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Old 03-17-2017   #226
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Also when you consider that only 10% of the Sony's potential was used due to the others not being able to play those formats - shows that even at its lowest it's still the best...

Play DSD or 192/24 etc the gap would be even bigger to the next best...

I tested my Sony against the Alpine 7990 and I was surprised at how much better the Sony was...

That being said these differences are audible when you doing a AB in a controlled environment - in a car the difference would be harder to evaluate ... because there are so many variables to consider


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Old 03-17-2017   #227
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elektra View Post
Also when you consider that only 10% of the Sony's potential was used due to the others not being able to play those formats - shows that even at its lowest it's still the best...

Play DSD or 192/24 etc the gap would be even bigger to the next best...

I tested my Sony against the Alpine 7990 and I was surprised at how much better the Sony was...

That being said these differences are audible when you doing a AB in a controlled environment - in a car the difference would be harder to evaluate ... because there are so many variables to consider


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Old 03-17-2017   #228
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

THANK YOU, Steve! Really interesting and fun to compare my impressions to the information above. Again, I REALLY appreciate that you took the time and trouble to do these recordings (however flawed some think they may be), and to share this experiment with all of us. This type of stuff is the Only thing that keeps me coming back to DIYMA.

Did you happen to take measurements of the Sony CDX-C90?

It was basically a draw or tie for me between it and the P99 (HU#7 & #8).

I guess now I know why I have stuck with the C90 for so long. However, I use the C90's Digital Optical Output exclusively for CD playback, so???

I can also see why so many people have liked and use the P99. In a few aspects I preferred it over the C90. I guess the P99 is just a few years newer than the C90, so you'd expect it to be a step above, ha.

And HU#4 (Panny Bottlehead) was the most polarizing for me. I noticed right off that there was *something* about it that I liked and also disliked, and now going back to look at my notes, and your RF/TF graphs above I can see why and it makes sense. So again, THANK YOU for also doing those measurements!

I'm really happy to hear that you were able to get the McIntosh sorted out and will have it back in your hands soon, especially since it was your favorite CD deck out of the group. They're such a Classic looking deck. Can you describe what it was that you liked about it over the other HUs? Is it going to make it into your Car? Or will it be the Sony GS9?

And of course, it would be really great to hear that MX5000 if you can swing it. No pressure, tho'!

And I am surprised at my ranking of the Denon. It was very clearly a leader in my comparisons years ago. But that may just be it. This is an older unit now and perhaps it is fine, but it is possible that some of the electronic parts in the circuitry have degraded and are no longer doing the job that they should. But it did measure Okay, at least in FR, so there's that. ???

On that note, I'm a bit surprised that the C90 ranked as well as it did in my impressions, as I have personally had multiple issues with several of these due to the electronics crapping out and not performing as well as when they were new or "younger".

I'm also quite glad that the Sony RSX-GS9 didn't rank at the top for me! I am perplexed at how low I ranked it, while the majority of listeners rated it very highly. But that's just how these go sometimes. While I probably would have ranked it 4th, or possibly 3rd, for some reason in my playback chain it just didn't impress me.

And while I like the look of the Sony, the whole SongPal/Separate UI aspect really frustrated me. What has always been a peeve of mine with most of Sony's gear is that they always make Proprietary connections or Software that you are locked into. With the GS9, that SongPal app was just not "doing it" for me compared to a lot of other UI's that I'm able to choose from with my Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8" Phablet setup, which goes straight to the Helix DSP PRO via digital Coax (with digital extracted from the Phablet's OTG USB bus using the tiny and affordable SMSL X-USB XMOS USB digital extractor).

In my listening tests, the 8" Phablet setup, in addition to my iBasso DX90 portable DAP (which has since been replaced by several new models) at least equaled and usually smoked my C90's SQ (which I obviously think is still quite good)! So the GS9 would've needed to be the CLEAR Winner in my listening impressions for me to even consider going with it. But it's good to know that a lot of other people really did rank it "up there" where you'd expect it to be before knowing which HU it was in the test.

As it was, my 2nd Place choice from my listening test after the Tie between #7 & #8 was HU#6, which was the Eclipse. It was great to know that some of the guys in your live listening test seemed to like that Eclipse as well. It's not the same unit obviously, but I've used the Eclipse CD8053 in a few of my installs in the past and was very happy with it.

Overall, as it has been stated by many here from the get-go, with some good EQ and DSP magic, almost any one of these HUs could be "the one". However, I'm still of the belief that not all of that 3D/Holographic Space & Depth in the Sound Stage, along with the Ultra Fine Resolution of Details that a particular HU exhibits "out of the box" can always be coaxed out of any HU with the application of careful DSP.

But the next logical experiment would be just that...to "Tune" each of these HUs to a particular Target Curve as suggested previously and apply whatever other DSP is needed to get each to sound its best, then compare those results. Though I feel that it would be a much more daunting task, as this current experiment was already so very difficult to come to any meaningful conclusion.

