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I just obtained a demo Saturn with perhaps 60 hours on it. I'm coming from an original Rega Planet.
I wrote a recent post saying how good The Planet is, as long as you leave it on. I had not thought a great deal of it prior to that discovery.
Now with the Saturn, I have read that it can take upwards of 400 hours before it it fully broken in. The Planet has its limitations, but it is pretty effortless and musical with the music it can handle. The Saturn, from my first impressions, is voiced farther back than the Planet. I don't know if there will ever be the same immediacy with the Saturn because of it. I don't know.
The Saturn clearly presents more detailed information than the Saturn. There are instruments and musical lines I hear now that the Planet obscures. Perhaps that helps the Planet render its ease of presentation, due to its selective simplicity.
I have left the Saturn on for about 60 hours now (So, all told, about 120 hours on it -- though it had been in transport across country, so it had been left off for quite a bit.). There is clearly more information being presented, but it's not very well sorted out at this point. The top end is a bit harsh when pushed, there isn't a whole lot of low end presence yet, the music sounds stiff compared to the ease and excellent microdynamic ability of the Planet. Right now, tonality sounds more artificial than the Planet. In spite of the bit of harshness on top, voices can sound a bit closed in.
So it's not all that listenable yet. I understand that with 3 different power supplies, they're all going to break in at different times and until they really get working synergistically, I may get the sound I'm getting now, albeit with different variations as it goes through its growing pains.
What has your experience been with the Saturn as it has broken in? And how is it now? I have been so used to the fully broken in Planet with its wonderful musicality and sense of ease. I'm wondering if the Saturn will get to that level. Sure, the Saturn will ace the Planet in many areas eventually, but will it be as musical and coherent as the Planet?
UPDATE: Interestingly, it has already alter this early this morning. The same CD has been running. I came back to revisit it just now and the top end has pulled back a bit and the sound is more coherent. So, I think I'm going to get a myriad of changing.
2nd Update: Day 4 of ownership. The sound has changed a LOT. Gone is the harshness. The bass and midrange is much more full. The top end has tamed down so much that the sound is dark and almost closed in. Dynamically, the player is straining to really open up and bloom. I am guessing that this will change, too. It's just all very, very interesting to me to hear how much change is occurring.
I don't own one, but I have heard music I was familiar with played through it. I don't recall it sounding as poorly as that.
"Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad"
Well, sure, I KNOW the player will change over time. It already has. When I first plugged it in, the music was really bright, thin and had no lower end weight. The next morning, the sound was more balanced, not nearly as thin and bright.
Again, with 3 power supplies rather than the 1 of the Apollo, the Saturn is a more complex machine, and my guess is that it takes longer for this one to sing, for everything to align.
So now another 15 days later, what do you think of the Saturn?
Well, I thought I'd do another post soon, and I will expand on this, but the sound has changed QUITE a bit. It has definitely gotten more dynamic, more capable of both micro-dynamic nuances as well as bursts of macro-dynamics when needed. It has that Rega ability to sound fluid rather than stiff, which is something that analog does well. It is still not as dynamic as my analog setup. And compared to the Planet, the soundstage is farther back. Everything is smaller.
There is clearly more information presented than the original Planet, and certainly more textural, harmonic information. Unlike the best CD players (and good analog), though, it doesn't distinguish between instruments and vocals as well. When things get dense, you can sort of hear everything, not necessarily strained, but it's more or less mashed together. With the best playback (and with an Audiomat DAC I used to have), an instrumentalist or vocalist is clearly existing in its own space, at all times, delineated in 3-dimensions. Here, everything is more or less in vaguer areas. There also seems to be a bit less air to the music. There is a bit of a lid on the soundstage, but again, that could be a conscious choice by Rega to reduce the fatigue factor.
The following analogy may or may not be helpful, but it reminds me of the difference between the Grado Sonata phono cartridge and the Grado Master. With the Sonata, it seems like their only were 4 layers of depth that an instrument or voice would fit into, and there is a lack of air to the sound. Upgrading to the next cartridge up, the Master, there is an almost infinite numbers of layers to the soundstage, plus air returned to the sound, helping each voice or instrument to find their distinctive space.
One bit of a niggle with the Saturn thus far. There seems to be just a bit of glassiness to certain higher frequencies resulting in male voices sound stronger than higher female voices through the Saturn.
The Saturn makes involving music, no doubt. It also goes higher and deeper than the Planet. There is MUCH more going on that the the Saturn renders. In contrast, the Planet throws much detail away, from inner texture to musical instruments being buried, but with that simplicity, the Planet flows easily and is very easy to listen to. While it may not be the most accurate, the Planet sorts through what it does want to deal with and makes it oh so easy. The Saturn struggles a bit, but is giving you oh so more, so it's relative. With the Saturn, if you need it to dig down and slam you, it will. The Planet will just choose to not go there at all. The Saturn can sound luscious. The Planet stays simple.
