Kolkata Audio Meet - May 2019 (posting in 2020)

haisaikat

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It is always better to be late than never, so even if this is a "late post", no audio meet is not complete without its account of happenings. After our last audio meet in April 2019 @pratimbayal 's place this time this was the next one on our cards for a different kind of setup, DIY Open Baffle.

It was the day of the election in Kolkata and by 11 am with the official ink on the finger we were literally locked in home for the rest of the day as most of the shops and malls were closed or planned to open late. Also its a general public sentiment that its better to stay at home on such days. But what is a day of lethargy for the rest can be a day of opportunity for audio lovers. Although with limited audience we still made this happen, but note FM @pratimbayal and @Rupakghosh.80 made it at the same place on the subsequent Sunday and I request them to post their impressions soon.

Meet 2 / 19th May 2019
Location: @rpugalia a.k.a Rajneesh
Attendees: Myself, @Sandip Das

Base Setup:
  1. DIY Open Baffle Speakers made using regular unused Plywood planks with below drivers
    • Tang Band W8-1808 full rangers used for mids and highs
    • Pioneer double voice coil 4ohms woofer for lows / bass (per Rajneesh this is also used at times as a automobile subwoofer driver)
  2. Yamaha DSP Z9 AVR used in stereo mode for the Full rangers
  3. Crown XLS 2502 Class D amplifier powering the Pioneer drivers
  4. Emotiva DC 1 DAC
  5. Western Digital Media Player as source of playing Audio Files
  6. Regular AC wiring 4sq mm Finolex wires with crocodile clips used as speaker cables
  7. A mix of Regular / QED Interconnects

Additional Item brought for the meet

Objective: To listen to the Open Baffle setup and enjoy the afternoon

A few lines on the Setup
Let me first describe how the setup is made to work.

The WD Media Player is connected via Optical Out to the Emotiva DC 1 DAC's digital input. The DAC is serving a unique utility in this setup since it has two identical and simultaneous analogue outputs: one is RCA stereo pair and another is XLR stereo pair. The RCA stereo output from the DAC is connected to the RCA Analogue inputs of the Yamaha DSP Z9 AVR which is in turn powering the W8-1808 Full Rangers, note the full spectrum of the signal is being fed through this path but since the W8-1808's low end is limited at 45 Hz the bass below this level would not be produced. The XLR output from the DAC is fed to the Crown amplifier which in turn feeds the Pioneer bass drivers.

The rationale behind this setup is in every multi way speaker setup the crossover design is a mammoth task and unless not carefully done ends up messing the entire setup. The Crown amplifier has an inbuilt high, low and band pass filter control and hence acts here as active crossover, in this case sending the lows to the Pioneer drivers. Moreover the Crown amp has high output power with Class D design and efficiency making it ideal to power the subs.

Last but not the least, the setup is placed in a massive hall (within a modern apartment, so you can guess how big the actual apartment is) that most Audio Enthusiast will envy. The hall and the full rangers complement each other very nicely.

