Topic: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Since getting the (wonderful) RME ADI-2 DAC FS last week my Node2i has been demoted to just network transport. I pass S/PDIF signal from its coaxial and optical (MUTEC) outputs to the ADI-2. Both cables appear to play identically (ie. are fully interchangeble). Today I downloaded Bit Test WAV files, recorded on an USB stick, plugged into Node2i -- and played them -- from Node2i over either cable. Except for 32 bit, all tests pass.
Does this mean that both cables perform perfectly and are exchangeable? (That would be a good thing as I could use the coaxial to get signal out of my CD player (which only has coax, while Node2i has both))

2 (edited by Curt962 2020-01-23 04:07:04)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Congratulations!   

You've just proven that Bit Perfect is indeed Bit Perfect!

There is NO difference.  Use your interconnects in the manner that benefits you the most.

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Thanks for confirming!
As a side note: in the same package from Germany came Sommer Epilogue XLR interconnects. In spite of the theoretical advantage XLR balanced cables have over RCA, my AudioQuest Colorado RCAs sound better. I can keep them or look for better XLR.

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Wow!  AQ Colorados!   Do tell us more!  At a mere $900/mtr, for ALL that Magic..they seem like a bargain. smile    Dielectric Bias System (DBS) ??   Hmmm.   Dielectric is a normal part of Cable Mfr,  but I believe that an ever greater emphasis has been lavished upon the BS aspect!   

Well...I'll trod no further down this path.

Peace Out

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

My goal was to show that high-quality, non-BS cables such as Sommer Epilogue, riding on the superiority of balanced/XLR would beat or at least equal the AQ Colorados, so that I could sell the latter while improving my experience of music. I am deeply ambivalent about AQ because I detest their pricing strategy and mixing truly good engineering with "magic." DBS may stand for "Definite BS." OTOH I wouldn't bet my life on it's only being placebo, would you?  I do have physics training, and studied electronics; because of this background I had resisted more exotic cables for more than 20 years: mistake! I should have tested my belief that all cables should sound the same.
I have bought the AQ Colorados on closeout at Music Direct for $450/m. Still a ridiculous price with cables even at 50% discount costing as much as Fiio M11 player. But... they do sound best so far between my new RME ADI-2 DAC and the MF M6si amplifier! They do not add any coloring or warmth, but they do provide more detail. Some sounds are like drawn with a sharper pencil. If you have a sharply delineated sound and its echo -- both can be heard, adding to a sense of space. On Sommer Epilogue the same sounds are more blended together and the magic is gone. The fact that I can hear this sharp detail when using AQ Colorados tells me that 1) the sound does exist on the original recording, and 2) that the ADI-2 DAC renders it perfectly (unlike the Node2i before). So the Colorado allows the ADI-2 DAC to show its greatness; on Sommer Epilogue that quality is lost. This is NOT the result I wanted to get! If I want to follow MC's advice to use balanced cables, I need something better than Sommer. Or I can simply stop here, and continue with AQ Colorado RCA as the sound is already amazing.

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

I am sure it is all in the mind.

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

willem wrote:

I am sure it is all in the mind.

And what can you possibly mean by that?

8 (edited by N00b 2020-01-23 20:29:27)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

That you can't hear difference between cables: it is pure marketing...
Nobody can differenciate different cables in double blind testing.
For instance:
http://matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm
https://gizmodo.com/james-randi-offers- … ove-305549

Except of course if your cable has a flaw.
Buy decent quality cables: they will last. But don't buy a cable for its sound quality: it's bullshit.

The balanced (XLR) system can be an improvement if you have very long cables (more than 5 or 10 meters).

Check "audioquest snake oil" in Google, it is quite informative...

Here are two nice links that debunk audiophile's myths:
http://www.ohl.to/about-audio/interests
https://translate.google.fr/translate?h … dio_132%2F

You want to improve sound quality: have some good speakers and manage your room (room treatment or room EQ).
Here is a nice thread where we can help with your room EQ:
https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=29041

smile

PS: all the music that you listen has traveled in XLR pro cables (20 or 30$) on the recording site and in the studio... and it is OK wink

ADI-2 DAC (with stock PSU) - Neumann KH 310 A monitors - Cheap USB and XLR cables

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

N00b wrote:

That you can't hear difference between cables: it is pure marketing...
Nobody can differenciate different cables in double blind testing.

Buy decent quality cables: they will last. But don't buy a cable for its sound quality: it's bullshit.

Check "audioquest snake oil" in Google, it is quite informative...

