Never Look Back (or Primare Poser)

ESP2009

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Hello, it's your friendly neighbourhood pillar of salt here. Don't you just hate it when that happens? Just as you think you have everything sorted, you make life ‘interesting' for yourself.

Having gone on my Primare spending spree last week and been happy with what I heard last Friday evening, I set aside this evening to have a listen to various music styles and maybe tinker a little with the connection options I have. Although had I first connected the Primare CD31 to the Primare I30 with the Atlas Titans I purchased recently, there were the Jean Claude Van Damme balanced XLR leads that the vendor kindly included with the Primare kit.

So, with a while to settle down after work and other duties, and before having a bite (to eat) and unleashing the ferrety horde, I quickly set myself up and popped the Lens' A Word In Your Eye into the Primare CD31. The first track starts off with some outrageous bass and electronic weirdness, which the Primare combo handled well, giving a sense of controlled power and clear precision. Sounds good so far. OK, so time to try those XLR thingummies. A new concept to me, so I was wondering what would occur.

Straight away there was a difference, although I am still finding it hard to define. It's almost as if everything gets fine-tuned. Not immensely, but enough to note there is a difference. Listening to Melody Gardot's Who Will Comfort Me? Now I can hear the double bass for what it is much more clearly throughout, rather than periodically as before.

And then, I swear, the [6] made me do it! I hooked up the Marantz CD63 Mk2 KI Sig, via DacMagic, to the I30 (using my Atlas I/Cs) and that's where it's all becoming unravelled. "Don't look back!" That's what they say. Well, I did and now I'm stuck with trying to decide which does sound better! Of course, I will now have to attach the XLRs to the DacMagic for the benefit of the KI Sig. Dammit!

So, with my meal over with, and the ferrets relatively quiesecent after their initial explosion, it's down to some 'serious' listening...
 

Gerrardasnails

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Sep 6, 2007
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ESP2009:
Hello, it's your friendly neighbourhood pillar of salt here. Don't you just hate it when that happens? Just as you think you have everything sorted, you make life 'interesting' for yourself.

Having gone on my Primare spending spree last week and been happy with what I heard last Friday evening, I set aside this evening to have a listen to various music styles and maybe tinker a little with the connection options I have. Although had I first connected the Primare CD31 to the Primare I30 with the Atlas Titans I purchased recently, there were the Jean Claude Van Damme balanced XLR leads that the vendor kindly included with the Primare kit.

So, with a while to settle down after work and other duties, and before having a bite (to eat) and unleashing the ferrety horde, I quickly set myself up and popped the Lens' A Word In Your Eye into the Primare CD31. The first track starts off with some outrageous bass and electronic weirdness, which the Primare combo handled well, giving a sense of controlled power and clear precision. Sounds good so far. OK, so time to try those XLR thingummies. A new concept to me, so I was wondering what would occur.

Straight away there was a difference, although I am still finding it hard to define. It's almost as if everything gets fine-tuned. Not immensely, but enough to note there is a difference. Listening to Melody Gardot's Who Will Comfort Me? Now I can hear the double bass for what it is much more clearly throughout, rather than periodically as before.

And then, I swear, the
made me do it! I hooked up the Marantz CD63 Mk2 KI Sig, via DacMagic, to the I30 (using my Atlas I/Cs) and that's where it's all becoming unravelled. "Don't look back!" That's what they say. Well, I did and now I'm stuck with trying to decide which does sound better! Of course, I will now have to attach the XLRs to the DacMagic for the benefit of the KI Sig. Dammit!

So, with my meal over with, and the ferrets relatively quiesecent after their initial explosion, it's down to some 'serious' listening...

I have always harped on about how balanced cables lifts the DacMagic another notch.
 

ESP2009

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JohnDuncan:Yes, but which has better knobs?

Trick question!

Neither CD31 nor CD63 has knobs!
 

Craig M.

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i was just going to say that mr.snails always says the dm is better through xlr, but he's beat me to it.
a review i read in another mag said it gets rid of the slight brightness and tightens bass, iirc.
 

ESP2009

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Gerrardasnails:I have always harped on about how balanced cables lifts the DacMagic another notch.

