Sunday, 1 July 2018

MUSINGS: Thoughts on audio device "modding" (eg. a tube modded Oppo BDP-105). [New Oppo UDP-205 firmware out with MQA USB-B...]

Couldn't resist the similarity :-). I'm sure the sonic output of both devices have been affected by the modifications! Notice that this Oppo is also sitting on a "Base" device that IMO is very much of the Dubiousness Class A variety...
Have a seat and let me tell you a tale, my friends. A number of years ago (summer 2013), around the time I started this blog, I had the opportunity to check out an interesting device that a friend had just received... It was a "tube modded" Oppo BDP-105 Blu-Ray player.

One afternoon, I went over to this friend's house to have a listen to this brand new device. He obviously spent quite a bit of money on it. The BDP-105 at that time was new and had an MSRP of US$1200. He is clearly an enthusiast so he "drop shipped" an unopened brand new player to the mod-shop and it came back to him with tube sockets for the analogue stage along with a fancy new external power supply. As you would expect, the modding itself being laborious, hand-assembled, and using premium parts was rather costly - about twice the price of the Oppo.

That afternoon, I had the opportunity to hook up my old test kit (with the Creative E-MU 0404 ADC) to the device to grab a few measurements. Since another friend already had a stock BDP-105 for me to listen to and measure, it allowed me to compare the results...

The reason that it has taken me so many years to put up this post is because I know that the modding cottage industry is small and I figured I'd patiently keep an eye open for any measurements or reviews that would allow me to corroborate some of my thoughts and findings. I figured that over time maybe there will be clarity on the value of doing this as people used and perhaps measured such things. Alas, after all these years, while reviews of these modded devices come out once awhile, I have never seen a magazine like Stereophile actually measure something like this or (gasp!) objectively compare the results side-by-side with a stock unit. I believe part of Stereophile not reviewing something like this is because there is no dealership network for these audiophile "exotics". Likewise, I have yet to see objective results posted on message forums though many have verbally expressed opinions.

When I heard the device playing through my friend's system, I was certainly not impressed. Pushing up the volume, I thought the noise level was a bit too high with audible hum through his Pass Labs amp and preamp. I remembered the stock BDP-105 was dead silent at my other friend's place.

Playing music, it sounded okay with acoustic vocals, live recordings, and classic jazz from the 50-70's that my friend was mainly fond of. Albums like Kind of Blue, or Saxophone Colossus, or Way Out West or Waltz for Debby seemed okay if perhaps a tad on the "warm" side. Since I had not heard Verity Audio speakers before, I could not say how much of the warmth could be due to the speakers themselves. But once you throw in some Rolling Stones, AC/DC, electronica, or pop albums, it just didn't seem to be able to deliver the impact or dynamics I expected - a little too "polite" for rock, a bit too "lean". My friend is an LP fan and his vinyl playback sounded nicer than this fancy modded BDP-105 on the whole. Something was certainly different with the output here and I would not say it was an improvement over the stock sound!

So, did objective measurements give a hint as to what was different? Yes, of course; IMO any audible difference of this magnitude will show something... Check out these RightMark results (RCA stereo output). Remember, I'm measuring with my old E-MU ADC so don't compare these directly with my recent UDP-205 results although correlations are there:


Wow. Those modded results are ugly for an Oppo. To the left are the 16/44 results and on the right are the 24/96 results comparing the stock from the "tube mod" Oppo. I repeated the 24/96 test 3 times and received essentially identical results. Numerically the frequency response did not appear to be flat. Furthermore, the modded device could not muster better than 12-bits of resolution. Simply nasty distortion results with THD and IMD+N between about 0.3-0.6% using RightMark's methodology (1kHz tone for THD, 60Hz & 7kHz for IMD) - those kinds of distortion numbers may be okay for vinyl playback, but simply unacceptable for any decent DAC especially if one wants to reproduce high resolution!

So how ugly does all this look?

