"Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers

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AmpDesigner333

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"Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« on: 3 Jul 2016, 04:06 pm »
This topic has been coming up frequently....  Should you use a preamp or drive the Maraschino directly with a D/A (like the DAC DAC)?  Well, this brings up several sub-topics.  The first is simply "why skip the preamp?"....

The bottom line is signal path.  The shorter the path, the better, in most cases. Sometimes this means physical distance, and sometimes is means "steps in the chain".

For example, there only an inch between the D/A chip and the output connectors in the DAC DAC.  The HS (high spec) version has excellent performance, but for an even shorter signal path, through less COMPONENTS as opposed to distance, the TL (tube like) version takes it a step further (not farther).  The TL DAC DAC uses the minimum amount of circuitry between the D/A chip and the output connectors.

Back to the topic at hand....  Every component that the audio signal goes through, even including the traces on a printed circuit board, adds noise and distortion.  Sometimes, this "adder" is negligible, and sometimes it's not.  Sometimes, it's a major problem.

Let's consider a signal level transformer.  For example, a simple transformer-based balanced to single-ended converter.  First, transformers don't have response down to DC, so putting an analog audio signal through a transformer results in phase shift and bass attenuation.  I'm a big believer in DC coupling because it avoids these issues.  Transformers also add distortion, and to make matters worse, it's frequency dependent distortion.  Then there's high frequency roll off, adding insult to injury.  That's only one component, causing a myriad of issues.  Of course, these issues can be minimized, but never negated entirely.

More to come....

-Tommy O

Tyson

Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #1 on: 3 Jul 2016, 04:12 pm »
Since the designs are so compact, why not make a powered DAC that has a DAC and amps built in together?  One box solution = absolute shortest paths possible. 

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #2 on: 3 Jul 2016, 04:42 pm »
Since the designs are so compact, why not make a powered DAC that has a DAC and amps built in together?  One box solution = absolute shortest paths possible.
Ahhhhh.  Someone's paying attention!

Good point, but keep in mind the contribution to noise and distortion over an interconnect versus devices like these:
    - transformers
    - volume controls
    - active balanced-to-unbalanced (and vice-versa) converter circuits
    - multiple gain stages

This discussion would be sadly incomplete if we didn't bring up the dreaded "measurements"!  Some audio enthusiasts believe in measured specifications more than others.  That's a separate topic, but in general, I trust test equipment to tell me what's up when it comes to comparing various options.

So....  Would you agree with this?  The only real justification for separate boxes is the ability to swap out parts of the system.  A single box is "stuck" as whatever it is, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Some might think of the term "future-proofing" when it comes to signal sources particularly.

There's also the issue of putting certain things "close together".  This is an important topic in power amplifier design, where very sensitive circuits can be close to high power circuits.  The trick is knowing how to keep them from disturbing each other, to put it in simple terms.  Separate boxes can be a mitigation strategy for reducing interference.

Stay tuned for more....

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #3 on: 3 Jul 2016, 04:46 pm »
Earmarking some issues I'd like to discuss in a new thread:
    1. Why "direct drive"? ---- covered?
    2. Digital Volume Control vs Analog
    3. System synergy
    4. What you may not know about preamps

OzarkTom

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #4 on: 3 Jul 2016, 04:53 pm »
Since the designs are so compact, why not make a powered DAC that has a DAC and amps built in together?  One box solution = absolute shortest paths possible.

+1

And add a remote volume. I have dreamed of this combo for years. Good SQ IC's are not cheap these days.

rajacat

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #5 on: 3 Jul 2016, 05:31 pm »
I bet that integrating a LDR preamp, like the Tortuga  and its Apple remote, with the Maraschino would be a synergistic combo.

kedoades

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #6 on: 8 Jul 2016, 03:15 pm »
  I am using an upgraded cherry amp and was using a ps audio preamp and decieded to go direct to amp using my dac as volume control.  For me going without preamp is better because it just seems clearer and clean and soundstage seems more open.  I don't notice any loss of bass or fullness wihtout the preamp like I noticed when using a dac 4800a.  This new cherry amp is much nicer and plans on upgrading to a tube preamp are now on hold.  Tommy did a great job on this cherry amp

olesno

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #7 on: 10 Jul 2016, 05:33 pm »
I have been experimenting with my Cherries for a while in my setup which in addition to these exceptional little amps consists of OPPO 105 modified by Dan Wright with a separate power supply and a tube output stage with the best tubes I could get and ModWright LS 36.5 tube line stage preamp.  My speakers are KEF Blade 2.  All the pieces are connected by Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme cables (best cables I ever had in my system).  To my ears the sound without the preamp is NOT as good as the sound with the preamp in the chain.  To me the sound with the preamp has more body, is more three dimensional and it's simply more natural and involving.  What is surprising that the LS 36.5 is not euphonic and overly "tube sounding" preamp.  It is very transparent and "clean" sounding without any sound signature at all. I tried it with and without several times and always preferred the sound with the LS in. 

