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Jim Holt
2005-08-31, 01:29
Hi this is my first thread. I am on the threshhold of upgrading and would like some of your views on your Squeezbox 2 preferably. What cd player you have or had before the change over and what difference to the sound (better or worse) it made.
What upgrades if any. Thanks Jim

Patrick Dixon
2005-08-31, 02:23
System:

TT: Linn LP12/Ekos2/Lingo2/Troika/Naim Prefix
CDP: Naim CDX
Pre: Naim NAC82+PSUs
Power: Naim NAP135s
Speakers: Linn Isobariks

The SB2, although pretty good out of the box, is no match for either of my other sources. This is hardly surprising given the relative prices (LP12 ~£7K, CDX ~£2.5K, SB2 ~£200)! By comparison, the SB2 is bass light, lacking in dynamics and slightly harsh and fatiguing at the top end.

Changing the supplied PSU for a linear regulated PSU improved the harshness and made it generally easier to listen to - worth doing.

I've since made a number of changes to the SB2's PSUs and oscillator, and I've replaced most of the other analogue components with carefully selected premium variants. The result is astounding: the modified SB2 is the best digital source I've ever had in my system - certainly better than the CDX. I'm in the process or reboxing both SB2 and it's separate (larger) PSU, and once that's done I'll post some pictures. If anyone wants a listen I'd be happy to try and oblige (I'm near Bristol, UK).

I've also now sold the NAP135s and built some 'chipamp' based power amps which make a surprisingly good job of driving the Isobariks! There are some pictures of the amps available on our website if anyone is interested.

Robin Bowes
2005-08-31, 02:52
Patrick Dixon wrote:

> I've since made a number of changes to the SB2's PSUs and oscillator,
> and I've replaced most of the other analogue components with carefully
> selected premium variants. The result is astounding: the modified SB2
> is the best digital source I've ever had in my system - certainly
> better than the CDX. I'm in the process or reboxing both SB2 and it's
> separate (larger) PSU, and once that's done I'll post some pictures. If
> anyone wants a listen I'd be happy to try and oblige (I'm near Bristol,
> UK).

Patrick,

I'm a bit far away from Bristol to pop over for a listen, but (as I've
said before :) ) I'd be interested in knowing just what you've done to
your SB2 before I get my iron out and have a hack at mine!

> I've also now sold the NAP135s and built some 'chipamp' based power
> amps which make a surprisingly good job of driving the Isobariks!
> There are some pictures of the amps available on our website if anyone
> is interested.

Where?

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

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

Patrick Dixon
2005-08-31, 03:23
Patrick,

I'm a bit far away from Bristol to pop over for a listen, but (as I've
said before :) ) I'd be interested in knowing just what you've done to
your SB2 before I get my iron out and have a hack at mine!

It's my living Robin (such as it is), so I don't want to give it all away! Email me off-list if you like.



Where?

Sorry, you have to stumble around a bit! http://www.at-view.co.uk/components.htm

Top picture is the stereo amp (two modules and a transformer); in the middle is a single channel amp board including the bridge rectifier - it's about 3" x 2"; bottom one ... well I'm sure you recognise an ALW SReg!

There's also a picture of an amp I installed on the 'Installations' page. Obviously you could put them in any box you liked, and you could also use a transformer per channel rather than one between two (as shown).

Fabrice Rossi
2005-08-31, 03:38
Patrick Dixon a écrit :
> The SB2, although pretty good out of the box, is no match for either of
> my other sources. This is hardly surprising given the relative prices
> (LP12 ~£7K, CDX ~£2.5K, SB2 ~£200)! By comparison, the SB2 is bass
> light, lacking in dynamics and slightly harsh and fatiguing at the top
> end.
>
> Changing the supplied PSU for a linear regulated PSU improved the
> harshness and made it generally easier to listen to - worth doing.
>
> I've since made a number of changes to the SB2's PSUs and oscillator,
> and I've replaced most of the other analogue components with carefully
> selected premium variants. The result is astounding: the modified SB2
> is the best digital source I've ever had in my system - certainly
> better than the CDX.

Patrick,

I know from previous posts that you're not a fan of blind testing, but I
was wondering whereas you had the opportunity to do a blind test for the
modifications or for the regulated PSU? For the modifications
themselves, did you use the other sources as references or do you have a
spare standard SB2 to do the comparison? Last thing, what kind of music
are you listening to? I was wondering if some of the improvements were
more obvious on some type of music. For instance, I've a lot of Baroque
lyric music and I find it quite tolerant whereas noisy rock like Sonic
Youth can be very tiring on some devices and I'm therefore looking for
improvement for this type of music (saturated guitars etc.)

