Entity MC

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Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-13 22:17

Entity is the name of my new MC phono preamp, which will be released in November.

It's the size of a Slipsik or Gaio, but with ventilation holes on the top and on the bottom. Price wise my aim is currently 1.33 times the cost of a Slipsik 7, but it might end up near 1.5 times if the final assembly becomes more complicated than my estimation of it. I don't set the price until my assembling company has built a few and given me their final cost for building a whole batch.

In short, Entity is two SINGularity circuits in a Slipsik 7 case powered by a Slipsik 7 power supply.
Cartridge load will be adjustable in three steps at the rear; 90, 120 and 180 ohms.
The circuit is very high gain, so only suited to low level MC cartridges with an output of between 0.1 and 0.4 mV.

The really long story is as follows:
I had a clever plan for how to make a "fixed" version of the SINGularity circuit, one that wouldn't require such a madly narrow selection of all components to work properly. The input circuit of SINGularity, being extremely high gain, really requires every parameter to be spot on, otherwise it drifts off spec and sounds terrible. (Similar to a skyscraper, it will stand tall and steady only if every steel beam has been properly and precisely dimensioned.) But I had a solution, a "fix", for Entity that would let me use all the components left over from the first two pairs of SINGularity built. Those components would be enough for more than 50 Entities! And this "fix" had just a small penalty in sound quality. (Like a few steel wires from the ground to half way up the skyscraper, securing it so that beam dimensions wouldn't be so critical.) I felt smug. This would be easy.

I built a prototype that became ready in the early days of summer. I was happy when I first played a record with it. It was good. But... Was it great? This is one of those moments where gut feeling matters more than anything.
I asked myself: 'Is this project completed or is it not?'
Brain said: 'Yes, this is good! You're done. Go build it!'
Gut said: 'Wait just a second. Maybe something is not quite right after all.'
I couldn't analyze what that something was, though. What really helped figuring it out was to play a lot of different music genres. The cause was, as I should have expected, the clever "fix" that could hardly be heard. But oh, it could be heard. And it left me just a little detached.

The fun thing about electronics is that you can solve a problem in so many different ways. After thinking a while, I came up with eight alternative "fixes". (Like moving the steel wires around, using fewer and thicker, using more and thinner.) One of them involved an annoying capacitor that I just knew would affect the sound, so I listened to 32 different types; old favorites, latest releases, classic famous and some tips I'd received from forum members and taken note of (thanks Defender). I tuned every variant of the "fixes" until I could determine which one detached me the least (one thick steel wire under constant tension is the skyscraper analogy that springs to mind). Entity improved a little. But I still wasn't totally happy with the performance. It was now late summer.

I did what I had to do. I remade the prototype with madly selected components, just like in SINGularity. No fix, no compromise. And HEY! Now we're talking! Entity sounded fantastic and just drilled into the core of every song. Brain and Gut both pointed to records and said "Play that one next!" "No, that one!" I knew I'd reached the harbor.

The only problem was that Entity had now become silly expensive component wise, and I didn't like what that would do to the final price. So I tried one more thing: I took the two most expensive components and instead of their very rare selections (using less than one out of ten really drives up the cost), which I'd found to sound the best in SINGularity, I chose their most plentiful selections. Big expense saved there. And with those two parameters fixed, I re-tuned by ear all the surrounding component values. Some changed a little, others more, some not at all. A new balance was found in the circuit. I sometimes picture it as a spider web that needs to be aligned for the music to play true. Pull at one attachment point and the web is misaligned, adjust the others and it may be realigned.

The circuit boards are currently being made. I'm really proud of its design, because there's A LOT of components on it and it still fits a Slipsik-sized box. I've never made a circuit so compact before.

As soon as there's more news about Entity, you'll find them here. Can't wait to hear your reactions when you listen to it!

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Re: Entity MC

Post by mrco99 » 2019-10-14 07:31

Thanks for sharing this great little background story - I am sure this was only a short summary of all the work involved, allowing for a fascinating insight in the way you work when developing a new product like Entity.