Anyhow, besides the DCT-1 lackluster ranking, I was also quite surprised by the overall low ranking of the DRZ. But that's why these types of shootouts are so cool. I can't thank you enough for putting this together.

I would be very interested to know more about your current Hi-End Driver Tests as well, if and when you have some time to share that information. I honestly don't see how you came up with the time to conduct this HU shootout, so I think you should take a very well-deserved break for a bit!

Cheers!

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Old 03-17-2017   #229
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elektra View Post
Also when you consider that only 10% of the Sony's potential was used due to the others not being able to play those formats - shows that even at its lowest it's still the best...

Play DSD or 192/24 etc the gap would be even bigger to the next best...

I tested my Sony against the Alpine 7990 and I was surprised at how much better the Sony was...

That being said these differences are audible when you doing a AB in a controlled environment - in a car the difference would be harder to evaluate ... because there are so many variables to consider
I somewhat agree. I'm not sure about the 10% statement, though. Yes, in a controlled environment (TOTL playback and speaker system, well-treated room, clean Power, yada, yada, yada) the Sony GS9 does have more potential due to its Hi-Res capabilities. There is a difference.

I can also discern it when using my iBasso DX90 portable DAP via its Analog Line Out or Coaxial Digital connection (this unit also plays up to 24/192 and DSD, but it's DoP), in addition to my current 8" Android Phablet setup with the Hi-Res and Bit-Perfect capable USB Audio Player Pro App. The digital signal is extracted from the Phablet via a its USB OTG bus using a SMSL X-USB XMOS digital extractor, and sent on to the Helix DSP PRO.

Now, regarding DSD, there is quite a bit of controversy and debate among engineers as to whether it is truly an advantage over Hi-Res PCM. While it does offer excellent SQ, quite a few engineers see it as just another Proprietary "Innovation" that Sony developed so that they could market a "New/Unique/Different/Amazing" technology.

VERY FEW DSD releases that are available are True DSD Bitstreams from recording capture, through the editing & mixing process, and to the final release. This is because there are Only TWO Editing Systems available that are able to Process and Edit the Bitstream in Pure DSD. And both of these systems are #1. VERY Expensive, #2. Very Limited in the type of processing/editing that they can do, and #3. Very Tedious to work with compared to modern DAWs. So that is a Triple-Whammy for 95% of recording engineers to NOT invest in the Technology. It really complicates and slows down their process, and if you know how studio engineers make their money, Time IS Money.

Also, if you do some research, even web sites such as Blue Coast Records and NativeDSD (who sell and Produce DSD releases almost exclusively) will admit that "more than 50%" (whatever number that refers to?) of the DSD releases are actually converted to PCM in order to be Mixed, Edited, or Remastered for DSD! And then they are converted back to DSD for "Release" and your Download. And at least Blue Coast Records have also admitted (on camera in a YouTube video) that quite a few of their "DSD" releases are a transfers from original 24/96 PCM studio masters, and that some of their new recordings are actually Tracked & Mixed in 24/96 PCM and then converted to DSD.

You need to be really cautious when purchasing any type of "Hi-Res" files. Especially anything that was recorded ~12 or more years ago, because Very Few recordings at that time were done at even 24/96. A lot studio were only using 24/48 to because file storage space and Hard Drives were still very expensive at that point. So if you see any PCM recordings (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, etc.) that are offered at resolutions of 24/192, chances are that they are just "Upsampled" from lower sample rates of the masters, and Upsampling is not always a good thing to do. It really depends on the accuracy of the Clocking, DAC, and associated equipment. ErinH also has a very informative thread on purchasing different versions of the same recording, such as "Remasters". Check it out here:

Remasters and Audiophoolery


And AFAIK, Very Few of the companies that offer these DSD releases actually reveal or describe which process was used when you download their files. So in many instances you don't really know if you are truly hearing the "advantages" of a Pure DSD Bitstream, while you are For Sure paying the extra premium!

I'm not saying that DSD is "bad". I'm just saying that it is widely accepted by engineers that there are really no sonic advantages to DSD compared to even 24/96 PCM. And that in quite a few cases it is just a marketing ploy (Licensing Royalties, W00t!), so caveat emptor. Of course, there are also engineers who are adamant that DSD is Far Superior. Some of these engineers have a vested interest and some do not.

One other "tidbit" to consider is that most DACs that are "DSD Capable" (which includes the ESS SABRE32 DAC chip used in the Sony RSX-GS9 and many other portable and home "Audiophile" units) actually use an internal process which very much mimics a PCM bit-stream in order to do its fancy work. So there are only a select few DACs available on the market that can convert or process DSD in its Native, Pure 1-Bit/High Sample Rate algorithm. PS Audio's "DirectStream DAC" is one of the earlier units to have this capability, and it's discussed in the YouTube videos below.

