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Phantom Gold Review in HiFi Choice
#1
Just brought the December edition of this (UK) magazine home, in which David Vivian has reviewed a pair of Golds.

Its full of the blown-away superlatives that we are used to by now... but he did finish with these qualifications that reflect my own views:

"And yet, there there are things that I miss, and, after a long session sampling everything from Grieg to Go-Go Penguin, I am left feeling strangely fatigued and yearning for the return of the SCM 40 which, going over the same material, fills in the finer micro-dynamics, timbral textures and rhythmic nuances that are the true hallmarks of top-drawer hi-fi. I am shocked and awed by the Gold Phantom, but I never feel relaxed in the same way that I do when listening to a large, three-way floorstander."

I felt that my White Phantoms were about the equal of my D120+£1K floorstanders, but once I had my XTZ's SAMmed and they reached down to 20Hz, they pulled ahead of the Phantoms overall. Better vocals, timbral colour, and atmosphere. Then, with my new £3K PMC Twenty5.23's , that gap has widened further (... and I'm hoping SAM will do the honours eventually).

You have to spend a while getting over the "shock and awe" of Phantoms before you can make a more balanced judgement, and realise that they don't actually do everything that a high-end system does.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a massive fan of Phantoms. I must emphasise that none of my comments apply to their astounding bass... this part I DO believe falls into the 5-figure category. For A/V they are frightening! (bye-bye to sub-woofers). That's leaving latency issues aside, of course.
JRiver v22 >> Windows 10 >> D120 >> Tellurium-Q Black >> PMC Twenty5.23. Two White Phantoms.
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#2
Just a quick addendum to my speaker upgrade comment... they posted SAM for the PMC 25.23 a few days ago.

However, upon trying it out, I'm very underwhelmed! Supposedly bass extended from 39 to 23Hz, but it hardly seems so. There's nowhere near the improvement I got out of my old speakers (and KEF LS50's). In fact, after comparing at the weekend, I seem to prefer the PMC's without SAM. (Inadvertently echoing the opinion of HiFi Critic magazine, when they reviewed the D200 and preferred their PMC 20.26's without SAM).

I wonder if SAM becomes less effective (and in fact more obtrusive) as one goes up the speaker chain? Or maybe some speaker designs are just not as amenable as others.
JRiver v22 >> Windows 10 >> D120 >> Tellurium-Q Black >> PMC Twenty5.23. Two White Phantoms.
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#3
I am also starting to get a little tired of the Phantom Golds that I have. For me, i'm starting to think that it could all be the hype that psychologically made it such a popular product. Just like you, I am not saying that its not a good pair of speakers, but rather, apart from the very wide soundstage, there seems to be nothing special about it anymore the longer you listen to it. I'm contemplating on selling my Phantom Golds and going back to the good old amp+speaker setup.
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#4
(07-Nov-2016, 14:05)JohnnySix Wrote: I wonder if SAM becomes less effective (and in fact more obtrusive) as one goes up the speaker chain? Or maybe some speaker designs are just not as amenable as others.

That's just our experience (a group of 3 D-owners). Every time we fire up SAM you would loose all the finest details in music and stage build up. It's like cutting away the room around the instruments. For the quick shot hearing you can locate the sound objects more precisely but you loose all their connection to the room they were recorded in. They get loose. If you hear further on you notice that the whole composition of the music get's lost. It's no more homogeneous.

