Follow up from my previous post. Wanted to try Scotte 1’s suggestion of re-loading Redcloud then reinstalling SM, but couldn’t find Redcloud or the original SM download, so I just installed SM V2, and then rebooted. Shaking my head as I type…Bass punch and extension is back. Don’t know how or why, but I’ll take it. Anyone have any theories? BTW, thank you Scotte 1!
I don’t get it either.
Strangely, I only started hearing fade-in, after upgrading to V2. It is most noticeable when I advance early to another track, even at same depth and bi-rate. Apart from that V2 seems to have deeper and slightly louder bass. My speakers can be bass light and so the improved bass really works well for me. The mid and treble is to die for and the depth of soundstage is wonderful.
As an aside, in one of his blogs, Paul commented that MQA messed up the soundstage. I hadn’t really heard it previously, but with Snowmass V2 it is pretty obvious. I listened to a track from a ripped CD on my Melco via Bridge II and the same track on Tidal MQA, also via Bridge II. The Tidal was just flat between the speakers in comparison to the Melco, which had a palpable depth to it.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. This morning I woke up to a different DAC! Bass was back for the most part and it continues to get better. I upgraded to SM v2 after a downgrade to Redcloud. Not sure if that had any impact. Scotte - I also think i see your point. Part of issue may be just getting used to “cleaner tighter bass”. We (or atleast I) tend to mistake the cloudy muddy stuff with bass. The super dark background gives a new perception of real bass. Having said that - what i experienced last night was real - wimpy bass. But things seem to be on a right trajectory now. Hopefully this is a burn-in thing. Will keep everyone posted.
MQA messes up phase - it uses minimum phase filters. Worse it alters frequency of transients (broadens peaks of transients) with the apodizing filter. This ruins imaging and can have audible pitch effects on transients such as a guitar string being plucked. Not nearly as bad as autotune but similar smaller pitch shifts can be heard. If you have an ear for autotune and can hear it instantly then you will probably be able to hear the damage done by a MQA.
To hear these deliterious effects, simply listen for how the tight focus of the soundstage is weakened and listen for how plucked guitar strings sound odd with an unnatural rising or flatter pitch (when generally the pitch on a real instrument drops slightly from sharp to in tune after plucking.)
We are super sensitive to pitch changes - many folks can hear changes of as little as a few cents…(this is not the same as perfect pitch - I am talking about change in pitch of a note over time)
This is far from my experience. We are exquisitely sensitive to timing changes, but even trained musicians have difficulty hearing a modulation of a few cents of pitch in a sustained note over time.
As an example, consider the hideous tuning of a high school band. Or the pitch insensitivity of the average contestant trying out for American Idol.
The bass on Snowmass is superb. I did not compare to Redcloud but don’t need to. Snowmass on Directstream Sr is so close to my Benchmark DAC 3 reference that I don’t notice a difference (DAC 3 has exceptional bass detail). Those who are worried just need to get used to the cleaner bass sound - bass is all there in exceptional detail.
So far my impressions after a few hundred hours is that the DS Sr with Snowmass really shines in the upper mid range and treble - not as punchy or as attention grabbing as the latest ESS chip based DACs but the detail is all there and the soundstage feels deeper and like you are a little further back from the stage. Smooth and musical. More analog sounding if you will. Not as visceral or as exciting but rich and rewarding.
Super sensitive to timing in our ability to determine direction of sound (comparison of arrival to each ear). Agreed. This is not how we hear the “music” or melodies or timbre. Phase errors cause some frequencies to be delayed with respect to others. Phase errors fundamentally change the timbre by changing the shape of the waveform envelope. Phase is a huge issue for the accuracy of the timbre of sounds. Linear phase filtering is the best way to minimize phase distortion.
I keep asking my guitar players to re-tune their guitars and once they hook up an electronic tuner they confirm my ear is far better than theirs. (They can’t hear anything when to me the guitar sounds awfully out of tune). So some folks are definitely more sensitive than others. If you can hear the difference between MQA and non-MQA then your hearing must be good enough.
