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Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Reinhard Huttenburg's essay - "Is it possible to combine futuristic music sources with a 100 year old loudspeaker system?"





Recently got this from Reinhard and gladly publish it.





"Is it possible to combine futuristic music sources with a 100 year old loudspeaker system?"

Dear Stefano,
some time ago you asked me for the results of our listening session at Andrè's and our newest results in digital streaming... well, here they are, and as well the first step in our ongoing story regarding  reproducing digital stream not outside but "inside" the computer...
Let me first tell you about the listening experiences at André's with his really suberb WE15 system...  it is indeed very impressive and within the last three years has merged into a joint-venture of André and Jean Hiraga (the whole system is driven passively, but with highest amount of know-how and material...)
...part of the HiFi-gang... (from left to right: André Klein, Klaus Speth, Jean Hiraga and Bernd Wieland)
full view onto André's system in all its glory...
Andrè's  new single bass horn which is "fed" in the center of the system with two original 38 cm vintage Jensen...
...coming out behind and aside the mouth of the left WE15...
the rear of the WE15 midrange-horn to the right, equippd with double WE-drivers and extreme cross-over


... in front in between the very famous original and rare WE555 tweeter...
...accompanied by two super-tweeters playing in a certain angle indirectly to the back...
...and of course all this "fed" with two original WE 124 B amplifiers...
,,,and here another small impression of what parts and labour of love and love to detail went into this system...
Finally - after some 40 years - I was very happy to get to know what the fuzz is all about with those WE-celebrities which I now was able to listen to for the first time in my life... André and Jean have them very finely tuned over the last years, and I have come to the conclusion that - passively - it hardly doesn't get any better than this... (well, although to have this all active truely would be another story...)
now, Stefano, we were all glad to have had you with us at that meeting at André's place...
(you showed already some pictures of André's "HiFi-museum...")
...and here are André, Jean and Klaus with one of the oldest "horn"-loudspeakers from a vintage-shellac player from the 1910-1920ies, in top condition and superbly playing...
...but it was a pity to get to know that you had to leave rather shortly after Klaus, Bernd and me arrived because of some other "live musical obligations" in Switzerland, so that you unfortunately were not able to personally experience the results of our implementations and comparisons, i. e. testing and listening to André's TEAC DC50 with dCS Elgar DAC "against" my DDDAC1543 with 120 chips and my DDDAC1794 with four decks, i.e. eight chips with my custom built Class A pre-amp with custon built controlled power supply in combination with André's superb WE-system...
You will remember, André's theme was not to have just a "meeting" but to find an answer to his question: "Is it possible to combine futuristic music sources with a 100 year old loudspeaker system?" And I can tell you: yes, it is, they do not only complement each other really wonderful, the reproduction in itself lives up to totally new skyrocketing listening highs and reveals the full potential of the whole system... that was really amazing...
And it was Jean Hiraga's special wish to listen to our "specific digital stuff" right before his visit to Japan during last octobre
1. within a system that he knows by heart (i.e. the above mentioned completely Western Electric system with André's newly built bass horn and Jean's newly built Class A amplifier))
2. to be absolutely sure about the results of our stuff because he wanted to take our "things" with him to Japan and install and listen to them "there"...
...to get you an impression, where and how that happened for example, here is a picture of one of the systems that Jean enjoyed listening to while being there. I got this picture of the final system, which took about a year being built (all the white horns and parts are selfmade - not to forget the whole listening room), personally from Shinichi Tanaka from Goto Society  http://www18.ocn.ne.jp/~tnk/page009.html
So, why did Shinichi send me this picture in particular? Not only because Jean was visiting this system but because after visiting and listening to our systems here with us last year he managed to bring in results of our bass researches into this very system... if you should like to read more about his visit here with us and our specific "results" please feel free to have a look at my report: "Goto - "Music combines people and continents"":
(it might be necessary that you have to register to be able to read...)

