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Some insight about the AV32R....

Xtrips

Standard Member
Well, I have an AV32R EX, and when I bought it I was really excited about all the upgrade possibilities and so forth.
I really enjoy all of its processing power as long as we are talking about Home-Cinema standards. Lately I considered upgrading my AV32R to the new AVR192, and at the same time, since the upgrade finally permitted the connection of a high-quality analogue input without tempering with the signal in the built-in DAC, I decided to buy a really good CD player. An Electrocompaniet EMC1 MKII 192 Khz Up.
When I got the price of the upgrade from TAG, I backed off and considered to upgrade my unit to a AV32R EX + 192 Khz Up. + 5.1 input bypass module. This upgrade was suposed to bypass the built-in upsampler and output a clean analog signal to my power-amp. But then again, this module only costs 1200 Euro.
And when I tried to connect my EC Cd player to the TAG, it sounded dull. What a shame for a 4200 US$ cd player !!!

Now I am buying a 1700 Euro stereo pre-amp from Electrocompaniet, the ECI 4.7, and will struggle with cabling and 2 volume controls just to get a good high-end stereo sound.

What do you think of that ? Your advises are welcome.
Thanks.
 
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paiger

Guest
I can't imagine it's the Tag at fault. The analogue bypass is quite simple and there is nothing in the path to hurt your signal.

Have you tried the digital out from the CD player, using the Tag DACs to see if it's better? Maybe the player is at fault.

S
 

Xtrips

Standard Member
I didn't say that the TAG is at fault. I just said that when the EC was connected to a regular input through the TAG it lost all its magic, and that was foreseeable. Now, maybe it will sound differently with the bypass which I don't have. I don't know and this is precisely the kind of advises I need from you folks...
The choice is :

- upgrade my TAG with the bypass
- buy an EC preamp and play with 2 volume controls for movies.
 
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paiger

Guest
Apologies, I thought you had the bypass, didn't read your post correctly.

Have a look on the Tag site to see how they do the bypass, it's a true bypass which is very rare. Why not demo a new AVR32 with the bypass, see what you think?

S
 

martintyler

Standard Member
Read the tag forum, details of an ABX test of the bypass vs its normal analogue input. Results showed noone could tell the difference.
 
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paiger

Guest
Well, there you go. Haven't heard it myself so can't comment.

S
 

Xtrips

Standard Member
Thanks Martin, I just read the whole ABX test and it is really not promising. If almost nobody could tell the difference, and I felt the regular analog input of my AV32R sounded dull, then what's the use upgrading to the bypass version.
Do you get it ? I mean, for TAG this test sounds like "We are not altering the sound at all, with or without bypass." But in the first place, I can tell you, connecting a high-quality component to the TAG or to a stereo dedicated pre makes a big difference.
Does anybody here own an AV32R bypass ?
 

martintyler

Standard Member
Yeah, thats right. Didnt want to go into details here.. plenty about it on the tag forum.

That one guy got X right all 10 times, not sure if they said whether he thought one was better than the other, or whether each test he knew which was (for example) the bypass.. or even if that was part of the test.

If he got all 10 X's right, but didnt necessarily know between tests which was which, then even to this one guy with super human ears :) he could only get X right within the short time frame of a single test.

Anyway, ignoring this guy, you can look at the results either way. 1. the bypass doesnt do a great job of bypassing everything, or 2. their digital circuits are very good and you get bass management thrown in without losing any quality.
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
Originally posted by Xtrips
If almost nobody could tell the difference, and I felt the regular analog input of my AV32R sounded dull, then what's the use upgrading to the bypass version.
I wrote ages ago here there was sodd all difference between the bypass and the ADC. When I did the ABX I didn't change my mind.
Re talking of dull the last place I would look to would be the Tag, I would look at the drive capability of you CD player and the C of the cable used. It sounds much more like an Electrocompaniet issue than Tag. Check them out first.
 

pnm

Standard Member
I had the same issue and after trying I found a good preamp was significantly better than the TAG.

I therefore elected to buy a preamp ( even though it's less elegant) rather than have the 5.1 bypass fitted.

Each to is own, but it works fantastically well for me.
 

Matt F

Active Member
I’m a bit surprised at some of these comments because I always understood that, when looking at the AV32R as a stereo pre-amp, it is an open window to the music with no sonic signature of its own.

