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Excuse me, but I couldn't help the word play...:-P
Hey peeps thought I'd post my experiences with my "UberClocked" as Allen Wright of Vacuum State Electronics refers, or "Terra Firma" equipped Rega Saturn thanks to Joe Rasmussen of Custom Analogue Audio who managed to squeeze it in along with several other very appreciable enhancements, late last year.
I've now had considerable time with the modded player in literally constant play and have also had the ability to directly compare it to a bone stock factory Saturn which I have, and which I should add is certainly no slouch in its own right, in fact the stock player was preferred to numerous far more costly and exalted players such as is ability to play without the artifice or artifacts common to virtually all 44.1k playback devices I've heard.
But I digress, because the Terra Firma (along with Joes other enhancements) has catapulted the Saturn literally into another orbit entirely.
This really isn't a review as such, but I simply feel compelled to attempt to express an intangible quality of absolute relaxed musicality, fluidity if you like, which has resulted, it is this release of tension which I can most equate to that appreciated when one goes from listening to CD to listening to vinyl.
I will qualify that I also have a half decent ~$18k vinyl rig and that neither fool me into thinking that I'm hearing live performance, that kind of tosh I'll leave for the "pro reviews" which will often tell you how suddenly they could smell the breath of Diana Crawl (sic) in their room etc...spare me already !!
No, what the Terra Firma apparently facilitates is quite simply an easing of the pressure of digital delivery and most pronouncedly an EXPANSION of all dimensions of the aural "bubble" in my room, time AND frequency domain.
Interestingly, and equally, there is more apparent micro detail, reverberant space is more readily discernible/definable in recordings as is the crucial initial envelope of sounds...so essentially there is more detail liberated, greater dynamic nuance and timing is delivered in such a way as to allow you brain to spend less time processing or filtering the medium to get to the essence of the music, the musicians timing, their intonation etc.
Counter intuitively, this enhanced presentation comes with INITIALLY less sense of heightened detail, again, and I really hate to equate, but for sake of a reference I will liken it to a more analogous sound (vinyl like-not really), but certainly more natural. I found myself turning up the volume much louder to "live" volume levels in my room more frequently as it simply was easier to absorb without duress (noted by my better half) :-)
I have very little in the way of music on SA-CD principally due to the fact that MOST of the music I own is not available on this technically superior format.
Yet I can unequivocally say that regardless of price, IMHO, my Saturn now sounds more pleasing and connects me more to the recorded artists than any of the other players which I have recently auditioned, amongst which include the Audio Aero Prestige, Nagra CDP, Ayre CX5e and EMM CDSA.
Until now I was quite willing to pay whatever it was going to cost to find a digital source which didn't leave me unnerved after extended listening sessions, but the Terra Firma with Joes other relatively simple but highly effective mods has really put into perspective how atrociously overpriced and under performing virtually all other so called "ultra high end" digital sources are....I'm not saying they're crap by any stretch, just that I no longer feel the need to pay extortionate $$ for elaborate proprietary upsampling schemes (yeechh), mostly pointless & complex analogue output stages, nor for that matter unnecessarily complex transport mechanisms
As a musician, professional recording engineer and occasionally perverse tweeker of all things related to sound, I have arrived at the conclusion that once again, less is always more, particularly when implemented correctly !.
In the case of the Terra Firma, it appears to address and largely resolve what is perhaps the Achilles heel of nearly all digital audio devices.
The beauty of it's concept is that the equipment to which it is to be incorporated can readily be adapted to benefit almost immediately and without one being required to sell any of their organs in order to do so :-))
PS: for those who are wondering WTF I've been waffling on about, below is a link which elucidates on the subject:
PPS: I'm in no manner related to any of the guys who manifested/manufacture the product, I read about it, paid to have it installed and have been getting to bed at all hours of the mornings since receiving my modded player back !
