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Sime

Chord Electronics Owners & Discussion Thread

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Hi All

I have just inserted a chord Dave and the M scaler into my system, and after only a few hours running, all I can say is wow... an incredible duo.

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give me a few days to listen and I promise to offer more :) Here is a picture of the setup for you.

 

20191224_083303.jpg

Edited by Mickey1
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For what it worth (and for some probably not much!) the Chord TT2/MScaler combination has just been given the DAC of the Year Award by The Absolute Sound magazine:

 

Chord Electronics
Hugo TT 2/Hugo M Scaler
$5795/$4995
The visionary digital design consultant Rob Watts
develops most Chord Electronic DACs. Typically,
Watts’ DAC designs include elaborate FPGAbased,
long-tap-length digital filters running proprietary
WTA (Watts Transient Aligned) filter algorithms.
Here’s why this matters: Watts has long
claimed that standard-res (16-bit/44.1kHz) audio
files could, if processed through a digital filter of
near infinite tap-length, yield analog waveforms
as accurate as those produced from high-res files,
albeit with slightly higher noise floors. It is the
claim that Chord’s Hugo TT 2 DAC/preamp and
M Scaler aim to prove. The powerful, quiet Hugo
TT 2 features a sophisticated DAC that supports
PCM to 786kHz rates and DSD to DSD512.
Hugo TT 2’s digital filter offers an impressive
98,304 taps and sounds very fine in its own right.
However, adding the M Scaler further elevates
performance by upscaling incoming digital files to
705.6kHz or 768kHz levels, then processing them
through an FPGA-based filter offering 1,015,808
taps and running an enhanced WTA algorithm.
The end result truly represents a new way forward
in digital audio—one where standard 16/44
material in every way sounds as good as (or better
than) even the highest-resolution files. A technical
and musical triumph, and our DAC of the Year
Award winner. 
THE END RESULT TRULY
REPRESENTS A NEW WAY
FORWARD IN DIGITAL AUDIO.

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Giddy up 

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Hi Chord owners - i have recently added a Qutest into my system, whilst i am very much enjoying the new sound, i have a (noob) question about the Line output voltage setting/s. As i am sure Qutest owners are aware - when you turn on the Qutest you have 16secs to adjust the line output from 1V (min) to 2V to 3V (max)

 

I am not most techie/electricity/amp-spec-minded person, but my Amp (Arcam SA20) has a nominal sensitivity of 1V (with 6V being the max) so i have the Qutest currently set to that. 

image.png.439507ad6ee6b8e6a5fb6550adc104a7.png

 

Now due to my weird penchant for googling something i am perfectly happy with and getting a different answer and then thinking i am doing it all wrong...my question is this;

If i set the Qutest line output to 3V its naturally louder - so i am not turning up the volume as much e.g. its at 25 for arguments sake (the amp goes from 0-100), so does this mean my amp is not driving my speakers as hard* as when i have it set to 1V and the volume setting is at 40?

 

*note that this line of thinking is based upon me (with no qualifications) assuming that as you turn up the volume on an amp the more watts go to the speakers...

 

I personally like the idea of the speakers being 'driven' and do not hear a difference in SQ between 1V and 3V - just that its louder...that in itself makes it difficult to judge.

 

Hope this query makes sense! (Mods please move to a diff topic if necessary)

 

Cheers,

Rowan

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It should not make any difference!

 

The overall loudness of your speakers is determined just by the (signal) voltage at their inputs ie the voltage at the amplifier output.  In the context of your question this voltage will be determined by the gain of the Qutest x gain of the amplifier.

 

If you increase the gain of Qutest (by increasing its output voltage) then as you have found you have to decrease the gain of the amplifier (on its volume control) by the same amount to compensate to give the same overall gain and the same loudness of your speakers,

 

The only caveat would be if one or other of the devices had distortion that varies greatly with gain which would cause a change in sound character – or if you overloaded the input or output voltage in one of the devices so it 'clips' and causes gross distortion - but this is unlikely in your case.

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3v on my Qutest can on a rare occasion cause input distortion, so it’s set to 2v. 

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I forgot to mention 2 other caveats!

 

Firstly the overall gain of the Qutest + amp needs to be large enough to drive the output voltage of the amp (and so the input voltage to the speaker) so that they are loud enough for your needs.  Some amps have lower gains than others - hence Qutest compensates by providing more gain options.  But as Sime has pointed out it can lead to overload of the amp.

