Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II

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jcoat007

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« on: 16 Dec 2003, 04:00 pm »
I have been so busy that I have not had a chance to sit down and write down my thoughts on the Perpetual Technologies P3A DAC with Empirical Audio mods and Superclock II.  This is by no means a detailed and complete review, but just my brief thoughts in this piece of gear.  So here goes:

My journey started off with the nOrh CD-1.  I swapped out tubes and happily lived with that player for several months.  After reading all of the hype I them added a Perp Tech P1A/P3A and Monolithic Power Supply to the mix.  I had the Modwright Level II mods done to the P3A and used the CD-1 as a transport.  Again, I happily lived with this combo for several months.  I thought this combo was very good, but I just knew there had to be something out there that could make stringed instruments sound like strings, and I also felt that there was probably more bass that I was not getting from this combo.  After reading some posts here at A/C and also at AA, I was starting to wonder if there was a mismatch with the CD-1 as a transport and the Perp Tech gear.  Some posts indicated that while the CD-1 was a great stand-alone player, it was not a great transport.  

So I took the plunge with Empirical and bought a Sony DVP-S7700.  I had it shipped directly to Steve Nugent at Empirical and had his transport mods done.  I got it back, slipped into place and it was one of those jaw dropping “Oh My God” kind of moments.  Strings that sounded like strings, more bass, more delineation between instruments and just a more natural musical presentation.  There was a huge layer of grunge that seemed to disappear that I never really knew was there.  I just don’t understand how the transport can effect the sound in such a dramatic way, but somehow sending the 0’s and 1’s without jitter has a huge impact.  

I happily lived with this for a few months, but when Steve came out with his Superclock II, I bit the bullet and sent my P3A in for the full-boat mods.  Now I can say that I am done with my digital front end.  This baby rocks on any type of music, and I listen to a wide variety.  Absolute lack of grain, totally musical, very detailed without being analytical, extremely natural and a huge soundstage.  I get much more of a sense of the space, hall, club etc… that the piece was recorded in.  I actually get lost in the music now, instead of picking apart the sound of my system.  One of the biggest changes that occurred, and one that I didn’t expect, was the bass.  I have bass that was just never there before.  I have a dual sub setup, and always thought that there should be more bass.  Well now I have it in spades.  When I crank it up, the photo’s on the walls start to shake and rattle.  That never happened before.  I don’t mean in-your-face all-the-time bass, but wonderful, deep tuneful bass that only shows up when it is in the recording.  But if it is in the recording you get all of it.  

I do a lot of listening at night at low levels.  My music room is a second floor bonus room, and my kids rooms are on that floor also.  Low level listening is just great.  While the bass doesn’t shake the pictures on the walls, it is still there as well as all of the other attributes that I spoke about already.  

In conclusion, I am done with digital upgrades.  If you are looking for a great transport and DAC and can afford this combo, you will end up with what I think is a world class combo.  

Thanks Steve for the great work.

P.S. - While both of our names are Steve, there is no relation and no affiliation.

Marbles

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #1 on: 16 Dec 2003, 04:23 pm »
I pretty much agree.

I have heard the Empirical DVP S7700 with the Empirical modded P3a (no superclock) and it was very nice.

Then I heard it with the Superclock and it was superb!  No weakness's that I could hear.  I had to order it, even though it is fairly expensive by my standards.  Since the Superclock2 is supposed to be even better than the Superclock, that's the way I ordered it.  I should have it within 2 weeks.

Steve offers a 21 day demo period with a substantial deposit.

I highly recomend anyone who can afford this DAC and transport combo and are in the market for a digital front end to try it out.

One other bit of house cleaning is that the Digicable has a big impact with this combo and several should be tried for preference.

lonewolfny42

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Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #2 on: 17 Dec 2003, 07:19 am »
Marbles, What other DAC's have you listened to ?  :)  Glad to see EA has a demo trial of their unit ! Thanks ! 8)

Marbles

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #3 on: 17 Dec 2003, 01:20 pm »
Bolder Mensa Plus
Scott Nixon TubeDac with big power supply and Synch filter switch (his latest)
Ack! dAck! (latest version with the big caps)
MSB Link Dac w/Aiwa transport all modded by Stan Warren

All were much less expensive than the Empirical modded P3a.

