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A Confused streaming system - Mutec / SOtM Ultra
@afrancois - Yes, I suspect I know what you mean by "it never did feel right. Who knows if we hear the same thing, but there is something that niggles me a little when listening with the sPS-500 in play. As mentioned above, I am currently waiting for a pair of SR4's, these are due to arrive in early December.

So whilst waiting, I thought I would try a little experiment. A couple of weeks ago I swapped out all of the SOtM kit and I have been running my LPS-1 powered microRendu direct to the REF10 clocked MC3+USB. The idea was to simply swap to a system without the sPS-500, no A/B testing or messing about, and just see how I found the system over time. I have quite enjoyed this set up over the last couple of weeks, but any niggles I had about the sPS-500 have been replaced by a big fat niggle that I am losing a lot in terms of details, resolution and dynamics with the mR back in play. A whole chunk of magic has gone. I had a bit of free time this morning, and have just switched the SOtM kit back in into the system, time will tell how I find things moving back the other way.

Another thing that has happened is that I had a bit of a thought the other day. I have mentioned before about wanting to change the layout of my rack, which sits in the corner of the room, effectively to the right of and behind the right-hand speaker. I know from the work I did getting REW readings and correspondence with Home Audio Fidelity's Thierry regarding HAF filters that this rack is doing something measurably bad, hence my desire to switch to a fundamentally different rack layout that mitigates this issue. Two things happened, I was looking at the various REW readings taken to produce the HAF filters, at much the same time I stumbled across a track that niggled me slightly with respect to an overly prominent HF/presence range. The REW curves do indicate more of an HF drop off with the left speaker, or you could say a more prominent HF with the right speaker, although conversely, the right speaker indicates a slightly louder response with respect to the lowest bass. So just as an experiment, I tried listening to the subject track with the balance set fully left then right. OK, it is very odd experience listening to just one speaker, but it is fair to say that things sounded better with just the left speaker than with just the right speaker. Indeed, subsequent tweaking has revealed that the system sounds better with the balance set very slightly to the left.

The obvious conclusion here is that the sooner I sort the rack out the better. Other than the rack, the room is near enough symmetrical. I say near enough because there are curtains and a window on one side but not the other, but things are more or less dimensionally symmetrical.

OK - So sorting the room has moved up my priority list, about time too some might say. What does interest me is that with the old D800, mR, MC3+USB set-up, I was perfectly happy with the balance of the system. Now with multiple "improvements", the 1000Pro, REF10 and SOtM kit, room generated niggles are driving me mad. It seems to me that as the system has become more resolving, it has become less forgiving of imperfections in the room, or has perhaps served to push these issues into prominence. I know it is quite a common comment from some people that it is far better to spend time and money on the room rather than seeking out small gains, probably at some expense, from the electronics. Yes, I get this, but for me I have to say that I think both go hand in hand. There would be little point spending much time and money on the room if you are just running an Amazon Echo or something, but in the same way there is a point at which improving the speakers and electronics is pointless if you ignore the room. I have been very careful in the past with speaker placement, fine-tuning and measuring with REW, this kind of thing. Plus, the room is otherwise not too bad, carpeted, lots of soft furnishing and other junk acting as sound defusers. With all that said, the benefits of the REF10 and SOtM kit remain clearly apparent, indeed, I have missed the SOtM kit whilst the mR has been back in play, but the penalty is that room induced "niggles" blunt the enjoyment. It has been a bit of a troubled journey this year, but I have a feeling the ultimate destination is going to be very satisfying.

Lots of waffle here, but fair to say that as soon as I find the time, I'll be sorting that rack out.....
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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It is just about one month since I have posted here, but some interesting things have been going on.  I did finally get around to sorting my rack out.  My main rack is a modular design, it is not the best rack in the world, but at least it is reconfigurable to suit changes to the system.  I actually have two of them, a legacy of a time when I had a very complex hifi plus AV system.  The second rack was living upstairs and held some legacy 80's / 90's kit.