Fabrice

Robin Bowes
2005-08-31, 03:41
Patrick Dixon wrote:
>
> It's my living Robin (such as it is), so I don't want to give it all
> away! Email me off-list if you like.

Ah, now I understand. Check your mail.

>
> Sorry, you have to stumble around a bit!
> http://www.at-view.co.uk/components.htm
>
> Top picture is the stereo amp (two modules and a transformer); in the
> middle is a single channel amp board including the bridge rectifier -
> it's about 3" x 2"; bottom one ... well I'm sure you recognise an ALW
> SReg!

Sure do. I may even build one some day!

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

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

Patrick Dixon
2005-08-31, 08:31
Patrick,

I know from previous posts that you're not a fan of blind testing, but I
was wondering whereas you had the opportunity to do a blind test for the
modifications or for the regulated PSU? Not really, but my brother commented that the CDX sounded "more raw" without knowing which was which. I did also play the standard SB2 followed by the modified SB2 to someone (not blind), and they commented that you'd have to be completely deaf not to hear the improvement!


For the modifications
themselves, did you use the other sources as references or do you have a
spare standard SB2 to do the comparison? I used an unmodified SB2 and the CDX as references. I didn't use the LP12 because vinyl and CD pressings vary so much, comparisions are pointless. I should also say that all CDs were ripped to FLAC using EAC on Plextor drives, and streamed as FLAC to the SB2.

Last thing, what kind of music
are you listening to? I was wondering if some of the improvements were
more obvious on some type of music. For instance, I've a lot of Baroque
lyric music and I find it quite tolerant whereas noisy rock like Sonic
Youth can be very tiring on some devices and I'm therefore looking for
improvement for this type of music (saturated guitars etc.)

FabriceMost of the music I play is 'contemporary' although I did use some orchestral pieces as test material. Some of the material I used was: Chris Rea/Texas, Foo Fighters/Still, Rickie Lee Jones/Second Chance, Peter Gabriel/Darkness, Damien Rice/Cheers Darlin', Jackson Browne/Casino Nation, The Charlatans/And If I Fall .... etc etc

I understand entirely what you mean, and all I can say is that it now produces a very unfatiguing sound. Drums and symbols sound incredibly realistic, and there is detail and instrument separation that I haven't heard from these CDs on my system before.

IME, the biggest gains when you improve your system (particularly sources), are with music you had previously skipped over or found unrewarding. Somehow the stuff that you love you will always love, no matter what you hear it on. But perhaps that's just me ...

void
2005-08-31, 10:46
Hi this is my first thread. I am on the threshhold of upgrading and would like some of your views on your Squeezbox 2 preferably. What cd player you have or had before the change over and what difference to the sound (better or worse) it made.
What upgrades if any. Thanks Jim

Hi Jim,

I can confirm that a properly modified SB2 beats 'top' CD-transports like the CEC TL-0mkII ($20.000) and the Audiomeca Mephisto II.x, and every CDPRO-based transport I've heard (that's not too difficult). It doesn't beat my modified 47 Laboratory transport (yet). It also beats every other PC audio solution we've tried including studio products from Lynx L22 and Apogee.

Beware: many people do modifications, but few are really skilled imo.

Fabrice Rossi
2005-09-01, 00:24
Patrick Dixon a écrit :
> Not really, but my brother commented that the CDX sounded "more raw"
> without knowing which was which. I did also play the standard SB2
> followed by the modified SB2 to someone (not blind), and they commented
> that you'd have to be completely deaf not to hear the improvement!

That would be enough, I guess! Are the improvements as obvious when you
only change the PSU?

> I used an unmodified SB2 and the CDX as references. I didn't use the
> LP12 because vinyl and CD pressings vary so much, comparisions are
> pointless.

Agreed.

> I should also say that all CDs were ripped to FLAC using
> EAC on Plextor drives, and streamed as FLAC to the SB2.
>
> Most of the music I play is 'contemporary' although I did use some
>
> orchestral pieces as test material. Some of the material I used was:
> Chris Rea/Texas, Foo Fighters/Still, Rickie Lee Jones/Second Chance,
> Peter Gabriel/Darkness, Damien Rice/Cheers Darlin', Jackson
> Browne/Casino Nation, The Charlatans/And If I Fall .... etc etc

Foo Figthers is a good example of the kind of music that I find
difficult to reproduce. I had the opportunity to listen to them live in
a small concert hall (Bataclan in Paris, maybe 1000 "seats") and this
was so different. Of course the level of the sound is so high in this
type of concert that I have to use ear plugs to avoid permanent ear
damages ;-) So it's very unlikely that you can find the same sound on
your home stereo (and this is fortunate, I guess), but even so, despite
of the plugs and all the rest, you can hear things that are not so
obvious on the CD.