Don't settle for good - it must be great!!
There's already enough good stuff out there so no point in adding to that. Without that fifth level you explained about in your lecture you will never get to the true emotions that music entails.

The prototype we played with at XFi did not yet have the adjustable cartridge load option - how much work was it to get that in.....just a few wires that needed to be restructured or part of the web rewoven again?

Your ongoing determination and hard work shines through in listening to Entity so it all has been well worth the wait - thanks for creating such wonderful products that make us enjoy our music to that ultimate level.
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Re: Entity MC

Post by u252agz » 2019-10-14 08:55

I thought I was done with my LP12 for a while but it looks like I was wrong - I suspect a Krystal /Entity combination may keep the KDS/3 upgrade waiting.

I am assuming Entity will work with Krystal/Kandid and may even have been 'tuned' with these two cartridges in mind.
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Re: Entity MC

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-10-14 09:18

Fredrik, it's not exactly breaking news, but I can appreciate even more (reading this) how your dedication and thoroughness is so beneficial to your work.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by Defender » 2019-10-14 13:06

I am following this discussion only as a visitor from the „other“ (dark) side as I have no analog sources. I also still hope digital can sound somewhere near analog ... sometimes.

One thing I would like to ask a long time since reading how you built and optimize your projects: how do you deal with the issue of „run in“. In my opinion certain electronic components have run in times of 70-240hours. Is this just imagination on my side?
If this is the case your fine tuning passion is even much more complex than it is described above.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-15 11:35

Thank you all for your comments!
Defender wrote:
2019-10-14 13:06
One thing I would like to ask a long time since reading how you built and optimize your projects: how do you deal with the issue of „run in“.
Good question. There's definitely effects of "running in", both mechanical and electrical. Many components need a couple of hours to settle, some need days or even weeks. Soldered joints change their sound character for close to four months, after which they seem completely stable.

However, my experience is that this rarely affects how a circuit should be tuned for optimal results. I say rarely, because there are exceptions where I've learned that certain parts need to be run in to be properly evaluated. But most of the time, component choices and values will be the same when judged fresh as when judged months later. The 100.0 ohm resistor will change its character slightly and so will the 100.1 ohm resistor, but the optimal value will usually be the same. So if 100.1 is better at day one, it will still be better a month later.

To some degree, one can also "hear through" the effects of run in. It's like the circuit at first listen hasn't "landed" and become fully stable, but the changes you're testing can appear on a different plane, for instance how well timed certain frequencies are in relation to one another. The "hearing through" ability is helpful but must be regarded with caution. One needs to always keep a certain amount of doubt in one's own abilities.

I can't stress how important my written notes are in the process; everything I do, every result and impression is written down, so that I can go back, rethink and retest it. And some conclusions will later be crossed over and a red 'WRONG! See 20 pages forward' added in the marginal.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by nmakowsk » 2019-10-15 15:38

So Entity uses a slipsik 7 power supply. Does a switchmode power supply sound better than that transformer style in these phono stages? I am assuming that the enclosure case is what facilitated that decision. Would it be worth it to have a larger case to add such a power supply to improve the sound quality or not? If its worth it, I could envision some type of separate power supply box being plugged into the input/output box like a external slimline lingo box. Maybe this super Slipsik/Entity would benefit from keeping the power supply further away from the more sensitive parts of the circuit. Just thoughts...
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Re: Entity MC

Post by David Neel » 2019-10-15 17:29

I'd be very interested to know which cartridges were used during testing of the Entity, and what comparisons were made with Urika or any other phono stages.
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Re: Entity MC

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-10-15 18:37

u252agz wrote:
2019-10-14 08:55
I thought I was done with my LP12 for a while but it looks like I was wrong - I suspect a Krystal /Entity combination may keep the KDS/3 upgrade waiting.