Could it be that it is because it imparts no sound of its own that some people don’t like it? It that is the case then fair enough but it shouldn’t be criticised for being totally neutral.

I also think that the fact Tag subsequently felt the need to launch a 2 channel only version of it (the DPA32R) shows how highly it is rated in a stereo role.

Matt.
 

Miron

Active Member
Re talking of dull the last place I would look to would be the Tag, I would look at the drive capability of you CD player and the C of the cable used. It sounds much more like an Electrocompaniet issue than Tag. Check them out first.
I would not be so sure it is EC, could be many things, maybe the TAG unit is faulty, or TAG and EC are too different and he is used to EC!?

On the other side (in respect to whole thread - BP vs AD) I do not completely support ABX test as done at TAG VIP Party. I would say it is first necessary to know the music part that is played well, and then in ABX test to play ALWAYS the same 30 sec or so. And I am pretty sure that the one who did 100% there simply had luck. (Or that italian doctor cloned Mozart?)

Add on: I would probably never spot any difference, but I kow people who maybe could.
 

pnm

Standard Member
I hear what you say Matt F but must disagree. My TAG sits between a meridian 588cd and bryston 4bst power amp. By inserting a bryston bp25 preamp which is critically acclaimed and measured ruler flat the sound is significantly better IMHO.
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
Originally posted by Miron
I would not be so sure it is EC, could be many things, maybe the TAG unit is faulty, or TAG and EC are too different and he is used to EC!?

On the other side (in respect to whole thread - BP vs AD) I do not completely support ABX test as done at TAG VIP Party. I would say it is first necessary to know the music part that is played well, and then in ABX test to play ALWAYS the same 30 sec or so. And I am pretty sure that the one who did 100% there simply had luck. (Or that italian doctor cloned Mozart?)
I felt we needed to test the engineering before we look to faults on equipment. This should be the last resort. Poor drive from EC and moderate high C will lead to a dull performance as described. Tweako audiophile cables with high C?

I think the Tag ABX was done well. A wine taster does not need to know a wine in order to taste it, why does a ABX tester? They are just asked to do one simple task. Surely that could have even been done on a test signal if it wasn't brain nummingly boring.

I believe there may well be a few that can be 100% right, but statistically that can still lead to a result of no proven difference in a group. Again look to wine tasting. Perhaps the ultimate ABX test. I was not surprized by the result.

Used to EC, that may well be right.;) Change often leeds to some strange judgements initially, time?

Re comparing a 8 channel AV processor to a stereo pre amp of comparable money (£1500?), is there any surprize here? The Tag isn't a miracle worker. Tag themselves tell you to use their 2 channel pre for stereo uses but as an AV processor it is one of the best 2 channel performers.

Re Totally neautral. Yes people often prefer jitter / distortion in sounds, at least initially. It is the long term listening tests that the neutral camp wins through though. It is one of the many reasons people can make mistakes on short shop demos.

Bernard

Are you using the new DACs? Is this just old Tag DACs against new EC DACs?

Not sure what you mean about bypassing the upsampling? Can you explain please
 

Xtrips

Standard Member
First here is an excerpts of my discussion on the subject on TagMcLaren's forum:

>>>
So what's the advantage of upgrading to the bypass version if my sole interest is to bypass the sound processing of the AV32R ? The fact is I heard my Electrocompaniet ECM1 MKII Cd player through my AV32R analogue inputs and through an Electrocompaniet ECI 4.7 preamp, and I can tell you that when connected to the TAG the magic was all gone. I am actually considering the upgrade of my TAG to bypass or the purchase of an additional stereo preamp. And this ABX listening test tells me to opt for a new preamp. Any advises ?

- Bernard 11/29/02 9:48:12 AM

Well Bernhard, the advise is quite simple -although two-fold.

If the CD player produces higher jitter than the DVD32 the A-D-A processing will be much less precise - most likely audible but rather an issue of the CD player than the AV32R.

However, I would suggest that you confirm your findings in an ABX blind test :)

- Dr. Udo Zucker CEO TAG McLaren Audio from UK 11/29/02 12:57:41 PM

Thank you for your prompt answer. I would like to stress that we are not talking about any Cd player here. We are talking about an EC EMC1 MKII which is acclaimed all over the world in many languages in most of the prestigious hi-fi magazines. Obviously not the case of the DVD32 in that category. Now, jitter has nothing to do with my test since I only used the analog output of the EC. I have no intention of bypassing the high-quality DAC used in the EC. Don't get me wrong, I love my Home-cinema processor, I am just facing the evidence:
1) connecting the EC to the TAG, in analog mode, made the sound lifeless, without resolution.
2) I never heard the AV32R with bypass, but this ABX test makes me think I shouldn't expect a revolution.
Am I wrong ?

