Sagatun and Sagatun Mono

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tokenbrit
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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-11 00:47

A question to Fredrik & Tom...

Borrowing from Ron:
Ron The Mon wrote:Image
Below the LP12 are two mono Tundras... The next stack is two Sagatun monos and one stereo...
If you had identical racks (Harmoni or other) would you place Sagatun Monos on the same level in each rack, rather than on different levels in the same rack?

So, horizontally symmetric
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - SM2
TM1 - TM2

Rather than vertically
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - TM1
SM2 - TM2

Another question (primarily for Tom): I have 4 Longwells, and plan to use these as follows: 1. Renew (direct); 2. CablePro (direct) 3. SM1 4. SM2. The Sagatun Monos will both be in the 1st of 4 duplex outlets in the CablePro. The Tundra Monos will be in the 2nd duplex and will use the power cords that they came with. Do you have any other suggested configurations? The 2nd shelf in each rack is awaiting its Sagatun Mono; the Tundra Monos sit on the next level down and ready to play :)

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Post by lejonklou » 2014-08-12 21:30

tokenbrit wrote:So, horizontally symmetric
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - SM2
TM1 - TM2

Rather than vertically
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - TM1
SM2 - TM2
Hi tokenbrit and sorry for the late reply! I got stuck with an unexpected side effect of the new memory firmware; it affects sound quality! Very unexpected, but more about that in a later post.

Assuming that the two racks stand very close to one another, I would probably try the horizontally symmetric layout. My only reason for this choice is that IF the second shelf (counting from above) sounds a little better than the third one, both preamps get a slightly better shelf than the power amps. But if there is no difference between the shelves, then this reason is invalid. Perhaps the vertically symmetric layout makes it easier to arrange the cables behind the rack? Keeping power cords slightly away from the interconnects can sometimes be benficial.

The reason why the racks need to stand close with the horizontally symmetric layout is that the Toslink cable used between Master output and Servant input is exactly 0.5 m long. And I promise this supplied Toslink cable works perfectly. If you change it to a longer one, this could result in some hiccups in the communication between Master and Slave. A longer Toslink cable could work, but it needs to be high quality (=low loss), because the light used in the Control Link is very weak. And the reason for that weak light is that this low power design was very good for the music.

So: If you want to try a longer Toslink cable for the Control Link, borrow a bunch of different ones and try them before purchase! To evaluate the link, do like this:
Start with both Master and Servant at volume zero.
Press VOL+ on your remote and keep it pressed until volume has gone all the way up to 100.
Pay attention to whether Master and Servant Sagatun's arrive at 100 at the same time.
If Servant is lagging behind a step or two, the Toslink cable used has too much loss.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-08-12 23:13

tokenbrit wrote:A question to Fredrik & Tom...

Borrowing from Ron:
Ron The Mon wrote:Image
Below the LP12 are two mono Tundras... The next stack is two Sagatun monos and one stereo...
If you had identical racks (Harmoni or other) would you place Sagatun Monos on the same level in each rack, rather than on different levels in the same rack?

So, horizontally symmetric
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - SM2
TM1 - TM2

Rather than vertically
Rack 1 - Rack 2
Src 1 - Src 2
SM1 - TM1
SM2 - TM2

Another question (primarily for Tom): I have 4 Longwells, and plan to use these as follows: 1. Renew (direct); 2. CablePro (direct) 3. SM1 4. SM2. The Sagatun Monos will both be in the 1st of 4 duplex outlets in the CablePro. The Tundra Monos will be in the 2nd duplex and will use the power cords that they came with. Do you have any other suggested configurations? The 2nd shelf in each rack is awaiting its Sagatun Mono; the Tundra Monos sit on the next level down and ready to play :)
Just back from vacation so I haven't been able to post replies on the forum until now. I agree with Fredrik on the positioning. There is a good possibility that there will be a musical difference between the different shelves (there is with Harmoni racks) so putting both preamps on the same shelf of two racks is likely to give better performance and the power amps would go on a slightly lesser shelf. This, of course, assumes identical racks.

