My new Surround Master V3

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gvl_guy

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I got my new-to-me V3 connected up today and was super excited to try it.

I have it hooked up to my vintage quad system which includes a Sansui QRX-9001 with the blend resistors removed for an improved Vario Matrix decoder. It's connected through the 4 channel tape monitor.

I decided to make my first test record a QS copy of Steely Dan's Can't Buy A Thrill, one of my favorites and a go-to for a nice QS quad mix. As I started playing it, I thought it sounded very good. Flipping between the Sansui decoder and the SM, I felt the SM made the music a little brighter. As far as separation and decoding, they seemed pretty much the same. Very nice.

Then, there was a spot on one song (damn, I can't remember which one) where the guitar appeared to come soley out of the left rear....and then the right rear. The Sansui didn't come close to isolating that guitar the way the SM did. It was as good as discrete IMHO.

Another happy camper for Involve Audio! (Now, if I could only get my CD-4 demodulator to sound this good.)
PXL_20221206_202318408.jpg
 

J. PUPSTER

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I got my new-to-me V3 connected up today and was super excited to try it.

I have it hooked up to my vintage quad system which includes a Sansui QRX-9001 with the blend resistors removed for an improved Vario Matrix decoder. It's connected through the 4 channel tape monitor.

I decided to make my first test record a QS copy of Steely Dan's Can't Buy A Thrill, one of my favorites and a go-to for a nice QS quad mix. As I started playing it, I thought it sounded very good. Flipping between the Sansui decoder and the SM, I felt the SM made the music a little brighter. As far as separation and decoding, they seemed pretty much the same. Very nice.

Then, there was a spot on one song (damn, I can't remember which one) where the guitar appeared to come soley out of the left rear....and then the right rear. The Sansui didn't come close to isolating that guitar the way the SM did. It was as good as discrete IMHO.

Another happy camper for Involve Audio! (Now, if I could only get my CD-4 demodulator to sound this good.)View attachment 85962
Yup, had a similar experience with my QRX-8001.

If you're not satisfied with your SH-400 Demod., contact me, I may know a buyer for ya :whistle:
 

Sonik Wiz

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You will probably also get spoiled listening the your SM3! Ain't it great to have several good options for surround music?

Then, there was a spot on one song (damn, I can't remember which one) where the guitar appeared to come soley out of the left rear....and then the right rear. The Sansui didn't come close to isolating that guitar the way the SM did. It was as good as discrete IMHO.

My similar experience was with an EV encoded track (can't remember which one) from an Enoch Light album. It started out strong bass guitar center front & a triangle chimed in right rear. Normally a triangle is a rather light wight accent instrument. But because this was EL it was amped up & quite prominent. Prior experience tells me there would be audible shifting in a single band decoder, even with Vario-Matrix, as the instruments fought for attention back & forth. The SM held rock steady as you said, as good as discrete.

I like the way you have the SM output levels set. They really track & match quite well. Set them all at 12:00, or 2:00 as you have them & the decoder will output correctly. I know some fiddle with front/rear levels on the SM, but if you can do it downstream, say in your Sansui receiver, that is a better way.

If you have the interest & the time, at some point compare the Sansui Surround synthesizer mode to the SM when playing stereo. The Sansui will provide 270 deg wrap around sound while the SM will do basic QS. I would be most interested in any opinions in the comparison.
 
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jaybird100

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You will probably also get spoiled listening the your SM3! Ain't it great to have several good options for surround music?



My similar experience was with an EV encoded track (can't remember which one) from an Enoch Light album. It started out strong bass guitar center front & a triangle chimed in right rear. Normally a triangle is a rather light wight accent instrument. But because this was EL it was amped up & quite prominent. Prior experience tells me there would be audible shifting in a single band decoder, even with Vario-Matrix, as the instruments fought for attention back & forth. The SM held rock steady as you said, as good as discrete.

I like the way you have the SM output levels set. They really track & match quite well. Set them all at 12:00, or 2:00 as you have them & the decoder will output correctly. I know some fiddle with front/rear levels on the SM, but if you can do it downstream, say in your Sansui receiver, that is a better way.