Below are a few videos by DAC engineer Ted Smith of PS Audio discussing DSD DAC technology and "how they work". Ted is an engineer, so he's a bit esoteric at times, but generally you can follow what he is saying. He even admits at one point that (regarding the Redbook CD format & 16/44.1), "There's A Lot more there than we initially thought". There's some other very good information here, but I'd encourage you to do your own research as well. Hopefully these videos are not blocked in S.A.!

+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.


+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.



As a final note, from the handful of studio recording engineers that I've discussed "Hi-Res" with, they all basically say that any sonic differences or advantages above 24/96 PCM are pretty much moot, or are extremely suspect. "If you think you are hearing something *more* or *better* at higher resolutions such as 24/192 PCM or via 1-Bit DSD, it's just a crap shoot unless you've got bat or elephant ears". The vast majority of Popular recordings are still done in 24/96 PCM. Only in the recent past have some engineers and studios "bumped up" to a 24/192 workflow. There are, of course, exceptions, such as some of the major labels that own studios, motion picture companies, and independent "big budget" studios. But otherwise, there is A LOT of Very Expensive studio gear that needs to be replaced and upgraded to allow for this workflow, and the recording business and especially studio budgets have spiraled downward in recent years, so there's not much incentive or ability to absorb those costs.

It's obviously a different discussion for a different thread, but I'd be interested to hear Gary Summers' thoughts on this.

Sorry for going a bit Off Topic, but I think it's relevant information when the Sony RSX-GS9 enters the discussion. Either way, the Sony has proven to be a TOTL HU and there is no denying that.

.

Last edited by bbfoto; 03-17-2017 at 11:38 PM..
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Old 03-17-2017   #230
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

I guessed HU 1 was the Sony or Denon. That's the only one I got close to right. I was sure 8 was the Eclipse. It doesn't surprise me it was 6 as a also wrote in my notes very musical and lively.

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Old 03-17-2017   #231
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Well I can tell you the sibilance I heard on head unit one I have not heard in my car. The GS9 is easily finest head unit I've ever owned. I hope and pray Sony is working on Songpal. It's a tragedy.


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Old 03-17-2017   #232
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Thanks Steve and everyone who helped put together the shootout. It was fun to have the opportunity to participate. I will admit that because of time constraints I didn't dedicate a whole lot of time evaluating the HU's. I only spent maybe 30 - 45 minutes total, basically a quick and dirty eval.
I knew going into it that I wanted my opinion to be impartial so I refrained from reading other reviewers comments until after my evaluation.
My method was pretty simple, I listened to each track from each HU and if something stood out that I didn't like or seemed a bit off I noted it. I didn't necessary compare each HU to each other with back and forth listening. I listened to each track on it's on merit. Based on that these were my top 3. Sony CDX-C90, this HU seemed to everything right for me, smooth yet detailed and revealing. The Sony RSX-GS9 & the Pioneer P99RS were tied for a close second. But really the top 5 HU's were extremely close to each other imo.
As a side note I would like to have seen the 80prs in the shootout if just for shiggles. additionally for my own curiosity I would like to have seen how the HU's would have performed with compressed music such as 320KB MP3's from an iPod. Maybe some of them wouldn't be capable.
Out of the top 5 HU's I think the deciding factor for me would be feature set, price and availability.
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Old 03-17-2017   #233
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post
I somewhat agree. I'm not sure about the 10% statement, though. Yes, in a controlled environment (TOTL playback and speaker system, well-treated room, clean Power, yada, yada, yada) the Sony GS9 does have more potential due to its Hi-Res capabilities. There is a difference.



I can also discern it when using my iBasso DX90 portable DAP via its Analog Line Out or Coaxial Digital connection (this unit also plays up to 24/192 and DSD, but it's DoP), in addition to my current 8" Android Phablet setup with the Hi-Res and Bit-Perfect capable USB Audio Player Pro App. The digital signal is extracted from the Phablet via a its USB OTG bus using a SMSL X-USB XMOS digital extractor, and sent on to the Helix DSP PRO.



Now, regarding DSD, there is quite a bit of controversy and debate among engineers as to whether it is truly an advantage over Hi-Res PCM. While it does offer excellent SQ, quite a few engineers see it as just another Proprietary "Innovation" that Sony developed so that they could market a "New/Unique/Different/Amazing" technology.



VERY FEW DSD releases that are available are True DSD Bitstreams from recording capture, through the editing & mixing process, and to the final release. This is because there are Only TWO Editing Systems available that are able to Process and Edit the Bitstream in Pure DSD. And both of these systems are #1. VERY Expensive, #2. Very Limited in the type of processing/editing that they can do, and #3. Very Tedious to work with compared to modern DAWs. So that is a Triple-Whammy for 95% of recording engineers to NOT invest in the Technology. It really complicates and slows down their process, and if you know how studio engineers make their money, Time IS Money.