If you think of it from the theoretical point it (SAM etc.) has to be malicious to the music because you are altering the music signal to accomplish a correction of speaker parameters. It's just the wrong way working (against the stream). You have to alter the speaker itself to get the music signal untouched, because doing the way SAM and digital room correction does it, is like cutting through the 3D matrix of the musical signal and altering every object of sound even roomreflections recorded (be it for the timeline or frequencies, both).
You are swirling everything in the musical 3D matrix up through space  Confused  ( I have no other words for it, difficult to describe, but I hope you get the idea).

gui
- D200 (mod) - ML Motion40 (mod) - Manger P1 (mod) - WS2016/AO 2.20 b5/foobar 1.3.15 - SOX upsampling/jplay 6.2/process lasso server edition (beta)/fidelizer 7.7 Pro/ssd/laptop(mod)/usb-D200 - 
"Oh, you can buy the other. But then it is a cost intensive learning process"
berlin
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#5
(11-Nov-2016, 09:10)yabaVR Wrote:
(07-Nov-2016, 14:05)JohnnySix Wrote: I wonder if SAM becomes less effective (and in fact more obtrusive) as one goes up the speaker chain? Or maybe some speaker designs are just not as amenable as others.

That's just our experience (a group of 3 D-owners). Every time we fire up SAM you would loose all the finest details in music and stage build up. It's like cutting away the room around the instruments. For the quick shot hearing you can locate the sound objects more precisely but you loose all their connection to the room they were recorded in. They get loose. If you hear further on you notice that the whole composition of the music get's lost. It's no more homogeneous.

If you think of it from the theoretical point it (SAM etc.) has to be malicious to the music because you are altering the music signal to accomplish a correction of speaker parameters. It's just the wrong way working (against the stream). You have to alter the speaker itself to get the music signal untouched, because doing the way SAM and digital room correction does it, is like cutting through the 3D matrix of the musical signal and altering every object of sound even roomreflections recorded (be it for the timeline or frequencies, both).
You are swirling everything in the musical 3D matrix up through space  Confused  ( I have no other words for it, difficult to describe, but I hope you get the idea).

gui

Hi Gui,
I notice that your signature says "200 (mod)". Have you had it upgraded, or modified it yourself? If you don't mind me asking, what did you do to it? What effect has it had on SQ? Is it something that the rest of us might benefit from?

Cheers,

Alex.
Project Eperience X Pack with Ortofon Rondo Red MC, Oppo BDP 105D, Sonos Connect, QNAP HS251+ NAS running JRiver, Mutec MC-3+USB, Devialet 440 Pro, Denon AH-D5000, Sennheiser HD600 and HD800 with Cardas cable, Rupert Neve Designs headphone amp., Proac Response D20R, Van Den Hul The First Ultimate interconnects, GSP Audio Spatia speaker cable.
South Coast England
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#6
(12-Nov-2016, 03:57)Axel Wrote:
(11-Nov-2016, 09:10)yabaVR Wrote:
(07-Nov-2016, 14:05)JohnnySix Wrote: I wonder if SAM becomes less effective (and in fact more obtrusive) as one goes up the speaker chain? Or maybe some speaker designs are just not as amenable as others.

That's just our experience (a group of 3 D-owners). Every time we fire up SAM you would loose all the finest details in music and stage build up. It's like cutting away the room around the instruments. For the quick shot hearing you can locate the sound objects more precisely but you loose all their connection to the room they were recorded in. They get loose. If you hear further on you notice that the whole composition of the music get's lost. It's no more homogeneous.

If you think of it from the theoretical point it (SAM etc.) has to be malicious to the music because you are altering the music signal to accomplish a correction of speaker parameters. It's just the wrong way working (against the stream). You have to alter the speaker itself to get the music signal untouched, because doing the way SAM and digital room correction does it, is like cutting through the 3D matrix of the musical signal and altering every object of sound even roomreflections recorded (be it for the timeline or frequencies, both).
You are swirling everything in the musical 3D matrix up through space  Confused  ( I have no other words for it, difficult to describe, but I hope you get the idea).

gui

Hi Gui,
I notice that your signature says "200 (mod)". Have you had it upgraded, or modified it yourself? If you don't mind me asking, what did you do to it? What effect has it had on SQ? Is it something that the rest of us might benefit from?

Cheers,

Alex.

Sure. But it's only for the brave and strong hearted.

