Aesthetix Io Users Group

OGH

Member
Oct 9, 2020
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I am now testing with the Sovtek LPS remaining in the first gain stage, since they have the best noise performance so far. Testing with a db meter, not just my ears, is very useful.

I have pulled out the JJs in the second stage, and inserted the four Telefunkens I used in the first stage, instead. I hear their noise also in the second stage, but now reduced, maybe ca 50 percent less. Not sure, will this be better, overall, than the most low noise solution I have found so far (new production LPS + JJ in all three gain stages). Music testing remains.

I would like to retain the NOS sound if possible, but with lower noise. I have tested three quads of NOS – Telefunken, Telefunken extra (measuring weaker), and RCA/Motorola. They are all noisy however, in the first gain stage – and maybe also for the second or third gain stages. This remains to be seen (heard).
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
66
48
85
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
Oldvinyl - thanks for the diagrams. So, to replicate the situation in the Io, the first gain stage tube noise level will be multiplied by the two next stages, with a total of 1000 x signal / including noise amplification. So it is not that the tubes in the first stage are especially 'stressed', but only that whatever goes on there, is very strongly amplified later. Correct? And the net result of this, is that the tube noise level in the first stage is very critical, while not so much in the later stages - and least in the third stage I presume. These are more "forgiving".
Audioquest4life - I hope the MaxiPre does the job especially in terms of noise. My Beck RM1 is flexible and convenient (also, good support), but doesn't tell me much about the actual noise when I try the tube in the Io.
OGH - yes, correct.
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
66
48
85
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
I am now testing with the Sovtek LPS remaining in the first gain stage, since they have the best noise performance so far. Testing with a db meter, not just my ears, is very useful.

I have pulled out the JJs in the second stage, and inserted the four Telefunkens I used in the first stage, instead. I hear their noise also in the second stage, but now reduced, maybe ca 50 percent less. Not sure, will this be better, overall, than the most low noise solution I have found so far (new production LPS + JJ in all three gain stages). Music testing remains.

I would like to retain the NOS sound if possible, but with lower noise. I have tested three quads of NOS – Telefunken, Telefunken extra (measuring weaker), and RCA/Motorola. They are all noisy however, in the first gain stage – and maybe also for the second or third gain stages. This remains to be seen (heard).
OGH - please note that there are tube selection/placement recommendations from Aesthetix in the Io documentation on their web site. The LP/LPS is not recommended in V3/V4 or V5/V6 positions. Also, you could call Aesthetix for their latest thinking on tube selection. They do sell screened and selected tubes - highly worth it if you are seeking to lower noise.

Have you followed any of the other recommendations in this thread to address the noise?
 

OGH

Member
Oct 9, 2020
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30
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69
Oldvinyl - thanks - I am breathing more easily now. I hope my "layman" testing can contribute, to the thread.
 

dan31

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2010
640
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453
SF Bay
A few Io owners have battled mysterious noise only to find out it was solved by checking the lay of various cables at the back of the Io. Check the phono cables and output interconnects and how they are oriented to the power umbilical's and each other. Probably nothing but it has solved noise issues in the past.
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
66
48
85
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
A few Io owners have battled mysterious noise only to find out it was solved by checking the lay of various cables at the back of the Io. Check the phono cables and output interconnects and how they are oriented to the power umbilical's and each other. Probably nothing but it has solved noise issues in the past.
Dan - good reminder! Signal cables should be perpendicular to power cables due to electrical/magnetic interference.
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
66
48
85
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
Oldvinyl - thanks - I am breathing more easily now. I hope my "layman" testing can contribute, to the thread.
OGH - actually, your method for measuring noise is quite effective. The only thing to note is that when the gain is increased (turn up the volume) the noise will correspondingly increase.


The other question for you - does your Io have volume controls? If so, do you connect directly to your amps?

I noticed in your signature line that you have a tube based preamp (I think). It could also be the culprit; or at least a contributor to noise.

