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rrstesiak
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Project: Tuning/Tweaking the NAD 516 CD Player

All:

I have recently entered the would of Redbook.... and have some early and interesting observations to make. To provide a background, I have purchased an entry level and "Stereophile Approved" cd player, the NAD 516.

Here was my main logic in arriving at the purchasing of a $225 CD refurbished cd player with a budget of $1500:

1. Dedicated audio circuity to maximize performance; from NAD's website:  

"NAD" wrote:

The C 516BEE gets the full measure of NAD engineering experience with enhanced audio circuitry to maximize performance, resulting in better stereo imaging, tighter bass, and clean, accurate, distortion-free sound. The painstakingly engineered circuit layout extracts the best possible performance from audiophile-grade component parts for minimal noise and maximum detail retrieval. This focused effort results in a vivid, musically rewarding experience.

2. No unused DVD or BluRay components getting in the way of audio circuitry.
3. Two separate power supplies ; one for the analogue, the other for the digital. Results in a cleaner signal.
4. An improved, beefier transport. NAD themselves stated the transport was improved vs. their previous model, the 515.
5. NAD fine-tuned the analogue stage for lower distortion.
6. Again from NAD's website regarding isolating the Digital from the Analogue circuits:

NAD wrote:

The analogue output has been fine-tuned for even better audio performance, while digital outputs are buffered and isolated to ensure perfect matching and minimal 'jitter'

Finally, endorsements from the likes of Stereophile journalists/reviewers certainly don't hurt:

Stephen Mejias wrote:

I do know, however, that the NAD wasn't out of place when matched with more expensive equipment. Partnered with the Croft Phono Integrated ($1895), the C 516BEE contributed to some of the best sound I've heard at home.

So here we have a seasoned reviewer claiming the NAD 516BEE as some of the *BEST* sound he as *EVER* heard at home.

In fact, the only weakness I see in this unit is the choice of a Cirrus Logic DAC; though it is modern as opposed to older tech, and it does support 192/24.... it still isn't a Wolfson, Burr-Brown, or Sabre 32-bit. However, I am thinking the surrounding circuitry will make up for it; and worst case, especially at this price point, I can use it as a transport and use the DAC of my choice!

Here is my own direct take on it:
I find its build quality to be excellent; and I truly again lucked out in that it aesthetically blends in quite nicely with my Creek Integrated. Though the remote is small and cheap feeling, it does a good job. The unit scans very quickly with audible cues over the disc...and Skips to songs very quickly..in fact it is very fast once loaded and a joy to use. The unit is also slightly slow to initially read the CD as mentioned in the Stereophile review, but I find that very minor and worth the speed of skipping and FF/REV through discs. I expected Redbook to be slightly grainy/metallic sounding and so I really can't fault NAD for that; and when there are several Rock instruments playing at once, the sound does get a touch distorted; though again, I think that may be alleviated or resolved with tuning and tweaks. In fact, if I was not conducting a critical reference listening of a song with a higher resolution FLAC, I would be delighted with this player either with or without the external DAC as an excellent entry level though audiophile grade CD player. It is only through these intense listening sessions where I can nit pick it. If I want to just jam Led Zeppelin or Miles Davis, I just sit back and enjoy the music. I would back up Stereophile's recommendation of this player as an excellent entry level audiophile unit; and DEFINITELY recommend it if one is using a dedicated external DAC.

I will leave listeners with this comment:
The built-in DAC did a decent job in projecting a soundstage with width height and depth through my Creek.. though my external DAC improves on it, this is a great way to get back into Redbook or to replace a broken player even without an external DAC. I can now go to a music store and scan for bargains in Vinyl OR CD, so that it a major plus! I can always convert the CD over to FLAC as well. So, for $225, it was a wise purchase.

Here is a picture of it with my Creek Integrated. I feel I was again extremely lucky in how much it matches the Creek and am very pleased with the aesthetics! I feel a very fair review may now be conducted of CD vs. FLAC; as I am using the cd player as a transport, and sharing the exact same DAC (PS Audio NuWave) with FLAC. So as not to clutter things, I will end this first post here, and begin my analysis with an additional post.... I just want folks to primarily see what it looks like first and give a brief background before setting into a detailed discussion.

NOTE: I have recently moved the CD player to the left of the Integrated; as placing it on top blocked the cooling vents of the Integrated, and I believe interferes with the sound on many levels. Although aesthetically it is quite pleasing, it is also pleasing "next to" the amp. :)

Image hosted by servimg.com

And here are the internals; two separate power supplies isolating the digital from the analogue... a lot of dedicated audio components..and the improved transport mechanism as written by NAD over their previous 515 model...nice...:

Image hosted by servimg.com

rrstesiak
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Initial Reference Listening Session: NAD 516 vs. FLAC

All:

My very first listening test was conducted with:
Led Zeppelin I: "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"

I am comparing Redbook CD vs. 24/96 FLAC of this song; as I have both copies.

