Wadia S7i direct to amp


Looking at simplifying my system, wondering if anyone has heard the new Wadia S7i direct into an amp, and if so, how did the pre section fare? My experience w/ an 860x years ago was that the pre wasn't good enough for me to get rid of my pre at the time (a Cary SLP98).
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje1mdg0odi5otmsimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=4237290463c08c33472a8e13811a77f7ff99e88c7c5cc7925bead99042013826&w=128dennis_the_menace
This may help. I recently auditioned a Boulder 865 integrated amp as well as the Boulder 850 monoblocks with my Wadia 381i CD player (not quite as good as the s7i but a great player nevertheless). I preferred by a slight margin the Wadia direct into the monoblocks as opposed to going through the integrated amp, but both were very good. Now the 850 is a better amp than the 865, but not overwhelmingly so. I thought the Wadia direct was purer, more transparent, perhaps lacking a little of the immediacy that the 865 brought to the table with its preamp. I think the new Wadias are just great minus the preamp, but I also think you can't go wrong using the Wadia with a really good, transparent preamp. The differences are just not that great and you'll get great sound both ways.
I have a Wadia S7i at home and play with the Pass XP20 and XA160.5 but I prefer the preamp. Without the preamp I miss some body and dynamics. For me the preamp adds something. But if you want to save money it works finr without a preamp.

Peter
If you have your internal switches controlling max output set in such a way that you can listen to a cd at the 100 setting without being unlistenably loud, compare the 100 setting on the volune control to 99. In my system with the 861SE, the 99 setting sounded compressed, flat, mechanical and "broken" by comparison to the 100 setting.i think the processing that takes place to control volume has a big impact on quality. You will not likely realice this unless you can compare it to 100.

I use my 861 into a preamp with it set to 100. While I may negate some of the sonic benefits of direct connection, I suspect that the negatives are not as bad as the negatives associated with using the volume control below 100.

The Wadia's are excellent units and should still be considered seriously even without the use of their digital volume control.

Andrew
Wadia direct to amp makes an impressive sound. As such, it is fine.

Add a great preamp, and it will make impressive music.

If you are budgeting money, I would probably first get the S7i with GNSC mods, running direct. Get the preamp later.
Concur with Rtn1. The nice thing about the Wadia with GNSC mods is that it sounds excellent without a preamp and you can add a preamp later after you get to know the player. Alternatively, you may just prefer direct and stick with that. It's nice to have the option.

06-26-10: Krellfan2002
I have a Wadia S7i at home and play with the Pass XP20 and XA160.5 but I prefer the preamp. Without the preamp I miss some body and dynamics. For me the preamp adds something.

the statement above makes absolutely no sense to me. the preamp can only work with the signal being provided by the source signal. so if the preamp "adds something" then what it is doing is coloring the source signal.

wadia provides variable outputs where the preamplification is performed in the digital domain. the biggest problem that i have observed is when you adjust the variable output level too low. in theory, once you get below an output level of 65, you are starting to lose significant bits in the digital stream. in theory this would translate into less resolution. if you are at an output level of 75 or above, you probably aren't losing any significant bits.

the other problem that you can encounter with direct connection is that with some low volume level source material (typically classical recordings since volume level is rarely a problem with popular recordings) the playback volume can be lower in comparison to connection through a preamp. by default wadia provides an output voltage of about 2vrms (i assume this is the output measured from the single-ended outputs and so i assume that the default is about 4vrms when using balanced outputs). as i stated, this is adequate for most recordings (for reference, power amplifier gain is usually measured based on a single-ended input signal level of about 2vrms). however, if it isn't the volume can be adjusted to produce a voltage output of up to 4.25vrms by setting all the internal DIP switches to the "open" position. if that output level is still not sufficient for the source material, then you would need to use a preamplifier. but presumably, in this case you are using the preamplifier to provide additional signal amplification with accurate reproduction of the source, as opposed to provide coloring of the source.

of course, if coloring is what you want in your preamplifier (which is basically what you get with tube amplification) then that is entirely legitimate since all this stuff is a matter of personal preference. the point i am trying to make is that if you seek "transparency", then you aren't going to do better than direct connection from the wadia to the power amplifier; the potential limitation being that the direct connection may provide insufficient signal gain depending on the source material.
@paperw8 have you tried what you are explaining?
It's just, the statement by krellfan might not be wholly unexptected, if the pre substitutes something otherwise missing.
As to me: I did not fully like my 781 into Berning. But of course i will try again with the coming S7i.
Wish me luck for not needing a pre anymore. Wouldn't that be neat?

