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   Home » Analog Playback» The K&K SE hybrid phono stage: a report (53 posts, 3 pages)
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02-19-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
twogoodears


Italy
Posts 116
Joined on 03-26-2008

Post #: 41
Post ID: 12978
Reply to: 12977
Wisdom is all
fiogf49gjkf0d
Hi Roman...

thanks for the wise tips... I'm - at best - totally new and virgin to this very topic... I'm (sort-of) diarying my quest and search... I humbly hi-jacked, better... took ispiration, from you, Adrian, Paul on RtC, and Jimmy Auw's, and Duelund's hypes & saga... aehm,  "literature";-) plus others [Jorge (Mexico City), Albert (Vancouver), Tim (Paris), Peter (Berlin), etc.] - see the quoted links in TGE...

I'm aware filtering in tube amps and crossovers are different cakes... nonetheless, feel this "terra oscura" worth some further investigation on my (and everyone interested) part. 


"Use your ears as your eyes" - Gertrude Stein

Stefano
02-19-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,486
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 42
Post ID: 12982
Reply to: 12978
Again, use “price” as a design tool
fiogf49gjkf0d

It is nothing to do with Wisdom.  It is my principle of application of “cost” as a common sense design tool. I do not bitch that Duelund caps are expensive. I just try to find a rational solution for using them that would embrace their price. My argument is that with $1000 per 1uF the Duelund caps not useful. Let me show it to you.

The high quality super-expensive cap makes since to use in first order high-pass filters for HF drivers. Let pretend that we have 8R driver then at 2.000Hz we need 10uF per channel, at 500Hz we need 40uF per channel. No one would suggest $80K of capacitors in this filter. With 16R driver and crossover point of 1000Hz we have 10uF. With lower voltage of caps, not he 630V, the cost would go 2-3 time lower, so I presume that 20uF of 200V would be around $3-$4K. With this cost of capacitors in filter the total coast of the solution begin to be competitive with a cost of multi-amping solution with DSET.

Let say that a cost of HF DSET for the same driver will be $5K-$7K. In this HF DSET for filtration purpose it might be used a small fraction of mF and very low voltage cap (it might be Duelund) that would be MUCH better than any larger Duelund cap. It is not to mention that in multi-amping it might be used the RL shunt filtration that would be light miles away and superior then ANY capacitive filtration. The cost of multi-amping and Duelund C-filtration is competitive but the multi-amping   has so much more advantages!

So, my point is that there is only restricted cost in speaker-level crossover. When this cost goes up to much (like in case of using Duelund caps) then here is always a multi-amping DSET consideration as an alternative. An multi-amping DSET has disadvantage to be costly but if one already waste time for better caps then why don’t do it properly and to invest the virtually the same amount of money for a pair of extra DSETs?

Romy the Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
02-28-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 43
Post ID: 13046
Reply to: 12982
What was Lost is Found (and Then Some...)
fiogf49gjkf0d
This has been one hell of a ride!  The new caps had gotten so bad yesterday and this morning that I was almost convinced (again...) that my cartridge was finally, really shot this time; what else could it be?  The upper mids and lower treble had sucked out so badly that it affected everything from the way a mix sounded to the overall presentation, including absolutely terrible stereo, but all with the same "calm" background, clarity, fantastic extension, ambience, bass and dynamics as before.  I never heard before, nor could I even conceive of such a lop-sided fault in otherwise-excellent caps.  And since it had to be my cartridge, I was going to have to find and develop a replacement cartridge at the same time I was trying to break in new caps!  AArrggg...!!!

As all this transpired, I dimly remembered that Jeff (Sonic Craft) told me to wait at least 100 hrs on the 5 uF Gen 1s and at least 200 hrs on the .033 uF Platinum (Teflon) bypass caps.  I had gotten "hints" and "foreshadowings" of truly exellent "traits" from soon after I started listening with them in the circuit, but I admit that the overall turn for the worse had put a big knot in my stomach by late morning today!