Weeeeeeeell, I have just been switching between the Atlas Titans and the XLRs and the difference is...is...er minimal. At least it is with the Marantz. Actually, if push comes to shove I actually prefer the (and dare I say this?) unbalanced. If anything, the XLR takes a tiny something away - the sound becomes just that bit more restrained. This may simply be because the bass becomes a touch fuller...I think.

So, perhaps, it is time to try the same with the Primare CD31...

...and then the Primare CD31 through the DacMagic...

(There may now be a short interlude)
 
T

the record spot

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Or perhaps the XLRs help give a more accurate depiction and less character?
 

John Duncan

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Jan 8, 2008
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You're playing a respected disc transport through a respected dual-mono DAC, using balanced cables, into a stonking amp, and comparing it to a CD player which is great in its own right. I'd expect there to be little or no difference.

Now which one has the better buttons?
 

ESP2009

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the record spot:Or perhaps the XLRs help give a more accurate depiction and less character?

I won't deny that's a possibility, and in which case, it's down to personal preference - as ever. But the flip side is that they may be colouring the sound? It sounds less 'clean'. However, that's my perception and I have more to report...

Removing the Marantz from the equation for a while, I hooked the Primare CD31 up to DacMagic with both Titans and XLRs. I should mention now that the Primare amp allows almost instantaneous switching between standard RCA and balanced inputs.

Still using Melody Gardot, I tried Baby I'm A Fool and Who Will Comfort Me? whilst switching between RCA and balanced options. Three things become apparent:

1. The balanced output continued to add a bit more bass and, to my perception, remove some life and space.

2. I was still very undecided as to which sound I actually prefer (and I extend this to include the Marantz).

3. Becoming obvious at the next step...the DacMagic is better left out of the Primare option, because hooking CD31 directly to I30 opens up the sound quite drastically.

So, having said this, with the direct connection, which sounds better? Well, and here's the rub, with an album like My One and Only Thrill the difference between balanced and unbalanced seems almost imperceptible.
 

chebby

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Jun 2, 2008
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Sell the CD31 and the other CD player (the KI) buy an iMac and an optical cable.

Amuse yourself (and the Ferrets) loading your CDs in lossless to iTunes. You will never look back.

A friend did this (he has a Primare i30 and DacMagic with iMac and ATC SCM11s) in favour of his Rega Apollo.

For months prior to getting the DacMagic he was vehemently against the whole idea of computer based music until he experimented with my old Fubar II USB DAC + Firestone Audio Supplier PSU one weekend. Even that DAC (USB only) was enough to convince him.

He uses XLR balanced connections too.
 

Gerrardasnails

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Sep 6, 2007
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ESP2009:
the record spot:Or perhaps the XLRs help give a more accurate depiction and less character?

I won't deny that's a possibility, and in which case, it's down to personal preference - as ever. But the flip side is that they may be colouring the sound? It sounds less 'clean'. However, that's my perception and I have more to report...

Removing the Marantz from the equation for a while, I hooked the Primare CD31 up to DacMagic with both Titans and XLRs. I should mention now that the Primare amp allows almost instantaneous switching between standard RCA and balanced inputs.

Still using Melody Gardot, I tried Baby I'm A Fool and Who Will Comfort Me? whilst switching between RCA and balanced options. Three things become apparent:

1. The balanced output continued to add a bit more bass and, to my perception, remove some life and space.

2. I was still very undecided as to which sound I actually prefer (and I extend this to include the Marantz).

3. Becoming obvious at the next step...the DacMagic is better left out of the Primare option, because hooking CD31 directly to I30 opens up the sound quite drastically.

So, having said this, with the direct connection, which sounds better? Well, and here's the rub, with an album like My One and Only Thrill the difference between balanced and unbalanced seems almost imperceptible.

have you tried lossless files to DM and xlr to amp? Also worth asking, what is the rrp of the balanced and unbalanced cables you are using? I know price is not the be all and end all, just interested to know. I've used Chord Chameleon RCA and Chord Chorus xlr cables and there was an obvious improvement.
 

ESP2009

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JohnDuncan:You're playing a respected disc transport through a respected dual-mono DAC, using balanced cables, into a stonking amp, and comparing it to a CD player which is great in its own right. I'd expect there to be little or no difference. Now which one has the better buttons?

