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Catman's Analog Musings

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I hope those life changes have resulted in a positive change for you.

Sharing your phono comparisons has made me seriously considering building an ESP, but that will be after I complete some longer-term projects. 

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'Plus or minus .5 db'

 

G'day all, despite what I've just written previously I can't really stop my phono stage musings!  Last night I was listening to my Rothwell Audio 'Simplex', a phono stage that I really like, although my ears tells tell me that it has a definite treble emphasis, however the quoted specs are RIAA equalisation accuracy to 'plus and minus .5 db'.  Is that really possible?  If a treble emphasis can be discerned easily by ear does it have to be greater than .5 db?  Mmmmm.  Regards, Felix.     

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Guest Muon N'

Are you sure that emphasis is due to the phono stage?

 

Could it be a result of the system as a whole so the emphasis is actually a result coming from elsewhere in the chain.

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23 hours ago, catman said:

If a treble emphasis can be discerned

Is that loading capacitors I see on the circuit board? Simplex_PCBs.JPG

are they adjusted for your cartridge?

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G'day all, well as far as I can tell the official default loading is 47 k with 150 picofards shunt capacitance, which is pretty well ideal for my use.  So that part is standard.  According to the website some aspects of the circuit are interesting and slightly unusual, however I can't see why that should result in a perceived treble emphasis. 

 

However one thing is interesting technically, in that using no op amps, just discrete transistors (BC337 amongst others), brings to mind my own early experiments with discrete transistor audio preamplifiers many years ago which had a similar 'sound'.  So in all honesty I'm not sure about this but it does seem to be a little brighter than it should be despite the official 'plus and minus .5 db' specification.  Regards, Felix.      

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2 hours ago, catman said:

 

However one thing is interesting technically, in that using no op amps, just discrete transistors (BC337 amongst others), brings to mind my own early experiments with discrete transistor audio preamplifiers many years ago which had a similar 'sound'.  

 

Felix you can't really associate the use of one type of active device vs another, with a 'sound' such as treble emphasis.  There is so much more to the design of any preamp that might effect the sound.  Way too many variables.  I think this is the source of your confusion over which phono preamp you like.  Don't let preconceptions about technology sway you judgement when listening.  I know, it's very hard, probably impossible to do in reality.

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2 hours ago, catman said:

 

G'day all, well as far as I can tell the official default loading is 47 k with 150 picofards shunt capacitance, which is pretty well ideal for my use.  So that part is standard.  According to the website some aspects of the circuit are interesting and slightly unusual, however I can't see why that should result in a perceived treble emphasis. 

 

 

Maybe the Rothwell Audio 'Simplex' implements the late, great Allen Wright's "50kHz boost", Felix ... and your other phono stages (like the ESP06) don't?

 

Andy

 

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G'day all, an interesting comparison of sorts this afternoon as I had a cup of tea whilst watching floodwaters pass by!  Playing an album of Handel Violin Concertos (fabulous music actually), I was using my Schiit Mani on my main system which sounded predictably superb.  For Side 2 I swapped phono preamps to my Lucid Labs 'Catalyst' phono stage which sounded equally superb if slightly less 'crisp'.  If anything the 'Catalyst' sounded more 'natural'.  One other interesting thing was that the Schiit 'Mani' played noticeably 'louder' with its 43 db gain, compared to the 'Catalyst''s 40 db.  All things being equal though, the 'louder' phono stage sounded subjectively better.  That may be a complete sonic illusion, but it is 'interesting'!  Regards, Felix.      

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The state of the art.

 

G'day all, I've been using my new computer for a few days now and this morning I had a listen to a familiar audio file (MP3), patched into the high quality audio system in here and I quickly noticed how much better the general audio quality is on this new computer compared to my old one (only 5 or 6 years old). 

 

Are computer sound cards inevitably just getting better and better?  Yet in audio and particularly phono gear, vintage or older gear is still highly regarded for their sound quality.  So in the light of my new computers excellent sound card quality, I wonder if older audio gear can ever be 'superlative'.  It is worth thinking about that.  Regards, Felix.          

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Guest Hensa
2 hours ago, catman said:

The state of the art.

 

G'day all, I've been using my new computer for a few days now and this morning I had a listen to a familiar audio file (MP3), patched into the high quality audio system in here and I quickly noticed how much better the general audio quality is on this new computer compared to my old one (only 5 or 6 years old). 

 

Are computer sound cards inevitably just getting better and better?  Yet in audio and particularly phono gear, vintage or older gear is still highly regarded for their sound quality.  So in the light of my new computers excellent sound card quality, I wonder if older audio gear can ever be 'superlative'.  It is worth thinking about that.  Regards, Felix.          

 

Looking forward to the upcoming ‘Catman’s digital musings” thread!??

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Phono preamp hiss.  Does it really matter?

 

G'day all, this is a possibly interesting one as most of my phono stages have very little inherent hiss, except for one of them, the Schiit 'Mani', whose hiss level is plainly audible at normal volume levels, yet the Mani is stunningly good sounding phono stage, so I ask the question does this plainly audible phono stage hiss really matter? 

 

Personally I would prefer hiss to be as low as possible but in the case of the 'Mani', it doesn't seem to degrade the overall quality at all! 

 

Interestingly enough I have several overseas audio friends who are extremely 'anti-phono stage hiss', although they admit that they have not heard the 'Mani'.  So is this simply a case of unjustified bias?  I wonder if 'hiss' can add something desirable to the overall sound quality.  I wouldn't expect so, but who knows?  Regards, Felix.     

Edited by catman
Punctuation.