PPPS: Amp used:
Silbatone JI300B Mk.II
with NOS WE300B & Bendix 6900 and/or
EAT300B & NOS 1948 ladder plate Tung-Sol 5687
Zingali HM115 Mk.II
Kimber Select Silver & Auditorium 23
Dedicated circuits, isolation xformers, VH Audio cabling
Edit > What the heck I realised that I've made no references to any "actual" musical recordings listened to and immensely enjoyed, which may or may not be of any relevance or interest to those who've read this far, but I'll note three particularly outstanding recordings which have had numerous revisits since receiving my Saturn back in Rock Solid form !
Eugene Istomin-Mozart Concertos 21 & 24, Reference Recordings RR68-
What can I say other than that this astounding recording and performance has left me in a near transcendental state on more than one occasion !
A MUST have disc even for non partakers of the classical genre if not for the fidelity alone.
World Circuit Presents..., WCD076
This awesome double cd compilation of globe trotting music produced by Ry Cooder and largely recorded on location direct to two-track, takes you across numerous continents and back, capturing a sense of cultural presence with electrifying alacrity.
The Beatles-Love, Parlophone-Apple 0946 3 81598 2 7
Actually I'd been sleeping on this one until Joe Rasmussen bought it to my due attention, so it's probably old news for most, but if anybody is deserving of turning old into new, George Martin and his son Giles can certainly step into the arena !
Who needs Q-Sound or even LSD to start the trip proper, just toss this one on the spinner and kick back...totally slammin' sound and I don't even usually care for the Beatles
Have just read "coolhands" post and can say that he's not exaggerating as I've had the Terra Firma module added on to my modded Jolida 100A CDP for 6 months now (by Bill Baker of Response Audio and was already a superb player compared to a lot of the over-priced products on the market) and could not believe the difference it made. As I live in Sydney I've had the good fortune to meet and talk to Joe Rasmussen about his mods and have been duly impressed by his extraordinary audio technical knowledge and his humility - as they say, NO BULL....!
I will shortly be getting my tube amp (Response Audio Reference JD801) modded with Joe's LEM module and converting to Virtual Triode mode.
All I can say is - Joe's products and mods are the best-bang-for bucks you can find in these difficult times. They'll outperform most of the fancy brands with extortionate prices; I know, because I've sold off some of these products since.
I had no idea that this review was being written, and I certainly do not know the writer. I suspect he is an Australian client of Joe Rasmussen's. Vacuum State head office is in Switzerland, and that's where I am based, but Joe and I have been close friends for 30 years, and we have co-developped several breakthrough products, and the Terra Firma is the latest. On the Vacuum State website you can find the February 2009 Newsletter, which is devoted entirely to both the Terra Firma Lite and the Terra Firma Uberclock.
I repeat what Joe has said, that you won't believe what is said about it until you try it. When we were developping it, we could not believe that the extreme electronic changes we were making would have such an audible effect.
We started with our Level 5 reference master clock, already considered by some professionals to be the best sounding of all the after-market clocks, and we increased the already extreme filtering by a factor of 10, just as a hunch, and it sounded better. So we incresed it by another 10 times, expecting to rapidly find a maximum. But it didn't. It sounded better, and even better with another 10 times increase in filtering. We have increased the filtering to what we consider to be a practical limit, and still marvel at the result, because it is beyond any normal logic.
It was beyond belief, and I am glad that this reviewer on Digital Drive and another independent reviewer on the Hi-Rez forum are both very excited about the performance increase they have experienced. What else can I say?
Regards, Allen (Vacuum State)
I found several references, but the explanations are not even as clear as most descriptions of God, and they are not really explanations as much as they are celebrations.
Also, what does it cost to get whatever this is done. The cost is well-defined?
"Live free or die"
Supposedly, it can be installed in existing products.....
It could be an alarm clock.
