A New Setup for Reference Playback

This is my personal listening space as of April 2020. It's a Chord Hugo TT2 (and occasionally Dave) based system using OPTO•DX and SRCDX driven from HQPlayer on a Windows 10 NUC running Roon. You don't see the digital chain because its all enclosed in RFSTOP (the box with the walnut faceplate) networked by a fibre ethernet cable running to a distant FMC/switch. A diagram and equipment list is provided below.

I am a loudspeaker guy and I now have two sets to enjoy.  My original Voxativ DIY speakers are driven directly from the TT2's transparent 18 watts. These provide an utterly glorious listening experience that only high end headphones can match. My new acquisition is Focal SM9 studio monitors - driven by balanced output from TT2 or Dave. The SM9's have integrated amplifiers matched to the drivers with line-level crossovers that makes them very linear and resolving of complex passages. The Voxativ's are biased to the highs and although driven by TT2 directly they really need a subwoofer to shine. The SM9s are more competent at loud volumes and are full range but they introduce AC power cord issues.

My goal is to have both loudspeakers setups approach their endgame potential. The benefit of RFSTOP is how it has consolidated and contained all radiated RF noise issues. OPTODX has eliminated conduced RF noise to allow me to move on to address other issues in the chain. SRCDX and HQPlayer provide me with the sonic signature of MScaler with even greater resolution, depth and nuance to uncover. I'm always trying component variations; confirming my listening impressions with measurements.

Some of my latest testing focuses on the issue of power. I know that batteries are ideal for digital (either DC direct, though a low-noise regulator or Farad Supercap AC inverted) but how low noise does a DC feed to a DAC need to be? What about my AC powered SM9s? Do they sound as good with batteries? What is the benefit of an expensive AC power cord? A true understanding here will invariably lead me to a decidedly less expensive and more pragmatic solution. Stay tuned.

Setup diagram: 

Equipment list:


Chord Electronics: Hugo TT2 + Dave (on loan)

Loudspeakers:  Voxatix AF-2.6 in DIY enclosure; Focal SM9 on Argosy Spire 360Xi stands; REL S/510 (to provide bass to Voxativs)
Power: AC Mains (RFSTOP), Farad Super3/MP-Audio (TT2, OPTODX|R), Goal Zero Yeti 1000 (SM9's, Farad, REL)
Signal Cables: Analysis-Plus APEX, Gotham GAC-2 Ultra-Pro; Belden 1694A
Power Cables: Nordost, Gotham, NRG, Schaffner, Ghent, DIY

RF-STOP Digital: Intel NUC i5; OPTO•DX|T+SRC•DX (Zip-tied together in a stack). TPLINK MC200CM FMC (Fiber Media Converter); Commodity USB, Ethernet & Fibre cables; Factory SMPS are all connected using Leviton AC plug adapters. No fan is needed: passive air cooling is sufficient.