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Audio Impact Of Power Supply On H/E Converters? Metric Halo, Prism etc. Audio Interfaces
Old 25th March 2017
  #1
Gear Head
 

Audio Impact Of Power Supply On H/E Converters? Metric Halo, Prism etc.

Hi,

I hope I have come to the right place/spot on this forum but I am kind of curious to know more about how the quality of the power supply can impact the audio quality of interfaces/converters.

I suppose what piqued my interest is that I read a while back somewhere about some people had upgraded the power supply of the Metric ULN series to a linear power supply used for the Sonic Studio Model 305 and it made a huge sonic impact (in a good way!).

I was curious to know more about how this phenomenon works and if you can upgrade the power supply for any commercial unit, whether it be an interface or ad/da and da/ad converters?

A lot of geniuses on this forum so I thought I'd leave it up to the experts

EDIT:
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Currently using a modded Steinberg MR816. Happy with sound quality but when I upgraded the clock to a BLA Mark III XB the sound went to another stratosphere! (Anybody who can't hear the difference between a high end clock and clock on a stock interface must be deaf. Now curious to know if I can squeeze even more performance audio quality-wise by upgrading power supply if even possible.)

Is it possible to upgrade my Steinberg MR816 power supply for a better sound. I haven't been able to find much on researching the net. I did read that there is a guy named Gordon Rankin who did upgrades for the Metric Halo units but wasn't sure if they have to be specific to a brand/model.

Last edited by AC222; 25th March 2017 at 08:29 PM..
Old 25th March 2017
  #2
Gear Head
 

I'm reading this thread: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-m...hl-zz2416.html


It seems that multiple users are claiming that they can achieve an improved soundstage/stereo image on the d/a side. This is most interesting...

Now I'm thinking about where I can find a linear power supply for my various interfaces but don't know exactly how to match the specs.

My Ur28M specs:

Input 120 V ~ 60 Hz 0.3A
Output 12 V 1.0A

I don't know what this stuff even means and how to shop for a suitable power supply lol
Old 25th March 2017
  #3
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Power supplies are arguably the MOST important part of any piece of gear you use. Upgrading, or going with a company that knows how to design PS's well is generally a huge improvement. From consoles to floor box pedals to converters, power is the very heartbeat and lifeblood of your gear.
Old 25th March 2017
  #4
Gear Head
 

Wow, thanks drBill! Good to know. Are their any companies that you know that will sell affordable power supply replacements for the audio interfaces I use? Currently using Steinberg MR816 and Steinberg UR28m.

Also, using a Black Lion Mark III XB for external clocking. I read that the guys at this company Core Audio Technology http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/ made external power supplies for the Black Lion clocks and a Kaia for various audio interfaces. But when I tried going to the website, it seems to be defunct.
Old 25th March 2017
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Power supplies are arguably the MOST important part of any piece of gear you use. Upgrading, or going with a company that knows how to design PS's well is generally a huge improvement. From consoles to floor box pedals to converters, power is the very heartbeat and lifeblood of your gear.
Is there a company you prefer Dr. Bill?
Old 25th March 2017
  #6
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
The consoles and other power supplies I've had tweaked were done by Ralph Skelton @ Pacific Innovative Electronics in the North Valley - Granada Hills, CA. LA, CA area. Costly and it takes awhile to get back, but totally worth it - especially for heavy draw stuff like power amps, consoles, etc..
Old 26th March 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by AC222 View Post
Hi,

I hope I have come to the right place/spot on this forum but I am kind of curious to know more about how the quality of the power supply can impact the audio quality of interfaces/converters.
Hello,

The only impact will be on your wallet.
Old 27th April 2017
  #8
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinococcus View Post
Hello,

The only impact will be on your wallet.
Hi,

Thanks for your response and everyone else's responses. I decided to give a chance and buy a generic China-made linear power supply made with premium parts with a matching 12v/3 amp rating for my Steinberg/Yamhaa UR28m.

I can confirm that there is a HUGE difference between the sound of new power supply that I paid around $110 for.

Totally worth the investment in my opinion...I paid a little over $300 for the UR28M and now with the BLA Micro Clock MKIII XB, the sound is AMAZING.

So to get to more specifics, the two biggest things that you notice right away is that you will hear a stronger much cleaner bass signal. With the stock power supply, the bass is a bit muddy. It's crystal clear with the new power supply. The second thing I noticed was that when listening to acoustic instruments played and classical music, there is a HUGE difference in the separation between the instruments. You can hear them much more clearly in the mix.