Anyway, the problematic tall rack in the corner of my room has gone, replaced with three very low-level racks that are far less intrusive in terms of influencing the sound. With the rack gone, I spent some time experimenting with fine-tuning of the speaker positioning and checking with REW.  With the rack gone from the corner of the room behind the right-hand speaker, I know have more options for speaker location.  It was interesting that when checking with REW, moving the speaker rearwards towards the wall appeared to do nothing to the frequency curve other than fill in the room induced null that I have at 120Hz.  I even tried moving the speakers to 275mm from the rear wall, which is the minimum according to the KEF Blade manual.  In this position, REW showed that the null was gone.  I did try running the speakers in this position for a while, and whilst the REW frequency curve shows that this position is optimum, actual listening indicated that this position was poor, some things sounded very odd indeed.  The Blades are good in that they have very little (if any) "cabinet sound", but I think with the speakers this close to the wall, with some of the bass I was actually listening to the wall.  I am sure that it will come as no surprise to many that having speakers this close to the wall will sound poor, but I thought it was at least worth trying.  What was surprising was how little I had to move the speakers to move the speakers to remove the negatives relating to the "wall" effect.  I now have a speaker position a little revised from the previous, and with the corner rack gone, things have never sounded better.  Imaging is improved, bass is more realistic and some of that HF harshness I have been complaining about has gone.  So a decent upgrade, which has cost be nothing other than some time.  Although reconfiguring the racks, cleaning them up, and reconnecting all the kit did take a lot of time.  The reconfigured racks look a little odd, but not too bad.  If I find this layout works OK over time, I will consider getting something a little better, but it is absolutely fine for now, just to see how it goes.

One interesting thing happened recently, I was playing a copy of Kraftwerk's 3D Blueray.  The Blueray player was running via the REF10 clocked Mutec MC3+USB, and it sounded absolutely incredible, quite superb.  This got me thinking, and at a later occasion, I tried playing a CD which is burnt with some of my demo tracks, again Blueray player to MC3+USB.  In some respects, this sounded great, maybe totally a touch better than the SOtM kit, but is other respects it was a bit messy.  Just out of curiosity, I then tried the same disc via my old CD player, again feeding the REF10 clocked Mutec MC3+USB.  The CD player is a Musical Fidelity A3 CD, and must be about 19 years old now.  I think it cost me about a £900, which back then was a LOT of money for me.  I was not expecting much from my trusty old workhorse of a CD, but no, it sounded sensational!  For a while, I was a little gobsmacked, my goodness this was good.  After a while, I started to suspect that there were some slight negatives, but maybe the overall tonality was a touch better than the SOtM kit.  This morning for a bit of fun I played the same music simultaneously via the SOtM kit and the CD player.  It was then possible to instantly switch between the two using the input selector on the MC3+USB.  Hearing the two directly compared, the SOtM kit was clearer, more coherent and realistic sounding, although the margins were perhaps smaller than you might expect.  Within this though, there was something I liked when listening to the CD, I am sure some sections of music sounded better via CD, a slightly richer presentation that was very listenable.  As things stand, I am not sure if there is some benefit from eliminating USB, but it could be that the CD player ends up with a slightly messier bass or something, which just happens to be euphonic.  

As an aside to this, a while back I was considering trying the dCS Network Bridge.  Later, there was much talk elsewhere of low-cost NUC's running AudioLinux beating all-comers.  Seeing new developments like the AL NUC causes me to adopt a "wait and see" approach, sit back and watch developments, meanwhile enjoy what you have.  There is no point trying stuff like the NB if there could be something new and wonderful emerging in a year or two.  (I don't know enough about Linux to try a NUC myself, so I would be waiting for one or two "turnkey" options to emerge)  However, the CD player episode has got me wondering if a streamer running AES/EBU into the MC3+USB might be just what I need to nail the system synergy I am seeking, I might just try this sometime when I am not as busy as I am now.

Meanwhile, the system has never sounded better, so the desire to tweak is minimised.  I am definitely looking forward to spending more time just enjoying the system and listening to music, which I can do now.  A while ago I was listening to music with niggling thoughts that "something is not quite right".

Oh, and I am still waiting for the little SR4's to arrive (they were ordered two months ago), but I understand that there have been some delays and issues on Paul Hynes island, so for now I will play a few tunes whenever I get time, and I am sure one day the SR4's will surprise me by actually tuning up!

