Being the tight Glaswegian that I am I’m always looking to upgrade my kit on the cheap if possible.
Not being able to afford big component upgrades I always try to maximise what I have. As such I’ve been slowly been getting around to taking care of the “infrastructure” of my system, mainly things that take care of the mains supply to my kit.
I bought a linear PSU for my Caiman and immediately noticed the improvement that that had brought.
More recently, I bought a Belkin PF30 which made a worthwhile improvement to everything plugged into it.
This idea of improving the mains to improve the system (and hearing it with my own ears) got me thinking…
I was aware of the idea that bad power supplies (usually switchers) can eject all sorts of crap into the mains that can mess up everything else, and I had heard this for myself comparing the old SB3 PSU with the newer one for my SB Touch.
With the stock Touch supply though, the Squeezebox forum guys felt pretty strongly that there was no point buying a linear supply for the Touch as it had switching supplies inside the unit – so why bother?
That one never really sat well with me, since Ali Tait (AOS) popped over to mine for a visit and he brought a linear supply he used with his Touch.
Even in my more modest system the improvement was obvious and immediate – I heard it with my own ears.
Can linear supplies improve a squeezebox Touch?
I notice that a lot of folk sell various linear supplies for the Touch online?
Like anything I guess you use common sense and judgement to filter out the BS merchants (of which this hobby is inundated with), from the genuine article. Guys like Paul Hynes and Red Wine Audio have a reputation for solid audio engineering, with lots of testimonials to their work.
Problem for me though is that this engineering doesn't come cheap, and I'm sure there are a lot of people like myself who wish to improve their SB Touch but don’t want to (or cant) pay double or sometimes more than the cost of the Touch itself.
Still looking to maximise the equipment I had - but unfortunately being on a budget – I put the idea of a linear PSU for my Touch out of my mind. But then I noticed more affordable products were coming to market, sold by the AOS regulars and equally reputable (but more affordable ) dealers Mark Grant and David Brook at Mains Cables R Us.
As chance would have it, David Brook had PM’d about my SB Touch software mods thread http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...=software+mods and he asked me if I would do the mods on his Touch.
He asked me if I was still using the stock power supply with my own Touch, as he was bringing a new linear supply to market and being the "SB Touch guy" , would I like to try it in my system?
No pressure, no sales tactics just see what I thought as he described it as "a little bit special"
So I received David’s new supply a few days ago.
Here are some pics:
It’s different from ones I’ve seen before in that it’s a two box design and it has an IEC socket rather than a built in lead.
In my system one of Mark Grant's DSP 2.5's fits in their nicely, but it still sounded great even with a standard lead.
I guess it's an advantage in that you can upgrade the PSU and fit your own high quality mains lead?
Also unusual compared to any other I have seen is the two box design?
Asking David about it he said the supply was an improved redesign of the one on his website with improvements across the board.
The designer Nick (Lurcher here on AOS) said the following when I asked what made the two box design better than the old one:
Well, the idea came from the fact that it’s a bit silly having a regulator that’s several foot from the load its supplying. Just looking at the voltage across the load you can see the regulator it’s trying to control it at the end of a long stick. So the idea was to try and get the regulator as close as possible to the load. And after that thought, given that I have more control over both sides of the regulator, I thought something a bit more interesting than a stock three pin reg would be called for. The regulator in the little box isn't discrete as such because it uses a low noise op amp as an error amp and a discrete mosfet to control the output. I can also pack some paralleled caps in there to try and get closer to a fast responding small regulator.
First stage regulator and transformer out the way, final high speed low noise regulator close to the load. Just looking how the load voltage varies shows that you get at least an order of magnitude closer regulator than using a three pin regulator on the end of a wire.
That’s the idea anyway.
Sounds good to me, which is exactly how the PSU sounds in my system.
I say good...it’s a fundamental step up from stock supply - seriously.
Honestly, if I didn't like it as much as I did, the last thing I'd be doing is "shilling" someone’s kit, but this box deserves a bit of praise for what it has done to my system.
Like before with Ali Taits "medical grade" linear supply in my system, the improvement was immediate and obvious, only more so.
In hifi terms soundstage is far wider and it’s very easy now to hear how the track has been produced, not just left and right stereo, but things like studio ambience, placement of the performers in relation to each other, that kind of thing.
This doesn't detract from the music, but adds to it - it draws you in.
On some tracks it’s almost like a studio feel to the song, it’s up close and very "real" sounding but it still retains the air and emotion that drags you into the performance.
Its very clear and direct sounding, but can be warm and subtle too - it just plays whats in song but clearer and more direct than with the stock SB Touch supply in place.
I tried different types, classical, metal, Prog, 24/96, 320k web radio 128k mp3, you name it and it ALL sounded fundamentally better than with the stock switching SB Touch supply.
In short (without all the hifi clichés), compared to the Stock supply it just cuts to the chase of the music, sounds more refined but with more detail that just draws you in.
Just for the record, I have no commercial affiliation with the product or its designer, just had a chance to hear it and I'm very happy to recommend it.
I was sceptical, and I told David Brook that, but he said just to listen to it and then see what I thought.
I bought it on the spot.
I consider myself foo-free nowadays and wouldn't fork out for anything unless it made a FUNDAMENTAL improvement to my system. No point side grading or getting "different" rather than better, especially if you’re on a budget.
It costs £150 and to be honest, considering my hifi's became addictive again its money well spent.
Highly, highly recommended.
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2011-10-05, 14:02 #1
- Join Date
- Jul 2008
linear power supplies, done right can improve the Touch.
Last edited by Gazjam; 2011-10-12 at 04:40.