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About robmid

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  1. Hi Steve. Chris has kindly built a new 2020 power/control board to replace the 2019 board in my loaner preamp and air expressed it to me. I'll get it off tomorrow after I have packed it and checked postage sizes and weights for you. I just put it through its hoops and I'm sure you will be surprised how brilliantly a well designed passive preamp can perform. It sounds exactly like mine now, so I am happy to send it to you now. If you are like me you will find low level dynamics and background ambience you hand never heard before positioned accurately on the sound stage. Cheers, Rob
  2. Hi Pico. Many of the components have totally changed on the 2020 board as far as I can see. I didn't think the 2019 board could be improved and I was astounded when I put on the first track with it installed. Dynamics had changed entirely and holographic imaging was very active, not in a gimmicky way but in a lifelike way. The really interesting thing is the unique LDR current management system Chris has developed improved performances after 40 to 50 minutes to a point where everything seemed more coherent or more lifelike. As though the blank spaces had been filled in. For example, piano now had harmonics on individual strings and voices are full of texture. Bass has much more authority and bass detail is improved too. Live performances have that level of authenticity where you might hear the singer move away from the mike or turn their head for a moment or an instrument get bumped. I have heard detail like this before but never in a way where I feel overwhelmed by the whole experience of being on the stage surrounded by the audience. I think the 2020 might be the final. Cheers, Rob
  3. Hi Sean. I put one for the 2020 redesign on the DIY forum a couple of days ago. The review below is exactly the same as I experienced, but better expressed, despite the customer being in Italy. cheers, Rob
  4. Hi Steve. When I compared an Apollo CD directly into a Son of Beast valve amp and a Holton the sound was very ordinary so I haven't tried the same test with the StereoCoffee as I am sure I know what the result will be. I am installing a 2020 board on my spare free standing version at the moment so I will PM you when it is ready to audition. Cheers, Rob
  5. The first StereoCoffee boards I bought provided a very punchy sound but I also had LightSpeed and CloneNote and told Chris Daly that I preferred the CloneNote. About one month later another board arrived at my door with an invitation to try it out. I was able to A/B compare it to the others. Yes, it was a very noticeable improvement over the competition and has been improving since then but the 2020 version has reached a performance level I didn't think possible from any preamp. Electronic ‘experts’ on multiple audio forums including this one, have been known to humiliate Chris Daly over his ever changing designs because he isn’t afraid to go beyond accepted theories and keeps experimenting with great success. Critics said it couldn't be done, but he did it anyway. I'm sure I would have given up. Chris develops his StereoCoffee boards primarily for own enjoyment of music and I am very lucky to be able to enjoy the efforts of his constant experimentation as are many others. Owners already appreciate this. Over the last two years I have followed StereoCoffee progress to the point where the music I am enjoying is so pure that descriptions like transparent, detailed, etc seem to have no relevance. This isn’t just a flat plane of recorded sound. The experience is more like being enveloped by reality not recordings. NOTE: Only the power/control boards have been updated not the LDR boards. I am obviously completely out of my depth trying to describe the sound I am enjoying from my system but here goes. The sound is a rainforest like ATMOSPHERE... not a rainforest recording. Visualise a black night sky with a myriad of twinkling stars you can hear, total silence, occasional interludes of buzzing insects in the distance, harmonious bird sounds above a trickling brook. Distant human voices reverberating through trees and a frightening thunder crack that whacks you in the chest and a sudden downpour of tropical rain. Phew! That's what I love. It is worth remembering that the 2020 power/control board now utilises triacs and thyristors and performance improves into a perfectly balanced state after about 40 minutes of playing music, not just through it being powered up. It is uncanny how the sound improvement during warmup creeps up without you noticing, until you realise something very special has happened and everything just seems to have expanded as though any audio compression had been removed. BUT, I also realise music from my ESL speakers don't punch out my Pink Floyd albums like my OTL 8 valve Son of Beast amp through VAF DC-X speakers that I have sadly sold. That was an off the planet experience too. My Holton with the StereoCoffee was also impressive with Pink Floyd and the VAFs. Some systems suit vinyl others don't but the music I am experiencing has re-programmed my brain and I am in absolute awe of the beauty within music. I paid $250 for my 2020 3 x input two board kit. Fully built units in a case are also available. Is it worth the upgrade.? YES. My system: Integrated StereoCoffee/bi-amped 2xHYPEX NC122 nCores with internal Xlinks active crossover and 225hZ module. Freestanding Hybrid RM Audio 505 Mini ESL with Satori 6.5 inch mid/woofers in SB Acoustics ARA enclosure kits with tweeter blanked off. Many thanks to all the DIY manufacturers in Australia, NZ and elsewhere. Cheers, Rob The ALL NEW 2020 StereoCoffee power/control board Left middle boards are 2019 StereoCoffee LDR board and 2020 power/control board. Top and bottom boards on left are Xkitz active crossovers with 225hZ xover modules.
