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Getting the best out of Allo.com's new Katana DAC...
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Old 19th February 2019, 03:34 AM   #281
Jonathan P is offline Jonathan P
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Originally Posted by Jonathan P View Post
4- Regarding grounding... Do you guys ground the Placid HD BP? Not sure it's an issue and forgive my ignorance but I wonder how the output GND (pin 2) can be guaranteed to be stable at 0V otherwise... In my case, with load connected, I can see the voltage fluctuate from -0.02V to 0.01V between the "+ GND -" outputs.
Just to clarify, I meant that I can see the voltage fluctuating from -0.02V to 0.01V while measuring between the wall ground and the Placid HD BP ground pin.
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Old 19th February 2019, 03:52 AM   #282
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Originally Posted by Jonathan P View Post
- balanced sounds significantly more dynamic, with much more "éclat" (or glow?), especially for instruments like piano
It is easy to mistake odd-order harmonic distortion for detail. At first it sounds good, but it is fatiguing and unnatural. Listen to human voices. Do you hear more chest resonance or details of sibilance? A well recorded voice doesn't sound overly detailed. Of course, every little detail may be there, but it should be more in the background, not in the foreground. The roundness of the fundamental vocal resonance should be primary. Again, only reliable for well recorded music.
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Old 19th February 2019, 04:09 AM   #283
Jonathan P is offline Jonathan P
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@Markw4, Thanks for your input! Maybe you're right and it's more 'accurate' like it is right now. Nevertheless, let's pretend momentarily that you prefer hearing more 'unrealistic' 'richness' in voice and piano... What would you feel could help best increasing that effect?
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Old 19th February 2019, 04:18 AM   #284
Jonathan P is offline Jonathan P
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@Markw4, Oups! I thought you were talking about my remark on the lack of 'richness' but if I understand you correctly, you meant that the "more dynamic, with much more "éclat" (or glow?), especially for instruments like piano" that I hear with my DIY XLR cable and/or Katana's balanced output might be unrealistically boosted? If so, do you think it's more likely due to the cable, amp input or Katana's balanced output lack of filtering that could be fixed by re-balancing the unbalanced output?
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Old 25th February 2019, 03:03 AM   #285
Greg Stewart is online now Greg Stewart  United States
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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Getting the best out of Allo.com's new Katana DAC...
I'm hearing some interesting and promising music from my Katana tonight.. but more on that later.

First, sorry for being so scarce. A combination of:

1. A water pipe failure (not cold-related) a few weeks back and the aftermath of that water in our house plus

2. A set of projects with one of my other favorite DIY audio gear developers plus

3. This being the time of the year in Mississippi when I have a strong several-week allergic reaction to an early-blooming weed which (as it typically does) turned into a upper-respiratory infection needing antibiotics...

With al this, I haven't had a lot of time to be here.

To catch up...

@Jonathan P, interesting report on using the SE versus BAL outputs of the Katana. I suspect you could lay a lot of what you're hearing at the difference in cables. Are your 'MacKenzie' cables the line from Audioquest? If it is this line, I honestly can't comment on them as I don't have any experience with their cables. BUT I will say Audioquest has withstood the test of time better than all but a very few cable manufacturers, AND they have been generally well-received since the 1980s. OTOH, I have a lot of experience with Mogami 2534. I DO use the internal wires as hookup wire for less critical uses. AND I used a lot of their larger-gauge hookup wires in DIY projects back in the 2nd half of the 1980s. BUT when I tried the 2534 as an interconnect cable, I found it was light in the bass and mids and a slight bit strong in the trebles, though not obnoxiously so or nor in a tizzy or distorted manner. I don't attribute that to the copper (which is very good) or the insulation (which is not bad), but just that it does not appear to be as optimized of a cable for hifi interconnect purposes as it is as a microphone cable. So if you prefer what you are hearing from the MacKenzie SE cables, see if you can borrow a similar set of their BAL cables. I know a number of places will let you buy with a 15 or 30 or whatever day return period... maybe look for a retailer who does that.

Again, based on what Allo said, I expect the filtering to be roughly equivalent between the SE and BAL outputs, so I'd not blame that without more evidence.

