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-   -   Delta XC + Hydra Delta D6 = Oh my! (https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=48121)

jimtranr 05-22-2020 06:35 PM

Delta XC + Hydra Delta D6 = Oh my!
 
Having just recently achieved expectation-exceeding sonic results by upgrading the acoustic treatment configuration of the front half of my bedroom, I thought I’d see if I could push the edge of its audio system’s performance envelope out at least a little farther by replacing the Shunyata Delta NR v1 power cord feeding AC from the wall outlet to my Hydra Delta D6 power distributor with a new C19-terminated Delta XC.

I had one reservation as I considered placing the order with Ivan. Would shedding the NR v1’s noise-reduction capability incur a penalty, specifically in the ability of the system to extract the low-level detail that confers dimensionality on performers and instruments, parses the layering of vocal and instrumental ensembles, reveals timbral nuance, subtle inner voicing and microdynamics that affect our perception of rhythmic flow and tonal “rightness”, and, overall, imbues a decently-recorded performance with enough holographic palpability to trick us into believing that “we are there” instead of listening to electronics-fed transducers? I didn’t want to lose what the system had managed to achieve in that regard with the Delta NR v1 feeding the D6. You know--“if it ain’t broke”… So was the XC worth the risk of emptying my discretionary penny jar?

On the other hand, the D6 had demonstrated, among other attributes, its own substantial noise reduction chops when it replaced a Hydra 8 v2 as the bedroom system’s power distributor, and since the primary objective in this instance was to maximize dynamic transient current delivery from the wall to the D6, I should have no reason for concern--especially since I’d noted that Caelin Gabriel recommended the XC iteration of the new Reference series of power cords for the connection from the wall to reasonably current Shunyata PDs.

So I placed the order. And the Delta XC arrived via an 8:25 p.m. UPS delivery.

https://www.audioaficionado.org/pict...pictureid=5215

A word about the system occupying an 11’x13’x7’8” typically-furnished bedroom to provide context. Three of its key components (amp, DAC, and speakers) were purchased used. The 20-year-old solid-state amp is rated at 125 watts per channel and able to “push” a fair amount of current despite being hobbled by a puny captive power cord. The stand-mounted two-way speaker systems are rated at 90db in-room sensitivity and provide usable output in this room down to about 45 Hz. The USB DAC is seven years old and DSD128-24/384-capable, a necessity since program source material consists solely of hard-drive-stored CD rips and high-resolution downloads accessed via a laptop. My listening fare is classical (much of it large-ensemble orchestral), jazz, big band, film scores, massed choral, vocals, and a smattering of opera.

I put the Delta XC on a burn-in diet of repeat-playback program running 11 to 12 hours daily. During “off” hours, the only draw on it was idle current for the always-on amp. I didn’t move or change the orientation of any of the power cords, including the XC, connected to the D6 after I’d hooked the new arrival up to the power distributor. So its settling period remained undisturbed.

Every now and then during initial burn-in I’d take a break from the novel I’m pounding out to keep my brain from vegetating to listen to what the bedroom speakers were up to. I heard some good things, particularly in the increased solidity of bass output and a sharper delineation of dynamic nuance. But the spatial magic I’d bathed in after the acoustic treatment re-do had vanished. Where was the air I’d heard between Nicolai Ghiaurov and his mike as he sang the aria of Khan Konchak from Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor (Emil Tchakarov conducting the Sofia National Opera Orchestra, Sony CD rip)? Gone, and its absence had flattened his image as well as buried his nuanced inflections.

Worst fears realized? One of the things I’ve learned as an audiophile is that patience is as important as (hopefully) discerning ears when assessing a new component. So I didn’t panic. And I’m glad I didn’t.

At around 49 repeat-playback hours with Leonard Bernstein leading the New York Philharmonic in the fifth movement of Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra (Sony Royal Edition CD rip) a blast door suddenly burst open, unleashing a massive onrush of air into the soundstage, ballooning it out in all directions. The Phil instantly occupied a larger venue, the instruments became more three-dimensional as well as layered front-to-back, and the airier performing space fused more seamlessly with that of the bedroom. I immediately re-called Ghiaurov. Yep. The air between him and the mike, as well as the air around him and the subtly-shaded vocal inflections, had returned.

