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Old 14th February 2013, 08:05 AM   #6331
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Gothenburg
Quote:
Originally Posted by Julf View Post
AB, but not double-blind ABX?
Nothing blind, no exact volume matching. Just the simple listen to one, then change to the other.
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Old 14th February 2013, 08:10 AM   #6332
Julf is offline Julf  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajapruk View Post
Nothing blind, no exact volume matching. Just the simple listen to one, then change to the other.
OK, thanks for the clarification!
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Old 14th February 2013, 09:13 AM   #6333
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Default First listening impressions Ncores with W4S STP preamp

I had written in previous posts about my search of a preamp to drive my DIY Ncores. After some months of research I finally decided on Wyred 4 Sound's STP-SE which arrived from California two days ago. Although it is still in the break-in period I thought some of you might be interested in some first listening impressions.

Beforehand some words about why I chose the W4S. I was searching for a fully balanced design, which narrowed down the choice considerably. After reading many reviews and listening to Musical Fidelity's M6PRE in my system at home, which sounded great but slightly pumped up to me, I was considering either Auralic's new Taurus preamp or the W4S. Given that both weren't available for audition in my town (Berlin, Germany) and had both gotten very good reviews e.g. at 6moons, I chose the engineering concept that convinced me most. (thanks to Srajan Ebaen who had reviewed both of them at 6moons for his advice and insights)

The Auralic converts the balanced signal to unbalanced in order to pass it through the Alps pot while the W4S stays balanced all the way with a very elaborate attenuator realized only with relays and resistors, which was a point in favour of the W4S. The buffered/passive approach with the possibility to pass to active mode seemed also reasonable to me.

Two days ago finally the package arrived and I connected the W4S STP via balanced cables to my Ncores, sources being Squeezebox touch plus Metrum Octave DAC on the one input and Rega P3-24 record player via Ray Samuel's F-117 Nighthawk phono amp on the other.

In the first half an hour the preamp sounded a bit harsh and somewhat incoherent and the bass seemed a little overdamped, all of which got better very quickly.
After some 12 hours of play I can say that I am very satisfied with the sound. Compared to the Lehmann Linear headphone amp that I was using as a preamp before the STP draws a much wider soundstage. It is more transparent and the instruments are better separated. I use the STP only in passive mode, the volume level is usually between 10 and 20 with the Ncores and the preamp moves to active operation only when the volume knob is turned higher than level 63.

Albeit the passive operation the preamp sounds muscular and authorative, although thankfully not pumped up as the Musical Fidelity but rather neutral.
I had run the Ncores via the Lehmann previously with a Hypex Interlink connection that passed from the RCA of the Lehmann to the XLR of my Ncores. In this connection my loudspeakers emitted a very slight hiss that one could hear approaching the loudspeakers and with no music playing. In the new configuration this hiss is completly gone, probably due to the all balanced operation of the STP.

I find the STP to be a good match to the Ncores. W4S says they should settle in for some 200 hours and will get mellower then. Right now they are on the transparent and slightly leaner side of things, which is fine for me and makes me hear slightest flexations of voices in a manner I haven't heard before. Also cymbals are shiny and more noticable with a finer and better discernable texture and a clearer rythmic structure than before. Nevertheless the music is powerful and with lots of body also in the bottom end.

I am very impressed by the preamp and feel that it makes it far easier to hear the quality either of my Metrum DAC and my Ncores. Colour me impressed.
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Old 15th February 2013, 09:22 PM   #6334
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Any impressions on the passive vs active operation on the W4S?...
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Old 16th February 2013, 02:01 AM   #6335
robbbby is offline robbbby  Canada
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Silly question as i'm sure has been answered or done and silly because i'm sure it has very minimal effect, but has anyone upgraded the power wiring to the smps, and if so, how did you make the connection to the plastic connector that comes stock with the brown and blue wire?
Reason I ask is because I bought some bulk furutech cable to make my own power cords and have some left over. Hate to let it go to waste since it isn't enough to do anything with but figured I could use it for the interior power wiring of the amp.
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Old 16th February 2013, 02:13 AM   #6336
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbbby View Post
Silly question as i'm sure has been answered or done and silly because i'm sure it has very minimal effect, but has anyone upgraded the power wiring to the smps, and if so, how did you make the connection to the plastic connector that comes stock with the brown and blue wire?
Reason I ask is because I bought some bulk furutech cable to make my own power cords and have some left over. Hate to let it go to waste since it isn't enough to do anything with but figured I could use it for the interior power wiring of the amp.
See here to see the way I did it:

Show Us Your Core-NCore!