Summary of observations
  1. We started the warm up with Shreya Ghoshal's - Jadu Hai Nasha Hai and the sudden peak in the mids on this track are represented such beautifully that really makes the room full of sound come alive. In a solid state chain it is rare to see such level of control even with increased volume on the highs to make you hear all the detail yet do not cross that boundary where you will end up marking it as hurting your years. We listened to this track multiple times to confirm. There is a video at the end, pardon the echo which can make it feel now as bright but it isn't.
  2. We thought its the DAC but realized its the characteristics of the full rangers and the excellent stereo reproduction of the Yamaha Z9.
  3. In one of our previous meet the tonality of the Emotiva DC 1 DAC was tested and it does add a layer of smoothness to the vocals and highs for good but having listened to this setup once before with the WD Player in built DAC (I can vouch for and say for the price WD DAC is pretty decent) and it seems the Yamaha Z9 AVR and the Full Rangers combine and work this sweetness out on their own very well. The Z9 delivers 170 Watts per channel at 6 ohms making every transient peaks effortless to reproduce. It is very heavy.
  4. It is when we switched to Rajneesh's favourite track (he played this at my home too in an earlier meet) the Stimela / Coal Train song by Hugh Masekela the concert was such lively with a wide soundstage that it immediately creates a Concert like ambiance flawlessly.
  5. We listened to retro Phil Collins and Eric Clapton and the male vocal sounded really good.
  6. Asha Bhonsle sounded good to in the flow of the smooth highs
  7. Even with the 105 dB sensitivity of the pioneer sub drivers and the 775 Watts @ 4 ohms power capacity of the Crown amp there seemed to be room for improvement for bass. After some experiments of standing at various positions in the hall we could make out room acoustics is partly at play here with better bass when we experimented with a couple of tracks by sitting on one of the side facing sofas to find some improvement and most bass behind the setup where there is at least 5-7 feet gap with the walls. Rajneeh believes the complete sealing of the sub enclosures may bring in better improvements as compared to the casual sealing during the meet.
  8. Rajneesh tried tweaking the Crown's selectable input sensitivity feature by increasing it from .775Vrms to of 1.4Vrms and which literally doubles the input voltage sensitivity and indeed the bass shot up but the reproduction was not the best and was not fluently mixing with the mids. Even he tried tweaking by allowing the full spectrum of the sound being feed to the Pioneers via the Crown amp so that the drivers do a natural clipping of the other frequencies but it seems to distort even more. Rajneesh thinks having a separate cabinet for the subs can be tried for betterment.
  9. We could not test all the various modes of the Crown amp and needless to say its a pro grade equipment with ample control over volume / crossover and that too at a individual channel level
  10. Like I said Room-Full sound, so even if you face the speakers tilted sideways in a diverging direction away from each other another dimension seems to get added. There seems to be so much of experimenting that this kind of a setup allows.
  11. When you have a detailed and revealing solid state setup it can put tubes to shame, for the momentary period we placed the Little Dot Mk II as preamp to the Yamaha AVR by passing DAC outputs to the AVR via the Little Dot the loss of details was instantly evident. Yes can be partly to the cheap Chinese transformers these preamps use.
  12. Rajneesh at the time of this meet was using a XLR to RCA conversion wire from Emotiva DAC to the Crown amp even when the Crown had XLR inputs. We recommended to replace with a pure XLR - XLR cable
Conclusion
I want to conclude by saying that the bass part being still worked upon, this setup has a lot of promises with the full rangers and which a regular sealed speakers listener may not even dream of. Low volume listening is really enjoyable with natural / laid back vocal tones and that is why the Retros sounded so nice. Club all this with the excellent hospitality of Rajneesh that such a wonderful musical afternoon seemed to pass in no time making us looking forward to the next meet. The bass would need some more time to improve to the next level but indeed this system has and needs a lot more to offer in terms of audio adjustments.

Pictures from the meet

The hall with the setup
IMG-20200211-WA0009.jpg

A closer look at the setup
IMG-20200211-WA0010.jpg

The mighty Yamaha Z9
IMG_20190519_172947.jpg

The back view of the Yamaha Z9
IMG_20190519_172806.jpg

The speaker plank from behind
IMG_20190519_172816.jpg

The Crown amp
IMG_20190519_172952.jpg

From left to right @Sandip Das and Myself. We missed photographing Rajneesh
IMG-20200211-WA0008.jpg

Videos from observations

Jadu Hai Nasha Hai - Jism

Lamha Lamha, at T=2:15 mins its mr Sandip surveying the bass at the rear

Sun Raha Hai Live Unplugged, Video played for its good audio track
 
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mshifi

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Nice setup. Yamaha used to make some good amps. Even the AVR sounds good in stereo made and beat some decent intergrated amps in sound quality.
 

Sandip Das

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Nice setup. Yamaha used to make some good amps. Even the AVR sounds good in stereo made and beat some decent intergrated amps in sound quality.
absolutly.. it has muscular power section to drive the speaker easily..
 

Sandip Das

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Howrah
It is always better to be late than never, so even if this is a "late post", no audio meet is not complete without its account of happenings. After our last audio meet in April 2019 @pratimbayal 's place this time this was the next one on our cards for a different kind of setup, DIY Open Baffle.

It was the day of the election in Kolkata and by 11 am with the official ink on the finger we were literally locked in home for the rest of the day as most of the shops and malls were closed or planned to open late. Also its a general public sentiment that its better to stay at home on such days. But what is a day of lethargy for the rest can be a day of opportunity for audio lovers. Although with limited audience we still made this happen, but note FM @pratimbayal and @Rupakghosh.80 made it at the same place on the subsequent Sunday and I request them to post their impressions soon.