11-27-10: Egidius
@paperw8 have you tried what you are explaining?
It's just, the statement by krellfan might not be wholly unexptected, if the pre substitutes something otherwise missing.

if your question is: have i driven a wadia directly into a power amplifier? the answer is yes.

if your question is: have i driven a wadia s7i directly into a power amplifier? the answer is no, because i have a wadia 381 [i will leave it to the reader to determine how much difference that should make].

if your question is: have i modified the output voltage delivered by the wadia by flipping internal DIP switches? the answer is no because when i drive the wadia directly into the power amplifier i almost never set the output level of the wadia at 100%. generally i set the output level in the 65% to 85% range depending on the recording level of the source material.

to be more specific, i drive the balanced outputs directly into the power amplifier and i drive the single-ended inputs to a preamplifier. i primarily tend to drive the wadia through a preamplifier when i want to listen late at night. i live in a residential area, so i can't blast music late at night. when i use a preamplifier i set the output level of the wadia at 100% and vary the output volume at the preamplifier. the reason why i do this is because the sound tends to become thin when you turn the digital output level at the wadia too low (as i described earlier).

but as i stated, ultimately all of this stuff is a matter of preference. if it sounds better to you when you drive the wadia into a preamplifier, then you should drive the preamplifier from the output of the wadia. but what i am telling you is that when you do that, you aren't getting greater "transparancy"; instead, what you are getting is the sound produced by the wadia after it has been colored by the electronics in the preamplifier: that is the "something otherwise missing" to which you are referring.
The volume control in the Wadia is decent. But, it is no match for a great preamp. A preamp can provide a more natural presentation with dynamics, texture, layering, and body. This is not about lack of transparency or color. In comparison, the digital volume control can sound constrained, 2-dimensional, and less involving. If you enjoy the perception of increased detail with the Wadia direct, then that is fine. I personally don't think some of that direct detail sounds real (i.e. black background, sharp note transients, shortened decay), so in a way, that can also be considered a coloration.
I own a Wadia S7i, and I have ekspermitteret with preamps with my S7i.

The conclusion was very clear. There is a HUGE difference between preamps, and there is also no doubt about, that a good preamp does it _much_ better than the digital preamp built into the Wadia S7i. For those who may doubt my conclusion, try using a Classé Omega MK III, Tidel Preos or Viola Cadenza.

The cost for a good preamp is definitely worth the price, compared to the improvement of the sound.

11-28-10: Chris10an
I own a Wadia S7i, and I have ekspermitteret with preamps with my S7i.

The conclusion was very clear. There is a HUGE difference between preamps, and there is also no doubt about, that a good preamp does it _much_ better than the digital preamp built into the Wadia S7i. For those who may doubt my conclusion, try using a Classé Omega MK III, Tidel Preos or Viola Cadenza.

i don't question that the wadia s7i sounds better to you when going through a preamplifier. but to make this point clear, you *always* go through the digital preamplifier with a wadia; there is no digital preamp bypass. in your case, the output of the wadia digital preamplifer drives the input of your preamplifier; and then your preamplifier drives your power amplifier.
..thanks for your clarification! Good to know there is background behind a statement ;-)
I cannot judge 381 vs s7i, they will have similar problems.
Interesting point about the Digital pre - but:
isn't it always the case with a DAC giving out the full power (i.e. 100%),
or you mean to say, they could make a purist version without attenuation sounding - pure?
My technical background is too small to judge this..

11-28-10: Egidius
..thanks for your clarification! Good to know there is background behind a statement ;-)
I cannot judge 381 vs s7i, they will have similar problems.
Interesting point about the Digital pre - but:
isn't it always the case with a DAC giving out the full power (i.e. 100%),
or you mean to say, they could make a purist version without attenuation sounding - pure?

i think your question is could wadia make a cd player that had both fixed outputs and variable outputs. while you do see that feature in some cd players with integrated preamplifiers, it is unnecessary for wadia to offer such a feature. the reason is that the wadia preamplifier operates in the digital domain.

the way that the wadia preamplifier operates, it attenuates signal volume digitally when the output level is less than 100 but does not attenuate the signal when the output level is 100. it is only after the digital signal level is determined that the a/d is performed and an analog voltage delivered on the analog outputs. so if you don't want signal attenuation, set the output level to 100 on the wadia. this unattenuated signal is equivalent to a "fixed" output that you might see on some other units. when you send the output from the wadia to the preamplifier, you should set the wadia output level at 100 and then control the volume level (in the analog domain) at the preamplifier.

