Changing more than 1 variable in your system at a time...

When I get a new piece of gear, I like to, and nearly always swap it and only it into my system. Then I get to draw conclusions on that piece of gear. This is probably what most of you do as well. Sometimes, for whatever reason, this does not happen.

Yesterday was one of those days. I had been running (for about 3 weeks) Onkyo DV-CP702>Acoustic Research Master Series Silver Coax>Schiit Bifrost 4490>El Cheapo RCA>Denon POA-2800>El Cheapo 12 AWG>Carver Amazing Silver MK4.

I got some new (used) speaker cables and interconnects yesterday. Turns out the Denon does not accept bananas so it was time to swap in the Kyocera A-910 which I have owned for a while but have not listened to a lot. It is a sweet sounding amp as good as any amp I have heard, in "personal preferences/6 of one/half a dozen of the other territory".

Recently Ive been trying a lot of amps with these speakers (83 dB efficiency, 750 W) and while I do consider the Denon "worthy" of powering these speakers, if 100 audiophiles were blind A/B tested with the Denon and the Forte Model 3, another 200 W amp, I do not see this as falling into "preferences territory" with many, I could see perhaps 92-98 of them picking the Forte. Nice amp though and good power, not dogging it at all. The Forte is just a super amp IMHO, really clean, great everything, and lots of power. If I had to strive to see where someone might fault it, the only thing I can think of is that it sounds "too clean". If that can even be considered a fault.

I ended up buy a few new (used) speaker and interconnect cables recently. The Black Cat Lectraline speakers are banana and I did not realize the Denon does not accept banana. So in addition to swapping the Denon POA-2800 for the Kyocera A-910, I also swapped in the Lectraline speaker cables (which are silver, not copper like my prior cables, another variable), and an Audioquest Black Mamba II for the el cheapo RCAs.

Whoa!!! Noticeably better sounding than yesterday and clearly not in "personal preferences" territory. While I do feel most of it is due to the amp swap (the Kyocera sounds better than the Denon, clearly not "personal preferences territory" IMHO), I have some more experimenting to do to figure things out. I recently upgraded my system and it "next, next leveled" my previous system (Ive been playing around with amps, the regular amps that power these are Innersound 750W monos, thanks to Mr. McGinty:) and The Haven :))I had done a lot of cable comparisons (interconnect and speaker) in the past and concluded that other than Audiotruth Lapisx3 and Audiotruth Emeraldx3(silver vs. copper), I could not tell any difference in cables from uber el cheapo interrconnect ($3)to Harmonic Technology Truthlink 2 single crystal or from 16 awg Scoshe from the car stereo dept at Wal Mart, ($7/50ft) to Tara Labs Time and Space Quantum IV.

More experimenting to do to sort this out. But I am open once again to the idea that maybe I can hear cable differences with this new setup. Looking forward!

Ever change more than one variable in your system at once, get great results, then realize you have more experiments to do to draw conclusions? :chin

 
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Ever change more than one variable in your system at once, get great results, then realize you have more experiments to do to draw conclusions?
I had that with my phono stage last year (or the year before)--I had a cartridge I liked but was very low output. My one phono stage was noisy or rather, because it was at its highest gain setting which still was not enough for the cartridge, there was a lot of "amplifier noise." Not a fault of the phono stage.

I then got a deal (finally!) on a phono stage to match the rest of my C-J components while simultaneously trying a SUT (phono stage is only for higher-output carts). I also found a used phono interconnect, and bought matching interconnects for SUT to phono stage, and phono stage to preamp. I definitely didn't like the combination--I now had different noise (hum/EMI), and the bass was weak. I messed with a few things including replacing all the tubes in the phono stage. I even considered finding the very rare C-J pre-preamplifier for the phono stage, but the only one I saw in recent years I let go without making an offer on. (Plus, it's silly to have to house yet another component in the rack.)

Finally I dumped the SUT nonsense, and the low-output, cartridge and went to a Nagaoka MP-500--much, much better. Noise is low, the bass is back, the rhythmic drive I missed with MC cartridges had returned, and I'm not worried about trashing a $1k or $2k cartridge. I can finally live with the sound I'm getting.

I was about ready to try a process of elimination with all the interconnects, swapping in the original phono stage, etc., but thankfully I accidentally fell into a good sound by upgrading to the Nagaoka and dumping the SUT. With my other half home all the time, I can't crank it up to make comparisons like I used to.

Now I have an ART7 and XX2, and a Phonomena II+ phono stage, to sell eventually...the SUT is going straight in the trash.
 
I can usually only afford one thing at a time, so my phono stage incident was a rarity. With cables and interconnects, I may replace a few at a time but otherwise, it's a single component that gets upgraded.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The problem with evaluating one thing at a time is that some things work with some things, and some things don't. Though after awhile I think its possible to get familiar enough with each thing, whatever it is, to a point where you can think "you know, I bet this would match well with this." That said the first of your amps I'd personally have tried running would be that Kyocera. But I have a thing for really nice integrated amps.
 
I made a subtle change yesterday, but won't really be able to hear it much until I have the place to myself. I had a couple of gift card refunds, plus a pending return, that covered the cost of two sets of IsoAcoustics Gaia IIIs for the speakers. They showed up yesterday and I installed them in the evening. I normally listen at lower volumes, so anything too apparent isn't going to be that noticeable. But I'd started off with Deodato's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the opening has some low synthesized 32.7Hz tones (C1 on the scale, for the musical types here) that aren't too audible, but they are there. What I noticed was that those tones came out a lot more easily on the new supports. I didn't try the song "A" from Awase (Nik Bartsch's Ronin), which has some clear 29Hz (B-flat 0) tones in it.