My belief is that not even Devialet knows what their amp-circuit is capable of SQ-wise. They did a fabulous job inventing/meassuring the whole thing, but then messed it up using the cheapest binding post, using this filtered IEC inlet, using only pin-connections with the ciruit boards and chromeplating the chassis instead of just polishing or anodizing the aluminum.

Now with the Pro-Series they at least got rid of the pin-connection with the Power Filter Board therefore the D's got much more impact and directness. SQ got more real.
Within the pics you can see some of the mods I made. There is a very special other mod but it's not for the public yet being very uncommon...especially for non-believers  Big Grin

How do all this modifications sound? It's like the D's are getting alive the first time. Power feels like it is at least doubled (I know it's not, but this D got thrust like...). Details are increased in every aspect (directness, transparency, bandwidth). Stage? Now there is a stage...and it's stable. Stability is a very special subject you will get with these mods...and bass. I really never heard a bass so transparent yet so powerfull,controlled and deep. You can hear so many nuances of bass (even with electronic music) it's stunning.
In fact my D200 one time eventually shut off when performing some chinese drums at a WA Sophia 3. There were no distortions you could hear (but it was loud, someting near +xxdB)...it just made "klick" and the D200 was off. Has anybody achieved this with his D Rolleyes ?

I know everybody uses this words when something is improving. So to say...you have to hear it for yourself. At the moment there are 4 D's here in Berlin (2xD200, 2xD250) that got these modifications (one out of the new box of a customer Angel ) and I am keen to compare one to a D800/D440/D1000 just to know where they can qualify.

gui

p.s. the modified parts can ever be improved and will be in the future.


Attached Files Image(s)
           
- D200 (mod) - ML Motion40 (mod) - Manger P1 (mod) - WS2016/AO 2.20 b5/foobar 1.3.15 - SOX upsampling/jplay 6.2/process lasso server edition (beta)/fidelizer 7.7 Pro/ssd/laptop(mod)/usb-D200 - 
"Oh, you can buy the other. But then it is a cost intensive learning process"
berlin
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#7
(12-Nov-2016, 21:13)yabaVR Wrote: Sure. But it's only for the brave and strong hearted.

I have been wondering about the pin connections to the binding posts, but I thought 'as long as there are many in parallel...'. This shows that the best is probably a direct or soldered connection. You loose the XLR input this way. Maybe soldering will improve this too? Very brave stuff!
*
Netgear Ultra 2+ NAS:: Roon Core on Debian Linux::Intel NUC::Audiolense 5.0 filters::microRendu::LPS-1::Mutec MC-3+USB::250 Pro::Monitor Audio MA201 (thoroughly rebuilt, now with a SAM profile)



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#8
(14-Nov-2016, 22:54)ogs Wrote:
(12-Nov-2016, 21:13)yabaVR Wrote: Sure. But it's only for the brave and strong hearted.

I have been wondering about the pin connections to the binding posts, but I thought 'as long as there are many in parallel...'. This shows that the best is probably a direct or soldered connection. You loose the XLR input this way. Maybe soldering will improve this too? Very brave stuff!

No, no you don't loose the XLR. The photo is taken in the mids of work. The XLR is directly soldered onto the 4 last pins on the right. And what a big improvement to the SQ of the XLR-Input. This was the main difference between RCA and XLR. The RCAs are directly soldered to the main board and some guys here at devialetchat mentioned they would prefer the RCA-Input over the XLR-Input SQ-wise (mostly timing-problems with XLR). This problem is solved by this mod.

With this modification you get rid of the Pickup-Circuit-Board with all it's soldered joints for the XLR-Input and the binding posts and the Metal-Clamps (don't know the material, looks like steel) .
It's a massiv reduction of joints and varied material in the signal path and it's even shorter. It's a big improvement in SQ I have to say. It's like focussing the already lasersharp D by a large margin.