16/44.1:

24/96:

Yeah, ugly. Frequency response no longer flat with a rather bass-shy -9dB dip at 30Hz - I guess if you put your speakers too close to walls or in a bass-heavy room this could even things out. Not unusual to see 20dB swings in room responses in the low frequencies. I'm quite sure there was no EQ or bass management active in the Oppo settings to roll-off the bass like that. There's also a poor noise floor with a big amount of 60Hz hum, obviously elevated stereo crosstalk and IMD+N sweeps. Notice that the "tube" Oppo could not keep up with a 24/96 test signal. Sure, the frequency response extended beyond 22.05kHz, but obviously the noise floor was not improved. This modded device is clearly incapable of benefiting from 24-bit resolution.

For completeness, since I grabbed the data, here are some 24/192 graphs also:


A bit more ultrasonic roll-off with the tube machine (interesting but not significant). Notice in the IMD graph the slightly higher even order 60Hz harmonic sequence, and a reasonable decay in high-order (audibly offensive) harmonics.

I told my friend about these findings and in fact sent him some graphs... But having had our debates about the importance of objective analysis and knowing that he was of a strongly "subjectivist" philosophical mindset at the time, I'm not sure if he took them seriously. The next time I met him more than a year later, he told me he had sold the modded Oppo and moved on to another DAC. His impression was that the mod did not live up to his expectations and this reaffirmed to him the superiority of vinyl playback. We never spoke about this device thereafter (he had upgraded his speakers as well to IMO much nicer full-range floorstanders).

Those results have "haunted" (if one can even use that word for something like this) me ever since. Was there something especially bad about the RCA output (my friend mainly used the XLR out so maybe it wasn't as terrible)? Did his system pick up a nasty ground loop or was this exacerbated by the measurement hook-up? Was there some kind of fault in the mod installation or component failure (by the way, the anomalies were about the same in both channels)? I don't know what tubes were used - could they have been bad? IMO, unlikely that any "tube rolling" would improve the results much. As you can imagine with this player sitting on top of Synergistic's incomprehensible "Tranquility Base", his system at the time was decked out with the tweaks du jour including a host of expensive cables and power products - did any of those things affect the sound / measurements? Alas, I did not have time to better evaluate the device and given he had since sold it, there was no way to go and test it out again.

From what I have seen, the modding company doesn't provide any measurements on the website to compare and understand if what I found was (hopefully) evidence of my error, or faulty equipment rather than "normal" or by design.

If this is what's going on after the tube mod, especially with the elevated noise level, one must simply question what is the point of spending money on a linear power supply when certainly a noise-free switching power supply already allows much lower noise performance. Even more obvious - would not a $5 power cable and inexpensive interconnects do just fine for a device with this level of performance?! (This is of course assuming one believes expensive cables do anything of value - I don't.) What's the point of spending any more money when the technical ability of the device is so diminished?

Ultimately whether one supports expensive mods, I think it's obvious that objective results will be affected - not likely in a technically good way given the excellent results of the BDP-105 already. While I see a number of testimonies online that mods like this one resulted in "better" sound based on subjective evaluation, I certainly beg to differ on that opinion based on what I heard and measured that day. As I alluded to above, I cannot be clear if what I found was simply a faulty device showing IMO an unacceptable frequency response and amount of hum on the RCA output; an issue I have never otherwise found with the devices I have tested over the years. In fact, the only other audio device I found with such an early roll-off in the bass frequencies was the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 computer motherboard (not exactly a hi-fi machine!). Remember, despite that poor noise floor compared to other digital devices, LP's put up a rather poor performance as well (usually around 60-80dB of dynamic range) which makes this modded BDP-105 about equivalent.

The bottom line I think is that if one wants to spend any money on product modifications, much less significant dollars that clearly will void the original manufacturer's warranty and irreversibly alter the stock device's sound...

1. Make sure to ask the mod designer before hand to show you what some basic measurements look like. What kind of frequency response is he (likely not a she) aiming for? How is the noise floor after the mod? Can it still benefit from a hi-res signal? Can the company give you some comparisons between stock and modded performance specs and graphs? Surely this should be part of the "informed consent" process should a customer request more information.