Hold on, I'll just go have a look...

The KI, cos it's got more?

The Primare, cos they're shiny brushed metal?

With the KI you have more control if the remote gets lost. But the Primare looks classier in a minimalist (Tiger Tank) way.

Oh, go on, it's gotta be the Primare - it looks like serious hi-fi.

And, yes, I fully agree with your trivial remarks about respected transports and all that malarky.
 

ESP2009

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chebby:

Sell the CD31 and the other CD player (the KI) buy an iMac and an optical cable.

Amuse yourself (and the Ferrets) loading your CDs in lossless to iTunes. You will never look back.

A friend did this (he has a Primare i30 and DacMagic with iMac and ATC SCM11s) in favour of his Rega Apollo.

For months prior to getting the DacMagic he was vehemently against the whole idea of computer based music until he experimented with my old Fubar II USB DAC + Firestone Audio Supplier PSU one weekend. Even that DAC (USB only) was enough to convince him.

He uses XLR balanced connections too.

And what am I reading in your signature kit?
 

SteveR750

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Mar 11, 2005
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chebby:
Sell the CD31 and the other CD player (the KI) buy an iMac and an optical cable.

Amuse yourself (and the Ferrets) loading your CDs in lossless to iTunes. You will never look back.

A friend did this (he has a Primare i30 and DacMagic with iMac and ATC SCM11s) in favour of his Rega Apollo.

For months prior to getting the DacMagic he was vehemently against the whole idea of computer based music until he experimented with my old Fubar II USB DAC + Firestone Audio Supplier PSU one weekend. Even that DAC (USB only) was enough to convince him.

He uses XLR balanced connections too.

No..noooonooooo...it's like trying to fly past a black hole.....
 

ESP2009

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Gerrardasnails:have you tried lossless files to DM and xlr to amp? Also worth asking, what is the rrp of the balanced and unbalanced cables you are using? I know price is not the be all and end all, just interested to know. I've used Chord Chameleon RCA and Chord Chorus xlr cables and there was an obvious improvement.

I wondered when someone was going to ask that very question (other than myself) and the truthful answer is that I have not yet checked out the Mussels from Brussels stuff online. However...

Atlas Opera coaxial = £78 down from just under £200 (I think)

Atlas Titan RCA = £110 down from £280-ish (I think)

J C v Damme XLRs = free with Primare but possibly a tenner each? (based on very quick t'interweb search)

So scope for another thread on best balanced I/Cs, eh?
 

ESP2009

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SteveR750:

No..noooonooooo...it's like trying to fly past a black hole.....


Resistance is futile.
 

Gerrardasnails

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Sep 6, 2007
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ESP2009:
Gerrardasnails:have you tried lossless files to DM and xlr to amp? Also worth asking, what is the rrp of the balanced and unbalanced cables you are using? I know price is not the be all and end all, just interested to know. I've used Chord Chameleon RCA and Chord Chorus xlr cables and there was an obvious improvement.

I wondered when someone was going to ask that very question (other than myself) and the truthful answer is that I have not yet checked out the Mussels from Brussels stuff online. However...

Atlas Opera coaxial = £78 down from just under £200 (I think)

Atlas Titan RCA = £110 down from £280-ish (I think)

J C v Damme XLRs = free with Primare but possibly a tenner each? (based on very quick t'interweb search)

So scope for another thread on best balanced I/Cs, eh?


I paid £100 for mine but they retail for more than my DAC!

A slightly unfair comparison maybe? I bet a similar priced pair would give you a lift with Primare pair.
 

ESP2009

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Gerrardasnails:ESP2009:

Gerrardasnails:have you tried lossless files to DM and xlr to amp? Also worth asking, what is the rrp of the balanced and unbalanced cables you are using? I know price is not the be all and end all, just interested to know. I've used Chord Chameleon RCA and Chord Chorus xlr cables and there was an obvious improvement.

I wondered when someone was going to ask that very question (other than myself) and the truthful answer is that I have not yet checked out the Mussels from Brussels stuff online. However...

Atlas Opera coaxial = £78 down from just under £200 (I think)

Atlas Titan RCA = £110 down from £280-ish (I think)

J C v Damme XLRs = free with Primare but possibly a tenner each? (based on very quick t'interweb search)

So scope for another thread on best balanced I/Cs, eh?


