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View Full Version : SB2 mods by The Bolder Cable Co. - First impressions



Tirade
2005-08-15, 05:58
The first squeezebox Wayne modded was mine and its being used in a project for my brother who was recently handicapped. However after the mods Wayne got a chance to A/B it last night vs an unmodded squeezebox and here is a link to the results.

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?p=185391#185391&sid=484740b2c16dd35a517ac77cc3c127a8


P.S. Sean Adams if you read this, I sent you a follow up PM and an email last week regarding the mods, so please check them and get back to me. Thanks,

Tim

Edit : Here are some pics of the modded SB2 showing off the power supply. Scorll down a few posts.

http://audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=20809

m1abrams
2005-08-15, 06:23
Question, I read the entire thread but it does not really say much about how the SB2 was connected. Was it via Analog, or via SPDIF. If SPDIF to which DAC was used? Also what was the source format? I assume FLAC.

Analog connections would make sense as to why a modded SB2 and better Power Supply would sound so much better. But why do that? Why not just connect it to a really decent DAC?

Robin Bowes
2005-08-15, 06:35
m1abrams wrote:
> Question, I read the entire thread but it does not really say much about
> how the SB2 was connected. Was it via Analog, or via SPDIF. If SPDIF
> to which DAC was used? Also what was the source format? I assume
> FLAC.

I understood it to mean no external DAC involved, i.e. SB2 analogue outs.

Judging from another of Tirades posts about learning how to use EAC to
rip to FLAC I would say the source files were FLAC.

> Analog connections would make sense as to why a modded SB2 and better
> Power Supply would sound so much better. But why do that? Why not
> just connect it to a really decent DAC?

Several reasons why modding might be preferred:

1. Cost
2. convenience (no additional box involved)
3. quality - by all accounts the SB2 DAC is pretty damn good, even in
stock format.

There's a lot of personal preference involved too.

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

If a man speaks in a forest,
and his wife's not there,
is he still wrong?

Tirade
2005-08-15, 06:41
Everything was done using the analog outputs. For a list of mods let me give you a list of what I know was done to the SB2 but Wayne would have a further complete list.

"The main mod to the SB2 is building a linear power supply to replace the switcher. It uses a 5.6 amp transformer, HexFreds, two Panasonic FC series caps and a Linear Technologies 1.5 A 5 volt regulator on a good sized heat sink. All connections are hard wired, point to point with solid core Nitro Wire.

It usea a Silver Plated Acme Audio IEC connector and a Silver Plated, Cryo Treated fuse holder. It uses the same sized DC output jack as on the input to the SB2. The cable to connect between them is shielded and also uses the same solid core Nitro wire. The PS does not come with an AC cable.

The mods to the SB2 are replacement of the main 5 v power supply cap with a Panasonic FC in a higher rating.

The caps in the DAC PS are replaced. The crystals are damped. The digital out jack is replaced with a WBT NextGen Gold. It is the only female panel mount RCA that is designed to be 75 ohm. It is also pure copper plated with gold. No brass and the amount of metal is kept to a minimum.

The output op-amp is bypassed. A pair of Sonicaps are run direct from the output of the DAC to the new Cardas RCA jacks. The main 14 V PS cap is replaced with a Panasonic FC series cap."


Wayne decided to offer the power supply separate so folks can just get that, without mods, for an easy upgrade that would not void any warranty. He will offer a digital output only mod with the replacement of the digital out jack and the power supply caps for less money then the analog audio out for those who wish to use an external DAC

Wayne1
2005-08-15, 08:13
Question, I read the entire thread but it does not really say much about how the SB2 was connected. Was it via Analog, or via SPDIF. If SPDIF to which DAC was used? Also what was the source format? I assume FLAC.

The CDs were originally ripped into FLAC.

Analog connections would make sense as to why a modded SB2 and better Power Supply would sound so much better. But why do that? Why not just connect it to a really decent DAC?

By running direct from the modded Squeezebox 2 direct to a pair of good amps, you are getting rid of many mechanical connections, solder connections, and LOTS of parts. All of which affect the signal passing through them.

In the system we described, there was one Sonicap between the DAC chip and the power amp. The power amps are DC coupled.