I had to drag up the two marble slabs the previous owner gave me with the speakers, as these are on carpet and I don't yet have the carpet spikes for the Gaias. The speakers are also at least four inches higher thanks to the combination with the marble slab and supports.

I remember how my Vandersteen 2CEs tightened up once I used the proper stands, spiked to the floor (concrete slab beneath), which is why I have been wanting to upgrade the feet on the current pair.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
I just did this exact thing, I'll start another thread about it though. I have no idea what's causing what so I have to work backwards. lol
 
I just did this myself. Was trying to evaluate a major change in my system (dbx 360 active crossover ) and also slid in some Acoustic Zen Hologram II speaker cables . It wasn't until i pulled the 360 out that I realized what the AZs were doing. I like them a lot actually...my first real foray into serious speaker cable.
 

Tedrick

Junior Member
I'm guilty of this, as well. Got a new amp and pre-amp lately, and swapped them in at the same time. The new amp also permitted me to go back to a bi-wire setup, so changed that too. At this point, all I know is it sounds damn good, but couldn't possibly tell which component is doing what for the sound.
 

adaug

Awaiting Updated Member Status.
More experimenting to do to sort this out. But I am open once again to the idea that maybe I can hear cable differences with this new setup. Looking forward!

this and what johnvf said above are what make evaluation of components/tubes/interconnects so time-consuming, complex and subjective. and possibly fun (its certainly fun when sweet spots are found and new levels are achieved). everything matters. there is no such thing as "best" across the board. and one change can change relationships around it. i'd say YES, with the new system in place, the observations you made before about cables wont be valid until re-evaluated in the new setting. and hopefully you will find some synergies.
 
I think what we are discussing here is are "reductionist" and "systems" approaches. Both have value, and I think generally complementary. It is the system we end up listening through.
 
Every comment herein has great insights into complexities/interrelationships of systems. But you know what I like the most so far - no one has mentioned "well you possibly can't be hearing anything better than another without measurements to prove it"! That's why I like this group.

The silver cable peaked an interest (glad you inserted that tidbit) and went to one of my favorite cable makers - DH Labs - and looked at the affordable (speaker) cable for me vs the top of the line. Top of the line is all silver. Shit - so now I have to fork over $4500 for all silver cable now? Thanks alot
 
I kind of have the inverse of the one-variable-at-a-time situation. Over the past week or two, my system suddenly sounds....not so good. And I have no clue what it is, as of yet. Thought the cartridge was mistracking; thought maybe I'd damaged records by cleaning them. Nope. I'm hearing it on digital playback also.

So it's going to be the process of elimination, once I get the energy to move a few things in the room so I can get to the back of the system and crawl around swapping cables and components in and out. Even down to vacuum tubes. It could be a tube, although the problem seems to be across both channels. And I have to try to resist the temptation of changing more than one variable at a time to find the culprit.
 
Quick wrap-up of that last post--I took a wild (and slightly educated) guess and swapped in the original pair of 5751s on the power amp, and the sound seems to be restored. The originals are GE JAN 5751s. I had the new production Tung-Sol 5751s since early May 2017, shortly after I bought the amp, so they were probably due for replacement anyways. It's interesting how quickly they went bad, though. I would have expected them to gradually go bad, but it seems as though over the course of a day or two, they degraded quite a bit (more so the left tube).

My "educated" guess? The Mullard M8080/CV4058 tubes in the preamp were change a year and a half ago, and the past M8080s I've used have proven to be very durable--the last pair I swapped out wasn't even sounding bad. In the power amp, the 6CG7/6FQ7 tubes are Brimar, and per Uncle Kevvie (where I bought them), he rarely ever sees these wear out. The KT120s were also questionable since they were also purchased in May 2017--I have no idea of their lifespan, but I would guess they are getting near replacement. That only left the 5751s, and those were apparently the culprits.
 

airdronian

Radar Member
Quick wrap-up of that last post--I took a wild (and slightly educated) guess and swapped in the original pair of 5751s on the power amp, and the sound seems to be restored. The originals are GE JAN 5751s. I had the new production Tung-Sol 5751s since early May 2017, shortly after I bought the amp, so they were probably due for replacement anyways. It's interesting how quickly they went bad, though. I would have expected them to gradually go bad, but it seems as though over the course of a day or two, they degraded quite a bit (more so the left tube).

My "educated" guess? The Mullard M8080/CV4058 tubes in the preamp were change a year and a half ago, and the past M8080s I've used have proven to be very durable--the last pair I swapped out wasn't even sounding bad. In the power amp, the 6CG7/6FQ7 tubes are Brimar, and per Uncle Kevvie (where I bought them), he rarely ever sees these wear out. The KT120s were also questionable since they were also purchased in May 2017--I have no idea of their lifespan, but I would guess they are getting near replacement. That only left the 5751s, and those were apparently the culprits.
I tried a pair of the reissue Tung-Sol 12au7/6189 as they label it, in an integrated amp I had at the time. One died after 3 or 4 months IIRC. Not a fan.
 
I can't complain--I have almost four years on these 5751s. Then again, one of my NOS Mullard M8080s was noisy within a week of buying it (from the UK). I asked the seller if I could buy a single tube, and they offered me a new matched pair at no charge...and because of that, I ordered an extra pair. They're quite rugged little tubes (military, I believe), certainly better in every way than the 6C4s I tried in place of them (which were microphonic or just sounded blah). But there's always a chance of a bum tube, whether it was made six months or six decades ago.

I'd try other 5751s but I'm not into tube rolling--I just want something that sounds good and lasts me a year or two. These GE tubes seem OK for now, and other NOS 5751s are outrageously priced. So in a few months I'll probably go on the hunt again.

The KT120s have been wonderful.
 
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