Comparing on a dub step mix, I didn't hear as much of a dramatic difference as the classical instrumental. The bass was definitely cleaner and the transients had much more impact but I didn't notice as much separation as I did when listening to the classical mix. Perhaps the noticeable difference in separation between the two power supplies and mixes was largely impacted by the use of elements such as a 2bus compressor to make the dub step mix sound more "glued" whereas the classical mix did not feature a 2bus compressor and the reverb was meant to give each instrument its own space not to go for a "glued" sound.

Anyhow, I wanted to follow up on this because I learned a few things here. There is absolutely a noticeable difference between cheap cables and high end cables and apparently even a cheap power supply and quality power supply.

It is totally worth it to splurge on better cables (Accusound I have found to be the best) and on a better supply. So I paid a little over $300 for my UR28M and around $110 for the power supply. Yes, that is about 1/3rd of the price I paid for the whole unit just for the power supply. But think about it. $110 ain't that much for something that makes every mix sound better before you even start mixing. If you ask me, in the end, that's a real cheap and easy improvement that will be noticeable every time to anyone with a semblance of discerning ears. You'll end up with a better mix because you can hear each instrument/frequency better in its own space and you'll be able to find more space to place each instrument/frequency in the mix.

Now whether or not you think it's worth it.... well that's an opinion and that's up to you. My vote is totally worth it. But as for whether there is a difference, there is absolutely a difference and there's no question about it.

Obviously the song, performance, mixing skills should be treated with paramount importance accordingly. But for a simple, easy improvement on total sound quality, my conclusion is the power supply should not be overlooked and well, it's a damn shame that it is because we take it for granted. Oh i just need this to turn on the unit and it's all the same. Not the case at all.

Cheers,

AC
Old 28th April 2017
  #9
Gear Head
 

Ok. So for a quick update, I am noticing even more details on the second day of using the new power supply. The top end clarity is soooooo much better. Crystal clear clarity. Also the stereo image is much wider. Amazing how much a simply power supply can make a huge improvement for a budget audio interface. For those that are curious, I am using an LHY Audio Interface (previously branded Jay's Audio) from China.
Old 28th April 2017
  #10
Interested to learn how you eliminated the effects of bias, room, caffeine etc?!

Not saying you're wrong but I see no scientific testing here!
Old 28th April 2017
  #11
Gear Head
 

No scientific test here. Just straight up listening on good headphones in a Samplitude mixing session. You'd have to be deaf not to hear the difference. Naturally, I was a bit skeptical but figured I'd give it a shot. I didn't think much to give it a shot for paying around $100 for an upgraded power supply. If it didn't work, water on the bridge. If it was, it would be a cheap way to permanently upgrade the sound quality of all mixes going forward. I went off the recommendations of some of the Metric Halo guys that upgraded their power supply to Zahl. The key recommendations were to find a linear power supply and one that used quality components. To my surprise, there is in fact a very audible improvement as described above.

Perhaps drBill can chime in with more on the science behind the difference between a linear power supply with higher grade components and a stock power supply and why it would have an audible impact. I'm just reporting my findings. As for whether or not anyone would care to benefit from what I consider to be a cheap upgrade, that's subjective.

On a completely side note, I find it curious to note that there are many skeptics on whether clocking to a better source makes a difference and some that point out their theory that adding further processing to the signal change would actually degrade the sound signal. I find it interesting how dismissive some folks are on clocks because the difference between using a stock clock on a middle of the road converter an a high end clock such as the BLA Microclock Mark III XB is night and day when comes to sound quality.

The improvement from using a better clock in my opinion yields a more dramatic improvement than upgrading the power supply. However, considering that I paid just over $100 for a new power supply, I feel the power supply is a better bang for your buck.
Old 28th April 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
In my world

How is build a power supply converter ?

How work a clock ?

When i answer at these two questions, i do not buy a power supply and i do not buy a clock.

