Shortblock listening Test-Short Review

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Audioexcels

Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« on: 17 Jul 2012, 07:21 am »
This will be a very "Short" block review.  It took a second to notice a night/day difference between a modded OR4 w/turbo clocks+Hynes by itself and with the shortblock on it.  The fundamental thing I hear is more presence that lends itself to a more live-you are closer to the venue/setting/etc. that the recording was done at. Most importantly, I do not hear anything being added or subtracted to the resolution-transparency-accuracy of the recording.  The sound stage is larger, some that will use the term 3-D or bigger-bolder most noted in height and depth front-back.    Instruments do take on a bit more impact in some cases such as the strike of a drum will be more dynamic/hard hitting/heft of tonal sound, or the strike of a cymbal will take on more impact/crash/fullness of that cymbal. 

On a whole, the presence and sense of you are part of the place the artist made this recording or even close to just how the artist would most resemble sounding in real life is what makes the short block special.  That it has greater impact on details, a more correct (to me) sound stage, and other more nit-picky superior elements is an added bonus. 

I do not have other USB devices to give impressions about the short block and the sound with it hooked to whatever USB device can accept it (short block is not to be used on a 5V device).  There is a good chance the short block will have a similar affect on other USB devices because it is capable of doing so on both the newest modded OR5 and Overdrive SE AND on the now outdated and inferior to OR5, modded OR4.  If the fundamental sound was different when in use with each of these products, then you know the product is coloring the sound somehow.  The fact that the fundamental sound is there regardless of the product age/sound quality/etc. means it is in fact a genuinely "neutral" product.  I emphasize the word neutral because too many products garner this term, but my ears hear it entirely colored for better or worse.

I know that for me, the OR4 is good enough.  But, in spite money always has to play a role in our audio purchasing habits, I would not accept the OR4 as it is, and would want either a modded OR5 WITH a short block, or if keeping the OR4, a short block for it.

This is my own .02.  It may or may not be other's, but it's cheap change to demo it, and that much I can say everyone should do.


serengetiplains

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #1 on: 17 Jul 2012, 08:29 pm »
My impressions are very similar to yours, A.  This device is a no-brainer upgrade.

jimiles

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #2 on: 18 Jul 2012, 08:55 pm »
Do you feel like the Short Block made the system more or less sensitve to USB cable changes?  Put another way; were you tempted to change USB cables after installaling the Short Block, and if you did what were your experiences?

Audioexcels

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #3 on: 18 Jul 2012, 11:18 pm »
Do you feel like the Short Block made the system more or less sensitve to USB cable changes?  Put another way; were you tempted to change USB cables after installaling the Short Block, and if you did what were your experiences?

No.  I did not hear anything that would make me want to change cables.  If I had a reference USB cable, I would have likely used it instead of the Belkin.  I will have this around for a short while longer if anyone wants to send me a cable to test the way it affects or does not affect the sound.

BobMajor

USB cable with Shortblock
« Reply #4 on: 2 Feb 2013, 08:13 pm »
I've had the Shortblock for about 6 months. As I posted elsewhere it was a wonderful upgrade. I agree with the previous posters comments.
I wanted to comment on adding a higher quality USB cable in addition to the Shortblock.
I'd been thinking for some time about getting a better cable (I've just been using the generic cable that came with the Overdrive DAC with dual turboclocks and Hynes regulators.)
My problem was that in my setup I needed an 8 foot cable at least. I know that Steve uses a Locus Design cable but that's not an option since Lee Wyland passed away last year. I'd been considering a WyWires LITESPD USB cable but the $850 or so I'd have to spend was a little more than I could comfortably spring for now. I then considered a Moon Audio Silver Dragon USB cable. I paid $310 for a 10 foot cable. The following review references both the Locus Design Cynosure USB cable which sold for several thousand dollars vs. the Silver Dragon:
http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue60/moon_audio.htm
The reviewer really likes both cables. To have the Silver Dragon compared as close to the Cynosure was to me reassuring. Since I could never have afforded the Cynosure cable anyway I decided to go with the Silver Dragon.
After some 30 hours using the cable I'm stunned at the improvement over my previous setup. Even CD rips sound like good quality analog now. For the modest price this is really a great deal.

Vapor Audio

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #5 on: 2 Feb 2013, 11:33 pm »
I'd have to agree with the review as well.  The one Steve lent to me for use at RMAF was a nice upgrade in every system where it was used, including the high-end BMC DAC1.  I don't know why I haven't bought one yet  :scratch:

For the price it's about as close to a no-brainer as it gets.  Maybe this will be my reminder to send Steve some cash.

audioengr

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #6 on: 3 Feb 2013, 07:03 pm »
I'd have to agree with the review as well.  The one Steve lent to me for use at RMAF was a nice upgrade in every system where it was used, including the high-end BMC DAC1.  I don't know why I haven't bought one yet  :scratch:

For the price it's about as close to a no-brainer as it gets.  Maybe this will be my reminder to send Steve some cash.