Also, if you do some research, even web sites such as Blue Coast Records and NativeDSD (who sell and Produce DSD releases almost exclusively) will admit that "more than 50%" (whatever number that refers to?) of the DSD releases are actually converted to PCM in order to be Mixed, Edited, or Remastered for DSD! And then they are converted back to DSD for "Release" and your Download. And at least Blue Coast Records have also admitted (on camera in a YouTube video) that quite a few of their "DSD" releases are a transfers from original 24/96 PCM studio masters, and that some of their new recordings are actually Tracked & Mixed in 24/96 PCM and then converted to DSD.



You need to be really cautious when purchasing any type of "Hi-Res" files. Especially anything that was recorded ~12 or more years ago, because Very Few recordings at that time were done at even 24/96. A lot studio were only using 24/48 to because file storage space and Hard Drives were still very expensive at that point. So if you see any PCM recordings (WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, etc.) that are offered at resolutions of 24/192, chances are that they are just "Upsampled" from lower sample rates of the masters, and Upsampling is not always a good thing to do. It really depends on the accuracy of the Clocking, DAC, and associated equipment. ErinH also has a very informative thread on purchasing different versions of the same recording, such as "Remasters". Check it out here:



Remasters and Audiophoolery





And AFAIK, Very Few of the companies that offer these DSD releases actually reveal or describe which process was used when you download their files. So in many instances you don't really know if you are truly hearing the "advantages" of a Pure DSD Bitstream, while you are For Sure paying the extra premium!



I'm not saying that DSD is "bad". I'm just saying that it is widely accepted by engineers that there are really no sonic advantages to DSD compared to even 24/96 PCM. And that in quite a few cases it is just a marketing ploy (Licensing Royalties, W00t!), so caveat emptor. Of course, there are also engineers who are adamant that DSD is Far Superior. Some of these engineers have a vested interest and some do not.



One other "tidbit" to consider is that most DACs that are "DSD Capable" (which includes the ESS SABRE32 DAC chip used in the Sony RSX-GS9 and many other portable and home "Audiophile" units) actually use an internal process which very much mimics a PCM bit-stream in order to do its fancy work. So there are only a select few DACs available on the market that can convert or process DSD in its Native, Pure 1-Bit/High Sample Rate algorithm. PS Audio's "DirectStream DAC" is one of the earlier units to have this capability, and it's discussed in the YouTube videos below.



Below are a few videos by DAC engineer Ted Smith of PS Audio discussing DSD DAC technology and "how they work". Ted is an engineer, so he's a bit esoteric at times, but generally you can follow what he is saying. He even admits at one point that (regarding the Redbook CD format & 16/44.1), "There's A Lot more there than we initially thought". There's some other very good information here, but I'd encourage you to do your own research as well. Hopefully these videos are not blocked in S.A.!



+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.




+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.




+ YouTube Video
ERROR: If you can see this, then YouTube is down or you don't have Flash installed.






As a final note, from the handful of studio recording engineers that I've discussed "Hi-Res" with, they all basically say that any sonic differences or advantages above 24/96 PCM are pretty much moot, or are extremely suspect. "If you think you are hearing something *more* or *better* at higher resolutions such as 24/192 PCM or via 1-Bit DSD, it's just a crap shoot unless you've got bat or elephant ears". The vast majority of Popular recordings are still done in 24/96 PCM. Only in the recent past have some engineers and studios "bumped up" to a 24/192 workflow. There are, of course, exceptions, such as some of the major labels that own studios, motion picture companies, and independent "big budget" studios. But otherwise, there is A LOT of Very Expensive studio gear that needs to be replaced and upgraded to allow for this workflow, and the recording business and especially studio budgets have spiraled downward in recent years, so there's not much incentive or ability to absorb those costs.



It's obviously a different discussion for a different thread, but I'd be interested to hear Gary Summers' thoughts on this.



Sorry for going a bit Off Topic, but I think it's relevant information when the Sony RSX-GS9 enters the discussion. Either way, the Sony has proven to be a TOTL HU and there is no denying that.



.


Well said..

I tried a 24/192 track which came off my LG V20 - obviously specially recorded by LG - comparing that track to my best CD I had in my collection (copied to my IPhone - AIFF)

It wasn't even close - the LG track was miles better...

Sony's potential has not been realized yet - it may never depending on how the music industry embraces HiRes audio...

But AIFF to CD the Sony for me was better than Legends like the 7990 shows to me that at this level of recordings the Sony at $1500 MSRP out plays $4000 F1 HUs which is a great testament to new technology

This is great news for people like me who don't like carrying 50 CDs with me all the time and listen to music off a IPhone


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Old 03-18-2017   #234
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elektra View Post
Well said..

I tried a 24/192 track which came off my LG V20 - obviously specially recorded by LG - comparing that track to my best CD I had in my collection (copied to my IPhone - AIFF)

It wasn't even close - the LG track was miles better...

Sony's potential has not been realized yet - it may never depending on how the music industry embraces HiRes audio...

But AIFF to CD the Sony for me was better than Legends like the 7990 shows to me that at this level of recordings the Sony at $1500 MSRP out plays $4000 F1 HUs which is a great testament to new technology

This is great news for people like me who don't like carrying 50 CDs with me all the time and listen to music off a IPhone.
Thank you.

