Doctor's Orders-Part Two-The New Listening Room Of Steve Williams

The History

Most of you are aware by now that I moved back to Southern California in July last year after a 20 year hiatus in the SF Bay Area. It was there that I built my "dream" sound room. That room measured 18' W x 31' L x 9-12' H (sloped ceiling which was 9 feet high at the window and 12 feet high at the inner wall). My system then consisted of both two channel set up as well as a home theater with an 11' screen.

Here is a link to my prior set up

http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showt...-Of-Steve-Williams&p=3412&viewfull=1#post3412

My wife and I moved to the SF Bay Area in 1993 but with the resolve that we would always move home to Southern California. Just about this time last year our youngest daughter was graduating from the University of Boulder. It was then that not only were we aware of our empty nest but also that a few homes in our neighborhood were listed for sale. It was then that my wife suggested we consider listing our home. Well after 20 years in a home that I had built it was a difficult thought for me to consider as I loved our home and it was a source of wonderful memories. As a result, even though I always wanted to return to Southern California I was so attached to our home that I agreed to list the house for sale BUT only at a price that I felt it was worth rather than being dictated by the comps in our area (as I was torn about moving). As a result I listed the house at $200K over any comparable sold home in our area. We left for Boulder on a Thursday. The house was listed on the MLS the following day. The next day I was called by the broker to tell me that 3 people wanted to see the house on the Monday when I was back home (3 days after I listed the house). That next afternoon 3 different families toured the house and that evening I had 2 offers on my house, one which was $50K shy of my list price and a second which was not only a full list offer but so also a 30 day escrow. My wife and I took a deep breath as we suddenly realized that my wildest dream had become reality and that we were moving in 30 days. We now had to find a home to buy. We could have rented but I was opposed to this because I hate moving. Even if it is to the house next door it is still moving so we made a few day trip back to South Orange County and as luck would have it we found a really nice home of about the same size as the one we were selling. Both houses are ~4600 square feet but the new home did not have a dedicated room that I could convert to a new listening room. We moved in last July 6th and for 8-9 months my entire system sat in crates in one of our garages. Once settled in the house I started worrying because I coud see no option as to where to put this room. Believe it or not we considered moving but we really liked our new home. We live in the master planned community of Coto De Caza where my home sits on the 5th fairway of the south golf course. Even though both houses were about the same size the lot sizes were much different with that of my newer home sitting on a smaller sized lot. This pretty much excluded building "onto" the house as the rear yard was all landscaped with a pool. We have 3 garages and for a brief while I considered building the room into one of these garages but after working with an architect this just wasn't feasible. I must admit I was getting depressed about the distinct possibility, that after over 50 years in this hobby and always with a dedicated sound room that this was just not going to come to fruition for this one last "hurrah".



I did a lengthy search of acousticians as there are excellent ones who are members here at WBF. After a 4 week search I realized that if I were to do this any sound improvements put into the room could not be like my last room which was much larger. As a result every precious inch became valuable and I just couldn't spare any extra which would take away from the size of the room. My search brought me to the acoustician I finally hired. Bonnie Schnitta is a Phd in acoustics, electrical engineering and mathematics. It was with this knowledge and while working with the DOD and underwater sound mapping that she wrote a program which provides for mathematical mapping of a room's sound response. When she left the DOD, Bonnie took with her that part of the program which was hers and launched her business Soundsense based in New York city
www.soundsense.com

Her proprietary acoustical things are made through her company

www.noiseout.com

Dr. Bonnie Schnitta is the founder and president of NoiseOut as well as SoundSense, LLC – an acoustic consulting company she formed in 1981. Over the last three decades, Dr. Schnitta has headed hundreds of noise abatement and acoustic management construction projects in homes, churches, synagogues, theaters and recording studios. A CEDIA member since 2001, Dr. Schnitta holds a bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Purdue University, a bachelor's and master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and an interdepartmental Ph.D in Math, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering with a special emphasis in signal processing. She began her career working with ship designers, controlling the acoustics of oceangoing tankers. Although she originally focused on commercial projects, assisting restaurants and auditoriums with noise problems, Dr. Schnitta has branched out into the residential market. “I was just heartbroken to discover that homes were being designed with so little regard for acoustics,” she says.
Dr. Schnitta holds several patents, including an acoustical plumbing trap system, a method for analyzing activity in a signal, and the Paradise Effect™, a proprietary algorithm for the creation of an acoustically-correct and soothing environment. Dr. Schnitta has authored a number of articles on such topics as signal processing and acoustics management.