2. Ask how the modder performs quality control. This is certainly not a large volume product so I assume there can be comprehensive quality control done to make sure things are working right! Furthermore, being hand-assembled, I assume there must be some significant variability between devices; maybe even slight differences in the parts used over the months. Does the company then put each completed machine through some kind of test? Are there measurements with quality control testing or is it purely from listening? Does the modder retain records of the tests and measurements in the event you think there's something wrong and need to make sure an issue as common as damage during shipping did not occur? Remember, for many reputable companies selling expensive products, they will test each individual device off the assembly line. For example, you can ask Sennheiser for the frequency response certificate for your specific HD800 headphone.

3. I would encourage reviewers to do objective testing and show us some results, especially for "mods" and devices where there are no distribution networks or showrooms for the consumer to listen for themselves. Honestly folks, if all we see are reviews and glossy product pictures from typically complementary magazines for expensive products or online sites selling advertising space, I think customers should remain cautious. I see many reviews out there of "tube modding" based on various kinds of devices over the years... Isn't it a little suspicious when none of these wordy reviews bother to even show a single graph or demonstrate distortions added? Are audiophile reviews nothing more than a little bit of entertainment as writers hope to capture the confidence of their readership, requiring them to believe that the writer is unbiased, is immune to placebo effects, has "golden ears" with precise acuity and fantastic auditory memory to make comparisons over time? Ultimately, does one always need to spend money to "try it out" since there is no attempt made to engage the reader intellectually to demonstrate the effect; what a device or mod truly is and does? IMO, unless reviewers "up the game", obviously, rational audiophiles with even a modicum of insight should be asking the question "Is this snake oil?"

LOL. I see there's even some competition among the modders. Check out this mod outfit criticizing their competitor's tube mod. They claim that "the original mod was pretty weak and did not sound that good" and "the signal wiring in this machine for the tube circuitry was double stranded and sounded terrible". Good grief... Who to believe!? Such is the nature of testimony. Thankfully in the world of well-engineered products, we can consider the facts through measurements and confirm through listening as well.

Check out this web page for even more fun with BDP-105 mods; this time utilizing "quantum stickers" among other things. Yeah. Seriously "fun".

If someone is going to take hundreds (even thousands) off your hands to supposedly provide a "high end" experience, it would at least be nice to check if the device will still be "hi-fi" once it's bought and paid for, right?!

So ends our story. Good luck friends... BTW, if you have access to a modded machine, I would love to see what your measurements look like!

--------------------------

As I mentioned a couple weeks back, there were issues with Oppo's beta MQA DAC firmware for the UDP-205 and the muting of the XLR output. Nice to see that this has been fixed with their official June 29th build "UDP20X-60-0625". Remember to update the USB DAC to "USB-0118" as well for MQA through the rear USB-B port. At this point I haven't done any tests but everything seems to work well. It's decoding 16/44.1 MQA-CD FLAC rips, as well as 24/44.1 and 24/48 typical MQA streams as through Tidal. Tidal users, have fun streaming MQA to the UDP-205...

I am curious about the "Dolby Vision" mode in HDR Setting that apparently converts video to Dolby Vision (from HDR10?) when the system allows. Kudos to Oppo for continuing to update the device and bring out new features (please consider the suggestions discussed last week :-).

I see that Oppo is now starting to contact folks over E-mail who have signed up to order the last UDP-205 batch(es). Still a damn shame that Oppo Digital has decided to shut down...

Happy Canada Day and Independence Day.

Have a wonderful summer!

34 comments:

  1. Let's not forget 10 years ago those so-called "noisy" internal soundcards already have 19-bit performance with everything (DAC/ADC/SPDIF) at <$200, like the first gen Asus Xonar and EMU ones. The decline of physical media and invasion of audiophoolery in PC market made a lot of inflation. Nowadays it is not easy to find an interface as good and as cheap as the EMU 0404USB, even the "slightly" more expensive Focusrite Forte is discontinued. Nowadays premium converters are almost exclusive on expensive Thunderbolt and Dante interfaces.

