TimeFrame TF1000 2 Channel Critical Listening Observations (long post) -
I have been doing a number of tweaks and upgrades to my system over the last few months, enough in fact that I have somewhat lost track of which changes have improved or degraded the sound. The changes I've made up to a somewhat major upgrade, which I will reveal later are:
PS Audio DLink III DAC (~<6 mos. installed - used as outboard processing for Integra Universal Player and Marantz Network Audio Player)
Silver XLR Cables (1M DAC -> Pre( (4ft. Pre -> Amp) (8 weeks installed)
Mundorf Capacitor Replacement in TF1000 Crossovers (6 weeks)
Custom Oak Base Platforms for TF1000 (4 weeks)
Wireworld Power Cord for Parasound Amp
2" Sorbothane Discs under Oak Base (<1 week)
I recently started playing a few different tracks from a few favorite CDs (that I had not played for months prior) that made me aware that something was wrong.
One CD in particular Joni Mitchell's For The Roses track "Cold Steel And Sweet Fire" which I played several times roughly 6 mos. ago after a purchase of a new DAC. At that time it Joni's voice and recording in general sounded relatively smooth and full. Other good sound quality CDs (Elton John & Eric Clapton) were also sounding pretty good at that time. But within the last week I played various tracks from these CDs and noticed an edgy harshness to the vocals and was experiencing some listening fatigue especially at the higher sound levels that I typically play.at my late night sessions.
I eliminated a few things from the mix (taking out the XLRs and substituting with some decent quality RCA cables - not a lot of difference other than the reduction of gain and actually a little better tone). Then a couple of days ago, I put in a borrowed Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 Tube Buffer which made a slight difference to sound stage but the issues still exist with the edgy vocals from the reference CDs. Although, I do have some high resolution tracks that sounded fine - Bob James Four Play / Norah Jones Come Away With Me / Doors Riders On The Storm (Vinyl Analog Rip).
So a major revelation came about on Friday night after I installed a 2nd matching Parasound A23 amp I purchased on CL about a week ago. I had be curious about going with mono bridged amps (wattage per channel in 8 ohms went from 125 to 400). Once I got the chance to play the reference tracks on Friday night all I could do was say OMG with a big smile on my face. This upgrade is a major game changer to my system! The sound stage was wider and deeper, The harshness to Joni's voice was eliminated (even my wife commented and noticed the difference
), guitars came alive, fuller more realistic pianos), and an overall more natural sound. The improvement seems like I sunk in at least 5K yet I only paid $600 for the A23 + P3 preamp w/ some AQ XLR cables (I was lucky that the seller wanted a quick sale. I did not really want an additional P3 preamp but the seller wanted to sell them as a pair, so I now have a spare preamp to sell.
So in some ways I believe this is a testament to the need to push the envelop on amplification for these speakers. I'm not sure what the additional power I'm getting in the Class A mode, and I'm hoping to find out more info from Parasound. My questions to all of you out there are:
- Could the replacement of Electrolytic CAPs have changed the dynamics of the speakers where they are either need more time to break-in or just require more power to really sound sweet?
- Have any of you DCM aficionados noticed similar improvements with amplifier upgrades?
Cheers - Bill K.