I paid £100 for mine but they retail for more than my DAC! A slightly unfair comparison maybe? I bet a similar priced pair would give you a lift with Primare pair.

Well worth a thought. I might have to pay a visit to Music Matters and pay some form of penance for not spending with them!
 

chebby

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ESP2009:And what am I reading in your signature kit?


A CD player I have not used since about November last year, and a Beresford DAC that is used almost constantly for various computer based and DVD/HDD sources like iTunes and iPlayer.

If I had known (and if something like the Naim UnitiQute had been available at the time) my signature would now be vastly different.

Things will be vastly different one day, once I get a chance to sort things out and sell stuff and buy other stuff.
 

ESP2009

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chebby:

Sell the CD31 and the other CD player (the KI) buy an iMac and an optical cable.

Amuse yourself (and the Ferrets) loading your CDs in lossless to iTunes. You will never look back.

A friend did this (he has a Primare i30 and DacMagic with iMac and ATC SCM11s) in favour of his Rega Apollo.

For months prior to getting the DacMagic he was vehemently against the whole idea of computer based music until he experimented with my old Fubar II USB DAC + Firestone Audio Supplier PSU one weekend. Even that DAC (USB only) was enough to convince him.

He uses XLR balanced connections too.

In all seriousness, I hear what you say and admit that I am edging that way - it may not be far away, but in the meantime I am enjoying the direct CD sound as well as Spotify Premium from my USB-only 2006 vintage laptop. When I upgrade the laptop, maybe we will see some further changes.
 

ESP2009

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chebby:

...Things will be vastly different one day...

And that day gets ever closer at an increasing pace...for us all.
 

matthewpiano

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ESP2009:chebby:

...Things will be vastly different one day...

And that day gets ever closer at an increasing pace...for us all.


Not for us ALL!! CD is always going to be my main format and I am as committed to it as I was 10 years ago.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Oh how the black holes know how to find their prey. I'm gagging to try more current up my SA1s, even just for the crack. Glad you're enjoying the Primare kit, I thought you might. The pairing works really well together.

Don't try and solve the matching tonight, live with the I30, CD31 and balanced IC for three months or so and then have another session. Let the ear (and ferrets?!) acclimatise.

You lucky sausage.

EDIT Sod computer audio, at least for now...having heard some top end kit playing my CDs, I can assure you the CD has far more capability than many will ever find out.
 

ESP2009

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OK, back to the original thrust of this wayward thread. I have just changed my signature info to reflect current preferences.

Strange as it may seem, I am seriously considering keeping both the RCA and XLR connections as concurrent options. Listening to a few tracks on different albums, I think it actually depends on the type of music! I need to listen some more, but I am beginning to feel that XLR balanced is suited to particular tracks, whereas the RCA is better with others. As Mr Snails suggests, I might experiment with a higher grade of XLR.

Anyhow, although the Marantz KI Sig gives the Primare CD31 a damn hard race, I do think the latter has the edge...without DacMagic. I have just put Gordon Giltrap's The Dodo's Dream (from As it Happens) into the player as a bit of a swan song before going bedwards and the sound is absolutely gorgeous - it takes what I enjoy about the Marantz and fine tunes it to the point where I need to stop typing and simply listen. G'night.
 

SteveR750

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igglebert:Oh how the black holes know how to find their prey. I'm gagging to try more current up my SA1s, even just for the crack. Glad you're enjoying the Primare kit, I thought you might. The pairing works really well together.Don't try and solve the matching tonight, live with the I30, CD31 and balanced IC for three months or so and then have another session. Let the ear (and ferrets?!) acclimatise.You lucky sausage.EDIT Sod computer audio, at least for now...having heard some top end kit playing my CDs, I can assure you the CD has far more capability than many will ever find out.

You just know you don't really believe that, black holes not only bend light but logic too... Thing is even a boggo standard fugly HP laptop looks like a spaceship compared to my Cyrus, imagine what a wow an iMac would bring to the ownership good feeling party. And to basque in the knowledge that it is truly lossless, with absolutely wholemeal goodness of nowt taken out. No excuses then, only the amp, your speakers and the small matter of room acoustics to sort.
 

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