Fun Adaptations to Hi Fi

does anyone here happen to own a hi fi amp with a tape loop? I have done a set up (for fun) which I’ve done years ago, before catching the hi fi bug, of putting an equalizer in a tape loop to cut in and out at will. except this time i’m using a bryston b135 sst integrated amp and an award-winning Charter Oak PEQ1 Professional Mastering Equalizer. this piece, as created by Charter Oak Acoustics is about $2700 new. it’s a broad Q parametric styled eq used normally IN THE STUDIO which I’ve chosen to use in my hi fi bryston tape loop setup. my auralic aries femto LE is run directly into my bryston dac. the PEQ1 can be cut in and out for sweet analog post-dac processing at will. it’s an old-school theme, a throwback to the old days, but with all hi fi hardware and cabling. the results have been nothing less than staggering. I will add that I’ve been in MANY high end rooms and heard many six-figure set ups. (of course, straight signal with no processing) here are my observations over the last 3 years with my set up:
at first I used it only for bad recordings to tone shape. bass bump. delicate treble boost, etc. But from day one I was struck by how beautiful ALL recordings sounded through it. even with moderately heavy frequency boosts, sound staging, bloom, texture, resolution, body, all the terms we use to describe hi fi remained in place or even IMPROVED. this should not be a surprise though, as the charter oak is a very well reviewed MASTERING eq for the studio. why shouldn’t it retain it’s properties on the back end in the home with good equipment? it does in spades. all genres sound better with than without it. recall the setup a-b comparisons are instant. now I use it EVEN IF THERE IS NO EQ WANTED, as with all the dials on flat, it actually improves soundstaging as compared with without it. I it is also DEAD SILENT noise floor with the bryston. great for piano and classical therefore too. once I loaded the Roon software platform with the eq there just to see the difference. charter oak analog hardware TROUNCED the roon equalizer. even the best digital eq kills the midrange clarity, 3 dimensionality, and dynamics. not to mention don’t dare try to boost treble with digital eq. it’s awful.
I love this setup. you wouldn’t believe the clarity of Diana Krall’s vocals and keystrokes. all the subtleties are there In spades. anyone else doing this kind of thing at home?

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Looks intriguing. But I’m already satisfied with (the insanely excellent sound from both) my main rig and headphone setup, so my logical side says that buying this would be difficult to justify. Still....your write-up is quite intriguing--especially to my not-so-logical-but-way-more-FUN side. Sometimes I think Audiogon could use a lot more FUN so your post captures my attention.

This observation is particularly interesting to me:

now I use it EVEN IF THERE IS NO EQ WANTED, as with all the dials on flat, it actually improves soundstaging as compared with without it. I it is also DEAD SILENT noise floor...

Traditional thinking (as far as I know--I’m no expert here and this could be WRONG) is that every extra device in the signal path is detrimental to the sound. So your perception that this improves the sound even when set "flat" is potentially quite significant. It would be interesting to know if other owners have experienced this as well.

well, it's interesting indeed.  I many times have set the thing on flat and cut it in and out, using different types of music all of which was very well recorded.  I made sure to pay no attention to tonal balance and only attention to musical images, eg how well shaped out they were, leading edges to vocals and instruments, as well as clarity of transients and decay of cymbals, eg with jazz.  to my ear, nothing is lost and often a subtle improvement seems present.  but since this is designed as a broad Q mastering EQ for the studio, the real question is as follows:  can putting a high quality high fidelity PRODUCTION box in the signal chain defy the old adage you referenced that the less boxes in the chain, the better the SQ.  after all, every post-mastered recording we hear on our high end equipment had several boxes involved from mic to mixer to mastering.

food for thought!  all I know is that what I hear coming from this setup is highly musical, highly hifi, and quite fun to play with.  it's like magic sauce.  it seems to me in all my listenings over the years to be the best way to approximate a $100,000 system with only about 10-12 grand invested.  it really does give the great gear a run for the money.

and i'll just add that my reference point for "great gear" is the Dan D'Agostino Momentum amp ($45,000) driving Sonus Faber Oympica III's ($12,000).  while this combo to me sounded heavenly, so does my system. (for a lot less mula!) that every extra device in the signal path is detrimental to the sound.

I have been of similar understanding, but I would say " that every extra device in the signal path is influencing/changing the sound" rather than being detrimental to it.

In such a case, it is almost expected that the device OP is mentioning gives her/him results he experienced and liked even when set to "flat". It is probably influencing the sound and it is probably in the direction he likes. After all, that is what that particular component was designed/invented for. To change the sound, not to leave it untouched.

One thing that many people on these forums rarely mention is about tweaks etc. It comes across as if tweaks are always for better which is hard to believe.

To answer the question, I do have a tape loop, but am not using it and have no real interest in adding EQ somewhere there. Primarily because that would mean more work. I am fine with just bass/treble which I barely use anyway. Loudness button is something else. It is a darling.

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