Surround setup problem


In preparation for a surround setup I connected HDMI from an Ayre DX-5 DSD disc player to a Bryston SP3 processor, with front LR to the by-pass input of an Ayre KX-5/20 preamp.  The plan was to use the KX-5/20 and VX-5/20 amp for front LR with NAD digital amps for side and rear surround.  The setup resulted in audio dropouts with about a 50% duty cycle and noise before each dropout.  Disconnecting the HDMI from the SP3 eliminated the dropouts even though the by-pass between the SP3 and preamp was still connected, but that also eliminates surround.

I may end up using a spare NAD M22 for front LR with a switch to select it for surround or the VX-5/20 for stereo.  Any recommendations for such a switch?

db 
Ag insider logo xs@2xdbphd
Another easy one: Switch to stereo. Ditch surround. 

You said, "In preparation for" so there may still be time. Even having a surround processor in the room, those things are such crap the noise from the chips and everything is impossible to eliminate. The sound quality coming out of it is horrendous, and the sound quality of anything connected even in bypass is made to suffer as well. Don't. Just don't.
millercarbon is forever on a crusade to ban and kill any sort of HT multi-channel system, so if you want to remove any possibility of center channel dialogue or surround channels, by all means follow his advice.

It seems like there is a problem either with HDMI output on the Ayre or the HDMI board on the Bryston SP3. It could also be an inadequate or faulty HDMI cable. You could try a different cable. If that doesn’t work, see if you could borrow another bluray/DVD player from somebody to test with the SP3. That should help diagnos if your Ayre HDMI is the problem or if it’s the SP3 problem.
Easy.
Switching to stereo doesn’t solve your problem.
Easy.
Don't mention balanced cables or you'll get a rash on that too.
I mostly listen to stereo from Roon via ethernet to an Ayre QX-5/20 digital hub.

I'll try another HDMI cable.

If it's OK to have both the balanced and single-ended inputs to the amp connected, switching between them might be an easy way to select the Ayre preamp for stereo and the Bryston processor for surround.  I sent an email to Ayre.
auxinput - The problem was a faulty HDMI cable.  HDMI from the Ayre DX-5 DSD disc player to the Bryston SP3 processor that outputs balanced analog to the Ayre KX-5/20 preamp seems to be flawless.  The setup awaits only connecting the NAD amps for side and rear surround.

Thanks for the tip,
db 
That's awsome!  Thanks for letting us know.

What kind of HDMI cable are you using?  If you are using stuff at the Ayre/Bryston level, then the HDMI cable from the Ayre source can definitely impact sound quality. 
I don't know what specifically the HDMI cable is, except it seems much more substantial than the cable it replaces.  The sound with Blue-rays, both music and cinema, is superb.  I was surprised that a setup aimed at the reproduction of music, Ayre 5 series, KEF Reference 1s, Velodyne HGS-15s, could portray the special effects in Casino Royale so well.
I think that surround sound, done properly, is a great equalizer financially  A mid fi surround system can enhance many recordings, particularly if they were correctly produced with respect to ambience, etc.  One doesn't need a megabucks setup to get most of this enjoyment, although as with anything it generally improves as one goes up the price scale
I’ve listened many times to a Blu-ray (Thielemann with the Wiener Philharmoniker) of the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony, both in stereo and surround. I always prefer surround. That was as true with my previous setup of Parasound J2 by-pass, Bryston SP3, JC-1 monoblocks, and KEF Reference 107/2s as it is with my current setup of Ayre KX-5/20 by-pass, SP3, VX-5/20. and KEF Reference 1s. An Ayre DX-5 DSD was the disc player with bass managed Velodyne HGS-15s for both setups. Same preference holds true for the "Legends of Jazz" Blu-ray, also listened to many times.
I’d like to make some HDMI cable recommendations for your Ayre DX-5 DSD player. Since you don’t actually know what cable you’re using, it’s probably not super high end (but I could be wrong).

The best "new" cable for the money is Nordost Heimdall 2 HDMI. Always get a 2 meter HDMI cable even though you don’t need the length. A short 1 meter HDMI cable will have problems with lack of high frequency response and also video sharpness due to signal reflects on such a short cable. Retail for a 2M Heimdall HDMI is $800 (unless you can find a dealer who can give a little discount).

If you don’t want to spend that much, you can try to find an old Wire World Starlight 5-2 or Starlight 6. These are excellent cables and the larger 24awg conductors will give better bass response. However, the sound might have a little bright edge because the copper is not as good the Nordost. The Heimdall has better overall audio/video quality, but not quite as strong in the deep bass (it’s a smaller 25awg conductor).

There is a used Silver Starlight 5-2 on ebay from Poland for $200 USD:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Wireworld-Silver-Starlight-5-Reference-HDMI-cable-1m-silver-hi-end-HDMI-cab...

The Silver Starlight 5-2 is the only HDMI cable I have seen to use OCC copper conductors. However, this one from Poland is only 1 meter. That being said, I think this cable would potentially still be highly superior to what you have anyways if you didn’t want to "try" the Nordost with $800 retail. If you can find a 2 meter Silver Starlight 5-2, grab it before somebody else does. The Silver Starlight 5-2 is the second best cable I have tested and used (in some ways better than Heimdall). The Heimdall can be less harsh sounding on bad source components because it doesn’t have as thick of a silver clad/plate.

WARNING: don’t buy any Wire World cables that use the newer DNLA Helix design. The Helix uses 2 x 26awg conductors FOR EACH hdmi SIGNAL PIN. This actually isn’t as good as the 24awg single conductors. I’ve tested these. I think it’s partially due to smaller conductors and also timing errors due to unequal length of these 2x26 awg conductors that are twisted in a non-linear way.

The absolute best cable I have tried is Nordost Valhalla HDMI, but you would really want the absolute best outcome to spend this much (2 meter is $4k retail). However, there is no other cable that competes with this.

I was disappointed with Audioquest HDMI cables.
I bought the cable from Poland.  The cable I'm using has endpoints that look very like those of the Nordost cables,  It's got some sort of greenish material on the outside, and it's fairly thick.



Last night I once again had dropouts with a surge in volume following each dropout. This morning no dropouts no surges. I really don’t understand.

Once again, the problem setup is HDMI from Ayre DX-5 DSD to Bryston SP3 with balanced analog from the SP3 to an Ayre KX-5 Twenty by-pass input (and to a pair of NAD digital amps for side and rear surround). The DX-5 also is connected via balanced analog directly to the KX-5; that works flawlessly. Cox cable is connected via HDMI to the SP3 with HDMI output to an Audio Engine 2+, but it can also output via balanced analog to the by-pass input of the KX-5; both work flawlessly.

Video appears unaffected by the audio dropouts, i.e., there are no corresponding video dropouts.

The other input to the KX-5 is from an Ayre QX-5 Twenty acting as a Roon endpoint via Ethernet, but that seems an unlikely contributor to the problem.

db
I don't know.  Try another bluray player?
My experience with an ultraSound Roon endpoint that has to be powered up in a specific order with the DAC suggests the intermittent dropouts may have to do with order of starting up the Ayre DX-5 DSD and Bryston SP3. It may be an HDMI handshake issue. If I select the disc player before powering up the DX-5 there are no dropouts; if I switch from cable to disc player, dropouts are likely. I know that shouldn’t be a problem, but maybe neither Ayre nor Bryston is as HDMI capable as Sony.

db