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Parks Audio Puffin DSP Phono Pre

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Seafinch, May 5, 2018.

  1. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    trying the grading again on my LZ II RL cut that looks flawless.
    To my ears i've only heard just a hint of between track noise once or twice hardly even noticeable should be an easy VG+ its grading it at vg- and i think i might have a theory why....being hot cut it has some natural distortion to it that i think the puffin is using in its grading.
     
  2. Just played my Side 1 of LZ II (180g JP remastered 180g), and got a solid A from 1/3 of way into Whole Lotta Love to end of side 1. I used 40db gain (cart is Clearaudio Virtuoso MM).

     
  3. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    right i was specifically meaning the RL cut which is hotter than those after.
     
  4. Eh, there are 2 RL's, the original is possibly "overly hot", the 2nd more generally available is tamer. I like this on hi-res 24-96, not sure where that was mixed however, but sounds different than my JP remastered version.

     
  5. I’ve graded my RL Led Zeppelin II. I’ve gotten a B+ and an A-, respectively. I don’t think Ludwig’s hot cuts affect the grading system at all. It’s primarily just grading the vinyl quality. I’ve noticed my RL records (for example, Back in Black) have graded higher than similar LPs from those eras. I have some 40-50 year old LPs that grade higher than newer ones. I think that stems from the superior quality control back in the day.

    It’s not necessarily grading the sound you hear from the lacquer cut; it’s simply grading the vinyl itself. I have older albums that sound incredible to my ears that grade a B- or C, while I have newer ones that sound flat or compressed that rate an A.

    You should also note that the Puffin’s grading system is based on the actual vinyl quality. If you’re using Tilt, Air, Magic, or any other aspect of the Puffin to improve your sound quality, the grading system does not measure these adjustments.

    So don’t worry if your RL LZII rates a low grade. If it melts your ears, it melts your ears. That’s what it’s all about.

    Cheers,

    Bill
     
    MCM_Fan likes this.
  6. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    cool thanks for that very helpful. i was trying to wrap my head around why i hear no defects that i would lower the grade if i was selling / buying but it was rating low.
    funny thing is a brand new record un-cleaned had some ticks and surface noise but got an A
     
    MCM_Fan and Bill Why Man like this.
  7. captouch

    captouch Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    I think if the ticks and pops are infrequent, even if loud when they are there, they’ll average out to a high grade if the rest of the playback is clean.

    On the other hand, if you have very low level noise that’s frequent (but still detectable to the Puffin), I think you’ll get a lower grade.

    Seems to me that the grade is more a reflection of what % of the graded material is clean vs “noisy” vs any assessment of how bad the detected noise might actually be.

    Don’t know this for a fact, but just my guess based upon my observed Puffin grading vs subjective listening.
     
    SteelyNJ likes this.
  8. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    i'm just glad someone else has noticed and thought about how it determines this.
    maybe there is some noise at a frequency i cannot hear even with headphones on..

    Important thing is it sounds good, i just go down a rabbit hole when i have toys to play with.
     
    SteelyNJ likes this.
  9. gibby299

    gibby299 Forum Resident

    i'm curious how this might compare to a DV p75? I am a set and use it type once a good setting is found. I am using a DV 20x2L with it
     
  10. rtrt

    rtrt Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Parks Audio LLC
    Yesterday at 10:44 ·


    Coaxial and optical Puffins purchased from the Parks Audio website now support 24/96 digital output. Downsampling to 24/48 - a limitation of the original SPDIF mod - is no longer necessary due to a hardware revision which began at serial number 1020 and following.

    --------------------
    Above from Shannons latest FB post. I linked to the FB page earlier but I think there's a link embedded with the above.

    Seems he'll offer US based users an upgrade and plans to detail DIY approach as well, but warns it's complex.

    I'm still inclined to try it - but will wait for details and UK parts costs before finally deciding...
     
    ragwo, TarnishedEars and SteelyNJ like this.
  11. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Can you please clarify this sentence? In this comment was he referring to a DIY approach for how to perform a 24/96 upgrade for an old puffin? Or was he saying that the DIY approach for adding the SP/DIF port on the revised Puffins is much more complex than it was for the original Puffin?
     
  12. rtrt

    rtrt Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    DIY upgrade of old Puffin is complex - at least that's my interpretation of what I read
     
  13. ragwo

    ragwo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Norway
    When I contacted him a couple of weeks ago he didn't want to make a DIY option, nor an upgrade option, for old Puffins due to the complexity of the modification. I'm glad he changed his mind.
     
    TarnishedEars and rtrt like this.
  14. lsmanley

    lsmanley Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Scotland
    This sounds like an interesting product and something unique to the market. I have an all analogue turntable setup but if I did introduce digital into a setup I'd probably just go the whole hog. The following idea is quite intriguing to me:

    Turntable > Puffin > MiniDSP SHD Studio > Kef LS50 Wireless II

    In that system the ADC is getting done at the earliest stage and DAC is getting done at the last stage. It would go through that chain in 24/96 and you'd have all the potential benefits of digital processing.
     
    mikeburns likes this.
  15. RPM

    RPM Forum Resident

    Location:
    Easter Island
    Anyone compared the click removal capabilities of the Puffin with the Sugar Cube's?
     
    BackScratcher likes this.
  16. ragwo

    ragwo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Norway
  17. JorgeGvb

    JorgeGvb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    I got lucky on mine. My Puffin was one of the first released with the mod already installed and Shannon walked me though the firmware upgrade. He was working out the kinks at the time, so it took a couple of times. He was very helpful and made it easy to do with the feedback I provided him with on my end.