I am assuming Entity will work with Krystal/Kandid and may even have been 'tuned' with these two cartridges in mind.
I quoted this one but will attempt to answer a few questions that have been posted. The Entity was indeed tuned with the Krystal and Kandid but that doesn't indicate that frequency response or any sonic quality was specifically tailored to their sound. The object of all of Fredriks' designs is to allow as much music through, with as little editorializing, as possible. There is a lot of equipment nowadays that touts "clarity" and "detail" as the be all and end all. Others make a big deal about soundstage width, depth and placement. Yet others go for a euphonic sound. While making violins sound a little sweeter may be pleasant with some music the coloration certainly won't help Nirvana to get their angst across. In the end all these colorations detract from the ability of the system to portray the intent of the musicians, producers and engineers. Hence they keep you from being fully engaged in the music.

However, two of the impedances are the best match for the Linn cartridges, 180 Ohms for the Krystal, Klyde, etc. and 120 Ohms for the Kandid. The decision to add the switch came in part due to a concern from a couple of my dealers who sell some MC cartridges with very low internal resistance. Since many of these also have low output, like the SL series from Lyra, the SINGularity and Entity with their 71dB gain and very low audible noise should be an ideal match. But the normal loading for the Krystal, Kandid and a raft of others is probably too high for best musical reproduction with these cartridges. The 90 Ohms setting is for them and should optimize their reproduction with the Entity. The switch is designed to have as minimal negative impact on the signal as possible. One resistor is always in the circuit and a second one is paralleled to it for the other two switch positions.

As to power supplies, Fredrik told me that the Entity is the least expensive way to make a really musical MC phono stage using the SINGularity circuit. Using the toroidal transformer and the Slipsik casework (with a different rear panel) is part of keeping the price down. Using the switch mode power supplies as used in the Boazu up to the SINGularity would certainly improve the musical quality. But cost would go up substantially as it would need two smps units and larger casework. Looking at the line you can see that nothing with the dual switch modes in a larger case costs less then about $4000US. This is a big part of the reason why there is no switch mode Slipsik - is there really a significant market for a $4000 to $6000 MM phono stage? The idea of a separate smps box with an umbilical cable to upgrade Entity and Slipsik is an interesting one but would require significant reengineering of the phono stages to bypass or remove the transformer and install wiring and a fitting. I'm not sure if Fredrik wants to go in the Naim direction (just buy a bigger power supply and add another box).

I am really pleased to see the information Fredrik posted as I was unaware of much of it. It is a very good insight into the meticulous and also intuitive approach he takes to design (both of which I feel are necessary for the ideal product). I'm sure we are all looking forward to hearing Entity.
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Re: Entity MC

Post by Music Lover » 2019-10-15 19:44

Exciting news, good luck Fredrik with the upcoming release!
It's all about musical understanding!

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Re: Entity MC

Post by David Neel » 2019-10-15 19:52

ThomasOK wrote:
2019-10-15 18:37
However, two of the impedances are the best match for the Linn cartridges, 180 Ohms for the Krystal, Klyde, etc. and 120 Ohms for the Kandid. The decision to add the switch came in part due to a concern from a couple of my dealers who sell some MC cartridges with very low internal resistance. Since many of these also have low output, like the SL series from Lyra, the SINGularity and Entity with their 71dB gain and very low audible noise should be an ideal match. But the normal loading for the Krystal, Kandid and a raft of others is probably too high for best musical reproduction with these cartridges. The 90 Ohms setting is for them and should optimize their reproduction with the Entity. The switch is designed to have as minimal negative impact on the signal as possible. One resistor is always in the circuit and a second one is paralleled to it for the other two switch positions.
Thanks Thomas, that's interesting, especially as the Urika 1 specification is for (non-adjustable) input impedance of "75 Ohms in parallel with 10 nF". Am I missing something here, or does this mean that the Urika is not a perfect match for the Kandid?
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Re: Entity MC