of course this unattentuated signal is not actually a "fixed" signal because you can vary the output. but since the varying is done in the digital domain you don't have the situation that you would have if the attenuation were done in the analog domain. in that case, you would perform the a/d conversion first to generate an unattenuated signal. this analog signal would be in the analog domain. one copy of the unattenuated signal would go to "fixed" output terminals. another copy of the unattenuated signal would go to preamplifier circuitry that would allow you to control the attenuated signal level, also in the analog domain. the signal output from the preamplifier circuitry would go to variable output terminals.

the point that i am trying to get across is that since wadia does preamplification in the digital domain, you don't need 2 sets of outputs. since the wadia does preamplification in the digital domain, if you set the digital preamplifier level to 100, then you are sending an unattenuated signal to the a/d circuit. thus, analog output from the a/d circuit is like the "fixed" output. however, if you set the digital preamplifier level to less than 100, then the wadia attenuates the signal in the digital domain. it is the attenuated digital signal that is sent to the same a/d circuit. the a/d circuit then outputs an attenuated analog output signal. but to the a/d circuit, there is no difference, it just receives a digital signal and converts it. the a/d circuit does not have to know whether it has or has not been attenuated in the digital domain.

however, where it can make a difference is that you can lose resolution through the process or digital attenuation. the source material from a redbook cd has 16 bits of digital resolution. the wadia operates with 21 bits of digital resolution. you lose about 0.5dB of volume with each step in the digital preamplifier control. thus, you can drop the digital preamplifier output level to about 65 (from 100) before you are prone to begin losing resolution in your digital signal. as you start losing resolution the signal can start to sound "thin".

where it can also make a difference is when the signal output from the wadia is not loud enough. in that case you can adjust the maximum output signal level. the maximum output signal level from the wadia is over 4vrms. a 4vrms signal level may not drive a power amplifier into clipping, but it is pretty close, so you are probably not going to have any need to supply a voltage higher than that to a power amplifier even if you use a preamplifier.

based on the discussion i have read here, even if you set the digital preamplifier output level to 100 (i.e. output an unattenuated signal from the wadia) there are some for whom the signal sounds better if it is passed through a preamplifier before it is sent to the power amplifier. if that is your experience as well, then you should send the output signal from the wadia into a preamplifier. that happens to not be my experience, so i prefer to drive the power amplifier directly from the wadia. i go through a preamplifier only if i want to play music at low volumes (where i am concerned about loss of signal resolution) or in cases where i need to use the preamplifier to get additional signal gain (beyond that which i can realize by driving the wadia directly into the power amplifier).

if anyone is interested in learning more about the principles of wadia operation there are several white papers on the wadia website.
You don't have to read - just trust your ears

11-27-10: Rtn1
The volume control in the Wadia is decent. But, it is no match for a great preamp. A preamp can provide a more natural presentation with dynamics, texture, layering, and body.

what you are describing is a preamp that is, by definition, *not* transparent, but rather one that colors the input signal. it's fine with me if people want preamplifiers that color the input signal; it just seems crazy to me to read "audiophile" reviews that rave about how "transparent" this component is, or that component is, when in reality what they are seeking is a particular coloration.


11-27-10: Rtn1
In comparison, the (wadia) digital volume control can sound constrained, 2-dimensional, and less involving.

my question to you is, how do you know that the source material was not recorded so as to sound "constrained, 2-dimensional, and less involving"? it is my observation that the quality of recordings can vary widely. i mean, for all you know, the wadia could just be faithfully reproducing the signal being provided from the source material.

if all you do is "trust your ears" while having no idea whatsoever about the underlying operations that produce the sound, all you can do is offer subjective observations about how the end result produced by the entire system sounds to you. but you most likely don't have enough information to ascribe that end result to the performance of any one component in the system.
"How do you know that the source material was not recorded so as to sound "constrained, 2-dimensional, and less involving"? "

Huh?
Unfortunately Paperw8, what you fail to realize is that the concept is quite simple. The Wadia is trying to do two jobs - that of a CD player and that of a preamplifier. It should come as no surprise that a top flight dedicated preamplifier, such as the Ayre KX-R, which is focused on a singular task, will outperform the all-in-one digital preamplifier in the Wadia.

Accordingly, you actually are entering into your analysis backwards since your basic assumption, i.e., that the Wadia produces an "uncolored" presentation, is incorrect. Rather, the Wadia is coloring the sound via the suboptimal volume control in its digital preamplifier.

With regard to your argument that there is no way to turn off the digital preamplifier in the Wadia; while that is technically accurate, even Wadia itself admits that the preamplifier portion of their players do the least harm to the signal as you go higher up in the volume range. Accordingly, 100 volume (i.e., using a preamplifier) must impose the least harm to the signal as it exits the Wadia.