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #8 on: 10 Jul 2016, 07:29 pm »
I have been experimenting with my Cherries for a while in my setup which in addition to these exceptional little amps consists of OPPO 105 modified by Dan Wright with a separate power supply and a tube output stage with the best tubes I could get and ModWright LS 36.5 tube line stage preamp.  My speakers are KEF Blade 2.  All the pieces are connected by Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme cables (best cables I ever had in my system).  To my ears the sound without the preamp is NOT as good as the sound with the preamp in the chain.  To me the sound with the preamp has more body, is more three dimensional and it's simply more natural and involving.  What is surprising that the LS 36.5 is not euphonic and overly "tube sounding" preamp.  It is very transparent and "clean" sounding without any sound signature at all. I tried it with and without several times and always preferred the sound with the LS in.
For reference, this with KING Maraschinos currently and upgrading to Golden Cherry soon....  Thanks for your post.

olesno

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #9 on: 10 Jul 2016, 08:04 pm »
Yes, that's correct.  Thank you Tommy for mentioning that and thank you for making amps that I consider to be among the best regardless of the cost.  Listening to music through the best equipment I could afford has been my hobby since high school (many years ago) and once I found out about DAC from Clement Perry of Stereotimes I got hooked.  Tommy's stuff is exceptional.

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #10 on: 29 Jul 2016, 12:17 pm »
I was asked "Any way to do a DAC DAC with a volume control?".  I replied....

Not really.  I explain below.  However, due to 124dB DNR, properly executed digital attenuation, like the volume control on JRiver, provides an essentially lossless solution.

The outputs of the DAC DAC are double differential per channel.  To implement a potentiometer based volume control, these outputs would be back to single ended (to go through the pot). That adds crosstalk, noise, distortion (although this is easily minimized), and lots of signal path distance.

Connecting the DAC DAC directly to your Maraschino Cherry Monoblock Amps gives you a few advantages. First, the signal path is minimized.  As an aside, ultimately, with "Hanging Maraschinos", the signal is brought to the amp over a low noise balanced connection and the speaker wires are all but eliminated making it the most direct system of its type on the market today!  Plus, you can choose your speakers over a huge range of sizes, configurations, and technologies.  Second, the DAC DAC is designed to drive amps directly with a specific maximum signal level that permits some overdrive while preserving dynamic range.  With the Maraschino, gain is on the low side, going further to support a low noise floor, and the DAC DAC outputs higher voltage than most DACs.  The combination works VERY WELL.  Other advantages include a DAC-compatible noise floor giving you a black background even at the highest volumes.  Low level playback is silky smooth and texture is preserved where other systems tend to run out of speed and resolution.

Best Regards,
Tommy

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #11 on: 29 Jul 2016, 01:58 pm »
Earmarking some issues I'd like to discuss in a new thread:
    1. Why "direct drive"? ---- covered
    2. Digital Volume Control vs Analog ---- covered
    3. System synergy ---- covered
    4. What you may not know about preamps ---- covered
My most recent post covers the remaining items, if you read between the lines.

#4 comes down to the way volume controls are typically implemented, well, how balanced input preamps are implemented pretty much across the board.  The signals are converted to single ended before they go through a potentiometer.  Even in preamps that CLAIM to be balanced end-to-end ---- are actually not!  Additional issues with analog volume are crosstalk, added noise and distortion, and uneven attenuation channel-to-channel (no such thing as a "perfectly" aligned pot).

We put lots of effort into the volume control on the STM (Stereo Maraschino).  The circuits are designed to take special care achieving:
    a. Low crosstalk ---- use of a quality ALPS attenuator, keeping the signals away from each other to/from the attenuator
    b. Low noise and distortion ---- impedance controlled, short signal paths and high performance ICs

#2 above is part of a continuing discussion regarding digital attenuation.  Turns out it's pretty difficult to argue with the math, and digital attenuation wins hands down for the cleanest approach.  #1 above is sound (pun intended) for the same reasons.  Signals are kept balanced.  Level matching is outstanding.  Let's not forget DC coupling as well.  Try finding another solution that offers end-to-end DC coupling for zero bass phase shift and ruler flat response, down to 0 Hertz!

#3 above wraps up the discussion in my opinion.  True synergy is assured when the components were designed to work together as used in YOUR system!