 

The other caveat is that by requiring one of the devices to give more gain it may increase that devices noise output and so hum or hiss of the overall system - but again this seems unlikely to be a major problem in Rowan's case.

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Thank you for the replies and explanation @legend and thank you @Sime I'm pretty sure I understand (famous last words)...the only thing I feel that I don't get is how/what is the correlation between input voltage and amp wattage (that goes to the speakers) anyway off topic for chord owners - happy to do this via PM if needed. 

 

me thinks I will just leave it at 1V as that is what is recommended by  Arcam. 

 

Cheers!

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Hi guys. Thought I would share a product that I purchased recently, specifically for the BNC connection between mscaler and chord DACs. 

 

It's called the opto dx and instead of it being just BNC cables it's basically two isolation devices that acts as a BNC connection between the device but isolates it via optical. There are two optical cables so you get the full benefit of the 768kz upsamples still

 

Let me tell you this. It has elevated my setup in a major way. More holographic, more space between instruments. Even sounds louder on lower volumes and more clear 

 

Rob watts from chord says the best input on the chord DACs are via optical due to the isolation factor and I agree. 

 

Just thought I would share. It's a lot cheaper than some of the crazy prices on high end BNC cables 

 

It's designed to be setup so you physically seperate the mscaler and transmitter side of the device so it completely isolated from AC and DC and Rf signals. I haven't even done that step and I have had a good uptick in sound already 

 

https://audiowise-canada.myshopify.com/products/dx-optical-isolation-kit

 

 

On a side note before I used this device I added a cheap USB to optical digital to digital converter on the input of my mscaler and had a huge uptick in sound. Rob watts is right. Optical is the best input for chord DACs and this new opto dx device acts as an optical. I had a really tweaked system on my USB side including iso regens and tx ultras and lush cables and this USB to optical converter for $15 blew me away with extra clarity and punch in the music. 

 

The only downside I have by doing optical into mscaler is I get downsampled when listening to tidal hi res however it's worth that as it sounds so good. 

 

The opto dx doesn't have this limitation and offers full upscaling as it's designed specifically for chord Dave and mscaler and acts as the two BNC cables would

 

Not a shameless plug. I am not the owner or seller. Just a good product that keeps me away from upgraditis in the future for more crazy BNC prices. I feel this device is as good as it gets between these devices as it's isolating the signal which is a major factor for upgrading bncs.

 

Any mscaler owners should check it out. I believe you get a refund window of you don't like it.  Mine isn't going back,that's for sure.

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On 14/01/2020 at 7:08 PM, sandrews888 said:

 

It's called the opto dx and instead of it being just BNC cables it's basically two isolation devices that acts as a BNC connection between the device but isolates it via optical. There are two optical cables so you get the full benefit of the 768kz upsamples still

 

Let me tell you this. It has elevated my setup in a major way. More holographic, more space between instruments. Even sounds louder on lower volume.

 

Just thought I would share. It's a lot cheaper than some of the crazy prices on high end BNC cables 

 

It's designed to be setup so you physically seperate the mscaler and transmitter side of the device so it completely isolated from AC and DC and Rf signals. I haven't even done that step and I have had a good uptick in sound already 

 

https://audiowise-canada.myshopify.com/products/dx-optical-isolation-kit

 

The opto dx doesn't have this limitation and offers full upscaling as it's designed specifically for chord Dave and mscaler and acts as the two BNC cables would

 

Not a shameless plug. I am not the owner or seller. Just a good product that keeps me away from upgraditis in the future for more crazy BNC prices. I feel this device is as good as it gets between these devices as it's isolating the signal which is a major factor for upgrading bncs.

 

Any mscaler owners should check it out. I believe you get a refund window of you don't like it.  Mine isn't going back,that's for sure.

Does it come with any sort of power supply for each side to ‘trial’ it with? Did you trial with SMPS with the view of updating power supply if you liked it? Or did you have some quality linear supplies at hand? That is  if I trialled with SMPS, is that enough to experience its benefits?

Edited by HumanMedia

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3 hours ago, HumanMedia said:

Does it come with any sort of power supply for each side to ‘trial’ it with? Did you trial with SMPS with the view of updating power supply if you liked it? Or did you have some quality linear supplies at hand? That is  if I trialled with SMPS, is that enough to experience its benefits?