So, what did we listen to?
1. André's WE system in toto (as described above)
2. The newly pure Class A amplification that Jean Hiraga developed especially for that system/purpose (after a just recently finished Kaneda circuit; please don't ask me for any details about that except that it is pure Class A - and it really dramatically showed in the reproduction)...
3. Tape recordings from André's professional tape recorder

4. vinyl and shellac in 33 1/3, 45 and 78 rpm from vintage turntables and pickups...
5. music from vinyl in 33 1/3 rpm from especially Thomas Schick's new turntable and tonearm in combination with his personal best selection of pick-ups, presented by himself...
Jean with Thomas...
...and Thomas proudly showing his homepage http://www.thomas-schick.com/Audiomain.htm on his new I-Pad to Stefano and Tim...
thank you Thomas for bringing all your stuff with you to show us what's all up with analogue... (not to forget your superb collection of special and rare vinyls...)
...in combination with some pre-pre-amp and transformers


6. André's personal "digital stream" with his famous TEAC DC50 SACD player and the widely as top regarded dCS Elgar DAC... if you might want to read about some experiences that others have already made regarding the dCS Elgar-DAC please feel free to read this (for example):
all "heavy made" and/or "magnetic/antimagnetic" with different sorts and sizes of iron rings in black and white (!)... have a look: four on the TEAC DC50 and three on the dCS Elgar DAC !

7. ..."against" what?... well, our DIY-built stuff...
...which is to the left: DDDAC1543 MKII with 120 chips
middle left DDDAC1794 with one deck, i.e. two chips, DDDAC1794 with four decks, i.e. eight chips (not on the photo)
and to the right Bernd's controlled power supply for both of the DACs (here for the first time running with separate 5 Volt - instead of the PC-USB-5 Volt power supply running outside via USB-cable into the DAC)
Bernd's 12 Volt and the newly 5 Volt controlled power supply (weighing some 18 kg), only for the DACs...
the pure 5 Volt section

...and Bernd, after not only having proven its magnificent musical results, liked to demonstrate the external solidity and stability of the construction of his controlled power supply and simply stepped onto it...

