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New AV32R owner - few questions

Discussion in 'TAG McLaren Audio Owners' Forum' started by Bolle, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Bolle

    Bolle
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    Hi,

    after lusting after the TAG McLaren AV32R for a few years I finally got one. I bought a used unit while I was visting friends in London last weekend. This as on mainland Europe (I live in the Netherlands) they are hard to get by or only at ridiculous prices.

    As my budget was slightly limited, I settled for a 'basic' AV32R 5.1 96 kHz. Even though it is an older unit, I'm amazed by the improvement in sound quality over my old receiver. I'm using it with a Parasound 2 channel power amp and temporarely 3 channels on my receiver for center and surround. Have my eye on a Parasound multi channel which I probably pick up soon so that the quality in surround will get up to the level of stereo. The power amp of the receiver is just crap. But the performance in stereo with the Parasound has blown me away, didn't know that A/V equipment was supposed to be that good in stereo if you believe the magazine reviews.

    However although I'm happy with the unit, there are a few thing that raise some questions. I'm looking to you as 'experts' in the hope that you can confirm that these are normal things with the AV32R, or that maybe I've stumbled upon a faulty unit.. :thumbsdow

    The questions I have:
    1) Is the AV32R very picky of the digital output of a player? Using my old Rotel (RCD-965BX) as a transport, often when I skip tracks forward or backwards, it seems like the AV32R doesn't lock on the signal. No signal is heard, the mute light is not on, and the display shows 44.1 kHz as signal. I have to change the input to something else and back to CD before it gets the signal again, or have to skip forward and backwards again on the CD player till it locks on the signal again. I believe however that the fault has to be with the player though. I've tried the same using the same CD in my Sony DVD player on the same input on the AV32R, with the same cable and that works perfectly. Trying every combination of cable and digital input with the Rotel, and the problems keeps coming back. (BTW, I disabled the DTS mute so that shouldn't be it) So although the AV32R is probably not to blame, I was wondering wether it is critical of the digital signal fed to it.

    2) The volume control knop doesn't seem to be properly centered and it slightly touches the edge of the hole of the front panel, creating a slight resistance and you can hear it touching. Didn't notice this when buying, mental not too self, do not limit yourself to only using the remote on demonstration. As I mostly use the remote myself and the volume knop seems to work fine, it is not a big problem, but I would love a smooth operation as I feel this friction is not in place on such a unit. (I mean my friends 300 pound Yamaha receiver has smooth moving volume knop, why shouldn't my AV32R). From some fellow Dutch owners I hear this is not a uncommon problem, so I hope there is a quick fix for it?

    3) The issue which worries me a bit though is the following. At higher volumes (> 70 on the pre-amp) scale, whenever I change the volume and it changes by 0.5 units you can hear a very soft popping sound (to hear this, of course I stop my source unit the AV32R is selected to so no signal is present). This popping sound is a bit louder when I change the volume by a large amount very quickly, so that the value on the display changes by say 10 units at one or so. These pops are also present when using the remote control. These symptons lead me to believe that the display is causing some interference in the unit. Is this a known issue or does my unit has a problem?

    My AV32R has ser no 247 (as I said, an oldie), and has the old double processor board (a second SHARC on a daughter board). If I have a problem, I'm afraid I'll have to send it to TAG for an upgrade to 192 kHz DAC's and hope they'll fix it at the same time.

    Hope your answers will comfort me...

    Cheers,
    Menno
     
  2. Miron

    Miron
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    Menno , in short lines , you bought a very old piece of TAG with old .2 Sharcs and some well known problems like not detecting incoming signal etc, and especially what sounds very bad to me is this "popping" sound. Also non-centered volume knob might mean someone was opening the unit. It is a nightmare job to take front panel away.
    I hope you didn't pay much for it.
    Good night!
     
  3. Bolle

    Bolle
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    Hi Miron,

    thanks for your quick reply, although the contents of course didn't make me very happy....

    I realize I bought an older unit, which on the budget I had was to be expected and I didn't really mind. As far as I know there have been some board design updates over the AV32R's 5.1 96 kHz lifespan which slightly improved the sound quality, although I'm perfectly happy with the quality of mine.

    The detecting incoming signal is a problem new to me, and one I hadn't stumbled on before while browsing the internet for information on this unit. As the DVD player works ok with 44.1 KHz signals it seems to be related to the source unit as well, although a fairly hi-end processor shouldn't be too picky about it.