I used 12v power supplies around the house I could find as it doesn't come with any. The idea is to use an aftermarket powersupply however the jump has been incredible without taking that other step. The maker of the opto dx says there is more improvement if I isolate it with better power supplies and away from my chains existing dc chain

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16 hours ago, sandrews888 said:

I used 12v power supplies around the house I could find as it doesn't come with any. The idea is to use an aftermarket powersupply however the jump has been incredible without taking that other step. The maker of the opto dx says there is more improvement if I isolate it with better power supplies and away from my chains existing dc chain

Thanks again, I think I might have to evaluate this connection between my MScaler and Qutest for myself. I hope the next Chord DACs will still support these dual BNC inputs also.

 

oh were those 12v supplies you had lying around your house linear supplies or SMPS wall warts?

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1 hour ago, HumanMedia said:

Thanks again, I think I might have to evaluate this connection between my MScaler and Qutest for myself. I hope the next Chord DACs will still support these dual BNC inputs also.

 

oh were those 12v supplies you had lying around your house linear supplies or SMPS wall warts?

They were cheap wall warts. Wouldn't even know what devices they came from but it was a 12v spec. It's nice to know I still have an improvement down the track 

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On 25/01/2020 at 11:32 AM, sandrews888 said:

They were cheap wall warts. Wouldn't even know what devices they came from but it was a 12v spec. It's nice to know I still have an improvement down the track 

Opto DX ordered.

Another owner recommended the below linked rechargeable supply as a low cost supply that sounds great with the Opto. I’ve ordered one as well, but won’t be able to report back until it all arrives. Thought I would pass the recommendation along. 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/312795913653

 

Edit, the voltage regulation isn’t great, so these are not suitable on Chord components themselves, but are fine for connecting them using the Opto DX which is happy with 11-16 volts

Edited by HumanMedia

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On 25/01/2020 at 11:32 AM, sandrews888 said:

They were cheap wall warts. Wouldn't even know what devices they came from but it was a 12v spec. It's nice to know I still have an improvement down the track 

Opto DX in the system now for two days. Change wasn’t as big as many of the anecdotes I’ve read, which I am convinced is because I was already using a high quality power supply on my MScaler. And a major part of what the Opto DX does is stop the massive leakage current from the dodgy Chord stock power supply from getting to your DAC.

 

Plus I had preconceptions from others reporting the effect of the DX as resulting in a ‘smooth’  whilst my findings are that it can be smooth with specific power supplies, but the smoothest combination IMO isn’t the most natural or the best.

 

Its only been two days so my opinions could be the opposite in the coming weeks after living with some of the power supply combinations. Also note that I am fully prepared to unflinchingly buy a new Farad for the RX receive end if that’s what sounds the best. I’ve now tried many combinations of UpTone JS2, LPS 1.2, Farad, Welborne, lithium ion batteries and low noise SMPS on both the Receive DX (RX) and Send DX (TX). 
 

Again, no final conclusions right now, but instead a major flag to you @sandrews888 to source a single one of those $50 lithium ion batteries I linked above (which were in turn recommended to me by one of the first DX owners in Australia). If you have an MScaler and Dave I know a $50 experiment is not going to break the bank.

 

At first I dismissed the sound of the battery as being a bit ‘rougher’ than the ‘amazingly smooth’  I had preconceptions of. And the linear supplies on RX do give a smoother presentation. But in comparison to the battery, that smoothness also feels a bit constrained with the battery being rougher but more open and natural to MScaler true sound. 

Anyway I’ve said to much at this early stage and may flip in my opinions in the coming weeks, BUT trialing a lithium ion battery on the RX side is a must for Opto DX owners to see if it works for them. But give it a little time as at first listen the battery wasn’t my favourite but it might end up being so. At the very least it does something special that the linear supplies don’t.

Edited by HumanMedia

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@HumanMedia thanks for your initial impression. I assume the difference here is I am still using the generic Mscaler power supply as I was worried about warranty issues for after market power supplies. I might have to give the battery a go for the DX as you said.

 

Keep us posted as I know things can change over time and the D Opto DX may still need a break in. Mine was already broken in as I got a demo unit so it may change soon who knows? I have experimented yet but thinking of adding a giesler LPS to the optos as well.