First Reference Session Notes:

CD
excellent rendering of acoustic guitar
slightly more treble/tilt up/metallic sound
slightly "harsh" when many instruments/guitars playing at once when compared to FLAC
more studio sounding as opposed to live sounding
same left-to-right wide soundstage on most parts of song when compared to FLAC
slight compression/distortion again when many instruments playing at once in upper treble range.
At one point, I was unable to hear a backup electric guitar that I could very distinctly hear on the FLAC version.

FLAC
deeper soundstage
a touch warmer/organic
more "live" sounding
same left-to-right wide soundstage as CD for most of song
much wider soundstage on keyboard "zoom up" effect around 2:15
instruments are more separate
slightly more echo and room acoustics audible

So...overall, after very first critical listening A/B B/A session I give the nod to FLAC. It was honestly more enjoyable to listen to this song on the FLAC version. I found on the CD, the song was in fact harsh and fatiguing to my ears whenever Zeppelin was "jamming"...while it was organic and live sounding and energetic on the FLAC. However, during ALL OTHER PARTS OF THE SONG, I really would be hard-pressed to determine the difference between the two formats; with the only exception being the keyboard effect previously discussed! Also, I think again acoustic guitar sounded *better* through the CD player..

In closing, I also think the test was conducted fairly; as I used the exact same DAC for both media.

However, I have not "tuned" the CD Player and will conduct further testing to see if I can't improve on its factory sound. Further, as Michael has correctly pointed out, I need to allow the NAD CD Player to "burn in" to be absolutely truthful for a few hundred hours to give it an even playing field. I look forward to following up this initial test with a test AFTER some tweaks and tuning have been applied.

I must say the main reason I got a CD Player was to try the myriads of tweaks and tunes on it. I think CD Players for whatever reason are the most tweaked component in audio; judging by these forums! I look forward to it!

Best Regards,

Ron

VARIABLE AND FIXED TWEAKS TO COME! CHECK BACK OFTEN!

Allen Fant
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Nice! Ron-

Nice! Ron-

I was fond of the pairing, NAD 565BEE spinner and a Creek integrated (model# unknown).

rrstesiak
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I wish it was that model!

Allen:

I only got the entry level NAD 516... But it is still a decent unit; especially when only used as a transport with an external DAC. :)

As for the Creek, it is the new Evolution 50A. It has a bigger brother with more power called the Evolution 100; though the '100 switched over to class G?!? SO I intentionally went with the Class A/B "little sibling".

Kind Regards,

Ron

rrstesiak
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Some high level listening notes on the NAD

All:

As I have lent my PS Audio DAC to a friend, and am awaiting arrival of my Creek Ruby DAC, I am in a sense forced to listen to the NAD 516's DAC.

I have also purchased about twenty CD's (they are very cheap now..can be had anywhere between $1 and $5 at my local discount record store)!

So...more listening notes on the NAD's internal DAC:

On Peter Gabriel: So, I notice it handles the album overall very well. Though the album is very much airy, upper register bells and synthesizers and the like; along with Peter Gabriel's own airy, ethereal voice, the entire album is in the "sweet spot" I would say of the NAD's internal DAC. This spinner does a great job of revealing the dynamics of this album....all of the breathy sounds are convincing..and the electric guitars have a nice bite..but not too metallic.

I did a rather interesting experiment yesterday: I own three different copies of Miles Davis: Kind of Blue: Vinyl, FLAC, and now CD. The CD was sadly noticeably behind in quality to the other formats; however, as Michael pointed out, I should let the NAD burn in for several more days before being overly critical. I also will probably "tune" and/or "tweak" it in some ways which will all only improve the sound. As it is, it is very enjoyable.... i just am so used to my vinyl and FLAC setups as being superior...hence ordering the Creek Ruby and I will scrutinize it against my PS Audio DAC and end up selling the DAC or returning the Creek (DAC).

Best Regards,

Ron

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516

Hi Ron

Wanted to let you know, I'll probably pick up a 516 to play with, don't know when, and I started a thread here so when I do I can give a link to where it will be on TuneLand. I think it's such a popular player that it will be cool to tune it up. I'm going to keep my version of the tuning separate from here so things don't get mixed up. So as I do this feel free to take a peek and see what's up with the way we would approach this player as opposed to the path that others might take.

Have fun with your adventure!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

rrstesiak
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I am truly excited, Michael!

Thank you for your reply!

I hope you do try one out... I got mine from Audiogon; from a retailer who looks like they still have a bunch of these on open-box or clearance for $225; unless you can get a better price via your channels.

Again, looking forward to following up your explorations of it on Tuneland.