- Bernard 11/29/02 1:32:03 PM

Hi Bernhard, my answer above is confusing. I was interrupted whilst writing it and when I completed it, I had in my mind that the CD player would connected digitally - this is what I would do :)

Anyway, that's what I really wanted to say:

CD player's internal DA stage can create digital artefacts well outside the audible range. Good engineering would remove these with a filter, to prevent intermodulation distortion in the preamplifier/amplifer/loudspeaker. Some audio designers don't like to use filters, resulting in products which might work well with certain brands of preamplifiers/ampliers but not all- just depending on the bandwidth.

I would assume that a player with such a characteristics (I don't know the the CD player you refer to) would clearly work better through the AV32R 5.1 Bypass than through a A-D-A process.

P.S.: In our test no frequencies above 50kHz were present- they are not on a CD and we filter when necessary!

P.P.S.: There are no revolutions in sound quality above a certain level - I tried lots of equipment up to the highest cost during the last 35 years - all you get are small incremental steps- well those steps tend to be smaller when you analyse them in blind testing than otherwise :)


I think you should test the EC with both types of inputs and let us know your findings...

Once again, my apologies for the confusion.



- Dr. Udo Zucker CEO TAG McLaren Audio from UK 11/29/02 4:37:26 PM

<<<

Slowly but surely, and thanks to all of your enlightments, I am getting closer to my decision.
It seems very clear to me now that real audio addicts don't mix Home-cinema and High-end.
I am happy with my EC cd player which is by the way brand new, with the latest generation DAC and completely flawless ( You should have heard it with the EC preamp connected with XLR cables! Wow !!! )
I guess that my TAG is one of the best sounding A/V processor on the market and has pretty good stereo performances for its class of products. Nevertheless, I will buy an EC preamp for real good stereo performances.
 

Jeremy Hill

Standard Member
Hi Xtrips,

I dearly hope your final conclusion here is wrong; that real enthusiats dont try to get best quality stereo from an HT system. My system building is predicated on the fact that this is possible. I am in a similar situation to you, currently playing with a very nice (dCS) DAC that does wonders with stereo, but my AV32R doesnt have the bypass yet. Its a pain...

The conclusion I have come to is that making any realistic assesment of adding this to my system is impossible until I have the analog bypass fitted. Its not an expensive mod relative to the DAC cost so Im going to just get it done and see.

There has been a lot of discussion about the AB testing TAG did with this bypass. Now, please correct me if Im wrong but didnt they use one of their DACs for the test? Arent their DACs very similar to the DACs in the AV32R? Then I dont get the point of the test, of course they should sound the same!!

The interesting test is to use a much higher quality DAC through the bypass, and TAG dont make one. Again, please correct me if Ive got the wrong end of the stick here, but I think their test gives us no useful information about what the bypass will sound like with a top end stereo DAC.

The bypass sounds like it is superbly engineered and should do what we want. The esteemed Dr Z appears to agree:

> I would assume that a player with such a characteristics (I don't know the the CD player you refer to) would clearly work better through the AV32R 5.1 Bypass than through a A-D-A process.

Lets hope hes right!
 

Xtrips

Standard Member
Although you are rebuted by the truth that is revealing itself ahead of you, you are drawing the right conclusions, your way...
I advise you to hear the TAG bypass with your dCS DAC. And then with another stereo-pre of your choice, but of the same quality class. You might be positively surprised by the performance of the dCS in the latter configuration.
People here and at TAG's forum are trying to paint me as an "A/V discreditor" of some sort.
I opted for TAG because I heard the impact of it on movies' sound processing. And I am completely all over it when I watch a movie, It's a true pleasure.
But I won't try to trick myself anymore about Hi-Fi. TAG is not good enough for stereo. Period.

Try this link, it's interesting.
http://www.tagmclaren.com/dev/forums/forums.asp?forum=1&emaillink=yes&id=21447&sid=21232
 

Plump

Standard Member
Hi Xtrips
I do not think anyone wanted to imply anything to you, but there are three simple and obvious things.

