Oyaide Electric Company; A Materials Science Approach to Power Distribution 

 

Power Distribution Parts by Oyaide Elec & Acrolink Japan

The Japanese hi-fi market exists alongside a healthy DIY audiophile scene. The Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo is a great example. One step off the Sobu line and a world of electronics specialty stores become available for professionals and hobbyists alike. One of my favorites, Oyaide Electric shop provides cables, connectors, and parts for building your own audio, video, and power cables/distributors.

Oyaide is a long established electrical wire company that  has been in business since 1952. Over the last 30 years they have grown to develop products for the audiophile and pro audio markets. Materials for Oyaide Elect. are developed and produced in Japan with a combination of technological innovation and traditional craftsmanship.

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 P-004 Beryllium Copper no plating hand polished by traditional Japanese craftsmen

Oyaide power distribution materials are carefully auditioned and produced to provide tonal options for audio enthusiasts and professional musicians. Both the AC wall outlets and power plugs from Oyaide have been developed with several different base alloys and platings.

Their standard 15 amp Power plug and IEC connections (P-004/C-004) have become available with and without the plating of platinum and palladium. This has allowed me to listen to various power cables (Acrolink, Oyaide) and hear how they interact with different plugs and outlets- giving me a better understanding of what the AC conductors sound like, dielectric materials, shielding, and the plugs and outlets they interface with.

After investigating several brass alloys, I have come to appreciate the sonic qualities of the Beryllium Copper alloy when used for AC power in highly resolving audio systems. Beryllium Copper is used for its spring like qualities combined with electrical conductivity. This alloy has corrosion resistance and maintains its original shape due to its ductile properties.

The Oyaide R0 AC duplex is made of beryllium copper for the contacts and PBT (with 30% glass) for the thermoplastic outlet face. Mechanically, the Oyaide duplexes provides excellent AC blade retention, and the PBT and glass filled body helps dissipate unwanted vibration. The R1 employs the same construction but adds a plating of platinum and palladium to the AC receptacles base alloy.

Homemade Power distribution with Oyaide MT UB Power tap case, R0 & R1 outlets

To satisfy my curiosity, I built a passive power distributor from Oyaide called the MT UB. This 2 mm thick brass and nickel/chrome plated 2 duplex box exemplifies Japanese craftsmanship. Four separate mounting poles with special washers allow each duplex to be well isolated from each other. I wired it with high-purity Japanese solid core copper and used one R0 un-plated beryllium copper duplex and one R1 plated with the platinum and palladium. I will try and describe the sonic differences of each outlet below.

Oyaide R0 duplex: This un-plated Beryllium Copper AC outlet provides an un-hyped and natural soundstage when used on analog and digital equipment. Compared to several other outlets with various metal platings, the R0 has provided me with the most neutral sonic presentation, a robust and taught distribution of power without any accent in the audio band.

Oyaide R1 duplex: Beryllium Copper plated with platinum(0.5 μ) + palladium (0.3 μ). This outlet helps create a sound of focused and refined sonic presentation. While the un-plated R0 maintains an organic flow to the music, the R1 also adds a sense of lowered noise floor with some equipment, and I found that digital gear and video (improved contrast and blacks) benefited most from the R1 outlet. While I still hear a neutral presentation (Sonically), the R1 has a highlighting or spotlighting ability, albiet subtle. 

Over the last decade I have been experimenting with various aftermarket power cables and power conditioners. Sometimes with fair results, and sometimes the cables or conditioners have effected the sound negatively. Starting with a materials based approach, I have been able to better understand how different conductors, dialectics, plugs, and  AC receptacles will effect the sound quality of professional and audiophile sound systems. Oyaide Electric company has provided a basis for AC materials to be judged in audio systems, see for yourself.

-Happy Listening

Caution: AC power distributors and cables are serious and should only be built/worked on by trained/licensed professional electricians.

EQ Your World with “Here Active Listening”

Doppler Labs just raised $17 million to produce a wearable bionic hearing device. Here Active Listening is being dubbed the first true “hearable tech.” These are not earbuds for listening to music, but rather a kind of bionic hearing device for engaging with real world sounds around you. By using two ear buds with microphones and internal processing, an individual user can curate his/her own listening experience in various acoustic environments (with the aid of a smartphone app). Noisy environment, bad mix at a live concert- any situation where you are engaging with real-world sounds.

Here, Hans Zimmer (film composer) discusses the future of sound and how wearables may change our perception of sounds around us:

How To Refurbish a Herman Miller Aeron Task Chair

Audio production or Audiophile desktop - Ergonomics are a key ingredient

Audio production or Audiophile desktop – Ergonomics are a key ingredient

Recording, Mixing, Mastering, Post Production, and Quality Control all require acoustically appropriate environments. Finding a task chair that supports your body and allows your senses to focus on the work at hand is key. The Herman MIller Aeron is a classic example of ergonomic task chair design. Read my post, and find out how to refurbish a used Aeron task chair. Stay tuned for further Hi-Fi seating recommendations. 