Bonnie made a site visit to my house in December, took measurements and then upon her return to NYC, plugged all the data in and called me a few days later stating that not only would things work but the room would sound very good. I guess this is what I wanted to hear. Sort of like asking an orthodontist if you need braces :)

The next post will contain all of the ideas and sound treatments added to the room as well as aesthetic treatments. I will follow that post with a synopsis of treatments that Bonnie has provided to me in a write up and I will follow this with several photos of the build out and the finished product

The room was finished end of March and I have been fine tuning the speaker placement, taking measurements and finally adding a pair of JLAudio F113 Fathom subs. I did have a pair of Gotham subs in my last room but I sold these as they for sure were just too much for the room
SoundRoom_zpscaeadf08.jpeg
 
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Comments

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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Ked

I believe you but as of last night's listening there has been a huge turn around sound quality. I understand it is not tube rolling but rather for me searching for what sounds the most natural.



I have been setting the gain control on my Lamm preamp to the sweet spot and then use the volume control on the Lampi to dial in the tube. I always seem to find that -12 to 14 seems to sound the most natural. I find that the I have the lamp igain full open and use the Lamm to find the sweet spot for my ears sounds digital and a little bright.

For me at -12 on the Lampi gives me the most feeling that I am listening to analogue
This is consistent with what Al and I have found. We also set Server volume to about 65 to70% of max. Then system volume set to taste at preamp level. System then dialled in.
 

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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as for the noise issue that some report with the tubes I just haven't heard any. Perhaps I just got lucky although I truly believe that my use of Center Stage 1.5's under the Lampi has helped to achieve this. I found the same when I placed a set of CS 1.5's under my Extreme and the jumping SQ was huge

Of course as they say YMMV :)
never had it either...
 
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(...) I have been setting the gain control on my Lamm preamp to the sweet spot and then use the volume control on the Lampi to dial in the tube. I always seem to find that -12 to 14 seems to sound the most natural. I find that the I have the lamp igain full open and use the Lamm to find the sweet spot for my ears sounds digital and a little bright.

For me at -12 on the Lampi gives me the most feeling that I am listening to analogue
Very interesting. It suggests that operating the Lampi volume control with the 242 at top level adds too much distortion.
It is interesting as the Lamm input is 16 kohm - probably with an higher impedance we could have a different result.
 

LampiNA

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Jul 1, 2015
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STEVE'S END GAME

And now you know the rest of the story................

As most of you who know me are aware that this past year has put me on a path where I reach the landing pad (for me at least) of completing the few remaining pieces of this puzzle I call my audio system. I had been saying that once I reach this part of the hobby I will truly be "end game"and that for me has taken countless decades to reach. These past 4 years has resulted in the addition of 3 different things to my system which I have discussed many times here
To wit.......the addition of


1. Critical Mass Systems racks

2. A complete loom of Masterbuilt Ultra cable

3. The use of Center Stage Feet under my components

Where I found myself lacking was to incorporate a present day DAC to take the place of my 12 year old Playback Designs MPS-5 which has served me well in all that time. In fact , recently, the addition of the Playback Designs USB X-lll box has served me well allowing me to play up to DSD 256 and PCM 384. I was also finding myself totally deficient in owning an adequate digital side of my system as I have been spending most of my listening time with vinyl and tape.

Fortunately the amount of information available here on WBF proved very fruitful to me as I spent countless hours reading about members' experiences with servers. Up until this time it was my goal to build the digital side of my system around an excellent DAC. That was my goal. My due diligence over the past year suggested that following this path was the correct way to go.My search led me to 2 DAC's which I have to admit have been on my mind for several years.

Specifically my short list was the MSB Select ll which I absolutely love for it's SQ's as well as it being future proof

or

the Lampizator Pacific

Talking to the higher ups at MSB, the information which I gleaned suggested that the MSB was so good that only a laptop and J River was all that was required for streaming audio

Well my world changed however 3 months ago when after months of searching and reading I felt the best server on the market that was going to take me to my end game as it seemed bullet proof as well as future proof was the Taiko Extreme. I purchased this unit with 16 TB's of internal memory cards. Simply put I have been gob smacked by the Extreme and how it sounds, and how it performs. To me it is an absolute industry break out product. During this time I was using my Playback Designs MPS-5 DAC with the USB Xlll box and I was stunned at how good it sounded.

This told me unequivocally that in order to get great music with the Extreme an Uber expensive DAC simply isn't necessary. Other members here have confirmed the same findings as has Emile.

Several years ago when I upgraded my CMS racks and added a few more shelves, one was allocated for a new music server (which proved to be the Extreme) and another was allocated for a new DAC

For those that know me, you know that I am an all tube system. I love the sound of tubes and have strived to produce as natural a sound as is possible. This brings me to my DAC shelf. It was my initial thought that my new DAC was going to be a tube DAC and the Lampi was always on my short list......so much so that the size of the shelf I ordered was spec'd to Lampi dimensions......just in case

So where has this taken me.........to my end game

I remain a tube guy and knew there was just no need (for me at least) to spend those big bucks on a DAC that in and of itself was so good that my system could have been designed around the Select ll DAC and I would have been eternally happy. Having the Extreme proved to me that I could easily stay all tubes.