Best,
Anand.
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Old 16th February 2013, 03:10 AM   #6337
robbbby is offline robbbby  Canada
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Nice, looks a bit risky but since I still need to replace the original mogami cables with the newer cables hypex sent me I will take a god look when I open the case up and see how do-able it is.

Another question for those much more knowledgeable than I. Currently I am running regular 12/3 SJOW power cords, I have the ground (earth), hooked up at my plug but at my amp inlet the ground is floating, it is not hooked up to anything.

My new cables have a ground wire plus shileding. I have made them so that at both ends (plug and IEC or in my case neutrik powercon) the shield is connected to the ground. Is there any problem with hooking the ground and power cable shield up to my ncore chassis? I have a equi=tech balanced power supply on the way and was told I may benefit from shielded cable. Should I hook up the ground at the chassis with the balanced power supply that my amps will now be plugged into so that it is continuous or should I leave it disconnected at the amp?

Edit - One other question, off topic from my above post. I have a little 120VAC to 9VDC transformer/rectifier in my amp for my SMPS standy circuit. The manufacturer of the amp recommends putting a metal oxide varistor on the "hot" side of the 120VAC feeding the transformer. Does anybody know what specs the varistor should be? I'm confused by what voltage and other ratings I should use. They also recommend a thermistor, i'm confused about what ratings that should be also.

Last edited by robbbby; 16th February 2013 at 03:13 AM.
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Old 16th February 2013, 06:29 AM   #6338
Julf is offline Julf  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbbby View Post
My new cables have a ground wire plus shileding. I have made them so that at both ends (plug and IEC or in my case neutrik powercon) the shield is connected to the ground. Is there any problem with hooking the ground and power cable shield up to my ncore chassis? I have a equi=tech balanced power supply on the way and was told I may benefit from shielded cable. Should I hook up the ground at the chassis with the balanced power supply that my amps will now be plugged into so that it is continuous or should I leave it disconnected at the amp?
Well, normally I would recommend not connecting the shield to the chassis - the shield will still work as long as one end is connected to ground. What is it that you want to accomplish with the equi=tech (as in what problem are you trying to solve)?

Quote:
Edit - One other question, off topic from my above post. I have a little 120VAC to 9VDC transformer/rectifier in my amp for my SMPS standy circuit. The manufacturer of the amp recommends putting a metal oxide varistor on the "hot" side of the 120VAC feeding the transformer. Does anybody know what specs the varistor should be? I'm confused by what voltage and other ratings I should use. They also recommend a thermistor, i'm confused about what ratings that should be also.
Any varistor for 120 VAC use is OK, but make sure there is a fuse between the mains and the varistor - in the case of a really bad transient (such as a lightning strike) the varistor has a very limited capacity to absorb the transient, and you need the fuse as a secondary backup.

What is the thermistor supposed to do? Guard against transformer overheating?
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Old 16th February 2013, 06:51 AM   #6339
robbbby is offline robbbby  Canada
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So should the shield be hooked up to ground at both ends of the cord and just do not ground the amp chassis OR ground the amp chassis and cut the shield wire so it is not connected to anything on the amp side?

With regards to the varistor, I do have a 250V rated 0.5A glass fuse. I had done a bit of reading online about varistor selection and I read that a varistor 2 to 3x the operating voltage should be used otherwise it may open under small transients/spikes and need to be replaced. And no idea about the thermistor, there is nothing written about it, they just show on the wiring diagram that you should have a fuse followed by a thermistor and then a MOV.
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Old 16th February 2013, 07:35 AM   #6340
Julf is offline Julf  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robbbby View Post
So should the shield be hooked up to ground at both ends of the cord and just do not ground the amp chassis OR ground the amp chassis and cut the shield wire so it is not connected to anything on the amp side?
What would you ground the chassis to? Let the shield run to the connector on your amp, but don't connect that pin on the power input connector to anything. But this assumes normal power - do you have a specific reason to go for the "balanced power" (basically simulated ground plane) of the equi=tec? If so, that might change the situation (and advice).

Quote:
With regards to the varistor, I do have a 250V rated 0.5A glass fuse. I had done a bit of reading online about varistor selection and I read that a varistor 2 to 3x the operating voltage should be used otherwise it may open under small transients/spikes and need to be replaced.
A varistor for 120 V transient protection will have a voltage high enough above 120V - and in any case, you do want the varistor to break down, not your transformer! A varistor is a sacrificial component, just as a fuse.

Quote:
And no idea about the thermistor, there is nothing written about it, they just show on the wiring diagram that you should have a fuse followed by a thermistor and then a MOV.
Funny that they have no recommendation for the thermistor - but any normal PTC thermistor should do, as the current will be very low in your application. Just don't go for a NTC one...
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