How to interpret dma data for plastic
Let's be honest, the very best way to improve our hi-fi system is to replace a component with a new model. And if we're about to be honest, after the effect of the new has evaporated, we're just as dissatisfied as before.
Interestingly, there is a tendency in this country to take the above-mentioned route, while listeners from France, for example, have always been concerned with how to get the best out of an existing system. Of course, I don't want to say that no improvement would be possible with a technically better component, but the higher-quality device will always remain far below its capabilities if the infrastructure is poor. The following two, almost heretical articles - I know what happened to heretics in the past - are intended to shed light on so-called minor issues such as system platforms, power supply and other things. In our enthusiasm for turntables, amplifiers and loudspeakers, we quickly forget that their performance clearly depends on the ambient conditions. If we try to drive a Formula 1 racer over a potato field, it doesn't matter whether the engine has 800 or 900 hp, we will still not go any faster. However, the opposite way is of course just as nonsensical if we then, for example, hover along the racetrack with a Goggomobile.
Nevertheless, in the following we will consider how to turn the potato field into a Formula 1 racetrack. How easy it used to be, put the record player on the chest of drawers, put the integrated amplifier in, connect the speakers and off you go! Until at some point someone noticed that the sound can be significantly improved if the turntable is on a solid surface. Traitor!
How do we want to go about it now? For the hi-fi playground, the accessories trade has a lot of articles ready, spikes, balls made of different materials, coasters made of glass, acrylic or carbon, constructs made of titanium and what do I know. Years ago, in a fit of mental derangement, I borrowed all sorts of coasters from the huge stock of the editorial team to find out whether something could be improved with them. The end result was always the same; some aspects have improved, but other properties have become worse. Ultimately, the realization was that trial and error won't get you very far here. Basically, you should first think about what is happening here in the first place.
For a better understanding, let's take a look at the term impedance. Impedance is generally understood to be the resistance that counteracts the spread of vibrations. In addition to the properties of the propagation medium, obstacles and transitions to different propagation media also have an influence on the impedance. We are interested in the term mechanical impedance, which describes the resistance to the propagation of mechanical vibrations. If two materials with the same impedance are in firm contact, for example steel on steel, the sound energy is easily transferred from one to the other. The transition has an adapted mechanical impedance. If you have two materials with different properties in firm contact, let's say steel on rubber, a large part of the vibration energy is reflected at the interface. The connection has an unmatched mechanical impedance.
Now our hi-fi system is made up of different materials, some very soft, some also very hard. A very common combination is a stable metal housing for an amplifier that stands on soft rubber or plastic feet. As we have seen, the transition point has an unmatched mechanical impedance. This means that vibrations from transformers or motors are poorly diverted via the rubber feet. The housing - and with it all of the electronics - simmer, so to speak, in your own dirty bath water. Figuratively speaking. This is a fact that, strangely enough, has not yet really reached the hi-fi sector. In addition, the sound pressure of the loudspeakers causes the devices to vibrate. Of course, this effect varies greatly with the volume, so that the usable volume range is significantly reduced. And not only that, via the cable connections between the devices, the vibrations can be passed on to other components and distributed throughout the system. Metallic conductors are good sound conductors! Now, of course, the question arises, is it all that bad? Is it!
So the first enemy of the state is vibrations, we even have a term for it: microphones. Microphone effects are often underestimated, but can cause considerable damage to playback. Every device with electrical circuits vibrates (it produces structure-borne noise), be it through poorly insulated transformers or electric motors, electrolytic capacitors; Ultimately, every conductor through which current flows vibrates. The energy generated here is of course small, but precisely at the point where the signal flow is. Some of the vibrations caused by microphones are converted back into an electrical signal and added to the original signal. This inevitably leads to a loss of precision and detail. Therefore, the construction of the rack should be designed in such a way that the devices are given a way to dissipate this energy and destroy it in the base. Of course, that's a very simplified view. We typically think of racks and other equipment bases as isolation platforms, which is actually a misleading term. This means that we use it to isolate our devices from the outside world, but external influences are less of a problem. We should be much more worried about the energy produced by the devices themselves.