    I really believe the 24/96 out option is worth having. I ran it through a DAC and the sound is outstanding. As an example, take a track like Keith Richards "You Don't Move Me" on his Talk is Cheap LP. That track has lots of sound buried in the mix, it is there but faint. Playing it through the Puffin digital out and though the DAC really brought out the details that were buried. It was shockingly good sounding and that was just with an inexpensive DAC (Schiit Modius $199). I was impressed and not digital sounding at all.
     
  18. rtrt

    rtrt Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Me too - whilst I can solder and was comfortable with adding SPDIF to my original, the initial oscillator step seems like quite the challenge. The rest feels doable - maybe!

    I wonder If I could find someone close to me in London who'd do it following Shannons instructions...
     
  19. RemyM

    RemyM Forum Resident

    Anybody using the Puffin with a Croft Integrated amplifier?
     
  20. ragwo

    ragwo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Norway
    Anyone succeeded in performing the DIY modification for 24/96 SPDIF output?
     
  21. jonasbegood

    jonasbegood Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Norway
    I actually just pulled the trigger on a SHD Studio.

    My chain will be Rega P6 > Puffin (Digital out) > SHD Studio > Hegel H300 (DAC loop with Rega DAC-R).

    I am excited.
     
  22. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    interesting now I’m tempted to send mine in to get him to install this
     
    JorgeGvb likes this.
  23. captouch

    captouch Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    What kind of DAC would you be running this into? I have a Schiit Bifrost Uber (original DAC) that would take the higher bitrate, but my current standalone DAC in my main system tops out at 48kHz, so while I'm tempted to do the original digital out mod (which seems doable), I think it's wise to send it in if you want the higher resolution mod. Working on surface mount components is tricky and risky IMO.
     
  24. Rentz

    Rentz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Texas
    was going to pickup a modi for my desktop but if this setup is that good I might order one for my stereo rig
    I’d send it off to get the spdif installed and the higher res mod , I don’t trust myself to do any of this
     
  25. tryitfirst

    tryitfirst Active Member

    Location:
    UK
    OK, I've spent this afternoon performing this slightly hairy upgrade, and I'm now listening to 96K instead of 48K. I like it, but of course I can't prove that I can tell any difference, and engineers will doubt it.

    Here's my account of the experience which I sent to Shannon Parks of Parks Audio:
    ----------------------------------------
    I've just followed your instructions to replace my oscillator so I thought I would let you know about the experience from the point of view of an electronics ignoramus.

    I could not have done it without my son's microscope. It took me hours because I lack appropriate equipment. I removed the original oscillator with only a soldering iron whose point I have sharpened with a file. This took me some time, and the technique I used was to wick away the solder using copper wick at each corner until the oscillator just cracked off. Handling and positioning the new one was very difficult, and inexperienced as I am it took me some time to work out that I needed to melt the existing solder and then bed the new oscillator in one corner at a time with a little pressure from above.

    Cutting the two connections to the DMM was also harder than expected as the tracks are tenacious and I did not seem to have a sharp enough tool to just cut through. I hacked my way through in the end.

    Soldering the two shorts was also much harder than anticipated and several times I soldered shorts on the side of the DMM, but I sorted it out in the end.

    When I got the thing going again, to my horror it sounded like Pinky and Perky and I thought "Yikes, what have I done?" DACMagic was showing 96K but there was obviously a software/sample-rate mismatch. Then I read the brief more carefully and realised that I had "Ver 1.21" rather than "Version 1.21". I installed the right firmware and tried again. No signal from the TOSLINK, no red light. Another "what the hell have I done" moment, so I took apart and disconnected/reconnected the TOSLINK connector and had another go. Bingo, bombs away.

    Now it could be the effort and relief, but I am begninning to imagine that it sounds better than 48K, and looking forward to putting it to combat with my Linn Uphorik again.

    I will not be recommending that others perform the upgrade themselves because it took a certain grim determination and a large lake of patience. But I'm lovin' the Puffin.
    ----------------------------------------

    Here are a few pictures:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Before you say this looks easy, remember that these are enlarged photos, and the principle difficulty in this job was the tiny scale at which the work is done.

    It is very difficult to solder individual pins on the DMM, as a shaky hand will fuse multiple pins by accident. At this small scale solder melts almost instantly due to its low volume. I had to cut tiny slivers of solder off my normal lead multicore, and then continue dividing in half the bobble hanging from the iron point several times until there was a small enough quantity on the iron not to fuse multiple pins. You can see the evidence of this in the last picture where the paper pad is scorched by these divisions.

    Even though the absorbent wick is woven from filaments too fine to see by naked eye, they were still too thick to get under the oscillator easily, so it took many attempts to gradually draw out enough solder from each of four the corners of the oscillator, all done under a microscope, with shaky hands, and several irritating mishaps, like almost melting the insulator on the TOSLink connection wires, and the new oscillator popping out of the tweezers to possible oblivion, as probably it would be too small to find.

    I made the bridge from a centimetre of mains cable filament but initially I tried four twisted strands, then three, then two, then one as it turned out to be too difficult to solder the ends of the tiny filaments which look giant under the microscope. Use one strand of hair-thin mains filament.

    There was quite a lot of swearing and burning things.

    If you're outside the US, if you can persuade Shannon to do all this for you, that is what I would recommend.

    However, as Hunter S Thompson said "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, insanity, or upgrading 48K Puffins to anyone, but in my case, it's worked."
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2020
    recstar24, dcarwin, ragwo and 8 others like this.

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