As a final note, I know some who read this think I am a hopeless tinkerer.  In part this is true, but after the year I have had and with endless frustrations, I am absolutely sick of it!  I am just happy I can listen and enjoy now.  (for a while) Shy
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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Hi Confused,

I know you don't mind writing a few lines so can I ask you, did you give your new speaker position where the 120Hz null was gone a good try? We seem to get used to what we're hearing from our own setup and it takes time to get used to a 'new sound'. Given that the null isn't supposed to be there but you got used to listening with it for a long time, I wonder if it was really bad sound or just you needing to get used to, according to your REW measurements, is fully linear sound.
                                                    Lifetime Roon, Mac mini, int. SSD, ext. HDD, tv as monitor, key board and track pad on bean bag as remote,Devialet 200, Od'A #097, Blue jeans speaker cable,                                     
                                                                                                                                                                            Dynaudio C1 MkII.
                                                                                                                                                                              Jim Smith's GBS.
                                                                                                                                                                        Northern NSW Australia.
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(09-Dec-2018, 18:16)Confused Wrote: One interesting thing happened recently, I was playing a copy of Kraftwerk's 3D Blueray.  The Blueray player was running via the REF10 clocked Mutec MC3+USB, and it sounded absolutely incredible, quite superb.  This got me thinking, and at a later occasion, I tried playing a CD which is burnt with some of my demo tracks, again Blueray player to MC3+USB.  In some respects, this sounded great, maybe totally a touch better than the SOtM kit, but is other respects it was a bit messy.  Just out of curiosity, I then tried the same disc via my old CD player, again feeding the REF10 clocked Mutec MC3+USB.  The CD player is a Musical Fidelity A3 CD, and must be about 19 years old now.  I think it cost me about a £900, which back then was a LOT of money for me.  I was not expecting much from my trusty old workhorse of a CD, but no, it sounded sensational!  For a while, I was a little gobsmacked, my goodness this was good.  After a while, I started to suspect that there were some slight negatives, but maybe the overall tonality was a touch better than the SOtM kit.  This morning for a bit of fun I played the same music simultaneously via the SOtM kit and the CD player.  It was then possible to instantly switch between the two using the input selector on the MC3+USB.  Hearing the two directly compared, the SOtM kit was clearer, more coherent and realistic sounding, although the margins were perhaps smaller than you might expect.  Within this though, there was something I liked when listening to the CD, I am sure some sections of music sounded better via CD, a slightly richer presentation that was very listenable.  As things stand, I am not sure if there is some benefit from eliminating USB, but it could be that the CD player ends up with a slightly messier bass or something, which just happens to be euphonic.  

As an aside to this, a while back I was considering trying the dCS Network Bridge.  Later, there was much talk elsewhere of low-cost NUC's running AudioLinux beating all-comers.  Seeing new developments like the AL NUC causes me to adopt a "wait and see" approach, sit back and watch developments, meanwhile enjoy what you have.  There is no point trying stuff like the NB if there could be something new and wonderful emerging in a year or two.  (I don't know enough about Linux to try a NUC myself, so I would be waiting for one or two "turnkey" options to emerge)  However, the CD player episode has got me wondering if a streamer running AES/EBU into the MC3+USB might be just what I need to nail the system synergy I am seeking, I might just try this sometime when I am not as busy as I am now.

As usual another excellent post. Must admit I had a bit of Deja Vu while reading it. Made me think of one of my previous experiences:

https://devialetchat.com/Thread-The-negative-positive

I also share your thoughts on the MC-3+USB. After putting it back into the signal chain, and complementing with the Ref-10, I now realized what a versatile and important piece of equipment it is. Once Innous releases their USB reclocker for the SE, I am definitely looking forward to feeding the Mutec with a USB signal again while routing via AES/EBU to the DAC. (mirroring the old Dev setup)
Kii Three Speakers | JL Audio Fathom Subwoofer  | Gordian Lab 12 Power Conditioner
Innuos Zenith SE Mk II | Melco N1ZH60 | Trinnov Amethyst | Mutec MC-3+ USB
Mutec Ref-10 | Oppo UDP-205 | T+A G 2000 R | Gold Note PH-10
Bavaria Germany
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@Pim - Yes, I'm always happy to respond to your points. In a way, the next thing I write might indicate that you have a point, the big change I did not like with the "no null" speaker position was the presentation of the bass. However, it was not just a tonal change, the bass sounded odd, very strange. Plus the tonal change appeared brighter, which is counterintuitive with respect to a null being filled. So as you suggested, yes, it just sunded bad. An additional point I would make here is that I am not a big believer in the theory that you "get used to the sound of your system". Although this may be true in part, I do for example spend more time listening to music in my car than I do at home. That said, I quite like the stereo in my car, it's not bad, so it could be that I am happiest with my "big rig" when it is tonally similar to my car! With all that said, when finally getting to some decent listening time on Sunday with my current speaker position I had a kind of "yes, it sounds good now" moment. So I'll be keeping the speakers where they are now for a while I think, after the year I have had faffing around that "sounds good" moment was very welcome and precious. Although I still have the marks in the carpet if I want to try some of the old positions.