I suppose I can assume that the electricity was excellent, but about 2 hours in today, the worm turned, and I am so glad I waited!  Not only did the upper-mids and lower-treble return to exactly where and how they should be, I wound up with everything I wanted, and more.  Pitch, timbre, weight, scale, texture, bass, ambience, dynamics, detail, clarity, inflection, expression, intent, drive  ---  everything.  These caps will not be for everyone, but I have tried to stay "literal" from the start, and these guys are so perfect electrically and so "not there" otherwise that they take my breath away.  And they were still getting better when I shut it down this afternoon.  I listened all afternoon at unprecedented levels, with drive, balance and power I never knew was available from my system.  Harmonics are so natural, it's uncanny.

How would I compare these to the big (and very expensive) Cardas caps?  Either I got a bad pair of Cardas, or...

These Sonic Caps are much better in terms of music AND sound (in this circuit...) than the high $$ Mundorf Ag or Ag/Au.

I will absolutely be putting the same combo into the ML2s.

Paul S
03-06-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 44
Post ID: 13096
Reply to: 13046
At Last, Undertones!
fiogf49gjkf0d

A big bonus is that pitch and harmonic structure have changed "correctly" to make them perfectly acceptable with my present speakers (a lazy boy's dream...), and the system, with LP source, is strong and rich enough to re-mine my record library.  I am even getting the elusive downward-developing harmonics, which is unbelievably cool.  I am amazed and delighted with the musical insight this affords.

I was sitting there listening today (Rubinstein's "25th Anniversary" Concert at Carnegie Hall), happy as a clam, when the left channel stuttered, then cleared its throat a few times, and then the soundfield suddenly opened up in all directions to swallow me whole.  I have had this sort of experience before, when the electricity was great, but never with such a range of clear energies and frequencies in the soundfield.  It's like a new drug.

Paul S

04-04-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 45
Post ID: 13255
Reply to: 13096
Stealth Maneuver
fiogf49gjkf0d
Yesterday, I finally got around to replacing the Schottky diodes in my unit with some original edition Fairchild "Stealth"  diodes, so named because they are supposed to be "undetectable" in the circuit with respect to noise (unlike the Schottkys).  I did not even try to do before and after noise measurements, since the only thing I care about is how it sounds.

The Stealths quiet things in a way I did not know they could be quieted, by damping or elimanating noise I had always thought of as part of the LP-sourced background.  And so far it seems to do this quieting at no cost to other areas of the sound, albeit there is the usual heightening of distinction between good and poor recordings.

The most obvious benefit is an increased sense of space.  Placement of instruments and voices is the same, and it remains dependent on the recording.  More details are available over a greater range of frequencies.  No change in bass, except slightly better percussive effects.

I want to say without confusing anyone that the LP sound is more "FM-like".  Of course there is much greater range, etc., but the space and the background suggest good FM to me now.

I will get back on this as soon as I get to hear the change with really good electricity.  Yeaterday the electricity was not great; still, the sound was wonderful until it got big and loud and complex.  I am eager to hear this big stuff playing cleanly, since I know from experience that it can do so now, when the electricity is good.

For those who care, the system can now "slow down" to complete "silence" with musical continuity.

Paul S
04-05-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Romy the Cat


Boston, MA
Posts 9,486
Joined on 05-28-2004

Post #: 46
Post ID: 13259
Reply to: 13255
Sorry, but it sounds like BS.
fiogf49gjkf0d
Paul, what you wrote is absolute insanity. The Fairchild "Stealth" diodes are ultra-fast switching and ultra-soft recovery. I do not know their switching numbers but the best from this class do 30-40mS switching and it is very good. Schottkys in contrary have no reverse current at all by design. Also, if by switching the diodes you were able to get less noise that you “had always thought of as part of the LP-sourced background” then there is a LOT of wrong with this devises where you did it. The change of diodes does affect “noise” but it is not the noise that you can hear and confuse with LP noise. Also, be advised that all ultra-fast/ultra-soft diodes need ~ 20-30 days to sound stable, before, they have sound all over…. Anyhow, a lot of what you said just does not make any sense to me.

The Cat


"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche
04-05-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 47
Post ID: 13262
Reply to: 13259
Where the Wild Things Are
fiogf49gjkf0d
Sorry if that was too vague or convoluted.  Reading it again, it does sound like hopeful speculation, at best, and I realize I am also sputtering into describing my nascent perceptions.  Unfortunately, the crappy electricity yesterday did not allow me to explore it further, to refine my take.

