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In Reply to: Pass x2.5 pre - Sounds great... Stupid user interface! posted by AbeCollins on April 13, 2007 at 17:23:13:
If one takes a gander at the pre-amp interface:
:the blue touch-screen offers a bery logical and flexible interface - with cascaded sub-menus and, due to the micro-processor controller, offers the ability to customise the legends on each menu item as well as program the four "Function Buttons" on the supplied remote.
Also available are the following functions:
- Individual level/balance adjustment per input
- Maximum system volume setting level (caps maximum level selectable)
- Deactivation of menu options for unused inputs
- Screen legend language selection
- Display brightness & timeout parameter adjustment
- Volume control "behaviour" customisation (volume change vs rotation)
- Menu selection of Phono gain (if phono stage installed)
- Programming of the two 12v trigger output logic (on/off/toggle)
- Menu selection of "SSP" for Unity-Gain in HT application
- Teach IR option for programming of universal remote controls
In addition, a "Sensor Status" display provides real-time read-outs for:
- Internal operating temperature
- Mains line voltage
- Earth/ground present
Best of all, the screen and menu approach seems much more acceptable to the fairer sex.
Similarly, on their disk players, the same technology is used, but - understandably - using different logic due to the functional differences:
All in all, I've found this User Interface to offer the ideal combination of strengths:
- comprehensive control
...using that type of interface adds a lot of electrical interference inside the component:
-- There has to be a microprocessor running at all times to control the screen. This means a high speed digital clock is running at all times.
-- The display itself has multiplexing (switching the display elements on and off rapidly) or scanning. Either method creates high-frequency electrical noise.
-- The touchscreen sensor also has scanning, both vertically and horizontally. Again, more noise is generated
All of this creates a considerable amount of high-frequency noise. Some, but not all, of this noise can be filtered out. The remaining noise generally degrades the sonic performance of the audio circuitry. The degree of degradation is difficult for anybody but the manufacturer to determine, as you would need to listen to the same unit with and without the extra noise-generating circuitry.
I am not sure if what Charles says has an appreciable affect on the sound, but I did recently switch from tne Classe CP-700 to the ARC Ref3. Yes, the Classe interface is incredible. The amount of user friendly features makes one of the best preamps to operate and use on a daily basis. I am not sure if the lack of complexity is the reason, but I do prefer the sound of my ARC Ref 3. The more and more I get into this hobby, the less and less fancy bells and whistles means to me. I just want something with a limited set of features that sounds great! I admit the ARC Ref 3 is really ugly and it has no real extra user features other than the tube hours counter but I really like the sound.
I must say that I am surprised to see comments such as this made about a competitors product by a man in your position.
One must assume that Classe' has enough experience to be aware of, and address, any kind of problem that an interface such as theirs might create.
Of course the menu can be configured to be on all of the time, or to switch itself off after a predetermined time. I run mine with the menu off, but I have not been able to distinguish a sonic difference in either case.
IMHO, it's about time that some of the high-end manufactures actually offer high-end features for those willing to go beyond the standard box-store offerings.
A couple of the Delta series features like volume control behavior and overvoltage shutdown are useful, but how much does all the extra bells and whistles add to the cost of Classé's products ? I really don't care for features like temperature readout, line voltage readout, etc. For those who want those things that's fine, but others who don't need them should not have to pay for a lot of unnecessary features they don't want.
< < others who don't need them should not have to pay for a lot of unnecessary features they don't want > >
Just to be clear, the expensive parts in a fancy display like that are the display screen and the touchscreen control. Once you have made the decision to spend that money, then most of the other features don't add much expense at all. Instead it's just a matter of programming the microprocessor.
In fact that is one of the problems with today's electronic devices in general -- they keep getting more and more complex to operate. Once the microprocessor is there, it's just a question of programming to add more features. Whether or not the user really needs those features is a different story. Linked below is a nice article on this phenomenon.
Designers who choose not to use complex noise generating display interfaces will not have to spend the extra effort and cost to suppress the noise that they created in the first place.
In my opinion, Charles was simply stating facts about noise generating electronics which need to be delt with in any component that uses a fancy disply interface. I don't think he was singling out Classe as a "competitor".
Just about every single feature in a preamp will degrade the sound to some degree. For example, an input selector switch will degrade the sound compared to just having a single hard-wired input. Similarly, a volume control will degrade the sound compared to having a fixed-gain circuit.
So both the designer and the purchaser are constantly having to make decisions about trading off performance for convenience. In the case of an input selector switch and a volume control, just about everybody wants one. But even in those cases there are some tough decisions to be made.
In the old days, before remote controls, it wasn't too hard to find a manually operated rotary switch that wouldn't degrade the sound too much. And if you spent a lot of money on a mil-spec switch with solid-silver contacts, the degradation was negligible. But for remote controls, it is a different story. It is a lot trickier to get good sound with a remotely-controllable input selector switch.
And don't get me started on volume controls. The old manual potentiometers weren't all that great sounding, but at least their faults tended to be subtractive and non-offensive. But creating a remote-control volume control that doesn't degrade the sound is definitely a non-trivial task. In fact, this is probably the single biggest reason that surround-sound processors don't sound as good as a good stereo preamp -- they all use a terrible-sounding op-amp based volume control.
My intention was to educate and not to disparage. There are just a series of choices to be made. There are no right or wrong answers. As long as you are happy with the sound and the user interface, then there are no problems. Some people favor performance over convenience, and some the other way around. And sometimes it is possible to offer both, but this normally comes at a higher dollar cost.
In an ideal world, the education is something that the magazines would do. But for whatever reason they don't generally do so. I was pleased to see in the April Hi-Fi News that Paul Miller pointed out that switching power supplies require extra attention to make sure that they don't degrade the sound.
There are plenty of other things that could also be discussed. For example, when we were first designing the V-3 in the early '90s, we considered using a vertical "tower" format. Tower computers were just coming into vogue, and it seemed like a "cool" look. But when you look at the physics of the situation, it is a decidedly non-optimal solution.
If you take a typical solid-state power amp where the fins run along the sides, you can make some generalizations. Making the amp twice as deep will double the cooling capacity. But making the amp twice as tall will only increase the cooling capacity by 41% (square root of two). This is because a the top part of a taller fin receives air that has been pre-heated by the bottom part of the fin. It's simply not an efficient use of heatsink material.
But again, there are no right or wrong answers. As long as there is sufficient cooling to get the job done, the only penalty to a vertical amp format is an economic one. And so it may be worth it to some people to pay extra for a certain look (or the ability to fit into a specific sized area).
"My intention was to educate and not to disparage."
After re-reading my initial post, I realize that I came off sounding like an a**hole. My apologies - please accept.
I realize that, as you posted, your message was to educate.
Although I have not had the opportuniy to own any of your products, I did get to listen to a pair of the new monoblocks running Wilson Sophia's a few months ago. Very nice indeed!
Again, I apologize,
I didn't think your post was at all offensive. In fact, I think you were correct in questioning my motives. Hopefully my follow-up post was clearer and more educational.
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