@baconbrain - It was interesting reading your old thread, especially seeing the words I wrote at the time, quite amusing. It also occurs to me that I was running a 19 year old CD player that you could probably buy on eBay for £100 now, with a mighty fine BNC to RCA cable that used to be yours! Maybe it was your old cable that was delivering the goods? Of course, what I was kind of saying is just how good an almost worthless old CD player sounds, when running through £4k's worth of modern referenced clocked reclockers. Cheating, basically. It does leave me wondering what the REF10'd MC3+USB would sound like connected to a decent quality, modern S/PDIF source though.

Finally, I had seen some posts on CA referring to the new Innuos USB you mention. I will be following this one with interest.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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This thread is just over one year old now, it has been a bit of a rocky road to be honest, in particular with the SOtM kit.  From day one I could see (hear) that the SOtM kit was delivering clarity and detail that the old microRendu (or indeed AIR) could not quite achieve, but there was the flip side with the SOtM kit seaming to exaggerate a kind of digital harshness in the presence range.  This harshness varied between recordings, but although the system was nominally sounding superb, there was something there, niggling away at me that somehow spoilt the enjoyment of the music.  Interestingly, my system exhibits similar characteristics if I switch back to Roon AIR, I think the original pre Neo sMS-200 sounded bright and somehow hurtled this into my consciousness, but there is zero doubt in my mind that although the old D800 lacked the ultimate detail and resolution of the Pro, it was maybe the easier amp to live with when running through a variety of recordings of mixed quality.  My aim all along was to somehow get the more relaxed nature of the D800 with the clearly superior performance of the Pro.  

This weekend I finally think I have got there, but not for the reason I expected.

A little over a week ago my Paul Hynes SR4's arrived, not far off six months after ordering them in early October.  (In fairness to Paul Hynes, it seems my order placement was spectacularly bad time in relation to problems he has had moving to a new facility, I suspect that someone ordering an SR4 now will get it rather faster)  So last weekend I set up the SR4's on Saturday evening, and gave them a few hours to settle in before listening on Sunday.  Initial impressions were positive.  The most noticeable aspect was a little more body and impact in the bass, I was also hoping that the SR4's would help mitigate the slight but annoying "digital fog" I have been experiencing in the presence range of some recordings, but I can't say this aspect was improved much.  I have been away from my system for most of last week, so the next listen was this Saturday.  The SR4's have been powered up for a full week, so fully settled in I would say, I sat down for some critical listening, and broadly speaking reached the same conclusion as my quick listen a week ago.  So a worthwhile addition, I definitely prefer the SR4's over the SOtM sPS-500, but it is a relatively modest incremental step, not a gamechanger.  It is worth noting that the SR4's are quite nice things, they look and feel very solid and high quality in a way that the SOtM kit, for example, does not.  Also, being adjustable for 4 different voltages and with a 2A output, they are very versatile.  So if at some time in the future I sell the SOtM kit, I am sure that the SR4's will remain in my system somewhere, powering a new endpoint, the MC3+USB, an Ethernet switch, who knows, but I am sure I will be using them for many years.  A good investment I would say.  As an aside here, the SR4's do not come with mains power cords, and I have read reports that they benefit from power cords that actually cost more than the SR4's themselves.  Mine are running on standard "kettle leads", I am not sure about the benefits of power cords, I am a little cynical but to be honest I have never tried comparing cords, so I am in no position to comment.  I have noted the positive comments regarding the Audioquest NRG-Z3 and Shunyata Delta's recently, so this has lead me to thoughts of maybe treating the 1000Pro to some nice cords, and therefore passing down the Devialet supplied NRG-X3's to the SR4's.  This is something for another day.

