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Thread: Blind phono stage & amp; Capacitor testing

  1. #1
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,183
    I'm Oliver.

    Default Blind phono stage & amp; Capacitor testing

    Hi all,

    We've managed to do a bit of a blind listening testing today. We had the Nighthawk F117, FB modded Tron, FB-OTP MKI & FB-OTP MKII prototype.





    Well, it was a very interesting result. The FB-OTP MKII landed in fourth place. Tron and the Nighthawk were inseparable to my ears both units sounded fabulously rich and had extremely low background noise. The MKI FB-OTP was my favorite. So, after a bit of a discussion as to why the OTP MKII failed to podium, some mods were made. (Alan may elaborate here if he wishes)

    What resulted was a much cleaner sounding unit. It was very precise sounding but it still had "noise" which Alan and i agreed was down to the Opamps in the unit. Luckily i'm waiting for these to arrive: http://sparkoslabs.com/product/discrete-op-amp-ss3602/ (any user opinions are welcome). There is also another Opamp on the way to test so stay tuned for more info on that.





    Now, over the last week or two i've been blindly testing the Caps in the MKI to find the upgrade to fit in the MKII. Again a pair of 0.72p Caps outperformed some Mundorf ZNs which was a real surprise, thankfully, there were another set of great sounding Caps which are now being testing against stiffer competition.

    More to follow!
    Last edited by Bigman80; 20-05-2017 at 16:55. Reason: Addition of piccys
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Firebottle modded Xiang Sheng DAC (Telefunken Valve)
    Amplification: Slagle AVC Passive Preamp & Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves)
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables Throughout
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  2. #2
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 43,916
    I'm Grant.

    Default

    Interesting that the mk1 beat the mk2. How did that happen?
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    OPPO BDP-103D DARBEE - JBE SERIES 3/M55E/EMOTIVA XPS1 - TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK AMPLIFIERS - XIANG SHENG DAC\PRE\HEADPHONE AMP - TWIN AVANTREE OASIS CLASS 1 BLUETOOTHS - AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7 & OPPO PM-3 PLANAR HEADPHONES - WIN10 JRIVER24, DEEZER HiFi - SMSL M6 MINIDAC - RPI/AUDIOPHONICS - FULL RANGE TWIN TELEFUNKEN/Q ACOUSTIC BT3/CANTON SUB - P.INSPIRED MAINS REGENERATED.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,183
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Well, Alan has experimented with removing the output caps from the signal path and this in turn has meant some jiggery pokery to get the values right BUT it didn't quite go according to plan. It left the MKII sounding very thin. This was later improved somewhat but more Trial and error is needed. It sounded almost analytical by the time i had to go so i'm sure it will get there. Another difference was the channel separation wasn't quite as good as the MKI but i'm not sure what can be done about that yet. It may have to go back to having the caps but that clarity was phenominal. Alan is also considering having custom PCB's made to get the sound hes after.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Firebottle modded Xiang Sheng DAC (Telefunken Valve)
    Amplification: Slagle AVC Passive Preamp & Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves)
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables Throughout
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  4. #4
    Join Date: Feb 2013

    Location: W Lothian

    Posts: 43,916
    I'm Grant.

    Default

    Ah ok. Keep us posted oli
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
    .... ..... ...... ...... ................... ..... ..... ..... ..... .....
    OPPO BDP-103D DARBEE - JBE SERIES 3/M55E/EMOTIVA XPS1 - TWIN PRO MONOBLOCK AMPLIFIERS - XIANG SHENG DAC\PRE\HEADPHONE AMP - TWIN AVANTREE OASIS CLASS 1 BLUETOOTHS - AUDIO TECHNICA ATH-MSR7 & OPPO PM-3 PLANAR HEADPHONES - WIN10 JRIVER24, DEEZER HiFi - SMSL M6 MINIDAC - RPI/AUDIOPHONICS - FULL RANGE TWIN TELEFUNKEN/Q ACOUSTIC BT3/CANTON SUB - P.INSPIRED MAINS REGENERATED.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 34,417
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    I'd still like to know why different capacitors have different 'sounds'.

    (good to hear from you Oliver, not sure about that avatar though )

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,183
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Will do. Seems like the winning caps from the last test are struggling to beat the competition this time.

    Sent from my EVA-L09 using Tapatalk
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Firebottle modded Xiang Sheng DAC (Telefunken Valve)
    Amplification: Slagle AVC Passive Preamp & Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves)
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables Throughout
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  7. #7
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 4,112
    I'm Alan.

    Default

    Yes it's all interesting stuff Grant.
    I tried an alternative gain structure with the removal of the output caps, but the loading on the equalisation network had to change in order to keep a low output offset voltage.

    I think Oli is exaggerating a bit when he says it was very thin, it wasn't that different, but we are trying to optimise every aspect.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 4,112
    I'm Alan.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by walpurgis View Post
    I'd still like to know why different capacitors have different 'sounds'.
    I have the belief that the circuit position, in terms of surrounding impedances, plus in some cases the voltage across the capacitors, all makes an effect to the sound.
    Also different types of construction and winding technique can make a difference.

    No cap is perfect

  9. #9
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 34,417
    I'm Geoff.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    No cap is perfect
    The one I wear ain't bad!

  10. #10
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 5,183
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    Yes it's all interesting stuff Grant.
    I tried an alternative gain structure with the removal of the output caps, but the loading on the equalisation network had to change in order to keep a low output offset voltage.

    I think Oli is exaggerating a bit when he says it was very thin, it wasn't that different, but we are trying to optimise every aspect.
    Well maybe the "very" was a over stating it a touch 😉. It was very good by the time I left though and trying to wring every bit out of the unit is going to throw the odd curve ball but its getting there and wasn't far off TBH.

    Sent from my EVA-L09 using Tapatalk
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Wizard Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Firebottle modded Xiang Sheng DAC (Telefunken Valve)
    Amplification: Slagle AVC Passive Preamp & Firebottle Monoblocks (Telefunken Valves)
    Cables: Fisual S-Flex Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables Throughout
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

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