My practical experience over many years with Wadia products, most recently the Wadia 861se GNSC Statement running direct, through an ML 326S and through an Ayre KX-R is consistent with the foregoing.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, you will get no argument from me regarding the fact that most preamplifiers on the market color the sound and that it is often just this coloration that the owners enjoy (whether they like the coloration itself or that coloration counteracts another coloration produced by a different component in their system).

11-30-10: Bar81
Unfortunately Paperw8, what you fail to realize is that the concept is quite simple. The Wadia is trying to do two jobs - that of a CD player and that of a preamplifier. It should come as no surprise that a top flight dedicated preamplifier, such as the Ayre KX-R, which is focused on a singular task, will outperform the all-in-one digital preamplifier in the Wadia.

you are comparing apples and oranges because, as i explained, the wadia preampliifer operates in the digital domain while the ayre preamplifier operates in the analog domain. so your statement is incorrect that the wadia is doing *two* things - in reality, the wadia does *one* thing: digital signal processing. since the wadia performs preamplification in the digital domain, that constitutes part of "digital signal processing" which is what the unit does anyway. thus, there is no need for separate "fixed" and "variable" outputs as i previously stated.


11-30-10: Bar81
Accordingly, you actually are entering into your analysis backwards since your basic assumption, i.e., that the Wadia produces an "uncolored" presentation, is incorrect. Rather, the Wadia is coloring the sound via the suboptimal volume control in its digital preamplifier.

i will accept your statement that the wadia colors the signal. in fact, wadia does something called "resolution enhancement". ostensibly, the purpose of resolution enhancement is to reduce DAC errors by randomly augmenting the signal. but notwithstanding the rationale, resolution enhancement is a coloration of the signal (although wadia's claim is that in the end you get a "truer" analog signal). however, that a wadia-colored signal is passed to the preamplifier so net net result that you get is a wadia-colored *plus* preamplifier-colored signal. it is then up to the individual to decide which sounds good to him. it's just that it is my preference to also understand how stuff works because that allows me to get a sense of which explanations make sense and which ones don't.


11-30-10: Bar81
With regard to your argument that there is no way to turn off the digital preamplifier in the Wadia; while that is technically accurate, even Wadia itself admits that the preamplifier portion of their players do the least harm to the signal as you go higher up in the volume range. Accordingly, 100 volume (i.e., using a preamplifier) must impose the least harm to the signal as it exits the Wadia.

i don't know how much you know about digital signal processing, but i explained all of this in one of my previous posts - it's the part where i talked about the 16-bits resolution and 21-bits resolution stuff. if you do understand this stuff, then i would suggest that you read the wadia white papers; if you don't, then those papers may be a bit hard to follow; even though i think that wadia tries their best to explain technical material in understandable terms.
I understand the concepts at play here and as I stated, I have owned Wadia gear for extended periods. Unfortunately, given your posts in this thread, it does not appear that you want to accept anything other than your own opinion. No use in further wasting my time. Enjoy.

11-30-10: Bar81
I understand the concepts at play here and as I stated, I have owned Wadia gear for extended periods. Unfortunately, given your posts in this thread, it does not appear that you want to accept anything other than your own opinion. No use in further wasting my time. Enjoy.

you, and anyone else, can believe whatever you choose to believe: some people believe in santa clause, the easter bunny and the tooth fairy, but that's their choice. from my perspective, knowledge has value. the idea of "you don't have to read - just trust your ears" struck me as stunningly ignorant: if you "trust your eyes" you could draw the erroneous conclusion that the sun revolves around the earth...

but don't take my word for it on how the wadia works. you, and anyone else here who can understand the subject matter, would serve yourselves well to actually read the wadia white papers that describe various aspects of the system. as white papers go, they are relatively short and not heavily technical, so they are fairly easy to read.

the reason why i value understanding how stuff works is because on audiophile forums and reviews, i often read authoritative sounding statements that are patently ridiculous. understanding underlying principles is a way that i separate the wheat from the chaff...and believe me, there is a lot of the latter out there.
Troll...
I am getting fairly tired of people knowing more than other people, that includes people who actually know, but use 3million words to say so, or manufacterers who have a double agenda, maybe a'gon has its limits.
I approach a system of simplicity, staying with my merlins and my berning power amp, source either wadia s7i direct, or sometimes TT Elite Rock with a Berning pre,
so I guess I just have to take both roads; and being a musician, I plan to be utterly happy with both.
mr dennis indeed never chimed in anymore, so what was that about?
however, where it can make a difference is that you can lose resolution through the process or digital attenuation. the source material from a redbook cd has 16 bits of digital resolution. the wadia operates with 21 bits of digital resolution.
Paperw8, I'm pretty sure that the Wadia resolution is 24 bits (& not 21 bits) after it upsamples.