I have the volume controls in my Io and connect directly to my amps.
 

dan31

Well-Known Member
Jul 22, 2010
640
135
453
SF Bay
Question to anyone using a preamp with your Io. I am using a lyra kleos with 0.5 mv output. I have plenty of gain. My Io is without volume control so gain is set using the jumpers inside the unit. The Io is one step down from the highest gain. I am never near 1/2 volume on my preamp. When listening I'm usually about 1/3 volume. My preamp is a Spectral DMC 30SS s2. I was considering lowering the gain on the Io so I can get my preamp closer to its unity gain setting. Obviously this involves pulling out the Io out and removing the cage screws to lower the output jumper. I would clean the pins and give it some tlc. I could also consider alternate tube types that have lower gain. Anyone play with gain staging to optimize s/n? Thanks
 

audioquest4life

Active Member
Sep 24, 2020
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I have had good luck using a separate preamp (Octave Jubilee) with the Io. I am using a 68db gain with a .4mv cartridge (SS Hyperion) and my volume can go up almost half way, but it’s ear bleed time at that loudness level. I have 101db speakers. I also have high and low gain settings on the preamp which the designer built in for low/high efficiency speakers. It has been great with cartridge swaps, because I feel that I have some extra options to experiment with for overall gain when swapping out cartridges.

I would make a bold jump and move down to 62db to see how that will work for you.
 

OGH

Member
Oct 9, 2020
93
30
20
69
Oldvinyl - LP and LPS Sovtek postions - yes I have seen this. OK in the first gain stage, but don't use in the second or third. (Although my diagram only has this info for Sovtek LP, not LPS - I guess it is the same).
I agree that selected tubes from Aesthetix are worth it. I compare my NOS tube sets to factory selected JJ and LPS. Maybe "standard
 

OGH

Member
Oct 9, 2020
93
30
20
69
I was saying...standard new production tubes (LPS, JJ83s, etc) perhaps varies a lot in the relevant noise level (I have mainly used those selected by Aesthetix in the Io), not off the shelf, so I don't fully know.

Preamp and gain matching - I have Io with volume controls, and get the best sound at around three o'clock, or a bit more, and then the Einstein preamp at around 11 o'clock, which I think is close to unity gain. This is with a 0.56 mv cartridge. No problem (except when tubes get noisy).

Mysterious noise - yes, it happens. Note that my testing now is limited to the constant background noise in the tubes themselves - not influenced by cables etc (or not much). But I do hear a noise, a slight hum, that comes and goes a bit, mainly in one channel. This happens whatever tubes are used, so it is something else. It is more like a note, or specific frequency, rather than the full band frequency of typical background tube noise. I have found that the note = middle A on the piano, or 440 hz. Perhaps someone has an idea, what it could be. (Note: power is 220-240 volts, here in Norway). I don't hear it from the aux input (my DAC).
 

oldvinyl

Well-Known Member
Jun 4, 2017
66
48
85
Specific Northwest - Seattle area
I was saying...standard new production tubes (LPS, JJ83s, etc) perhaps varies a lot in the relevant noise level (I have mainly used those selected by Aesthetix in the Io), not off the shelf, so I don't fully know.

Preamp and gain matching - I have Io with volume controls, and get the best sound at around three o'clock, or a bit more, and then the Einstein preamp at around 11 o'clock, which I think is close to unity gain. This is with a 0.56 mv cartridge. No problem (except when tubes get noisy).

Mysterious noise - yes, it happens. Note that my testing now is limited to the constant background noise in the tubes themselves - not influenced by cables etc (or not much). But I do hear a noise, a slight hum, that comes and goes a bit, mainly in one channel. This happens whatever tubes are used, so it is something else. It is more like a note, or specific frequency, rather than the full band frequency of typical background tube noise. I have found that the note = middle A on the piano, or 440 hz. Perhaps someone has an idea, what it could be. (Note: power is 220-240 volts, here in Norway). I don't hear it from the aux input (my DAC).
OGH - as a thought experiment, try the Io direct to your amp. That will tell you whether there is a ground loop with the preamp causing the hum. If the hum is not from a ground loop, then clean all the AC plugs and IEC connectors. Poor AC connection can exacerbate hum problems. Other sources can be coupling through the tone arm leads. Make sure that there is adequate spacing between components if there is not adequate shielding.

Also- you were correct. V1 and V2 use their internal dual triodes in parallel. That increases their gain a bit and helps sound quality. My diagram is not correct. Working to get that figured out. The internal parallel connection of the dual triodes does not stress the tube. Overall, the noise in a preamp is most influenced by the noise in the first stage.

You can also try the Io at 11 am or noon volume setting, then adjust volume with the preamp. That can lower tube noise a lot.

To emphasize- the Io with volume controls does not need an external preamp. Try it direct. To my taste, the Io is much clearer and transparent without a preamp.
 

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