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Introduction and... Power amp recommendation for RME-ADI2

deltanine

Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2021
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4
Greetings All!

I've been enjoying ASR as a passive participant in the community for a while now. I can't thank you
all, and Amir!, for the wealth of information presented here. I enjoy the concept of an objective based
approach to audio, and I'll share why.

I work in Luxury Hospitality, specifically ritzy five star hotels. I see a lot of interesting consumer behavior
that is driven by subjectivity. I am also a student of wine... a notoriously subjective field. Blind tasting
is actually a component of exams I am currently studying for. To prepare for this challenge, my girlfriend
is helping me by pouring blind tastings for me to evaluate at home. I've got about 20 bottles in the kitchen
which she is using the Coravin system to "access". If you're not familiar with the Coravin... look it up! Its
an amazing tool for those that appreciate wine.

My point is... by removing the label from the wine tasting experience... crazy things can happen. SO much
of our expectations regarding the enjoyment of any particular wine are wrapped up in that label!! Stories
of wine forgery at the highest level, like the tale of Rudy Kurniawan, prove that for many consumers, what
is in the bottle is almost less important than what is on the label.

I'm fascinated by the relationship of labels, price, and quality in the wine industry. "Enjoyment" of fine wine
is often dependent on one's expectations based on other's subjective opinions. Critics like Robert Parker are
able to move the entire industry with his opinions. In fact, he "Parkerized" wine across the world, and we
are just now starting to swing back from his preference for concentrated, overripe powerhouses. He "invented"
the 100 point rating scale for wines which many see as a joke in the industry. One review from Robert Parker
can make or break an up and coming winemaker.

I used to think wine was entirely subjective... ripe to snake oilsmanship... a joke. Once I began studying it in
earnest though I realized that they actually teach that there are two sides to appreciating wine. One subjective...
and one objective. Anyone can rattle of a list of flavor characteristics such as ripe raspberry, tart black cherry,
and baking spices and be "correct"... but the "Structure" of a wine is actually measurable. Evaluating the
structure of a wine, the tannin, acid, and alcohol levels is a skill that can be measured. Because of this, I came
to respect and aspire to master the deductive method of wine tasting.

So in this respect, the wine community operates with the understanding that sensory evaluation must involve
both subjective, and objective concepts simultaneously. They are not mutually exclusive. The difference between
a master somm, and a level one somm, is that the master is able to identify both the objective AND subjective
components of a wine MORE frequently. Not necessarily every time, but more consistently. Also, I think that a master
somm is better at identifying the most common frequently observed subjective components of a wine consistently.
An entry level somm basically gets a pass on the subjective components, but is held to a standard that they must be
able to correctly identify the objective components consistently.

Whew! Which brings us to audio! And I LOVE music. All types of music. I'm a hobbyist audio nerd. I've soldered a
few cables... I've got some Martin Custom Audio woodies I installed on my Grado's. I've had amps / speakers and systems
going back to the 90's. But I have ALWAYS felt that there is a huge element of shadiness, and snake oilsmanship in the
audio industry. I've actually purchased speakers out of the back of a van!

So I have NEVER bought into the subjective reviews the way that subjective writers seem to think I should. A lot of their
writing reminds me of the way I first looked at wine reviews. This is bullshit!

I think I'm right at home here on ASR ;)

With ALL that being said. I have some questions for this community, because I'm truly ignorant of a lot of the
electronic speak that goes on here. I need ya'lls help! (Yes I'm in Virignia lol)

Currently my system: BlueSound Node (Gen 3) --> Coax --> RME-ADI2 DAC --> RCA --> Musical Fidelity M1PWR --> Paradigm
Founders 40b and JLAudio D110 RCA in from the M1PWR loop out

Question 1: For this setup... what Ref Level on the RME will make the best use of the IcePower modules in the M1PWR?
Auto Ref (which ends up being -5 at my listening levels) or +7?

Question 2: I'm eyeing a March Audio Hypex just as much for the balanced connection as for the newer modules. Will moving
from RCA and IcePower to XLR and Hypex provide an audible benefit to the Paradigms, or is it just a minor incremental gain? Would
the balanced setup change the Ref Level recommendation?

Question 3: If YOU were buying a March Audio Hypex for the Paradigm 40B's (Room / Anechoic 92 dB / 89 dB) would you go
NC122 or NC252 or 2x NC122 bridged and why?

Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment!

Cheers,

Brian
 

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ririt

Senior Member
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May 5, 2020
Messages
334
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Location
France
Greetings All!

I've been enjoying ASR as a passive participant in the community for a while now. I can't thank you
all, and Amir!, for the wealth of information presented here. I enjoy the concept of an objective based
approach to audio, and I'll share why.

I work in Luxury Hospitality, specifically ritzy five star hotels. I see a lot of interesting consumer behavior
that is driven by subjectivity. I am also a student of wine... a notoriously subjective field. Blind tasting
is actually a component of exams I am currently studying for. To prepare for this challenge, my girlfriend
is helping me by pouring blind tastings for me to evaluate at home. I've got about 20 bottles in the kitchen
which she is using the Coravin system to "access". If you're not familiar with the Coravin... look it up! Its
an amazing tool for those that appreciate wine.

My point is... by removing the label from the wine tasting experience... crazy things can happen. SO much
of our expectations regarding the enjoyment of any particular wine are wrapped up in that label!! Stories
of wine forgery at the highest level, like the tale of Rudy Kurniawan, prove that for many consumers, what
is in the bottle is almost less important than what is on the label.

I'm fascinated by the relationship of labels, price, and quality in the wine industry. "Enjoyment" of fine wine
is often dependent on one's expectations based on other's subjective opinions. Critics like Robert Parker are
able to move the entire industry with his opinions. In fact, he "Parkerized" wine across the world, and we
are just now starting to swing back from his preference for concentrated, overripe powerhouses. He "invented"
the 100 point rating scale for wines which many see as a joke in the industry. One review from Robert Parker
can make or break an up and coming winemaker.

I used to think wine was entirely subjective... ripe to snake oilsmanship... a joke. Once I began studying it in
earnest though I realized that they actually teach that there are two sides to appreciating wine. One subjective...
and one objective. Anyone can rattle of a list of flavor characteristics such as ripe raspberry, tart black cherry,
and baking spices and be "correct"... but the "Structure" of a wine is actually measurable. Evaluating the
structure of a wine, the tannin, acid, and alcohol levels is a skill that can be measured. Because of this, I came
to respect and aspire to master the deductive method of wine tasting.

So in this respect, the wine community operates with the understanding that sensory evaluation must involve
both subjective, and objective concepts simultaneously. They are not mutually exclusive. The difference between
a master somm, and a level one somm, is that the master is able to identify both the objective AND subjective
components of a wine MORE frequently. Not necessarily every time, but more consistently. Also, I think that a master
somm is better at identifying the most common frequently observed subjective components of a wine consistently.
An entry level somm basically gets a pass on the subjective components, but is held to a standard that they must be
able to correctly identify the objective components consistently.

Whew! Which brings us to audio! And I LOVE music. All types of music. I'm a hobbyist audio nerd. I've soldered a
few cables... I've got some Martin Custom Audio woodies I installed on my Grado's. I've had amps / speakers and systems
going back to the 90's. But I have ALWAYS felt that there is a huge element of shadiness, and snake oilsmanship in the
audio industry. I've actually purchased speakers out of the back of a van!

So I have NEVER bought into the subjective reviews the way that subjective writers seem to think I should. A lot of their
writing reminds me of the way I first looked at wine reviews. This is bullshit!

I think I'm right at home here on ASR ;)

With ALL that being said. I have some questions for this community, because I'm truly ignorant of a lot of the
electronic speak that goes on here. I need ya'lls help! (Yes I'm in Virignia lol)

Currently my system: BlueSound Node (Gen 3) --> Coax --> RME-ADI2 DAC --> RCA --> Musical Fidelity M1PWR --> Paradigm
Founders 40b and JLAudio D110 RCA in from the M1PWR loop out

Question 1: For this setup... what Ref Level on the RME will make the best use of the IcePower modules in the M1PWR?
Auto Ref (which ends up being -5 at my listening levels) or +7?

Question 2: I'm eyeing a March Audio Hypex just as much for the balanced connection as for the newer modules. Will moving
from RCA and IcePower to XLR and Hypex provide an audible benefit to the Paradigms, or is it just a minor incremental gain? Would
the balanced setup change the Ref Level recommendation?