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On 17/02/2020 at 9:46 AM, sandrews888 said:

Keep us posted as I know things can change over time and the D Opto DX may still need a break in. Mine was already broken in as I got a demo unit so it may change soon who knows? I have experimented yet but thinking of adding a giesler LPS to the optos as well.

I’ve experienced quite dramatic changes with burn in on other more complex devices and cables but I wasn’t expecting any with the Opto DX.  And no user reports I have read suggested that it did. But now a week later you are dead right! It has definitely changed with burn in!!

 

Nothing else has changed in that time but everything is sounding more relaxed. The DX initially sounded rushed and a bit forceful.and fine for some music but not others. Now it is across the board better. I am finally hearing the full effect of the MScaler!


The battery charging was awkward at the beginning but it’s part of the process now. Those cheap batteries get 12 continuous play. If you just switch them off when not playing music I only have to leave them in to charge every few days during the week. I’ve ordered a second battery for the TX end as well.


 

 

 

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Dan the designer of the Opto DX is currently working his Stop RF product and has been doing lots of measurements of radiated RFI along with listening tests. One of his findings in his white paper and his suggestions to me in emails is to get rid of all SMPS wall warts. Despite his not able to see any standout pattern in his measurements, his listening tests found the presence of SMPS to be detrimental, presumably from radiated noise. So take this into account when trying power supplies as some linear supplies use an SMPS as a first stage like the UpTone LPS 1.2 (and the Giesler?)

Edited by HumanMedia

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Any Chord Qutest owners running through Naim Supernait2?

 

I had earthing issues where there is an audible buzzing if the DAC is the only component connected. Plugging in my HT receiver wether on or not removed this guess it is to do with the earthing in the DAC which is no issue. But the sound via the chord is not up to par with other systems Ive used it on. Swapping out with my Pro audio audient 14i which normally is not on par with the chord yields better results.

 

Anyone else tried the Naim / Chord combo? 

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On 19/08/2019 at 7:02 AM, Ittaku said:

I started work on a generic solution at that $2k mark you mentioned but lost interest due to hearing loss issues.

Did you ever continue this work?

 

And has your hearing issue resolved or is it permanent?

 

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Following with interest!! 😎

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On 19/08/2019 at 9:31 AM, rossb said:

Having lived with three M Scalers (okay, two M Scalers and a Blu 2) with four chord DACs, the DAVE, TT2, Hugo 2 and Qutest, and having compared the M Scaler to PC upscaling via Roon, I don't agree. 

 

It is true that the M Scaler sounds a bit better than PC upscaling. Rob Watts clearly tweaked it to produce a warmer sound than conventional upscaling. But it still sounds bright, brittle and etched to me - the same as software upscaling - just a bit less so. In other words, not an improvement at all and in my opinion, a significant downgrade in sound. The effect of the M Scaler is to remove the natural warmth, fullness and texture of the music, and replace it with an artificial sense of detail that people seem to hear as an improvement.

 

For a couple of years I drank the Chord Kool Aid and convinced myself that the Blu 2 improved my DAVE, and that the M Scaler improved my TT2. I posted gushing reviews of which I am now embarrassed. When I briefly listened to the DACs without the M SCaler and found that it sounded warmer, fuller and more natural, I convinced myself that I was mistaken. The M Scaler made a remarkable difference, so of course it must be an improvement. Except that it wasn't.

 

Try making a digital recording from a known and repeatable audio source - eg from an LP - play it back over a Chord DAC without the M Scaler. And then play it again with the M Scaler, compare it to the source, and you will find that it becomes a bleached, etched replica of the original. 

 

The first time I heard the DAVE and Blu 2 at a dealer a couple of years ago we swapped back and forth with another well-known, reputable high end DAC. The DAVE/Blu 2 sounded so radically different that I thought Rob Watts had discovered some hitherto unknown principle of digital playback and that what I was hearing was a revolution. I wasn't sure I liked it but it sounded so radical that I ordered the DAVE on the spot. But I know now that most of what I heard that day was the Blu 2 upscaler. In that unfamiliar system, it was the Blu 2 producing the massive difference between the DACs, and if I had heard it in my own system that day I would probably have recognised the bright, colourless, forensically lean sound it was producing as grossly unnatural. Unfortunately, like many others, I interpreted difference as improvement, and strangeness as innovation.