Meet 2 / 19th May 2019
Location: @pugalenthi a.k.a Rajneesh
Attendees: Myself, @Sandip Das

Base Setup:
  1. DIY Open Baffle Speakers made using regular unused Plywood planks with below drivers
    • Tang Band W8-1808 full rangers used for mids and highs
    • Pioneer double voice coil 4ohms woofer for lows / bass (per Rajneesh this is also used at times as a automobile subwoofer driver)
  2. Yamaha DSP Z9 AVR used in stereo mode for the Full rangers
  3. Crown XLS 2502 Class D amplifier powering the Pioneer drivers
  4. Emotiva XDA1 DAC
  5. Western Digital Media Player as source of playing Audio Files
  6. Regular AC wiring 4sq mm Finolex wires with crocodile clips used as speaker cables
  7. A mix of Regular / QED Interconnects

Additional Item brought for the meet

Objective: To listen to the Open Baffle setup and enjoy the afternoon

A few lines on the Setup
Let me first describe how the setup is made to work.

The WD Media Player is connected via Optical Out to the Emotiva XDA1 DAC's digital input. The DAC is serving a unique utility in this setup since it has two identical and simultaneous analogue outputs: one is RCA stereo pair and another is XLR stereo pair. The RCA stereo output from the DAC is connected to the RCA Analogue inputs of the Yamaha DSP Z9 AVR which is in turn powering the W8-1808 Full Rangers, note the full spectrum of the signal is being fed through this path but since the W8-1808's low end is limited at 45 Hz the bass below this level would not be produced. The XLR output from the DAC is fed to the Crown amplifier which in turn feeds the Pioneer bass drivers.

The rationale behind this setup is in every multi way speaker setup the crossover design is a mammoth task and unless not carefully done ends up messing the entire setup. The Crown amplifier has an inbuilt high, low and band pass filter control and hence acts here as active crossover, in this case sending the lows to the Pioneer drivers. Moreover the Crown amp has high output power with Class D design and efficiency making it ideal to power the subs.

Last but not the least, the setup is placed in a massive hall (within a modern apartment, so you can guess how big the actual apartment is) that most Audio Enthusiast will envy. The hall and the full rangers complement each other very nicely.

