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CHORD M-Scaler Review (Upsampler)

Rate this product:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 318 90.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 8 2.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 7 2.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 19 5.4%

  • Total voters
    352

Geert

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Golden Sound: "M-Scaler Impulse response test doesn’t work due to anti-testing measures built in"

Ask Watts and he'll probably tell you such an impulse is not a valid audio signal and the upsampling algorithm needs to be protected from it. Luckily this time the blame will be on Golden Sound.
 

CapMan

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Once again, you've provided a thoughtful, insightful and interesting response - thank you!

This is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for and you've raised some really good points that I cannot respond to (which is great).

My current lay person's understanding is that, in a complex musical signal with many superimposed frequencies, the precise timing of an upswing or downswing in the waveform is not necessarily as cleanly predictable as an individual frequency in isolation. It has been my understanding that the upsampling process and WTA filters are intended to better resolve these details in time. As I said though, I don't have the foundations to suggest that my understanding is right - it is just the understanding I was working with. I am thrilled to be able to explore this further. Thank you.
Hi - a lot of what I’m about to say has been said elsewhere, but I thought perhaps it might help to give you (a reviewer with influence) the perspective of someone on ASR who has previously invested heavily in gear and upgrades over many years. Mostly on the back of subjective reviews and my own flawed home demos.

I currently have a Devialet Expert 440. It’s expensive kit, but I appreciate now that I could achieve similar a similar sonic outcome for much less money. That said it sounds great, the flexible functionality serves me well, it works with Roon and I like the aesthetic (others don’t).

If I really wanted a Devialet I could in fact have purchased a 220 at half the price , but my home demo convinced me of tangible improvements - did I level match the comparison - no, did I do the side by side in a reasonable timeframe - no.

The two box solution must be better, just intuitively - right?

My big wins have come from dealing properly with the room and speakers. This has been cheap to do and the results are measurable.

I think it might be unattractive to some ‘audiophiles ‘ because

1. It takes an investment of time to measure and understand. It not a quick box upgrade that makes you feel better because it cost more .
2. It may compromise the aesthetic of your room and your domestic arrangements!
3. It has no kudos / pride of ownership / show factor to impress your HiFi friends

As a reviewer you have influence and I would implore you to encourage your followers to address the things that make most difference to their listening .
 

voodooless

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Bias in audio (and other similar hobbies) relies on the same mechanisms as group think
Does it? Have any studies to back this up, or is that just something that you made up? We have a few experts here that can certainly say something about this!
and there are many ways to overcome these if one is aware that the issue exists (which I agree it does) and if one is able to apply some of the techniques discussed in these articles (and many others):
  • Keebler, D. (2015). Understanding the Constructs of Groupthink and Learning Organizations. International Leadership Journal, 7(1), 93-97.
Funny this one:
Ellis and Fisher (1994) suggest that there are four conditions that establish a groupthink environment: (a) mindless cohesion, (b) pressuring nonconformists, (c) failing to reward critical thinking, and (d) a tendency to justify
I can attribute at least two of these to you, notably c and d, of which we've seen many examples in this topic. Furthermore, the article does not seem to do more than just warn about the dangers of group-think. I don't see how that helps you overcome it. Being aware of it doesn't mean you're immune.
  • S. Alexander Haslam, B. P., John C. Turner, B. P., Penelope J. Oakes, B. P., Katherine J. Reynolds, B. P., Rachael A. Eggins, B. P., Mark Nolan, B. P., & Janet Tweedie, B. P. (1998). When do stereotypes become really consensual? Investigating the group-based dynamics of the consensualization process. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28(5), 755-776. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199809/10)28:5<755::AID-EJSP891>3.0.CO;2-Z
I don't see how this will help you in any way to make you immune to bias. The article is about stereotypes, how is that relevant?
  • Valine, Y. A. (2018). Why cultures fail: The power and risk of Groupthink. Journal of Risk Management in Financial Institutions, 11(4), 301-307.
Once again, just a paper describing the dangers of group-think. Even more interesting, it outlines the following:
How is it that a robust system of checks and balances designed to prevent these situations fails?
So it actually talks about why you can't really do anything about this. In all fairness, the article doesn't go into this very far and even has a list of things that supposedly will help prevent groupthink, but these things are very obvious and trivial, and half of them are relevant to an organization, not an individual.

None of these show scientifically that being aware of groupthink (and then we'll need to be generous and grant that is the exact same mechanism that applies to listening tests) will help you circumvent it so that blind testing is not needed.

:facepalm:
 

Dogcoop

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This is from Watts’ latest post on another forum (emphasis is rw’s):

My designs are about making the performance as accurate and transparent as possible to the original performance as I hear it. If others do not perceive as I do then so be it, I am not bothered. Thankfully there are very many people who agree with me and are prepared to spend their own money on it - something that I am grateful for, which is why I spend so much time on these threads.

