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Tara Labs ISM OnBoard Digital 75, Part 9

162.205.183.92

Posted on January 24, 2021 at 17:22:48
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 5153
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
During the Fall 2013 semester, I was working at a public high school. One of the Millennial math teachers loved New Kids On The Block's new song, "The Whisper." She loved how it grew on you. She liked it so much, she did not make her homeroom dance to it. For that, she used the Backstreet Boys :-)

At the same time, I started acquiring Tara Labs' ISM OnBoard Digital 75 cables. We had missed (a) the original Tara Labs The One Digital, and (b) the unaffordable ISM OnBoard Digital The 0.8. So the $1200 ISM OnBoard Digital 75 made sense. The latter itself is fairly open (soncially), so when you use it on a variety of digital gear, you do have a better sense of what each digital component can and cannot do.



I went back to Oahu, where my relatives still have many of my old audio products, including that original The One Digital. The openness of the ISM OnBoard Digital 75 is like this photograph taken from the Lanikai Pillbox. My cousin is facing eastward. So her shadow indicates that the sun was to the south, meaning this took place midday (Hawaii does not do Daylight Saving Time) in winter. If you want a more wide-open scenery, plus resolution of small details, you need to go up to The 0.8. A more wide-open view of the windward coast would reveal that there is a second and smaller offshore islet. The latter is off-limits to us humans, on account of the nesting birds.



When I had the original The One Digital, it was used primarily with the Mark Levinson No. 37 CD transport, which we still have. Versus a fully decked-out The One Digital, the ISM OnBoard Digital 75 falls just short, in terms of frequency extension, and the resolution of the air/space/ambient cues surrounding those frequency extremes. Subjectively, the ISM OnBoard Digital 75 has a smidgen less breathing room. In additon, it doesn't set up as clear and voluminous a venue, to "contain" the bass frequencies/waves.



Okay, so the ISM OnBoard Digital 75 is not as sonically faithful as the original decked-out The One Digital and the ISM OnBoard Digital The 0.8. But with a good DAC, such as that found on the Simaudio 750D, the ISM OnBoard Digital 75 does let you hear what is going on. Assuming you are using a quality source, this cable allows NKOTB's "The Whisper" to build naturally, win you over, and make you raise your hands to the rafters.

-Lummy The Loch Monster

 

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RE: Tara Labs ISM OnBoard Digital 75, Part 9, posted on January 25, 2021 at 23:24:37
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 13859
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
How does the ML transport sound w/ the Simaudio DAC ?

 

Better than ever, posted on January 26, 2021 at 00:14:51
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 5153
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
I don't know exactly when Mark Levinson released the No. 37 CD transport. I first had one in the early 2000s, and with the various DACs I had on hand, clearly, the No. 37's sonics were SOTA. It proved that, at least for the music I had and liked, Redbook CD was awesome.

The issue with the No. 37 wasn't sonics; it was reliability. Units (especially the disc drive) often broke, and repairs were slow and expensive.

By properly reading a CD, a No. 37 makes life on the DAC much easier. However, that assumes that the digital cables are up to snuff. That is, they must pass all of that information intact, without leaving it open to interference and noise.

Feeding a No. 37 into a Simaudio 750D shows that the No. 37 is sonically superior to the 750D's interior Phillips drive. The latter rolls off the treble. The No. 37/750D combo sounds simply superb. And it gets better, as you (a) Cook all of the cables, (b) use the after-market fuses which suit your tastes, (c) select the right powercord, and (d) add Simaudio's 820S outboard power supply.

It's implied that, if you start with a high-quality source, then you are able to judge properly everything downstream, including cables.

Tara Labs' ISM digital cables possess a sonic openness, which makes most of the competition (and Tara Labs' own lesser-priced models) sound hopelessly colored, inept, and broken.

Most audiophiles prattle about how a product sounds. And that's perfectly fine. But astute readers have observed that my writing partners often eschew that. Notice how we phrase audio in terms of "accuracy," "deviations from perfection," and how it moves or does not move us. When we find and use audio products which are clean, transparent, and sonically invisible, they leave you with the music. And when that happens, my writing partners don't talk about "how it sounds." Rather, they supply detailed, movie reel-like life stories, interwoven with, caused by, and intensified by the music. Thus, their connection with the music has been fortified.

Okay, back to real life. An Inmate read the OP, and emailed, "Goddamn, why don't you give foo-foo cables to ME?!!! Talk about privileged. You live in one of the most expensive places in the country. And your relatives live in Hawaii, ferchrissake!"

 

RE: Better than ever, posted on January 26, 2021 at 00:52:41
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 13859
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Awesome! follow up Lummy.
Any new gear headed your way in 2021 ?

 

Trickle down, posted on January 27, 2021 at 01:02:41
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 5153
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
As far as gear is concerned, that's always been unpredictable. Since the late-00s, my strategy, if it even rises to that level, is to let my audio circle make major upgrades. I then wait for their old, but still plenty good, items. Or, since everyone started to downsize in the late-00s, the gear and racks left, but often, the cables remained. That's how we ended up with excess cabling.

Nobody has the same tastes, but when my audio circle spells out how a product performed, I can glean enough from that, if it would work for my needs. My audio circle does an honest job, of investigating such issues as noise, heat, ergonomics, aesthetics, dust, accessibility, and compatibility.

Because a Cable Cooker (plus various adapters) has taken up residence at my house, cables are shipped to me all the time. Only 10-20% gives me permission to write about his cables. So you don't see or hear about the other 80-90%. But with all of this experience, you (a) know the difference between untreated and Cooked, (b) develop your own preferences, but (c) understand that, with so many to choose from, there's got to be something for everyone, at all budget levels.

 

RE: Trickle down, posted on January 27, 2021 at 01:24:35
fantja
Audiophile

Posts: 13859
Location: Alabama
Joined: September 11, 2010
Right On! Lummy

the trickle down effect is awesome. There is a plethora of excellent gear
on the secondary market.

Regarding Cables/Cords, have you cooked SwissCable ?
If so, which series? Outcomes ?

 

RE: Trickle down, posted on January 27, 2021 at 12:20:10
Luminator
Audiophile

Posts: 5153
Location: Bay Area
Joined: December 11, 2000
Given that I have no personal experience with Swiss Cables, I reached out to a few of my audiophile acquaintances. None of them said they've tried any, either.

Yeah, since the latter half of the 00s, I've let my audio circle be the guinea pig. So if there's something they move on from, but I might like, I check it out. Such was the case with the Simaudio 600i integrated amp. Its last owner moved up to higher-end Simaudio, so he was more than happy to sell the 600i to me. That all-silver unit was in great shape.

Also starting from the late-00s, my audio circle downsized. So while lots of excess turntables, phonostages, amps, speakers, and line-level interconnects were sold off, some choice powercords remained. That's how I obtained some of the massively expensive Pranawire powercords.

 

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