On using a rebalancer, if you try it, I'll be curious what you find. I totally agree with Markw4 that a good opamp, good construction, and good power will be critical to it not just sounding poorer because of the build quality. AND I'd just solder it in at the connection pads of the existing RCAs with a short twisted-pair connection... the internal wire of the Mogami should work ok here.

I'm glad your Placid build went well. As for questions on the appropriate shunt current and extra/missing parts, the Twisted Pear support forums are the better place to ask than here. IF I had experience with the later Placid design, I'd chime in, but they've gone through several different versions and the only ones I have are from their 2nd configuration, not the latest.

AND I'll have to get a small quantity of the Furatech solder to try. I have heard good things about their other products and this may be one to adopt.

As for bypassing the USB-C connector AND the protection Diode, I connect the positive lead where the single ceramic cap next to the Supercap is soldered to the board. The positive side is the one on that cap closer to the edge of the board, BUT always use your meter to confirm both the positive and negative sides before you solder and power. I've attached pictures that should better show where and how I soldered the flying leads. BTW, the wire I tend to use nowadays for purposes like this is the Audience Auric 18g hookup wire from PartsConnexion, which is also the wire used in the leads of the Auricaps.

On where to go next on getting the best out of your Katana, I'd suggest looking at replacing the iFi's. See what other's have used and liked as possible alternatives. Also look at grounding... I commented on what I do in post #126. What you are observing on the ground of the Placid is a little concerning... also may be good to take to the TP support forums if it persists after you better attend to grounding.

So what have I been doing that has me so excited? I'll go into full details over the next few weeks, I'm still listening to some of the alternative configurations and most are not are fully broken in yet. BUT what I've been playing with are:

- A couple of alternative capacitor types for the added filter caps across +15V rails.

- 2 Salas 5V Reflektor supplies for the DAC and Microprocessor 5V rails.

- A different version of the MP Audio paralleled LT3045 supplies, this one using 6 chips paralleled per rail versus 3 plus about 2x the pre-regulator capacitance.

- Variations on my modified Jameco Linear Regulated Adapters... adjusting the 12V ones up to 15V AND using the raw 19V out of the same units.

AND a couple of things I need to clear with Allo before I discuss them here.

More in the next few weeks. But some of the preliminary listening is VERY promising!

Greg in Mississippi
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Old 25th February 2019, 04:35 AM   #286
Jonathan P is offline Jonathan P
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
@Jonathan P, interesting report on using the SE versus BAL outputs of the Katana. I suspect you could lay a lot of what you're hearing at the difference in cables. Are your 'MacKenzie' cables the line from Audioquest? If it is this line, I honestly can't comment on them as I don't have any experience with their cables. BUT I will say Audioquest has withstood the test of time better than all but a very few cable manufacturers, AND they have been generally well-received since the 1980s.
Mackenzie RCA cables also mention audio quest on the connectors.
The other crazy expensive RCA cables I tried were Audience AU24se. More fine grain details with these but still, more “éclat” (in french) or glow or spark, sorry I’m not sure what the proper term would be in english… with the mogami/neutrik XLR. Definitely doesn’t mean it’s better though… But with my current system and for the music type I listen to, I think I like the XLR sound better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
OTOH, I have a lot of experience with Mogami 2534. I DO use the internal wires as hookup wire for less critical uses. AND I used a lot of their larger-gauge hookup wires in DIY projects back in the 2nd half of the 1980s. BUT when I tried the 2534 as an interconnect cable, I found it was light in the bass and mids and a slight bit strong in the trebles, though not obnoxiously so or nor in a tizzy or distorted manner. I don't attribute that to the copper (which is very good) or the insulation (which is not bad), but just that it does not appear to be as optimized of a cable for hifi interconnect purposes as it is as a microphone cable. So if you prefer what you are hearing from the MacKenzie SE cables, see if you can borrow a similar set of their BAL cables. I know a number of places will let you buy with a 15 or 30 or whatever day return period... maybe look for a retailer who does that.
Thanks for the input on Mogami 2534! Maybe part of the “éclat” I hear in voice and piano is related to your comment on "slight bit strong in the trebles”…. I’ll try to get my hands on other balanced cables or maybe built another one with top notch furutech balanced bulk cable and connectors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
On using a rebalancer, if you try it, I'll be curious what you find. I totally agree with Markw4 that a good opamp, good construction, and good power will be critical to it not just sounding poorer because of the build quality. AND I'd just solder it in at the connection pads of the existing RCAs with a short twisted-pair connection... the internal wire of the Mogami should work ok here.
Cool, will definitely let you know if/when I try.
By solder at the connection pads of the existing RCAs, you mean the 2 big solder spots under the board or the 3 small solder points on the top of the board?
Also, to feed the balancing circuit, do you think I could I split the power from the Placid HD BP between the output stage and the balancing circuit? If so, should I increase the shunt current a bit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
AND I'll have to get a small quantity of the Furatech solder to try. I have heard good things about their other products and this may be one to adopt.
I’m definitely no soldering expert but as you said, furutech is well renowned for making very high quality products, including many that rely on high quality soldering, so…
I also hear that Cardas solder is very good but I opted for the furutech because the Cardas was hard to find from a trusted source and furutech mentions on their site that there has been several cases of counterfeit products shipping from china on eBay and others….