so, and now you might want to know, what were the results:
1. First you did already listen to the whole system without any alterations and changings and comparisons for yourself late in the evening before... what you unfortunately did not experience were all those things the meeting was all about and that happened primarily when you were already gone...
2. I have to acknowledge that I was tremendously impressed with the reproduction in toto... it was very cohesively and finely tuned.. for those who are not that familiar with the sound of actual highest end systems it is simply unimaginable how absolutely superb the reproduction in sound has been already 100 years ago (!), how much it has been reduced in the time after around the 1960ies till lately... and how really impressively it has been revived and restored in our times today. Bravo !!! All sorts of music reproduction sounded really superb. From what I was told there were some "connectivity problems" regarding some "Ohms"  with the playback from vinyl, but even if it was not that "perfect"  it nevertheless sounded quite well to for my ears...
3. But the real things happened when we entered the comparison between André's TEAC SACD DC50 flagship (some 5.000 €) with his dCS Elgar DAC flagship (some 15.000 €) and our DIY-stuff. Well, I have to remain fair: what we did exactly compare is actually just not comparable - although everybody was convinced it was, it was not... Why not? What did we do? We played music via CD and SACD from corresponding discs thrown into the TEAC SACD DC50, with all the inevitable error correction mathematically interpolated into the music coming out of the SACD-player going into the DAC - this is always - I repeat always - a certain extent, it is never ever zero, in some cases - depending on the player -  it is even up to 80% mathematically calculated music which is simply  n o t  on CD or SACD and therefore simply  n o t  music... at least not the music that we ultimatively want to listen to...
...contrarily we played "bit-perfect" music from perfectly ripped CDs and SACDs from our harddrive from our PC. Well, everybody is thinking that this is already "bit-perfect", but in fact it is  n o t. Why? Because all the results from these ripping processes are - as good as they might be - to a more (CD) or less degree (SACD, and partly official downloads) the result of some mathematically downsampling algorithm, affecting the original bits and changing (reducing) the data the one or other way. What we think is "bit-perfect" actually are "transocdes", and transcodes bear influences in themselves that nobody can foresee, but are negatively deranging listenable...
Now, next step: the only really bit-perfect rip is the ISO-rip, the native DSD-64-, DSD128-files, DFF. This is "the one and only bit-perfect" reconstruction of the original digitalized source (with whatever they have done to the original master before), of exactly that what the master-engineers converted from analogue to DSD (ADC), and now we from DSD back to music...
Listening directly to DSD enlightens your mind immediately in a "perfect" way because within this format all the informations are indeed as "pure" as they are brought to us. To give you an impression: the amount of pure DSD or DFF is on an average twice to four times as high as the one from a rip of 24 Bit 192 kHz and four to eight times as high as the one from CD. The content of that what we "get" on a normal CD with up to 700 MB is mathematically downsampled from two to four GB !  So the losses in bits are great. As is the resulting loss in music. The step up from 24 Bit 192 kHz to DSD-DFF - to me - is really dramatic and comparable from switching from HDTV to four times higher Ultra HDTV...
So we listened to and compared these truly original DSD64 and DSD128 files (you remember: the one and only bit-perfect) in comparison directly to the results of the error-corrected SACD-player and dCS Elgar. Believe me, this is simply another world and indeed not comparable ... DSD (no, we do not talk about DXD at the moment) is the closest reproduction of an analogue or digital recording (and of course - depending on the corresponding quality of the recording - not to compare with normal CD or vinyl, neither from precision nor from dynamics nor from naturality)... let me remain fair: this comparison was unfair and actually not valid, and I would not have "allowed" it if not all the participants would not have insisted heavily in doing so...
...well, and the results? The results with TEAC DC50 with dCS Elgar clearly were good. There is no discussion! But the WE system with our stuff simply blew the roof off and revealed what a potential is still "sleeping" within this system! And this is valid for all other systems that we have tested with... One of the participants told me that he could have died for after having listened to some of our high resolution reproductions!...
yes, and the whole process in experiencing these ameliorations was accompanied by a very tasty buffet which André had prepared for us, with lots of delicious regional specialities, sausages, ham, creamy and hard raw milk cheeses, superb baguettes, raw milk butter and all sorts of drinks like beer, wine, Coca-Cola, limonade, water, coffee, and cakes and Tiramisu, and, and...
enjoying the meal... (from left to right: Bruno Plouvier, Julien Sullerot, Jean Hiraga, André Klein, Tim Gurney)
...so, André, thanks a ton for your invitation, your hospitality and generosity. This was a very great day, indeed a mile stone day in HiFi with lots and lots and lots of new experiences, fun and delight...