No test is necessary

Even a potato put on my RME could change the sound if i believe it
Old 28th April 2017
  #13
Gear Head
 

The last post makes no sense to me. If you don't believe in the merits of using better gear for recording and mixing, then you might as well just buy the cheapest interface you can find and pretend there is no difference, Mackie, Focusrite, and Behringer sell interfaces for less than $100. But would you dare compare any of those interfaces to something recorded/mixed through an Orpheus or SSL front end?
Old 29th April 2017
  #14
Lives for gear
I use Teradak linear power supply with my Dangerous Source and it also makes a noticeable improvement over stock switching. The importance of clean and ample power cannot be overlooked for me. Slowly chipping away at it.
Old 29th April 2017
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zoom25 View Post
I use Teradak linear power supply with my Dangerous Source and it also makes a noticeable improvement over stock switching. The importance of clean and ample power cannot be overlooked for me. Slowly chipping away at it.
Thanks for your input! That is really interesting that the Teradak gives you a noticeable improvement, especially considering that all of the Dangerous stuff is super high quality to begin with. Perhaps the small amount of noise that stock switching power supplies adds up to the point where it is quite audible versus a linear supply. I first noticed the benefits of noise reduction when upgrading my clock to an ultra low jitter clock from Black Lion Audio. It was like a night and day difference. Thanks for sharing and cheers!
Old 29th April 2017
  #16
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by AC222 View Post
Thanks for your input! That is really interesting that the Teradak gives you a noticeable improvement, especially considering that all of the Dangerous stuff is super high quality to begin with. Perhaps the small amount of noise that stock switching power supplies adds up to the point where it is quite audible versus a linear supply. I first noticed the benefits of noise reduction when upgrading my clock to an ultra low jitter clock from Black Lion Audio. It was like a night and day difference. Thanks for sharing and cheers!
Yes, the clarity and lack of noise is beneficial. However, I've also found the headphone amp section to benefit with the extra headroom. Using HD 800.
Old 29th April 2017
  #17
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AC222 View Post
That is really interesting that the Teradak gives you a noticeable improvement, especially considering that all of the Dangerous stuff is super high quality to begin with.
Doesn't surprise me. Power is one of the most misunderstood and little thought out areas of gear design - and one that can almost always be improved.
Old 29th April 2017
  #18
Lives for gear
From things that have gone through, voltage regulation appears to be important for the quality of the word clock. That in turn effects the quality of the AD/DA.

I also believe that many pieces of audio gears work best when supplied with the exact right voltage.
Old 29th April 2017
  #19
Gear Nut
 
DeyeYguy's Avatar
 

Power supplies are commonly built to barely(not optimally) satisfy minimal spec sheet requirements, they very rarely go beyond because it costs money, add that to the "no ears" approach to design, most EE's are not AE's, they don't know what to listen for, and even if they did the bean counters would never let them listen experiment options and do comparisons, it's driven purely by reliable functionality and price point, "does it do what we said it will do without breaking?", not "does it sound good?", they give just enough juice to satisfy the data sheet requirements, their scopes, and call it a day, and yes most of it's falling way short of optimal IME...., no matter most marketing hyperbole.
Old 30th April 2017
  #20
In the past I would have been a little skeptical of power supplies making any audible difference, but I too have heard quite a difference in using a good linear power supply. I recently built a new DAW computer that didn't have on-board firewire, so I had to buy a PCIex1 firewire card for my soundcard. It had a molex power port to increase the bus power, but I had misplaced the extra cables on my modular power supply and wasn't able to hook the computer power supply to the card's aux power connector. I have an older TC electronic Konnekt 24d that I bought used really cheap and it didn't come with the power supply, so I always bus powered it with my old computer. Well, when I hooked the Konnekt to the new DAW and firewire card it sounded like a totally different soundcard in a bad way. I have a pair of 600ohm headphones that require alot of juice to run and in the past these were passable on the Konnekt headphone out, but now unlistenable(no bass, no volume). The regular outs were also lacking in bass and grainy sounding. So anyways, I got a good deal on a nice linear 12v 5a power supply and used that to power the Konnekt and I was pretty surprised at how much better it sounded. Wider soundstage, better bass response, a little clearer, etc. Mind you, the difference between the sound with the Konnekt underpowered and correctly powered was greater, but the beefy linear supply did sound better to me than the unit used too. Turns out PCIex1 slots only put out half an amp and the original TC switching power supply was 1 amp, so it was pretty underpowered by the firewire bus.
Old 30th April 2017
  #21
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeyeYguy View Post
Power supplies are commonly built to barely(not optimally) satisfy minimal spec sheet requirements, they very rarely go beyond because it costs money, add that to the "no ears" approach to design, most EE's are not AE's, they don't know what to listen for, and even if they did the bean counters would never let them listen experiment options and do comparisons, it's driven purely by reliable functionality and price point, "does it do what we said it will do without breaking?", not "does it sound good?", they give just enough juice to satisfy the data sheet requirements, their scopes, and call it a day, and yes most of it's falling way short of optimal IME...., no matter most marketing hyperbole.
Tony - Ralph Skelton's overbuilt power supplies are absolutely amazing. Especially his console power supplies. Ask him about what he does if you talk to him.... I have heard them on many console power supplies, and they are over the top great sounding. Night and day is the descriptor I'd use.....
Old 1st May 2017
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Dr. Bill has hit the nail on the head. There is a reason why mastering studios will mod power supplies of gear before just about anything else.