About the parallel pins.
Devialet had to use so many due to the amount of current transportet to the binding posts. They use Pin-Connections for the fact they want to keep the manufacturing simple/fast/cheap. I think you can put together a D in less than 10min if you are trained, no soldering, just plugging and screws.

But that's a good example for meassurement against hearing. Sure the 7pins/binding post would meassure as being sufficient to the task...BUT does it sound as good as a single solid core cable to the binding posts.  No, it does not (I have to use 2pins for one cable to get sufficient contact though).

And here is the reason.
If you use 7 instead of 1 connection you have 6 more soldered joints for the signal. Expect every soldered joint to be a disruption to the signal. It would meassure the same resistance as a single wire for an instrument, but that's not the point...
Think of power (electrons) flowing like water. It's an assumption I know, but no scientist ever saw an electron moving through a wire. Does it push, jump from orbital to orbital, does it flow through? Take what you want. For sure it moves in a 3D-Manner and not as the 2D-Sinewave shown on the screen  Wink
Ok, the signal takes its route from the amp to the binding posts and all of a sudden it has to diverse into 7 'streams' (the pins). There after it joints together as one. Think of it like water running through pipes. You will create a large amount of swirls, different timings the watermolecules pass through the pipes, etc...it's just an analogy (and yes, not proven), but you get the point.

Scientifically we step back and just look at the meassurements but I don't think that's all we want to know here.

The problem is we can not see what's going on and therefor have to rely on meassurements and theories and senses.

Last but not least it's a material thing we are talking about and not just a number on the screen...there is an edging/border/frame, movement, different materials, temperature, etc. ...and most of the scientific guys think that doesn't matter because they can visually not see the effects of it but anyhow they can not rely on their senses (for what ever reason).

gui
- D200 (mod) - ML Motion40 (mod) - Manger P1 (mod) - WS2016/AO 2.20 b5/foobar 1.3.15 - SOX upsampling/jplay 6.2/process lasso server edition (beta)/fidelizer 7.7 Pro/ssd/laptop(mod)/usb-D200 - 
"Oh, you can buy the other. But then it is a cost intensive learning process"
berlin
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#9
It sounds like what you're describing on the speaker bindings would be easily measurable gui - and others have pointed to similar results - so it's very disappointing that Devialet wouldn't have addressed it on the pros. Why go to all the lengths to reduce number of silicon junctions and then leave unnecessary extra junctions at the physical connector? Maybe they do all their measurements directly on the board and forgot to check with the casing in place?
The speaker binding posts definitely look cheaper than the ones on my speakers or even the ones on my previous teddy Pardo amp.
I'm too scared to do mods on mine but would like to hear it!

Not to say the pro doesn't sound much better - it does so far - but to think it could be even better with a simple tweak... I wonder if all the Devialet designers hard wire their ones at home?

Roon lifetime > Mac mini > AIR ethernet (finally!!! After 2 years!!!!) > Devialet 250 Pro > PMC fact.8
- London, UK -

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#10
(15-Nov-2016, 11:30)Hifi_swlon Wrote: ... Maybe they do all their measurements directly on the board and forgot to check with the casing in place?


Not to say the pro doesn't sound much better - it does so far - but to think it could be even better with a simple tweak... I wonder if all the Devialet designers hard wire their ones at home?

Yeah, exactly my thoughts. They measure only the board since there sits their knowledge and expertise.
'The rest is just some connections. Nothing to explore, let's save us some money there.' ...and whoops, they throw it all away  Confused

gui

Do you live near London? I know a guy who is working at 'KJ West One'. We worked together here in Berlin. I probably will send him my D200 for audition and some cables of my new collection.
- D200 (mod) - ML Motion40 (mod) - Manger P1 (mod) - WS2016/AO 2.20 b5/foobar 1.3.15 - SOX upsampling/jplay 6.2/process lasso server edition (beta)/fidelizer 7.7 Pro/ssd/laptop(mod)/usb-D200 - 
"Oh, you can buy the other. But then it is a cost intensive learning process"
berlin
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