Here are two nice links that debunk audiophile's myths:
http://www.ohl.to/about-audio/interests
https://translate.google.fr/translate?h … dio_132%2F

You want to improve sound quality: have some good speakers and manage your room (room treatment or room EQ).
Here is a nice thread where we can help with your room EQ:
https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=29041

smile

PS: all the music that you listen has traveled in XLR pro cables (20 or 30$) on the recording site and in the studio... and it is OK wink

I can't believe you are writing this... Are you talking from actual personal experience?

Marketing or no marketing, the differences are heard by my guests who simply say what they prefer, without knowing anything about cable companies, prices, etc. Myself, likewise, I'd much prefer to spend less money rather than more.
"it's all in the mind" is true in the trivial sense: all musical/esthetic experience is in the mind. Thus I experience both AQ Colorado and Sommer Epilogue in my mind, and my mind says: "I prefer the detail I hear on AQ." Previously, on stock cables the sound was even worse.   And I do have "some nice speakers."
We wouldn't be here on the RME forum if we didn't care about highest sound quality, would we?

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Hi Ghjuvanni - welcome to the forum.  I’m assuming that this is among your first posts here and I can understand your consternation about people’s reactions to what you feel sure you hear. 

I’m not going to take sides, I’m writing only to let you know that most regulars here are either music professionals or listeners who trust in the scientific method and measurable, repeatable data on differences between components and cables. 

If you hear a difference that justifies the price tag of your AQ cables, that’s great and I hope you enjoy them.  But I just thought you should know that you probably won’t be able to convert anyone else here into believing high end cables improve sound quality over well made, lower cost options. 

RME products are superb, and this forum is at it’s best when people are asking questions based on testable results like your initial post. 

Sorry if I come across in any way patronising, if I do it’s not intended.

All best,

James

11 (edited by ramses 2020-01-23 21:53:47)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

I compared different cables when I bought my Accu / B&W Combination and also 2y later.
Neither better cable at the preamp nor at the power amp bring better sound.

That I was told upfront by people who design electronic devices like preamps.
But I wanted to have peace in mind and try it out myself.

I tried everything up to bi-wiring with cables up to around €1200.
The result is clear, it brings nothing. Simply get good normal cables, thats all that you require.
Especially obscene is the lie about better sound in digital cables if you buy cables from €50 upwards up to €1000,
no matter whether coaxial or optical SPDIF. If you know only a little about digital transmission, then at least this
should be crystal clear.

Most important is a good combination of preamp/amp/monitors. Where monitors and room acustic are kind of critical.
Cables simply require good quality, but no vodoo.

I don't want to argue about it, everyone should do what he wants to do in private and yes, the cables look better most of the time. But what I absolutely can't stand, when this whole stall magic is presented in forums as pseudo-truth and unsuspecting people are driven to spend much money on unnecessary frills.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

@Jas0_0 I am not interested in *converting* anyone, nor am I selling anything. Only reporting on findings for everyone's benefit. When I mentioned my test of yesterday I was seeking advice on folks' experience with balanced interconnects for the ADI-2 DAC.  Please speak only on the basis of personal experience and testing!  As I said before I used to be a "cable skeptic" until last August. I lost years of great sound "thanks" to this skepticism and not even once tested my belief in cable as a commodity.
I also "trust in the scientific method and measurable, repeatable data" and I said previously I have scientific background myself.
Let me repeat: also my friends who know nothing about the cable companies involved nor of the pricing express preferences. They'd use words like "this is more detailed and spacious, I like it more" -- what would you say to them?

When testing speaker cables and interconnects recently, I ordered simple, no-nonsense cables from Blue Jeans Cable. While decent, they were dull and unexciting compared to the alternative, which I am using now. I had to send them back even if I liked their price more. Ironically, I played Patricia Barber's "The thrill is gone" while testing BJC.

Hey! Even power cords make a difference (which some of the folks here must know already). Why they make a difference, I have no idea. I borrowed a Kimber Kable power cord ($300) from a friendly audio dealer here in Cambridge, MA and plugged it in for my Musical Fidelity M6si amplifier. Shockingly, there was a difference: the resulting sound was more relaxed, velvety, veiled. However, neither my friend nor myself really liked that effect: I wouldn't use this cable even if I could have if for free.

