Linn Forums

Full Version: Musing in the eye of Hurricane PaulSurround
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4
Well, the assault wave of the spinning Hurricane PaulSurround has left havoc and incredulity in its wake. There are foil wrappings, confusing numbers and oddly constructed shelves, all in the pursuit of sonic bliss. Well, I am pleased to report, that bliss indeed is the best adjective.

First to SO and ExaKt. Paul (&Janice) and I enjoyed a wonderful day visiting Gary (Bettermusic), who is my Linn dealer. He treated us to a lovely lunch and his hospitality was greatly appreciated. Gary and I had spent hours using his "Space Tones (ST)" to enhance the standard ExaKt SO readings calculated by the Linn SO application in order to develop Bliss (Ideal Sound) when he first installed my system. Paul, as you know, uses an intuitive approach: he listens to his "Test" recordings, and plays with SO to develop his Bliss.

I walked away from this wonderful day of SO tweaking and discussing with the following three step approach:
1. Use the Linn calculated SO as a base upon which to improve the sound.
2. Use the Analytical "Space Tones" approach to improve upon that base sound: you will indeed significantly improve upon it with this method. It is also easy to use.
3. With patience, time and a willingness to do some research and playing around, use Paul's "Intutitive" approach to narrow the sound to your ideal Bliss.

With the help of both, I am the fortunate possessor of a brilliantly sounding pair of ExaKted AV5140s on an Akurate base system.

The SO changes and their subsequent improvements were not, however, the big gain of the night.

Like many others, I chuckled when my dear friend Paul went on about aluminium foil. I am never one to disagree with someone who hears an improvement to their system, regardless of their methodology. If they are happy, so am I.

While listening to the improved SO Bliss, Paul could not sit still very long, and like a child on Christmas morning wanting to sneak a peek into his stuffed stocking before being given permission to open it, Paul got behind my stereo to look at the octopi of cables and interconnects, and with a brusque, Tisk-Tisk, we pulled the unit from the wall, and Paul had me cutting sheets of foil for him.

After he was done, I was ready to agree that there indeed was some improvement so as not to seem ungrateful (ingratitude is the vilest weed that in the garden grows), and, once departed for the beautiful western shores of this great country, waste my time unwrapping and throwing away once perfectly good foil.

To no longer keep you, my dear devoted readers, in suspense: my chin hit the floor at how much of an improvement was made. The sound was now effortless, the sound stage massive, the detailing was significantly improved. I was bewildered. I wondered what sorcery this magician had performed; there was no way just foil could do that. Well, where ever the power cords came in contact with other cords, there was foil wrapping; the ethernet cable from the DSM to the ExaKt box is wrapped. All in the name of BLISS.

Paul explained that with the ethernet cable connected the DSM to the ExaKt box and being touched by other cables, interference was being created, causing the DSM to rapidly resend packets of data, and that is why the music sounded laboured. Without the interference, it sounds effortless, full-bodied and less harsh.


I encourage you to do the same if you have power mains cords and ethernet cables touching anything that conducts data or electrical current. I will update further improvements that are sure to happen once Paul returns from his safari to the US in search of another system to practice is sorcery on.
I don't even know what day it is at the moment, but just spent 3 wonderful days in Niagara Falls area wined, dined and toured around by Eldarboy. Brilliant!!! Big Grin

I was also fortunate to finally meet Better Music, aka Gary, who is a phenomenal Linn dealer and wonderful person, when we visited his home and Linn demo room.

We arrived too late on the first night, to do any SPACE Optimization on Eldarboy's system, so we just listened to some tunes to see what it sounded like. Very impressive, and I was not sure if I could do any better.

Next day, we got to work. Eldarboy's Linn system was sounding wonderful, with rich bass and a highly listenable presentation.

However, I had come all this way, so I had better adjust something? Tongue

Speaker positioning looked fine, so I started working on adjusting room modes and adding some custom filters.

Incrementally, I tried to pull every bit of music, while fine tuning his system. I was pleased with the progress, but it was a bit of work to tease out the music.

I played my reference music, then had Eldarboy stream some of his tunes, to make sure I was on the right track, and see if he was liking what he heard.

I was pleased with the results so far, but felt that it was not quite there yet.

I needed to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

That is when the request came for 10 X 12 inch sheets of aluminum foil, after viewing behind the stereo cabinet.

Eldarboy handed me a stack of sheets of foil, so I went about rerouting cables to separate their distance from each other, and started wrapping critical cables in foil, that were near power cords.

There were far too many power cords touching speaker cables, Ethernet cables and interconncts.

Pleased with my Foil wrappings, I asked for some reference tracks to be played.

Scarborough Fair transformed from sounding very nice to a 3 dimensional experience. The blending of two voices, layer flat on top of each other, became an ethereal extravaganza of layers of delicate notes and a true aural delight. The voices separated and captivated.

Then we played more music to tickle our earbuds, to confirm our findings.

I am so pleased we could find some improvements in his system.