    Then analog extremists continue their journey with LP and open reel tapes without knowing if they are "DDA" or not. Digital extremists continue to believe they can hear radio frequencies and all kinds of imaginable filters including those used by game consoles and graphic design software.

    When talking about mods, useful mods for delicate electronics are often at code level (e.g. driver/firmware) rather than ugly hand-soldering and wiring. They can't beat a large factory with proper machinery operating at high precision and engineers with real knowledge.

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    1. Hey Dtmer,
      Yeah, I was looking around on Amazon wondering what ADC I would buy these days if I wanted a reasonable priced (~US500) ADC. Something with >110dB "real world" dynamic range across the audible spectrum at least as a consumer to test out some gear. As you noted, the Creative 0404USB is gone, Focusrite Forte discontinued. Looks like the Tascam UH-7000 is still available but the SMPS was noisy.

      The RME Babyface Pro looks like a contender these days though a bit more expensive than the Focusrite Forte.

      Without objective reality testing and some kind of compass to actually point subjectivist audiophiles in the direction of high-fidelity, I believe the subjectivists are just running in circles at this point. If the goal is to keep the musical chairs going and getting paid with each "revolution", then we've been well on our way for many years now... And for many years with ever the temptation for companies to bring out ridiculous products at insane prices for those willing to open their wallets.

      The gig must eventually end with a burn out both on the extreme analogue side and the extreme digital end leading to ridicule as we can already see on message forums. We are at the point where some websites have closed their comments section or strongly filtered what's posted. This is IMO a good sign that reason is coming back into this hobby - hi-fi will not die even if the "high end" and all the crazy products (hopefully) disappear.

      IMO, as the extreme "faithful" continue their war against rationality, general consumers will find these "high end" products less and less relevant...

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    2. Do you know RME is also involved in stuff like femtoclock nowadays?
      https://www.forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=27046
      They advertised this as an "improvement" but to me it is a non-free bug fix.

      It also seems that Babyface Pro is not an upgrade for the Focusrite Forte at all:
      https://reviewzorro.com/review-test-rme-babyface-pro/

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    3. Thanks for the info Dtmer... Wasn't aware of this with RME.

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    4. Archimago do you have a suggestion for an audio interface to do measurements like you are doing. Something not too pricey since I'll use it to measure my gear and my friend's gears.

      Also have you posted a tutorial (and what's needed), or something like that on how to measure gears?

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    5. I searched for a tutorial and I found this :

      https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-rmaa-rightmark-audio-analyzer-source-and-audio-device-measurement-thread-overview-of-measurements-in-post-3-tutorial-in-post-2.800208/#post_12386876

      If I understand I need my laptop, and a soundcard (internal or external). The RMAA and audacity software installed.

      3.5 mm male/male cable + a 3.5mm female/Y male/male cable.

      Another splitter cable 3.5mm to RCA to connect to my audio gear (amp, dac, cd player, etc.)??

      I'm not to sure about how to wire everything.

      I found this soundcard, asus Xnonar U5, in case my laptop soundcard is not good enough (I'm pretty sure it's the case). Do you think it will get the job done?
      Https://www.pc-canada.com/item/XONAR%20U5.html

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    6. The Tascam UH-7000 is a bit noisy as is. However, replacing the power supply is trivial, and with a decent one the noise is gone. I like it for flat noise floor extending all the way to 60 kHz, thanks to the Burr-Brown (TI) ADC chip. Competing devices from AKM and Cirrus have rising modulator noise starting at 40 kHz or even lower. For music recording, this is irrelevant, but it matters when used as a measurement device.

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    7. Agree Mans,
      When I had the Tascam UH-7000 back in late 2014, the noise floor was really impressive except for that stock power supply. Definitely need to replace it though for measurement purposes!

