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  1. #11
    Senior Member totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliveb View Post
    I am one of those who believes in using only a power amp. The fundamental rationale is that of all the electronic components there are in a HiFi system, the preamp is the least transparent and it's therefore worth eliminating it.

    The crucial step in connecting a Squeezebox directly to a power amp is setting what's known as the "gain staging" right. To aim here is to arrange things so that when the Squeezebox's own volume control is at maximum, the playback is as loud as you'll ever want (but no louder). Then just use the Squeezebox's volume control for day-to-day adjustment. The only time you'll turn it down so far that it may affect the quality will be when you're just playing stuff quietly as background, in which case the slight loss of quality isn't really an issue.

    Some power amps *do* have volume controls, some others have presets you can adjust. Just set these once and you're done. For power amps that don't have volume controls, you will probably need to insert some passive attenuators, which you can either buy (typically a few tens of dollars/pounds/euros) or make yourself (for a few dollars/pounds/euros).

    See this wiki page for a more detailed discussion:
    http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.ph...ower_amplifier
    Well said. The classdaudio amps have built in volume controls on the back, which are perfect for this purpose. When I was using the McCormack amp with the squeezebox, I used a pair of Endler attenuators:

    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze4c5pt/

    I'm sure there are other places to get stepped attenuators, but this worked for me.
    sb touch -> classdaudio sds-450 -> audio physic tempo 4 + rel storm 3 & rythmik f12se

  2. #12
    Senior Member guidof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaimeclifton View Post
    I have just purchased a SB touch and have been looking around these forums getting very confused about all of the many abbreviations and options.
    My question is simple;
    1. I have a SB touch and a brand new set of Tannoy floor standing speakers. What is the best way of connecting one to the other, in terms of quality of sound. My only source is going to be the SB and im going to stream all of my music via Spotify.
    Obviously im going to need an amp. Does this need to be an intergrated amp or can it just be a power amp as im only using the SB.
    Is it best to have an external dac (do you have any dac recommendations under £600) and if so, do i have do disable an option in the SB if I use one.
    What is the best way of connection between the SB to the amp? Simply via phono cables or should I use a coaxial input if the amp has one and likewise with the dac?
    All comments are much appreciated. And if you could keep the abbreviations to a minimum that would be great as im a super newb.
    Many thanks
    If all of your music will ever be enjoyed via Spotify, you will probably be happy with the Touch's own internal DAC and an amplifier with volume controls (no preamp).

    However, if you plan to listen to CD rips, downloaded CDs, or HD files, then you might consider a good external DAC and a preamp.

    My own experience with preamps include a simple stepped-resistor attenuator and a buffered preamp, both of my own construction, as well as the Adcom and C-J in my signature. Note that the Adcom can be operated both as a full-function preamp or as a simple volume attenuator.

    With all of these, the Adcom operated as a full-function preamp has the most convincing presentation of dynamics that I have heard in my system, thus resulting in the most realistic sound quality. By comparison, the simple volume attenuators produce sound that is just a bit too "polite" to my ears, failing to convey all the nuances and engagement of the music.

    Of course, as always, others' experiences may be different.

    Happy listening to your new Touch!

    Guido F.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guidof View Post
    If all of your music will ever be enjoyed via Spotify, you will probably be happy with the Touch's own internal DAC and an amplifier with volume controls (no preamp).

    However, if you plan to listen to CD rips, downloaded CDs, or HD files, then you might consider a good external DAC and a preamp.

    My own experience with preamps include a simple stepped-resistor attenuator and a buffered preamp, both of my own construction, as well as the Adcom and C-J in my signature. Note that the Adcom can be operated both as a full-function preamp or as a simple volume attenuator.

    With all of these, the Adcom operated as a full-function preamp has the most convincing presentation of dynamics that I have heard in my system, thus resulting in the most realistic sound quality. By comparison, the simple volume attenuators produce sound that is just a bit too "polite" to my ears, failing to convey all the nuances and engagement of the music.

    Of course, as always, others' experiences may be different.

    Happy listening to your new Touch!

    Guido F.
    I think the issue there is really the gain level of the amp. If the amp expects a higher input level than the sb puts out, then you will need an active preamp. Otherwise you won't.

    I got rid of mine years ago, and didn't feel that I had degraded my sound in the process. As you said, ymmv, and it depends on the matchup between the sb and the amp (and speakers).