SteveMiller

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #12 on: 29 Jul 2016, 04:29 pm »
As the proud owner of both the TL & HS DAC DAC converters, as well as the outstanding King Maraschinos 60V_DTM, and finally the perfectly implemented STM amplifier, I can confirm that Tommy has designed in the Synergy thing...hands down no contest.

Using a DAC DAC to drive your Maraschino amplifier, be it DTM, INLINE, or STM...and doing so directly really does get you so close to the musical information recorded in the file, that you can sometimes hear the 1's and 0's being ripped off the hard drive!  :rock:   In all seriousness- its really really good. 

Some users have reported that in their system their particular dac sounds better through a pre-amp.  And that may be true under some circumstances.  But users of DAC DAC with Maraschino amplifiers will find that driving direct is truly superior to even the best preamps available.  Any pre-amp solution adds at least another set of interconnects, another pair of connections, most add another source of noise in their power supplies. Even passives must add signal length to the path. In cases where NON-DigitalAmpCo products benefit from an additional component is simply due to system matching inconsistencies.  If your BrandX dac has a lower output, or insufficient drive, then it may sound better with a pre-amp.   BUT! it will NOT sound as fast and clean and clear as a DAC DAC with a Marschino Amplifier. 

If you already own Maraschino's, I urge you to just try a DAC DAC wired direct.  Use the volume control in Jriver, PureMusic, Itunes... Whatever.  Digital attenuation truly can sound beautiful when its playmates are designed to work properly with it.  Tommy has done just that. 

Digital Amplifier Co. has embraced the digital world.  Tommy is not trying to make digital playback blend in with the old pre-amp analog model.  And he isnt trying to market any over-priced snake oil disguised as the newest coolest thing.  Its just damn good, dead simple, intelligent engineering making your hard earned dollars sound better!


Armaegis

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #13 on: 29 Jul 2016, 04:33 pm »
If I ever go down the path of looking for a separate balanced pre, I'll most likely be checking out transformer (TVC) based designs.

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #14 on: 29 Jul 2016, 06:18 pm »
If I ever go down the path of looking for a separate balanced pre, I'll most likely be checking out transformer (TVC) based designs.
We have several customers using TVCs with great results.  Good point!  Thanks for your kind post.

-Tommy

jseipp

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #15 on: 29 Jul 2016, 11:01 pm »
Going direct from DAC DAC to Inline Maraschinos has proven to be magical for me.  I'll add that the DAC DAC seems to have a great talent for bringing every source I have on hand to life, saving me from feeling the need to upgrade upstream.  Past that, here it's been best to keep the path as simple as possible from DAC to amps to speakers -- just glorious!

mfsoa

Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #16 on: 30 Jul 2016, 12:39 am »
And yet I've also gotten great results by using a great (VAC, CAT) preamp. I need the switching capability of a pre so that's the configuration I'm wed to at the moment.

The amp is the heart of the system but the preamp is the soul.

-Mike

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #17 on: 16 Aug 2016, 05:40 pm »
Direct drive for single ended systems?
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=138311.msg1550215#msg1550215

Thoughts????

AmpDesigner333

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Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #18 on: 3 Dec 2016, 01:31 pm »
I was recently asked about running the DAC DAC into a Tortuga LDR volume control.  Here's my reply....

"If you use the proper adapters, you shouldn't lose significant performance going XLR-RCA-XLR.  However, any time you go from balanced to single ended, you lose some noise immunity.... and 6dB of signal.  That's OK if there's a ton of dynamic range to begin with (DAC DAC).  ....This is one reason we promote using digital attenuation where possible, mostly done with a computer source.  You can also do this without a computer, using a transport (including multi-format Oppo-type players) and a stand-alone digital attenuator.  We are currently discussing a digital preamp, but for now, devices such as the inexpensive miniDSP can do digital volume in a lossless fashion at 24-bits in/out and much more ---- adapts to any remote, optional room correction."

RCduck7

Re: "Direct Drive" of Maraschino Cherry Amplifiers
« Reply #19 on: 4 Dec 2017, 02:44 am »
I want to have a shorter signal path by ditching my preamp. I'm not sure how i can realise that.
Rightnow I'm using a streamer that is in connection with my Laptop where my music is on. I'm using my tablet with the app of the streamer to operate it. The streamer's digital out goes to my DAC DAC then to my preamp and to my amps. I have the possibility to adjust the volume with my tablet but it's not doing anything, the preamp only controls volume. I could use the RCA outputs from the streamer straight to my amps and then the volume on my tablet will work. But that means i'm using the DAC inside the streamer and that i can't use my DAC DAC in the chain!

I read some use a mediaplayer like JRiver to control the volume but how does it connect to the DAC DAC??