw the ZBOX while surfing their pages. I used to own the X-10 and it worked well with my Quad 77 CDP. When I upgraded my digital components I found I did not need it anymore.
Some differences I noted in the ZBOX include the use of a 12AX7 tube mounted externally so you could tube toll with it. It also has an IEC so you can use an upgraded PC if you like. The X-10 uses a wall wart, something I wasn't crazy about. The MSRP on the ZBOX is a few hundrd more, but Decware is offering an intro price of $399, same as the X-10. 30 day trial applies as well. I'd give Steve Deckert a call (his number is listed on the site) if you need more information. Might be worth a test drive.
So I ordered the X-10 from amusicdirect.com and blew $50 bucks on shipping so I could have it in time for the weekend.
My first reaction is: WOW.
Frankly I was very skeptical and thought I might just check it out and shamelessly send it right back if I didnt like it.
But even using a cheap cable from the SCD-1 to the tube buffer and then routing the tube buffer outputs through the CD section of the preamp:
this quirky little device has REALLY taken the edge off my system.
For the first time in a while, I found myself listening to music, tapping my toes etc, instead of squinting my eyes and ears while puzzling over the sound and feeling pissed off that it is not quite right, too loud and fatiguing.
I would not say that the imaging has changed dramatically and what I have so far perceived to be improvements might be at the expense of some "air" at the top.
But in general, everything is warmer and smoother - midrange great, no sense of veiling over vocals. Bass is not vice grip like in its control, but I am not sure it was before? ... and it now sounds satifyingly warm and quite full.
So I was thinking this might be a fun experiment only but so far on first impressions this is a pretty nifty device.
Good to hear , mine has been in my system for about 4 months , as it settles in it will sound even better , im not a big believer in burn in, but with this unit it now sounds different to the first day , it is just more open , well done and let me say to others out there that this unit is far better than the original , i had one so i know. Cheers.
install the device on a tape-loop of your SP11 pre. This way you won't have to suffer the additional degradation of that extra interconnect cable-pair when the X-10 is switched out, &/or you can buffer additional source equipment as desired. Bear in mind that the extra cables inline with your signal are a significant limiting factor; quality & synergy are both very important factors.
Record out to the X-10? And then "monitor" through the tape loop?
This will still require 2 sets of cables to the buffer but I guess just one coming off the SCD-1 which is better in your opinion?
This should also make for some easy and interesting A/B comparisons?
I see Music Direct is offerring the trifecta for $1299 (Tube buffer, DAC, power supply). It is very tempting.
Hi CW yes you have correctly understood my suggestion; however you also correctly point out that the signal would be inline with yet another interconnect cable pair, only 'when the buffer is inline'. This may not be the best configuration - if you typically have the buffer inline *most* of the time then you'd probably be better off not using the tape loop. But again yes, the switching arrangement does then allow for easy A/B comparisons.
I don't really have an opinion re "which is better" the only answer to the question lies in experimentation. Cable quality & synergy are certainly limiting factors; try it both ways if possible.
There may be some other ways to 'tame the SCD-1's high end' have you experimented with:
(1) the interconnect pair
(2) the AC cable (on the player & on the pre & PA)
(3) tweaks such as shelving, cones, footers...
(4) AC line conditioning
Interestingly, an X-Series system comprising an X-10v3, X-Ray V3, X-Dac and X-PSU, plus the X-Pre and X-P200 amp, costs more (with the additional number of high-quality analog and coax cables that are required to link it all up) than a pairing of the superb Musical Fidelity A5 tubed CD player and A5 integrated amp.
Without any doubt whatsoever, the A5 combination sounds superior. And the A5 CD player's tubes (same as the X-10v3) sound altogether better integrated. The X-10v3 certainly warms and smooths, but whether located between source and pre, or between pre and power, it definitely dulls transients. This is great for bright female vocals or starchy period violins, but is unacceptable for plucked strings. For example, solo lute and guitar loses much of its vital sheen and detail and the leading edges of notes are flattened. This is not the case with the A5 setup where plucked strings sound fast, detailed and not at all compromised. Taking several interconnects out of the system (like the coax for the X-Dac and the cables between pre/X-10/power) probably helps too.
I suggest that buying an A5 CD player would be a FAR better CD upgrade for most systems than adding an X-Dac, X-10 and X-PSU and all those additional expensive cables to an existing CD player.