Question 3: If YOU were buying a March Audio Hypex for the Paradigm 40B's (Room / Anechoic 92 dB / 89 dB) would you go
NC122 or NC252 or 2x NC122 bridged and why?

Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment!

Cheers,

Brian
Brian,
Living in the Rhone Valley in France, your comments on wine make a lot of sense to me! I myself experienced blindtesting of wine in a cellar nearby my home: it was a lot of fun and it definitely confirmed that subjective perceptions are strongly influencing your judgement about wine quality!
Back to audio, as a happy owner of March Audio amps ( purifi, NC252 and NC122) I would strongly recommend to make your choice based on a single parameter: calculate which amp will properly drive your loudspeakers in your room (taking into account your listening distance). I should add that the quality of the March Audio amp is top notch. Moreover the support I received from Alan March was great!
hope that helps
Eric
 
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OP
deltanine

deltanine

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Brian,
Living in the Rhone Valley in France, your comments on wine make a lot of sense to me! I myself experienced blindtesting of wine in a cellar nearby my home: it was a lot of fun and it definitely confirmed that subjective perceptions are strongly influencing your judgement about wine quality!
Back to audio, as a happy owner of March Audio amps ( purifi, NC252 and NC122) I would strongly recommend to make your choice based on a single parameter: calculate which amp will properly drive your loudspeakers in your room (taking into account your listening distance). I should add that the quality of the March Audio amp is top notch. Moreover the support I received from Alan March was great!
hope that helps
Eric
Hi Eric!
Oooh Rhone Valley nice! World class wine AND Mt. Ventoux! Bucket list for my road bike someday. Thanks for confirming my thoughts about the March Audio units. I think from looking at the specs for the Paradigm 40b's I'm somewhere in the middle of the 122 and 252. Actually, the "Max Input Power" is listed as 120 watts. Would going over this spec with the 252 listed as 150 watts be a problem for these little bookshelf units? They are quite sensitive (Room / Anechoic 92 dB / 89 dB), my room is small, listening distance is 7'. Thank you for your reply Eric!
 

Willem

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The more powerful Hypex amplifiers are hardly more expensive, and may be more future proof.
 

Shefffield

Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2021
Messages
44
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36
Location
Munich, Germany
Question 1: For this setup... what Ref Level on the RME will make the best use of the IcePower modules in the M1PWR?
Auto Ref (which ends up being -5 at my listening levels) or +7?

Question 2: I'm eyeing a March Audio Hypex just as much for the balanced connection as for the newer modules. Will moving
from RCA and IcePower to XLR and Hypex provide an audible benefit to the Paradigms, or is it just a minor incremental gain? Would
the balanced setup change the Ref Level recommendation?

Question 3: If YOU were buying a March Audio Hypex for the Paradigm 40B's (Room / Anechoic 92 dB / 89 dB) would you go
NC122 or NC252 or 2x NC122 bridged and why?

Thank you all for taking the time to read and comment!

Cheers,

Brian

Greetings from Bavaria, where no wine is grown!

But I'm originally from Western Germany, with a rich wine culture. And I love that stuff, too!

For q1 and q2 I would expect the following: Given that DAC and amp modules are properly engineered and built, there should be no difference between reference levels and connection method. Sure, XLR offers a lot of theoretical benefit, but for short cables with decent plugs this shouldn't be an issue.

The devices you mentioned are all great and should work fine. Understand that technologies like balanced connections and switchable reference levels are geared towards large scale installations where you have to deal with hundreds of metres of audio cables and a whole zoo of electronic devices. Our home hifi setups should be a piece of cake for the units you have.
 
OP
deltanine

deltanine

Member
Joined
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Messages
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Greetings from Bavaria, where no wine is grown!

But I'm originally from Western Germany, with a rich wine culture. And I love that stuff, too!

For q1 and q2 I would expect the following: Given that DAC and amp modules are properly engineered and built, there should be no difference between reference levels and connection method. Sure, XLR offers a lot of theoretical benefit, but for short cables with decent plugs this shouldn't be an issue.

The devices you mentioned are all great and should work fine. Understand that technologies like balanced connections and switchable reference levels are geared towards large scale installations where you have to deal with hundreds of metres of audio cables and a whole zoo of electronic devices. Our home hifi setups should be a piece of cake for the units you have.
Greetings! I recently stayed at a campground in NC https://www.blackforestcampground.com/ that is Bavarian themed. They have animal figures made of plywood around the property... and since there are a lot of black bears in NC, they had a "Bearvarian" bear wearing ledherhosen! Seriously I will never ever forget that Bear lol! Bearvarian lol! Campground was awesome by the way.