I had long talks with many Lampi owners here as well re tube selection as there remained so many ways to sound this DAC as to which output and rectifier tubes should be used

As you all know I am not a tube roller but rather someone who searches for the most natural sound over all genres of music. I read that some users had hum and noise issues and there was such a diversity as to what tubes to use.

So I purchased a Lampizator Pacific 6 weeks ago according to my spec's . I only need a Single Ended as my Lamm gear is Single Ended.

Mine arrived 6 days ago and with the help of Leif S here we got it installed after Emile remotely installed the Lampi drivers. Out of the box it was unlistenable BUT there were no hums or tube noise that I could hear. I was also using a brand new MasterBuilt Ultra PC as well as new Center Stage 1.5 feet for under the DAC. So there was a lot to burn in

The tubes I selected so far are

KR-242 output tubes

RK-KR 5u4g Rectifier

I also bought a pair of RK-KR PX25 output tubes which have not yet been in my system

By day 3 I knew something specials beginning to happen as the midrange was nicely coming in. The sound stage was wide and depend there seemed to be more micro information in that soundstage. The top end however remained a little bright and the bass was slow, tubby and poorly defined.

I also purchased the volume control option on the Pacific as I was told this is a good way to tune the tubes. Indeed it has. Yesterday was the first time I had a series listen and so much had changed . I have never heard such a beautiful soundstage. The midrange is now swell developed and there is no further top end brightness. The bass is now tight, quicker and more articulate but listening to some bass guitar, I know there is still a small way to go yet.But so far I am simply dazzled

I have no hum or tube noise.In fact in anticipation of tube noise from the 242's and rectifier, I purchased several sets of HAL's AudioLabs tube dampers. So far I haven't found a need to use them

So where am I now? I am tickled pink in my decision. No question however I would have been very happy with the Select ll but as I stated the Extreme is the king pin of the digital side and I built my DAC and the rest around the Extreme. The tube DAC has added such a natural feeling to my system that I am content in every way with my decision.

In closing, I found that not only for my system and my ears, that I have made the correct decision but with so much money left over as a result I conclude the story by saying I put some icing on the cake of the analog side of my system by buying a new cartridge

So from here on, my goal is to listen to the music and continue to read about everyone else's end game plan. I have been down more rabbit holes and made so many mistakes along the way that at this point in my life I have reached my........


END GAME !!
Steve,

We are deeply pleased to have you on the Lampi team and I'm really looking forward to working with you towards fine tuning everything once we get past the burn in stage. I have no doubts in my mind that your Pacific DAC fed by Emile's wonderful server will produce digital audio second to none, regardless of price.

I recognize you aren't a tube roller so I'll say enjoy the ride for now and know it will only get better. :)

Enjoy!

Fred A.

P.S. I wanted to add for those of you who may not have had the opportunity to witness our Pacific, I will be demonstrating it next week at the Florida Audio Expo alongside some super equipment in room 408.

We will feature our LampizatOr Pacific and Super Komputer alongside the VAC Statement 450 iQ Integrated amplifier with speakers from Daedalus audio. Hope to meet some of you WBFers there.
 
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May 30, 2010
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Do you really think that these are not long term conclusions? typical pac owners has at least 3 pairs of dhts. I have over 10.
I am addressing Steve particular case - we both have the same preamplfier, I am very interested in his listening.
 

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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Very interesting. It suggests that operating the Lampi volume control with the 242 at top level adds too much distortion.
It is interesting as the Lamm input is 16 kohm - probably with an higher impedance we could have a different result.
i have found the results steve saw across dht tube types in Pac and across tube types in the Lampi Atlantic TRP.
 

wisnon

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Dec 12, 2011
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I am addressing Steve particular case - we both have the same preamplfier, I am very interested in his listening.
this statement of your suggests otherwise:

"Unless people doing the comparisons have access to measuring systems it is very unlikely that fast A/B comparisons are not affected by the difference in gain."