> I understand entirely what you mean, and all I can say is that it now
> produces a very unfatiguing sound. Drums and symbols sound incredibly
> realistic, and there is detail and instrument separation that I haven't
> heard from these CDs on my system before.
>
> IME, the biggest gains when you improve your system (particularly
> sources), are with music you had previously skipped over or found
> unrewarding. Somehow the stuff that you love you will always love, no
> matter what you hear it on. But perhaps that's just me ...

We share this. I was thinking to the first answer I got from you when
debating over ABX and such things. You said "If you find
yourself wanting to listen to more music (and more varieties of music),
then I think that's a pretty good indication that your music
reproduction system is doing something pretty good." I was not that
convinced at first, but I've now come to the conclusion that you were
absolutely right, both about the time spent listening to music and the
varieties.

I love live performances. I had the opportunity to listen to the amazing
Andreas Scholl. He is a countertenor and maybe one of the bests. On CD I
think he rivals Aflred Deller himself. Listening to him live, about 5
meters away from the stage was marvellous (the orchestra was also
extraordinary). I think there is no way to reproduce his voice on a
system, but he is so good that I can listen to him for hours even on my
crappy PC loudspeakers at work, streamed from my server as mp3. This is
not true for other things I love like Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins or
Foo Fighters. I get very quickly tired with the PC loudpspeakers, less
quickly with my old CD player and even less with my SB2. But some
improvements would be nice. However, I thing the SB2 is now the best
part of my system, so I need first to change the rest before modding
this tiny box.

Fabrice

Patrick Dixon
2005-09-01, 00:58
That would be enough, I guess! Are the improvements as obvious when you
only change the PSU?I didn't compare A to B quite as dilligently with just the PSU, but I feel that it's a relatively small improvement compared to the fully modified unit. It tames the top end and makes listening less fatiguing, and some people seem to feel that it improves things significantly when you use an external DAC - but I haven't tried that.

Incidentally, I don't know if you have the Foo Fighters' album 'In Your Honour', but it's a really good recording.

However, I thing the SB2 is now the best
part of my system, so I need first to change the rest before modding
this tiny box.I don't know what the rest of your system is, but I'm a firm believer in the 'source first' principle. It's always amazing how much better your speakers and amp sound when you feed them properly! I don't know how handy you are, or what other sources you are using, but you could do worse than look at some of the gainclone amp designs that are about. The ones I built, were used with JBL Control 1 speakers and the SB2's digital volume control, and it all sounds pretty good for a total cost of about £350.

Fabrice Rossi
2005-09-01, 01:36
Patrick Dixon a écrit :
>>That would be enough, I guess! Are the improvements as obvious when you
>>only change the PSU?
> I didn't compare A to B quite as dilligently with just the PSU, but I
> feel that it's a relatively small improvement compared to the fully
> modified unit. It tames the top end and makes listening less
> fatiguing, and some people seem to feel that it improves things
> significantly when you use an external DAC - but I haven't tried that.
>
> Incidentally, I don't know if you have the Foo Fighters' album 'In Your
> Honour', but it's a really good recording.

It's the last one, isn't it? I've not listen to it yet. Do you remember
their debut album? That was a piece of bad mastering, in my opinion.

>>However, I thing the SB2 is now the best
>>part of my system, so I need first to change the rest before modding
>>this tiny box.

> I don't know what the rest of your system is, but I'm a firm believer in
> the 'source first' principle. It's always amazing how much better your
> speakers and amp sound when you feed them properly! I don't know how
> handy you are, or what other sources you are using, but you could do
> worse than look at some of the gainclone amp designs that are about.
> The ones I built, were used with JBL Control 1 speakers and the SB2's
> digital volume control, and it all sounds pretty good for a total cost
> of about £350.