Thanks for your input regarding XLR vs RCA you make some great points. I do have SUPER short cables... and great plugs (ETI Research) going between the ADI -> MF M1PWR.

Possibly the balanced connection (and the "hotter" output from the ADI2 ?) wouldn't provide the boost in sound quality I'd imagined it could.

Mmm.. Riesling! One of my favorite varietals! Especially from the Mosel. I also seek out Pinot Noir from the Ahr valley and am willing to experiment with just about any wine produced in Germany. I had a rose from the Baden region that was superb recently. I love the zippy acidity, citrus fruit and hint of petrol in Riesling... but I especially love the low alcohol content. Its so refreshing to be able to knock back a couple glasses without getting too tipsy. I love food friendly, lower alcohol wine.
 

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Shefffield

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Greetings! I recently stayed at a campground in NC https://www.blackforestcampground.com/ that is Bavarian themed. They have animal figures made of plywood around the property... and since there are a lot of black bears in NC, they had a "Bearvarian" bear wearing ledherhosen! Seriously I will never ever forget that Bear lol! Bearvarian lol! Campground was awesome by the way.

Thanks for your input regarding XLR vs RCA you make some great points. I do have SUPER short cables... and great plugs (ETI Research) going between the ADI -> MF M1PWR.

Possibly the balanced connection (and the "hotter" output from the ADI2 ?) wouldn't provide the boost in sound quality I'd imagined it could.

Mmm.. Riesling! One of my favorite varietals! Especially from the Mosel. I also seek out Pinot Noir from the Ahr valley and am willing to experiment with just about any wine produced in Germany. I had a rose from the Baden region that was superb recently. I love the zippy acidity, citrus fruit and hint of petrol in Riesling... but I especially love the low alcohol content. Its so refreshing to be able to knock back a couple glasses without getting too tipsy. I love food friendly, lower alcohol wine.

Whoops... The Black Forest is in Baden-Württemberg. Not in Bavaria! Sorry, that's a fail. :p

I'd dare say.. if the hotter outputs would make a difference, that meant there's a serious flaw in the device. From all I learned in the years on hifi investigations, I came to the conclusion that if there are differences it's either (often intentional) flaws in the system (tube amps, for example) or a mismatch of impedances between devices. Or it's just folklore...

Check out white wines from Pfalz region, they are usually modestly priced (aka underrated) and also offer finesse and variety. (Vineyard recommendations via PM, if you like.)
 
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deltanine

deltanine

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Whoops... The Black Forest is in Baden-Württemberg. Not in Bavaria! Sorry, that's a fail. :p

I'd dare say.. if the hotter outputs would make a difference, that meant there's a serious flaw in the device. From all I learned in the years on hifi investigations, I came to the conclusion that if there are differences it's either (often intentional) flaws in the system (tube amps, for example) or a mismatch of impedances between devices. Or it's just folklore...

Check out white wines from Pfalz region, they are usually modestly priced (aka underrated) and also offer finesse and variety. (Vineyard recommendations via PM, if you like.)
Ha! Maybe it was me who was making up the bear-varian nickname for the bears in that campground - The owners probably wouldn't have made that mistake!

Can't wait to dig into the Pfalz region - irrespective of vineyards, what are your favorite varietals and styles from the region?
 

gsp1971

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Hi Brian and welcome to ASR.

I read your wine tasting stories with interest!

Now regarding the question below:
Question 3: If YOU were buying a March Audio Hypex for the Paradigm 40B's (Room / Anechoic 92 dB / 89 dB) would you go
NC122 or NC252 or 2x NC122 bridged and why?

The Paradigm Founder 40B are too new so I haven't been able to find any measurements on sensitivity and impedance.

Having said that, using the manufacturer's specs and doing the calculations, they will be driven to their limit with 200W @ 4Ω (they are a 4Ω design). Hence, a Hypex NC252 is more than adequate and will give you a max SPL of 103dB @ 1m, 97dB @ 2m (deafening loudness).