The problem with a lot of gear (as mentioned earlier in this thread) is that it is made to a minimum spec. This is applicable to the entire process from power supply to clocks to the analog electronics in a digital piece (say a converter, etc...). The pieces of equipment that have no compromises are super expensive. If it isn't expensive, you can assume that at least a part of it was built to a price and not to performance. When you get to higher end gear, the stability and quality of the powering will allow that gear's potential to come out.

One of my mentors was Steve Barker- a great designer and engineer. He was responsible for a number of pieces that are favorites or made press (he was one of the main designers for Inward Connections before he passed away- did the vac rac line including the limiters, he designed for ADL, and a number of others). Anyways, power supplies were a specialty of his- especially for tube gear. Time and time again, he'd bring in a new design for a power supply for tube mics and it was an obvious change in sound. The mics, cables, and room were consistent, but the sound was different- the power supply being the reason.

Don't knock the power supply until you've dealt with it.

--Ben
Old 14th February 2019
  #23
Gear Addict
 

I would like to upgrade the power cord of my prism lyra interface. I think can be interesting to try. But i 'm a bit lost with so many models, anyone could recommand me a particular one?
Old 14th February 2019
  #24
Lives for gear
 
IanBSC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirito View Post
I would like to upgrade the power cord of my prism lyra interface. I think can be interesting to try. But i 'm a bit lost with so many models, anyone could recommand me a particular one?
Shunyata power cables have had an excellent impact on my equipment. Check out the Venom V14, or the fanciest one you can afford.
Old 14th February 2019
  #25
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by dinococcus View Post
Hello,

The only impact will be on your wallet.
When it comes to pro-audio I only believe that which can be proven in a proper double blind ABX test.

There are people out there selling 13amp mains fuses worth 25p for £25!

They will tell you that their uber fuse once installed in your plug will increase your sound stage and bass response .... mmmh.

Maybe a pimped PSU does make a difference to a large analogue console, this seems reasonable although I wonder how many large format SSL desks use anything other than the SSL supplied PSU.

My HEDD converter cost £3K exactly becuase Dave Hill makes sure everything is perfect, there's no way I'd mess with the PSU on that unit!

As for upgrading Steinberg interface PSU I agree with @ Dino cocuss ..... the only impact you will actually "double blind ABX" notice is your wallet will be lighter.

Last edited by thehightenor; 14th February 2019 at 08:50 PM..
Old 14th February 2019
  #26
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IanBSC View Post
Shunyata power cables have had an excellent impact on my equipment. Check out the Venom V14, or the fanciest one you can afford.
Thank you ! Seems a bit difficult to find in Europe but i will try to find it!

Have you heard about the ' Vovox Initio ' one ?
Old 14th February 2019
  #27
Lives for gear
GS becomes an audiophile forum and the audiophiles who think the pro makes rational choice.
Consider contacting your local electricity supplier for use the vovox along the electric path since the power plant.

I forgot that if it is sold, it is work fine.
Old 14th February 2019
  #28
Lives for gear
 
IanBSC's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirito View Post
Thank you ! Seems a bit difficult to find in Europe but i will try to find it!

Have you heard about the ' Vovox Initio ' one ?
I haven't personally heard that one. It looks like it would definitely be better than as stock cable. I know Audioquest and Nordost are both well regarded as well.
Old 14th February 2019
  #29
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dinococcus View Post
GS becomes an audiophile forum and the audiophiles who think the pro makes rational choice.
Consider contacting your local electricity supplier for use the vovox along the electric path since the power plant.

I forgot that if it is sold, it is work fine.
sorry i don't understand why should i contact my local electricity supplier for vovox?
Old 14th February 2019
  #30
Lives for gear
One of my dearest friends spent a small fortune on a 1m mains cable for his converter - apparently it considerable improved it's performance - which is literally fantastic considering the hundreds miles of cable between a large spinning motor driven by steam, fuelled by coal and his converters - but still he was insistent.

I went around to see this wonder of science and engineering.

I asked if he would allow me to double blind ABX test it against the 1m mains cable that came with his budget kettle (worth about £2)

Oddly he refused to allow such a test - oh well each to their own.
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