As to the power cables you left out the LP12 cable. I would normally put this after the preamp and before the power amps. I used to put source then pre then power but Fredrik mentioned that preamp first seemed to be beneficial so I tried it when he was here and agreed. This is likely to do with the grounding since everything grounds back to the preamp (sources and amps). Interestingly Nordost has moved away from power conditioning and now recommends their "high-quality" power distribution units. They actually put a half Ohm resistor in the ground line of all the sockets except the preamp one with the goal of pushing the ground to the preamp. I have not evaluated one of them at home to see if it really works but I will do so sometime.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-13 18:26

Thanks both Fredrik & Tom. I'll have to plan accordingly for the 50cm optical connection / TOSLINK cable. Even though the two racks are as close as possible, side-by-side, the Sagatuns will be too far apart if arranged horizontally symmetrical rather than vertically...
The only downside is I'll have to use Linn Blacks from one source as my last Silver i/Cs are a shorty pair and won't reach the bottom Sagatun.

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Post by anthony » 2014-08-13 19:29

tokenbrit wrote:The only downside is I'll have to use Linn Blacks from one source as my last Silver i/Cs are a shorty pair and won't reach the bottom Sagatun.
Thats a shame because when Fredrik swapped out his own pair of Linn black for silvers during his UK tour, it was a fair improvement.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-13 19:47

I'm sure that the Sagatun & Tundra Monos are more than revealing enough to make the difference between Blacks & Silvers quite obvious. Something else to sneak by the Director of Domestic Finances :)

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-08-14 12:13

Image

If anyone wants to pop in for a listen, I'll have this set up for a week until I take it to York.
Kds1
Sagatun monos
Tundra stereo
UNBELIEVABLE, I'm so enjoying this set up, and I loved it before !
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Post by HIDDENSYSTEMS » 2014-08-14 21:04

Get those Tundra Monos fired up as well !!! If you have enough k200/K400 you could try Monos and Stereo, biamp'ing.
http://www.hiddensystems.co.uk
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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-08-14 21:36

I'll try tomorrow if I have room, don't want to stack amps, but may have to with a tea towel Inbetween !
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Post by lejonklou » 2014-08-15 00:48

Cool to hear that it sounds so good, Ozzzy!

You can skip bi-amping, though. One pair of Tundra Mono's sound better on their own than when they are helped by a stereo.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-15 01:39

lejonklou wrote:I got stuck with an unexpected side effect of the new memory firmware; it affects sound quality! Very unexpected, but more about that in a later post...
Is there an option to accept Sagatun Monos with the original firmware. To be honest, some of the firmware changes went a little too far for me, and I'd rather have performance than convenience anyway. If the root cause of the impact to sound quality is difficult to determine and resolve, I'd be happy to receive my Sagatuns with the same firmware as installed on the Monos used at the US launch.
lejonklou wrote:Due to public demand, my firmware guru Linntek and I have implemented a memory feature on Sagatun and Sagatun Mono, that allows all settings to be memorized when power is switched off. When your Sagatun's are switched back on, they will return to the exact same state as before.

The following settings are memorized:
Current input (1 to 4) - not really bothered but, if given a choice, I'd prefer a selectable default input so that power-on equated to my most listened to input, otherwise default to the direct input
Current volume (0 to 100) - prefer default (40) in case I forgot to turn down the vol before switching off
Child Lock (activated or not) - yes please
Remote control (any type or HiFi models only) - yes please
Max volume (78 or 100) - yes please
Unity Gain (activated or not on input 4) - yes please
For me I'd prefer to see only the config settings memorized, not the session settings. I don't know if others would agree for there to be 'popular demand' to consider this, or whether it might help avoid the affect on sound quality in some way. That said, none of the settings are must haves for me, whereas sound quality is priority :)

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Post by lejonklou » 2014-08-15 20:29

Please accept my apologies. I've been promising something I can not keep.

There will be no memory function on Sagatun or Sagatun Mono.
All units will be shipped with the original firmware.
The reason is that they sound best this way!

To make a two week long story short:
There is an EEPROM memory available in Sagatun, in which the processor can store data. EEPROM doesn't forget, even if power is lost. So it's ideal for all the settings I mentioned in my previous post. Switching Sagatun off and back on would simply result in it continuing where it was. It seemed like a great idea and Linntek changed the firmware accordingly. I tested it and found it working just as intended.