    I have firsthand experience with the classdaudio amp straight into my tempos, as well as my old mccormack, both straight in, and with a classe dr 5 and a counterpoint sa1000 (in the time I used the McCormack, I've had Spendor sp100s, Triangle celiuses, and my current audio physic tempos).

    I didn't feel any regrets ditching the preamps, sonically, or in terms of convenience, with any of these speakers.

    My point here is that you can listen quite seriously to high quality flac files through good speakers and a sub or two, and not miss anything by ditching the preamp: it's not just good for spotify and casual listening.

    Honestly, I would just get an amp first and think about maybe getting a preamp later. The only reason I personally would ever go back to a preamp would be if I were using a deqx, or some other preamp which has some other justification for its existence than source switching and volume control.
    Last edited by totoro; 2012-02-24 at 11:18.
    sb touch -> classdaudio sds-450 -> audio physic tempo 4 + rel storm 3 & rythmik f12se

  4. #14
    Member AlexM's Avatar
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    Jaime,

    Yes, The touch can in effect negate the need for a preamp but whether this is the best quality option is debatable, and an almost philosophical consideration. If you believe that the best component is no component, then this will possibly work. In your situation I think you are best avoiding faffing around with attenuators, worrying about gain structures of the sb touch and your chosen power amp etc, and that you should look for a good quality integrated amp with a proper volume knob and inputs for other devices should you want them.

    I have reservations about using the sb touch as its own preamp - I'm not convinced that the line out is happy driving a power amp with a low impedance input, and using a lot of digital volume reduction is going to compromise the resolution of the output.

    You don't say whether you are looking at solid state amplification or valves, but in the latter case I would recommend the Rogue Audio Chronus integrated amp
    ... an utterly superb product that is as fuss free as a valve amp could possibly be, and it should match the Tannoys well sonically too. It even has a pretty decent MM Phonograph stage too, and is excellently constructed so would be a great s/h buy if you can find one within your budget.

    Regards,
    Alex

  5. #15
    Senior Member totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexM View Post
    Jaime,

    Yes, The touch can in effect negate the need for a preamp but whether this is the best quality option is debatable, and an almost philosophical consideration. If you believe that the best component is no component, then this will possibly work. In your situation I think you are best avoiding faffing around with attenuators, worrying about gain structures of the sb touch and your chosen power amp etc, and that you should look for a good quality integrated amp with a proper volume knob and inputs for other devices should you want them.

    I have reservations about using the sb touch as its own preamp - I'm not convinced that the line out is happy driving a power amp with a low impedance input, and using a lot of digital volume reduction is going to compromise the resolution of the output.

    You don't say whether you are looking at solid state amplification or valves, but in the latter case I would recommend the Rogue Audio Chronus integrated amp
    ... an utterly superb product that is as fuss free as a valve amp could possibly be, and it should match the Tannoys well sonically too. It even has a pretty decent MM Phonograph stage too, and is excellently constructed so would be a great s/h buy if you can find one within your budget.

    Regards,
    Alex
    Pretty much any competent modern solid state amp will work fine without a preamp. One of the class d amps I pointed out has built in volume controls, which takes care of the attenuation issue, without any faffing around at all.

    Unless you really want a tube amp or need to play records, I wouldn't bother.
    And there are plenty of modern transistor amps that sound great and have volume controls for attenuation.

    One of the things I like about the class d option is that you can get some serious power, rather than paying a substantial amount of money for a preamp section that really doesn't add very much.

    Tom Danley of Danley Sound Labs did a test listening to some large scale orchestral music on very efficient speakers (his own), and found that, even on fairly moderate volumes, he was actually getting clipping for very brief periods with smaller amps on transients.

    This is measurable and ugly, and easily avoided by getting a really powerful amp. Since good sounding powerful amps are now quite cheap, I went with one of those.

    This seems like a far better value to me than a small integrated with low power that will clip at high volumes (ok, clipping doesn't sound as bad on tubes, but still, it's gross distortion, not some minor thing like the different sound of a new dac).

    I'm not making an abstract philosophical point here, just questioning the value of a component the primary purpose of which is volume control and source switching in a single source modern system. If you don't need the volume to be boosted, it's pretty much just wasted money, and there are plenty of good inexpensive amps that don't need the volume of the touch to be boosted in order to play well.