  6. BACKGROUND I bought a pair of Xkitz 2 way active crossover modules from an SNA seller but managed to destroy a bunch of SMD components by dropping a blob of solder on the power section. But I did have time to notice that they appeared to be well made. MY SYSTEM My speaker system is a hybrid ER Audio mini ESL with Satori 6.5 inch MW16P-8 mid/woofers in a ported SB Acoustics ARA enclosure kit without a tweeter or crossover. The tweeter opening of the enclosure has been blanked off. Amp is an integrated bi-amped Hypex nCore amps with StereoCoffee LDR preamp boards and on board Xlinks active 2 way crossovers. BASS REQUIRED ATTENUATION The Satoris and ES panel are a difficult match because of sensitivity mismatch causing the mid/bass requiring a lot of attenuation. Attenuation was achieved initially by placing multi turn pots between the preamp output and Hypex input, piggy backed with the ESL inputs. Unfortunately, there was considerable power supply buzz in the bass speakers with this setup and I could never get a perfect bass/treble balance. The ESL panels and woofers previously used a first order 300hZ passive crossover. The sound was gorgeous and I was concerned I might lose it with an active crossover. WORRIED ABOUT LOSING SOUND PURITY Because of the StereoCoffee/Hypex/ESL purity I didn't want to mess with AD/DA affecting the signal and use a digital crossover. DISCOVERY! A SUITABLE ACTIVE ANALOG CROSSOVER FOR NON EXPERTS Eventually, I discovered the Xlinks.com website and noticed that a pair of 2 way active analog crossover boards with Linkwitz-Riley 4th order, 24dB/Octave rolloff only cost $150 online with a choice of crossover point. This is a fraction of the cost to build a passive version. Baffle Step errors can also be corrected. I was suspicious of the low price but specifications looked good and crossover point can be changed by replacing a pair of modules which cost USD $11 each. You can build modules yourself with a pair of header plugs and 20 x high tolerance resistors from RS Components but the soldering is a bit tricky. I would recommend buying prebuilt modules. --------------------------------------------------------- NOTE: Bass and ESL levels were finally balance by ear today but there was a small but noticeable intrusion of bass into female voices at the 300hZ crossover point. Fortunately, I had made up a pair of 225hZ modules previously, which cost $10 per pair for components and replacing the 300hZ modules with the 225hZ ones took about 30 seconds. The greatest part is that I didn't have to adjust the bass or ESL levels. I am delighted with the beautifully balanced sound I am getting now. How easy! --------------------------------------------------------- Having found zero Xlinks reviews, I decided to bite the bullet and order a pair anyway. What could possibly go wrong? Nothing as it turned out. Surprisingly, the boards are designed and manufactured in California. A WARNING IF ORDERING (Don't panic!) Unfortunately, the supplier doesn't seem to check emails very often and I was concerned because I didn't receive confirmation after placing my order. However, Payment was made with PayPal so I felt protected. After a week of no information I decided to contact the manufacturer via their Facebook page and received a quick reply telling me that they were airmailed the day I placed the order with tracking. Two weeks after placing my order two beautifully built boards arrived. SUPPLIED INSTRUCTIONS ARE COMPREHENSIVE and INSTALLATION IS SIMPLE A decent quality 10 volt to 24 volt external power supply is required. I used a 12 volt supply from a Dell laptop and it is as quiet as a mouse. Initial setup and voltage adjustment of the power supply can done on a work bench (kitchen table) in about 30 minutes using a REW sine wave. Output of about 1.5 volts A/C was measured on my Macbook pro using an RMS Digital Multimeter from Jaycar. Normally, the BASS output would be adjusted by trimpots for parity with the input signal (1.5 volts in my case) and the treble output trimpots adjusted using a level meter or by ear, after the crossover boards are installed. *Because my mid/bass speakers overpower my ESLs by a large amount I chose to adjust TREBLE level first and adjust the BASS speakers using my ears and fine tuned with REW. HOW DID IT PERFORM? I was expecting some deterioration in sound quality because my ESLs expose every flaw in recordings and I had expected some increased harshness with some tracks. To my surprise the top end hadn't lost any magic and the sharp roll off had isolated the ESL panels from mid/bass interference. This is one of the hardest things to achieve with hybrid ESL/Cone speaker systems and the balance determines the ultimate success or failure of your system sound. Bass character was a BIG surprise because I could now let the Satori mid/woofers do their thing without interfering with the ESL panels. Some instrumental tracks with solid bass now reveal that more than one instrument was making a contribution to the music. The bass sound stage is enormous and full of detail. MY CONCLUSION I was somewhat dubious about the sound quality of this product at first but I am delighted with the outcome with simple adjustment and improvement in musical performances. NO deterioration in sound quality is audible and background is silent. The flexibility of being able to just plug in a module to achieve a different crossover point makes the Xlinks Crossover modules a painless way to customise your system without spending a lifetime making calculations, or tweaking your crossover network and spending heaps of cash. Perfect for crossover beginners like me. Now I have to get rid of a horrible 400-500 hZ suckout in my room but that is another story. Cheers, Rob
  7. This is a great deal. I have a pair of Nc122s biamped and they are superb in every respect. I have built one for a friend and the Ghent case is a top end product.