Kind Regards,

Ron

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Speaker Placement: Cardas Method

I tried the Cardas method of room tuning...and By God...I got the deepest Bass I ever Had with my Epos Book shelf speakers! However, the soundstage collapsed back to the physical widith of the speakers. I see this as a common trade off...either amazing Bass, or amazing soundstage. What was really weird though was the method had me placing the speakers 4.7 FEET from the back wall! I had only achieved excellent Bass before by placing them 1' from wall! I truly am a believer in room tuning; as obviously this formula found a standing Bass wave or something like that... I look forward to learning more about these methods and leveraging the room.

However, I place soundstage above deep Bass,so I placed the speakers back to where I had them, but, I have zero toe-in as per Cardas, and I think maybe sound stage has improved! I know it has in width; which makes sense, listening now for depth... only have CD Player and Turntable with Vincent Pho-8 for now as my main DAC is being lent out. As for Bass, I have engaged the tone controls and raised Bass +4. That seems to help a ton.

Best Regards,

Ron

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bass

Hi Ron

You'll get the bass back when you start RoomTuning. meaning the actual treatment

Until folks start RoomTuning (the treatment) their room it's pretty much hit and miss for most people.

Yeah we'll see, Harold and I might pick up a couple of these to play with. Not worried about the price $299.00 is plenty low. We're use to droping two and three grand on these things so getting to play with something like this is like a holiday. Not sure, but we might completely re-do the chassis all together. Probably an all wood enclosed tunable chassis with out board transformers I'm thinking. The one I drew up today was pretty sexy and I think I can get enough space inbetween the transport and main board for the device to go in. We've been thinking about coming out with a CDP again anyway, so maybe this will be an inbetween thing.

Maybe we'll do a few mods for people who knows, or just play with this a while. I'm pretty happy with the tore down MDV but a lot of folks don't want to set them next to their $20,000.00 amps, just us few crazed tunees. You know though since we started talking about the in-famous 2300 I've had about 5 folks from here ask me about them in private. Some have already got theirs.

it's all fun, well except I haven't slept in 3 days now.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

rrstesiak
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Michael:

Michael:

I'm genuinely glad you finally warmed up to my suggestion of the NAD for the rest of the audiophile population. That was really my only point. I also equally apologize again for coming down way too hard on what I now see to be a widely enjoyed success by many tuners; that darn Magnavox! :)

Respectfully,

Ron

bierfeldt
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Don't worry about the DAC chip

Cirrus vs Burr Brown vs Wolfson vs ESS Sabre is an utterly pointless debate. If NAD wanted to use an ESS chip they could. The cost of a Sabre32 is about $13 vs about $8 for the Cirrus chip they selected. Burr Brown and Wolfson are in the middle. I know that NAD was trying to get to a $299 price point but if that extra $5 in cost would have made a huge improvement in sound, I am sure they would have found a way. That chip was selected because of the way it interacts with the balance of the circuity. I agree that the ESS Sabre32 is the best chip on the market but a good implementation of a Cirrus chip will outperform a mediocre implementation of an ESS chip any day.

For instance, I have Cirrus Logic chip in my Marantz Network player and it sounds exceptional. Yamaha uses ESS chips in its Aventage line. I do not feel that it sounds exceptional.

One other note, Cirrus Logic owns Wolfson. Deal closed last August so this debate becomes even less relevant.

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6.22.15: lab notes: NAD 516BEE

I am officially 110% committed to seeing this mini-project to completion.

All:

I have just purchased lumber, 22 Gauge wire, more solder, etc..I have also hijacked the Dining Room table as a make shift EE workshop. lol. I used to have a woodworking shop of sorts when I was a little younger.. got quite into it and made some decent furniture back in the day. I am very versed in mortise and tenon, dovetail, and the many other joining techniques. I built my own routing table and fence so I could build raised panelling... Owned a table saw, Mitre saw, many many jigs and bits..drill press.. the whole 9 yards... Sadly all of that was in a different life in Florida and has been sold off over the years. But, it is never too late, and only basic woodworking skills and tools are needed for now.

I am finding it hard to resist, but I must first measure the equipment to get a "before" data capture to apply the scientific method. I am going to capture a session of Miles Davis on CD with the unit unaltered in my listening room using some basic recording studio equipment..but am unsure as to what software to use to truly analyze the "sound" and am looking for suggestions... I am open minded and prefer Unix and Mac platforms, but can run Windows if absolutely necessary. lol. Worst case, I'll just process the digital session of Miles Davis as my reference piece and perform subsequent PCA, Fourier or other analysis against the raw data and arrive at my own method of quantitative analysis. But I would prefer an "industry Standard"...maybe Stereophile reviews may contain hints.. but again, any suggestions are welcome.

After capturing in the digital domain the listening session, I intend on removing the entire chassis and placing it on a wooden deck as a first pass in a method seemingly supported already by a large community of audiophiles; and with a great deal of success in improving the sound.

This is my very first truly scientific venture in the bizarre world of high end audio; with a lot of inspiration from Michael Green and his website and folks over there who are really doing this.