    If you buy a decent modern amp, this is completely unnecessary. The money saved could go to room treatments or subs, which will have a larger audible effect, or more music (I guess that will have an audible effect, as well ).
    sb touch -> classdaudio sds-450 -> audio physic tempo 4 + rel storm 3 & rythmik f12se

  6. #16
    pski
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mnyb View Post
    Another good thing with attenuators is that they offer some protection the players can get some fluke bug and output very loud noise now and then.

    The preamplifier volume in SB3 was it all analog ? If it was just another digital volume control , the attenuation method still has some things going ?

    The transporter had nifty jumpers for the unbalanced analog out to get the desired attenuation cool this is how stuff should be made.
    Yes, it only affects the analog outputs (if the 'i' button is correct.

    P

  7. #17
    Senior Member totoro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pski View Post
    Yes, it only affects the analog outputs (if the 'i' button is correct.

    P
    The volume control in the sb3 was digital and done in software. So yes, attenutators for protection were a really good idea.
    sb touch -> classdaudio sds-450 -> audio physic tempo 4 + rel storm 3 & rythmik f12se

  8. #18
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    I have used fixed attenuators (rothwell -10dB ) built in to a rca plug .
    Between poweramps and preamp .

    The do not have a sound of their own they are simple resistors .

    But it is possible to get a mismatch but with "typical" transistor electronics it is unlikely, that is low output impedance of the source typical and fairly high and even not frequency dependent load impedance .

    Cable capacitance can come into play with passive attenuation if they are long or has to high Capacitance.

    These mismatch can roll of the treble slightly

    I think you are safe with stuff from blue jean or similar avoid "exotic" designs with mystery boxes on them or other weird stuff, you normally don't hear signal cables but if you do "caveat emptor"

    So in the application I tried attenuators they have no effect expect the one you want better gain scaling which gets you a lover noise floor and that is a very good thing

    Note that this was between an active preamp and an active power amp and fixed value attenuator.

    For a squeezebox I sugest one of those not using a stepped one as volume I suspect that linearity near the end positions is not that good, set the stepped attenuator to a reasonable value and and use the squeezebox volume.
    I suspect that missmatch and channel imbalance get worse at high or low attenuation (thats why we have preamp or digital volume ) so use at -6 -20dB .

    Stepped is much better than passive with a potentiometer as a stepped attenuator can have the right values on both resistors .

    Preamp Power amp mismatch is typical I had a classe that gave full power at 0.7 volt ? preamps can blast out anything between 2 -20 volt ?

    So if you ever use more than the first third or half of your volume control on preamp you may suffer from this

    I did own a semi passive preamp that side stepped the passive potentiometer problem in a nifty way it had an input buffer that could drive a rather low impedance potentiometer 500 Ohm or 1kOhm then the output impedance from this design was never really to high
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
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  9. #19
    Senior Member Mnyb's Avatar
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    And the Diy version

    http://wiki.slimdevices.com/index.ph...iveAttenuation

    Cost almost nothing you can have the resostors inside the power amp
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    Main hifi: Rasbery PI digi+ MeridianG68J MeridianHD621 MeridianG98DH 2 x MeridianDSP5200 MeridianDSP5200HC 2 xMeridianDSP3100 +Rel Stadium 3 sub.
    Bedroom/Office: Boom
    Loggia: Raspi hifiberry dac + Adams
    Bathroom : Radio (with battery)
    iPad with iPengHD & SqueezePad
    (spares Touch, SB3, reciever ,controller )
    server Intel NUC Esxi VM Linux mint 18 LMS 7.9.2

    http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

  10. #20
    Member AlexM's Avatar
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    Back to the original poster's question, it would be good if Jaime could tell us a little more about which Tannoy speakers he has, what size room they are being used in, and what type of music he listens to.

    Classical typically has much greater dynamic range than pop or rock, and given that there is little need to provide huge dynamic headroom to cope with peaks. IMO it is better to optimise the system around the volume level required in the room with the typical programme material to be used.

    My recommendation for the Rogue Chronus is based on it being a good sonic match for the SBT and Tannoys, as well as being a simple to use solution, but I suggest that the OP listens to a few amps before making a decision on integrated, pre/power or power amp only set ups for his system.

    Personally I think the SBT analogue outputs sound a little thin and two dimensional compared to my DAC so I think the preamp isn't going to be holding the sound back.

    Regards,
    Alex

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