Miscellaneous tweaks

Been heading down the seemingly endless road of tweaking…! I thought I’d share some of the things that seem to have made a difference, some of which are a bit counterintuitive, in rough order:

  1. Plugging the amplifier into the wall socket instead of through my isotek power board. I’m not sure it was coping with the power draw, particularly with loud and complex passages. Perhaps a serious power conditioner would be better. McIntosh 6700 amplifier;

  2. Connecting my dac through USB instead of ethernet. Perfect wave DAC with Bridge 2. The direct connection seems better than going through a router etc;

  3. Linear power supply to my NUC - Teddy Pardo;

  4. USB cables, Audioquest Carbon from NUC to DAC;

  5. XLR from DAC to amplifier.

1 and 2 made a very big difference - unfortunately, they were also the last to occur to me… The others are more open to question. Too embarrassed to list the failures, although most are not complete fails so much as wrong forks in the road.

Be interested in everyone’s thoughts.


  1. I noticed a difference with even the cheapest Furman power conditioner.
  2. Definitely contra to what Roon recommends, but others have said the same thing.
  3. If of sufficient wattage, then I don’t believe any type of power supply makes a difference with digital equipment.
  4. If one’s cables are up to spec, then pure snake oil.
  5. XLR over RCA seems to make a difference. I run my pre-amp/amp connection that way. XLR between my DAC and headphone amp results in needing less gain than when I used RCA. I’ve found that Coax from my Mutec 3+ to DAC is better than any other connection, although that may be because a different clock is being used.

Thanks, Slim. All good thoughts.

Continuing to tinker here.

Bypassed the PS Audio DAC Mk 2 and plugged the USB directly into the McIntosh 6700 - very little difference, perhaps slightly better, more well rounded. Suspect any benefits of the separate DAC might be outweighed by reducing the number of cabled connections, even an XLR connection. And the DAC is close to 10 years old. Finally, the McIntosh DAC might be better matched to the amp’s sound.

More importantly, I switched from the 4 ohm output on the amp to 8 ohms - another big improvement.

Maybe I should think about a Furman, although I’m feeling a little wary after discovering the amp was better plugged into the wall than my isotek board…!

And I can’t say I’m sure the usb cable makes much (any?) difference on further testing.

So big ticket items seem to be

  • amplifier plugged into the wall
  • USB connection instead of ethernet
  • 8 ohm speaker connection instead of 4 ohm, at least on my 6700 into Sonus Faber Olympica speakers.