I did not try any Dac at about the same cost as the modded P3a.  The reason was simple.  I was trying to get the same sound as the modded P3a for less.  When it was clear I couldn't I bought the sound that I really liked.  There may be better Dacs out there for your system, but this one has a synergy with mine that I wasn't going to fight.  I didn't need to try any more Dacs to know the exact sound I wanted from my system, this was it.

My digital front end now sounds just like my analog front end....without the occaisional pops or clicks.   See my "system" in my signature for both setups.

lonewolfny42

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Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #4 on: 17 Dec 2003, 02:38 pm »
Thanks Marbles for the info ! Glad it worked out for you !! :)

audiojerry

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Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #5 on: 17 Dec 2003, 06:07 pm »
The evidence continues to mount for Empirical.
If I can free up the cash, I may have to give the dac/transport a tryout.

It would be a good head-to-head with my digital front-end:
Modwright Level 2 P-3A, stock P-1A, stock Monolithic power supply, but then all 3 pieces were modified by Tritium Electronics called the Tempest Upgrade. I don't know what it involved, but it made things better.  My transport is a Classe CDT-1.

I've been messing with digital cables, but I haven't found any significant differences yet. I'm currently using a cryo treated silver bullet Bolder between transport and P-1A, and the cheapy stock i2s between P-1A and P-3A. I've tried replacements for the i2s, but with no noticeable improvement. Odd.  

I am also a believer that transports can make a big difference. It might be the simple fact that a dedicated transport has less digital electronics inside the box resulting in less noise and cross-talk.

Thanks to the Marbles and jcoat007 for being the point men on this and taking the effort to let the rest of us know.

BeeBop

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #6 on: 17 Dec 2003, 07:41 pm »
Well I suppose I won't get much encouragement for this idea here, but here goes....

I've just bought an unmodded P3-A (to be delivered tomorrow) and I have been mulling over the idea of getting a CD jukebox (say the Sony CP555ES) to use as a transport. I like the idea of sticking a lot of music in there and letting it go for a couple of days. On the other hand, I like good sound better.

Right now I am using a Denon 1600 for CDs, but I want to limit that because I know that after about 3000 hours I'm gonna get the dreaded H02 error. I like the picture the 1600 produces and I want to make it last.

Any comments?

Sa-dono

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Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #7 on: 18 Dec 2003, 09:46 am »
Quote from: audiojerry
I've tried replacements for the i2s, but with no noticeable improvement. Odd.


Out of curiosity, what cables did you try? Also, was this with your current setup? TIA! I'd be interested in your thoughts of how the EA P-3A compares to your Tritium modded P-tech gear a well...if you ever hear it.

Nice review jcoat, btw! One of these days I'm going to have to try out an EA modded P-3A. I'm working on doing some mods on a set first though.

jcoat007

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #8 on: 18 Dec 2003, 12:44 pm »
Quote from: audiojerry
I've been messing with digital cables, but I haven't found any significant differences yet. I'm currently using a cryo treated silver bullet Bolder between transport and P-1A, and the cheapy stock i2s between P-1A and P-3A. I've tried replacements for the i2s, but with no noticeable improvement. Odd


Have you tried the Revelation Audio stuff.  I noticed a marked improvement when I switched to their cables.  I have both the I2s and power cables.  They have a money back guarantee.

zybar

Empirical Audio - Perp Tech P3A w/ Suerclock II
« Reply #9 on: 18 Dec 2003, 12:56 pm »
My Empirical Audio modified Sony S-7700 goes into the big rig tonight.  Based on what I heard while cooking it in the living room system, I am expecting a big improvment over my Sonic Frontiers SFT-1.

Assuming this is the case, the next step will be to try Steve modified P3-A w/ superclock II.  In that case, I will be comparing it to my Electrocompaniet ECD-1 dac.  According to Steve my ECD-1 and P3-A use the same chipset...  So if I like the modified P3-A, I might just have Steve modify the ECD-1.

Stay tuned...

GW

cyounkman

one-piece cdp's and pc's...
« Reply #10 on: 3 Jan 2004, 10:11 pm »
Has anyone compared this or other dacs to any standalone cdp's in the price range? I have a GamuT CD-1, but my upgrade-itis is telling me I should upgrade (or would it be?) to a kick-ass dac driven by a computer with a Lynx or M-Audio card, with all my cd's ripped on a few 200 gb drives.

Any experience using the EA P3-A with pc as a transport?