Summary of observations
  1. We started the warm up with Shreya Ghoshal's - Jadu Hai Nasha Hai and the sudden peak in the mids on this track are represented such beautifully that really makes the room full of sound come alive. In a solid state chain it is rare to see such level of control even with increased volume on the highs to make you hear all the detail yet do not cross that boundary where you will end up marking it as hurting your years. We listened to this track multiple times to confirm. There is a video at the end, pardon the echo which can make it feel now as bright but it isn't.
  2. We thought its the DAC but realized its the characteristics of the full rangers and the excellent stereo reproduction of the Yamaha Z9.
  3. In one of our previous meet the tonality of the Emotiva XDA1 DAC was tested and it does add a layer of smoothness to the vocals and highs for good but having listened to this setup once before with the WD Player in built DAC (I can vouch for and say for the price WD DAC is pretty decent) and it seems the Yamaha Z9 AVR and the Full Rangers combine and work this sweetness out on their own very well. The Z9 delivers 170 Watts per channel at 6 ohms making every transient peaks effortless to reproduce. It is very heavy.
  4. It is when we switched to Rajneesh's favourite track (he played this at my home too in an earlier meet) the Stimela / Coal Train song by Hugh Masekela the concert was such lively with a wide soundstage that it immediately creates a Concert like ambiance flawlessly.
  5. We listened to retro Phil Collins and Eric Clapton and the male vocal sounded really good.
  6. Asha Bhonsle sounded good to in the flow of the smooth highs
  7. Even with the 105 dB sensitivity of the pioneer sub drivers and the 775 Watts @ 4 ohms power capacity of the Crown amp there seemed to be room for improvement for bass. After some experiments of standing at various positions in the hall we could make out room acoustics is partly at play here with better bass when we experimented with a couple of tracks by sitting on one of the side facing sofas to find some improvement and most bass behind the setup where there is at least 5-7 feet gap with the walls. Rajneeh believes the complete sealing of the sub enclosures may bring in better improvements as compared to the casual sealing during the meet.
  8. Rajneesh tried tweaking the Crown's selectable input sensitivity feature by increasing it from .775Vrms to of 1.4Vrms and which literally doubles the input voltage sensitivity and indeed the bass shot up but the reproduction was not the best and was not fluently mixing with the mids. Even he tried tweaking by allowing the full spectrum of the sound being feed to the Pioneers via the Crown amp so that the drivers do a natural clipping of the other frequencies but it seems to distort even more. Rajneesh thinks having a separate cabinet for the subs can be tried for betterment.
  9. We could not test all the various modes of the Crown amp and needless to say its a pro grade equipment with ample control over volume / crossover and that too at a individual channel level
  10. Like I said Room-Full sound, so even if you face the speakers tilted sideways in a diverging direction away from each other another dimension seems to get added. There seems to be so much of experimenting that this kind of a setup allows.
  11. When you have a detailed and revealing solid state setup it can put tubes to shame, for the momentary period we placed the Little Dot Mk II as preamp to the Yamaha AVR by passing DAC outputs to the AVR via the Little Dot the loss of details was instantly evident. Yes can be partly to the cheap Chinese transformers these preamps use.
  12. Rajneesh at the time of this meet was using a XLR to RCA conversion wire from Emotiva DAC to the Crown amp even when the Crown had XLR inputs. We recommended to replace with a pure XLR - XLR cable
Conclusion
I want to conclude by saying that the bass part being still worked upon, this setup has a lot of promises with the full rangers and which a regular sealed speakers listener may not even dream of. Low volume listening is really enjoyable with natural / laid back vocal tones and that is why the Retros sounded so nice. Club all this with the excellent hospitality of Rajneesh that such a wonderful musical afternoon seemed to pass in no time making us looking forward to the next meet. The bass would need some more time to improve to the next level but indeed this system has and needs a lot more to offer in terms of audio adjustments.

Pictures from the meet

The hall with the setup
View attachment 43575

A closer look at the setup
View attachment 43577

The mighty Yamaha Z9
View attachment 43573

The back view of the Yamaha Z9
View attachment 43574

The speaker plank from behind
View attachment 43572

The Crown amp
View attachment 43571

From left to right @Sandip Das and Myself. We missed photographing Rajneesh
View attachment 43576

Videos from observations

Jadu Hai Nasha Hai - Jism

Lamha Lamha, at T=2:15 mins its mr Sandip surveying the bass at the rear

Sun Raha Hai Live Unplugged, Video played for its good audio track
it was a nice experience for me with diy op speaker.. sweet sounding mid range and overall sound stage was good.. come to the emotiva dac. the dac itself sound well deifined by its tube like charecter. and last but not list the yamaha musculer amp dirve the speaker so smoothly. tnx for your complete review @haisaikat
 

shibashis

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Correction, I believe the Emotiva in operation is my old Stealth DC-1 and not the XDA 1. The Stealth DC-1 is on an entirely different league compared to the XDA series.
 

haisaikat

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Correction, I believe the Emotiva in operation is my old Stealth DC-1 and not the XDA 1. The Stealth DC-1 is on an entirely different league compared to the XDA series.

Thank you Shibashis. Good to hear for you. @Nikhil can you please correct this in the meet update post at the top?
 

rpugalia

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That is one hell of amplifier, have you tried it for bass duty? I mean by Yamaha
The Yamaha z9 is a very capable amp but one cannot run a passive subwoofer directly without a crossover. That's why I use a crown power amp with inbuilt digital crossover.
 

haisaikat

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Forgot to add this in the original post, there is a excellent bedroom setup @rpugalia 's home with a Optoma projector, Onkyo AVR and Mordaunt Short Avant 5.1 speakers and subwoofer. A glimpse of the same while we were enjoying a big platter of mouth watering snacks courtesy @rpugalia 's hospitality. The projection is on the opposite wall without the use of any dedicated screen and the color reproduction is excellent to say the least as the optimal wall width is perfectly filled up by the image projected.

 
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Sandip Das

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I forgot about it, too. The Rajneesh dar projector setup is really good with good sound quality.. and enjoy the snacks too :)
 
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