Repeat-playback has just passed 80 hours as I write this, and what was good at 49 is now noticeably better, exceeding what I’d heard—and felt--with the Delta NR v1 supplying juice to the D6. There’s more transient “snap”, not least in scored instantaneous explosions from softest soft to loudest loud. That and the unruffled cohesiveness of massed instrumental and/or vocal ensembles in sustained balls-to-the-wall-level tuttis (e.g., in Prince Igor’s “Polovtsian Dance with Choir”, Tchakarov again) attest to the Delta XC’s current-delivery prowess, even when contending with the bottleneck posed by my amp’s captive cord.

The improvement in dynamic scaling and sustainability is matched by the expansion of soundstage scale (that is, in those instances where recording producer, engineer, and artist[s] strive to reproduce the size and feel of the performance venue). I’d always considered the James Sedares-Phoenix Symphony Koch CD performance of Bernard Herrmann’s Symphony No. 1 (yes, he wrote more than just scores for Welles, Hitchcock, and Ray Harryhausen stop-motioners) a first-class soundstage demonstration disc. But I hadn’t realized just how first-class until I accessed the CD rip at about 75 hours into burn-in. With the Delta XC feeding AC to the system, the orchestra said “to hell with the left and right side walls” and elbowed its way well beyond either physical boundary while simultaneously extending itself further back behind the front wall and maintaining its collective image laser-focused all the way to both rear corners. Never did that before. Or obliterated the virtual boundary between the front of the soundstage and the listening room as convincingly. It’s “being there” on steroids.

That’s macro stuff, and I don’t want it to overshadow the improvement I hear at a more intimate level. I’ve already mentioned Ghiaurov’s “air”. The exquisite delineation of micro-detail occurs as well when listening to a finely-parsed Freni-Ludwig duet from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, Decca 24/96 download) or Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Sharon Isbin plucking their guitars in Jobim’s “Luiza” (Concord CD rip). There’s more “there” there.

In sum, the Delta XC has improved my listening experience, pushing the edge of that performance envelope out further without entailing any downside. Well, maybe one. Having emptied the discretionary penny jar, I have to start scaring up some more coppers to replenish it. After all, I’ve now been left to wonder what a Delta NR v2 would do for my DAC.

Oh, and the Delta NR v1 that the XC replaced? Well, it migrated to the living room, where it supplanted the Black Mamba HC CX feeding the Hydra 8 v2 that distributes power to the two-channel audio-video system there. My wife rendered her unsolicited verdict on that swap about five minutes after I completed it and switched on the Sony 40-inch flat screen. “The picture is more three-dimensional. And the color!”

So I guess we have a win-win all around.

Masterlu 05-23-2020 11:01 AM

Jim... I really enjoyed reading your review. So glad the new Delta XC has increased your enjoyment!

Puma Cat 05-23-2020 12:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimtranr (Post 1005431)
Having just recently achieved expectation-exceeding sonic results by upgrading the acoustic treatment configuration of the front half of my bedroom, I thought I’d see if I could push the edge of its audio system’s performance envelope out at least a little farther by replacing the Shunyata Delta NR v1 power cord feeding AC from the wall outlet to my Hydra Delta D6 power distributor with a new C19-terminated Delta XC.

I had one reservation as I considered placing the order with Ivan. Would shedding the NR v1’s noise-reduction capability incur a penalty, specifically in the ability of the system to extract the low-level detail that confers dimensionality on performers and instruments, parses the layering of vocal and instrumental ensembles, reveals timbral nuance, subtle inner voicing and microdynamics that affect our perception of rhythmic flow and tonal “rightness”, and, overall, imbues a decently-recorded performance with enough holographic palpability to trick us into believing that “we are there” instead of listening to electronics-fed transducers? I didn’t want to lose what the system had managed to achieve in that regard with the Delta NR v1 feeding the D6. You know--“if it ain’t broke”… So was the XC worth the risk of emptying my discretionary penny jar?