Last week SOtM released yet another firmware update for the sMS-200.  Since the popularity of AudioLinux NUC's has increased, SOtM seem to be in a bit of an arms race to somehow get ahead with respect to sound quality.  The results have been mixed, with the Roon and HQPlayer modes working OK, but other methods suffering stuttering and other issues.  For me, the recent SOtM firmware V0.4.5X versions have offered a decent SQ hike, with 100% stability with HQPlayer upsampling to 24/192, so I have been more than happy.  Yesterday afternoon I updated to the latest V0.4.57 version, which offers the option to select between 1000BASE-T and 100BASE-T Ethernet, with 100BASE-T supposedly offering better SQ.  I selected the 100BASE-T option and sat down to listen to some familiar tracks.  This was quite a moment, the change was transformational, that annoying presence range "digital fog" is gone, and even listening to some tracks that I am extremely familiar with I was noticing extra detail and content in the music, I was quite simply getting greater insight into the music.  The detail thing is not the most important aspect though, I have been listening to all sorts of music today, and I am just simply enjoying the music now, the niggling digital glare issues have gone and I am left with something far more natural sounding.  How is this even possible?  When I have a bit more time (and can be bothered) I might try V0.4.57 back with 1000BASE-T, to see if it is the firmware or the 100BASE-T option that is making the difference.  At the moment I am not bothered, things are sounding better than I have ever heard with the Pro, I do indeed seem to have achieved getting the hyper detail of the Pro with the more relaxed nature of the Expert.  Right now I could not be happier.
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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Wow, I know I’ve been away from forums a while but how did I miss this topic...I have some catching up to do! Smile

Congrats on finally receiving the SR-4’s Confused! If I remember how much time the Hynes PSU took in my system, changing character almost every day, they -may- not have fully settled yet.

Great that you seem to have found the culprit for the brightness/glare issue you’ve been experiencing. Enjoy!
PS Audio P3, Shunyata ΞTRON Alpha Digital and HC/Furutech power cables, Paul Hynes SR7EHD-MR4, DIY Roon Server & Roon Endpoint running AudioLinux Headless, Phasure Lush^2 USB cable, Audioquest Diamond RJ/E ethernet, Mutec MC-3+ USB, Shunyata ΞTRON Anaconda Digital XLR AES/EBU, Devialet Expert 250 Pro CI, Nordost Tyr Reference LS cables, Von Schweikert VR-5 SE Anniversary Edition, Anti-Mode Dual Core 2.0, JL Audio Fathom F112. More detail here.

The Netherlands


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(25-Mar-2019, 13:48)Antoine Wrote: Wow, I know I’ve been away from forums a while but how did I miss this topic...I have some catching up to do! Smile

Congrats on finally receiving the SR-4’s Confused! If I remember how much time the Hynes PSU took in my system, changing character almost every day, they -may- not have fully settled yet.

Great that you seem to have found the culprit for the brightness/glare issue you’ve been experiencing. Enjoy!

Thanks!  Actually, I am hoping the SR4's have settled down.  With further listening last Sunday I was more than happy with what I was hearing.  I will not have another chance to listen until this coming weekend and I am hoping that everything will sound exactly the same.  I would hate to have to declare that initially the SR4's sounded great but after extensive "burn in" they made the system sound worse! Shy
1000 Pro - KEF Blade - SOtM sMS-200Ultra Neo - tX-USBultra - Mutec REF10 - MC3+USB - Pro-Ject Signature 12
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(Yesterday, 13:45)Confused Wrote:
(25-Mar-2019, 13:48)Antoine Wrote: Wow, I know I’ve been away from forums a while but how did I miss this topic...I have some catching up to do! Smile

Congrats on finally receiving the SR-4’s Confused! If I remember how much time the Hynes PSU took in my system, changing character almost every day, they -may- not have fully settled yet.

Great that you seem to have found the culprit for the brightness/glare issue you’ve been experiencing. Enjoy!

Thanks!  Actually, I am hoping the SR4's have settled down.  With further listening last Sunday I was more than happy with what I was hearing.  I will not have another chance to listen until this coming weekend and I am hoping that everything will sound exactly the same.  I would hate to have to declare that initially the SR4's sounded great but after extensive "burn in" they made the system sound worse! Shy

Unfortunately I never took the plunge with a PH PSU, and with the dark clouds of Brexit looming on the horizon, I may never will ...  Sad
Kii Three Speakers | JL Audio Fathom Subwoofer  | Gordian Lab 12 Power Conditioner
Innuos Zenith SE Mk II | Melco N1ZH60 | Trinnov Amethyst | Mutec MC-3+ USB
Mutec Ref-10 | Oppo UDP-205 | T+A G 2000 R | Gold Note PH-10
Bavaria Germany
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