I was more on the other side, the loudspeaker first, but my experience
with the SB2 tends to make me wonder about my former beliefs. My system
is way from being audiophile. I've got:

- a pair of old Audio Reference loudspeakers (columns). They costed me
around 900 € 14 years ago (around £600). They are not so bad, but I tend
to raise the sound level to hear everything (less now with the SB2)...
- a CD changer from phillips (CDC 935), quite old and completely useless
now that I have the SB2, as the sound it produces is clearly far less
detailled than the one of the SB2.
- a sony AV receiver (GX900ES) 10 years old
- some entry level cables by real cable

I was thinking about switching to smaller loudspeakers (Quad 11L for
instance) and to get a nice AC receiver (Denon 3805 for instance), but
my musical experience has been renewed by the SB2 and while I'm still
convinced by the team I mentionned (I had the opportunity to listen to a
Denon 3805 + a pair of Quad 11 L and I thought the result was pleasing,
but I did't check the source), I'm now considering more options, such as
having a dedicated and basic AV system for some DVD (I watch maybe one a
week at most) and something much better for music (and also dedicatec)
rather than an all in one system.

Fabrice

Robin Bowes
2005-09-01, 02:03
Fabrice Rossi wrote:
> Patrick Dixon a écrit :
>>Incidentally, I don't know if you have the Foo Fighters' album 'In Your
>>Honour', but it's a really good recording.
>
> It's the last one, isn't it? I've not listen to it yet. Do you remember
> their debut album? That was a piece of bad mastering, in my opinion.

I've got this - it is a really good recording. The music's not bad too!

>>>However, I thing the SB2 is now the best
>>>part of my system, so I need first to change the rest before modding
>>>this tiny box.
>
>
>>I don't know what the rest of your system is, but I'm a firm believer in
>>the 'source first' principle. It's always amazing how much better your
>>speakers and amp sound when you feed them properly! I don't know how
>>handy you are, or what other sources you are using, but you could do
>>worse than look at some of the gainclone amp designs that are about.
>>The ones I built, were used with JBL Control 1 speakers and the SB2's
>>digital volume control, and it all sounds pretty good for a total cost
>>of about £350.
>
>
> I was more on the other side, the loudspeaker first, but my experience
> with the SB2 tends to make me wonder about my former beliefs. My system
> is way from being audiophile. I've got:

I guess I'm right in the middle on this. There's got to be a balance.

When I first got my SB1 I played around with various DACs and I found
that I couldn't hear any difference between a Perpetual Technologies
P3-A, an Arcam Delta, an Art DI/O, and the SB1 analogue out. This was
through a Rotel RA820A (£120 15 years ago) and B&W DM610 speakers
(£200ish, also 15 years ago).

So, I got my soldering iron out and modified the RA820A (the usual
audiophile tweaks - replacing caps, upgrading opamps, removing crap from
the signal path, etc.). I also added an additional output to drive a
separate power amp and now run a bi-amped setup with the RA820A driving
the HF speakers and an RB850 driving the LF.

The difference is spectacular. I recently took my amps to audition a
pair of Monitor Audio MA20s and the seller had a Musical Fidelity
nu-vista m3 which retails(ed?) at $4500 (?) and is widely regarded in
the audio world. My Rotel combination was better, to my ears. His £2000
CD player sounded better through my Art DI/O DAC too!

In summary, my point is that the components of your system should be
well-matched or you're wasting money.

>
> - a pair of old Audio Reference loudspeakers (columns). They costed me
> around 900 € 14 years ago (around £600). They are not so bad, but I tend
> to raise the sound level to hear everything (less now with the SB2)...
> - a CD changer from phillips (CDC 935), quite old and completely useless
> now that I have the SB2, as the sound it produces is clearly far less
> detailled than the one of the SB2.
> - a sony AV receiver (GX900ES) 10 years old
> - some entry level cables by real cable

You would almost certainly find that your system will sound better with
a better amp. Can you bi-amp your speakers?

> I was thinking about switching to smaller loudspeakers (Quad 11L for
> instance) and to get a nice AC receiver (Denon 3805 for instance), but
> my musical experience has been renewed by the SB2 and while I'm still
> convinced by the team I mentionned (I had the opportunity to listen to a
> Denon 3805 + a pair of Quad 11 L and I thought the result was pleasing,
> but I did't check the source), I'm now considering more options, such as
> having a dedicated and basic AV system for some DVD (I watch maybe one a
> week at most) and something much better for music (and also dedicatec)
> rather than an all in one system.

You will almost certainly get better sound with a dedicated two-channel
amplifier than using an AV receiver.

R.

--
http://robinbowes.com

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

Fabrice Rossi
2005-09-01, 02:28
Robin Bowes a écrit :
>> It's the last one, isn't it? I've not listen to it yet. Do you remember
>> their debut album? That was a piece of bad mastering, in my opinion.
>
> I've got this - it is a really good recording. The music's not bad too!