12-03-10: Bombaywalla
Paperw8, I'm pretty sure that the Wadia resolution is 24 bits (& not 21 bits) after it upsamples.

i'll say this again: don't take my word for it, READ THE WADIA WHITEPAPERS and draw your own conclusions. wadia has several whitepapers posted on their website that anyone can download and read.
i'll say this again: don't take my word for it, READ THE WADIA WHITEPAPERS and draw your own conclusions. wadia has several whitepapers posted on their website that anyone can download and read.
OK, I see that I am right & you are also right - after upsampling (marketing verbage used by Wadia is "resolution enhancement") the word length is 24 bits (which is what I wrote) & then, after processing by DigiMaster algo, they chuck the least 2 significant bits & reduce the rez to 21/22 bits (which is what you wrote).

On a side note - I think all of us would be better of if you dropped your high-handedness altogether. You might have a good reason to attain your attitude but realize that you are on a PUBLIC forum where all sorts come to visit & discuss. If you feel compelled to share your knowledge & uplift the "ignorant" masses here do it with an attitude of a school teacher - you'll be appreciated much more. Just my suggestion to you being a long-term member here.

12-03-10: Bombaywalla
OK, I see that I am right & you are also right - after upsampling (marketing verbage used by Wadia is "resolution enhancement") the word length is 24 bits (which is what I wrote) & then, after processing by DigiMaster algo, they chuck the least 2 significant bits & reduce the rez to 21/22 bits (which is what you wrote).

as you saw in the white papers, the wadia has a 22-bit DAC, so the wadia digital preamplifier operates on the 21/22-bit signal. that's why you don't start losing significant bits (from the 16-bit input stream recovered from the cd) until you hit a digital output level of about 65 (out of 100). each step in the digital output level knocks off about 0.5dB, so by the time you get to 65, you are down about 18dB, which effectively reduces the signal by a factor of about 64; i.e. the signal is about 64 times weaker in comparison to the unattenuated digital signal. this, in turn, effectively knocks off the 6 least significant bits from the 21/22-bit signal. thus, by the time you are at 65 on the digital output level, you only have the most significant 15/16 bits remaining in the original 21/22-bit signal and you are at the point where you are starting to lose significant information (since the original signal from the cd was a 16-bit signal).
that's why you don't start losing significant bits (from the 16-bit input stream recovered from the cd) until you hit a digital output level of about 65 (out of 100). each step in the digital output level knocks off about 0.5dB, so by the time you get to 65, you are down about 18dB, which effectively reduces the signal by a factor of about 64; i.e. the signal is about 64 times weaker in comparison to the unattenuated digital signal....
yes, Paperw8, thanks for taking the time to explain this to me but I already understand the concepts of DSP.
I agree that (100-65)*0.5 = 17.5dB, which you are rounding up to 18dB. I seem to have 1 issue in your calculations - how did you arrive at 18dB being an attenuation factor of 64??
it's a voltage attenuation of 18dB i.e. 20log10(x)=18dB. So, what should x be to get 18dB?

12-04-10: Bombaywalla
yes, Paperw8, thanks for taking the time to explain this to me but I already understand the concepts of DSP.
I agree that (100-65)*0.5 = 17.5dB, which you are rounding up to 18dB. I seem to have 1 issue in your calculations - how did you arrive at 18dB being an attenuation factor of 64??
it's a voltage attenuation of 18dB i.e. 20log10(x)=18dB. So, what should x be to get 18dB?

since each increment in the digital output level corresponds to 0.5dB, each increment of 6 corresponds to 3dB. the digital preamplifier is operating on voltage (and not power), so 3dB is a halving of voltage level. in the binary domain, a halving corresponds to 1-bit. so each 3dB knocks off 1-bit so when you knock off 6-bits you have reduced the binary value by 2**6=64.

as far as actual amplitude, bits 17-21/22 are fraction bits but i am just speaking generally, so if you just consider the 21/22-bit binary word, each 3dB would correspond to a right shift of the binary word as you knock off the least significant bit. so, for example, the binary value 100 corresponds to a base-10 value of 4. however, if you right shift the binary value, binary-100 becomes binary-10, which is a base-10 value of 2. if you do a right shift on binary-10, you get binary-1, which is a base-10 value of 1.

anyway, that's the idea...
the digital preamplifier is operating on voltage (and not power), so 3dB is a halving of voltage level.
wrong! every 6dB (i.e. every 12 steps) is halving of the voltage amplitude. You correctly wrote that the digital amp works in the voltage domain & not the power domain but you did not understand that concept fully.
Did you do a sanity check to see if every 6 counts starting from 100 down to 0 would yield exactly 50dB of amplitude control before you wrote you prev post?

