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Go Back   Wave Music Community Board > Tech Talk for Gearheads

View Poll Results: Which do you prefer on YOUR system with YOUR ears?
I prefer File X 4 66.67%
I prefer File Y 2 33.33%
I don't like either of them! 0 0%
Voters: 6. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 12-11-2010, 01:04 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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External phono stage shoot-out: needledrops to audition

OK, I'm currently auditioning external phono-stages and I'm interested in the Wave community's opinions.

I won't tell you what the two phono stages were for the time being, so people can give an opinion purely based on the sound. As I said, they have quite a different presentation from each other and at the moment one is sounding "better" in my system in its current configuration. However I prefer the other one in my headphones!

So I'm interested in how the two recordings translate to other people's systems (and ears), and where better than here amongst the Wave cognoscenti.

Plus you get to enjoy some Monsieur Chaix magic...

File X
File Y

The cartridge was an AT-440MLa and the soundcard was an RME FireFace 400. There was no post-processing apart from normalising the two files to the same peak levels. Both are 320kbps mp3s compressed from 24bit/44.1khz recordings. I chose to upload mp3s because the file sizes are easier to download and you can clearly hear the differences between the two files, even though they've been compressed.
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  #2  
Old 12-11-2010, 03:21 PM
cube3 cube3 is offline
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file x seems very bright
y has my vote
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  #3  
Old 12-11-2010, 03:33 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Hi Cube3

Thanks for taking the time to listen to these.

I agree that one sounds much brighter than the other, but for me it's File Y that's bright.
Are you sure you got them the right way round?
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  #4  
Old 12-11-2010, 05:22 PM
mattl mattl is offline
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I prefer X - it just sounds more rounded and warmer to me.
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  #5  
Old 12-12-2010, 05:47 AM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Thanks for joining in Mattl.
So the bass on FileX is not too overpowering on your system?
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  #6  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:24 AM
vinyl_junkie vinyl_junkie is offline
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Y is Bright..almost too bright but then X seems more wooly, you can't seem to hear as much detail between the instruments and drums where's with Y you do but the hi-hats are too in your face and bright.

I'll have a listen tonight on my proper monitors though and see what I think.
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  #7  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:28 AM
vinyl_junkie vinyl_junkie is offline
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I would of preferred some music with better production though to asses which is better and preff not dance music but something with real instruments and drums. Then throw in the dance track to make sure it sounds alright
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  #8  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:40 AM
vinyl_junkie vinyl_junkie is offline
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Ok I had a proper listen

File X is bass heavy while File Y is too bright but the bass is nice and the mids are nice too with good separation between the instruments.
But that top end ruins everything, it's not that it's sibilant or anything it's just way too bright...perhaps you could change the load to alter the response?
I don't like X much but it's nicer to listen to than Y so I would pick X as Y just starts to fatigue after a while unless you get the top end sorted.

I had a listen with the following things...

Mackie HR-624 mk1, Fostex PM-1 mk2, B&W DM-602 S3 driven by a Talk Electronics amp, Technics RP-DJ1200 headphones.
The track was played from my mac going through a MOTU 828 mk1 that went into a Urei 1620LE, the LE feed all the speakers or amps.

The low end wasn't so much of a issue on the Mackies but on the ported speakers like the B&W and Fostex it was quite evident and a bit boomy, also it was noticeable on the headphones albeit not as much.
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Last edited by vinyl_junkie : 12-12-2010 at 07:47 AM.
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  #9  
Old 12-12-2010, 07:44 AM
Disko Ole Disko Ole is offline
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For me Y sounds brighter and has a bit more details than X which has a bit more focus on the bottom, but not that great details on the rest compared to Y.

What I would choose? I'm not really sure to be honest. I like that X seems warmer, but after I listened to Y a couple of times I can't help it but wanting something in between the two.

For listening purpose I would have gone for Y, but for DJing I'd probably stick with X as I think Y would feel to bright for my ears after some hours.
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  #10  
Old 12-12-2010, 12:11 PM
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mynameismatt mynameismatt is offline
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I agree with what Disko Ole said...

Was one a dj mixer preamp and the other a stand alone preamp?

Some say the 440mLa is a bright cart anyways so it was interesting to hear such a difference with the same cart.

Last edited by mynameismatt : 12-12-2010 at 12:16 PM.
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  #11  
Old 12-12-2010, 01:36 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Thanks for the opinions, guys - I really do value your input.

