Preamps

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by sphinxvc, Sep 21, 2016.

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  1. Cspirou

    Cspirou They call me Sparky

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    The reason I asked specifically about relay based attenuation is because you can use a remote control. $630 for a preamp without a remote is a non-starter.
     
  2. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Only just saw these - great impressions, thanks guys. I have been comparing Yggdrasil direct to (powered) speakers against Yggdrasil via Mjolnir 2 as preamp. The situation is not quite the same as Mjo2 is really far from being transparent (even with LISST), but the bolded points above articulate precisely what I hear too. Without active pre, much more detail retrieval, but most noticeable is the increase in dynamics. It is actually quite hard to gauge whether the speakers are at a reasonable volume level because of the startling shifts in dynamics. Most of the time this is amazing. Sometimes, though, things can sound a bit disconnected and incoherent, and then the pre really helps to glue things together, at the cost of finer nuances. It's like the pre is applying gentle compression to everything.

    I'm going to pick up Jotunheim in part as a more transparent pre option, but I suspect most of the time I am still going to prefer running Yggdrasil direct to speakers. Despite the new preamps, what I would still dearly love to see in the Schiit line-up is a balanced Sys, 1-in, 2-out with stepped/relay attenuator, no tubes, no active pre, to drive a balanced head-amp AND a balanced power amp/powered speakers. And not at a stupid price like the Goldpoint stuff.
     
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  3. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    The Freya has a pure passive mode that sounds like what you want
     
  4. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    That's true, but that's ALL I want. Freya form factor + price are kinda overkill for this use case. Plus only one balanced out, so I'd still need to muck around with y-splitters.
     
  5. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    So you are using digital volume control? Player or OS? Have you made comparisons?

    I ditched my NFB-1AMP for straight Gungnir Multibit->Monitors connection, Volume2 app enables mouse scroll for windows master volume control (handy since with my Mutec it also works with WASAPI). I measured and mapped the windows master slider and generally I'm using only max -10dB attenuation. For background listening at -20dB or more couldn't care less about bits anyway..
     
  6. Garns

    Garns Friend

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    Yep. Right now, I use Foobar in WASAPI exclusive. As far as I can tell the volume control seems transparent. I haven't tried comparos with any other players because (a) Foobar is thoroughly embedded in my brain, and (b) life's too short. Could try some fancy schmancy VSTs for volume control instead (though see above comment re: life).
     
  7. mrflibble

    mrflibble Friend

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    Hi Hekeli

    I am interested to know why you ditched your NFB-1AMP as a preamp? According to what I have read it is designed to be neutral and has a stepped I/V conversion volume control. Was it coloring the sound in your experience? If so, in what way?

    Presently, I am using a Jotunheim as my headphone amp and preamp. But I don't have my monitors connected at the moment because I have decided to sell them. When I'm in the market for new speakers I would like a preamp that is both transparent and includes a neutral headphone amp rather than having separates, if possible. The Jotunheim is reported to have slightly forward treble, hence my interest in something neutral like the NFB1-AMP.

    Many thanks
     
  8. Hekeli

    Hekeli Almost "Made"

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    From my quick and not serious testing I didn't hear much difference going straight, so NFB-1AMP is quite transparent. I find no reason to use extra gear in the chain just because I have it. It's much faster to use mouse for volume control and I don't hear any degradation dropping few bits.

    But I have DSP speakers anyway, I might evaluate things again if I change to an audiophile approved passive setup.. (hello Vidar)
     
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  9. Pyruvate

    Pyruvate Friend

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  10. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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  11. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

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    Let's make pre-amps sexy time again!
     
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  12. nedifer

    nedifer Almost "Made"

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    Yup, ordered.

    My brother and I plan to compare the following to our living room speakers, once the Saga arrives:

    • Using the volume control on the Berkeley Audio Gen 1 DAC (then straight to the Adcom GFA-555 amp)
    • Schiit Saga preamp
    • Schiit SYS
    • Parasound pld2000 preamp
    We will test both the digital source I use as well as phono. I'll write up our impressions. My current signal chain is as follows:


    Digital:

    Logitech Music Server (LMS) on a Rasberry Pi -> Cubox-i4Pro Squeezelite streamer -> Singxer SU-1 -> AES to a Berkeley Audio 1st Gen DAC

    From there, the analog output chains are:

    Living room: -> Adcom GFA-555 amp -> Infinity RS6 speakers
    Kitchen: -> Schiit SYS -> Adcom GFA-5200 amp -> Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 speakers

    Putting a preamp back in the mix will allow me to:

    1. Re-connect my turntable (B&O RX-2 through a Parasound zPhono+USB phono preamp)
    2. Continue to use the SYS to attenuate volume a little for the kitchen speaker system (much smaller room so if both speaker systems are running at a comfortable listening level in the living room, it tends to get too loud in the kitchen)
     
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  13. Pyruvate

    Pyruvate Friend

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    @nedifer I am eager to hear your impressions. I have a Parasound PLD-1100 (little sister of the the PLD-2000) and it has set the bar high for preamps. I've heard nothing but utmost praise for the 2000, even reading that it bests parasound's current flagship Halo JC-2. Seeing how hard the Saga punches against it will be a true testament to how good it really is.
     
