Linear power supply

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by mtasquared, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. mtasquared macrumors regular

    mtasquared

    Joined:
    May 3, 2012
    #1
    So I was perusing a computer audiophile website expecting to laugh at the malarkey until I read about linear power supplies. I researched it further and it seems they actually have merit in providing super low noise power to analog systems. I am wondering if they would improve digital systems. I have a mac pro and an ATX linear power supply for it costs a few thousand. Again, laughable, but I am wondering if anyone knows whether a linear supply would improve sound signal on a mac mini for example, which would actually be affordable. I am thinking digital is digital - its either there or its not. Any opinions?
     
  2. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 17, 2013
    #2
    You have to hear it for yourself IMO, but in my experience with some bias as a caveat, an iPhone as a source (using CCK) sounds clearer/punchier than my macbook air that is plugged in (it sounds like there's a "veil" in the sound). Unplugged, macbook air sounds closer to iPhone, but iPhone still trumps the MBA. Since battery is noise free and has a linear voltage supply (provided that it has enough charge and current), that's where the idea of isolating power through "supercapacitors" which essentially isolates power from the varying AC current to provide a constant linear and noise free power.

    IMO the greatest difference that you can hear is that hidden details that you've never heard suddenly becomes super clear, i.e. instruments become very distinct even on very complex passages. You have to hear an audiophile setup though to realize what you're missing for comparison.
     
  3. mtasquared thread starter macrumors regular

    mtasquared

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    May 3, 2012
    #3
    Thank you for your input. I needed an opinion based on actual "ears on" experience. I am starting to take an interest in high resolution digital audio and clean powered audio. I'll add an experience I had that may relate. In the early days of CD audio I had a component CD player that I thought was high quality, and that should have sounded better than a Sony portable battery powered Discman. But when I compared the sound directly, the portable sounded better than the full sized component that was plugged in! The difference was actually HUGE. I have always thought that Sony engineered some psychoacoustic effects into the Discman to produce this pleasing sound, but I am beginning to understand it might have to do with clean battery power. I was using Boston Acoustics A-150 speakers at that time which were sufficiently high resolution to clearly articulate a difference. Thanks for the info.
     
  4. waloshin macrumors 68040

    waloshin

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    Oct 9, 2008
    #4
    A few thousand dollars would be better used towards better speakers or amp or both.
     
  5. mtasquared thread starter macrumors regular

    mtasquared

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    May 3, 2012
    #5
    Better speakers and amplification would make any alteration in signal quality more apparent. Which is why I am thinking about linear power supplies versus switched power supplies.
     
  6. linguist macrumors member

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    Mar 31, 2009
    #6
    expensive linear supply thrown at typical pc would not be economical vs the sonic gain. Generally best pc sound use LAN interface to connect external DAC/receiver , second might be a toss between USB/Wifi streaming/toslink. if you use toslink / wifi streaming none of this PSU really matters for 99% PC out there.
     
  7. mtasquared thread starter macrumors regular

    mtasquared

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    May 3, 2012
    #7
    Thank you for the input. I have read that in blind A/B testing there is no audible difference between DAC's. I mean people cannot tell a $5 DAC from a $500 DAC. However, from that point onward in the audio chain a linear supply might have benefits in the last analog stage. Therefore I would be looking for an external DAC/amp with a linear power supply or mod one myself. Without a linear power supply I don't believe a DAC of any price can beat the stock DAC in my Mac Pro. A power supply of this type can be had for $60. So it really is a doable project. I realize I don't have to spend thousands to put a linear power supply in my Mac, just the DAC itself.

    This is all for future reference. I agree that it doesn't matter for 99% of applications/computers. But if I were to make a hobby out of getting the best possible sound then the type of power supply to the DAC and its output stage might be one of the most important factors. It goes without saying better speakers and amps are crucial to the sound. And in my opinion high resolution source music, 24 bit/96kHz or more.
     
  8. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 17, 2013
    #8
    IMO, I don't agree with $5 DAC sounding like $500 DAC try Schiit's Modi Multibit DAC ($250) along with Magni 2 Uber amp and compare. You have to hear to make the right judgment, not just conclude without hearing for yourself.
     
  9. mtasquared thread starter macrumors regular

    mtasquared

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    May 3, 2012
    #9
    Good point, but the DAC testing was double blind and controlled for volume, etc. I'll try to source a nice DAC somewhere and run a test of my own.
     
  10. linguist macrumors member

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    Mar 31, 2009
    #10
    Clean linear supply do make difference audibly, and best placed where it bring most benefit. You are correct that $50 dollar DAC can sound as good as $500 dollar ones or even more, specs and price do not equal good sound. You are on the right track focusing on DAC supply quality first.

    Cheers
     
  11. mtasquared thread starter macrumors regular

    mtasquared

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    May 3, 2012
    #11
    Thanks for the reply. I am glad to hear there might actually be something to this!
     

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