I'm thrilled with my current Squeezebox2 -> Benchmark DAC -> Sunfire Amp setup, except for the "digital glare" that I still notice in the highs (no worse than when I used a CD transport). I'm now thinking about adding a Tube Pre into my setup (possibly the Modwright SWL 9.0), or alternatively, the more inexpensive Musical Fidelity X-10 v.3 Vacuum Tube Buffer, which I've read various pros/cons on.
Anybody care to comment on how the Squeezebox (either with native or outboard DAC) sounds with a Tube Pre (or MF X-10), into a SS Amp.
Results 1 to 10 of 13
2006-05-08, 11:03 #1
Tube Pre-Amp or MF X-10 Tube Buffer?Main system: Touch > Benchmark DAC-1 > Conrad-Johnson CT-5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Audience AU24e and Blue Jeans Cables. Secondary systems: SB3 in Master BR (Russound R235LS amp driving in-ceiling speaker) and Game Room (powered Swan S200A speakers), with Boom in Home Office. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society
2006-05-08, 11:15 #2
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
- Buckinghamshire, England
I use the MF device after my MF X-DAC v3. It does add a certain beguiling sweetness to the top end - but not cloying in any way - just "nice".
MY tube buffer has been impeccably behaved - I have had no problems with it at all.
I do use expensive Chord reference connects throughout ( I got them cheap ish)
However, you probably should switch to a linear supply first (if you haven't already done so) as that may improve the "glare" at minimal cost.
Oh - and the tube buffer sounds better with the MF X-PSU rather than the default wallwart...
Last edited by Phil Leigh; 2006-05-08 at 12:02.
2006-05-08, 13:27 #3
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
Upgrade/Mod your SB first
If you have not upgraded your SB with the digital upgrades and power supply (Bolder or Red Wine Audio), I would spend my money there first. Bolder was my choice.
The digital upgrade ($150) was an easy and cheap way to remove some of the digital glare from the stock unit. The power supply really moved things into a whole different universe. Being a bit skeptical of how a power supply upgrade could have such an effect, I had mine done in stages, ultimately going from a basic upgrade (no longer offered) to a deluxe upgrade. Cost was near what a tube buffer was.
Incredible performance; I have 2 SB3's, one left stock, so I could A/B them. My experience (and more info on upgrades) can be read at http://musicserver.blogspot.com
I have a MF Tri-Vista DAC, which is essentially using an X-10 type output stage, but with a better regulated PS. Love it, but it didn't do anything huge until I had the upgrades done.
2006-05-08, 13:57 #4
I'm sure the Bolder or Red Wine mods offer significant improvement. However, I prefer step-wise separates upgrades, thus when the SB4 eventually comes out, I can plug-and-play into my system. Actually, since adding the Benchmark, my systems "digital glare" is already much improved. Like most audiophiles though, I'm still seeking the holy grail! I don't REALLY need a Pre (from a source-switching standpoint), thus the MF X-10 might be a cost-effective way to get that tube "sweetness". Think I'll keep checking A'gon for a used one.Main system: Touch > Benchmark DAC-1 > Conrad-Johnson CT-5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Audience AU24e and Blue Jeans Cables. Secondary systems: SB3 in Master BR (Russound R235LS amp driving in-ceiling speaker) and Game Room (powered Swan S200A speakers), with Boom in Home Office. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society
2006-05-09, 12:44 #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2005
At least try the PS upgrades
I share your concern about portability of the Bolder/RWA upgrades, that is one major reason I chose to do the digital only upgrade to the SB3 (cheap at $150), use my own separate DAC (an MF Tri-vista 21), and spend the SB upgrade money on the Bolder PS, which should be portable to the new SB4, if and when one comes out (it is portable to the SB2 and 3).
As far as the tube buffer goes, see my post above about the Tri-Vista. Great, great DAC with the tubes in the output stage and with a killer regulated interal PS, without the hassle/expense/loss of signal and expense that may occur by having to add an extra set of RCA's.
2006-05-09, 16:08 #6
- Join Date
- Feb 2006
If you want a tube preamp then this http://bluecircle.com/index.php?menu_id=96 would be a very good choice. I opted for the SS BC101 (no longer offered) and all digtal glare has disappeared. I am willing to bet that if yuo buy this you will fall in love with it.
2006-05-11, 18:37 #7
The Blue Circle design looks interesting. However, at that same price point, the Modwright SWL 9.0 has garnered rave reviews. I was hunting for a used Modwright, but decided instead to order the Musical Fidelity X-10 v.3 (Music Direct offers a 30 day return policy). I've got nothing to lose, and if it doesn't offer significant improvement, I'll step up to the Modwright.Main system: Touch > Benchmark DAC-1 > Conrad-Johnson CT-5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > ML Summits. Audience AU24e and Blue Jeans Cables. Secondary systems: SB3 in Master BR (Russound R235LS amp driving in-ceiling speaker) and Game Room (powered Swan S200A speakers), with Boom in Home Office. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society
2006-05-11, 18:40 #8
MF tube buffer on a'gon
Last edited by Skunk; 2006-05-11 at 18:43.
2006-05-13, 06:29 #9
Darn, would've bought the A'gon deal with included PSU if I had seen it
At least I get a warranty, plus 30 day return option, with the NEW one.
2006-05-18, 17:06 #10
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
I find it interesting how many people buy the Benchmark due to its razor sharp resolution and then spend lots of cash to tame it down. I auditioned several dacs and the Benchmark has a great transparency but left me cold. I'm not sure that tubes will ultimately fix your problem but a used X10D would be a cheap way to find out. You might also try the Tubalizer.