"Live free or die"
> Nothing is explained on either site
Re article: http://customanalogue.com/terra_firma.htm
I have added a preample to the article. I believe it adds a significant piece of information that has come to light more recently. It should be pointed out that we realise two things: One, that it is only a matter of time before the facts become common knowledge; and two, we have the jump on others until then. We deserve to enjoy that for however long it lasts, and also the credit that will result, perhaps some intellectual property rights. Fair enuff?
Also this: The article contains enough hard facts to prevent others from patenting what Terra Firma does and how it does it. Copyright laws and intellectual property rights have been greatly strenghtened (unlinke patent laws) because of the Internet. Anything published on a webpage is deemed Copyright in a global sense, unlike patents.
I agree this thread reads abnormal to me and makes me cautious. Perhaps the presentation, which to me creates an opposite impact to the apparent intention. The product cannot be ruled out to be a wonder cure for jitter which supposedly translates into expotential leap in performance (both of which I believe are being presented here).
What was so hard for you to understand? Terra Firma is a new power supply for their Master Reference Clock. If you know anything about aftermarket clocks then you know they are quite sensitive to the power that passes across the oscillator. And supposedly this is "The One".
Sure Joe and Allen are going to talk it up, what do you expect.
I liked Moncrief's essays but when he went into advertising mode, well, I've not read anything like it until ... TODAY. WOW!!! I gotta have one!
Mr. Wright and Mr. Rasmussen (even though I detect more Wright in this writing) have found the true way so many times that one figures the next step is forming some new kind of religion, like the Scientologists.
I like and respect Mr. Wright. I bought his books and found much good information in them, even though the phono preamp book does not really tell you how to build the device you were told it would. I asked a question on the forum once about heater-cathode relationships and was told there are "trade secrets". Well, yes, of course there are. But you SOLD this as a manual, not as a conceptual guide. So, having been given a grain of salt I have voluntarily taken one whenever I read this stuff coming from Australia or Switzerland (has not made any difference)
I remember going to my first Lebanese wedding and tasting honeyed chicken. It was a revelation and never experienced nor even thought I'd like chicken and honey together. Can I put the experience into words? Or does our language, indeed any language, simply have limiations. That's why we need to understand other forms of language, such as body language and perhaps the most elevated language of all, music.
Sometimes we TRY to use language to describe those superior experiences and the efforts to describe Terra Firma has been valiant attempts, not just simple and crude forms of advertising jingoistic waffle. We will leave that to the mass advertising corporates. No wonder that, being constantly exposed ad nauceum, we are cynical at the lastest "break-through" - so much so, when it really does happen (and not just part of some news cycle or the pressure to produce copy in an hi-fi magazine), the eyes roll in their sockets and we look inward and not outwards AND miss the point.
Terra Firma has to be experienced, it's simple as that. The rest, as they say, is mere words.
So you want a no-hype explanation? Terra Firma is about achieving the goal of controlling noise at the point of digital to analogue conversion and that any noise, ANALOGUE noise, especiallly wide-band ANALOGUE noise, will be converted into a form of jitter that is the worst kind of audible jitter (and that not all forms of jitter are equal). That is NOT a mumbo-jumbo explanation. It is about eliminating the WORST-KIND of jitter. The next bit is to actually experience it, and until then, maybe listen to those who have. Or go back to reading hi-fi magazines where-in ALL truth lies? Give me a break!
Indeed....which reminds me of the nun Wu Jincang, who asked the Sixth Patriarch Huineng,
"I have studied the Mahaparinirvana sutra for many years, yet there are many areas i do not quite understand. Please enlighten me."
The patriarch responded,
"I am illiterate. Please read out the characters to me and perhaps I will be able to explain the meaning."
Said the nun,
"You cannot even recognize the characters. How are you able then to understand the meaning?"
To which the patriarch again responded,
"Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon’s location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?"
I´m pretty sure that the secret of the new power supply is a memory backup capacitor ( "goldcap", "supercap" etc. ) I have tried them with succes in similar applications.
Any comments ?
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