    I paid slightly (50 pounds) over what I believed to be a fair price for a unit like this, as I was in the UK for that weekend and could pick it up. I knew I was paying slightly more and accepted that as I wanted to finalize the deal that weekend.

    The popping is something that worries me too, and I'm hoping for more feedback so I can form an idea of this.

    Cheers,
    Menno
     
  4. liam_b

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    I believe the faint popping noise is the DC servo stabilizing after the switching of the resistors inside the volume control ICs used, I have heard this on several AV32Rs, it seems pretty normal for them to make the noise.
     
  5. Stevesky

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    Hi!

    Slight popping when changing volume - nothing too much to worry about there, I suspect your speakers are quite sensitive which makes it more apparent.

    Volume knob - the front knob has been bashed some time as it should run smoothly without rubbing. It's an easy job to fix as typically it will need realigning, but you'll probably have to smile nicely at an IAG dealership. If you're technically capable, pull the volume knob off (do it carefully), slightly loosen the nut that holds the encoder, and move encoder in opposite direction to edge that is rubbing, then tighten it back up. Push knob back on and see if it's better.

    Inability to lock to signal - I suspect that when the rotel changes track it's digital feed goes unstable/invalid and then returns back to normal. Some very old AV32R's did have some issues, however upgrading to software version 3.8 did help for some customers.

    If you get the unit upgraded to 192K DAC's in the future, you may want to consider getting the DAB radio module fitted as it will automatically get your unit upgraded to the latest revision .3 SHARC DSP.

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. JamesPS

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    Hi,
    How is it possible to indentify the different kind of DP boards?
    and which of them are the "problematics"?
     
  7. GrahamMG

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    I think you misunderstand the DP board thing..... Very old Av32R's had a dual sharc fitted but that was still an SP model...they simply didn't have stocks of the later single sharc so had to do this in the beginning so in real terms the old dual sharc and the SP were functionally identical (and sounded the same largely!), the new DP is a very different beast, easy to identify just ask if it has TMREQ! Thta is only possible on the new DP as it has the horsepower the SP could only dream of and sounds significantly better.
     
  8. Dr Udo Zucker

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    Hi, as Steve said, there is very little you should be too concerned about. Your AV32R has been built early 1999 and includes two DSPs of a very specific configuration. About 1000 units were built this way. They use 2 '0.2' processors instead of one '0.3'. There is no functionality difference for all 5.1 features.

    I guess, the biggest step forward can be made, when upgrading this unit to the very latest software (assuming it still runs an older version). This can be done using a TAGtronic Programming cable. This can either be purchased from a TAG McLaren Audio retailer or maybe he/she will even update your unit for you. The new software itself is free.

    Please check what software is currently loaded (power up the unit whilst checking the front panel display. The software will show during power-up the software version for a few seconds. The lower the number, the more improvements v3.8 will be able to offer.
     
  9. Bolle

    Bolle
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    Hi,

    thanks to all for the many reactions. It's nice to see that the TAG 'community feel' is still present even after the IAG takeover. Many people here seem to be very knowledgable, are these (ex-) TAG employees? (I know about dr. Zucker's role).

    Back to my unit, I knew I was most likely getting an older unit for the budget I had. As long as the dual .1 SHARC set-up is more or less comparable to the later single .3 set-up this doesn't worry me too much. Luckily as long as the IAG support continues I will be able to upgrade this unit as funds allow, which is more you can say of most audio brands.

    The soft popping sound, or clicking (it's not the relays, I've disabled that in the mute configuration), I tried hearing it with some music playing (with soft sections, otherwise I wouldn't hear it anyway at volume > 70) and it doesn't seem to be present then. I do hear it with no signal present and when putting the unit in mute mode and back. It does sound like a normal mechanical 'noise' though, as liam_b and Stevesky are also suggesting.

    I'll try and have a look at adjusting the volume knob later, as I mostly use the remote control this isn't a real issue. It would just feel nicer if it worked smoothly!

    The locking of the signal remains therefore as a small nuisance. Stevesky mentioned some of the older models have this problem, what ways are there to fix this? Software version 3.8 is already installed on the unit so there are no gains to be made on that front. Some people have suggested an EPROM reset, so'll give that a shot later on (I assume my PLII license will remain then?).

    Which upgrades will see my board being replaced by a new single SHARC board? The DAB option isn't really attractive as DAB is not really big in the Netherlands (yet). I'm thinking of looking at a 192 kHz upgrade later this year as first step, considering that I also pay the > 18 month charge will that result in a new board being installed?

