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DewDude's Digital Thermionic Bliss System
IP Address: 108.28.109.36 Last Update: May 20, 2017 at 16:21:32
Amplifier: Motorola HS-619 monoblocks (6V6 PP Output - 12AU7 driver/phase splitter & tone stages. No 6AU6 1st AF)
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Yaqin MS-12B (12AX7 Phono & 12AU7 line)
Speakers: Ohm Model L
Sources:
CD Player/DAC: SMSL M8 (XMOS U8 USB Receiver with ES9018 DAC - 24/384 and DSD128)
Other Source(s): SACD Capable PS3 (for...reasons)
Other Accessories/Room/Misc.:
Speaker Cables/Interconnects: Random Acquisitions
Other (Power Conditioner, Racks etc.): Little Bear P5 "buffer/pre" after DAC
Sansui SE-8 EQ after P5 feeding Yaqin.
Tweaks: Removed original first AF stage in Motorola amps (6AU6) and replaced with Yaqin MS-12B.

All 12AU7 stages run Sylvania 5963 green labels.
TubeAmpDoctor output tubes.
Music Preferences and Comments:
Music Used (Genre/Selections): I don't even know where to begin to list my musical preferences. My overall collection seems to be skewed toward 70's (I've been accused of having been born two decades too late).

I'm also really attracted to DSD stuff.
System Goals/Comments: What started out as my first tube setup has had a few things added to it over the last few years; and I somehow accidentally built a system that far exceeds what I thought it could be.

I paired the stock Motorola 619s with my Sansui EQ and ran that for quite a few months with a M-Audio Transit USB sound device. While initially impressed with the sound on my DCM Timeframe 400s; when I later constructed an adapter to run headphones, I was greatly disturbed by the amount of noise the 6AU6 put in the chain. I added a "bypass" switch for headphone use, as the stage was not needed to drive headphones.

About a year later, I acquired my Yaqin MS-12B tube phono-stage and preamp after wanting to obtain a tube phono preamp. I found the 12AU7 preamp stage in the Yaqin was more than enough to drive my Motos to full output without the 6AU6, so the tube was removed and permanently bypassed. This turned out to be a good move, as the aging volume pot was beginning to fail and has no direct replacement; it also removed the bass compensation circuit...which doesn't bother me because I already use an EQ and the sweet sounding tone controls in the Motos. My primary listening was done through a pair of Bose TP-1A Triports.

A couple of years later I made what's going to sound like a strange move; I found myself with my own area of a 20'x12' shed in the back yard. Having insulated it, put in climate control, and wired it with both electricity and ethernet; I decided to move the tube system down there. Being really limited on space; I started off with a pair of DCM TimePieces on the table I'm using as a desk. It was nice being on headphones and simultaneously be able to enjoy uninterrupted listening at whatever volume at whatever time of the day.

I acquired my Ohm Model L's for a guy I was doing repair work for. They look like an absolute mess...someone screwed shelf brackets directly to the cabinets, then painted three sides of them with whatever they painted their walls with. Despite they're not desk speakers in any form; since they fit, that's what they became. Oh man was I impressed with the sound these things put out. I loved them instantly; and I still rave about them.

The LittleBear P5 was kind of an impulse buy. I was kind of intrigued by what this little thing was, especially after my research lead me to find it seemed to be somewhat inspired by the X10D. I got it for almost next to nothing with a pair of Soviet tubes to replace the Chinese ones it came with. The Transit USB's audio output was a bit on the low-side; so the extra gain going in to the EQ was appreciated. The included transformer wound up being highly under-rated for the job. I happen to have a much larger transformer I'd recently salvaged that provided an acceptable voltage. With the thing running at full potential, I was really digging the sound.

A couple of years later, I decided to finally make an upgrade to another piece of the puzzle I'd been neglecting for a few years, my DAC. I first became aware that I could greatly improve my DAC about 4 years ago when I picked up my first SACD player; a basic Sony NS-775V DVD Combo player. While I was impressed with the SACD playback on the thing, it was it's fantastic Redbook playback that showed me a weakness in the Transit. I'd put it off for a while, even doing something crazy like changing all the caps in the Transit to some of the highest-grade Nichicon audio caps I could blow money on to fill out an order. That, to my surprise, actually enough improvement I went on for another two years.

While doing some initial research on the current state of DACs; I stumbled across the SMSL M8. I initially dismissed it from my list of possibilities no less than 12 times for various purposes; including repeating purposes. A DAC boasting a XMOS controller with an ES9018 chip (even if it's the MK2 mobile version), that does DSD playback, at the price it was, from a Chinese audio company; it seemed too good to be true. But as I started reading reviews, both on the usual south american forest retail site as well as anywhere else I found them; I slowly came around. Sure, some people really called this thing a piece of garbage; the number of reviews that didn't call it garbage greatly outnumbered them. In fact; most of the reviews were pretty positive; glowing even. As far as the reviews not on the retail sites; you know, the ones written by guys who seem to know what they're talking about...they had nothing but excellent things to say. When comparisons were made to DACs costing 10x more were made...and it came out fairly unscathed; I had to check this out.

This is the best DAC I've ever heard. Hands down. Before I dug out any of my high-resolution stuff I did a baseline with standard Redbook, and it even surpassed the Sony. When I started playing my HD content, especially DSD content; I was blown away.

Now my only problem is I can't tear myself away from listening to it!

At one point I installed a pair of Soviet 6P6S Reflektor output tubes just to give them a try. I really enjoyed the sound I got after they got some hours on them, but about a year later one of them developed a hot spot in the cathode. When I put them on my tube tester, it also revealed that the tubes also suffered quite a bit of wear; which I expected since the 619s ran those things quite a bit over the specs listed on the datasheet.
System Strengths: Stupidly High Resolution playback
Super oversized output iron for rich bass
6 tubes per channel! (7 if you count rectifier)
Patsy on SACD sounded so good it almost brought me to tears
Minimal tube hum despite AC filaments
System Weaknesses: Only 10 watts.
Consumes a hell of a lot of power.
Will burn you.
Limited space means "smaller" soundstage.
High ratio of ChiFi gear.
EQ's SpecAn is whacked out due to high RF exposure
Video/HT System: None
Other Interests/Hobbies/Occupation: Coin-op technician by day; mostly pinball machines, jukeboxes, video arcade games, and slot machines; both the physical machines and the electronics behind them.

I also got in to this amateur radio stuff a couple years ago after an obsession with

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