      Hey Yan,
      Getting measurements with RMAA is quite straight forward. The main thing is to get a good 24-bit ADC with low noise gain controls so you can calibrate the signal. Depending on the device's inputs, it could be RCA, phono, or XLR cabling in. Typically, the ADC of a laptop or motherboard would be limited by high noise floor.

      I don't know about the Xonar U5, but it looks like the U7 (http://www.daqarta.com/dw_gguu.htm) performs quite well. You should give the U5 a try and see how well it works out for you if you have one handy!

      Good luck and make sure to show us your results down the road...

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  2. RME Babyface. I own / and owned several RME Interfaces and can say, the RME Babyface is really a very nice recording interface for 2 channel analog recordings. Low noise, low distortion, no group delay distortion because of linear phase filter. Even this is not important for the above case, but I can also report, that the clock is very stable, no matter if the internal clock is used (Master Clock Mode) or if it is clocked externally via Toslink in (Slave Clock Mode). Only a very tiny oscillating frequency between 30 kHz und 40 kHz with around – 120 dBFS is there from time to time (maybe from the internal DC/DC converter), as it can run also only from USB power, so no need for an external power supply, so you can “record” out in the field or from laptop batterie without any possible ground loops. Highly recommended from my side. Juergen

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  3. Append about RME Babyface. I have also a Focusrite Clarett Interface, that does sound also very pleasant and good, and yes, the RME Babyface has a bit of harmonic distortion when play back on the DAC side, or when doing loop-back tests, but not when you are recording at the ADC side. So as a ADC, the RME Babyface has lower noise, lower THD and also lower Jitter than the Focusrite (all measured with Audio Precision test equipment). I am happy with the RME Babyface for 2 channel recordings, so I haven’t yet tried or tested the RME Babyface Pro.

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    1. Hi Juergen,
      I recall RME officially admitted that the old Babyface has some low frequency rolloff:
      https://www.forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=12612
      https://issuu.com/albenix81/docs/rme_babyface_rmaa_pro_24_bit_musicsoundtech

      Don't know if it is fixed with firmware upgrade or not but I am generally satisfied with RME's honesty and technical support. Do disappointed a bit for their flagship 2ch interface ADI2-pro and the latter FS revision.

      What RME really shines are their high performance and specialized firmware, driver and FPGA to ensure low latency, low CPU load and multiclient operation even when using the less ideal USB protocol, which other brands really fall behind. Recently Zoom's UAC series also have some significant improvement in USB latency but the conversion quality is not ideal.
      http://prosound.ixbt.com/interfaces/zoom/uac-2/2444.shtml

      I used RME's Multiface II with the HDSP PCIE card and of course, PCIE is the most straightforward interface and No.1 in CPU load and latency. Unfortunately studio grade PCIE interfaces are very uncommon nowadays and what RME is still selling are the old ones like the AIO which uses old converters and cannot compete with the newer ones. Thunderbolt provides direct access to PCIE lanes but it is uncommon among Windows users.

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    2. Hi Dtmer HK

      Yes, I am aware of this slow high pass at the input of the Babyface, but this doesn’t disturb me while doing mostly classical recordings with only natural instruments. As in the mixing and mastering, I have mostly a 6 dB 40 Hz first order high-pass anyway, to suppress the thermal wind noise at recording venues and no “normal” instrument goes as low as 30 Hz or so.

      In the last 15 years, I have had in total 18 different recording interfaces (with also 6 different ones from RME) and I just kept 3 of them, and the Babyface is one of this 3, and the one for the 2 Channel part. I kept my eyes on low noise, and also on low noise modulation (a lot of interfaces modulate the noise depending on signal frequency and level (also some RME do this), low higher THD and Intermodulation products (so mainly some k2, k3, …, ) and low jitter.

      In this 15 years I made some comparison between the measurements and what I hear on my recordings. As the main mic pair I use mainly the Sennheiser MKH 8040 in as sort Sennpiel arrangement (between ORTF and NOS angle and distance), and depending on the size of the orchestra, 2 omnis in wide AB for the room, and some Neumann KM 184 for some spots (but with very low level). And the RME Babyface does work very well in this field.