I do recognize that in a later paragraph you address steve, BUT the staement above is general to all Lampi comparers.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
I have one more observation that must not go unacknowledged and that is the overwhelming support from the close knit group of Lampi users and zealots here on WBF. I have never seen such a group of people to bend over backwards to help newbies like myself as well as long time users find solutions to their system issues as well as finding many suggestions about how ameliorate issues in one's system. The outpouring of support I received here from the Lampi community is like nothing I have seen before. You guys helped and prodded me along the way such that I was forced to think of everything

And finally when one talks of Lampi here in the USA we cannot forget FredA (LampiNA) who virtually guided me along the way and has been at my side (it seems) every day asking how it is going, what changes I am hearing and suggestions as to improving the burn in process. Kudos also to Lukasz who made tube suggestions for my system and was in the loop from Day 1. It is very endearing to find such a group of guys who work so well to gather and are never remiss in providing suggestions. You guys are great and have been so helpful to me
 

bonzo75

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I have one more observation that must not go unacknowledged and that is the overwhelming support from the close knit group of Lampi users and zealots here on WBF. I have never seen such a group of people to bend over backwards to help newbies like myself as well as long time users find solutions to their system issues as well as finding many suggestions about how ameliorate issues in one's system. The outpouring of support I received here from the Lampi community is like nothing I have seen before. You guys helped and prodded me along the way such that I was forced to think of everything

And finally when one talks of Lampi here in the USA we cannot forget FredA (LampiNA) who virtually guided me along the way and has been at my side (it seems) every day asking how it is going, what changes I am hearing and suggestions as to improving the burn in process. Kudos also to Lukasz who made tube suggestions for my system and was in the loop from Day 1. It is very endearing to find such a group of guys who work so well to gather and are never remiss in providing suggestions. You guys are great and have been so helpful to me
Steve, the reason for that is simple. Lampi is my favorite thing in hifi, and I am sure the other users feel the same way. For each other component in the chain, we have multiple choices. For digital, we have only option. And every year instead of getting bored with the purchase, it surprises and gets us more pleasure. Hence the zealotry... We are just trying to get others to share in the pleasure.
 
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(...) I do recognize that in a later paragraph you address steve, BUT the staement above is general to all Lampi comparers.
Long before Steve got a Lampizator I debated gain issues with him concerning the Lamm's.

But yes, it is a general statement valid to any swap. A large voltage signal implies a larger output current, that increases distortion in the output, most of the times independently of the volume position. This change can affect our immediate perception of loudness.
 
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Micro always makes these subtle insults quoting out of context.(...)
It is a pity you do not want to see that some people here like to correlate subjective findings and objective knowledge and data, independently of equipment love or preference. The Marantz Project T1 is not different from the Pacific in many aspects, soon I will report on it.
 

bonzo75

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It is a pity you do not want to see that some people here like to correlate subjective findings and objective knowledge and data, independently of equipment love or preference. The Marantz Project T1 is not different from the Pacific in many aspects, soon I will report on it.
Micro that's not what you did, you implied one swap was done fast to come to an incorrect conclusion. This style of yours is not new to me.
 
Likes: Alrainbow
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Micro that's not what you did, you implied one swap was done fast to come to an incorrect conclusion. This style of yours is not new to me.
You should get a system, enjoy it and forget my style ...

Now, again in my style : yes, preferences can never be incorrect, but explanations of it or generalizations can be.

Please note that I know myself well enough to know that there is always the possibility of owning a Pacific some day - preferences change ...
 

Alrainbow

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Steve what playback soft do you use now ?
 

Steve Williams

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May 30, 2010
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LampiNA

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Jul 1, 2015
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I have one more observation that must not go unacknowledged and that is the overwhelming support from the close knit group of Lampi users and zealots here on WBF. I have never seen such a group of people to bend over backwards to help newbies like myself as well as long time users find solutions to their system issues as well as finding many suggestions about how ameliorate issues in one's system. The outpouring of support I received here from the Lampi community is like nothing I have seen before. You guys helped and prodded me along the way such that I was forced to think of everything

And finally when one talks of Lampi here in the USA we cannot forget FredA (LampiNA) who virtually guided me along the way and has been at my side (it seems) every day asking how it is going, what changes I am hearing and suggestions as to improving the burn in process. Kudos also to Lukasz who made tube suggestions for my system and was in the loop from Day 1. It is very endearing to find such a group of guys who work so well to gather and are never remiss in providing suggestions. You guys are great and have been so helpful to me
Thank you for the kind words, Steve. You have been a pleasure to work with.

And YES--our customers are an AMAZING bunch!!!
 

wil

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Jul 22, 2015
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This is consistent with what Al and I have found. We also set Server volume to about 65 to70% of max. Then system volume set to taste at preamp level. System then dialled in.
"Server" volume? Or do you mean Dac volume?
 

Alrainbow

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"Server" volume? Or do you mean Dac volume?
This is incorrect as said but the conception is correct. But if Steve’s using Roon it’s vol control has draw backs to use.
 

Alrainbow

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Dec 12, 2013
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In a simple concept it’s correct but as Steve is hearing its al observation to yield best results. He has top analog as such a guide to move to . it’s a similar concept used in a phono preamp. It needs a gain selection to match the preamp. If not it’s tone may be off. Harsh or brite at times. The music we play effects the tonal balance if its off at the start. This is in part why some music is better on a given system.
 

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