-HIFIQC

Listening to the Hegel HD20 DAC…and Beyond

Hegel HD20 DAC from Norway

Hegel HD20 DAC from Norway

Digital-to-analog converters have come a long way, and it seems like there is no end in sight. Precise timing of the samples in a digital stream of audio can make the difference between music being reproduced naturally or with some haze and artifacts. And like many DACs the Hegel HD 20 reclocks the incoming signal for the lowest possible jitter. In addition to this reclocking, Hegel also uses a special imepedance correcting input (coax 1) to ensure the best sound from a standard RCA terminated digital cable.

At first glance this unassuming black box simply has digital inputs and analog outputs on the rear with a simple blue LCD display on front. The power supply is built-in, and a supplied remote controls the input selection and digital volume. The remote may also be used to control your computer if the DAC is connected through USB (which is limited to 96kHz SR). 2 coaxial digital inputs on RCA, one optical input, and one USB input are supplied. Analog outputs come in 2 flavors; single-ended RCA and balanced XLR.

Rear of the Hegel HD20

Rear of the Hegel HD20

In Use: The Hegel’s balanced outputs connected directly into my amplifier as well as my monitor controller for two setups. 1)The direct-to-amp scenario requires using the built-in digital volume, which can leave something to be desired when played at low volume settings. 2)When connected through my class A monitor controller via XLR the sound was tight, smooth and detailed. The space of the stereo image was well-defined and localization of instruments was clear. Funny enough, we found that coax 2 provided this tighter larger stereo image compared to coax 1 (with the impedance correction).

Playing acoustic music through my Green Mountain Audio Eos HX was natural and defined with the HD20. If it has any sound signature, I would say it is relaxed and detailed. Nothing in the mixes I listened to sounded hyped or overly detailed. The beauty of this DAC was its ability to stay organic and 3 dimensional in the home environment.

Using the HD20 with a dedicated headphone amp was may favorite. The sound is spacious, natural….just plain listenable. Many of my favorite Jazz recordings came through my HD-600 headphones with a smoothness that made music listening a treat. Combined with the CI Audio headphone amp, the Hegel truly shined.

Opting for the USB input allowed me access to internet radio and computer audio files. This USB input  is limited to 96kHz SR. While this is certainly a convenient feature, it lacks the full sample rate handling for high-definition downloads..

Other than the coaxial 1 input issues, I was impressed with the large natural sound stage and the organic timbre that the Hegel HD20 was capable of delivering. Now with the introduction of the Hegel HD25, the company has harnessed current 32 bit DAC chipsets, and allowed the full 192Khz SR over the USB input. In addition, the NEW HD25 also allows you to choose between two different digital filters to suit your tastes. While I have not auditioned this new DAC offering, I can certainly say that if the HD20 is any sonic indication, an audition of the new HD25 from Hegel is a must.

Devialet D-Premier

Devialet D-Premier

Pleasing modern aesthetics isn’t always associated with audiophile gear. In fact, finding Hi-Fi equipment that blends sonic delight with great design is something to be applauded. French audio firms Focal and Devialet are no slouches in this department. Devialet, in particular, produces an integrated amplifier that incorporates unique and compact audio circuits with a clean industrial design to match.

The D-Premier ($15,995USD) is an integrated amplifier with onboard digital-to-analog conversion for various digital music sources (digital coax, optical, & AES/it also has analog inputs) as well as a hybrid power amplifier section capable of driving a variety of speakers. Devialet seems to favor short signal paths while harnessing the strengths of class A and class D amplifier topologies. It is my understanding that the D-Premier incorporates a class A input section with a digital switching amp for power output. I am certainly oversimplifying this design, but proof is in the listening. Technically speaking, the D-Premier achieves very low distortion (THD+N (harmonic distortion) at full power: 0.001%) while providing 240 watts of power into 8 ohms. This power can be increased (2×400 watts and THD+N lowered to 0.00025%!) by using two separate D-Premier’s in a mono block configuration. That’s lots of power in a relatively small/thin footprint! – eloquent dual mono setup.

I heard this amplifier powering Focal Stella Utopia speakers while playing source material from a Sooloos digital music server. Music was reproduced with precision, clarity and control. When over limited recordings were played (Adele’s 21), all the vocal distortions came through with obvious detail. This amplifier is very accurate, and provides the listener with all the sonic layers while providing precision and control to speaker drivers.

The Stella Utopia incorporate an active Electro-magnetic speaker technology which of course requires power and some serious floor space! I would have really liked to see how the Devialet-D and the Focal speakers sounded with vinyl playback, but with the demo provided I could be easily persuaded to do further listening.

For blending with room decor, the Devialet -D integrated amplifier may be hung on the wall. This allows all wiring to be done through the wall, thus eliminating unsightly audiophile cables. A video demonstrating the chrome finish, and how it reflects the rooms colors can be seen at the Devialet website homepage. Ergonomically, the D-Premier’s wireless remote provides a luxurious dial for adjusting volume level,audio inputs, and even a phase invert button. Right now, it is only available in chrome, black, and white finishes. I am told (by the US distributor) that other colors will eventually become available.

Devialet’s modern industrial design comes complete with Apple style packaging. Firmware upgrades provide improved features such as wireless high-definition audio (up to 96khz).

This integrated amplification system combines powerful fidelity, flexibility, ease of control and graceful design. Getting to the heart of music seems to be a priority with the D-Premier, and I for one welcome this approach.

Happy Listening!