If I can ignore a few of the tonal qualities and lack of great transparency and air and just concentrate on the communication of the music, the Saturn is really, really good. It's pretty easy to listen to, no fatigue factor. But it doesn't present music in as vivid colors as the best I have heard, and that makes me listen less on the edge of my seat, but again, some digital can sound fatiguing. Before I had the Planet, I had a %5000 digital setup, and it was better than the Saturn. The Saturn is therefore not a giant killer, but a great choice, particular at the sub-$2000 price you can get it at now. It presents a set of sound attribute choices which may or may not be right for you. If great delineation of every instrument and voice in specific places in the soundstage is what you're looking for, the Saturn is not the player for you. I have heard players where I am waiting for the next breath that a female vocalist is about to take with baited breath of my own. The Saturn doesn't take me there, but I am really enjoying the music it plays overall.
So, I do miss my twice as expensive setup. Perhaps someday I'll get back there. I'll be happy with the Saturn for a while. The worst transgression that a player can do is be stiff and unmusical. The Saturn is great at that linear flow of music. That's most important to me.
I will say this about breaking in, 300 hours or so have gone by and the sound is still evolving. More slowly than the first 200 hours, but small changes are occurring. I think that is the product of being a product with multiple power supplies.
I'm just home demoing a Saturn, attempting to replace a highly modded TEAC VRDS-7 which died, and you apparently can't get spares any more :(
The Saturn is good, no doubt, but it certainly doesn't match the former machine for sheer enjoyment and involvement. The TEAC had more dynamics, and was richer and more natural despite retaining most of the detail.
For all the Saturn's strengths, I've already noticed what you mentioned about it overemphasising male voices at the expense of higher female in choral works. It also finds the 'edge' of strings, rather than the 'body' of tone sometimes, which I dislike.
Maybe my ears will grow accustomed, but right now I'd go for less detail and more effortless musicality and enjoyment like I had before. Suggestions welcome :)
It does eventually settle in and get more balanced. I notice that even leaving the unit on all the time, it sounds better after an hour of playing. Not sure why. Female vocals have improved. I wish there was a bit more air and ease on top, though. I'm happy with it now, though perhaps not ecstatic.
The one I have is a second hand model a couple of years old, so is fully burned in. Personally I leave my system permanently switched on, it's essential for best sound quality and protects the components from current surge when switching on and off ;)
I left it on overnight and had a listen this morning- sounded even thinner to my ears. Oh dear. I had high hopes, and probably if I handn't had such a superb player before I'd be ecstatic! It definitely retrieves amazing amounts of detail, but somehow lacks the raw enjoyment of the VRDS I had. Mind you, it was heavily modded, so that's a bit unfair to the Saturn in some ways, BUT it did have that signature sound out of the box, the mods just have more of it.
Who knows how the Saturn would respond to mods? If I can't fix the VRDS, we'll find out, or I might use it as a transport with a very HQ DAC- seems like its strength is getting the bits off the disc, not neccessarily the analogue output stage (or possibly conversion?).
Even with a two-year old unit, the Saturn will change. If it has been left off for any significant period of time, it needs to resettle in when turned back on. It has three power supplies and each work in at a different rate. After turning the unit on, it went from really good to good to not so good to very Iood to really good, and sometimes going back until it settled in. The body of the sound will definitely fill in. I promise. Thin body is not an issue any more. It took literally hundreds of hours of not just being on, but playing to get it there, and the sound quality would go up and down before it got there.
Have LOTS of patience with this one. It may or may not ultimately be better than the modded TEAC, but it will be better than it is now.
OK, that's good to know! I'll persevere... ;)
According to the dealer, the more the power supplies, the longer the break-in. I had an Audiomat DAC that took almost 700 hours to break in.
:-o jeepers, I only have it on approval for two weeks!
What was the expensive digital system you had before, btw? I've always had a soft-spot for Meridian kit, but haven't heard the newer stuff, and I find it's overpriced now they've lost their more 'budget' CD players- if you could ever call them that!
I just finished the audition period. I ended up sending the Saturn back, unfortunately. It was a close call as the Saturn definitely does many things right, but it just lacked a natural sense of dynamics, a bit of 'slam' and 'attack', not in a forward way, but just in a way which is there in live music?
The Saturn is a lovely player, and I mean that in all respects, it's refined and sweet sounding, but real live music isn't always like that, and nor was the player I'm used to, so it just didn't send shivers down my spine at the right moments. I felt it was always holding something back and needed to just let it's hair down!
That's all highly subjective of course, and is only in my system, so must be taken as such. It also sounds over critical, whereas, as I say, it was doing most things right, and had the most unforced detail and transparency I've ever heard from any digital source, so wonderful in many ways, just not quite right for my tastes.
I'm going to try a TeddyDAC, which I keep hearing good things about, and probably a Rega DAC, maybe with an Apollo as a transport (I get the feeling it might be the output stage which lets the Saturn down a bit, I think the disc-reading/data retrieval is probably nigh-on perfect, so might be very very good as a transport...
Did I reply to this yet? I don't remember.
In case I didn't, I had a CEC TL51X transport and Audiomat Tempo DAC.
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