However, I honestly don't know how you could possibly evaluate the SQ between a native 24/192 "LG" track and a completely different music track or song from a different Artist that was sourced from a CD? ...Especially if it is not conducted in a Double-Blind manner. I'm not sure that I'm understanding your process?

In regards to having and using a "Hi-Res" source unit, I would think that as far as value for money and versatility, your LG V20 would be the best choice as both a portable and in-car source unit. I don't know if I would see the need for the expense and use of the GS9 if I had the V20.

But if you'd like to continue to discuss, let's do this through a new thread or PMs. I've already taken this way too far OT. Thanks again.
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Old 03-18-2017   #235
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post
Thank you.



However, I honestly don't know how you could possibly evaluate the SQ between a native 24/192 "LG" track and a completely different music track or song from a different Artist that was sourced from a CD? ...Especially if it is not conducted in a Double-Blind manner. I'm not sure that I'm understanding your process?



In regards to having and using a "Hi-Res" source unit, I would think that as far as value for money and versatility, your LG V20 would be the best choice as both a portable and in-car source unit. I don't know if I would see the need for the expense and use of the GS9 if I had the V20.



But if you'd like to continue to discuss, let's do this through a new thread or PMs. I've already taken this way too far OT. Thanks again.

No - prob..

Just a last note on this..

I bought the V20 because of the specs and the ability to play HiRes - as a phone it was ok as a music player through the 3.5mm jack the IPhone was better

The V20 in conjunction with the GS9 is a good choice on its own I still preferred the iPhone

The LG HiRes track was obviously a demo track which played through the GS9 sounded unbelievable - this was one of 400 tracks on the LG and one of only 3 HiRes tracks I had the rest were the same tracks I have on the iPhone...

So comparing that particular track to the other 400 tracks I had I could reference the clarity to the others which were all AIFF tracks...

The GS9 is totally worth it as most portable devices have there own limitations - especially in the preamp section.

The only limitation I see with the GS9 is the lack of a appropriate DSP...


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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Great job and thanks for doing this, Steve. I look at that graph, and see the curve on that bottlehead, and realize that with the high frequency hearing loss I suffer from, it makes sense to me now why it was my top choice.

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Old 03-18-2017   #237
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto
THANK YOU, Steve!
...

Did you happen to take measurements of the Sony CDX-C90?
I'll have to check...I think it came in well after I did all the measurements.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto
...

I'm really happy to hear that you were able to get the McIntosh sorted out and will have it back in your hands soon, especially since it was your favorite CD deck out of the group. They're such a Classic looking deck. Can you describe what it was that you liked about it over the other HUs? Is it going to make it into your Car? Or will it be the Sony GS9?

And of course, it would be really great to hear that MX5000 if you can swing it. No pressure, tho'!
I'm debating that right now...whether to use BOTH so I have a killer cd source and a great high res source, or to use just one. I also have the DSP Pro mk2 dsp so with the usb hec for direct digital in, that could also be the digital source. So, I have some options to consider.

The McIntosh mx5000 is terrific. It just had a large, dynamic and very real presentation for me that gave it a slight edge in my opinion. Excellent detail and well controlled bass.

I could probably get recordings of the mx5000, but it wouldn't be the same setup so they wouldn't be equivalent comparison to the others. But I could still certainly do that just for the fun of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfoto
I would be very interested to know more about your current Hi-End Driver Tests as well, if and when you have some time to share that information. I honestly don't see how you came up with the time to conduct this HU shootout, so I think you should take a very well-deserved break for a bit!

Cheers!
I've been testing all sorts of drivers- midbass, midrange and tweeters.

The current midrange crop is Scan 12M Revelators, Satori MR13P, BG Neo8S and BG Neo10.

The current tweeter crop includes Scanspeak Rev and Illuminator, Mundorf AMT, Airborne AMT, Fountek ribbons, BG planars, Satori TW29RN....and RAAL ribbons

Midbass includes Dynaudio MW182, Illusion Carbon C10, Scan 25W, Brax Matrix 10.1

I've had some fun

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Old 03-18-2017   #238
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

I received something in the mail today.

The best way to dummy proof is to get rid of the dummies
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Old 03-18-2017   #239
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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I received something in the mail today.
LOL, A new HU, or your Tax Return Check?
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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LOL, A new HU, or your Tax Return Check?
Tax RETURN? What's that?

Maybe a respectfully used HU?

Only those in the know, know........

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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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I'll have to check...I think it came in well after I did all the measurements.
If you can come up with the measurement graph, great. If not, no biggie. I think it would probably be "within spec" judging by most listener's high ranking of the C90. I could measure one of mine, but then it wouldn't be the one that was actually used in the test, so I'm not sure if it'd be of much relevance.