On the other hand, the D6 had demonstrated, among other attributes, its own substantial noise reduction chops when it replaced a Hydra 8 v2 as the bedroom system’s power distributor, and since the primary objective in this instance was to maximize dynamic transient current delivery from the wall to the D6, I should have no reason for concern--especially since I’d noted that Caelin Gabriel recommended the XC iteration of the new Reference series of power cords for the connection from the wall to reasonably current Shunyata PDs.

So I placed the order. And the Delta XC arrived via an 8:25 p.m. UPS delivery.

https://www.audioaficionado.org/pict...pictureid=5215

A word about the system occupying an 11’x13’x7’8” typically-furnished bedroom to provide context. Three of its key components (amp, DAC, and speakers) were purchased used. The 20-year-old solid-state amp is rated at 125 watts per channel and able to “push” a fair amount of current despite being hobbled by a puny captive power cord. The stand-mounted two-way speaker systems are rated at 90db in-room sensitivity and provide usable output in this room down to about 45 Hz. The USB DAC is seven years old and DSD128-24/384-capable, a necessity since program source material consists solely of hard-drive-stored CD rips and high-resolution downloads accessed via a laptop. My listening fare is classical (much of it large-ensemble orchestral), jazz, big band, film scores, massed choral, vocals, and a smattering of opera.

I put the Delta XC on a burn-in diet of repeat-playback program running 11 to 12 hours daily. During “off” hours, the only draw on it was idle current for the always-on amp. I didn’t move or change the orientation of any of the power cords, including the XC, connected to the D6 after I’d hooked the new arrival up to the power distributor. So its settling period remained undisturbed.

Every now and then during initial burn-in I’d take a break from the novel I’m pounding out to keep my brain from vegetating to listen to what the bedroom speakers were up to. I heard some good things, particularly in the increased solidity of bass output and a sharper delineation of dynamic nuance. But the spatial magic I’d bathed in after the acoustic treatment re-do had vanished. Where was the air I’d heard between Nicolai Ghiaurov and his mike as he sang the aria of Khan Konchak from Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor (Emil Tchakarov conducting the Sofia National Opera Orchestra, Sony CD rip)? Gone, and its absence had flattened his image as well as buried his nuanced inflections.

Worst fears realized? One of the things I’ve learned as an audiophile is that patience is as important as (hopefully) discerning ears when assessing a new component. So I didn’t panic. And I’m glad I didn’t.

At around 49 repeat-playback hours with Leonard Bernstein leading the New York Philharmonic in the fifth movement of Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra (Sony Royal Edition CD rip) a blast door suddenly burst open, unleashing a massive onrush of air into the soundstage, ballooning it out in all directions. The Phil instantly occupied a larger venue, the instruments became more three-dimensional as well as layered front-to-back, and the airier performing space fused more seamlessly with that of the bedroom. I immediately re-called Ghiaurov. Yep. The air between him and the mike, as well as the air around him and the subtly-shaded vocal inflections, had returned.

Repeat-playback has just passed 80 hours as I write this, and what was good at 49 is now noticeably better, exceeding what I’d heard—and felt--with the Delta NR v1 supplying juice to the D6. There’s more transient “snap”, not least in scored instantaneous explosions from softest soft to loudest loud. That and the unruffled cohesiveness of massed instrumental and/or vocal ensembles in sustained balls-to-the-wall-level tuttis (e.g., in Prince Igor’s “Polovtsian Dance with Choir”, Tchakarov again) attest to the Delta XC’s current-delivery prowess, even when contending with the bottleneck posed by my amp’s captive cord.