Of course, I am not talking about "noise" like AC hum, or anything like that, but rather a sort of haze that "occupies space" in the "soundfield".

I will try to be more clear about this as soon as I get a chance, where free time and good power coincide.

If it turns out I was just tired or dim from huffing paint fumes, I'll say so.

Best regards,
Paul S
06-05-2010 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 48
Post ID: 13709
Reply to: 13262
A Real Recommendation?
fiogf49gjkf0d
OK, back up on the diode horse again...

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but I tried the "super quiet" Stealth diodes only out of curiosity, based on a very soft "recommendation" from Jeff at SonicCraft, and I did not throw away the Schottkys I took out, because I cannot say I ever noticed "problems" I could tie to them, so it would be nothing more than lost time and a few bucks if the Stealth didn't work out.

This morning the electricity was good, and I decided to try to target the Stealth diodes, in terms of their elolution, according to sonic results. The early perceptions did turn out to be "foreshadowings" that largely went awry soon after I wrote the love letter. Although the benefits did not entirely disappear, they did sort of alternately jumble up, re-shuffle  and separate until recently, and the sound kept getting harder and more immediate until a couple of days ago, then it started to loosen up again.  I double checked and re-set operation points to be sure those did not change before I started in today.

I have never really "listened for diodes" before, so pardon my thrashing. At this point I accept that the increased clarity and natural "ease" I have heard since the swap is from the diode swap, because it happened for the first time like this since the swap.

There is still a very direct reading, but now it remains "pleasant" enough to be in the room while my attention wanders, or I can listen without full attention right on axis and still "enjoy" all types of music I tried, and I also tried "detail tests" that the unit passed, so if there was "softening", there was no detail lost as a result of it. It also sounds like better "integration" of the sound qualities has finally happened, with no diminishment of detail at all frequencies, including background voices of all stripes and leads "buried" in a chorus.  Bass is "better" in some fairly subtle ways, but this remains in the context of one 15" BR woofer per side in a room with a raised floor and 1 ML2 per channel, FR. Bass notes really project from and hang tough to their fundamentals, with impact as good as I ever had, but this comes at the expense of some apparent diminishment when the fundemental is below my speakers' comfort level, ie, it does not just "change registers" like it used to, back when.  Bass within range of the speakers has a nice palette of pitch, tone, timbre, and the temporal qualitiies that we want. Timing is great; jazz swings and classical is expressive along those lines, still with a sense of integration and ease I have not had since my system was a good deal more simple and limited.

No, I won't "recommend" the swap; but the only "negative" was the more definite bass fundamentals, so otherwise, why not try it.

Paul S
03-04-2013 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 49
Post ID: 19069
Reply to: 13709
How Do I Miss Thee?
fiogf49gjkf0d
Since I painted myself into a corner with only one tonearm and one cartridge, and my one cartridge has gone to the Ortofon Spa in DK, I am sans phono until my cartridge returns.  This means I have too much time to think about a phono stage, as opposed to using one, and I have been mulling over what I like and do not like about my K&K.

The main thing I do not like about the K&K is "not really its fault", I suppose, but wish it was not so affected by the electricity.  Of course this is what spawned my recent "minimum acceptable phono stage" thread.  And the truth is, I could happily live with this phono stage "forever" when it's at its best.  But with 350V on the rails, this puppy is not a viable candiate for any battery PS I am aware of.  Not that this would necessarily be a "solution", in this case, anyway.

I would say I don't like the tubes, but it isn't that so much as it is the idea of the tubes as  "variable" that I have "mixed feelings" about.  On the one hand, I actually like that tubes are so easy to "tune".  OTOH, I don't like it that tubes "drift" and wear out.

As for the sound, again, I do like it...  when it's at or near its best.  I would love to get from a "small", battery powered, 100% SS the Tone, "ambience", and "insight" I get from the K&K.

If in the meantime the Grid here works itself out, I might never make another post like this one.

Paul S
09-05-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 50
Post ID: 21960
Reply to: 19069
Catching Up on "Upgrades"
fiogf49gjkf0d
I just completed (DIY!) several "factory" "upgrades" to my SE phono stage. While I had no frustrations with the unit, I have been reading designer Kevin Carter's careful explanations of the changes he has worked out over the past few years. These mods have to do with effectively stiffening the power supply, also swinging more voltage with less significant noise and distortion, along with lowering output impedances. Another change had to do with finding a way to use better-sounding SS gain stages. I also added another VR, so I can control (play with) another operating point.

