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Ayon CD5S vs Lenehan Audio PDX Level 2


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#1 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 03:23 PM

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Brought my Ayon CD5S to Mike's workshop just to pit it against the PDX Level 2 with volume control.

At first we couldn't get a long enough USB cable of a good quality to match the one used with the PDX so I thought we'd try a CD on the Ayon vs the PDX playing the ripped copy from the Mac (Audirvana Plus).

Crap. The Ayon sounded closed in soundstage, bass was muddy and the highs sounded rolled off.

We were using RibbonFlex RCA and was hoping the XLR cables would help the Ayon but Mike didn't have the XLRs ready yet. So that would have to wait for another day.

We ended up getting a cheap USB cable to hook the Ayon's asynchronous 24/96 USB input to the Mac and I thought the Ayon sounded closer to the PDX. But the PDX still sounded more dynamic and had a wider soundstage.

I did notice the Ayon did get better as it warmed up but the PDX still had the lead. Really hope a better USB cable and XLR would close the gap.

Oddly enough, with Audirvana Plus, I thought the USB on the Ayon sounded better than the CDPro2 transport. Not something I was expecting.

Might leave the Ayon here and come back tomorrow with a longer USB and XLR cable.

Hopefully I don't have to gut the Ayon and switch to Dueland caps :)

Ps fordgtlover, see... we are open to our higher priced gear sounding worse off than a more affordable system that we don't own. :) even in a sighted test



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#2 josh0571

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:57 PM

Nice mini review DH.

I love it when you hear when Aussie gear smashes the comp! Better get your cabling sorted out though!

Go Lenehan, go son.....hehe:)

#3 Nada

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:54 PM

standard one pass CD spinners cant compete with HD storage in data stream integrity

its doubtful the Ayon USB will compete with the PDX M2Tech implementation

Prediction: the better technology will sound better PDX > Ayon USB >< Ayon CD, but computer audio is a curse.

Better to be kind then clever.


#4 bhobba

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:55 PM

Hi Doggie

Yea that USB cable that Mike has is pretty good. Evidently a number of people have been trying best it - no success - and its just a prototype. I told the guy that makes it to let me know as soon as the final version is ready - I hope its soon.

You have to borrow my PDX with bybees everywhere sometime and see how it compares to the Ayon (and your PD) in your system.

In my system to my ears the PDX has the edge over the PD via PCM but via DSD sorry - the PD is better.

Thanks
Bill

Edited by bhobba, 10 September 2012 - 06:29 PM.

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#5 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 06:54 PM

I've compared the Ayon's CD transport against the USB before using PureMusic and the CD invariably sounded better so I'm going to say the Audirvana is the main difference.

I'm bringing in the Wavelink HS tomorrow along with a spare XLR cable tomorrow. I should get the Bybee Ribbontek speaker cables tomorrow.

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#6 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 06:56 PM

For the record, both the Ayon and PDX started out cold. But for some reason the PDX sounded good even cold. The Ayon took about an hour or so before it was even in the same ballpark as the PDX.

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#7 Telecine

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:29 PM

Interesting comparison.

Your Ayon CD5S has an output impedence of ~300 ohms, balanced and unbalanced.

The McIntosh 501 monoblocks have an input impedence of 10k ohms unbalanced and 20k ohms balanced.

Bottom line is that your Ayon CD5S probably needs to be plugged into an active preamp with low output impedence to perform optimally in this system.

Do you know what the output impedence of the PDX is?

Edited by Telecine, 10 September 2012 - 08:33 PM.

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#8 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:35 PM

standard one pass CD spinners cant compete with HD storage in data stream integrity

its doubtful the Ayon USB will compete with the PDX M2Tech implementation

Prediction: the better technology will sound better PDX > Ayon USB >< Ayon CD, but computer audio is a curse.


FWIW both the Ayon and the PDX share very similar architectures. Both employ PCM1704 DACs. The Ayon use 4 of these chips, the PDX use 2 IIRC.

I'm not sure what USB converter is used on the Ayon, but it did sound pretty good. Was kinda surprised.

Interesting comparison.

Your Ayon CD5S has an output impendence of ~300 ohms, balanced and unbalanced.

The McIntosh 501 monoblocks have an input impendence of 10k ohms unbalanced and 20k ohms balanced.

Bottom line is that your Ayon CD5S probably needs to be plugged into an active preamp with low output impedence to perform optimally in this system.

Do you know what the output impendence of the PDX is?


I was using RCA earlier. Dunno how the XLR connection will sound. The output impedance on the PDX is 800 ohms but it had no issue with the Macs.

Then again, the Ayon manual did mention using power amps with at least 47kOhms.

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#9 matt200sr

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:49 PM

DH are those ML1 tune stands in the picture? I am guessing the picture is just mooshed up but aside from appearing shorter, the bases look different to mine. Nice write up thanks for sharing.

bhobba can you please tell us more about this usb cable you speak of? I would love to be kept in the loop on this.

I am currently using this el cheapo usb cable from eBay with great results compared to a standard cable but wonder what more a better designed cable will bring

http://www.ebay.com....tm/250967073979

#10 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:58 PM

Those are the new ML2 stands.