I agree with everyone that cables are ridiculously overpriced, and that oftentimes pseudo-science marketing language is used to sell products to naive public.
But the sound quality difference is undeniable! To be sure, the rest of the equipment has to be resolving enough, and you need good ears.
All that said, people may differ in individual preferences: not everybody will choose the same cable, just like people choose different amplifiers, speakers, and headphones. Or -- prefer Pinot Noir to the Bordeaux blend, or vice versa.
Why do interconnects and speaker cables make a difference? I believe the differences lie in extremely small variations of RLC properties of cables not being perfect conductors. Differing materials and metallurgy (eg OCC) will have some effect. If such a cable was used to power a lightbulb, we would not see any difference in the light produced. But our ears are incredibly sensitive to minuscule variations in cable properties -- perhaps hardly measurable with typical lab equipment. Speaking of testability, I am not sure chemical analysis would help anyone tell a better wine from worse. Especially from a single vineyard, say differing only by vintage. And yet discerning people will tell express a preference: again -- smell and taste are very sensitive.

13 (edited by Jas0_0 2020-01-24 04:47:59)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Ghjuvanni you missed my and everyone else’s points entirely.

Won’t waste any more time here.

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Jas0_0 wrote:

Ghjuvanni you missed my and everyone else’s points entirely.

Won’t waste any more time here.

You have indeed wasted time, yours and everybody else's, by not providing useful information, beyond patronising general remarks.

WRT my missing the point: if the point is that me and my friends are hallucinating (in sync), then I haven't so much missed it, but rejected it.

I presented objective facts. The objective fact is that my visitor, who otherwise knows nothing about cables, expresses a preference for one of the two, and describes the preference with words such as "more detail." The same is true about other friends.

Here are more points to consider:

-- why is it generally accepted to throw out stock interconnects that sometimes come w/ equipment?
-- why Sommer cable offers both Galileo and more expensive Epilogue? (is price the only difference?)
-- sometimes 2 cables are practically indistinguishable, pointing to the cheaper of the two as a rational choice
-- sometimes the difference CAN be heard, and by more than one person
--- then it comes down to individual preference and/or price considerations
-- it is true that after the sweet spot diminishing returns begin
-- it does feel that AudioQuest "sells" a lot of BS information and offers overpriced cables
--- at the same time, a lot of AQ cables do sound really good
--- AQ has to be competitive: there are other players out there, and people have a choice
-----they would not sell on the strength of words alone

I too am not interested in investing time in "heated arguments." I wrote the above as points for consideration to readers who find this conversation eg. through Google.
Parting thought: NOTHING replaces actual personal audition!

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Depending on your outlook on these matters, it may (or many not) be worth pointing out that:

1.  Indeed, that your friends did have an opinion is quite likely a statement of fact.

2.  However, your friends' opinions, themselves, are indisputably, and by definition, not facts.

16 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-25 05:39:28)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

rpgroman wrote:

Depending on your outlook on these matters, it may (or many not) be worth pointing out that:

1.  Indeed, that your friends did have an opinion is quite likely a statement of fact.

2.  However, your friends' opinions, themselves, are indisputably, and by definition, not facts.

I meant quite literally that it is the FACT that they said what they said: a behavioral fact, an observation. I did not draw any further objective conclusions as to the cables themselves. To repeat: I observe that they (and me) state preference. We also use words like "I can hear more detail."    That's it.

Addendum to clear any possible misinterpretation. Imagine you have a store, and you empirically observe that most people come and buy product X. That's the empirical fact, even if you think that product Y is better, or equivalent. In practice, however, they happen to choose X.  However strong your beliefs that X = Y are, you somehow need to accommodate the observation.

17 (edited by vinark 2020-01-25 12:11:09)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Fact is that these observations are notoriously unreliable when put to the (blind) test. No one is able to choose/recognize when they don't know what they are choosing. A big blind amp test showed no preference at all. And amps are seen as more important then cables.

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
Babyface pro fs, HDSP9652+ADI-8AE, HDSP9632

18 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-25 13:34:00)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

What I just realized is that this being the official RME Forum will not discuss products from other companies. Similarly when I bought the Musical Fidelity amplifier and asked them about speaker cable recommendations they politely sent me to my audio dealer. Well, I can distinguish between the two cables I am currently comparing -- on compositions intimately known to me, knowing what to look for.
When exposed to an unknown piece, especially not containing details (think of a smooth wall compared to a wall made of stone), I'd think that the original WAV/FLAC is smooth. BTW, what about all of us who upgraded some part of their equipment and now hear qualitatively new sounds for the first time (echoes, fingers on strings) in pieces played hundreds of times before?
If a big blind test shows effective equivalence among a set of amplifiers, the consequence of that is that everybody should buy the cheapest of them while the rest should definitely go bankrupt. Have such tests been done for DACs?