We have 100 steps with each step giving us 0.5dB => 50dB of voltage control.
What is 50dB in linear/numeric? 316.22.
So, we can attenuate the digital music signal by a factor of 316.22 using the DSP.
setting 100 = full scale signal amplitude
setting 88 = 1/2 full scale
setting 76 = 1/4 FS
setting 64 = 1/8 FS
setting 52 = 1/16 FS
setting 40 = 1/32 FS
setting 28 = 1/64 FS
setting 16 = 1/128 FS
setting 04 = 1/256 FS
setting 00 = 1/307.175 FS

& 20log10(1/307.175) = -49.75dB, which I'll round off to -50dB, which is exactly the amplitude control range of the digital preamp.

12-04-10: Bombaywalla
wrong! every 6dB (i.e. every 12 steps) is halving of the voltage amplitude. You correctly wrote that the digital amp works in the voltage domain & not the power domain but you did not understand that concept fully.

actually, you are incorrect. the basic decibel measurement is computed as follows:

10*log10(q1/q2)

where q1 and q2 are quantities that are being measured
(ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel).
[wikipedia is not a peer-reviewed reference so you always have to view statements there with some degree of caution, so feel free to challenge this statement if you have a better reference - i just don't feel like digging through my own books since the wikipedia equation matches my own knowledge on the subject]

as it turns out, power is proportion to voltage**2. so when the quantities being measured are power levels, and since power is a function of voltage, the equation for power can also be represented as a ratio of voltages:

10*log10((vo**2/r)/(vi**2/r))

[i am assuming equal resistance values for simplicity]

however, because of the way that logarithms work, you can also express this equation:

20*log10(vo/vi)

this is the equation that you presented - i'm just trying to explain to you how the equation was derived. so, a 3dB reduction in voltage corresponds to a 6dB reduction in power.

you will notice that the wadia white paper refers to *volume* output. volume output is a power domain concept. so the wadia white paper on digital volume control indicates that you start to lose significant (i.e. non-interpolation bits) when the digital attenuation causes a 36dB reduction in *volume* output.

i took a look at the wadia manual, and i think that there is an error in the manual. the manual states that there is a 0.5dB change in *volume* for each step in the digital volume control. from my calculations, and the wadia white paper on digital volume control, it appears that there is actually a 1dB change in volume for each step in the digital volume control.
so, a 3dB reduction in voltage corresponds to a 6dB reduction in power.
wrong! a 3dB reduction in POWER corresponds to a 6dB reduction in VOLTAGE.

i took a look at the wadia manual, and i think that there is an error in the manual.
I had a good laugh at this one!!! :-)

it appears that there is actually a 1dB change in volume for each step in the digital volume control.
Oh, is it??
so, now we have 100 steps & 100dB of volume control??
You better call up Wadia & tell them that they actually have 100dB of volume control & not 50dB.....
Paperw8: a 3dB reduction in voltage corresponds to a 6dB reduction in power.

Bombaywalla: wrong! a 3dB reduction in POWER corresponds to a 6dB reduction in VOLTAGE.
I haven't taken the time to read through most of this thread, but I'll just say with respect to the quoted comments that neither is correct.

A 3db reduction in power corresponds to a 3db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance. A 6db reduction in power corresponds to a 6db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance.

To see that, consider that a 3db reduction in voltage corresponds to the voltage being reduced by a factor of 0.707. Since, as I think we all agree, P = Esquared/R, that 3db reduction in voltage results in power being reduced by a factor of 0.707 x 0.707 = 0.5, which is also 3db.

Regards,
-- Al

12-05-10: Bombaywalla
wrong! a 3dB reduction in POWER corresponds to a 6dB reduction in VOLTAGE.

unlike much of the subjective discussion in this forum, this is a factual matter; your *opinion* on the matter is irrelevent to the actual *facts*.

12-05-10: Almarg
I haven't taken the time to read through most of this thread, but I'll just say with respect to the quoted comments that neither is correct.