Judging by the photo you have provided, your listening position does not seem to be more than 2m away from the speakers, so a Hypex NC122 will do just fine for your current set-up. But I agree that a NC252 is more future-proof, if your budget allows it.

Good luck.
 
OP
deltanine

deltanine

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Hi Brian and welcome to ASR.

I read your wine tasting stories with interest!

Now regarding the question below:


The Paradigm Founder 40B are too new so I haven't been able to find any measurements on sensitivity and impedance.

Having said that, using the manufacturer's specs and doing the calculations, they will be driven to their limit with 200W @ 4Ω (they are a 4Ω design). Hence, a Hypex NC252 is more than adequate and will give you a max SPL of 103dB @ 1m, 97dB @ 2m (deafening loudness).

Judging by the photo you have provided, your listening position does not seem to be more than 2m away from the speakers, so a Hypex NC122 will do just fine for your current set-up. But I agree that a NC252 is more future-proof, if your budget allows it.

Good luck.
Thank you so much for your reply GSP!

You must have amazing access to some great wine in Athens! I'm excited to explore the world of Greek wine but I admit I'm just scratching the surface. I have been tasting some amazing wines from Sicily lately... not to far off. Frank Cornelissen comes to mind!

I definitely though to myself that the NC122 would actually be quite well suited to the size of my room and the Paradigm 40b's... I guess I'm a bit confused because it seems that some people argue MORE power is almost always better. Yet... the "Max Input Power" is listed as 120 watts. Would going over this spec with the 252 listed as 150 watts be a problem for these little bookshelf units? I would like to future proof by overshooting my 'current' needs by a bit... but if the speakers can't handle it then I guess thats a no go? Also the specs on the Paradigm site list the speaker as

IMPEDANCE Compatible with 8 ohms

What makes you state that they are a 4 ohm design? Just curious!


AAAlllsooo... I just read recently that perhaps Marche had a less than positive sendoff from ASR? Not gonna lie I'd love to eat some popcorn and read his public meltdown! Anybody have a link?

So in terms of another turnkey Hypex amp... I'm currently leaning Boxem... anybody in the states able to comment on tax / shipping costs?

As much as I dig the Boxem units... might be simpler / cheaper to get a Buckeye from here in the states in a Ghent case...
 

gsp1971

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You must have amazing access to some great wine in Athens! I'm excited to explore the world of Greek wine but I admit I'm just scratching the surface. I have been tasting some amazing wines from Sicily lately... not to far off. Frank Cornelissen comes to mind!
Although I am no expert, we do have some great wines in Greece, which are unfortunately not very well known to the rest of the world. It seems we sell most of them unbranded to Italy and then the Italians put a label and market them as Italian wine. Same thing happens with olive oil.

I definitely though to myself that the NC122 would actually be quite well suited to the size of my room and the Paradigm 40b's... I guess I'm a bit confused because it seems that some people argue MORE power is almost always better. Yet... the "Max Input Power" is listed as 120 watts. Would going over this spec with the 252 listed as 150 watts be a problem for these little bookshelf units?
No, it wouldn't be a problem. Having additional power available to handle momentary loud peaks in music is desirable. Better than having too little power. All I am saying is that for your current set-up and room size, the NC122 is good enough. If you want to future-proof and your budget allows it, go for the NC252 by all means.

I would like to future proof by overshooting my 'current' needs by a bit... but if the speakers can't handle it then I guess thats a no go? Also the specs on the Paradigm site list the speaker as

IMPEDANCE Compatible with 8 ohms

What makes you state that they are a 4 ohm design? Just curious!
I was only able to find measurements for the 100F floor-stander (link below). Looking at the impedance curve graph, it drops as low as 3Ω at around 100Hz.


According to IEC-268-5, the nominal impedance of the loudspeaker should be stated so that the minimum impedance value shall not be less than 80 percent of its nominal value. In other words, minimum impedance divided by 0.8 = nominal stated impedance.
In our case, 3 / 0.8 = 3.75 hence it is a 4Ω design.
You can see from the impedance graph in the above link that the woofer operates mostly around 3-4Ω.

So in terms of another turnkey Hypex amp... I'm currently leaning Boxem... anybody in the states able to comment on tax / shipping costs?
I am in Europe, so I don't have a clue about US tax. But shipping costs should be listed on their website. Perhaps @boXem | audio can assist you further.

Regards,
George
 
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