19 (edited by ramses 2020-01-25 13:41:50)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

@all (including myself):

Such topics about "cable quality" have been causing discord for many years, no matter where these discussions are held, whether in forums or in the trade press, and there is no end in sight.

In this otherwise very peaceful and factual forum, we have already had the painful experience not so long ago that such topics tend to be discussed emotionally and all too easily degenerate into heated discussions and even disputes.

No party can convince the other. In the end all forum participants are the losers, because it leads to nothing but unrest and discord here in the forum.

Hence my serious recommendation to let the topic rest better on itself, so that the waves do not build up again unnecessarily. In the end, it will be useless. I also fell into this trap again and will withdraw completely from this thread after my really only well-intentioned appeal.

I appeal to all those involved, please do not pursue this issue for the sake of peace, it will not lead to any good.

If you are interested in such cable discussions, then there are already enough other Hi-Fi and high-end forums where you can hold them.

But there is nothing RME product-specific about this topic, which would require a discussion here, given the already known undesirable "side effects".

Many thanks for your cooperation upfront.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

I agree with you @ramses 100%!  I am very new to audio discussions, if not new to audio, and I didn't realize that this is such a controversial topic. Similar to whether climate change is real, or current political struggles in some countries including (my native) Poland, (my current) USA, or Great Britain.

On a constructive note related to RME Bit Test, it would be cool if RME could place the Bit Test "album" on Qobuz/Tidal. That would allow people to compare/verify different transports. By compare I mean see which transports pass the test.

21 (edited by Curt962 2020-01-25 17:24:32)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

+1

Might I just go a bit further, and Commend Ramses, and numerous others for their Superb Command of the English Language!

Were only my German so good.

Curt

Ghjuvanni?   Ich bin etwas Kaczuby. smile

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Curt962 wrote:

Ghjuvanni?   Ich bin etwas Kaczuby. smile

Do you mean Kaszuby?
As in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kashubia ?

23 (edited by Curt962 2020-01-25 22:52:43)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Ahhh...sorry. My spelling was a bit "off" , but indeed, those Kaszuby are the ones. 

See?  In spite of all, we find a bit of commonality!   This Forum is home to some VERY knowledgeable persons, from whom there is much to be learned.    Won't you please join in, and enjoy!!  smile

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

24 (edited by Basken 2020-01-25 23:38:55)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Hi Ghjuvanni!

Welcome to the forum - despite it being a little rough!

Just to elaborate on your initial questions:

You do not need to worry about 32bit audio; SPDIF via coax / optical cables only carries 24 bits of information, so you're all good!

As far as the RCA vs. XLR discussion goes, you might be right - and wrong at the same time. XLR requires a bit of circuitry at both ends, and depending on the implementation there might be a level difference between those two "pathways" - or possibly a major one, if little care has been taken to match the levels input-wise! And - if there ever was a thing that can be reliably identified in a test - it's (a tiny) level differences! So - you might have a point .. but for different reasons that you might expect!

As far as the influence of cabling goes, there is no physical difference between the wires running in an XLR cable vs. an RCA - and this is the point people are eager to make, despite jumping the gun on your experience .. which is unfortunate!

If you really want to get to the bottom of this, we need a to measure a test-signal from each output signal-chain, to see if the levels match! Our ears are a terrible point of measurement - but a great source of opinion! <3 ..

Best,
Rune

Rune Borup @ FishCorp
Producer / Engineer / Composer
RayDAT > 2 x ADI-8 QS | AES+SPDIF > ADI-2 Pro

25 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-25 23:25:24)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Curt962 wrote:

Ahhh...sorry. My spelling was a bit "off" , but indeed, those Kaszuby are the ones. 

See?  In spite of all, we find a bit of commonality!   This Forum is home to some VERY knowledgeable persons, from whom there is much to be learned.    Won't you please join in, and enjoy!!  smile

Curt

I am sure there is a lot of commonality, eg. with respect to the music we listen to. And if you are Curt962 then I am Jacek960 :-)

I am very new to audio forums because only last Summer I started some radical changes to my system after years of changing nothing at all. I really forgot that this is an official, formal forum to support RME products, and therefore it will stay away from potential recommendations and controversial topics. Jetzt verstehe ich!
But it was you who dragged me into this whole discussion with this: "Wow!  AQ Colorados!   Do tell us more!  At a mere $900/mtr, for ALL that Magic..they seem like a bargain"

On a humorous note...

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Basken wrote:

Hi Ghjuvanni!

Welcome to the forum - despite it being a little rough!