I look forward to revisiting his system in a few days, to see if we can find another level again. Big Grin

Thanks again Eldarboy and Better Music.
It was indeed a pleasure to finally meet Paul, we've talked for a couple of years now. Hopefully we can get together once more before you go west. We've had 2 visits so far and are working on combining our very different methods of tweaking SO, each method bringing something to the table and I think, each learning something from the other. It's always fun setting up systems with other music lovers, best part of my job!
(2017-09-01 13:48)bettermusic Wrote: [ -> ]It was indeed a pleasure to finally meet Paul, we've talked for a couple of years now. Hopefully we can get together once more before you go west. We've had 2 visits so far and are working on combining our very different methods of tweaking SO, each method bringing something to the table and I think, each learning something from the other. It's always fun setting up systems with other music lovers, best part of my job!

Thanks Gary

It is a great pleasure to finally meet you.

You are a great master of the Linn craft.

You have contributed much to help Forum members with your extensive knowledge of legacy Linn products and now Space Optimization and Exakt.

It was great to compare notes, and I am trying some new things with SPACE tones, to see how it works with my current application of SPACE Optimization.

The journey continues, especially in Michigan.
(2017-08-31 20:59)Eldarboy Wrote: [ -> ]...Paul explained that with the ethernet cable connected the DSM to the ExaKt box and being touched by other cables, interference was being created, causing the DSM to rapidly resend packets of data, and that is why the music sounded laboured. Without the interference, it sounds effortless, full-bodied and less harsh.

IMHO the interfering cable would have to be carrying significant levels of energy to actually 'knock out' packets whipping their merry way along in an adjacent cat5 cable (or to corrupt the signal enough to upset Ethernet transceiver chips at either end of the system, which would be the likely failure mechanism). I can certainly see that happening if it was the cable feeding an aluminium smelter, or perhaps the cable feeding the Duga antenna system, but IMHO domestic mains hoses aren't carrying anything like enough energy cause that sort of havoc. Big Grin

Of course, I'm just being very silly with the above extremities (unscreened cable is designed for use in relatively quiet environments, so clearly it can be an issue in more industrial environments; in fact, I have some 'industrial grade' cat5 and that is quite well screened) but own guess is that where a difference can be heard in a domestic living room - more on that in a moment - then perhaps it could be down to the cable picking up interference either from radio signals (either directly from the airborne signals, or same signals being picked up elsewhere and then being re-radiated from the cables attached to them, or perhaps even the ring main system acting as a big loop antenna and picking up medium or short wave signals, etc, etc, etc) or other electrical noise (SMPS noise in adjacent mains cables) and it is that actual interference which is then getting into the DS (via the cable plugged into its Ethernet socket) and then it somehow being coupled (e.g. capacitively via parallel running PCB tracks, or the likes) from the Ethernet part of the circuitry into the sensitive audio stages (e.g. the DAC or beyond) rather than it actually corrupting the packets, themselves? Ethernet is a pretty robust system, and in any case, the DS has a data buffer, so occasional packet loss shouldn't in any way 'fluster' the DS (also worth noting that on a busy network, there will be packet collisions and packets being recent).

Don't misunderstand; I am most certainly not 'pouring cold water' on the idea (far from it) as a very kind Linn dealer once sent me an Audioquest Cinnamon patch cable (just to find out if I could hear a difference; the plan being for me to try it then post it back) and it happened to arrive just before a friend (who has a very fine Exakt system) was due to visit. So, I fully expected to hear absolutely no difference (as did he, from memory) and we were really very surprised that we could hear a difference. After a few swaps, we decided that though the difference was not huge, on balance the AQ sounded better than my existing patch cable, so next day I called the dealer and bought it.

In my case, the patch cables were already quite distant from other wiring, but I do live atop a hill with a radio mast (VHF and UHF PMR base stations, cellular antennas and an Airwave system) not too far behind me, so I suspect that the thinner and screened pairs were maybe doing a better job of keeping the airborne RF out of the system, but as I've said before, it's all highly speculative (though it is something I plan to look far deeper into, when time permits). RF is fun stuff stuff to play with and I do know from dealing with higher levels of it (e.g. an HF or VHF transmitter) that it can get coupled into all sorts of electronic appliances (and into all sorts of stages within same appliances) but that said, I'd not it to be a significant enough level given the mast is several hundred feet from me (despite it being quite a busy one) as RF levels drop off remarkably quickly with distance, so it is quite an intriguing mystery

The thing that really surprised me was that there was any difference what so ever; I find that highly intriguing and am really looking forward to performing some nefarious experiments in an attempt to see if I can actually measure anything tangible (any excuse to whip out the fancy test equipment and I am a happy chappy). Wink

Bri Smile
Paul covered areas that were in contact with other cables only: as you can see from the photo. I am surprised by how much better it sounds. I was very skeptical about the foil: it was immediately noticeable however, and Paul has made me a pervert, no, convert ? Tongue
So.. pervert or convert? It can be important. Wink
If you have a portable LW and MW radio it can be interesting to see how much noise is about in the vicinity (and whether switching off a particular product stops it). I found that the cable to my Sky+ box was radiating a huge quantity of noise that wiped out my HF communications receiver. There was so much of it that the radio was unusable up to 10 MHz when using an internal test antenna, and it was still extremely loud when the antenna was external to the room (a long wire antenna outside the house) to the extent that the radio was still totally unusable.