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I'm debating that right now...whether to use BOTH so I have a killer cd source and a great high res source, or to use just one. I also have the DSP Pro mk2 dsp so with the usb hec for direct digital in, that could also be the digital source. So, I have some options to consider.

The McIntosh mx5000 is terrific. It just had a large, dynamic and very real presentation for me that gave it a slight edge in my opinion. Excellent detail and well controlled bass.
Thanks for your impressions on the MX5000. Ha, that would be quite the install to have Both the GS9 and MX5000! But yeah, using the direct USB HEC module for your digital and Hi-Res stuff would probably be the simplest, combined with the MX5000 so you could evade the SongPal app. Though I admittedly haven't looked into how the Playback UI would work with the Helix USB HEC. Hmmm?

I'd be VERY interested in your impressions by using another option as your CD transport. It's what I use on the rare occasion that I want or need to play a CD in my setup that uses the Samsung 8" Tablet as my main source. Basically it is a simple, compact, and portable Sony Discman CD player with Mini-Toslink output which I connect to the Helix DSP PRO's optical input.

You can find these on eBay, usually for less than $25 shipped if you do a search. Save the search, then grab it when one pops up. Any of the Model #'s that start with "DJ-Exxx" are equipped with the Toslink Mini Optical Output, which is integrated into the 3.5mm "Line Out" jack, similar to the MacBook Pro's Headphone jack (see photo below). You also want to go with a Discman or "CD Walkman" that uses 2 standard 'AA' batteries, and not the "gum stick" rechargeables.

Photo showing the Toslink Mini Output on Sony CD Walkman models. The Combo "Line Out/OPTICAL" jack is always indicated by the WHITE surround of the jack. Units that Do Not have the Optical Output and only have a analog "LINE OUT" use a jack with a Green or Black surround. You can buy a simple Toslink-to-Toslink Mini adapter for a couple $ if you have an existing standard Toslink cable.


I have a few of each of the Sony CD Walkman's with Model Numbers, #DJ-E711, #DJ-E715, and the #D-FJ75TR with AM/FM Tuner (the Tuner is built into the #RM-CDF7L remote control and only plays through the Analog outputs).

I just keep one of these CD Walkman's tucked away in my center console so it's out of the way until I need it. I have the Cig. Lighter power adapter for them as well which is standard across all of the Sonys.

I also made a custom "wallplate" type jack panel that's installed behind a small cubby door in my center console. The jack panel includes a USB input jack for the Helix DSP, a USB jack for a Thumb Drive/HDD/SSD (connects to a USB Hub attached to the 8" Tablet), a Female Toslink Jack, a yellow Female RCA jack for Coaxial Digital, and finally, a 3.5mm female Stereo MiniPlug "AUX In" jack. So I can just about plug in ANY type of external source unit with easy access from the driver's seat.

The Coax RCA jack and Toslink jack route into an "Audio Advisor" 4-input digital Toslink/Coaxial Auto-Switch Box who's single output connects to the Toslink Input on the Helix DSP PRO. I can also plug in my portable iBasso DX90 DAP to the jack panel using a short Coaxial cable. Sounds confusing but it's fairly simple!

Anyway I'd be interested in your thoughts with one of the above Sony CD Walkman units plugged directly into your Helix DSP PRO Mk II via Toslink Optical, compared to the MX5000.


Quote:
Originally Posted by captainobvious View Post
I could probably get recordings of the mx5000, but it wouldn't be the same setup so they wouldn't be equivalent comparison to the others. But I could still certainly do that just for the fun of it.
If you feel like doing it that'd be fine, but you're right about it not being an equivalent comparison if you can't replicate the same setup, so no worries.



Quote:
Originally Posted by captainobvious View Post
I've been testing all sorts of drivers- midbass, midrange and tweeters.

The current midrange crop is Scan 12M Revelators, Satori MR13P, BG Neo8S and BG Neo10.

The current tweeter crop includes Scanspeak Rev and Illuminator, Mundorf AMT, Airborne AMT, Fountek ribbons, BG planars, Satori TW29RN....and RAAL ribbons

Midbass includes Dynaudio MW182, Illusion Carbon C10, Scan 25W, Brax Matrix 10.1

I've had some fun
D@MN, Son! You HAVE been having a bit of fun lately. THIS I would be REALLY interested in reading more about! Seems like you're on the never-ending quest for SQ Enlightenment!

Keep On Keeping On!

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Old 03-20-2017   #242
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not trying to take away from anything Steve has done here. I appreciate all of the hard work that went into preparing this comparison, recording his efforts and providing the files for others to evaluate. I also understand, that there was no intention to claim a "winner" here.

Having said that, I wonder how a "standard" head unit might have fared in this anecdotal comparison. Even something as mid-range as the DEH-80PRS or Alpine CDE-HD149BT. I know that Erin has measured and compared the DEH-80PRS to the DEX-P99RS and the difference in measurements was "negligible." I'm not sure if he ever measured the Alpine when he had it. A typical DD unit in the mix could have been interesting as well. Something like a Pioneer NEX which seem to be pretty popular these days.