...
Best,
Rune

Thanks Rune!

I just changed line out reference level to +1dB, as XLR out adds 6dB, to achieve the recommended +7dB.
WRT to cable construction, you can have copper strands, or solid conductor, etc. But I don't want to return to the topic of cable sound comparison on this forum.
I enjoy the DAC very much and continue to praise it:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ … ml/reviews

Cheers,
--Jacek

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Jacek,

See?  We've brought Basken into the discussion!  He has long been the Voice of Reason, and his insightful commentaries should be duly noted!

It's wonderful that you are pleased with your ADI-2,   Know that SOMEONE in this group can assist you with virtually any question that might arise in the future.

Best,

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

28 (edited by Basken 2020-01-26 01:59:23)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

.. well - except for a few posts .. eg. (https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.ph … 29&p=3) - Basken has been a helpful guy. I enjoy sharing knowledge, yet i'm easily triggered by empirical mis-information.

I've previously posted the very same xkcd meme out of frustration (as a closing "argument") .. quite pointless!

Yet point being -

Acoustics: the least sexy thing you can spend your money on, yet the most significant upgrade you could ever decide upon! There are fundamental issues that absolutely no DAC or speaker will fix for you; yet the cost of fancy cable could easily cover the cost of acoustics ..

Anway - let me add something of *real* value to this discussion:

There used to be a website by the name of ******* .. a private bittorrent site having every significant album release available in flac for download. Lots of exotic vinyl-rips but most of all the digital cd-rips .. from the time when AD/DA sounded terrible, but cds were made directly from transfers of the master tape ..

.. go look for these albums at your 2. hand store if you care about dynamics! <3 ..

Rune Borup @ FishCorp
Producer / Engineer / Composer
RayDAT > 2 x ADI-8 QS | AES+SPDIF > ADI-2 Pro

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

This is a Fun Resource!

http://dr.loudness-war.info/


Further,  our thread "Recommended Reading for EQ" has been an endless source of fun for many.

When one sees the REAL Acoustic Mayhem that is happening,...DAC filters, Cables, etc seem so meaningless. smile

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Basken wrote:

.. well - except for a few posts .. eg. (https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.ph … 29&p=3) - Basken has been a helpful guy. I enjoy sharing knowledge, yet i'm easily triggered by empirical mis-information.

There used to be a website by the name of ******* .. a private bittorrent site having every significant album release available in flac for download. Lots of exotic vinyl-rips but most of all the digital cd-rips .. from the time when AD/DA sounded terrible, but cds were made directly from transfers of the master tape ..

.. go look for these albums at your 2. hand store if you care about dynamics! <3 ..

Thanks for pointing me to the previous interesting, if heated, discussion :-)
Website name got starred, you may need to use the Link control from above the editor window

--J

31 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-26 17:40:53)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Here is my update posted to Audiogon.
BTW, I suggest adding one sentence to the Manual that for some amplifiers, such as Musical Fidelity, one should consider setting the Reference Level to +1dB to tame the voltage sent to the amp.

Update. Please read my original post to see what I had been trying to achieve. It turned out, the problem was not with the new cable but with output reference level setting on the RME ADI-2 DAC. The manual recommends +7dB setting for HiFi; it also informs that XLR is by 6dB louder. I did set +7dB and it was great for the RCA. However, balanced was not simply just louder, it was also distorted. Someone on a Polish audio forum, and at about the same time on the official RME forum (after long and heated discussions about voodoo, magic, illusions, etc.)  finally suggested adjusting the reference level correspondingly; I set it to +1dB so it is +7 again with the XLR boost. I didn't think about it myself not having prior experience with balanced connection; I thought that this +6dB is something specific to XLR, and that both the DAC and the amp will be in agreement about this higher level. Well, this is not so for the MF M6si!
Now with the +1dB setting the Sommer Epilogue XLR sounds fantastic! I have yet to compare it back to AQ Colorado RCA (with reference level back to +7dB). But the sound is already detailed, spacious, dynamic, not colored -- just as I wanted, so perhaps I shouldn't mess with this topic anymore :-)   I don't know if Acoustic Zen Silver Reference can beat my current sound appreciably.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/ … -xlr-cable

32 (edited by ramses 2020-01-26 18:56:23)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

A housewife is much more flexible to manage her household.
Why ? She doesn't need an extra table, how long she has to fry a steak, depending on how thick it is
or which buttons you might have to press on the washing machine, depending on how dirty the clothes are ;-)

What else is there to fill a manual with, which most people don't read anyway, thus obscuring the really important things wink

There will always be some devices that are a little different.

