I think they both are well regarded.
I went through RWA with the full mod/battery power and the service and communication was excellent.
The mod now allows maintaining the headphone jack if that is important to you.
Take a look on audiocircle.com. Both Bolder and Red Wine have "circles" (forums) there and there is a lot of discussion about these mods. There is also a Square Circle circle, where everything having to do with PC driven audio is discussed. There is a very recent thread regarding a head to head comparison. Good reading, but the bottom line is that they both seem to offer very good mods. There is a difference of opinion about the use of battery power versus a very good linear battery supply.
Hi - I have both and they are both very fine units. BTW I have just learned that my RWA is obsolete since it has the Auricaps - if you read the Squaare Circle post, you will see that Vinnie mentions the difference in caps as the most plausible explanation for the difference in sound... (I got to add the battery into that)
I guarantee you will be delighted... And that you will like dealing with both Wayne and Vinnie. Each has their bent and special skills. Vinnie is more the engineer with a whole line of stuff he has designed and a real focus throughout his line on battery power which sounds awesome.
Wayne is a modder who gets a great sound, he used to do the Mensa Art DI/O DACS and he is an expert on power supplies. He also makes some exceptional cables and is big into Bybees which he will add to anything you ask him to.
If you are real tight on space I would think carefully about the RedWine only because that battery is a bit of a clunker. Definitely demands a place to call home that you can easily get to in order to switch it on and off. Vinny will gladly make an extended cable to 6 feet or so so you can position it more conveniently...
Both take a 100hrs+ for the caps to run in but you can just set them on a radio station and fuggedaboutit...
Toss a coin - this is one of those rare win wins
Steve Nugent at Emprical Audio informed me that he would do a Squeezebox mod as well when I was inquiring about some other things I was considering. You will have to contact him for information directly as there is nothing on his website about the mods. IMO Steve is probably the most knowledgeable when it comes to PC audio.
I have dealt with Vinnie Rossie before who bulit me a USB interface and was very pleased with the product and service. I have had the opportunity to meet Wayne and as a former Denver-ite can attest to his beer making capabilities, but unfortunately cannot attest to his mods.
Does anybody know of a free and easy to understand program I can use to rip cd's into FLAC to my computer?I understand FLAC is the way to go.
Try www.etree.org. There are some links to free tools there I use. EAC to rip the CD to the HD, then a WAV to FLAC conversion tool. If there is something free-er and easier than that I'm interested in hearing about it too.
EAC can be configured to compress with .flac as the external compressor. It works like a charm and can consolidate the .wav > .flac process.
looks like there's a SB3 with the digital mods from RWA for sale/trade here:
Is there any difference in sound quality between buying a very good sound card with 24/192 sampling and a breakout to a SB3?
I check out.Why in the heck does he want to trade for a stock unit?
"Why in the heck does he want to trade for a stock unit?"
The whole deal is kind of odd, but may have some very reasonable explanation-who knows. :)
Maybe he needs money. Maybe he is in trouble with his parents or wife who just got the credit card bill.
Let me re-word this,what are the sonic differences between a good 24/192 sound card with a breakout box or a SB3?
A general answer would be that it depends. What brand and model of soundcard are you talking about? If the SB3 is used in analog mode, if the SB3 is feeding a DAC, if the SB3 has any mods at all (even simple ones like a different AC power supply wall wart).
You might post your question on the PC Audio forum actually.
The answer is most likely the SB3 will sound better. There is nearly no doubt that a modded one will.
Fair question is why. Basic reason is that a soundcard is part of a computer environment which is a lousy place to do audio. There is a lot of unshielded equipment, switching power supply, drive motors, fan motors plus any amount of RF and EMI, and a very uncertain ground.
By removing the data from the computer environment by Ethernet or 802.11 or USB the analog signal that is created tends to be much cleaner because the DAC or SB is isolated electrically and mechanically from the computer.
I am not a PC guy but two other considerations in a PC are managing to do audio while avoiding the dreaded k-mixer which further degrades the signal, and cost. The audio cards that are built well enough to isolate the signal seem to be in the $1K range - much more then a lot of options.
This is a very rich topic to explore. You may also want to run a search on posts on the Audio Asylum PC Forum
"The answer is most likely the SB3 will sound better. There is nearly no doubt that a modded one will."