I love this CD but I find the mastering (I don't know if it's the
correct word) to be quite bad, compared to more recent pieces from Foo
Fighters. I've trouble to really understand the music on some songs, to
hear each instrument, etc. But I've to listen to it more carefully on
the SB2.

> So, I got my soldering iron out and modified the RA820A (the usual
> audiophile tweaks - replacing caps, upgrading opamps, removing crap from
> the signal path, etc.). I also added an additional output to drive a
> separate power amp and now run a bi-amped setup with the RA820A driving
> the HF speakers and an RB850 driving the LF.

I would love to do that, but I don't know a thing about electronics and
I'm dangerous with a soldering iron, both for myself and for others ;-)

> You would almost certainly find that your system will sound better with
> a better amp. Can you bi-amp your speakers?

No I can't. But one of my friend has a Denon 3805, which is not an
audiophile amplifier but is surely much better than mine. So I have to
convince him to bring it to my place so that we can test my speakers and
also compare the internal DAC of the Denon with the SB2 one. Denon uses
Burr Brown DACs and the specifications of the one in the 3805 are
theoretically better than the ones of the SB2. Interesting comparison
therefore.

> You will almost certainly get better sound with a dedicated two-channel
> amplifier than using an AV receiver.

Yes. And I don't really think that high end performances are needed for
home cinema alone. You need low frequencies, but a dedicated subwoofer
will do the trick.

Fabrice

Robin Bowes
2005-09-01, 02:38
Fabrice Rossi wrote:
> Robin Bowes a écrit :
>
>>>It's the last one, isn't it? I've not listen to it yet. Do you remember
>>>their debut album? That was a piece of bad mastering, in my opinion.
>>
>>I've got this - it is a really good recording. The music's not bad too!
>
>
> I love this CD but I find the mastering (I don't know if it's the
> correct word) to be quite bad, compared to more recent pieces from Foo
> Fighters. I've trouble to really understand the music on some songs, to
> hear each instrument, etc. But I've to listen to it more carefully on
> the SB2.

Sorry - I wasn't clear. I am saying that the latest album is really good
(In Your Honour).

>>So, I got my soldering iron out and modified the RA820A (the usual
>>audiophile tweaks - replacing caps, upgrading opamps, removing crap from
>>the signal path, etc.). I also added an additional output to drive a
>>separate power amp and now run a bi-amped setup with the RA820A driving
>>the HF speakers and an RB850 driving the LF.
>
>
> I would love to do that, but I don't know a thing about electronics and
> I'm dangerous with a soldering iron, both for myself and for others ;-)

Heh, better get your cheque book out then! :)

>>You would almost certainly find that your system will sound better with
>>a better amp. Can you bi-amp your speakers?
>
>
> No I can't. But one of my friend has a Denon 3805, which is not an
> audiophile amplifier but is surely much better than mine. So I have to
> convince him to bring it to my place so that we can test my speakers and
> also compare the internal DAC of the Denon with the SB2 one. Denon uses
> Burr Brown DACs and the specifications of the one in the 3805 are
> theoretically better than the ones of the SB2. Interesting comparison
> therefore.

Yes, I'm sure it will be.

I would suggest you try a cheaper "audiophile" amp - I think you might
be surprised at the results.

>>You will almost certainly get better sound with a dedicated two-channel
>>amplifier than using an AV receiver.
>
>
> Yes. And I don't really think that high end performances are needed for
> home cinema alone. You need low frequencies, but a dedicated subwoofer
> will do the trick.

It is possible to use an AV processor with an audiophile setup. You
would treat the processor as just another stereo source and use your
stereo main speakers for L&R channels. Then you need a couple of
additional amps for the rear surround, centre channel, and sub (if you
use one). That's the way I would go if I were building a hybrid
AV/stereo system.

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

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

Patrick Dixon
2005-09-01, 04:02
No I can't. But one of my friend has a Denon 3805, which is not an
audiophile amplifier but is surely much better than mine. So I have to
convince him to bring it to my place so that we can test my speakers and
also compare the internal DAC of the Denon with the SB2 one. Denon uses
Burr Brown DACs and the specifications of the one in the 3805 are
theoretically better than the ones of the SB2. Interesting comparison
therefore.I tried that (in a very ad-hoc way) and I couldn't hear any significant difference. It wasn't a very well controlled experiment though!