 

Of course, I am in a minority. Most people do seem to like the M Scaler, and believe that it is in an improvement. But I know I am not alone, there are quite a few others who have similar views of the M Scaler to mine. But if you own a Chord DAC, definitely listen to the M Scaler before buying one and be sure that the difference you are hearing is a worthwhile one before spending big money on one.

 

 

This is a fairly serious indictment, and unless I missed it, there hasn't been much in the way of an alternative view?

I am a DAVE owner, and after 2 years of thoroughly enjoying it, looking for alternatives - just a change up. It is an exceptional DAC to be sure.

 

In my experience, there are a couple of things I've observed:

1. The upsampling from software (ROON) does make music sound more rounded/unnaturally complete than un-upsampled. Via USB input, I prefer the standard 44.1khz over the upsampled 704khz that can be achieved

2. The optical input implementation of DAVE is far, far superior to the USB. USB sounds awful and digital once you actually do an A/B. And this is with a garden variety optical cord vs. a very expensive USB cable (with or without noise removing gadgets in between). This is not the case with all DACs, but is definitely the case with the DAVE. And given the way optical is implemented in the DAVE (96khz limit, right?), you are rather limited in how much you can upsample upstream. But honestly, not an issue from my perspective, as upsampling has an overall negative impact anyway.

 

Based on my experience with ROON upsampling, I am rather hesitant to consider the outlay for the M Scaler, given my experience with ROON upsampling echoes Ross's.  I am a little wary of responses that say "it is system dependent", because it shouldn't be. It should be black and white, either the M Scaler makes the sound more analog/realistic or it does not. 

 

I do not believe I have the luxury of being able to demo the M Scaler, but maybe I'm wrong. If you are in Sydney metro, and are able to give me a loaner... there could be a bottle of wine in it for you :)

 

Otherwise a detailed rebuttal to Ross's views from enamoured owners would be appreciated.

 

 

 

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On 19/08/2019 at 9:31 AM, rossb said:

It is true that the M Scaler sounds a bit better than PC upscaling. Rob Watts clearly tweaked it to produce a warmer sound than conventional upscaling. But it still sounds bright, brittle and etched to me - the same as software upscaling - just a bit less so. In other words, not an improvement at all and in my opinion, a significant downgrade in sound. The effect of the M Scaler is to remove the natural warmth, fullness and texture of the music, and replace it with an artificial sense of detail that people seem to hear as an improvement.

Hi @rossb

 

While I have only had a few hours experience with the M-Scaler, I tend to disagree with your views. I found above all else it definetely made things warmer, fuller and smoother. There was certainly a decent improvement to SQ - particuarly with Mp3's. 

 

The problem I had is the price vs benefit.. While I am still thinking about getting one, I honestly think the the money needed to buy a m-scaler can be better spent elsewhere.  

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, WedgeBiggs said:

This is a fairly serious indictment, and unless I missed it, there hasn't been much in the way of an alternative view?

I am a DAVE owner, and after 2 years of thoroughly enjoying it, looking for alternatives - just a change up. It is an exceptional DAC to be sure.

 

In my experience, there are a couple of things I've observed:

1. The upsampling from software (ROON) does make music sound more rounded/unnaturally complete than un-upsampled. Via USB input, I prefer the standard 44.1khz over the upsampled 704khz that can be achieved

2. The optical input implementation of DAVE is far, far superior to the USB. USB sounds awful and digital once you actually do an A/B. And this is with a garden variety optical cord vs. a very expensive USB cable (with or without noise removing gadgets in between). This is not the case with all DACs, but is definitely the case with the DAVE. And given the way optical is implemented in the DAVE (96khz limit, right?), you are rather limited in how much you can upsample upstream. But honestly, not an issue from my perspective, as upsampling has an overall negative impact anyway.

 

Based on my experience with ROON upsampling, I am rather hesitant to consider the outlay for the M Scaler, given my experience with ROON upsampling echoes Ross's.  I am a little wary of responses that say "it is system dependent", because it shouldn't be. It should be black and white, either the M Scaler makes the sound more analog/realistic or it does not. 

 

I do not believe I have the luxury of being able to demo the M Scaler, but maybe I'm wrong. If you are in Sydney metro, and are able to give me a loaner... there could be a bottle of wine in it for you :)

 

Otherwise a detailed rebuttal to Ross's views from enamoured owners would be appreciated.

 

 

 

What part of Sydney do you live in? 
 

Im currently on holidays, so a day trip might be possible. 

Edited by Sime

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