    But small niggles aside, the audio performance of the unit is still awesome!

    Thanks for al the info, I feel a lot more confident in the unit now, and I should stop worrying and start enjoying it more!
    It's just that with used units you sometimes can get this uneasy feeling and you start questioning every little thing of your purchase. Although I must admit that I buy most of my kit used and never had any problems whatsoever yet.

    Cheers,
    Menno
     
  10. Dr Udo Zucker

    Dr Udo Zucker
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    Hi Menno, the popping you hear is caused by a small DC offset, most liley produced by the volume chip CS3310, when changing volume. As soon as the volume is fixed, the AV32R will correct its output and hence the problem is of no further affect. Changing (one of) the CS3310 could reduce the problem (if larger than normal and only audible at certain speakers) but it will always be there. The higher the speakers' sensitivity, the more prominent the problem. I wouldn't consider such component change a necessary issue, except it would be faulty and the pop would be 'massive'

    Upgrading to DTS-ES Discrete (with it the 7.1) will require a change of the DSP.
    Steve Sky was old-TMA's Chief Software engineer and the brain behind AV32 DP's and AV192R. Nobody knows more about the AV32R's /AV192R's software than he!
     
  11. Miron

    Miron
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    Steve Harris is one of few brains behind some great TAG products.
    I only hope he is still in AV industry, because everything else would be a huge loss. (I think I drank too much today ;) )
     
  12. JamesPS

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    Just for curiosity, when one of the first AV32R SP (with two sharcs rev0.2) is updated to AV32R DP, does it finally contain 4 sharcs?
     
  13. Miron

    Miron
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    I am pretty sure that in old TAG times of resoldering and refurbishing two 0.1 Sharcs were exchanged for one 0.3 Sharc on every update.
    Nowdays when updating you get new board with 0.3 on it anyway.

    Steve & Co will surely correct me if I'm wrong
     
  14. Stevesky

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    0.1 revision DSP's were never shipped - there are only a handful of prototype AV32R's out there with this DSP and are as useful as a chocolate tea pot!

    0.2 revision DSP's were in the first batch of AV32R SP and required two of them to give us sufficient power to deliver the goods.

    0.3 revision DSP's were in the next batch of AV32R SP and only required one DSP as most of the problems were resolved.

    In the AV32DP and AV192R it has one 0.3 21065L DSP and two 21161N DSP's. The processing load is spread across the DSP's, typically decode in first, post processing in second and TMREQ/Dolby Headphone in third.
     
  15. Miron

    Miron
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    He has spoken :)
     
  16. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    I Believe Steve is still beavering away in the AV industry, wrong side of the river though.... :rotfl:
     
  17. Miron

    Miron
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    Well, Graham, I do not have to tell you I didn't get this one!
     
  18. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    In London there has always been a bit of a "taking the mickey" about people who live/work on the South side of the Thames..... All the best people work and live North of the river naturally :D
     
  19. JamesPS

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    Sorry to come back to this again, but there is something I still do not understand.

    When upgrading an “old type” AV32R-SP to DP, (as it seems from this thread), the main board was replaced (from rev0.2 to rev0.3).
    If this is true, my questions are:

    Which is the physical difference between these AV32R-DP:
    ·One upgraded from an “old type” AV32R-SP
    ·One upgraded from a “normal” AV32R-SP
    ·New AV32R-DP

    Why could be chosen whether using the existing board or a new one?


    Thank you
     
  20. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    All upgraded AV32R/DP's end up the same essentially.
    Early boards require a huge amount of work to bring up to date and frankly I think IAG have worked out that it is easier, quicker and very probably cheaper to simply change the board over for a new one (whilst they have stocks). Board re-working at this level requires a fair bit of skill and can lead to weird faults appearing which don't usually happen with new boards. I believe that whilst the chaps that used to do this stuff were undoubtably good at their job, around 400 solder/mods is not to undertaken lightly....
    A new DP is well, new.........
    Our original AV32R (really old one with two sharcs!) was sold and replaced with a new DP, at the time it was the only sensible thing to do as I didn't want it modded to that degree (and yes I do this stuff for a living as well!) and I think TAG were secretly happy they didn't have to do it either.....
    There has always been the option of using a brand new board for this upgrade for a cost premium, I assume IAG's current price reflects this.
     