I owe you for brochures and shipping anyway.  I'll just ship one next build.  :wink:

Steve N.

Vapor Audio

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #7 on: 3 Feb 2013, 07:10 pm »
I owe you for brochures and shipping anyway.  I'll just ship one next build.  :wink:

Steve N.

Sweet, forgot about that  :thumb:

There are a few guys in town that want to hear it, so I'll make sure it gets passed around.  It'll also go with us to Axpona Chicago here in 5 weeks. 

andrewd01

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #8 on: 15 Feb 2013, 10:50 pm »
I received my Short Block this week.  I thought I'd chime in with another user review.  I agree with the other reviews, the SB is a definite improvement to my Offramp 4 (with all mods) feeding an ARC DAC8.  The music is one step closer to being "real". Huge gain for the price! If you are still on the fence, order one now!

I will also add that the unit feels solid, more so than it looks in the pictures. 

Mike Gillespie

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #9 on: 3 May 2013, 06:20 am »
What effect do you think this device would have working in line with a Berkeley Alpha USB?

audioengr

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #10 on: 3 May 2013, 05:59 pm »
What effect do you think this device would have working in line with a Berkeley Alpha USB?

It should improve things assuming that the BADAUSB does not need the +5V in the cable.

Steve N.

DaveBSC

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #11 on: 5 May 2013, 07:56 am »
What effect do you think this device would have working in line with a Berkeley Alpha USB?

Unfortunately it wont work with the Berkeley. The Alpha's AC power only goes to the S/Pdif output. The receiver is powered by the 5V Vbus line. I suppose one possibility would be to use the Short Block into something like the iFi iUSB, which doesn't require an incoming Vbus powerline to be present, it creates its own. So in theory at least you could go computer > Short Block > iUSB > Alpha USB.

Alternatively, if you have a desktop you could try the Adnaco optical USB card, which completely severs the common ground between the computer and the converter.

Mike Gillespie

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #12 on: 5 May 2013, 08:02 am »
Thanks for the help.  I guess I'll stick with the Berkeley Alpha alone.

audioengr

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #13 on: 5 May 2013, 05:20 pm »
Thanks for the help.  I guess I'll stick with the Berkeley Alpha alone.

If you have and external +5V supply, you could order a SB with a power umbilical and jack.  Its a custom, so no returns.

Steve N.

Mike Gillespie

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #14 on: 12 May 2013, 12:47 am »
From Berkeley Audio Design:

"The Alpha USB does need the +5V in the cable. The USB transceiver is powered by the computer to maximize noise isolation.
 
The Alpha USB, like the Adnaco optical USB card, also “completely severs the common ground between the computer and the converter” and in addition reclocks the signal using ultra low phase noise oscillators.


 

DaveBSC

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #15 on: 12 May 2013, 08:07 am »
From Berkeley Audio Design:

The Alpha USB, like the Adnaco optical USB card, also “completely severs the common ground between the computer and the converter” and in addition reclocks the signal using ultra low phase noise oscillators.

Interesting, are they using opto-isolators or some type of transformer to cut the ground path?

wisnon

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #16 on: 12 May 2013, 12:53 pm »
If you have and external +5V supply, you could order a SB with a power umbilical and jack.  Its a custom, so no returns.

Steve N.

Steve,

I have been told that the SB makes and additive effect with the Aubisque filter from ultrafi. The reveiewer said they were complementary.

Tell me, how is the SB with the iFi iUSB Power device? Have you gotten any feedback?

It seems all these devices do slightly different things and so may be very complementary.

audioengr

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #17 on: 12 May 2013, 06:03 pm »
Steve,

I have been told that the SB makes and additive effect with the Aubisque filter from ultrafi. The reveiewer said they were complementary.

Tell me, how is the SB with the iFi iUSB Power device? Have you gotten any feedback?

It seems all these devices do slightly different things and so may be very complementary.

No feedback.  I'm not sure what is in the iFi device.

Steve N.

DaveBSC

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Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #18 on: 12 May 2013, 06:34 pm »
No feedback.  I'm not sure what is in the iFi device.

Steve N.

This might help....


wisnon

Re: Shortblock listening Test-Short Review
« Reply #19 on: 12 May 2013, 07:24 pm »

Aubisque innards


There are reports of complementarity with all these filters. Good news!