In addition to evaluating reference clocks, I’ve also been doing some assessment of various other aspects of my speaker system. Specifically, I am evaluating the system using only the internal amps of the Legacy Valors versus ¾ of the internal amps plus the Merrill Element 116s that I currently use on the mids/treble array of the speakers. This listening has so far been very rewarding. Just to be clear, there is no A/B/X testing going on here. I am listening to the two different configurations for about 5 days at a time. Legacy uses Class D amps internally in its speakers, essentially versions of their PowerBloc amps, one step “down” from their I•V amps, which have even less noise and more dynamic range. So far, I am impressed. I am not in any rush to ditch the Merrills. I love them.
More to the point of the title of this post, I have almost finished installing another playback configuration in the speaker system. It consists of a Sonore Optical Rendu connected via fiber to the switch that handles the speaker system. (I didn’t select the Sonore Signature, because I already have excellent external power supplies.) The Sonore then connects to the USB input of the Legacy Wavelet DAC/DSP/Xover, completely bypassing the Vivaldi stack and Allegri Reference pre. Ergo, the “heresy.” I am not a fan of USB audio at all, so I will also be connecting a SPDIF or Toslink output from the Upsampler to the Wavelet as another comparison point. (That’s more a curiosity experiment; except for making the Wavelet “networkable,” the benefits of the Upsampler will be mostly superfluous I expect.)
It was Pete who asked me about the double D->A->D->A path that the Legacy DSP system interposes after the Vivaldi Upsampler and DAC and Clock(s) have worked their audio magic. This is a question that often comes up among Legacy listeners who don’t want to give up the benefits of whatever DAC they have and love. Unless you employ the Wavelet as your DAC and DSP/crossover, you’re choosing to go through a full D->A conversion before reconverting your analog signal back into digital inside the Wavelet. This seems, certainly at first blush, to be sub-optimal, and definitely glossed over in the reviews. Still, the Wavelet’s all-in-one capabilities have been favorably reviewed more than once and have received numerous awards. I know at least two Valor owners who have compared the “all-Legacy digital” approach to the multi-box multi-conversion hodgepodge. They reached opposite conclusions. It was a question squarely confronted in this Dagogo review of the Legacy Wavelet. So far, I have loved the sound of my Vivaldi stack feeding analog into the Wavelet, and then letting it do its room correction magic from there. Each change made to improve the sound of the Vivaldi stack (Townshend Allegri Reference preamp, clock, and reference clocks), has been clearly discernible through the Wavelet. IOW, nothing about the A->D->A conversion required by the Wavelet seems to have diminished the lovely SQ of the Vivaldi.
So, I couldn’t resist forever the possibility of comparing the Legacy-only signal chain with only one D->A conversion to the Vivaldi/Legacy chain with two such conversion steps and the “in-betweener” combo of Upsampler & Legacy. I am looking forward to hearing what I hear. Pandemic has to be good for something, no?