I guess it will take a while for the new parts to break in. I listened for several hours today. Electricity was OK in the morning, and it took a couple of hours before the new parts began to sour. At its best (so far) the "new" SE is pretty much what I'd hoped for, namely more of the same, and better; it has remained a "listening tool" that has only gotten more literal. Basically it's up to the artists. Good music poorly recorded sounds just like that, etc. etc. A couple of nice new tricks: undamped piano chords "ring off" with all strings sounding clearly; center fill is better.

I'm sure I will have more to say when the new parts come back to life, maybe 200 hrs., or so.

Anyone who wants to can read Kevin Carter's thoughts on this subject at the kandkaudio website.




Paul S
09-11-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 51
Post ID: 21973
Reply to: 21960
At This Stage
fiogf49gjkf0d
Yesterday I listened for a few hours again, including Bruckner 7 and a new-to-me, (old) East German, "Chamber" rendition of Ein deutsches Requiem. It has been hot (for here) for several days and electricity was not so good. There were some nice musical moments, but mostly the parts were forward of the whole. There are signs that the "soundstage" will be very nice. The channel separation is more defined now, and the consequence in this case is that everything is better - if my ears are set just right. The "parts forward" thing also made it easy to do some tweaking of my tonearm, since it was fairly easy to differentiate between the cartridge and the arm. To the extent that experience can guide me through this, I will try to be patient and not make too many adjustments to "compensate" for the "raw" new parts. Back to the "soundstage"/ambience, although this has never been way up on my list of things to strive for, it is very nice to have it, especialy for "big" music. However, I still maintain that poorly done sounstage is worse than none. In the case of the K & K, every LP sounds different, and poorly done "ambience" is well noted as such, but it generally gets "separated out" of the music, like surface ticks and pops.

Paul S
11-15-2015 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 52
Post ID: 22229
Reply to: 21973
Benefits from "Upgrades"
fiogf49gjkf0d
It's been some time since I've listened to my hi-fi. Today I started out with my DAC because I wanted to hear a new (to me) CD. After about 2 hours I switched to the K&K, listening first to Verde, then Brahms PCs 1 & 2. By the time I got to the 3rd movement of PC 2 the unit was warmed up and I had done some more tonearm tuning. The sound was very nice ("musical") despite not great electricity, and the musicians and the Music swept me away, to the end of the concerto. Pieces and parts, including ambience, stayed in their rightful/relative places, and the electricity noise was pretty much "separated out" of the Music. This is all I ask.

I noticed again today that can hear more (including "greater dynamic range") at lower volumes. I'll try to think about this more when I'm not caught up in the Music.


Paul S
01-07-2016 Post does not mapped to Knowledge Tree
Paul S
San Diego, California, USA
Posts 2,104
Joined on 10-12-2006

Post #: 53
Post ID: 22388
Reply to: 22229
Pay Day!
fiogf49gjkf0d
Today was dark and rainy, and the electricity was much better than I have heard it for some time. Though I have not listened a lot since I did the recent changes, the parts seem to be breaking in nicely. Today I listened first to some Brahms Intermezzos (Gould), then I put on a nice copy of the Richter/Leinsdorf version of Brahms PC2 that I love so much (last PC2 session was Cliburn). Mark M had cleaned this LP with his ultra-sonic cleaner thing-ee, and noise was pretty much limited to tape hiss. The cartridge was dialed in and I noted no mis-tracking. The K&K has definitely "gained dynamics", with bigger swings, and the soundfield is very big. All musical lines are clear without being highlighted, according to the recording. This LP is very satisfying to me, even when clearly heard as a recording, and the changes are so far all for the good of good Music. Parts at all frequencies and dynamic ranges are well balanced and available for special attention, only if desired. With the system performing as it does now, my biggest "problem" is that my room could be bigger. Unless there is some sort of unexpected reversal, I heartily recommend the full palette of "upgrades" offered by K&K as worth the effort, and certainly they are worth the minimal cost.


Paul S
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