Cable upgrades, gear tweaks and a mobile milonga experiment with a guitar amp

Cable upgrades and gear tweaks

Since the last post I’ve made several upgrades and tweaks to my audiophile system that I feel let me get out more out of my tango (and other) music collection:

(1) I upgraded the speaker cables to high-end cables.

(2) I upgraded the USB cable connecting the Macbook to the DAC to a high-end cable.

I’m not going to give prices that I paid because the prices where I live will be lower than in most other countries due to the fact that they’re manufactured here.

(3) I stopped using a USB hub and instead plugged the SSD drive with my music files directly into the Macbook USB port.

(4) I set Audirvana to upsample the output to the DAC, so that a 96kHz file is upsampled to 192kHz.

(5) I set the Chord Qutest DAC to output 3 volts into my NAD amp.

There is little doubt in my mind that there is more music arriving in my speakers due to the cable changes. Significantly more. I didn’t have to spend 100s of dollars. But the cables are significantly better than the basic speaker or USB cable.

The software and DAC tweaks also improved the sound.

2. A mobile milonga experiment with a guitar amp

I’ve been thinking about how I can take my new sound out of my house. We recently found a cafe run by an Australian artist which would be perfect for a milonga. Alas, it has no sound system. They host swing parties and they use one of those sound bars. So I’ve been thinking how I could bring some decent sound by taxi.

It just happens that I have a couple of Roland acoustic guitar amps, a small Acoustic Chorus AC-33, and a big Acoustic Chorus AC-90. Both of them have an Aux In for each channel. I plugged the DAC into the Aux In of each amp.

The AC-33 sounds small, but I’m very very impressed with the sound of the AC-90. The sound is very suitable for tango. I must say, a real “vintage” milonga sound. And it’s a BIG sound. Very loud without distorting.

It’s 45 watt/channel with two 8 inch cones. Basically, in terms of specs it is in the same range as my NAD/ELAC sound system. But in some ways it sounds better.

This amp is designed to amplify acoustic guitars and somehow it has a very vintage sort of sound that the tango likes so much that I’m finding that I actually might prefer this sound for my tango collection. I’ll listen through this set up for the next few days and see how it goes.

There is but one downside. You only need to go up a couple of notches from zero to start hitting very high volumes. I think it might be easy to blow this speaker if the volume knob is accidentally turned higher. It’s probably necessary to put a volume control between the DAC and the amp to prevent this from happening.