To give readers some idea of how radical this is... check out the workspace...
Image hosted by servimg.com
Stay Tuned!

Ronald R. Stesiak, PhD

michael green
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Rudy

Reminds me of the movie "Rudy", when at the end his buddy stands up and shouts "who's the madman now".

great to see you having a good time, Ron!

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think the walk is much more fun than the talk. Hope this turns into a whole new hobby for you and inspires others to consider how far this hobby can take them.

thumbs up

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

Allen Fant
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I would be interested in you

I would be interested in you "modding" this spinner also, MG.

chuckles304
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You should see my woodshop Ron

My system is crammed in a corner of a 9800 sq.ft. professional shop containing every tool short of a CNC unit. A 15' tall by 8' wide rack holds veneer ply and a 15' x 20' rack holds a dozen lumber species. I imagine you'd love it. I even have an Etsy store, CrowsNestCarpentry, selling furniture and housewares. I would argue that I have the worst environment of anyone on this forum (dust, bugs, poor climate control) to house an Infinity/NAD setup.

michael green
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The NAD

Hi Allen

I'm sure Ron will have his done way before us. This has been a busy summer. Everytime I say I'm going to start a project we get slammed with other projects. It seems that the dead summers of audio are no more, or at least they're over for us. The 516 will be going to the La Crosse shop first so they can make templates for the different parts, then put back together and off to me here in Vegas. So I may not see it till fall (maybe later), depending on priorities and interest. Right now Platforms and PZC's are taking front and center so we'll have to see where the NAD falls into place.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

Allen Fant
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I will stay tuned-MG.

I will stay tuned-MG.

While we are on the subject of building & workshops...etc.,
I am thinking about building a CD/SACD rack- any advice or perhaps a suggestion of a primo company that builds a superior product?

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reply to Allen

Allen:

I think your question was directed to Michael, but I also have hopefully useful input..as I too am looking for an audio rack.

Long story short, I have found two companies in my searches:

Salamander Designs and Michael Green's own company! I didn't know he made audio racks also!

At being slightly lazy to paste the code to display pictures, here are at least good links to Salamander and Michael's designs:

Salamander:
http://www.salamanderdesigns.com/products/subcategory/8f0b0591-868f-227b-24b1-512e18bb798c

Michael:
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/t71-mga-platforms-racks-and-amp-stands

After digesting these two companies and interacting with other people, I may actually forego a stand system and utilize platforms. But I am still unsure.

At either rate, I hope you find value in the links and of course feel free to direct questions about Michael's designs to....Michael!

Respectfully,

Ron

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Much Thanks! Ron-

Much Thanks! Ron-

You guys have a Happy 4th of July.

michael green
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Happy 4th

Hi Allen

Our shops make custom audio furniture. If you deside to go that route we would be happy to give you a quote.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

Allen Fant
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Thank You! MG.

Thank You! MG.

michael green
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your welcome

Any time Allen!

Let me know if we can help. We're backed up till the end of September, then hopefully we can get in some custom goodies. It looks like this fall is going to be pretty packed, both here and in La Crosse.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

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deleted

this post intentionally deleted due to errors in data.

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Disappointing Results

All:

After realizing my initial testing methodology was flawed; in that the NAD unit did NOT have sufficient time to warm up for the unmodded measurements, I re-performed those measurements and compared it to the unit extracted completely from its chassis and placed on a wooden, pine board approximately 1" thick, 20" wide, 12" deep...

The results: the Frequency graphs are nearly *identical* between the two (modded vs. unmodded).

While severely disappointing, I did NOT perform any tweaks to the transformer other than removing it from the chassis; as it has a custom OEM connector into the circuit board to which I did not want to violate the integrity.

So, having said all of this, if anyone replies they are more curious, I can post the updated and BEFORE and AFTER pics of the scientific measurements as well as pictures of the modded NAD.... any takers? If no replies, I simply won't carry out the moderate work of hosting and embedding all of the pics. It seems interest has dried up on this topic...maybe I'm wrong?

If there is sufficient interest still, I may consider further mods; including isolation of the transformer.

Regards,

Ron

May Belt
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More curious.

I personally AM more curious as to your further results.

Not only what measurements you get but also what you HEAR when you make the changes you are making.

Regards,
May Belt,
PWB Electronics.

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Re: May

May:

A kind thank you to your general expression of interest.

All:

If we can get just a few more readers interested, I will go into the details. For your interest & May's reply, I am posting the picture of the heavily modded prototype unit:

Image hosted by servimg.com

Michael should be proud.