Another aspect is that often thousands of specific and detailed listening tests are involved, that is simply not possible with a panel.


There is much more for the tech people to unravel, but how does he get away with this ‘I hear it so it is right’ attitude?
 

JohnM-73

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This is from Watts’ latest post on another forum (emphasis is rw’s):

My designs are about making the performance as accurate and transparent as possible to the original performance as I hear it. If others do not perceive as I do then so be it, I am not bothered. Thankfully there are very many people who agree with me and are prepared to spend their own money on it - something that I am grateful for, which is why I spend so much time on these threads.

Another aspect is that often thousands of specific and detailed listening tests are involved, that is simply not possible with a panel.


There is much more for the tech people to unravel, but how does he get away with this ‘I hear it so it is right’ attitude?

Exactly. It was reading posts like that that plus the unreliability of 5 (!) TT2s that finally got me to break away from the Chord cult. Many of RWs posts have increasingly come over as rather egotistical too - “only I understand fully and can do digital right” kind of attitude. As others have picked up on, he always talks in terms of “I” as well. There’s no mention of group testing at Chord, or any other kind of serious double-blind testing. Ultimately, much of it is his opinion, not solid facts. But he mixes it in with solid facts. So to the layperson (of which I most certainly am) one trusted what he said (at least initially) over at Head-Fi, because why would you not trust an expert and a guy who has been designing well received DACs since the late 80s? I think Moore’s Law and the march of progress has over-taken his designs now though, since one can get equal and better performance far cheaper. Thanks to ASR and AMIR for opening my eyes to the BS out there.
 

Geert

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None of these show scientifically that being aware of groupthink (and then we'll need to be generous and grant that is the exact same mechanism that applies to listening tests) will help you circumvent it so that blind testing is not needed.

Playing scientist by cherry picking what fits your narrative and forgetting scientific theories require broader acceptance (peer review, meta studies ...).
 

SIY

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I made the error of skimming through some of this. It's all depressingly familiar.

1. I don't understand Fourier.
2. I don't understand Shannon-Nyquist.
3. I don't understand the difference between ordinary and extraordinary claims nor the concept of burden of proof.
4. The results I want keep the toys and clicks coming.
5. If I try using basic controls, I won't get the results I want.
6. I don't actually trust my ears, but I know what revenue looks like.

Am I missing anything?
 

the_brunx

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Equally, I can ask: Why does Amir have forum donors?

Having a Patreon does not mean one does it for the money.
Sure then it’s possible that nobody does anything for money anymore, they Just have to say I don’t go to work for the money, while getting paid.
 

voodooless

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Sure then it’s possible that nobody does anything for money anymore, they Just have to say I don’t go to work for the money, while getting paid.
Well, yes, that makes it a bad argument. You can't just make that derivation. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter if it's fame, money, or belonging to the tribe that clouds the mind. I think @PassionforSound linked a few articles on how dangerous groupthink is ;)
 

CapMan

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Apparently it’s not sufficient to spend 14 grand on a Dac and 5 grand on upsampling, you must have Vibrapods to get the best from them - this from another forum ….

“Supposedly the crystal clock chips can be sensitive to vibration”
 

KSTR

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You will definitely need to ask RW to perform that test because:

However, it seems the M-Scaler has test-detection measures built in, as when I feed an impulse through it it simply spits out a ‘Zero Order Hold’ result, copying that impulse a few times and giving a square result as shown below:

S397HhiKRY.png
M-Scaler Impulse response test doesn’t work due to anti-testing measures built in
96UdlnTue4.png
Raw samples shown
This is of course not the actual upsampling method the M-Scaler normally uses, it’s simply a method of preventing anyone from being able to potentially gain too much information or closely examine the impulse response. Potentially even being able to reverse engineer the exact design of the filter and windowing given enough time and expertise.
-Golden Sound


Only RW will be able to provide the request for impulse behavior.

Please request it as follow-up to your interview.
If that is true then this is crazy.

Anyway, you can obtain the IR in many many different ways (using sweep or noise or even music when it has enough energy across the spectrum). No need to feed the unit with a single sample.

But we already know the IR: a very close fit to a true sinc() function.
 

voodooless

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“Supposedly the crystal clock chips can be sensitive to vibration”
That would be another fantastic test for @amirm to do: put the DAC on a vibrating surface (one of those Dayton Bass Shakers would work for this), and measure jitter while exerting certain vibrations, see if it actually has any influence.
 

Dogcoop

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If that is true then this is crazy.

Anyway, you can obtain the IR in many many different ways (using sweep or noise or even music when it has enough energy across the spectrum). No need to feed the unit with a single sample.

But we already know the IR: a very close fit to a true sinc() function.
Why not just ask watts to supply the test results that substantiate his claims as passionforsound has requested. Especially if it’s so easy to do and there are many ways to achieve a measurement?
 
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