  14. nedifer

    nedifer Almost "Made"

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    I am too! I will say that, when I briefly had the Gungnir multibit loaner in house, my brother and I tried comparing the following:

    • Cubox-i squeezelite streamer -> Toslink to Gungnir Multibit -> RCA to Parasound PLD-2000 -> Adcom GFA-555 -> Sonus Faber speakers
    • Moon Audio CD transport (can't remember the model, sorry) -> SPDIF to Berkeley Audio Gen 1 DAC -> Adcom GFA-555 -> Sonus Faber speakers
    At the time, the Gungnir Multibit chain sounded more veiled than the BAD DAC chain, but that could well have been due to the inferior source (Squeezelite on a cheap computer vs. Moon Audio transport) and/or Toslink vs. SPDIF. So it will be very interesting to re-test in a more controlled environment.
     
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  15. nedifer

    nedifer Almost "Made"

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    Saga is out for delivery... Now I just need to find out when I can pick up my brother's PLD-2000.
     
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  16. nedifer

    nedifer Almost "Made"

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    Very initial Saga impressions (not much meat here yet, though and no comparison yet):
    • Both Tube and Passive operation sound lovely. Might slightly prefer tube operation but part of that is probably the amplitude bump when switching to tubes. Will have to spend several hours listening to just one then the other to really gain a strong impression.
    • Sound stage is larger when using the tube buffer.
    • Have already misplaced the remote several times. It is black and kind of vanishes into the woodwork once I put it down. Bigger would be better in this case. But it works fine.
    • The clicking during volume changing does drive me a little nuts, especially when I am making a small change during a quiet passage.
    • Hard to tear myself away--very engaging. But I have to go pick up the kids, so...
    More to come...

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. nedifer

    nedifer Almost "Made"

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    A question for anyone with more experience with tubes (the Saga is my first formal foray into this arena):

    Are tubes subject to burn in like some other audio equipment? In other words, can I expect the quality of the signal put out by the stock NOS tube in the Saga to change over the next 50-200-whatever hours of use?

    I do know enough that warm up of the tube is a factor and can say that the Saga sounded best at the end of the evening last night after being left on for several hours. But any wisdom others can impart here would be much appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  18. aafnp

    aafnp Rando

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    Got mine in last night, so here are a few thoughts:

    • So far it sounds a lot cleaner than the Asgard 2 that I was using as a preamp.
    • The tube stage is not very tubey, similar to a lot of other schiit products. The soundstage and transients are enhanced compared to the passive mode, but not terribly drastic. It is fun to toggle between tube and passive and try to spot differences. Overall I do like tube mode more.
    • The volume knob makes an annoying click when turned (by design) but it's not too bad.
    • The volume knob must be rotated fully down after using the remote to work, so I've kind of avoided using it. The click sound still occurs when using the remote.

    (After writing these thoughts) I took some measurements using a UMIK-1 to see what differences there are. To be clear, I'm not an expert so take these with a grain of salt. For context, speakers used are Kef Ls50s. Saga is paired with modi multibit dac, miniDSP 2x4 for EQ, and Adcom GFA-555 200wpc power amp. (I have an sb1000 sub connected to this rig, but it is currently out of commission until the replacement amp arrives this week).

    http://imgur.com/a/5tVqL

    Overall, FR appears to be about the same across Saga passive (SP) vs. saga tube (ST) vs. asgard 2 high gain (a2hg) vs. asgard 2 low gain (a2lg). Deltas on the low end are likely due to volume differences and random error.

    THD: A2HG (1.24%) < A2LG (1.26%) < SP (1.49%) < ST (3.49%)

    2nd harmonic distortion: ST (3.31%) > SP (1.1%) > A2LG (1.04%) > A2HG (.78%)

    3rd harmonic distortion: A2LG (.416%) < SP (.644%) < A2HG (.782%) < ST (.848%)

    4th harmonic distortion: SP (.228%) < A2HG (.309%) < ST (.313%) < A2LG (.326%)

    80ms decay: A2HG (45.8db) < SP (45.7db) < A2LG (46.1db) < ST (47db)

    140ms decay: SP(52.9db) > A2HG (50.4db) > A2LG (46.8db) > ST (39.3db)

    Surprisingly, the Asgard 2 has less distortion than Saga passive and decayed more quickly. The Saga tube performed as expected with higher distortion, highest db at 80ms, and lowest db at 140ms.

    Overall I'm still torn whether I'll keep it. The delta with the Asgard 2 is not huge. I am building a bottlehead smash in a month-ish, which I expect to sound a lot more tubey (at the cost of microphonics issues). It would be neat to have the saga around as a backup though - particularly to compare passive vs push pull tube vs dht.
     
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  19. sphinxvc

    sphinxvc Gear Master (retired)

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    I'm not sure about those measurements (maybe @Hands, @schiit or @atomicbob can provide inputs), but thanks for the impressions.
     
  20. aafnp

    aafnp Rando

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    I'd love feedback on how to take better measurements. I suspect something may be off with my calibration file too - so some validation and justification may be helpful to convince minidsp to replace it.
     

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