My main goals were:
- separate the unit from the steel chassis; which often is NOT taken into consideration when the design engineers design the circuits!
- remove all clips, clamps, etc from all wires.
- remove all fasteners from circuit boards.
- Allow vibration to flow more freely across unit
- Most significantly: Allow EMF to ESCAPE and DISSIPATE
- Provide resonant, wooden substrate vs. steel

Notes:
1. The wooden platform was set upon wooden blocks as well.
2. I used the OPTICAL outs. Perhaps using the onboard DAC would introduce more significant results. I may look into this again if there is interest.
3. All experiments were performed between 10-12am, with a constant temperature environment, A/C turned off during recordings, and equipmentt NOT moved nor adjusted from very specific positions within error of 1".
4. Bass was adjusted to +8 on the Creek during all tests.
5. The Creek Integrated was resting on three Michael Green designed wooden blocks.
6. The NAD unit was then re-assembled and tested again, showing very little to no changes in frequency domain (which is excellent and a valid way to experiment to be sure no extraneous variables have been introduced by the physical act of severe modification).

Cheers,

Ron

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Reply: chuckles304

I also used to have a "serious" wood shop...was very into cabinet and mid-level difficulty furniture making.

I do miss my wood shop.

Kind Regards,

Ron

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Any Other Interested parties Speak now

Anyone else interested in my progression with tuning the NAD 516?

I have only one person, May, whom I respect, but with the amount of work involved, I really would need more than just one avid listener interested....so...

speak up now, or forever hold your peace.

Cheers,

Ron

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TuneLand

Hi Ron

I think this same thread on TuneLand would be the ticket. No doubt Tunees would be having a good time along with you, plus if I start making comments here the flaming would be close to follow. I don't want your thread to be turned into another spin flip.

fun stuff though!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

rrstesiak
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UPDATE: Already on Tuneland

Michael:

You read my mind...

The post is already on Tuneland; However, I think denying this audience is not fair...I welcome all of your comments here as well. I hope you agree.

Cheers,

Ron

michael green
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excellent!

See you there after a short break!

:)

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

bierfeldt
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Do you hear a difference....

You went trough a huge amount of effort and I am curious about one thing...did you hear a difference before and after? You commented on your measurements but not your perception. Just curious and please don't go through any extensive effort regarding embedding images, etc... Just your thoughts

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reply to all

All:

I noticed no significant difference in listening; however, I did not perform any true critical listening A/B sessions. My goal in this first go around was to be strictly scientific. To be honest, I had expected a much more pronounced difference in the frequency graphs which are commonly used by professional technical columnists.

Not all is lost though.. I still have the raw data and can process it in different domains. I can also mess around with the transformer a bit.

I am very confident I will eventually come across an exact set of tweaks that produces a measurable and perceivable difference in sound.

With the replies I am getting, I intend on moving forward with this project. I do; however, need to balance my time with my research, so the results won't be for several days to a week yet... but hang in there..

Anyone else interested please reply....the more people reply with interest, the more inspired and motivated I get!

Finally, if anyone is so inclined, I do have more measurements posted on the TuneLand website at this point which I will migrate over here as well when i get the time.

Kind Regards,

Ronald R. Stesiak, PhD

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Next Steps

All:

I intend on continuing with this project.. here are my next steps:

1. EMF readings taken of my Integrated Amp and the NAD 516 while playing music indicate the EMF's fall off dramatically after a few inches of distance. This is also confirmed via a quick Fermi calculation vs. feet or miles.

2. Due to 1., I am going to next re-wire the wiring harness leading to the transformers and increase the distance by about 8". This should be far enough away to eliminate the major effects of EMF on the rest of the circuitry.

3. As recommended by Michael, I am going to purchase a microphone specifically designed to perform these kinds of tests. This will not only validate my work as credible, but may in fact show much more evident changes as I perform the tweaks vs. my current microphone: the humble stereo mics built into the macbook air. At least the audio measuring software is top notch. I had theorized as long as I performed all tests with the same equipment, differences could be seen. However, perhaps the resolution of the apple mic is just insufficient, so on to purchasing "pro" measuring mic.

4. I may conduct the next tests using the onboard DAC of the NAD vs. optical out to the Creek Ruby DAC. This may also magnify any results of tweaking the NAD.

This will all take a few months due to monetary constraints and time constraints, but please stay tuned and ask any questions or make suggestions in the mean time.

Kind Regards,

Ron

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double post - deleted

deleted

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UPDATE 07.30.15

All:

Here are the correct plots using the macbook air microphone:

Frequency Domain Plot BEFORE MODS:

Image hosted by servimg.com

Frequency Domain Plot AFTER MODS:

Image hosted by servimg.com

I unfortunately see very little difference to warrant significant proof of the signal at this stage of testing. Hopefully carrying out the plans in my previous post will change this into a meaningful project.

Best Regards,

Ron

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My contribution

Hello Ron,

Could I attempt to put things into some sort of perspective.

As you go along your (audio) journey, you will find that some things will change the sound - for which you don’t have a convenient explanation. I don’t know which ones, how often, or when you will experience them but it is most likely to happen the more you explore.