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
As for bypassing the USB-C connector AND the protection Diode, I connect the positive lead where the single ceramic cap next to the Supercap is soldered to the board. The positive side is the one on that cap closer to the edge of the board, BUT always use your meter to confirm both the positive and negative sides before you solder and power. I've attached pictures that should better show where and how I soldered the flying leads. BTW, the wire I tend to use nowadays for purposes like this is the Audience Auric 18g hookup wire from PartsConnexion, which is also the wire used in the leads of the Auricaps.
Ok thanks! In the meantime, based on @jonners suggestions, I have already soldered the way you did in an earlier post, under the MC board
Getting the best out of Allo.com's new Katana DAC...
Just wondering the difference between these connection points (under the MC board) vs the the ones on top of the board. Do they both bypass the Common Mode Choke?

Also, about bypassing the usb connector on the Isolator, did someone post details on how to do it or did I dream? Can’t find it anymore

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Stewart View Post
On where to go next on getting the best out of your Katana, I'd suggest looking at replacing the iFi's. See what other's have used and liked as possible alternatives. Also look at grounding... I commented on what I do in post #126. What you are observing on the ground of the Placid is a little concerning... also may be good to take to the TP support forums if it persists after you better attend to grounding.
Thanks man, will definitely look into that! BUT maybe I’ll wait until you come back to us with your recent findings before I replace my 3 5V supplies (2 iPower + 1 allo)!



Finally, 2 more questions bothering me…

1- I noticed the top of the big cap on MC board is a bit swollen with some yellowish liquid on it. I cleaned it a few days ago and it doesn’t seem to leak anymore (maybe this came from somewhere else?). Do you guys think I should still replace it?

IMG_20190218_191123.jpg
IMG_20190218_191107.jpg

2- Did you guys experiment with EMI absorbers?
It seems obvious this can make a difference but it also seems prone to make things worst by causing other problems if not used/positioned properly….
I was thinking to wrap some around to protect the Katana from external EMF but also internally, like say on the DAC and NDK oscillator chips and between the RPI board and the rest of the stack.
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Old 25th February 2019, 04:47 AM   #287
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan P View Post

Finally, 2 more questions bothering me…

1- I noticed the top of the big cap on MC board is a bit swollen with some yellowish liquid on it. I cleaned it a few days ago and it doesn’t seem to leak anymore (maybe this came from somewhere else?). Do you guys think I should still replace it?
You should contact Allo warranty service about the cap. It is bad if leaking or changing its shape.
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Old 25th February 2019, 04:51 AM   #288
Jonathan P is offline Jonathan P
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You should contact Allo warranty service about the cap. It is bad if leaking or changing its shape.
@Markw4, Thanks, will do.
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Old 27th February 2019, 08:11 AM   #289
CallMeMike is offline CallMeMike  United Kingdom
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Originally Posted by Markw4 View Post
You should contact Allo warranty service about the cap. It is bad if leaking or changing its shape.
I believe that once one started to mod a purchased board (and documenting it on the Internet) the word 'warranty' can be forgotten... @Jonathan P mentions at some point:
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Old 27th February 2019, 08:30 AM   #290
Markw4 is offline Markw4  United States
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If Allo determines the unit is now out of warranty, then might be the time to start one's own repair. Before then risks getting possibly even deeper into warranty troubles, in case it isn't too late already.
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