The improvement in dynamic scaling and sustainability is matched by the expansion of soundstage scale (that is, in those instances where recording producer, engineer, and artist[s] strive to reproduce the size and feel of the performance venue). I’d always considered the James Sedares-Phoenix Symphony Koch CD performance of Bernard Herrmann’s Symphony No. 1 (yes, he wrote more than just scores for Welles, Hitchcock, and Ray Harryhausen stop-motioners) a first-class soundstage demonstration disc. But I hadn’t realized just how first-class until I accessed the CD rip at about 75 hours into burn-in. With the Delta XC feeding AC to the system, the orchestra said “to hell with the left and right side walls” and elbowed its way well beyond either physical boundary while simultaneously extending itself further back behind the front wall and maintaining its collective image laser-focused all the way to both rear corners. Never did that before. Or obliterated the virtual boundary between the front of the soundstage and the listening room as convincingly. It’s “being there” on steroids.

That’s macro stuff, and I don’t want it to overshadow the improvement I hear at a more intimate level. I’ve already mentioned Ghiaurov’s “air”. The exquisite delineation of micro-detail occurs as well when listening to a finely-parsed Freni-Ludwig duet from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, Decca 24/96 download) or Carlos Barbosa-Lima and Sharon Isbin plucking their guitars in Jobim’s “Luiza” (Concord CD rip). There’s more “there” there.

In sum, the Delta XC has improved my listening experience, pushing the edge of that performance envelope out further without entailing any downside. Well, maybe one. Having emptied the discretionary penny jar, I have to start scaring up some more coppers to replenish it. After all, I’ve now been left to wonder what a Delta NR v2 would do for my DAC.

Oh, and the Delta NR v1 that the XC replaced? Well, it migrated to the living room, where it supplanted the Black Mamba HC CX feeding the Hydra 8 v2 that distributes power to the two-channel audio-video system there. My wife rendered her unsolicited verdict on that swap about five minutes after I completed it and switched on the Sony 40-inch flat screen. “The picture is more three-dimensional. And the color!”

So I guess we have a win-win all around.

Just an outstanding review. :thumbsup:

Delta NR v2 is great, BTW...very impressive for the money.

jimtranr 05-23-2020 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Masterlu (Post 1005460)
Jim... I really enjoyed reading your review. So glad the new Delta XC has increased your enjoyment!

Thanks, Ivan. The XC's presence in the system has been a real ear-opener, not least because of what it's facilitated in illuminating every nook and cranny of a given recording venue, real or artificed, as well as of every nuance of musical scoring and performance. It's induced a re-exploration of my music collection and begun to reveal just how good a number of those recordings are. So thank you for making the experience possible.

You'll note that I've already begun scrounging up for the NR v2. :D

https://www.audioaficionado.org/pict...pictureid=5217

jimtranr 05-23-2020 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puma Cat (Post 1005464)
Just an outstanding review. :thumbsup:

Delta NR v2 is great, BTW...very impressive for the money.

Thanks, Stephen. Given what the XC has pulled off, I'm looking forward to the NR v2.

Masterlu 05-23-2020 01:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimtranr (Post 1005465)
Thanks, Ivan. The XC's presence in the system has been a real ear-opener, not least because of what it's facilitated in illuminating every nook and cranny of a given recording venue, real or artificed, as well as of every nuance of musical scoring and performance. It's induced a re-exploration of my music collection and begun to reveal just how good a number of those recordings are. So thank you for making the experience possible.

You'll note that I've already begun scrounging up for the NR v2. :D

https://www.audioaficionado.org/pict...pictureid=5217

:laughin:

RLF 05-23-2020 03:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimtranr (Post 1005465)
Thanks, Ivan XC's presence in the system has been a real ear-opener, not least because of what it's facilitated in illuminating every nook and cranny of a given recording venue, real or artificed, as well as of every nuance of musical scoring and performance. It's induced a re-exploration of my music collection and begun to reveal just how good a number of those recordings are. So thank you for making the experience possible.