Yes, we are sensitive to timing, not pitch. Phase does not shift pitch, but rather time.
Phase distortion changes the waveform by changing the relative timing of different frequencies - we hear those timing changes as timbre. Minimum phase filters wreck phase or if you prefer “ the relative timing of the various frequency components that make up the sound.”
Pitch changes when you use an apodizing filter. The pitch change in MQA is from apodizing.
You can have both minimum phase and apodizing filters - this is the worst case scenario which is what MQA does.
Anyway, back to topic - no audible run in issues with the DS Sr in my experience. I think people acclimatize to a new device or new sound and most of the run in is down to acclimatization. Electronic changes ought to be extremely small if the DS Sr is well designed - which it is. Nobody should be happy with a modern electronic device that drifts significantly and audibly in performance over time as that would be simply bad design.
I’m only doing the first unfold and I’m not noticing this issue. you think you need to so the full unfold to notice this - I think the second unfold is where the MQA “magic” happens.
The width of the largest peak transient of the impulse is broader for MQA encoded data - the issue is the same with first or second unfold.
You can see this on the plots in this article.
There are clearly lower frequencies embedded in the MQA response compared to conventional linear phase response. I believe the pitch shift comes from these lower frequencies that are introduced by apodizing.
Alternatively you can see the effect in the plot below - the width of the blue MQA peak is clearly about DOUBLE that of the red linear phase - precisely where it matters most (the top 20 dB of acoustic energy). This manipulation of the transient is audible and is creating a more punchy or heavy sound (broader transients have more energy and lower frequencies). MQA argues that this is an improvement when clearly it is distortion. Of course if you believe the MQA marketing magic then you will be predisposed to hear this change as an improvement. It is definitely an audible difference - nobody seems to disputed the audible effect of a MQA processing.
Update: the SLP98 is back in the system…and sounds very good…and quiet enough. I’m not sure what happened to lead me to believe it was too noisy before.
Possibly I didn’t let the preamp’s tubes settle down long enough after the initial power up; all of the 6SN7s I have on hand here do crackle and sputter a bit. But they quiet down so that a mere whisper of tube rush is heard when I put my ear literally right next to (and touching) the grille over the ribbon tweeters in my GoldenEar Triton References.
So I delay gratification for 5-10 minutes now to let the process complete. lol
I used to have one of those SLP98’s and it was a great sounding preamp.
My experience was that it needed at least a couple hours of warm up time to sound it’s best. And there’s no point to putting your ear right up to the tweeter; you’ll never hear hiss at your listening position.
I’ve had mine for 15 years.
I just used the “ear-to-tweeter” example to point out that it’s the only way I can actually hear ANY noise at idle. Certainly not at the listening position… or even three feet away.
Yea burn in is like menopause’
im at 100 hrs standy 40 hrs iistening
I heard it go through nasty stuff
today is day 4 in operating mode
it is 6am in the morning treble improving
filling out palpabilty increased
btw i do hear diff between inputs
balanced xlr = apogee wide eye copper
rca + kimber d60 silver
d60 is my preference for now more coherent mids ill sacrifice a bit more noise
just purchased a kimber orchid xlr silver
i will burn that in expect best of both worlds less grain more fluid mids
i will use input selection as tone conttrol
Not believe me? I leave it on 24/7 playing. 1,000 hours only like 12 weeks nonstop? Now maybe has 6.000 hours lol. 1,000 there was no more changes. That is all I was saying. Sounds pretty good out of box. at about 200 hours sounds bad. By 500 hours it sounds better than new. Much. At 1,200 realized no more changes. What do you mean by jokes. That is less than 12 weeks 24/7. No biggie.
Burn in time for me is no biggie (but it is kind of a pain in the ass) now explain that to any none audiophile. Four months to do what? Burn in? I just spent $6000+ on a DAC and it won’t sound right for another 4 months. Does the same hold true for cables, speakers and other electronics? It’s no wonder why we have a hard time getting others involved in this hobby. BUT when the synergy is right the music sounds sublime.