This is where the company LeadingEdge comes into play. It is the result of a cooperation between Kaiser Acoustics and the Welsh company Vertex AQ. The platforms and racks presented here are therefore a joint development by the two companies. How did Kaiser / Vertex approach this problem? Theoretically everything is once again very simple, the vibrations only have to be diverted via the device feet and then destroyed in some form. For this purpose, LeadingEdge offers a special platform that can be placed on an existing rack or - even better - built into the in-house rack system. At first glance, the platform looks relatively inconspicuous, only two oval, metallic recesses are striking. However, what is involved here in terms of know-how and workload cannot be seen from the outside. The basis includes different technologies. The two oval metal inserts are used to mechanically couple the devices. In this area, the vibration energy should be diverted as completely as possible.
We remember that this works best with an adapted mechanical impedance. How well this works can be seen very easily by scratching the metal surface with your fingernail. That sounds more like plastic than metal, because the vibrations of the metal are well absorbed. Kaiser now offers three different feet for coupling the devices, two of which are used for damping, the third to dissipate vibrations. They look like truncated inverted cones. The cone for the discharge is made of steel and stands on three steel feet. An acoustic labyrinth was also implemented inside to minimize resonances. The other two are used for damping and are provided with a rubber buffer at the top and a rubber pad at the bottom. An acoustic mini-labyrinth was also built into the interior. Since the housings of electronic hi-fi devices are usually made of metal, the coupling via the one steel foot and the steel oval plate on the platform should work optimally. The two ovals are arranged at a right angle so that the device can be set up in different positions.
So far so good, but how do we get rid of the vibrations so that they don't just make nonsense somewhere else? This is where a specialty of the Vertex AQ company comes into play, namely the acoustic labyrinth. With this complex and ingenious system of thousands of acoustic paths of different lengths, the vibrations can be eliminated very efficiently. Basically, we have the construction we are looking for, with which the acoustic energy is diverted from the device and then destroyed in the labyrinth. So, we'd be rid of them, but what about vibrations caused by airborne noise? Thought has been given to this as well, an acoustic panel is attached to the underside of the platform - similar to the company's surface absorbers - with which the sound energy is to be reduced. In addition, the acoustic labyrinth is encapsulated with an absorption compound that is intended to reduce unwanted RFI interference. This interference produced by cell phones, WLAN routers or the system itself can cause minimal distortion and increase the background noise. The absorption technology used here works much better than shielding, in which part of the energy is always reflected. This technology also eliminates another effect, namely the influencing of the devices via RFI when they are arranged one above the other in a rack.
But I'm still a long way from finished! (Loosely based on Trappatoni) The whole thing stands on so-called Stop Choc feet. These come from industry and they can be used to set up heavy machines with vibration damping. The dampers consist of a steel wire mesh with a complex 3D structure. This is to eliminate all vibrations that could get into the device from the rack upwards via the platform. These dampers are much more effective than rubber or polymer dampers and should work over a wide frequency range. The height of the feet can be adjusted from above using four Allen screws and, of course, the platform can also be aligned precisely horizontally. The outwardly rather inconspicuous platform turns out to be an egg-laying woolly milk pig: the vibrations from the floor are dampened by the Stop Chock feet, the internal resonances are diverted into the labyrinth, RFI interference is reduced and vibrations are reduced by the sound pressure. The bases are made of birch plywood, for the surface you can choose from various wood veneers, including a high-gloss varnished version. This of course as a custom-made product. Whether a version in crocodile leather is also possible - for the special taste - would have to be clarified with Kaiser. The carpentry work is excellent again, as we could already see with her loudspeaker Chiara.
The first thing I did was put one of these platforms on my self-built rack. This is made of 4-centimeter multiplex panels and is extremely stable, but otherwise not an innovation miracle. If you only have one LeadingEdge platform available, it should be placed under the CD player, so the recommendation. So for me under the CD drive. The manufacturer points out that the platform needs a while to "sit down", it has to be broken into, so to speak. Which I could understand. Nevertheless, the change can be heard immediately even with the freshly unpacked platform and is by no means trivial. First of all, there is a clear gain in focus. What was previously presented in a comparatively fuzzy way now suddenly has clear structures. Especially with tutti passages of large orchestras, the performance does not break down into individual components. Of course, the components themselves also play a decisive role here.