Then I started listening to the Sagatun's that were waiting to be shipped. There's now a waiting line of more than ten units, so I'm eager to get them out to their new owners. The first pair of Mono's replaced a stereo Sagatun that I had hooked up, so sure enough, the Mono's were better. But were they as good as my memory told me they would be? Somehow things felt a bit stiff, instead of the captivating flow I normally get when connecting a pair of Sagatun Mono's.

Despite initial scepticism, I slowly arrived at the conclusion that the firmware affected musical performance. And here a frustrating series of tests started, ending in the resigned realization that the EEPROM can not be used in any way by the firmware. It must be left completely empty, otherwise the preamp doesn't sound right. And I'm not talking about a miniscule difference, it's a very noticeable degree of "stiffness", compared to the easy flow one gets with an empty EEPROM and the original firmware that leaves it alone.

I had a friend coming by, completely unaware of what was going on, who within minutes said "This is not as good as it used to be, something's wrong". I don't have any explanation to offer you why it works this way. In fact, it's highly illogical, as the digital parts are shut down 3 seconds after the last command, when the front light fades out. Still, the effect on the music has now been confirmed countless of times and I haven't found any way around it.

So, in order to have complete memory of your settings in Sagatun and Sagatun Mono: Don't switch them off! They consume less than 10W per unit, so in the grand scheme of things, it's very little. They're also designed to be running continually, for many years. If you do need to switch them off, the user settings Max Volume, Unity Gain and Remote Control Limitation are very easy to set when you switch the Sagatun back on. Each setting requires only one button press each. So at most you need to push three buttons. Pretty simple.

Still, I hope you accept my apologies. This was totally unexpected and music comes first. So the original firmware remains.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-15 20:50

No apology needed for your 'music comes first' approach - thank you!

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Post by moog_man » 2014-08-15 20:51

tokenbrit wrote:No apology needed for your 'music comes first' approach - thank you!
Second that

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Post by DelNaja » 2014-08-15 21:07

+1

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Post by Ozzzy189 » 2014-08-15 21:15

Thanks for your honest and open thoughts Fredrik. I never turn mine off anyway, I just tell Jane it's off! There's no lights or display to give the game away, so perfect. If by some genius way you discover a way around this I'm sure you'll let us know in due course. Loving the mono sagatun, it's the best thing you've created, closely followed by stereo tundra. In my humble opinion of course.
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Post by lejonklou » 2014-08-16 13:09

Thanks for your support, tokenbrit, moog_man, DelNaja and Ozzzy!

And thanks for your kind words about Sagatun and Tundra, Ozzzy.

The musical differences between these firmwares really had me questioning my sanity for a moment. The first comparisons were done late at night and the result was so unexpected. I thought "This doesn't make any sense, I must be too tired". But after 9 hours of sleep the differences were exactly the same.

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Post by rowlandhills » 2014-08-16 13:11

Interesting. I know I was one of those asking for these features, but I completely agree with your decision to not keep them.
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Post by macrotech2 » 2014-08-16 13:18

So does anyone have an explanation for the reason this affects sound quality?

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Post by Sonett » 2014-08-16 18:10

Mr. L -

I am sure you have thought of this already, but I had an idea:

Since the fiber optic communication works well to connect multiple Sagatuns, and does so without overly effecting the music (or else the Mono would not be so good) why not place the eprom in a separate box attached only by the existing fiber optic network? The transmit/receive circuitry necessary in this new small box could be battery powered (perhaps some AAAA size?) so that in theory it should not put noise into the mains.

It may also be possible to make this outboard eprom programmable from a computer, making future feature upgrades easier for the customer as they can be downloaded. (Via the toslink, a wired connection such as USB, or bluetooth which could possibly allow control via a phone) Since this small box would only be attached by the toslink to the system, unplugging it and walking it to a laptop or workstation for programming should not be onerous.

It would seem to my uneducated eye that most of the work involved to try this has already been accomplished, and so hopefully implementation cost would be low, with the box probably being the most costly item.