To our ears, this was the best sound. I do tend to feel that keeping the signal path as simple and pure as possible will result in the best sound. Up until I heard the modded Squeezebox 2 in the system last night, I believed that a tube preamp was needed to get the sound I like. No more.

mbonsack
2005-08-25, 14:24
m1abrams wrote:[color=blue]


Several reasons why modding might be preferred:

1. Cost
2. convenience (no additional box involved)
3. quality - by all accounts the SB2 DAC is pretty damn good, even in
stock format.



Given that I already *have* a DAC (MSB Link), the cost and convenience points apply less to me, leaving sound quality as the major issue. I've got a few questions:

1. Is the linear power supply the preferred first step when using an external DAC, or would the digital mod be more effective? I've got an old, trusty Pioneer DV525 DVD player as a transport, and the sound of this into the Link is marginally better than that of the SB2 -- less congestion in complex passages, more open soundstage and deeper and more well-defined bass -- and I was somewhat surprised by this.

2. Does Toslink vs. coaxial sound different/better on the SB2?

3. In general, why would the SB2, with potentially better jitter performance than that of my old Pioneer, sound slightly worse?

I'm thrilled with the SB2 and the convenience and access to my collection it provides, but I was hoping not to have to make a sound quality/convenience decision each time I turned on my hifi...

Wayne1
2005-08-25, 20:50
Changing out the switching power supply for a linear supply would improve the SB2 across the board.

I heard a LARGE improvement in the stock SB2. The harshnees on the high end was considerably lessened.

I have not compared toslink to coax with the SB2.

Jitter doesn't have as much effect on the sound of the complete unit as does the power supply, coupling capacitors, op-amps, etc.

mbonsack
2005-08-25, 22:40
Changing out the switching power supply for a linear supply would improve the SB2 across the board.

I heard a LARGE improvement in the stock SB2. The harshnees on the high end was considerably lessened.



Did this large improvement also occur with the digital outputs feeding a separate DAC, as well as with the analog outputs?

Patrick Dixon
2005-08-26, 00:39
Jitter doesn't have as much effect on the sound of the complete unit as does the power supply, coupling capacitors, op-amps, etc.Actually, improving the PSU, improves jitter performance anyway, so the question is is it the PSU's improvement to the jitter that you hear, or the PSU's improvement to something else?

Wayne1
2005-08-26, 09:31
I will be getting some more SB2s in to mod today.

I do have some completed power supplies on hand. I will try out a stock SB2 through the digital output into both a modded Panasonic SA-XR70 digital receiver and a highly modded ART DI/O. I also have on hand a M-Audio SuperDac that I can use to compare optical and coaxial digital connections.

mbonsack
2005-08-26, 12:01
I also have on hand a M-Audio SuperDac that I can use to compare optical and coaxial digital connections.

Thanks for looking into this! In my case, I did try a toslink cable simply because the MSB Link only has two inputs (one of each kind) and one is for the aforementioned Pioneer player. Lo and behold, the toslink, contrary to what many in the audiophile community have found, sounds remarkably better than the coax. The punch, lack of congestion, soundstage and bass depth and definition all returned.

I'm looking forward to what you find in your comparison, and would highly consider a linear supply if it gives the whole presentation an even more analog-like sound.

Andrew L. Weekes
2005-08-27, 09:16
Jitter doesn't have as much effect on the sound of the complete unit as does the power supply, coupling capacitors, op-amps, etc.

The PSU stuff is inextricably related to jitter, as Patrick has pointed out. Replacing the internal switcher with a linear supply will have had a big impact on this aspect.

Certainly in my experience the analog circuitry is of far less importance than the jitter performance, I've changed a few things in mine, including the op-amp and the coupling caps, but attempts to reduce jitter have had by far the greatest effect on my SB2.

Andy.

Wayne1
2005-08-29, 20:27
I have not been able to compare the toslink and coax connection, yet.

I have compared the stock switching PS to the linear PS on coax digital out. It was feeding a highly modded ART DI/O DAC direct into a modded TEAC A-L700P. The difference was about the same as I heard on the analog outs.

The highs were far more smooth with the linear supply. Midbass was richer, fuller. Low bass extended.

All in all, I would suggest going with a linear power supply over the stock power supply if you are looking to get even better sound out of the SB2.

A couple of folks compared one of the BOLDER Cable modded SB2s to a $4000.00 modded Denon 2900 over the weekend. The bottom line: The owner of the Denon has ordered a SB2 and wants me to mod it for him. ;-)

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=21029&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0