My other question is regarding the Sony RSX-GS9. It did well, but no matter how I look at the feedback, I wouldn't rank it as the aggregate top choice of those who chose to evaluate and post responses. I wonder how much of a difference it would make if the RSX-GS9 was allowed to use Hi-Res Audio while the others were left playing standard CD quality. (This is probably more of an issue for live listeners if the recordings were captured at 24bit/48khz.)

And if those Hi-Res files would be enough to push the RSX-GS9 (by consensus) to the top of the heap, how would a "non-audiophile" head unit capable of Hi-Res playback (Clarion NX706, JVC KW-V_, Kenwood DNX/DDX, etc.) fare compared to both the Sony and the other tested units? In otherwords, is a future Hi-Res capable mid-range head unit going to be capable or even expected to topple the "greats" from yesteryear? (Yes, I am ignoring direct play and hi-res streaming DSP options for the purpose of this post.)


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Old 03-20-2017   #243
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

Guess we'll never know! Unless someone else decides to take the reigns and do a series of tests and recordings themselves as well. If I had more time to burn, I could easily setup an experiment like that to take it further, but I've already put a lot of time and effort (and $$) into making this one happen, plus I have a lot of build stuff to focus on so realistically, I probably wouldn't be interested in attempting that any time soon.

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Old 03-20-2017   #244
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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Guess we'll never know! Unless someone else decides to take the reigns and do a series of tests and recordings themselves as well. If I had more time to burn, I could easily setup an experiment like that to take it further, but I've already put a lot of time and effort (and $$) into making this one happen, plus I have a lot of build stuff to focus on so realistically, I probably wouldn't be interested in attempting that any time soon.
I don't blame you. What you have done already was A LOT to take on. More than anyone else has been willing to do. Just curiosity on my part.


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Old 03-20-2017   #245
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

I've been away and I'm oh so sorry. I would love to see how my Abyss A7 did with the SACD information....along with my Nak TP1200 in the mix. Nice job Steve on putting this together!!!!

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Old 03-20-2017   #246
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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Let me preface this post by saying that I am not trying to take away from anything Steve has done here. I appreciate all of the hard work that went into preparing this comparison, recording his efforts and providing the files for others to evaluate. I also understand, that there was no intention to claim a "winner" here.



Having said that, I wonder how a "standard" head unit might have fared in this anecdotal comparison. Even something as mid-range as the DEH-80PRS or Alpine CDE-HD149BT. I know that Erin has measured and compared the DEH-80PRS to the DEX-P99RS and the difference in measurements was "negligible." I'm not sure if he ever measured the Alpine when he had it. A typical DD unit in the mix could have been interesting as well. Something like a Pioneer NEX which seem to be pretty popular these days.



My other question is regarding the Sony RSX-GS9. It did well, but no matter how I look at the feedback, I wouldn't rank it as the aggregate top choice of those who chose to evaluate and post responses. I wonder how much of a difference it would make if the RSX-GS9 was allowed to use Hi-Res Audio while the others were left playing standard CD quality. (This is probably more of an issue for live listeners if the recordings were captured at 24bit/48khz.)



And if those Hi-Res files would be enough to push the RSX-GS9 (by consensus) to the top of the heap, how would a "non-audiophile" head unit capable of Hi-Res playback (Clarion NX706, JVC KW-V_, Kenwood DNX/DDX, etc.) fare compared to both the Sony and the other tested units? In otherwords, is a future Hi-Res capable mid-range head unit going to be capable or even expected to topple the "greats" from yesteryear? (Yes, I am ignoring direct play and hi-res streaming DSP options for the purpose of this post.)


For me the greats of yesteryear are just that - yesteryear...

Stuff has become cheaper and better - music is evolving and changing.

I wonder how long it will take for CD stores to close There doors as downloads start becoming more popular (Video stores don't exist here anymore due to our version of your cable came about) - if it hasn't already. Over here CD stores have become smaller and there business model has changed - before you buy music now you buy mugs, posters and toys...

I personally have not bought a CD is ages.. - few years ago I was buying 5 or 6 per month - in fact I only get CDs for Christmas...

Sony has committed to HiRes as they have a lot of HiRes products now... and a huge record label - every home system has HiRes playback capability - ONKYO amps all have it.

The car industry is the smallest of audio industries - so producing CDs just for us is not an option.

Soon you will be able to to buy a track and have MP3 through to 24/192 options - you just pay accordingly.

If a well recorded CD surfaces - it will be ripped to USB and you will have a well ripped version on USB and with DAC development moving forward it will sound better than the CD version purely because the DAC is more revealing and developments in preamps coupled with DAC advancement. I mean the last meaningful CD player was the P99 - how old is that now?

For car audio we will see huge advances in DSP design - it won't be long till we see DSP's that do DSD....

I seriously doubt we will see another Hi End CD player for the car...