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#11 Telecine

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 08:59 PM

I was using RCA earlier. Dunno how the XLR connection will sound. The output impedance on the PDX is 800 ohms but it had no issue with the Macs.

Then again, the Ayon manual did mention using power amps with at least 47kOhms.


I suspect that your Ayon is going to struggle. If you have an active preamp with low output impedence, bring it along and try that.

I have no idea why the PDX works in that arrangement if it's output impedence is ~800 ohms.
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#12 DoggieHowser

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:06 PM

I suspect that your Ayon is going to struggle. If you have an active preamp with low output impedence, bring it along and try that.

I have no idea why the PDX works in that arrangement if it's output impedence is ~800 ohms.


Active preamp?

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#13 DoggieHowser

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 11:32 AM

Poor Mike got woken up by yours truly at eight this morning after I dropped off the missus at school.

I plugged in the active shielding XLR interconnects from Shenzhen and in went the Locus Nucleus USB and Wavelink HS SPDIF box using the bundled Audioquest BNC cable to the coax input on the Ayon.

Comparing it to the PDX with the same USB cable, the differences are less distinct now. I think I might just prefer the Wavelink's deeper soundstage.

I think the Macs perform better in balanced mode so with a RibbonFlex XLR, the Ayon might finally get ahead. But if you compare all the tweaks I had to get done on the Ayon, it really makes the PDX a steal.

Mike also built the custom RibbonTek speaker cables with the Bybees installed. Poor guy stayed up till 2am to finish them and I was in the shop at barely 830am. Fresh out of the assembly line, we swapped the run in base RibbonTeks cables out and put in the new ones.

Mike hadn't even had time to get back into his seat when I started the test playlist. And we both looked incredulously. He thought there might be some subtle differences but this was quite a marked improvement. The music seemed faster and not as laid back. Nothing wrong with the RibbonTeks on their own. Just that the Bybees seemed to make the music more alive.

Ps odd thing about the Ayons. They are dead quiet with the Macs. I know Ayon had warned about using amps with low input impedance and I had encountered problems with some active speakers before (Focal) but not others (Quads) both with similar low input impedance.

I encountered some odd static with the Plinius the other day but it went away. I don't know if this has to do with feeding the Ayon power from the computer UPS. Mike's feeding the Ayon direct from the wall. Might try a direct connection when I get the chance.

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#14 bhobba

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 02:02 PM

Hi Doggie

Great write up.

Very interesting about the Bybeed Ribbontek. When my Arions arrive will be getting the interconnect and speaker wire directly out (no terminals) with Bybees at each end - can hardly wait to hear how that sounds.

Did the Locus Nucleus USB manage to topple Mikes cable?

Thanks
Bill

Edited by bhobba, 11 September 2012 - 02:03 PM.

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#15 DoggieHowser

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:20 PM

I hooked both USB at the same time (just made sure they were not sharing the same internal USB connection (first and last port) and compared the PDX with the frankenstein cable ;) against the Wavelink HS/Locus combo.

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#16 DoggieHowser

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 08:55 PM

Spending the next two weeks being a postman in the Gold Coast, covering for a friend on holiday.

It's odd doing manual labour but it's also surprisingly rewarding.

Another upside is that I get to lounge in my very own hifi showroom after work. :) thanks Mike and sorry for crashing in on your quiet time!

I packed along my MacBook Air, a Thunderbolt adaptor and cable for the Seagate GoFlex HDD of my iTunes library and my trusty Wavelink HS, Locus Nucleus and using my Ayon to drive the McIntosh power amps to Bill's ML2 Reference in candy apple.

I decided to plonk for Audirvana Plus yesterday to try out its direct mode in Lion.

I really think Audirvana Plus has the edge over Amarra in this configuration (all using iTunes integration mode) and the fact that it plays DSD is an added bonus.

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#17 bhobba

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:41 PM

I packed along my MacBook Air, a Thunderbolt adaptor and cable for the Seagate GoFlex HDD of my iTunes library and my trusty Wavelink HS, Locus Nucleus and using my Ayon to drive the McIntosh power amps to Bill's ML2 Reference in candy apple. I decided to plonk for Audirvana Plus yesterday to try out its direct mode in Lion. I really think Audirvana Plus has the edge over Amarra in this configuration (all using iTunes integration mode) and the fact that it plays DSD is an added bonus.


I thought mine was Radiant Ebony. I actually prefer Candy Apple and so does my mate from Canberra who may end up with them but they do tend to show marks more easily which is why I got Radiant Ebony.

Thanks for checking out Amarra - people have been bugging me for ages to look into it but the reports were mixed - some thought it was better than Audirvana - others not - so I was in no hurry. I actually think Bit Perfect jhas a slight edge but do use Audirvana for DSD.

Thanks
Bill

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#18 DoggieHowser

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:46 PM

Maybe I didn't hear it properly. It does look darker than the old ML2PlusRs we saw but I thought there's still a tint of red?

I liked how Amarra sounded over PureMusic but I wanted DSD support. Hence Audirvana Plus.


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