The conventional electronic and audio text books or traditional electronic or audio classes will not be able to provide all the answers to EVERY change in the sound you experience.

All the things which Geoff has listed previously HAVE provided changes in the sound – but all of them come with different explanations, and some of them quite contradictory.

For example. George Louis ( who produces the Ultra Bit Platinum Plus liquid for improving the sound of CDs) claims that his liquid is an "Optical Impedance Matching" treatment. But this liquid is also claimed to be as effective for ‘treating’ LPs !! Which are “NON optical” !!

For example. Making a short mark on the outer edge of CDs with the colour Purple will give you an improvement in the sound. The explanation is usually put forward that the colour affects the way the laser beam reads the digital information. But, you can make an identical short mark with the colour Purple on the outer edge of an LP – and get an identical improvement in the sound. What price an “optical” explanation now ? You can colour the end face of the end cap of a fuse Purple and gain a similar improvement in the sound. What price an “optical” explanation now ?

For example. The Nordost ECO 3 liquid is claimed to improve the sound of CDs if applied to the LABEL SIDE of CDs and to the LABELS of LPs. But it will also give a similar improvement in the sound if applied to the outer insulation of cables – including AC power cords – and even to the outer insulation of PASSIVE power cords – such as a power cord belonging to a table lamp just dangling passively from a table lamp resting on a table – with the cable not connected into the AC mains – and some 20 feet away from any audio equipment !!

Some of the things you change WILL be ‘dealing with RF interference’, some things you change WILL be ‘dealing with electromagnetic interference’, some things you change WILL be ‘dealing with vibrations’, somethings you change WILL be ‘dealing with room acoustic problems of reflections and absorption’ BUT there will be other things you do which will change the sound but which do not fit into conventional electronic, audio or acoustic theories. Which will then raise the question “What on earth is going on ?”

What I would like to counsel you on is not to allow your conventional electronic and audio training and education shackle you, both mentally and physically, in investigating, experimenting and being fairly adventurous in trying what might appear to be quite
unusual (even weird) techniques.

Others, as well as I, have been asking you what changes you HEARD, when making any changes as opposed to what measurements you got.

It IS so tempting to try to get some meaningful measurements but, I am convinced, you will at times hear changes in the sound after carrying many techniques, which don’t show up on any measurements. Then you will be faced with – do you believe the measurements (that no changes had actually taken place) or do you believe what you actually heard !! THEN, as I keep saying, you will be faced with the questions “What on earth is going on, WHAT is being changed, WHERE is the change (in the musical information) taking place and HOW is the change in the sound happening.

The usual response thrown at people is that such changes in the sound (which do not show up on any measurements) is because of ‘auto-suggestion’ or ‘the placebo effect’ or ‘imagination’, or ‘audio faith healing’ or ‘effective marketing’ etc. Or they will deny you your experience (because THEIR knowledge tells them that it could not have happened as you describe). They will say that you must have been mistaken in what you think you heard !! But, when there are enough people who can verify having heard similar changes in the sound from their own experiences it is the time to rely on one’s listening experiences also.

I strongly recommend that you carry out listening trials after each change you make. You have said previously that ‘soundstage’ is particularly important to you. I would suggest that the ‘measurements’ will not tell you when you have got the ‘soundstage’ that you wish for. Only your listening experience will do that !!!!!

I have referred to the things which Geoff has listed (which obviously cost money) but there are many ‘free’ tweaks (or tweaks which have minimum cost) and which are not ‘fixed’ tweaks – meaning that one can do before, after and back to before listening experiments.

Regards,
May Belt,
PWB Electronics.

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The microphone matters a lot

I wanted to test the frequency response of some speakers I made and failed due to the mediocrity of the 5 microphones I have as none of them are intended for this kind of measurement. Parts Express has a really software nice kit and microphone but it is $299 which is an awful lot of money for something that just isn't going to get used that frequently. If you find an inexpensive microphone I would be interested. Also, what software package are you using?

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The microphone matters a lot

bierfeldt said

"the microphone matters a lot"

I recommend audiophiles take this to heart along with all the other variables that will affect the testing.

I gave Ron a list to consider below.

Audix TM1
KP6M THE AUDIO KP-6M
TT3M THE AUDIO TT-3M
NTI Analog Audio Analyzer M221
Galaxy Audio CM-TM Checkmate (borderline OK)

These are low to medium priced test mics. Keep in mind though that all of these mics sound different from each other. Testing equipment is as big (maybe bigger) than high end audio itself and I would recommend that anyone who gets into this reaches out to the testing community, which may take them outside of the audiophile camp.

This would also be an excellent place for JA to step in and give some of his thoughts on the topic. John, I have noticed, has kept up on the technology of testing audio, and (I might be wrong) is as much a part of the testing club as he is the audio club (correct me if I'm wrong John). If he or some of the other audio equipment testing experts were to come in and talk to the forum it might be of great gain.