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-10-15 20:49

David Neel wrote:
2019-10-15 19:52
ThomasOK wrote:
2019-10-15 18:37
However, two of the impedances are the best match for the Linn cartridges, 180 Ohms for the Krystal, Klyde, etc. and 120 Ohms for the Kandid. The decision to add the switch came in part due to a concern from a couple of my dealers who sell some MC cartridges with very low internal resistance. Since many of these also have low output, like the SL series from Lyra, the SINGularity and Entity with their 71dB gain and very low audible noise should be an ideal match. But the normal loading for the Krystal, Kandid and a raft of others is probably too high for best musical reproduction with these cartridges. The 90 Ohms setting is for them and should optimize their reproduction with the Entity. The switch is designed to have as minimal negative impact on the signal as possible. One resistor is always in the circuit and a second one is paralleled to it for the other two switch positions.
Thanks Thomas, that's interesting, especially as the Urika 1 specification is for (non-adjustable) input impedance of "75 Ohms in parallel with 10 nF". Am I missing something here, or does this mean that the Urika is not a perfect match for the Kandid?
The whole question of loading is a very interesting and complex one and one that has changed at Linn over time. The Linto, Kairn and I believe LK1 used 150 Ohms in parallel with 4.7nF capacitance. These were initially used with the Supex SD-900 and the Supex made Linn cartridges including the ASAK, Karma and Troika. This changed to 75 Ohms and 10nF with the Urika, assumedly to better match the Akiva (and others made by Lyra like the Kandid and Arkivs). Linn now recommends 42 Ohms and 1nF on the Uphorik for the Kandid and it is likely about the same with the Urika II (although I don't have the info for that unit). Note that the Akiva has the same recommended settings, as would be expected, and the Urika 1 was designed in conjunction with the Akiva.

Taking the above into consideration it seems that Linn has had loading for the Kandid of both 75 Ohms/10nF and 42 Ohms/1nF. Fredrik did a tremendous amount of listening and found 10nF to be the best for both the Kandid and Krystal. He considered putting adjustable capacitance in the SINGularity as it does make a difference to get it right, but the extra wiring and connections necessary caused too much of a musical compromise to make it worthwhile. Instead, like many companies, he chose just one capacitance that works well with a wide range of cartridges and ideally with the Kandid, Krystal and older Linn MCs as well. But with the higher capacitance loading a higher impedance is necessary. This is because you are basically tuning a very high frequency resonance electrically. Increasing capacitance increases damping but this is also done (although somewhat differently) by decreasing impedance. So after much listening Fredrik determined that with 10nF capacitance the ideal load for Kandid was 120 Ohms and 180 Ohms for the Krystal. He also found that these combinations were more musically engaging than 42 Ohms/1nF for the Kandid or 53 Ohms/1nF with the Krystal.

I find the whole loading subject a little confusing and have done a lot of reading recently to try and make some sense of it. But it is a complicated thing and gets even more complicated when you start to use MC step up transformers into MM phono stages. Hopefully I haven't gotten it wrong and made it even more confusing. If so I hope Fredrik will step up and correct me. In the end the one thing I am sure of is that measurements don't help much and it all comes down to listening, just like with everything else.
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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-15 21:01

Thank you Thomas for answering the questions above!

I kind of suspect that you wish me to spend my time with the production of Entity rather than here behind the keyboard! *grin*
David Neel wrote:
2019-10-15 19:52
especially as the Urika 1 specification is for (non-adjustable) input impedance of "75 Ohms in parallel with 10 nF". Am I missing something here, or does this mean that the Urika is not a perfect match for the Kandid?
Linn Arkiv, Akiva and Kandid cartridges share the same optimal load. In parallel with 10 nF, I find the optimal resistive load to be 120 ohms. This value is not a sharp peak in performance, but rather a gentle hill. By this I mean that the difference is small between 110 and 130. With Krystal and Klyde, I find the optimal resistive load to be 180 ohms.

With less capacitance, the optimal resistive load also gets lower. But the most musical amount of capacitance is 10 nF. Less increases apparent detail (=false detail; when sounds are less connected they appear more separate and all over the place, which can be misinterpreted as more detail, while there's really no more information) and the music becomes more like fireworks than something that moves you.