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Felix, hiss used to bother me.  But as I've grown older, it's given me an opportunity to reconsider my attitude to it, and I have to say that mild hiss doesn't bother me at all now like it used to.  Tinnitus will do that for you. 

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Hiss that's audible at the listening position is frustrating and I don't  like it. Hiss that's only audible with the ear up next to the tweeter is pretty normal IME, and I'm happy to ignore it.

 

Mike

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22 hours ago, catman said:

Phono preamp hiss.  Does it really matter?

 

I wonder if 'hiss' can add something desirable to the overall sound quality.

 

Absolutely not, Felix.  If you can hear hiss at your listening position then this must be masking low-level sound coming from the cart.  IOW, the phono stage has less resolution.

 

Andy

 

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I thought Schiit was supposed to be good gear.  Even my cheapest phono stage does not have "plainly audible hiss".  Perhaps a faulty unit?

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G'day mate, no I am aware the others have reported the same 'hiss' with their 'Mani's'.  As I have already said that despite the hiss I regard the Schiit Mani as a superb sounding phono stage!  Regards, Felix. 

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1 hour ago, catman said:

As I have already said that despite the hiss I regard the Schiit Mani as a superb sounding phono stage!  Regards, Felix. 

 

So 'resolution' is not high on your list of desirable features for a phono stage, Felix?

 

Andy

 

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20 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

So 'resolution' is not high on your list of desirable features for a phono stage, Felix?

 

Andy

 

This is getting interesting:).......and I ask, "What has hiss got to do with resolution?" if the phono stage is, in Felix's words "superb sounding". Now I realize that Felix can speak for himself and he will:cool: but my take on all this is that he has stated that the hiss, 'while plainly audible' (and probably only between tracks), does not effect the SQ (besides subsequently wondering if the hiss is indeed somehow improving/adding to what he is hearing). My system has a slight buzz, though not from the phono stage I believe, which can be 'plainly heard' between tracks but has no effect on SQ or 'resolution'. It doesn't concern me at all. I don't believe for one minute that the buzz is somehow adding to the quality of sound but I think it's a stretch to assume resolution is not important to Felix. His ongoing search for the perfect/ideal phono stage tells me he certainly is seeking better resolution, to his ears anyway. :thumb:

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1 hour ago, stevoz said:

This is getting interesting:).......and I ask, "What has hiss got to do with resolution?" if the phono stage is, in Felix's words "superb sounding". Now I realize that Felix can speak for himself and he will:cool: but my take on all this is that he has stated that the hiss, 'while plainly audible' (and probably only between tracks), does not effect the SQ (besides subsequently wondering if the hiss is indeed somehow improving/adding to what he is hearing). My system has a slight buzz, though not from the phono stage I believe, which can be 'plainly heard' between tracks but has no effect on SQ or 'resolution'. It doesn't concern me at all. I don't believe for one minute that the buzz is somehow adding to the quality of sound but I think it's a stretch to assume resolution is not important to Felix. His ongoing search for the perfect/ideal phono stage tells me he certainly is seeking better resolution, to his ears anyway. :thumb:

 

Sorry, it seems obvious to me, Steve, that if you hear a hiss when the stylus is off the LP ... then this hiss - which is always present - will mask any extremely low-level sounds that the cart is reproducing.  The ability to deliver low-level detail is called "resolution", in my book.  :)

 

Andy

 

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G'day all, all this 'hiss' talk brings to mind my days working for Telstra, and I recall one of our island based exchanges was linked to the mainland via an old multi channel analog radio system.  It worked reliably but depending on the radio path fade, the 'hiss' resulting on the radio path and the consequent deterioration of the signal to noise ratio speech telephone circuit, could be at times, alarming.  The later installation of a full digital radio system achieved near perfection in circuit S/N ratio and overall circuit quality.  Regards, Felix.          

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Guest Muon N'
19 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Sorry, it seems obvious to me, Steve, that if you hear a hiss when the stylus is off the LP ... then this hiss - which is always present - will mask any extremely low-level sounds that the cart is reproducing.  The ability to deliver low-level detail is called "resolution", in my book.  :)

 

Andy

 

Yup!

 

Hiss = noise :thumb:

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G'day all, well this is true however it is worth remember that even the best vinyl record resources don't have a particularly good S/N ratio, so whilst these things do matter in theory, the 'real world' is somewhat different.  I'm trying to steer a sensible middle course if possible.  Regards, Felix.

Edited by catman
Spelling.

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1 hour ago, andyr said:

 

Sorry, it seems obvious to me, Steve, that if you hear a hiss when the stylus is off the LP ... then this hiss - which is always present - will mask any extremely low-level sounds that the cart is reproducing.  The ability to deliver low-level detail is called "resolution", in my book.  :)

 

Andy

 

So Andy, you have a quiet body? Wish I had one. Always a bit of noise in my ears. Luckily, I chase hum and hiss out of my system. Had some hum recently and it was driving me mad. Only because I induced it. Got rid of it though thank the Audio God. 

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4 hours ago, catman said:

G'day mate, no I am aware the others have reported the same 'hiss' with their 'Mani's'.  As I have already said that despite the hiss I regard the Schiit Mani as a superb sounding phono stage!  Regards, Felix. 

Can't ever imagine hiss being superb sounding.

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Guest Muon N'
1 hour ago, catman said:

G'day all, well this is true however it is worth remember that even the best vinyl record resources don't have a particularly good S/N ratio, so whilst these things do matter in theory, the 'real world' is somewhat different.  I'm trying to steer a sensible middle course if possible.  Regards, Felix.

From my personal experience it is in the real world these things matter most, when looking at playback of records.

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