  8. Hi Shebang. I have just completed my 2020 StereoCoffee/Hypex Bi Amp/active crossover/hybrid Er Audio mini ESL panel system which cost less than $3500 but I am having difficulty describing the sound because transparent, dynamic, uncoloured, wide stage, separation etc. aren't adequate. As in live music, none of these are applicable as individual descriptive elements but they do help form the essence experienced with live music. You could be surprised how close the StereoCoffee gets to the real thing. I will be doing a review of my full system which features an integrated StereoCoffee if I can find words that make any sense. It's pointless getting into arguments with experts about their theories on the StereoCoffee design unless they have heard the 2020 redesign, which bears no performance similarity to any LDR preamplifier/attenuator according to other users. The point of my post is that Chris Daly does have a vast knowledge about the optimum ways of optimising LDR performance in attenuators and has been kind enough to provide clues to us all so why not try them for yourself and if you don't understand, have a shot anyway. Cheers, Rob
  9. Brilliant work! You must have great patience. They certainly look like they will sound incredible. Cheers, Rob
  10. I feel very privileged that I experience the opposite effect. My last 2 years have been spent refining the performance of my low budget DIY system to the point of being able to discover and enjoy the very essence of music buried deep down in most recordings, without any audible distortion or fatigue, and this has led me to the point of potential addiction. To prevent listening addiction I have limited my nightly sessions. Anyone else have the same issue?
  11. I actually said 'unexplored TOPICS', like this thread on timing which hasn't been very informative. Yes, people have been designing many different types of PS for a century and they have evolved into the vast number of iterations we see now because designers explored alternatives using constant laws of physics. How did the humble crystal set evolve into a digital radio without exploring? How did the valve amp evolve into a solid state amp without exploring? How did the solid state amp evolve into a Class-D amplifier without exploring and bending laws of physics? I am not getting into a fruitless argument about Chris, because after A/B testing more than 10 effective upgrades of his PS designs I am sitting back enjoying my hybrid ESLs, bi-amped nCore Hypexes enjoying the essence of music brought to my ears by the very knowledge that Chris has shared here. Sorry, this is my response and I am going to watch posts to see if I can learn more about timing.
  12. Chris has been more than generous to share some of his 'hands on' knowledge of LDR preamp current control with this thread instead of the usual uninformed arguments which don't help anybody and get threads shut down. We all need to learn by *listening to others with more knowledge about common but largely unexplored topics. * I'm older than you so I can say that! If I don't understand something I learn more by trying to emulate it myself than putting it in the too hard basket. 🙄
  13. DIYers seem to have an advantage here, because they are not shackled to prebuilt products and spend a large amount of time just listening, in their never ending quest for perfection.
  14. After researching dozens of posts about the superior performance of CAT5 speaker cables, I built a 3 metre pair with 12 strands x 4 plait sets, to use with my VAF DCXs and Son of Beast valve amp. Apart from bleeding fingers and elbow RSI, I found the CAT5 name quite appropriate, even with a valve amp. They sounded more like 5 CATS than CAT5s to my ears and were immediately relegated to go outside and never come back. Of course, it depends on the rest of the system and personal preferences but there are much simpler ways to make high performance cables than hand plaiting CAT5s. WARNING: They are strong and will fight you all the way but you will become expert at 4 x multiple strand plaiting. I don't use angle hair any more either, because I found the angle of the hair slowed down the sound too much. I was expecting a silky smooth sound that was like a choir of angels. 🙂
  15. Likewise. But I have replaced all my speaker cables with 11ga Dueland tinned copper with oiled cotton and they have opened up the musical signature of my system enormously. They are great value and you could be very surprised to the improvement in your system. Mine were unterminated but Geoff hand built sets as well as bulk cable.
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