You'll note that I've already begun scrounging up for the NR v2. :D

https://www.audioaficionado.org/pict...pictureid=5217

Fantastic review Jim. :thumbsup: It’s got me salivating. I’m saving my pennies now. :yes:

jimtranr 05-23-2020 04:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RLF (Post 1005480)
Fantastic review Jim. :thumbsup: It’s got me salivating. I’m saving my pennies now. :yes:

Thanks, RLF. My ears tell me that it's well worth the pennies.

jimtranr 05-26-2020 05:21 PM

120-Hour Postscript
 
Late yesterday afternoon, my wife sat down for her first serious audition of the bedroom audio system with the Delta XC installed as the power conduit between the wall outlet and the Delta D6 power distributor. Normally, such sessions last between 45 minutes and an hour, with content consisting largely of opera, massed choral, and Broadway vocals-with-orchestra. Yesterday’s session lasted four hours, and if I hadn’t realized at that point that I was two hours late in feeding the cat, it likely would have lasted a lot longer. (I didn’t want my eyes clawed out. By the cat, not my wife.)

The Delta XC had logged about 120 hours of playback burn-in by the time we started yesterday’s session. By then, system output sounded even better than it had at 80 hours. Foundational bass was even heftier and more detailed-growly, making me wonder if the Studio 20 v5 7” woofers hadn’t been holding out on me all this time. Midrange and top end likewise exhibited more detail as well as a tinge of liquidity I hadn’t noticed earlier.

My wife’s comments were spontaneous and unprompted. A couple of them:

“There’s less noise in the background.” Interesting observation, given that the Delta XC is not NR-filtered.

“She doesn’t screech anymore.” The reference is to June Anderson belting out “Make Our Garden Grow” in the finale to Leonard Bernstein’s Candide (Bernstein conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, Deutsche Grammophone CD rip). She really lets fly—as does the accompanying chorus--in that finale, and I’d always thought the screech my wife referred to was an artifact of dodgy miking. Or, alternately, a not-quite-up-to-it amp hemorrhaging its guts. Not so in either case, it turns out. Anderson’s sustained top-of-her-lungs stretch—and the chorus’s—must be sucking current out of the wall like Dracula on a midnight bender. And the XC must be delivering every drop of it without a hiccup to the power distributor—the result being that the amp doesn’t have to plead for extra help under an extreme load but has it there right at hand and can do its job without stressing out its silicon.

“The voices now sound more disciplined—a very difficult thing to do.” (My wife has performed in choral groups.) The very same “Make Our Garden Grow”, except that it’s performed this time by Dallas’ Turtle Creek Chorale (Testament, Reference Recordings CD rip). The voices sound more disciplined because it’s easier to make them out as individual entities, layered front-to-back, with the XC providing the AC feed.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away my wife’s uncle built pipe organs. And that’s what she wanted to hear next. So on went Charles Munch leading the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with Berj Zamkochian at the organ, in the final movement of Camille Saint-Saens’ Symphony No. 3, aptly subtitled “Organ” (RCA SACD rip). At something approaching a “realistic” level. Whoa! There’s a lot of sustained low-end energy (and not a little all the way up the frequency ladder in slam-bang dynamic transients) embedded in this track, enough to make me fear for the life of my c-j Sonographe SA250 at the selected listening level. No sweat. The amp never lost its composure, the broad, airy, and tall Symphony Hall soundstage never collapsed or lost its instrumental layering, and my wife was struck not only with the power of the organ (the Studio 20s had in fact been holding out on me) but with the sheer beauty of the filigree-delicate piano passages that weave in and out of this movement.

“Can we hear it again? The whole symphony this time?”

I think that—and her arched-eyebrow surprise when she realized that June Anderson’s is not a screechy voice-- nutshell-summarizes my wife’s reaction to the Delta XC-fed system.

My own take on the Delta XC after 120 hours? The Sonographe doesn’t have to work so damned hard anymore. It now acts like it has more usable headroom, and as a consequence the system’s output sounds more relaxed and natural even when the kitchen sink et al. is thrown at it.

rjryan 07-23-2020 04:38 PM

Jim -
Wonderful review! I, too, am ready to upgrade to a Delta v2 to feed my Denali v1. I'm having a hard time deciding whether to go with the NR version or the XC version.

In your experience, would you say the NR filter is necessary with a Denali v1? Sorry for the subjective question!

Ryan


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