...and yes Stefano, and now, although it has nothing directly to do with our meeting at André's but with Bernd's power supply which played a severe role within this session, let me add a discovery which has a really dramatic influence on "our" sound within digital stream... a discovery this time not outside, i.e. within our DACs, but within the computer...
...as you already know I do not "trust" computers at all  (at least not for "playing back" our beloved music), and you know that I am neither a technician nor a programmer, and that I am always glad when all things regarding reproducing digital stream not only in my system (hardware, programs, drivers, codecs, apps, ripping processes...) are all just working cohesively "perfect", and I am especially glad when we get that what we want and not "only" that what the computer is giving us, "thinking" being "the best" for us... the more we research the more we find out that the single letter performance  is indeed rather poor... and that all those "bad" things that are said to digital reproduction, the "digititis", are "generated" within the CD- and SACD-players and computers itself and are at least  n o t  a l l  of digital origin per se...
...the last time I told you on our way "to get what we want" that we principally have "finished" the "external" development of digital stream, i.e. the different DDDAC 1543 MK II for 16 Bit...
for you to remember:
and DDDAC1794 and
with different amount of chips and decks, and last not least their corresponding controlled power supplies...
...regarding specifically that matter here the scientific report from Doede himself:
...well, although  I have to acknoledge that the final tests with all theoretical possible amounts of chips for the DDDAC1543 with 256 (16 x 16) pieces (Klaus is already nervous to test out as well 300 chips or even more...) and DDDAC1794 with more than four decks (i.e. eight chips) still have to be done, and will be done in the near future, I can assure that these "things" stay as they are and basically in no way will change any more but only to further ameliorate the already reached listening results by fine tuning...
conclusion: the external development of the DACs and the corresponding parts are quasi done, although there remains quite a lot to test out, but no more "groundbreaking" stuff...
...and so we can now take a closer look towards the entrails of the computer. We have already found out that the 5 Volt power supply within the USB-cable produces a really crappy sound, and that all those things regarding the exchange of different USB-cables (the same with different pick-ups in the vinyl-area) is just curing the symptom and  n o t  erasing the cause... we have managed to reach a great amelioration in sound (which ultimately defined as well - at least to my ears - "the" sound in André's system) with the external 5 Volt controlled power supply from Bernd...
Our next steps are:
1. getting completely rid of the USB-connections within the PC and outside with some BNC video-testing plugs and plug-ins and cable RG 58 U, avoiding all other not necessary connection-steps... just the other day Doede told me that this already would be a step "bringing" some (hopefully musical) advantages for us and that he will care for that in the near future...
2. building three separate controlled power supplies - and this exactly that way that Bernd built for the different DDDACs... one for 12 Volt, one for 5 Volt, and one for the processor with 3,3 Volt...
3. getting an "audio-tested-and-verified" mother-board (this presumably will be the last part to be realized - if we will ever get this... I will ask Jean for that...
4. and - last not least - playing music not only from any external hard drives, nor from USB-sticks 2.0 and/or 3.0, nor from SSD (solid state drive), but directly out of the PC's immanent RAM...
...well, this step is already "done" for a week or so, now... I always was rather full of envy reading from third parties that they already do so, putting a CD into the drive, read the content into computer's own RAM memory, taking the CD out of the tray, and playing the music back out of memory (so far, so good, the only thing that I could not "verify" is, if these CDs have been ripped perfectly during this procedure... presumably not, because - from what I read - the import into RAM is done rather quickly, within a minute or two or so, while according to my personal experiences a real "perfect" rip of a CD takes some 30 minutes to an hour to do it properly.... so, although a superb idea, I have my doubts regarding the results... and in addition I read it only, I never listened to it personally...
...till this very day - till a week ago or so...  what and how did it happen? Well, every once in a while I update the configuration of my PC-playback program foobar 2000. And while looking on their homepage for new(er) components
for example for the newest WASAPI driver, SHN-tool, HDCD-tool, DFF-tool, SACD-tool and so on, which I all have already integrated for quite some time - but there are always "newer" and presumably "technical better" versions out - I happened to stumble upon a tool called "Ram-disk", called "foo-ramdisk" on their site...
Well, this app is not that new, but it was "new" for me, and till that very moment I didn't realize it and therefore could not pay attention to this tiny little thing... but now I was wondering what this should be and could do and got curious... so, when I saw it, I immediately downloaded it, installed it, got used to it and played with it. The features are not that comfortable (you cannot "save" and "reload" a tracklisting, you will always have to renew it... and the amount of importing perfectly ripped music into RAM is strictly limited, depending on the capability of the RAM-components, but a really great variety of codecs can be imported, unfortunately  not  all, so I did not manage to import "ISO" at the moment... but all FLAC 16, all FLAC24 and all DFF...
So, what happened? The BIG BANG ! It never ever came to my mind that the gain in velocity from reading the data within milli-seconds from usaul harddrives to nano-seconds within the computer's own RAM would have any influence on the sound. But it has. It has exactly that influence that my stomoch, my beloved HiFi-stomoch, had let me presume, and it had that influence on my stomoch already the first time when I read about that criteon. And now here is the proof.
To make it short: The musical result playing "perfectly ripped music directly out of RAM" is not to compare with anything else I have ever heard coming out of whatever system! There is practically "no" bass. It is that "slim" but natural that it is hardly recognizable. Simply wonderful. That what we are used to listen to as bass is more or less "boom, boom..", even if the boom-boom is more and more "reduced", it is still there... and now it is gone, completely goen. What a sensation!!! What happens here is the integration of the bass into the whole sound so that "a bass" is no longer distinguishable as bass per se... this is really fantastic, like an absolutely not at all boring clean and pure virgin mountain water source... MUSIC at its best!!!
After getting used to that result I can firmly say: this is not another dramatic step up in HiFi-heaven, it is one of "the" steps at all, and it is has indeed come very very close to the realisation of my life-time HiFi-dreams... and the best: it doesn't cost anything !!!
I do not want to become indiscreet, but in this case (Jean please pardon me...) let me reveal you a small secret. After some three years of intensive listening tests here with us (Klaus and me) Jean told me that listening to my system was one of the greastest chocs that he has ever experienced in his HiFi-life... (and this was a dozen or so amelioration steps back at the beginning of the DDDAC-area...) and as a consequence he has just acquired a DDDAC1543 with 120 chips (exactly like mine) for his own digital stream purposes...
...but what I am experiencing here now, is one of the greatest (positive) HiFi-chocs in  m y  life...
so, for all those who want to try out and/or follow this path of reproducing digital music, these are my settings within foobar. The imported parts are printed fat. So, feel free to try out, and enjoy...