Such a box would be optional, as those who are happy with the way the Sagatun behaves now would have no need of it. It would need a suitable name and so I submit Sagatun Control Unit Digital or SCUD - a missile to eliminate a problem.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-08-16 18:46

Sonett wrote:Mr. L -

I am sure you have thought of this already, but I had an idea:

Since the fiber optic communication works well to connect multiple Sagatuns, and does so without overly effecting the music (or else the Mono would not be so good) why not place the eprom in a separate box attached only by the existing fiber optic network? The transmit/receive circuitry necessary in this new small box could be battery powered (perhaps some AAAA size?) so that in theory it should not put noise into the mains.

It may also be possible to make this outboard eprom programmable from a computer, making future feature upgrades easier for the customer as they can be downloaded. (Via the toslink, a wired connection such as USB, or bluetooth which could possibly allow control via a phone) Since this small box would only be attached by the toslink to the system, unplugging it and walking it to a laptop or workstation for programming should not be onerous.

It would seem to my uneducated eye that most of the work involved to try this has already been accomplished, and so hopefully implementation cost would be low, with the box probably being the most costly item.

Such a box would be optional, as those who are happy with the way the Sagatun behaves now would have no need of it. It would need a suitable name and so I submit Sagatun Control Unit Digital or SCUD - a missile to eliminate a problem.
I thought I'd give this a reply so as to allow Fredrik to continue building Sagatuns. :-)

The simple answer is that this would unfortunately not work. The reason is that, although this connection uses Toslink cables it is not actually a Toslink digital communication connection. The connectors are used to transfer the output of an internal IR flasher on the Master output to an internal IR receiver on the Servant input. Because of this it can only be used to send the Volume + and -, Muting and Input selection commands that are being sent to the Master unit via remote control or the front panel buttons. As I understand it there is no ability here to interact with the unit in such a way as to set, save or modify the settings created at turn-on by pressing one of the front panel buttons nor to save current input and volume setting on power down. This means that the most crucial of these settings: Volume range, Remote type and Unity Gain on input 4 cannot be controlled through this connection nor could last used volume and input be reset through it without some awfully slick and extensive programming of the proposed SCUD. So I'm afraid this SCUD may be a DUD. ;-)

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-08-16 19:07

macrotech2 wrote:So does anyone have an explanation for the reason this affects sound quality?
Linntek, who does the firmware programming, told Fredrik that to him it was "beyond black magic in the next dimension" so I'd say it's a no to any rational explanation. The only thing I could hazard a guess on is that the EEPROM either causes some drain on the PS or creates some local magnetic field when anything is in it. But again this is total guesswork and obviously neither Fredrik nor Linntek had any reason to expect it would cause this problem.

I had asked Fredrik a similar question to tokenbrit wondering if it was possible just to record the states of the turn-on programming but he answered that they tried even just saving a single line of instructions to the EEPROM and it still had the negative results on the musical performance.

Given all this, I am certainly 100% in agreement with Fredrik that the Sagatun should be all about musical quality and if some sacrifice in convenience is necessary so be it. As stated leaving it on will save all the settings so you really only have to worry about it if the power goes out. Since the programming is quite simple this shouldn't be an undue hardship.

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Post by tokenbrit » 2014-08-16 19:46

ThomasOK wrote:
macrotech2 wrote:So does anyone have an explanation for the reason this affects sound quality?
Linntek, who does the firmware programming, told Fredrik that to him it was "beyond black magic in the next dimension" so I'd say it's a no to any rational explanation...
Fundamental interconnectedness of all things?

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Post by ThomasOK » 2014-08-16 20:37

tokenbrit wrote:
ThomasOK wrote:
macrotech2 wrote:So does anyone have an explanation for the reason this affects sound quality?
Linntek, who does the firmware programming, told Fredrik that to him it was "beyond black magic in the next dimension" so I'd say it's a no to any rational explanation...
Fundamental interconnectedness of all things?
Or maybe basic contrariness of life on the Earth plane?

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Post by rowlandhills » 2014-08-16 23:47

Although it's not actually a TOSLINK device, but rather a proprietary link using TOSLINK as a physical connection, Fredrik has previously said on this thread that he would consider making some kind of breakout box to allow network control for DS users.

Given that this would be a device which would handle volume and source selection, it should be able to hand most of what was suggested by Sonett.

Can't work out how to link to the post from here, but it was the one on page 1 of this thread, at 13:22 on 2014-08-03. Post number 7 on third thread is a great explanation of how the connector came to be as well.
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