A 3db reduction in power corresponds to a 3db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance. A 6db reduction in power corresponds to a 6db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance.

the reason why impedance is not considered is because you are generally looking at power at a given point. for example, when you measure output power, you are always measuring power at the output terminals, so there is no difference in impedance. in this case, what we are describing is the effect of the wadia digital volume control on either the voltage output level or on power output level. so if you do a decibel measurement on voltage, the voltage level is halved at each 3dB increment; if you do a decibel measurement on the power level, that too is halved at each 3dB measurement, but if you look at power as a function of voltage and perform the power measurement AS A RATIO OF THE CORRESPONDING VOLTAGE LEVELS, then each halving of voltage level corresponds to a 6dB redunction in power level (you need to pay particular attention to the capitalized section).

at this point i have to say that i think that i have explained this as best i can. so if someone still isn't following this, then i can't help them and they will have to refer to other sources for further discussion.
Paperw8: If you look at power as a function of voltage and perform the power measurement AS A RATIO OF THE CORRESPONDING VOLTAGE LEVELS, then each halving of voltage level corresponds to a 6dB reduction in power level
Yes, absolutely. But note that each halving of voltage ALSO corresponds to a 6dB reduction in voltage level.
the voltage level is halved at each 3dB increment
I haven't taken the time to follow the parts of the thread that may be behind that statement, but an increment that results in voltage being halved is not in fact a 3db increment, regardless of the wording that may be used to refer to it. It is a 6db increment.

db = 20log(V1/V2) = 10log(P1/P2)

20log(0.5) = -6.02

Best regards,
-- Al
A 3db reduction in power corresponds to a 3db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance. A 6db reduction in power corresponds to a 6db reduction in voltage, for a given impedance.
Almarg, you are correct. Guys, I stand corrected on this.

P1 = V1^2/R1 & P2 = V2^2/R2
P2 = 0.5*P1 & R1 = R2 = R because we are looking at the power reduction at the same location hence impedance at that point remains unchanged.
So, if we take the ratios: P2/P1 = 0.5 = (V2^2/R)/(V2^2/R)
or V2^2/V1^2 = 0.5
or V2/V1 = sqrt(0.5) = 0.707

I should have done this calc before I wrote my post - my bad. ;-O
Yeah, so if we want half the amplitude, we will find it at 6dB lower power where we'll have 6dB reduction in ampl as well. So, my earlier post on 12/04/10 is correct where I showed the digital volume versus full-scale amplitude - you will get 1/2 the voltage amplitude at setting 88 & at setting 65, you will get approx 1/8 full-scale meaning that you will lose 3 bits. If you start from 21-bits, you'll be down to 18-bits at digital volume setting 65. You will lose 6 bits at digital volume setting 28.

Dennis_the_menace, I apologize for hijacking your thread. If it is any solace to you, I think, that you already got your answer to your question (which is depends on the quality of your preamp & on your personal preferences -> cannot remember right now which members wrote these 2 apt replies).
Well when I said the preamp adds something I did not mean colouring. Without preamp the Wadia sounds great but with the preamp I can set the Wadia to maximum output and maximum volume on the dipswitches. The music then gets more dynamical and open with the preamp. Also the bass is tighter. So in my system it sounds better with the preamp and the Wadia set to maximum output. Also the noise is less then.

Peter
I also tried the level adjustment at my Wadia.
I use a JRDG C-500 and 381. If i lower the level, i can clearly hear that the sounds becomes less dynamic and full/punchy.
It's heard directly (- no question!), if i lower the level from 100 to 97.
Even so, the further i lower level, the more the effect.
If i would use my Wadia in a system with a power amp, i would use a stand alone pre amp also.

This was not the case with my old Krell KPS 25sc. OIfcourse, that unit had an inbuilt KRC-HR pre amp and were not at all designed like the Wadia.
I also used a Teac (Esoteric) P-70 and D-70 years ago. This combo, did also sound better with a pre amp.

I would not see a pre amp as a unit which obviously colour the sound or in anyway makes it worse.
I enjoy the s7i direct to berning zh230 driving stella Opus/novus speaker System, dont miss a thing!
I agree with Inpieces. When the level is reduced to 90, there is a very substantial drop in dynamics and detail. I'm not sure I can accurately differentiate 99 vs. 100 in a blinded trial, but definitely 90 vs. 100.

If you like the Wadia direct, great. But you are missing things, just FYI. With a separate preamp, music sounds great from 45db to 95db (measured by SPL meter).