Linn have used many different loads on their MC inputs and in the past always used 10 nF on their top models and 4.7 nF on the others. Urika 1 specs say 75 ohms, but on the circuit board it says 150 ohms. And last time I torqued one, the actual resistor there was 85 ohms.
Linto 240 ohms (manual says 150), Kairn 240 ohms, current plug-in boards 180 ohms, Majik-P 150 ohms, Intek and Wakonda 100 ohms.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-15 21:19

ThomasOK wrote:
2019-10-15 20:49
He considered putting adjustable capacitance in the SINGularity as it does make a difference to get it right, but the extra wiring and connections necessary caused too much of a musical compromise to make it worthwhile.
Not quite. In fact, I have found 10 nF to be most musical on all low level MC cartridges I've tested so far (in addition to Kandid and Krystal, I was kindly lended some old Linn and Lyra models by dealers and fellow enthusiasts). This value can't be fine tuned without loss of sound quality and part of the reason is that there is one really incredible specific component that does this job the best, and its value is 10 nF. Every lower value is worse and so is everything above.
ThomasOK wrote:
2019-10-15 20:49
So after much listening Fredrik determined that with 10nF capacitance the ideal load for Kandid was 120 Ohms and 180 Ohms for the Krystal. He also found that these combinations were more musically engaging than 42 Ohms/1nF for the Kandid or 53 Ohms/1nF with the Krystal.
Oh yes, by far. There's really no contest. Low capacitance and resistance is for audiophiles, not for music lovers.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by David Neel » 2019-10-15 22:58

Thank you Thomas and Fredrik!

Would either of you like to share thoughts on the musicality of Lyra cartridges vs Linn Kandid, via Entity? I am in need of a new cartridge...
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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-15 23:10

David Neel wrote:
2019-10-15 22:58
Thank you Thomas and Fredrik!

Would either of you like to share thoughts on the musicality of Lyra cartridges vs Linn? I am in need of a new one...
I have not heard their SL models - single layer coil - but would really like to. Entity would be perfect for them.

I'm not sure whether the most expensive SL model is actually the best. The only way to find out is of course to borrow them all, which would require a very friendly dealer.

I am otherwise very happy with my Krystal.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by u252agz » 2019-10-16 08:53

Fredrik

For someone who has only ever used an Adikt with either AK/1 or Gaio/Slipsik , and is relatively new to vinyl - what difference might I expect moving to Krystal/Entity - in terms of musicality and sound.

Are MM cartridges better for certain types of music ie vocals ?
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Re: Entity MC

Post by matthias » 2019-10-16 19:21

lejonklou wrote:
2019-10-15 23:10
I am otherwise very happy with my Krystal.
Congratulations Fredrik,

Entity is a great achievement:-)

Maybe time to change from EMT to Krystal?

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Re: Entity MC

Post by Hermann » 2019-10-17 08:25

I read the information with great interest, even though I own a Naim Superline and do not intend to trade it. But from time to time I put music systems together for others. Well, I am considering switching from used Naim components to Frederiks products in this regard.

I am surprised by the resistance information and capacities regarding the Kandid. So far, I thought the values 576 ohms / 1nF were the nonplusultra for the Kandid. There are much lower ohmic values called here. Going lower the Kandid sounds worse in my setup. But I guess the values are for Superline only? If thats the case it makes sense.

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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-17 20:44

u252agz wrote:
2019-10-16 08:53
For someone who has only ever used an Adikt with either AK/1 or Gaio/Slipsik , and is relatively new to vinyl - what difference might I expect moving to Krystal/Entity - in terms of musicality and sound.

Are MM cartridges better for certain types of music ie vocals ?
Last question is the easiest: No, MC is simply better. But it's a very sensitive technology due to its low output. Although a more accurate signal to begin with, it needs at least ten times more amplification, which leads to various problems becoming amplified as well. Therefore both the cartridge and phono stage tend to become expensive. I have so far never heard a high level MC that impressed me.

In what way do they sound different? MC is cleaner and more nuanced, MM more simple and also a little harsh (although I must say that with Slipsik 7, I thoroughly enjoy every record whenever I remount my Adikt).
matthias wrote:
2019-10-16 19:21
Congratulations Fredrik,
Thanks Matthias!