I'm a purist empirical researcher, so might be disqualified from my point of view, but someone like John A or even Bob Hodas could give their points of view. I mention these two as I know John's writing of course, and with Bob did a quicky reviewing session with Widescreen Review. I know that both of these gentleman have different approaches from myself and that's what is needed for a topic such as testing audio. The more opinions and angles you can take in on the subject of testing and tuning, the better equipt you will be as a producer of testing practices and results.

one other thing

By having some testing experience, you will gain an understanding of not only the results, but the bias of the testing & results which is something that being in the hobby of testing provides.

Ok as usual that's more than 2 cents, but maybe those who are seriously into the testing hobby will take up the rest of the dollar.

A great topic if you guys can get it rolling!

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

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Thanks Michael

This is helpful. I will most likely start at the low end as I want to understand the frequency range of the speakers I made along with understanding the impact of the port bungs on my Revels, etc... Should be quite interesting....

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Reply

All:

Thank you all for your unique perspectives. I value them *greatly*.

Long story short, I plan on acquiring the Audix TM1 microphone per Michael's recommendation from his list to get serious with this and conduct legitimate testing sessions.
Unfortunately, I just made a purchase of the Bryston BDA-1 DAC which I couldn't pass up so my budget is blown for the time being. I expect to be back online and conducting professional level tests in a month or two at most though and am very excited and eager.

As for sound analysis software, I am using a package a Stereophile reviewer I notice used called "FuzzMeasure" and I find it exceptional and was only $99 to boot for a private non-professional license.

And May, thank you very much again for really talking to me and sharing your philosophy which I again value greatly. I plan on here forwards incorporating A/B reference listening sessions and taking full notes.

Kind Regards,

Ron

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8.05.15 Lab Notes

All:

I am moving slowly forward with this project. There are 13?! wires leading from the transformer to the circuit boards. My goal is to move the transformer 12 inches or so away from the rest of the circuits, as the EMF Gauss readings reduce exponentially and at that distance should have minimal impact on the circuitry of the rest of the unit. I am trying to think of a way to make my own custom harness...need to browse websites..so the tweak can be reversed and re-applied for benchmarking and measurement; and to restore the unit to factory condition if desired.

Here is the harness:

Image hosted by servimg.com

And here are the 13 wires I intend on splicing/soldering into place:

Image hosted by servimg.com

This is starting to get serious.

Ron

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Yes Ron & MG, I look forward

Yes Ron & MG, I look forward in reading about your mods!

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Update late August 2015

All:

Regrettably, the purchase of the Bryston has placed this project on hold until I find the funds to acquire a decent testing microphone.

I'll be sure to bump this thread when I finally get to that point.

Kind Regards,

Ron

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Ron-

Ron-

how is your mod project coming along?

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UPDATE: Reply to All

All:

I have abandoned and sold off all other media save for my media server, DAC, and NAD 516.

I've decided for myself digital FLAC and similar is the FUTURE, and simply to my ears and equipment sounds the best to me.

I think pursuing any other media under $5,000 or without countless man-hours of tuning is just not worth it to me at this time.

I do encourage other listeners to take whatever path their journey leads them..for me...for now...it is
Digital.

I am aware Michael Green is currently doing more advanced work than I with a Magnavox spinner and achieving excellent results.

I intend on keeping the NAD as it is an excellent transport and a great comparison tool for referencing sessions compared to my music server designs and tweaks

In essence, I am shifting my intellectual energy away from tuning the NAD 516 and towards timing and hand building an affordable Linux based music server.

In the future, as time and money permit, I may return to tuning the NAD 516 after my music server project. As I have a serious IT and programming background, I think my skill set is for now better leveraged with building and tuning a Linux music server. Look for my threads on it in the computer and digital sections of these forums.

Kindest Regards,

Ron

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You are up- MG. How's your

You are up- MG. How's your mod project coming along?

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Magnavox, Philips even Sony, but no NAD 516BEE

Hi Allen

I haven't wanted to say much about the NAD 516BEE specifically because I knew this was the unit Ron was using. I made a little reference a while back but backed off when I realized he was still using it. I take it now that the NAD has been moved on from by Ron, so I feel a little better about sharing my thoughts.