01-28-11: Inpieces
I also tried the level adjustment at my Wadia.
I use a JRDG C-500 and 381. If i lower the level, i can clearly hear that the sounds becomes less dynamic and full/punchy.
It's heard directly (- no question!), if i lower the level from 100 to 97.

as it turns out, if you connect the wadia to the preamp and lower the volume at the preamp you would notice a similar phenomenon. it's just a characteristic of the mechanical nature of speaker cones (not to mention the limitations of your own hearing and/or room acoustics) that volume level affects the sonic character of a musical presentation.
just out of curiosity, as this thread is about the s7i, i am wondering if you any of you compared the s7i and the 381. from what i can tell, the main difference (aside from some cosmetic differences in the display) is that the s7i adds additional regulated power supplies so that more subcircuits have their own regulated power supply whereas in the 381 more subcircuits share a common power supply. i'm wondering how much that design change affected subjective impressions of the 2 units.
Even when volume is matched, there is unacceptable loss of dynamics when the digital volume attenuator is used. It is a flaw of the technology, and is not dependent upon the number of power supplies. Apparently, those last couple of bits really matter. Luckily, it can be bypassed. The series 9 has six independent power supplies per channel, and suffers the same fate with volume.

If people like their unit without a preamp, then great. They also should know that they may like it even better with a good preamp.

02-01-11: Rtn1
Even when volume is matched, there is unacceptable loss of dynamics when the digital volume attenuator is used.
first, the comparison that you suggest is highly unreliable; it's just hard to listen to one configuration, change the configuration and then try to get the same volume level from memory.

second, i agree that listen to a wadia in a direct connect configuration is likely to sound different from that of a through-the-preamp configuration. to that extent, if you prefer the sound of the through-the-preamp configuration, then you are going to prefer the "dynamics" because you just like the configuration better. that's not a matter of any "flaw in the technology" it's just a matter of your own preferences.

i'm not suggesting that there is anything wrong if you say that you prefer the sound of the wadia through a preamplifier. for my own part, for some recordings i sometimes find that i prefer the sound of the through-the-preamp configuration, other times i prefer the sound when going direct to the amplifier. from my observation, the preamplifier acts as a kind of tone control that does change the sound character of the musical presentation.
hi rtn et al.

of course, the ongoing presumption is, that I am indeed missing something when going direct.

I wanted to make a point in saying I cannot hear it.

Of course I hear that it sounds different with a pre, but better? (I use a new Berning tube pre (ZOTL), too rare to be widely known, and an Audiopax M5, highly regarded in its public days).
And luckily, I am not yet deaf: as a violinist I live by hearing and acting on it - this is not too scare anybody away from disagreeing with me ;-)
If i lower the level at the Continuum (amplifier) and highten it at the Wadia, or lower level at Wadia and highten it at Continuum,.. there is a clear difference. No matter what physics say. It is very very obvious. The effect is as stated above.
I listen at nearfield, and yes my room is measured and acoustics has been reworked. It is no placebo, i care less (not at all is more correct) for placebo upgrades. All upgrades and changes must be heard and i will not change a thing in my system if i don't find it needed, or, in anyway bettering some key aspects.
I think, that if you buy a Wadia and can afford a stand alone pre amp. Maybe just to try it for yourself, you will find it yourself. If i would buy a more expensive Wadia, like S7i or even separates, i would be sad if i find a pre amp is better, but could not afford it.
Personally i dream of S7i reworked by GNS and the JRDG Corus and 625. But i can never buy those,.. sadly.
Also, i find Wadia very picky when it come down to matching powerchord with a platform. I noticed very big changes from trying different PC's and isolation/damping devices. More so than on any other audio device i have used myself.
I always try to get the best depth and relation between micro and macro dynamics.
Many of you at Audiogon have really expensive systems. Some of us can't afford that. I believe it is quite relevant if buying a Wadia, it is needed to know, one might find a need to also buy a separate pre amp. That is, if using pre/power combo instead of any integrated unit.
If anything, i think it might be a mistake to rule out that a pre amp will not be needed when calculating over what is possible to buy.
hello folks
I specicifically read this forum regarding the S7i because I notice Wadia claims it has a new volume control.I have the Pass Labs XA30.5 and Wadia 301 cd player. I am upgrading and need to know whether to purchase either the Pass Labs XP 20 preamp or Wadia S7i. I know that the 301 volume needs to be turned up to 99 to sound best and needs a pre amplifier. I have been told by the dealer that the S7i does not need to be turned to max as it has dither problems at volume only below background music volumes. He confirms that the S7i has a new improved volume control unlike the381, 581 or 781. please reply with reference to the S7i only .
That is a good question, why don't you mail Wadia or Steve at GNSC? I would like to know myself, if anything in the S7i makes a change compaired to 381.
The major improvement on the new Wadia S7I is the new current source outputs.
This machine seems to have a whole different feel or grip on the music compared to past designs.
Cheers Johnnyr
I just bought a Great Northern Sound Statement Wadia S71 today. I plan to do a impartial test of the S7i direct into my Burmester 911 MK3, with my Concert Fidelity CF 080 LS/X preamp. Either way, as I look at it, I come out a winner.:)