If you have the interest & the time, at some point compare the Sansui Surround synthesizer mode to the SM when playing stereo. The Sansui will provide 270 deg wrap around sound while the SM will do basic QS. I would be most interested in any opinions in the comparison.
It would seem to me the decoder will output correctly, regardless of how the output levels are set. The decoding is done before the signal reaches the level controls, right? The settings of the level controls should be determined by the listening environment, and the music being played. Personal preference would also come into play. I keep mine set with all controls in the 12:00 position. It may vary with the music, but for the most part, that's the setting. It blows away any decoder, including the Audionics S&IC, out of the water.
 

par4ken

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I felt the SM made the music a little brighter.
Glad that you noticed that. Only a few other people have made similar comments. I call it an upper midrange glare. I suggested before that it might be the result of imperfect A/D, D/A conversions but much more likely it has something to do with the triple band decoding. With my Involve decoder board mounted in the Sony SQD-2010 chassis that "glare" is greatly reduced or softened by the imperfect vintage output amplifier. While the Involve decoder blows away most vintage decoders it doesn't blow away the Composer!

All decoders that I have ever auditioned alter the sound in some way with the exception of the S&IC. The composer runs TL074 op-amps in class A. I recently replaced the op-amps in one unit with the LME49740. The relatively few coupling capacitors were long ago replaced by film types as well. Audio nirvana!
 

Sonik Wiz

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It would seem to me the decoder will output correctly, regardless of how the output levels are set. The decoding is done before the signal reaches the level controls, right? The settings of the level controls should be determined by the listening environment, and the music being played. Personal preference would also come into play. I keep mine set with all controls in the 12:00 position. It may vary with the music, but for the most part, that's the setting. It blows away any decoder, including the Audionics S&IC, out of the water.
Right you are that the decoding will be accurate, but the outputs will not be representative of that if they are not set correctly. The SM output level controls have a +- 6dB range. Take the extreme example where the front levels are at max & the rear levels are at minimum. Or vice versa. The decoder might be doing it's thing correctly but you wont be hearing it as such.

After getting the SM into a reasonable match to a reference sound source then listen to music with a strong center front vocalist, or a mono source, and adjust the fronts for good phantom imaging. In the QS system a left only input correctly decodes as left front equals left back. Adjust the left back to match left front. Then do the same on the right side. Sure side imaging isn't as good as front imaging but still, using an SPL meter or just your ears, you should be able to tell when the side speakers are balanced.

Having bench tested my SMv2 the outputs levels are unity gain at 12:00. There is just a bit of error in right front pot so that is nudged barely CW off center detent.

The output levels are useful to balance sensitivity differences between speakers or room environment acoustics as you said. But I notice in quite a few pics posted here folks often have the rear levels up a couple of notches. I think a large part of the time that's done when playing stereo material which tends to have dominance of front oriented phasing so this is way to compensate for it. But it's not accurate for properly encoded material unless this is done, as mentioned above, to compensate for speaker/room acoustic problems.

Like you I leave my SM controls alone and make any changes down stream in my Anthem pr-pro. Then I know I can easily return to a predictable set up.
 

par4ken

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One thing worth mentioning is that the Involve has no input balance control. While most digital sources are or should be well balanced often vinyl is not. Perfectly balanced input signals are desirable even for decoding QS or stereo sources but is almost a requirement for SQ. I listen to the rear channels (of any decoder) while adjusting the balance for minimum vocal break though in the rear.

I realise that I am splitting hairs, so my point might be moot; for myself I've been digitizing my vinyl which includes click removal and channel balancing so that balance adjustment on playback is virtually never required!
 

J. PUPSTER

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One thing worth mentioning is that the Involve has no input balance control. While most digital sources are or should be well balanced often vinyl is not. Perfectly balanced input signals are desirable even for decoding QS or stereo sources but is almost a requirement for SQ. I listen to the rear channels (of any decoder) while adjusting the balance for minimum vocal break though in the rear.