I hope that I some day get to listen to an EMT cartridge. Although I've given the idea som thought, I don't yet have an idea of how to build an optimal input for the levels and loads they require. I think I would need a completely different approach than those used in Slipsik and Entity.
Hermann wrote:
2019-10-17 08:25
I am surprised by the resistance information and capacities regarding the Kandid. So far, I thought the values 576 ohms / 1nF were the nonplusultra for the Kandid. There are much lower ohmic values called here. Going lower the Kandid sounds worse in my setup. But I guess the values are for Superline only? If thats the case it makes sense..
This is really interesting, Hermann. With Urika 2 and Euphorik, Linn recommends 42 ohms and with Superline, you find 576 ohms the best. Both with a capacitance of 1 nF! I really can't comment on the Superline, which I've never heard, but when I tested 1 nF on SINGularity, I found that around 47 ohms, maybe a little less, was optimal, which seemed to confirm Linn's findings. But with 10 nF, the best resistive value became 120 ohms, which confirmed Linn's old findings from the 1980's and 90's. And of these two combinations, 10 nF and 120 ohms was clearly more musical. The Superline must be a very different design - I wonder if maybe the cartridge actually sees a lower load than the 576 ohms that you add to the input? Perhaps the input circuit loads it down much more than that resistor?

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Re: Entity MC

Post by Hermann » 2019-10-27 07:36

Thanks Fredrik

As far as I remember, Naim's prefix "K" already had 560 ohms/470pF and has been obvious optimized for Linn Carts

Found this for Naim Prefix:
'S': 100uV / 470ohms
'K': 100uV / 560ohms
'E': 400uV / 400ohm

Anyway, the prefix played with some Troikas, Karmas, Arkivs, and the Kandid. Although there were some modifications of the prefix AFAIR in the 90s, but related to radio interference. The Superline is easier to adjust in terms of resistance and capacity, as these are now pluggable. Although were adjustments on the prefix possible, but only with soldering iron.

The value of 576 ohms has been determined by experiments by Peter at Cymbiosis and ThomasOK I guess.

From the values ​​of the Superline, you probably will not be able to tell how high or low the input circuit load will be?

Cartridge compatibility - 100μV to 500μV
Gain - 64dB @ 1kHz
Signal to Noise - 82dB ref 500μV input, 0 ohms (A-weighted)
Distortion - <0.005% (500μV @ 1kHz)
Frequency response - 10Hz to> 200kHz -3dB
RIAA accuracy + 10Hz HPF +/- 0.1dB (20Hz to 20kHz)
Crosstalk - > 80dB (20Hz to 20kHz)
Max output - 7.5VRMS (21Vpkpk)
Input overload - 5mVrms (1kHz)
Input load options:
1kΩ, 500Ω, 220Ω, 100Ω (resistive)
1nF, 4.7nF, 10nF (capacitive)

Just a thought ....

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Re: Entity MC

Post by lejonklou » 2019-10-27 10:49

Hermann wrote:
2019-10-27 07:36
As far as I remember, Naim's prefix "K" already had 560 ohms/470pF and has been obvious optimized for Linn Carts
You're right, I remember this. I used to have a lot of old Naim parts and 470 and 560 ohm resistances have been there all along.
Hermann wrote:
2019-10-27 07:36
The value of 576 ohms has been determined by experiments by Peter at Cymbiosis and ThomasOK I guess.
Thomas, have you participated in this?
Hermann wrote:
2019-10-27 07:36
From the values ​​of the Superline, you probably will not be able to tell how high or low the input circuit load will be?
It is possible that the input circuit contributes nothing to the cartridge load and that the actual load is therefore the options that are listed.

ThomasOK
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Re: Entity MC

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-10-29 19:12

Nope. We don't have Naim here and I haven't really done anything with loading, nor have I worked with a Superline. The last time I played around with Niam MC cards was picking the second best pair out of a batch of a couple dozen K cards around 1984 (the owner of Audiophile Systems got the best pair).
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Hermann
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Re: Entity MC

Post by Hermann » 2019-10-29 19:33

Thanks Tom for the clarification, it was somehow wrong in my head ...for any reason...

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Re: Entity MC

Post by Defender » 2019-11-04 18:35

are there any news on the release date of the Entity MC?
You probably don't want to miss the business from many Gentlemen to buy their own Christmas gift ;)

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