1. These differences are always hard to spot, hard but possible
2. AV pre's can never be as good as analogue pre's because there are so many differences in construction
3. You should maybe be more quiet and not tell anything more until you test bypass (some of those difference still stay, but most are gone)

If money is no object then it is definitely better to keep it separated, but money is in 99,99% of cases important merit. HiFi (AV) is for pleasure and not for anger, try to think that way.
 

Jeff

Well-known Member
Hi Xtrips,

It sounds to me like you demoed the CD player and it sounded great, You then bought it, took it home, hooked it up to your TAG and it didn't sound great. Why are you assuming this has anything to do with the TAG? Or am I missing some vital information here?

Jeff
 

Xtrips

Standard Member
Hi Plump, you are totally right. I've been carried out a bit with this stuff.
Actually, things are OK now. I think I have te best of both worlds. My TAG is performing really great with movies, and the hi-fi system I am testing at the moment ( EC EMC1 192Khz Up + EC EC4.7 preamp ) is just a dream come true, to me of course.
I will try the bypass as soon as will be able to.
But, I guess in the end I will buy the EC preamp.

And, Jeff, I am testing all this equipment at home, with my own gear. Don't ask me how. ;))
 
L

Lowrider

Guest
Xtrips,

I think Jeremy is right, the abx testing was done with the same DACs, (both external), thats why the difference was small, (but existant), if you use your player DACs, (the jitter is taken care internally), thru the bypass you should get the same sound as with the separate pre-amp...

I would try it, much more convenient, and probably cheaper too...
 
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paiger

Guest
Yeah, if you're coming out of the CDP in analogue and going through the Tag analogue bypass, I can't see how it would 'flatten' the sound. It sounds like the Tags A-D-A stage is conflicting with your CDP as Udo suggests. Worth an audition I reckon.

S
 

Jeremy Hill

Standard Member
Hi again Xtrips,

> But I won't try to trick myself anymore about Hi-Fi. TAG is not good enough for stereo. Period.

Whoa, tough words indeed! I sense some real disillusionment here… Actually I sympathise, and have been through a similar experience. I used to have an all TAG system (except for speakers) and was so disappointed when I realised the amp was not up to stereo duties. Enough said about that.

I currently still believe the TAG digital gear is first class, and good enough for quality stereo use. The obvious caveat must be the DAC stage in the AV processor, hence our discussion.

You make comments elsewhere that you don’t consider the DVD32R good enough for stereo. When I got mine I compared it to my CD transport at the time, a Micromega Duo, and could actually not tell them apart. From this I concluded that it was ‘good enough’, and also that beyond a certain level there were probably rather small differences sonically between transports. I still believe this, and think that most of the effect you are seeing with the EC gear is due to its DA conversion and upsampling software. The various upsampling technologies being pioneered by Wadia/dCS/EC et al are getting rave reviews and are clearly the way forwards for quality CD replay. This tickles me pink because nobody really understands why these techniques should work, though dCS have published some interesting ideas on the topic. A minor victory for those of us who believe we still have much to learn in the world of hi fi engineering…

Meantime it would be great to hear from someone who has actually had the bypass fitted to the AV32R and are using a quality DAC with it. I am really hoping that the DVD32R -> XXX DAC/upsampler -> AV32R+bypass will provide the best of both worlds, HT and stereo. Anybody out there?

> Try this link, it's interesting

Actually I dont think it is interesting, this was the discussion I was referring to and as I said before this does not tell me anything because the DACs were too similar. The fact that there was no significant differences merely shows the bypass does not degrade the sound quality of a moderately good DAC, thats called minimum standard of service. But will it degrade that of a top end DAC?


And BTW I’ve heard the EC kit, and it is very nice. Very popular over here of course!

Jeremy, living 12km from the EC factory.
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
Originally posted by Xtrips
Hi Plump, you are totally right. I've been carried out a bit with this stuff.
so what has happened, many people gave some good advice, has any helped or was it all forgotton when you spat the dummy?

Many of us have none to dissimilar sytems and don't experience these huge difficulties

Originally posted by Jeremy Hill
I am really hoping that the DVD32R -> XXX DAC/upsampler -> AV32R+bypass will provide the best of both worlds, HT and stereo. Anybody out there?
upsampling, why? what benefit can it posible add?
 

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