The 3805 packs a lot in for the money (~£800), but if music is mainly what you want, you can spend a lot less and get a lot more.

You could actually do a lot worse than a second hand Rotel RA-820 from ebay. I've got one here and it's not bad at all. I think the A and the B versions are better still, but Robin probably knows more about that than I do.

Fabrice Rossi
2005-09-01, 04:19
Patrick Dixon a écrit :
>>No I can't. But one of my friend has a Denon 3805, which is not an
>>audiophile amplifier but is surely much better than mine. So I have to
>>convince him to bring it to my place so that we can test my speakers
>>and
>>also compare the internal DAC of the Denon with the SB2 one. Denon
>>uses
>>Burr Brown DACs and the specifications of the one in the 3805 are
>>theoretically better than the ones of the SB2. Interesting comparison
>>therefore.

> I tried that (in a very ad-hoc way) and I couldn't hear any significant
> difference. It wasn't a very well controlled experiment though!

It does not surprise me. I once thought the 3805 was using the best Burr
Brown, but in fact it relies on very good one but the top end. Denon
uses the top end BB DAC in one of their DVD player but I don't remember
which.

> The 3805 packs a lot in for the money (~£800), but if music is mainly
> what you want, you can spend a lot less and get a lot more.

Yes and there are many things I won't use in the 3805 (Denon link for
instance).

> You could actually do a lot worse than a second hand Rotel RA-820 from
> ebay. I've got one here and it's not bad at all. I think the A and
> the B versions are better still, but Robin probably knows more about
> that than I do.

Speaking about Rotel, the RA-03 had very good reviews in What Hi-fi and
I find it beautiful. I do not trust What Hi-Fi a lot (only sighted test,
no measurement) but they are really in love with this amplifier. The
price is reasonnable (around 750 €, that's £500) so I was wondering if
any of you had managed to listen to it. Ditto for the Cambridge Azur
640C (cheaper, around £300).

Fabrice

Robin Bowes
2005-09-01, 05:19
Patrick Dixon wrote:
>
> You could actually do a lot worse than a second hand Rotel RA-820 from
> ebay. I've got one here and it's not bad at all. I think the A and
> the B versions are better still, but Robin probably knows more about
> that than I do.

The RA820A is OK, but flawed in it's standard form. I had to bypass some
of the tone control circuitry properly to get it to sound good, but I
must say the work has been particularly rewarding. Also, the RA820
series is a little under-powered, IMHO. I get a lot better dynamics
using an RB850 for the bottom-end (bi-amped, with the RA820A powering
the HF driver).

R.
--
http://robinbowes.com

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

Mr Perceptive
2005-09-01, 08:57
I have 3 SBs, 2 x SB1 and 1 x SB2

I extensively demmed my first SB against a Meridian 200 Transport modded and felt that they were pretty equal. This was using the Meridian 203 DAC (rest of kit at the time was Naim 62/140/Shahinian Arcs)

I then changed to an Arcam AVR200, whose internal DAC for stereo was worse than the SB1's standard DAC!! (IMHO) So I continued to use the 203. However the Arcam was just not up to job of driving the Shahinian Arcs so I replaced it with a Meridian 568.2 into a Meridian 557. Now the 568.2 isn't cheap but its DACs (and DSPs) are astonishing with 2 channel and movie soundtracks (I have a further 557 for some rear speakers)

I also purchased another SB1 s/h and mated this with an Ion Obelisk (effecitely Nytech) Amp and a pair of s/h KEF Q15's, this has gone into the kitchen (Internal DACs)

I then bought an SB2 and fell over a pair of Meridian D600's, a really interesting pair of active speakers with inbuilt DACs and preamplifiers, however they are currently in standard active mode driven by an SB1. Meridian 203 DAC and a Meridian 541 (pre-amp). This is in my dining room and the SB2 has gone to the main living room system. Meridian have given me information on how to get the DAC/Pre-amp functioning in the D600's and I'm looking forward to trying these with the SB1. I expect they will sound similar to the 203DAC.

I haven't done extensive comparisons of the SB2 internal DACs and the Meridian 568.2 but first impressions are that the Meridian is comfortably better. The Meridian makes CDs played in my Denon DVD2910 sound great too! I also have a pile of bits to build a new and improved regulated PSU so exepect some modding soon.

I did compare SB2 and SB1 internal DACs in the D600 system, and the SB2 generates a much more acceptable sound, less harsh in the treble.

Anyway thats all for now (except that I did once own a Rotel RA-820BX, and a cracking little amp it was too.)

Mr Perceptive