  21. JamesPS

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    Graham,
    Thank you for your explanation, but the question is: When going to AV32R-SP (rev 0.2) to AV32R-DP (rev 0.3), has the original board to be changed or can the results be achieved by solering ~400 points?
     
  22. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    I believe it can but unlikely to happen now.....
     
  23. Black 5

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    I have one of the early models and had it upgraded to 192 and subsequently to DP. No idea what got changed inside - all I can say is it continues to work well and sounds fantastic :))

     
  24. LostInUK

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    Hi all,

    That soft popping sound during volume changes, I had something very similar long long time ago. Steve come over one day and debugged the code of my AV32R. It turned out it only happened when a certain Sub option was 'on'. I cannot remember what it was, maybe some kind of limiter. I just turned it off, since it was/is not necessary. I am note sure if it was a bug or a characteristic, because of the way the code worked in the early days of a single processor. I am not sure if the DP has the same option, mine is 1000 miles away, so I cannot test it.
    Steve, are you there? Remember?

    Regards
     
  25. Stevesky

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    If you have the subwoofer bass peak limiter on then it makes the volume 'popping' more odvious as lower volume levels. This is because the bass peak limiter has to be reconfigured as the volume control is adjusted and this can lead to a few rogue audio samples being generated.
     
  26. Matt Horne

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    With reagards to the volume knob mine does the same.. I suggest :

    Turn the knob until you feel it catch.. gently push the bottom of the knob up by the front panel and then try turning again. It should now be smooth.. Mine is usually fine then my son wanders over and grab it. I have taken the knob off the tag a few times.. justs needs a strong hand.. but never actually tried to re-align it as the manual adjust usually works. Another option is to pulll the knob away from the panel a bit.. the can get rid of the issue completely as the side of the knob does not touch the faceplate. and from a sitting position you nevrr would notice.. (tbh though I always use the remote though it does bug me from time to time :) )

    HTH

    Matt
     
  27. Bolle

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    Hi Matt,

    thanks for the advice! I have done the same, little tug and pull and it works smoothly now. And as I am a lazy sod the batteries of the remote will probably run out before the knob ever gets unaligned again....

    Other update, the trouble with losing lock on the digital signal on my CD player can be traced totally back to the player. I've also hooked up my PC with a long (15 meter) digital coax cable to listen to my MP3's and this works perfectly. Rock steady signal lock.

    So I'm a very happy user now. Added a Parasound HCA-1500A to the fronts, the HCA-1000A has been moved to the rear and I'm negotiating a second HCA-1000A for the center channel (possibly in bridged use).

    The combination of the TAG and the Parasound works quite well. The TAG appears to be quite 'clean' but 'fast' sounding, the Parasounds are a bit more 'darker' and can sound 'slow' but have real power especially in the bass area. Although my speakers are a bit old (original Mission 753) I never suspected them to be able to sound this good and be capable of so much clean and fast bass.

    Next step is to improve the front end, DVD replay is most likely to be handled by a HTPC (ideal with a digital projector like my Z2, can de-interlace and scale DVD and TV with a TV card). For CD replay I'm looking at a CDT20R T2L (going for nice prices S/H as a lot are upgrading to DVD32FLR) or I'm tempted to also go for a DVD32FLR at the current prices. Good CD replay and ideal if you just want a quick view of a DVD on your TV, eg when going through the 'Simpsons' or 'Seinfeld' box sets. Too bad the DVD32FLR can't be modded with an SDI interface so it can directly output a digital signal into a scaler/HTPC, than the choice would be easy... I understand that the data from the Pantera MPEG decoder can only be read in analog form.

    So I'm very happy with my unit, although the AV32R BP 192 at Hifibitz are trying so seduce me.... I like the sound of the TAG and I am very curious what the effect of a further step on the TAG ladder will be (sadly the DP is out of reach..)

    Cheers,
    Menno
     
  28. Matt Horne

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    I too wonder about the 192 dacs......:)
     
  29. Kenny Glasgow

    Kenny Glasgow
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    The 192 DAC's are a big improvement and with that version of the AV32R being soooooooo cheap.................. :D
     
  30. Matt Horne

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    Define big ? I keep looking a the hifibitz site.. and wondering whether to order (or see if anyone wants to sell on the forum...)

    I have been using my sp 96 for a while now...I just wonder how different/better it will be ? Also can you use the 5.1 bypass for stereo rather than DVd-a etc.....

    Cheers

    Matt
     

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