I tested a Alpine F1 Status CDA-7990R recently from a friend. I was amazed at how the Sony playing a IPhone sounded better than the mighty F1 HU - regarded by most the best CD player for the car... even comparable to high end home CD players...

Besides who wants to carry 50 CDs with you all the time and wait for a stop light to cd the disc...

That's so 90's.... lol

Now I use my 128gb iPhone with 500 songs and use my Apple Watch to change music on the fly without moving my eyes from the road... or create a playlist for a 10 hour journey...

And if some steals the iPhone or it gets lost - just sync your new one and 15mins later you have it all again... and it never gets scratched or fingerprints

Makes much more sense...





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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

CD stores are all but extinct here in the USA, Elektra. You still have a good number of them in South Africa?

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Old 03-21-2017   #248
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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Originally Posted by rton20s View Post
....Having said that, I wonder how a "standard" head unit might have fared in this anecdotal comparison. Even something as mid-range as the DEH-80PRS or Alpine CDE-HD149BT. I know that Erin has measured and compared the DEH-80PRS to the DEX-P99RS and the difference in measurements was "negligible." I'm not sure if he ever measured the Alpine when he had it. A typical DD unit in the mix could have been interesting as well. Something like a Pioneer NEX which seem to be pretty popular these days.
I get what you're saying, but lets just look at things from a slightly different perspective. The parameters that Erin measured define the boundaries of the ball park and all units tested would give similar results. So the size of the ballpark is the same but the 'game' is in the FR and phase coherence of the unit. IIRC Erin also posted FR graphs as part of his test and those looked very similar to what Steve posted. Basically all the units (except the Panny) measured pretty much the same, so why are people hearing a difference?

Resolution. Steves FR is at 1db and I'm not sure what the resolution on Erins post was. At 1-3db resolution the units measure more or less identical, but what if we could zoom in and see the measurements at a 0.2db resolution? Now, what if then the units showed a variation of +/- 0.25-0.75 db across the 10 octaves? Would that difference be audible? Heck yes!!! Keep your regular tune as A and then change the 31 bands on your eq at random by +/- 0.3 db (avg) and save this setting as B. Now toggle between A&B, hear a difference? Which is why I mentioned in my review that the units could be eq'd to sound similar.

In the big picture, even these differences don't mean much, because each HU will need to be tuned for your environment, so its native FR is really a moot question. What really tilted the scales for me towards the two Sony's and the Eclipse, was the open and BIG sound that they threw, some of this can be dialed in with EQ but a large part of this imho, is down to better phase coherence from the units, i.e. circuitry and electronics, specially in the higher harmonics. For me, that was the real difference between the units.

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Old 03-21-2017   #249
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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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CD stores are all but extinct here in the USA, Elektra. You still have a good number of them in South Africa?


There used to be a mega store in each shopping center now they have closed down or have reduced in size...

We used to have a chain called Mr Video which guys rented videos - since our cable version offered downloads for slightly less than a rental at Mr Video that chain died very quickly

I suspect the CD stores will die as well - unless they change there business model and start offering high quality downloads and HiRes tracks for online purchasing or coming in the store with your flashdisk and pay for a few tracks

CDs have become expensive now - I suspect it's due to supply and demand - the demand has reduced and the price has increased to compensate for the slower sales...

I seriously doubt in the next 5-10 years that any CD store will be in existence unless they just sell vinyl...

That is still one part of the music industry that requires you to go into a store - unless you buy online - but most of those guys like to see what they buying and feel the weight etc...


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Default Re: The High-End Head Unit Shootout

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Originally Posted by sqnut View Post
I get what you're saying, but lets just look at things from a slightly different perspective. The parameters that Erin measured define the boundaries of the ball park and all units tested would give similar results. So the size of the ballpark is the same but the 'game' is in the FR and phase coherence of the unit. IIRC Erin also posted FR graphs as part of his test and those looked very similar to what Steve posted. Basically all the units (except the Panny) measured pretty much the same, so why are people hearing a difference?



Resolution. Steves FR is at 1db and I'm not sure what the resolution on Erins post was. At 1-3db resolution the units measure more or less identical, but what if we could zoom in and see the measurements at a 0.2db resolution? Now, what if then the units showed a variation of +/- 0.25-0.75 db across the 10 octaves? Would that difference be audible? Heck yes!!! Keep your regular tune as A and then change the 31 bands on your eq at random by +/- 0.3 db (avg) and save this setting as B. Now toggle between A&B, hear a difference? Which is why I mentioned in my review that the units could be eq'd to sound similar.



In the big picture, even these differences don't mean much, because each HU will need to be tuned for your environment, so its native FR is really a moot question. What really tilted the scales for me towards the two Sony's and the Eclipse, was the open and BIG sound that they threw, some of this can be dialed in with EQ but a large part of this imho, is down to better phase coherence from the units, i.e. circuitry and electronics, specially in the higher harmonics. For me, that was the real difference between the units.


Well look at this...

I totally agree!

Well put...


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