Using the NAD as my new reference as Ron suggested many moons ago would have been a disaster of a move. The two units I got NAD 515 and 516 were fine if you wanted a 2D stage of about 5 feet deep, but trying to make them go for the TD in the endzone is not their strong point. The Cambridge, NAD and OPPO all stopped short when it came to looking deep. The Cambridge was the most shallow. Out of the 3 NAD seemed like it wanted to break loose but there was something that stopped it from reaching that 3rd layer of music, where some of the other players couldn't wait to get stripped and go for it. At the same time, if someone is after that digital sound, the 516 was very mechanical and fit things nicely in an organized box, but to me it still was a box that I didn't want to be in. I was always aware I was listening to a stereo and was never fooled into thinking I was there, and for myself that's one of the first things I try to achieve. I'm forgiving of a lot of stuff if a player will take me there, but if I strip one down and it's still sticking to the stage box, I have less desire to take it all the way, and unfortunately the 515 and 516 sounded very much alike with the 516 maybe leaning toward a little more boxed over the earlier model. I guess the thing people were praising are the opposite from what I listen for. Digital for me needs to sound more analog for me to give it a thumbs up. I respect that digital itself is only a language but when that language becomes less life like it becomes robotic to my ears. Digital can be looked at in two ways, a young Neal Peart vs an aged Mr. Peart. The young drummer had more precision than he knew what to do with. Neal defined tight for me. The elder dummer has everything the younger Neal did but with an added sense of swing. If you listen to Neal now you will hear that he knows where the lines are and has the ability & desire to slide in and out of those lines. He seems less of a have to and more of a want to. That is how I feel about CD Players in general. Some are meant to be opened up and others fight the sliding rule.

It's ok to paint within the lines, but there's so much more when the lines are broken just a little.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

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Absolutely! MG.

Absolutely! MG.
I did not see (read) a conflict of interest between you and Ron on the NAD spinner?

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open stage

Why I choose and use what I do, a happy story :)

The number one problem audiophiles come to me with is that they have bought their systems over, start to finish, 10 times (many more than this) and still are not having consistent listening. I understand the hobby of trading out equipment. It's legitimate and fun (I owned 5 stores), but it's a different hobby than one that is based on "tuning in the music". The two have different sets of rules. On the one hand there's the system approach of mixing and matching and enjoying reading about reviewers doing the same and giving their recommendations. The main principle is based on buying up, a marketing approached use with cars as probably the greatest example. It works well with cars, because we can drive them and maintain them, or even tweak them with tuning variables. High end audio however has not applied the same level of methodology, even though they claim to be the same type of marketing. High end audio says "buy this product because it's an audio Ferrari", but there's no checking the tires and road conditions, tuning the engine for the environment, monthly maintainance or even driving the thing using all the variables available. The truth is, in comparison for the most part we treat our audio gear like the Ferrari we keep parked in the garrage hooked up to it's charge system, starting it up once in a while or maybe taking it for a spin around the block. We talk about it's brand, model and price like we are some kind of race driver yet are still popping the clutch stalling half the time. I'm speaking in general of course.

For myself and the Tunees, we see these systems as not compared to the buyin of cars and climbing an audio money ladder, but more in association with musical instruments. First rule of a musical instrument is tuning it to it's environment, second depends on our skills of playing it in that environment. However way before we get to our end of the hobby, there's the actual designing of the instrument. In audio we are not just designing a tunable Steinway, but we are designing playback systems that are suppose to be able to play Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, Pramberger, Seiler, Sauter, Baldwin and to be honest close to as many brands as we have in high end amplifiers. That's just different sounding pianos, the same goes true for every instrument. Add to this that there are over 50,000 commercial and private recording studios all producing a different sound than the next, just in the US alone.

If I choose a reference CD Player that is only able to play one set of variables, I have limited my research to a very small select few sounds and listeners. That's ok to be a part of my goal, but my real job is to get products that I can use to open that soundstage up as big as it can possibly get, then begin to tune it back into any desired sound, or as close as I and my clients can get.

Here's a quicky example. I am listening to a driver right now that is spec at 50-6000hz, going down to a firm 32hz. It's rated at 88 sensitivity yet testing at 93. It's doing this because the rule books have been thrown out and practical application is being applied that is not limited to audiophile correctness and speculation. It's a driver that has been modified and turned into a musical instrument.

Plug and play is a fantastic game and tons of fun, it is a form of tuning, a very expensive form. The deeper we get into variable tuning however, and as those audiophile rule books get pushed off to the side, we find a hobby that is more closely related to physics. It's the opposite from killing the sound, it's tuning it. A different set of rules are used and some of the main ingredients are low mass combined with harmonic tuning. This isn't theory, this is doing and in that doing I and many others have found a whole new ball game. It's a ball game that money can't buy, and as weird as it sounds to have me say a $29.00 CD player can beat up on a $9500.00 (believe me it would sound weird to me as well) it is none the less the truth from the point of view of the variables. That $9500.00 unit might walk all over the $29.00 in the perfect setup, conditions and recording that perfectly matched it, but in the world of audio variables, untuned it's nothing more than the best of what it does with all the conditions perfect for it. That's ok for the guy who wants to spend his money and life insearch of all those perfect one time conditions, and I can't knock that hobby. But it's not the same hobby as a system that is based on all the variables being as flexible as possible.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune
http://tuneland.techno-zone.net/

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Isn't this a wonderful hobby

Isn't this a wonderful hobby -MG?

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