Has a guitarist ever complained about his amp distorting too much?
He turns down the poti on guitar and/or the amp and thats it.
Guitarists must be real genius, because there are usually even more potis to turn (effects, etc) which alter the sound.

Now such an ADI-2 has a volume potentiometer AND a switch for different output powers, and we men, the crown of creation, who are concerned about quality and are scientists in selecting proper $1000 cables and what not
capitulate to this and need a table for such a trivial task ? Come on wink

Isn't it perhaps comparable to the accelerator pedal and the gear shift of a car. You have to change gears before it crunches. Strangely enough, most people know how to do this when driving a car, ok most wink

I predict another 20 years of Internet and pay TV and people won't be able to drive a car anymore ;-)
Wonderful, finally no more traffic jams ! Amen ;-)

Any other issue ? wink

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

ramses wrote:

Any other issue ? wink

Yes. Reflection. Post Mortem.

I reflect how quickly, immediately, this discussion turned away from the territory of the eventual answer ("XLR? Hmm... what amp do you have? Try setting +1dB. Me: Oh, wow! Big thank you!") to the much more exciting discussion of controversial topics: irony: "Wow!  AQ Colorados!   Do tell us more!  At a mere $900/mtr, for ALL that Magic", philosophy: "I am sure it is all in the mind.", and more, and then some more. But don't feel bad as the identical pattern was followed on the Polish forum: it was about illusion, snake oil, audiophile myths, and much more, until one smart recording engineer from Poznań quickly figured out the simple answer. And @Basken here did the same, at about the same time.
But that's cool, I don't have a problem: I met interesting people, learned a lot, and bottom line: I enjoy sound so much, I can't stop listening :-)
Currently: Ricardo Villalobos "Re: ECM", amazing recording!

https://www.ecmrecords.com/catalogue/14 … loderbauer

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Here!    Spinal Tap dispels ALL Mysteries. smile

https://youtu.be/4xgx4k83zzc

Enjoy!

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

ramses wrote:

What else is there to fill a manual with, which most people don't read anyway,

This one people do read!

And I noticed how volume settings go to 11!

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Serious again and thanks that you seem to have a certain sense of humor ;-)

My point here is simply that IMHO it makes no sense for a vendor to maintain a table of preamp volume settings.

1st of all you can not check everything on your own, too many devices out there on the market.
As a result you would need to enter information based on hearsay.
The next one disagrees with the settings.
Products could either change or might even have a variance.
There could be errors during transmission of information.
If something bad might happen based on wrong values - depending on the law in a country - you could even be sued.

You see already what happens if RME makes a proposal that should work for most HiFi equipment. As soon as there is one exception to a rule of thumb somebody is dissatisfied and wants RME to maintain a list of settings for 3rd party devices.

This makes all no sense.

But if you want you can surely write a blog article from end user perspective and maintain such a list of devices, but then you also take responsibility and if people disagree with your proposed settings, then you have to discuss the issues with them. Much fun !

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

37 (edited by Curt962 2020-01-26 23:00:57)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Jacek,

Here's a handy Calculator Tool to assist in choosing a Ref Level appropriate for your Amplifier.

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-db-volt.htm

Alternatively, one COULD simply select "Auto-Ref" and let the ADI-2 DAC do the Math.   Maybe it's just me, but Auto-Ref simply seems easier. smile

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes

38 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-26 23:02:28)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Please do not reject my suggestion re: manual. That would have saved a lot of time and frustration (and some fun). I do not mean a table for all possible amplifiers. Just a suggestion would be sufficient. After the solution has been found, I searched this forum just to see if I could have found the solution sooner, and I did find discussions about XLR and reference levels. This issue will happen in the future too as this DAC becomes more popular. If people use +7dB RL and XLR, they may run into my issue. This is my first encounter with the XLR ever.

On a separate note, I took a lot of fire on both forums about "audiophile BS marketing" as if I was a writer of those or a naive reader. But please note that it was advice on the web and marketing that led me to RME in the first place :-)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Setting the output to a higher reference level is like increasing the volume. Its logic, that distortion happens if you overload "the other side". But then simply choose a lower level ...

You can even use the very cool feature of autoreflevel to find out the optimum reference level for the unit.
Turn the volume down and then slowly increase the volume at the ADI-2 *.
You will see on the display which Reference Level is currently active.
You will hear the relay when it switches automatically to the next higher (louder) reference level for optimum conversion quality.

By this you easily see which level is active when distortion happends.
Then you turn down the volume a little bit and thats it.