HArd to say as he mentioned a soundcard with a breakout box so maybe he was meaning one of the USB ones where the soundcard is actualy outside of the noisy PC environment.
But, good soundcards can be quite good. I have used pro audio cards from Echo for years and the sound is pristine and you can use ASIO drivers (bypassing the Windows stuff).
There are lots of creative options going on right now.
MAybe check out out the Emprical Audio website which has lots of inforamtion and options discussed.
I am using a modded SB3 in analog out mode (no additonal external DAC) FWIW and am pretty impressed.
Have not done a lot of A/B yet with my SACD/CD player but it
certainly is a quality piece of gear upon initial impression.
"Hi - I have both and they are both very fine units"
ck, have I asked you this already? How would you describe the differences between the two modded units? And is your Bolder mod'ed unit using one of Wayne's upgraded power supplies?
I have a very early version of Wayne's modded power supply. Actually I sent him a SB1 to look at about a year before the SB2 came out and he got seriously into it.
Anyhow the mod is done inside an upgraded linear wall-wart case (as opposed to the new case he sticks everything in now). Wayne added the niceties later but after some discussion advised I just stick with what he had built for me. Given that I have the unit on a mid-fi system I am resisting the urge...
The units do sound different. Both are offer tremedous detail and are smooth with no glare. I think a more meaningful comparison is to my fully modded TriVista DAC using a USB or Toslink source... The sounds are different but its pretty damn close and the DAC is 5x$...
I've been trying to avoid being the source of a comparison since I have not tried to A/B my units - something simple like put them in the same room into the preamp LOL or done any listening with other knowledgeable ears... I simply have one in the bedroom and one in the living room. And the DAC rig in my office.
The Square Circle post described the difference as the sonic signatures of the caps used by each... to my ear the Auricap Vinnie uses are airier and have a bigger stage but he quit using them in his newest rev so most likely there is a new set of differences... Of course as it turned out, I am playing the Red Wine through a pair of Wayne's Nitros so who know where the magic really is LOL
This is a no lose deal especially at the price - as Lkdog suggests, a lot of folks will be happy with the SB straight out of the box which has got be the value of the decade. Easy enough to start with a stock unit and then send it out if you need more from it. In which case do spend the $20 to upgrade the wallwart - may be all you ever need.
Thanks Ck. I've been running my SB3 (unmodded, but with one of those Elpac linear power supplies) as a digital source into my (heavily modded) EAD DSP7000 Mk.III. The SB3 does sound pretty great for the money (but not quite as good as my PDT3), and given that I'll be using it strictly as a digital source I'm guessing that either Wayne's or Vinnie's digital mods will be roughly equal. I think that the PS will be a big player in this sort of mod. Between the help I got from both diyaudio and audiocircle I'm in the process of gathering up the parts I'll need to build my own PS on the order of one of his Ultimates or Superiors. (Fortunately I have a little skill in building this sort of stuff.) So for me I guess the question is really whether a digital-modded SB with a kick-a$$ PS can replace my current transport. Time will tell.
Be interesting to see what you think - I was thinking about my reply this morning and the point I failed to make is that this is really a paradigm shift of sorts. The size of the unit, the fact that you do not have to physically store and handle all the media, the simplicity of the whole thing is really very different then a cdp or turntable or tape deck.
Then add the Internet dimension, the radio, the random access
The fact that the sound for most people is comparable if not better means that this is about something more then just replacing one kind of media transport with another. It's a new way of doing things.
BTW - I think if you have the chops to build your own Power Suppy I would go with the Bolder since Vinnies whole thing is about the battery.
Yes, my design is based in part on the info posted by Wayne and others in that "circle" during the evolution of his various power supplies.
The current dilemma is around the argument of massive capacitance before and after the regulator (Wayne and just about everybody else is a fan of big capacitive storage in PS design) versus a smaller capacitance in the circuit. There are a couple of detailed threads in diyaudio where people have indicated regaining the "rightness" of the musical presentation when moving to smaller caps (i.e., 100uF after the rectifiers versus 1000, 10000, or more). In general the thought is that the large caps, while great for low end presentation, tend to introduce a "slowness" or lessening of articulation compared to less overall capacitance. I've heard this before, but it seems that the most well regarded designers of high end equipment lean toward larger total capacitance both after the recitifiers and at the driving end of a PS.