I realise that I am splitting hairs, so my point might be moot; for myself I've been digitizing my vinyl which includes click removal and channel balancing so that balance adjustment on playback is virtually never required!
I don't believe it's such a small thing, I also do a lot of decoding and plain ol' stereo LP rips now. What I notice sometimes is that if there are some front focused vocals that "should be" rendered to Phantom Center position, they're actually slightly skewed left side (mostly) after the decode. I'm beginning to believe that on many of my vinyl rips, it may make better sense as you say, to digitizing the rip in stereo first then make DAW/cleaning adjustments and send that through to be decoded. So, good to monitor what's going on first before deciding maybe. Hopefully, I'm not speaking "off center" of the subject matter here :unsure:
 

chucky3042

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Glad that you noticed that. Only a few other people have made similar comments. I call it an upper midrange glare. I suggested before that it might be the result of imperfect A/D, D/A conversions but much more likely it has something to do with the triple band decoding. With my Involve decoder board mounted in the Sony SQD-2010 chassis that "glare" is greatly reduced or softened by the imperfect vintage output amplifier. While the Involve decoder blows away most vintage decoders it doesn't blow away the Composer!

All decoders that I have ever auditioned alter the sound in some way with the exception of the S&IC. The composer runs TL074 op-amps in class A. I recently replaced the op-amps in one unit with the LME49740. The relatively few coupling capacitors were long ago replaced by film types as well. Audio nirvana!
The frequency response is flat. The glare is more related to psychoaccoustic factors of how you perceive music when separated into 4. A bit like the difference when you listen to the stereo compared to mono

Also no one has detected any differences from the original discrete compared to the encode/decode related to glare.
 
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gvl_guy

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I set the levels by playing the receiver without the SM on through the tape monitor. When I flicked it on, the sound from the SM was extremely low. (I had everything set at 12 noon on the SM dials to start.)

I used the main level first and ended up turning it all the way up. Still not loud enough to match the sound coming out of the Sansui when the tape monitor was turned off. So I turned all the other levels, both front and rear, up until the sound level matched when it was on and off.

No flicking light for clipping. Very smooth. Oh, and I'm not using the .1 at all. ๐Ÿ™‚
 

par4ken

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The frequency response is flat. The glare is more related to psychoaccoustic factors of how you perceive music when separated into 4. A bit like the difference when you listen to the stereo compared to mono

Also no one has detected any differences from the original discrete compared to the encode/decode related to glare.
The glare is not there with the S&IC nor with any other purely analogue decoder. I would tend to rule out psychoacoustic factors. The QSD-1 is also triband and while I believe that the frequency dividing filters contribute to it's slightly muddy sound it does not suffer from the same sort of glare or added brightness.
 
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chucky3042

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I have V1. Would like to upgrade and was thinking about V3
Any idea when V4 will appear and possible additions/improvements?
My gut feeling is that it will be in 2024 as Dave's dance card is really booked full. I think we will add a synthesizer mode as suggested by Sonik and other. I suggested a test program for Dave the other day to explore ways of enhancing the decode further. We might move to the new super DSP chip (costing $300 right now!!) as there were some short cuts I have been keeping secret from you guys we had to do to fit it all into the old DSP that we could mop up. Still thinking of ways around the wretched HDMI (PUKE).

Oh the next batch of V3 will be in the new sexy case
 

chucky3042

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One thing worth mentioning is that the Involve has no input balance control. While most digital sources are or should be well balanced often vinyl is not. Perfectly balanced input signals are desirable even for decoding QS or stereo sources but is almost a requirement for SQ. I listen to the rear channels (of any decoder) while adjusting the balance for minimum vocal break though in the rear.

I realise that I am splitting hairs, so my point might be moot; for myself I've been digitizing my vinyl which includes click removal and channel balancing so that balance adjustment on playback is virtually never required!
good idea!
 

ar surround

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The frequency response is flat. The glare is more related to psychoaccoustic factors of how you perceive music when separated into 4. A bit like the difference when you listen to the stereo compared to mono

Also no one has detected any differences from the original discrete compared to the encode/decode related to glare.
The glare is not there with the S&IC nor with any other purely analogue decoder.

I have the bass input into the SMv2 boosted 4 dB (Marantz curve, which is very subtle.) I've had it set like that for over a year and never found any need to change it. YMMV.
 
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