If the distorting happens very early at the beginning of the next reference level, then I think it would be a good idea, to switch back one level. Because after changing to fix reference level, then you can use levels up to 0dB or even leave a little headroom (-2 dB).

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

In my case the "distortion" didn't really sound like real distortion or I would have heard it; perhaps I shouldn't have used this word. It was more like overexposed photo with smaller/compressed dynamic range. The detail was partly gone. I am glas this Polish recording engineer identified the problem, or I would have wasted more time and money -- thinking that the problem is with the cable. I didn't know Sommer (Epilogue) but I remember underwhelming results with stock cables, so I suspected cable. I don't want to reopen "heated discussions" but I have truly experienced significant progress going from stock to Monoprice to Audioquest. Anybody who says it is only in my mind, is welcome to use whatever they please.

41 (edited by ramses 2020-01-27 00:53:30)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Its hard for me to understand what problems you have there.
From what I understand from you the type of cables have not much to do with it.
Level matching is something which is simply required.
In the studio this is a normal process.
HiFi people do not seem to be used to it.
Now you have a device of a quality which makes something like level matching required.
(because there are other devices which have issues with higher levels).
Now you simply need to get used to this process. Thats all.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

ramses wrote:

Its hard for me to understand what problems you have there.
All I can tell you that different cables are the least of your problems.

I don't have any more problems; I am all set.

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

I rephrased, please re-read.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H1, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

ramses wrote:

I rephrased, please re-read.

My problem with the reference level mismatch leading to poor sound quality is solved (by a faculty member at http://international.amu.edu.pl/).

I am really glad I asked the question on the Polish https://www.audiostereo.pl/ forum! There an expert (studio recording engineer and university faculty) solved the puzzle quickly -- while folks on this forum wasted no time hijacking the discussion into irrelevant territory: favorite sparring with "audiophile myths", complete with irony, patronizing, undermining my hearing sound differences, etc.

As RME ADI-2 DAC FS will be used outside of the strictly professional audio community you will need to interact with "mere mortal" audiophiles like me, who have all sorts of audiophile amplifiers, cables, speakers, and headphones. Hopefully this exchange will help you be more effective next time :-)

Please consider adding another sentence to the manual (page 63) where the +7 dBu RL setting is recommended for HiFi systems. That sentence may sound something like: "when using XLR, consider setting RL to +1 dBu."

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Well, the best reference level setting is going to be system dependent, so I'd suggest that, really, RME's +7 recommendation is just a place to start.  For instance, the folks at Benchmark Media (who many hold in as high regard as RME) recommend that, going into one of their great AHB2 amps,  the ADI-2 DAC's ref level be set at +13 (which will give +19 for XLR).

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Ghjuvanni wrote:

..  folks on this forum wasted no time hijacking the discussion into irrelevant territory: favorite sparring with "audiophile myths", complete with irony, patronizing, undermining my hearing sound differences, etc.

There is definitely a lesson to be learned for everybody. I do think i can pinpoint where the "fire started" so to speak:

Ghjuvanni wrote:

in the same package from Germany came Sommer Epilogue XLR interconnects. In spite of the theoretical advantage XLR balanced cables have over RCA, my AudioQuest Colorado RCAs sound better. I can keep them or look for better XLR.

.. which kind of makes it look like a cable-brand discussion, instead of RCA vs. XLR on your particular equipment. I feel confident the forum will take notice and start "troubleshooting" form a different angle in the future.

On a side note - the output level on the XLRs that gave you trouble would not be considered "hot" or excessive in a pro-audio context, where XLR has its main usage. I dug up the manual for your MF M6si amplifier, and it doesn't really recommend an input level, so with that in mind i do find it questionable (from a design perspective) that using XLRs at very reasonable and expected levels yields a degraded response.

Best,
Basken

Rune Borup @ FishCorp
Producer / Engineer / Composer
RayDAT > 2 x ADI-8 QS | AES+SPDIF > ADI-2 Pro

47 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-27 19:51:23)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Basken wrote:
Ghjuvanni wrote:

.
On a side note - the output level on the XLRs that gave you trouble would not be considered "hot" or excessive in a pro-audio context, where XLR has its main usage. I dug up the manual for your MF M6si amplifier, and it doesn't really recommend an input level, so with that in mind i do find it questionable (from a design perspective) that using XLRs at very reasonable and expected levels yields a degraded response.