They're both external phono-pres. One is chip(IC)-based and the other is fully discrete. I'll hold off on the reveal for a while if you don't mind - PM me if you really can't wait!
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  #12  
Old 12-12-2010, 01:38 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disko Ole
For me Y sounds brighter and has a bit more details ...
... I like that X seems warmer, but after I listened to Y a couple of times I can't help it but wanting something in between the two.
I know what you mean - X is relatively new, though, so I'm hoping it'll open up a bit as it runs in a bit more. I do find it easier to listen to for long periods, actually.
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  #13  
Old 12-12-2010, 01:39 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinyl_junkie
I would of preferred some music with better production though to asses which is better and preff not dance music but something with real instruments and drums. Then throw in the dance track to make sure it sounds alright
Maybe something with some vocals too? I'll have a dig around and see what I can find.
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  #14  
Old 12-12-2010, 01:40 PM
roropong roropong is offline
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Straight from my MacBook headphone socket to my E&S DJR400 : I prefer version Y.
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  #15  
Old 12-12-2010, 01:44 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roropong
Straight from my MacBook headphone socket to my E&S DJR400 : I prefer version Y.
Thanks for taking the time to listen.
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  #16  
Old 12-12-2010, 02:01 PM
vinyl_junkie vinyl_junkie is offline
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U ain't got one of those Creek phono pre amps do you lol? Just a guess...
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  #17  
Old 12-12-2010, 02:07 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinyl_junkie
U ain't got one of those Creek phono pre amps do you lol? Just a guess...
Nope. Nice try.
One is British, and the other is from ... somewhere else.
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  #18  
Old 12-23-2010, 06:45 PM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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As promised here's another track to compare, this time with real instruments and some female vocals.

A slow burning classic as sampled by Global Communication:
FileX
FileY

After the break about half-way through, a synth bassline joins the main one. I think one of the pres gets it right far better than the other one. Also the same one does a better job with the vocals and the strings, in my opinion, although I'm not saying which one just yet. See what you think.
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  #19  
Old 12-24-2010, 07:57 PM
Elliot Thompson Elliot Thompson is offline
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Smile

Hello misterharrison

Happy Holidays.

In both demonstrations, file Y offers more ultra high frequencies. Whether that is good or bad depends on the loudspeakers you are using.

Please bear in mind determining which phonograph pre-amplifier to choose based on opinions without taking the loudspeakers the others are using into consideration will be a big mistake on your part.

I actually ran all the files through a spectrum analyses to determine the difference amongst the file from a frequency perspective.

Through the speakers I listened to the track, I prefer file X. However, the tracks seem to be lacking in terms of quality. They just don't sound like a track a system engineer would use to test the overall quality of his/her sound system.

Also. The files are encoded in video which may be the reason they sound compressed. Is there any reason why did not use the standard WAV/AIFF files?

Best Regards,
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Last edited by Elliot Thompson : 12-24-2010 at 08:01 PM.
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2011, 01:47 PM
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mynameismatt mynameismatt is offline
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Y sounds better but I'd have to tame the highs for longer listening.
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  #21  
Old 01-09-2011, 08:04 AM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Well, thanks for all your time and considered replies. I find it very interesting how different people's systems and expectations/requirements (and ears!) respond to different presentations.

Starting off with systems, my speakers are vintage JBL L65's, aka Jubals, and their 077 slot tweeters tend towards the bright side. Consequently, for me, the extreme highs that everyone can hear on the Y samples become fatiguing very quickly. Also, I can hear plenty of top-end detail in the X samples through the JBLs, without the 'etched' presentation in the Y samples. However, if other people's systems are already set up to provide "club"-type bass levels, then I can quite believe that the X samples would come across as too bass-heavy or muddy. On the other hand, one man's muddy is another man's warm!

As for requirements, I suspect my home-listening needs are rather different from a system-technicians needs. If I listen for internal detail and resolution between different parts of the track while maintaining a cohesive view of it in its entirety (as in the section of Sweetest Pain that I mentioned earlier in the thread) then X seems to me to provide that. On the other hand, if I was looking for grip and punch in a sound-system setting that already provided "extra" bass, then I can see how Y might be preferable.

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to download, listen and write feedback.



The reveal:

X:
Heed Audio Questar

Y:
Graham Slee Gram Amp 2SE



For my home-listening needs, the Heed won and the Graham Slee went to my brother as a Christmas present!

Happy New Year everyone!
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  #22  
Old 01-09-2011, 03:59 PM
mattl mattl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by misterharrison
Starting off with systems, my speakers are vintage JBL L65's, aka Jubals, and their 077 slot tweeters tend towards the bright side. Consequently, for me, the extreme highs that everyone can hear on the Y samples become fatiguing very quickly. Also, I can hear plenty of top-end detail in the X samples through the JBLs, without the 'etched' presentation in the Y samples. However, if other people's systems are already set up to provide "club"-type bass levels, then I can quite believe that the X samples would come across as too bass-heavy or muddy. On the other hand, one man's muddy is another man's warm!

I'm on L100's so I'm in a similar boat to you hence me going for X.
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  #23  
Old 01-11-2011, 07:03 AM
wheresmejumper wheresmejumper is offline
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x twice
sennheiser hd25i
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  #24  
Old 01-11-2011, 07:18 AM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattl
I'm on L100's so I'm in a similar boat to you hence me going for X.
You gotta love those old JBLs!
I think Lime Twig on here has some too - I seem to remember a picture of his rather classy setup over on the pictures thread.
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  #25  
Old 01-11-2011, 07:20 AM
misterharrison misterharrison is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wheresmejumper
x twice
sennheiser hd25i
Thanks for joining in. I preferred X in my HD25s too.

I suspect that good headphones and revealing speakers show the supposedly extra detail of the Y samples up for what it really is: excessive brightness.
IMHO, of course.
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