      One other point with RME is the stability of the driver. I have had not even one problem with the RME interfaces, no crash, no stuttering, nothing, really great in this field.

      Juergen

      (BTW: I will be in Honk Kong in about 1 months and afterwards in Taipei).

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    3. Hi Juergen,
      Glad to see that the new MBL CD player has intersample headroom. This feature is especially important for standalone operation when users cannot use any software volume control. It would be a nice idea to explain intersample clipping in audio shows in order to impress the audiences :-)

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    4. Hi Dtmer HK

      Sure, it would be good to explain Intersample Overloads at HiFi shows, but for most visitors / people this is a bit above their head (this is in no way meant to be arrogant or snoby. I hope this is clear). If you pick just any person at a show and try to explain, why Intersample Overs would / do occur, even when there is no Sample Over, is more “difficult” that you would think it.

      And strange that it is nowadays necessary, that a DA converters can handle this, as it would be “easy” to create Masters, without any Sample and Intersample Overs. As being also an Apple certified Mastering Engineer I can report, that for the “Mastered for iTunes” logo, you have to proof, that there are no Sample or Intersample Overs, otherwise, the files will be refused.

      Juergen

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    5. Hi Juergen,
      I quoted your comment in Hydorgenaudio forum and a moderator doesn't believe Apple refuses clipped masters and he would like to see a real example rather than a guideline that Apple really refuses clipped masters. Can you provide some sources? Thanks.

      https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,114229.msg959188.html#msg959188

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    6. It would be better if you register an Hydorgenaudio account and reply in person rather than here, thanks.

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    7. As I appreciate the idea behind “Mastered for iTunes”, I never tried to cross the “boundaries”, so I can’t say what would happen, if you would send in files with sample overs or with intersample overs. I want to add that this does only concern for files for “Mastered for iTunes” and does not concern to the files, that are not planed to carry this Mastered for iTunes logo.

      All I can say is, when I have send in my first “Mastered for iTunes” files, that my protocol with 1. for real high res with signal content up to 48kHz, 2 for real 24 Bit data use so not just 24 Bit file format, 3. for no sample overs and 4. for no intersample overs, simulated with 4-times oversampling filter of the 96 kHz 24 Bit source files, have been crossed checked.

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  4. This is a great post Arch. If more people took the time to measure the results of various competing design solutions 1) we'd get far less hucksters, and 2) we'd get a far better idea of what really makes for euphonic listening experience.

    Concerning 2) DSP processing is so much more powerful than it was 5 & 10, much less 20 years ago (when my AV-Receiver had Dolby presets for "stadium", "club", "cinema", etc.) that it should be possible to choose not only loudness, as you've mentioned a few times, but media: vinyl, CD, or tape (and which one: reel-to-reel, 8-track, cassette) and amplifier: tube vs. solid-state (and again, why not, which tubes).

    Think Instagram filters for your music. You heard it here first! :)

    It's not that far-fetched. There's a YouTube meme where people take hit songs and filter them in "spatially" interesting ways. All we're missing to filter them for "playback chain" is the knowledge (more specifically data) of what gives a particular playback chain its distinctive signature.

    It's also been done on the recording side with software filters for vintage guitar amps, microphones, and so forth.

    I would LOVE a DAC (actually a pre-amp) that did room correction, applied playback filters, and, um... had a pair of VU meters. Am I right? :)

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    1. Oh yeah, that photo... ow, my sides!!!

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    2. Hey Allan,
      On yeah man, a DAC with funky VU meters and high quality programmable built-in DSP done with high precision and samplerate (say 32/192) would be awesome! Should not have to cost an arm or a leg these days.

      Hmmm, maybe a company will read this and come up with something :-).

      As for measuring, yeah... There's a crazy phobia out there in the audiophile press (and related blogs) by certain writers as if objective measurements are some kind of horrible thing they must warn readers about. As if measurements mean nothing and that bad results are somehow irrelevant (compared to their subjective opinion).