This can be heard clearly in Siegfried's funeral march from Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung, here the Decca recording with Georg Solti. The complex passages now come with a precision never heard before, you can now save yourself the sprint to the volume control. Great! Three-dimensional imaging is also increasing immensely. The bass now appears to be much more controlled and thus the fundamental range is also much clearer. The spatial expansion towards the rear increases significantly. The dynamics have also improved once again. The thing is a phenomenon! For me the most amazing thing about these bases is that everything happens without any negative restrictions, they don't put their own stamp on the music. My previous experiences with such coasters, spikes or whatever else there is, have been rather ambiguous: for example, improved, very fluid and pleasant high frequency range, but everything in the direction of sleepy feet. In the opposite case, trumpets blaring, but the violins can no longer be heard. In any case, the LeadingEdge base had a resounding success with me, somehow I did not expect such an improvement. The question now is, can it be a little more? And everywhere? Like before? No problem, this can be done relatively easily - with a second base under the prepress. Obviously the positive effects add up.
I also put on the track "Tumbao" from Rubén González's debut album. The Cuban recorded this album at the age of 78. The Tumbao is the official bass figure in Cuban salsa music, played by the old master Cachaíto Lopez on this recording. The first thing you notice in connection with the bases is the organizing hand that intervenes in the action. Nevertheless, the rather wild, improvised character of this recording is well preserved, or in other words: it comes out even better. The joy of playing the boys (sic) can also be felt. The room appears to be very large and relatively empty, which can now be heard even more clearly. González plays here on a large concert grand with the rhythmic accompaniment of congas, bongos and timbales. The rather light and hard tone of the timbales is now very easy to distinguish from that of the congas.
Unfortunately, I did not have enough bases to equip all components with these platforms. But it would be very interesting! In any case, this works really well for a start. Of course, it would be even better to install the bases in the rack provided for this purpose. The Tower of Babel was already a flop in antiquity and does not necessarily represent the optimal solution in terms of device setup. RFI is not only distributed by Radio Yerevan, but also by the devices themselves. After the devices are partially stacked in a rack stand, they influence each other much more strongly via RFI than when they stand next to each other. The RFI shielding on the underside of the bases now plays a decisive role in improving the sound. Even if the bases react relatively little to the nature of the floor space, the installation in the in-house rack results in an improvement. This is built on the modular principle, you can choose between three different heights and widths of the individual elements. The height units are simply placed on top of one another like a Lego kit. On request, the bottom platform can contain another clever detail: it can be ordered with built-in power connections. This reduces the cable clutter behind the components; the lady of the house will appreciate this feature! In any case, the image with the rack becomes even more vivid and controlled. However, I was only able to use the top floor for the drive because the platforms were too small for my tube amplifiers. The higher element would have been needed for this.
Kaiser also offers smaller mini-panels for additional sound absorption; These are mini partition walls, without an acoustic labyrinth but equipped with RFI absorption technology and additionally equipped with microport technology for sound absorption. In a sense, a miniature version of the large panels to optimize the room acoustics. These are set up to the left and right of the devices, but they should not have any contact with the bases. The influence is not as pronounced here as with the bases, so you have to listen more closely. Here, too, the effect becomes very clear when you take the things away again, the rendering then looks a little less natural.
Overall, an absolutely convincing performance! The practical thing is that you can start small with just one base under the CD player or disk drive and then gradually expand the system. But even devices without moving parts, such as the Totaldac server from one of the last tests, benefit enormously from being set up on the LeadingEdge bases. You can compare the effect with a school orchestra playing Stravinsky 's Firebird at the graduation ceremony, then you can hear the same piece played by the Bavarian radio orchestra. The whole thing looks tidier, more structured and much better coordinated. These are no tuning items like the lower ashtray on the Opel Manta in the past.Also has nothing to do with nice to have, but actually not absolutely necessary. With the LeadingEdge platforms there are substantial improvements in playback! Whereby the bases do not change the sound of the components, they only support their properties so that they can work closer to their optimum. Of course, a frog doesn't become an enchanted prince!
The second report then deals with the power supply from VertexAQ, in which the above-mentioned technologies are also used.
|Digital drive||Ayon CDT|
|D / A converter||Borbely Audio|
|Pickups||Clearaudio Goldmund, Van den Hul Grashopper|
|Prepress||Shindo Monbrison, Thomas Mayer 10Y|
|Power amplifier||Thomas Mayer 211SE Elrog, 6HS5 PSE, Shindo Cortese|
|speaker||Wolf von Langa, Ancient Audio Studio Oslo|
|electric wire||Audio Consulting Reference RCA, Swisscables Reference NF, Swisscables Reference LS, Auditorium23 LS, Swisscables Netz|
|depth||410mm (dimensions for standard version)|
|price||1200 euros (standard size)|
500 euros for the coupling feet
|phone||+49 8593 9389110|
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