 Installation of "foo-ramdisk"
oohhh, sorry, I nearly forgot to show you how to get, install and make your "foo_ramdisk"-tool properly working in foobar 2000 (just in case you shouldn't know already)...
1. to be absolutely sure that you get all things right, just go to the homepage of foobar, and nothing but the homepage of foobar... there are other third parties working/developing for foobar, but from what I read here and there not everything is just exactly perfectly "running", but it's up to you... so, go to
2. click on "Components"
3. scroll down to "RAM-Disk 1.0"
4. click on "RAM-Disk 1.0"
5. scroll down to "Link", click on "Download", then you are asked "to save"... well, save
6. when the download is done, open foobar > File > Preferences > Components
7. click on the button "Install...", move to your corresponding folder/file where you saved "RAM-Disk 1.0", select, click "open"
8. the new component "RAM-disk" will now enter into "Installed Components", but at that moment it is still not yet integrated into the working processes of the program, so, to manage this, select your newly imported "RAM-disk", press "Apply" on the bottom to the right and then you will be asked to "restart" foobar so that the new application gets an integrated part of the program and might work properly with it...  foobar will restart...
your "new" component-folder should now look something like this, and "RAM-Disk" should appear in fat letters... if so, you are done with the installation...
9. To further prove that everything has been done properly, open your header "View", there should now be a new entry "RAM disk content", which will show your entries done...
10. but at this moment you do not yet have any entries... so, how do you do an entry? yes, of course, select a track within your foobar-playlist, right click > Utilities > Add to RAM-disk, your "RAM-Disk Content"-window will open and show your first entry.. if you want more, select more, the amount of possible entries is - as far as I can see - only limited by the capabilities of your RAM-modules..
11. so, and now, how do you play an entry out of your RAM? well, this does  n  o  t  work when just clicking on the entry within the foobar list, no, you will have to move your cursor to your "RAM-Disk Content"-window (if it should not be open, move to your header "View" > "RAM-Disk content"), then move it to the entry that you want to play, click on it so that it is marked, right-click, and press "Play"... your "music" should now be reproduced clearest way possible... within this "RAM-Disk" you are able to play all sorts of entries, from CD, SACD, DVD-A in nearly all formats, i.e. FLAC16, FLAC24, DFF... (for the reproduction of DVD-A and DFF and ISO there are as well other components on the foobar-homepage which are to be installed just the same way) the only format I did not yet manage to bring to play is ISO, I always get an error message... if you have any idea how that should work, just let us know... thanks...
12. but be aware, as far as I can see, you will  n o t  be able to "store" your entries within this "RAM-Disk Content", i.e. the playlist that you imported into your RAM, well, during a normal listening session the entries are captured here, but once you left foobar, these entries are gone, and you will have to renew them every time you restart foobar...
so, and now we are curious about your personal results... please, feel free to tell us about your progresses and listening experiences and...
enjoy

Reinhard



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