I temporarily silenced it by fitting a high quality bifilar mains filter right behind the Sky+ box (so between the Sky+ box's mains cable and the mains socket in the back of the Sky+ box, with just a very short length of cable from the filter to the Sky box's socket), then later I found that screening the Sky+ box mains cable was just as effective (without the need for the bifilar filter). Rather than trying to make a cable from screened mains wire, I simply cut the moulded mains plug off the existing Sky supplied cable, then I slipped a screen over the outside of the entire cable (the screen had been slipped off a very high quality coaxial cable; it was pretty much like the screen Linn use in their unbalanced 'Silver' interconnects) then after over covering that with some braided insulation (similar construction to the screen itself, but instead made from plastic) and some heat shrink to keep the ends in place, I fitted a standard mains plug back onto the cable.

Okay, I did that for radio interference reasons (to a real radio) but the sheer levels of it rather surprised me (as did the effectiveness of the short mains cable acting as an antenna) and as discussed in my other post, I wonder if this is what's resulting in there being an audible difference when comparing screened and unscreened cat5 cables (and that this high frequency noise is finding its way into other parts of the DS via its Ethernet interface, as opposed to it causing packets to be dropped)?

As I mentioned before, I plan to have some fun seeing if I can measure noise and if so, trying the various tricks to see how effective they are (passing a cat5 several turns through a ferrite ring and the likes) but at the moment, boring projects (DIY house repairs, etc) are getting in the way or any such fun.

I lean towards electromagnetic noise as well, packetdrops would be weird.
I never considered my cable-cable as a noise hazard btw, so Mr. Britain, you now have my attention, especially as I have a lot of that lying around.

I really might have to reconsider my cabinet and the cable layout, there are so many cables so close together. Or maybe foil everything too.
Packet drops would require quite a large signal to be coupled into the cat5, so I doubt that's what's happening. If packet re-sends were to create any audible impact, then the easiest way to test for that would be to heavily load the network segment [EDIT using an old network hub - instead of a switch - would be the way to do it] up with traffic (thus causing a few collisions and re-sends) and see if it changes the sound of the DS streaming. As I say, I doubt that's what's happening and in any case, that would be masked by the DS's data buffer, so by [thought] process of elimination, it leaves only what's sometimes referred to as the 'pin 1 problem' (though in this case, via the Ethernet socket). Google will find many articles on same (including radio ham microphone cables) and when I just tried it, the first link it found was on the Rane site (see here: which I haven't read, but a quick scroll down the page indicated it could be quite a good one for describing what's going on. Of course, an Ethernet cable doesn't typically have a screen (which terminates to the board instead of the case) so it's not exactly as described on that page, but it is 4 unscreened pairs extending into the case and terminated on the Ethernet chip (so more like 4 pin one problems Tongue ) and though I assume that Linn (and the Ethernet chip designer) have taken measures to deal with that possibility, I can only assume that once inside, a tiny fraction of it is being perhaps coupled into areas beyond that interface (as unless I'm missing something very esoteric about it all, I really can't think of any other mechanism whereby patch cables - or the screening thereof - could make an audible difference). Of course, I would be happy to be proved wrong, as the answer would be even more fascinating than a variant on the 'pin 1 problem'! Smile

Waving a radio about is quite interesting. The thing I like about the bank of FRIWO units is that they're quiet close up, but once you get a few feet from them, they are pretty much undetectable (I was using a nice old Roberts Radio for the test). Smile

The Sky+ box was a real racket producing horror, but I'm not sure if they're all like that, or whether my one has lost part of its mains filter (that can happen with SMPS units, be they the ones inside products, or of the wall-wart variety). I know that one of my friends has a selection of Sky boxes (he keeps them for helping out when a customer's one fails) so I must borrow one of the same type and see if it's similarly noisy.

It would be handy to identify a tight-braid coax (that you can buy by the metre, on line) as the stuff I used was a bespoke one used for the IF of NEC microwave radio units (similar arrangement to the coaxial link between a sky box and the LNB) and it has twin screens with almost no gaps between the wire strands (though for this sort of stuff, I think almost any grade of screen would more than suffice).

To cover it, I used something like the RS stuff ( and a short length of clear heat-shrink at each end (to keep it in place and stop it from fraying).

When I looked at the Sky+ box, I discovered that the case is grounded through the HDMI connection to my ADSM, so I terminated the box end of screen with a lug and fitted it under one of the existing screws at the back (so effectively 'extending' the Sky+ box's chassis to also surround its mains cable). Once you remove all the plastic, the Sky+ box is actually quite nicely screened by an internal metal box (only the back of which is left visible).


PS Poking the short wave radio at the front of the DS display window is rather fun (remember that you have to rotate it as the radio's internal ferrite rod antenna is directional) as you then hear the (actually quite funky) sounds from the digital works within. It's actually quite a musical cacophony, but I guess you would expect nothing less from a KDS! Big Grin
Pages: 1 2 3 4
Reference URL's