      Total BS and irrational fear. If anything, I bet you some companies are afraid of how poorly their equipment measures as it will take away the mystique. Obviously, even among magazines that publish measurements... ahem... Stereophile, it's funny that they steer clear of direct comparisons between devices (eg. overlaying the measured results of different devices), and the lack of any objective investigations into questionable items like exploring the value of audiophile fuses on signal output or how about an objective "shootout" between different cables :-).

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    3. Hey Arch, does this product from miniDSP come close to what you describe above, sans the VU meters? Has a DAC, DSP and volume control. https://www.minidsp.com/products/streaming-hd-series/shd-series

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    4. Um, you asking me or Arch? :) I remember the minidsp guys from coming across Linkwitz Lab speakers, back in the day. I really wanted to build a pair of his LXmini's. Never did it though. /sigh/

      MiniDSP fell off the radar for me though. Nice to be reminded about them.

      I just skimmed through the one link, but the missing piece is the pre-built filters. I sure as heck don't know what a 50 year old tube amp does to "warm-up" a recording. :)

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  5. Forget about showing the test data to the true believers, they will never be convinced by it because their preferred gear is always perform better by their mystical orbiting teapot metrics that science can never prove to not exist.

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    1. True that. However, one should argue not to convince the person your arguing with, but to convince those listening to the argument.

      One's goal and motivation should always be to help those listening. (Anything else is wasting your time, and/or stroking your ego.)

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    2. True, we might never get anywhere with certain "true believers". However in my experience, even many of the devout can be made to doubt.

      That is the first step on the road to insight... :-)

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  6. I am DAC-deaf but this one I would have called in a blind test.

    An example of how poor things can measure before it becomes audible even with this kind of roll-off and distortion.

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    1. Hey Solderdude,

      Yeah. Wish I had the time around then to bring in the non-modded BDP-105 and set them up side-by-side with the same CD playing switching between the inputs with the Pass preamp for A/B listening.

      I bet the difference would be rather striking. And IMO, it would not be obviously favourable for the "tube mod" device despite all the hoopla around the web I've seen from fans of such things...

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  7. If nothing else, this article exposed me to the Synergistic Tranquility Base, which apparently opens a door between our reality and a hitherto unseen parallel universe. Frankly, I suspect the awful measurements are directly attributable to misplacement of the MiG isolation devices, which inadvertently connected the Oppo ectoplasmically with Mt. Doom. Or maybe Pittsburgh.

    I mean, it can't be a coincidence that "MiG" is also the name of the Russian fighter jets.

    I blame Putin. And Sauron.

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    1. It wouldn't surprise me if they actually said that in their marketing material. Well, without the Mt. Doom part. Synergistic Research is an endless source of entertainment.

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  8. I have never seen a magazine like Stereophile actually measure something.
    airport parking deals

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    1. Stereophile does measurements all the time. In just about every equipment review.

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    2. Hey Jeff,
      Every once awhile I get these posts which are just bots (presumably) grabbing bits and pieces of the article and sticking stuff on like the "airport parking deals".

      Some of them are rather humorous. Usually I label them as spam and eventually Google deals with them. :-)

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  9. Hi, and apologies for chiming in on an old(ish) post, but I was wondering if you'd had an opportunity to test any further the Oppo UDP-205's DAC functionality, with the latest player (and DAC) firmware upgrades.

    As the owner of an as-yet-unopened UDP-205, I'm keen to know if the filter characteristics are indeed "tampered with" in any way by this upgrade. While I, too, will appreciate the ability to stream Tidal MQA--just because it's "there"--I'm not otherwise a believer in the format. Does the new "Upsample DAC Input" feature from this upgrade alter the excellent performance of the DAC in any way? Is it simply a switch that enables MQA proprietary filters, and so should be switched off when not listening to MQA streams?

    Appreciate any observations and/or guidance from you--thanks.

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