Rather than continue spending money (as much fun as it is) I am trying to focus on extracting max performance from my current system instead of buying new gear. At least big stuff. My system is below.
I’m focusing these days on room acoustics, speaker position, and listener position as I know these are the highest-order impacts; and I’m lucky to have full autonomy with respect to the room and treatments.
Getting simpler, and I think better:
standard PC running Roon > bog-standard CAT7 networking to a wall jack > $80 AudioQuest ethernet cable > PS Audio DS w Bridge II (Windom, latest fw) > Acoustic Zen Matrix Ref II 1M > PS Audio BHK preamp (Tungsram tubes w dampers) > Mogami 2549 XLR Splitter >
> Acoustic Zen Matrix Ref II 2M XLR > Focal SM9 powered monitor (active 3-way 600 watts)
> Gotham Audio 2M XLR > JL Audio F112v2
Power for DS and BHK from PS Audio P5 via AC12s
Power is for SM9s from PS Audio P5 via VdH MainsStreams
Power is a 20-amp dedicated run with Oyaide R1 Beryllium Copper outlet. Running the factory cable into the P5 until I get another AC12. (max output I have seen on the P5 is ~350 watts)
– I still don’t have the sub perfectly dialled in, so when I’m doing really critical listening I remove the splitters and sub.
– I have recently added the P5. It made a lovely difference, and I found a good deal. Given that I’m already running a dedicated 20-amp line it was not the highest-order magnitude change that I could have made, but you might be surprised to hear that decisions around my audio system are not always rational.
As above, I am trying to extract all the in-room performance I can from the current gear, via acoustics. I’m also interested in extracting all the performance I can from the DS in particular. What are people’s stories / setups around making the DS a credible alternative to a top-dollar DAC along the lines of dCS, et al)
SOFTWARE: I’m using Windom, heard generally similar sonics to what was reported,I have no reason to believe I have a ‘bad load’
POWER: Currently using AC12 (is there better out there?) plugged into a P5. The P5 is also running my BHK preamp and 2 powered speakers. I realize I could use more overhead; the highest power output I’ve seen under relatively spirited listening is ~350 watts as per the P5 screen.
… I know people have seen results with audiophile fuses, I guess I can try this.
PREAMP: I know this has been a hot topic in past: @Paul has shared his whole history on no-preamp vs preamp. My observation is that the better the DS gets (now with Windom), the less I miss the BHK when I pull it out. This is lazy by audiophile standards, but I hate to have to turn it on and wait for it to sound its best. I am reserving final judgement on whether I sell it (I have no other inputs so I don’t “need” it) until I have really solved first-order acoustics problems.
Have others permanently embraced or opted out of the BHK in their DS front end? (I have the top-spec Tungsrams, AC12, haventhaven’t done footers / isolation yet)
SOURCE: I have seen this make enormous differences in other systems. I know the DS (and every other DAC which has a marketing department) is designed to be ‘totally indifferent’ to incoming jitter, source noise, etc., but it still seems to make a difference. As such I want to think about it here.
Q: how much performance improvement can be gained by using low-noise switches, ethernet cables into the Bridge II?
Q: does a top-flight server / streamer (let’s say an Innuos Zenith Mk III plus the Phoenix USB reclocker?) sound better than a ’normal’ Bridge II or a Bridge II with low-noise switches, etc? I know PSA is releasing Bridge III / Octave; I’ll wait and see but my bias is toward Roon.
Q: Assuming you’re using USB input to DS, does the DS sound better if you take the Bridge II out? I’m assuming there must be some relatively noisy circuitry on there. Getting digital circuitry away from analogs circuitry seems to be aligned with Ted’s design direction for the TSS.
VIBRATION : Any best practices / audible impacts for vibration isolation? My stuff is (as of March) sitting on a big hardwood rack from Massif Audio. I have various footers, and will likely try the IsoAcoustics OREA Bronze because their price/performance is more to my liking. (I use IsoAcoustics studio puck thingies under my mains)
For instance, upscaling everything to DSD256 in a server? Using a Chord M Scaler? (heresy!)