Przemek (Ślużyński) on the audiostereo.pl forum started with the basic observation that since on the MF M6si the XLR cable played louder, then the amp was not attenuating the extra 6 dBu (I'd need to find his exact words and translate them). I my naïveté, not having prior experience with XLR, I assumed -- well, louder is louder, I can always adjust the potentiometer on the amp, but it turned out that the amp was getting too much voltage for its optimal operation (like overexposed photo). The end result for me, after volume adjustment, was a sub-high-end sound, worse than what I was getting from AQ on RCA. But not dramatically worse, hence I didn't think myself about what he thought. No clipping, no obvious distortion...

Actually, Google Translate did a surprisingly good job!

Here are Przemek's words translated to English:

In this particular case you are probably right - an amplifier connected to the converter with a balanced connector plays worse than connected with an unbalanced connector. Only for this application you have to make many assumptions, and the most important is that apart from manually setting the level of the amplifier is ok in terms of its capabilities. Adi is in the audiophile standard of levels, i.e. the level at the unbalanced output is 6 instead of 12dB lower than on the symmetrical output. If in your connection the symmetrical combined amplifier sounds louder, it means that it has the same level of symmetrical and unbalanced input (unfortunately, fairly common practice of manufacturers). This Adi is not a high level demon, but it can give + 19dBu on a balanced output. It really is a lot and it does not necessarily guarantee optimal working conditions of the pre-amplifier stage, but rather guarantees adverse working conditions. This is 20V between peak. Even +13 is more than an audiophile standard. Did you include all this? Have you tested at lower output levels too? Adi has a level jump of 6dB, maybe it is worth snapping and not turning the knob during comparisons ...

BTW, I am curious why the +6dBu on balanced output?

48 (edited by Basken 2020-01-28 00:52:02)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Ghjuvanni wrote:

BTW, I am curious why the +6dBu on balanced output?

In a differentially balanced connection, which is what we are usually talking about in pro-audio, you have three wires: a positive signal, a negative signal and a ground. At the endpoint you invert the polarity of the negative signal and sum it with the positive, which as a result will double the loudness - which equals +6dB. The dB scale is logarithmic, so +12dB is twice as loud as +6dB and again +18dB is twice as loud as +12dB.

edited this section in:
A lot of pro-audio gear have so called servo-balanced inputs, which (leaving out the technical explanation) means that the signal level will remain identical regardless of the connection being balanced or unbalanced. Given your problems, it would seem that your amp is engineered in a way, where you can reach the maximum usable output of the amp from levels commonly used in the audiophile world over unbalanced connections like RCA - and hence the XLR inputs should probably have been attenuated 6dB to yield identical results, which is what your friend from the other forum pointed out in his reply.
end edit

The advantage of using balanced connections is most obvious in something like a long cable run from a microphone, which is a very very low level signal compared to line level. The signal might be subjected to interference along the way (maybe from a power-supply or something) *BUT* the interference will present itself identically in both the positive and negative wire - and once you invert the negative signal at the end, the noise will cancel itself out - so .. that's the general idea smile

A more comprehensive (and certainly more accurate smile ) read can be found here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balanced_audio

Rune Borup @ FishCorp
Producer / Engineer / Composer
RayDAT > 2 x ADI-8 QS | AES+SPDIF > ADI-2 Pro

49 (edited by Ghjuvanni 2020-01-28 02:51:14)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

How balanced connection works I know, hence my fascination with getting it finally at home.  WRT +6dBu, however, it looks on the attached ADI-2 block diagram as if signal gets a boost of 6 dB still in the DAC, not at the amplifier end as the result of summing non-inverting/positive and inverted inverting/negative signals.

http://aws-cf.caradisiac.com/prod/photos/2/8/2/5282/7159928/big-7159928d42.jpg

50 (edited by Curt962 2020-01-28 04:04:46)

Re: Bit test on Bluesound Node2i and two types of digital cable

Jacek,

That 6db Block in the Diagram occurs by the very nature of the Diff Balanced Circuit.

It is surely NOT 6db added on top of that which occurs simply by the summation of the +/- Signals.  That would be pointless.

Don't misunderstand.  If were merely Summed +/-...we would have nothing.   One of the + or - is inverted, and THEN summed.  Thus we get 6db Voltage Gain, and any induced Noise in the signal gets the Shaft, and is cancelled.

If you have some time, wade through this thread where we delved into Gain Staging.   Thus allowing the ADI-2 DAC to operate at it's Optimal SNR. 

https://forum.rme-audio.de/viewtopic.php?id=27767

Curt

Vintage 2018 ADI-2 DAC. "Classic AKM4490 Edition"
Cables:  Red, and White Ones.
Speakers:  Yes