Blue Circle upgrade to Transport/DAC

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:07 pm

In the late 1990's I decided to invest in a good CD/Tranport combination. I choose the Altis Audio Centauri Transport and Reference DAC. It had reviewed well, would be upgradeable to new formats, and the company was 15 minutes from my house in Connecticut. So I bought it and I was very pleased with it. However, in the fall of 2001 the owner of Altis passed away from cancer and the very small company ceased operations. I remember seeing something in the Absolute Sound that he was about to come out with a new version of the Centauri with upgraded power supplies and regulations. The only negative I had was that occasionally it operated irregularly with the display going off and on, and some other things. These would have probably been fixed with this new version.

Now that I had invested alot of money in this equipment, what was I to do? I found out that Jerry Ozment (he's an engineer who designs digital circuits for alot of companies in the audio industry) had helped Altis with the design and his company Audio Logic is also in Connecticut. I contacted him and was able to get him to do an upgrade to 24/96 DAC (middle section of DAC picture below) and add some new caps (yellow) in the analog output section. At a later date he added some small transformers in the analog output section (right section of DAC picture below) near the tubes that really hepled with the bass. Now what to do about the power supply problem?

I asked Gilbert if he was ever traveling nearby my place, if he could stop by and take a look at my equipment about possibly doing some upgrades. One time he was able to stop by and check out my equipment. He said he could do some things when he had a chance. I got the call last summer and shipped the equipment to him.

With regard to the transport (see pictures below), it had an existing external power supply. Gilbert decided to completely rebuild the power supply inside the existing case and re-worked somethings inside the big display. He was also able to change some of the digital outputs. All reviews of the DAC said it sounded better using the balanced digital input. But the outputs on the transport were only coaxial and ATT glass fiber. He was able to change the coaxial to a balanced output and keep tha ATT glass fiber. To get it to fit and work right, it had to stick out alittle, but is looks OK to me and sounds great. He also bought me a new ATT glass fiber cable (10 ft. long) as my original was to short. This made a big improvement as well.

With regard to the DAC, he decided to add an external power supply (see pictures below). Having a good power supply that creates pure and stable DC power is so crucial to creating a good sounding component. Gilbert has expertise in power supplies and that is why his equipment sounds so good. You can see from the picture of the DAC below, the original power supply was housed in the section to the left. The new power supply is housed in this section plus the entire external housing! I had Gilbert change the IEC connection into the external P/S to a better quality connector than the inferior industry standard. Even the best quality industry standard IEC connectors don't fit that snug, but this connector fits very snug. I won't be able to experiment with power cords, but I don't care as the Blue Circle power cord fitted with this connector is good. Also notice the qualty of the connections on the DC cord between the external P/S and the DAC. Gilbert also tweaked the caps on the output section of the DAC (see right section of DAC picture below). Notice the little white Blue Circle caps on top of the yellow caps.

Overall I am very pleased with the power supply and other upgrades Gilbert performed on my equipment. It has made already great sounding components sound even better. And after having it for three months, I have not experienced any operational irregularities that I had before the upgrades.

This upgrade will also keep my expensive investment in this equipment working for many more years. Thanks Gilbert!

Ho Say <hr>Image

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:10 pm

Back of Transport. <hr>Image

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:13 pm

Front of DAC and P/S. <hr>Image

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:14 pm

Back of DAC and P/S. <hr>Image

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:16 pm

Inside DAC. <hr>Image

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Sun Jan 15, 2006 4:18 pm

Inside P/S. <hr>Image

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esoxhntr
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Post by esoxhntr » Sun Jan 15, 2006 9:22 pm

Ho Say,

Mother Of God!!! I bet that made a difference - and it sounded pretty damn good before, too. This is one of the things I like so much about dealing with Gilbert; there's always a better power supply. ;) :lol: :ph34r:

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Post by Chowder_head » Mon Jan 16, 2006 4:06 am

They say "white guys can't jump", I say "audiophiles can't write".

Please help me to understand how you and Gilbert got from the system in the first picture of a gumball machine to the last four pictures, where the gumball machine (AKA transport?) has disappeared and some of the other parts (?) in the first two pictures got replaced by the power supply and DAC and the last 4 pictures? I think that's what happened. And the gumball machine is still in the picture (but out of the photos)?

This is described as a "mod"? I can't see that anything was left of the original equipment, except for perhaps the gumball machine or did Gilbert also make a new transport?

Looks beautiful and I am sure it sounds great.

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:20 pm

Chowder Head,

This was my first time inserting a picture into a post. I had intended to say "Front of Transport" with the first picture, buy it didn't work out. I assumed people would figure out what it was from the next picture. Perhaps I shouldn't have.

The only real difference you would notice with the equipment in a rack, before and after, would be the addition of the power supply for the DAC (the piece with the Blue Circle logo on it).

The intention of my post was to point out that Gilbert works on other manufacturer's equipment, whether it is a repair, modification or both. He will tell you honestly what can be done, and you will get the same quality work you have come to expect from Blue Circle.

Ho Say

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davei
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Post by davei » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:42 pm

Ho Say
cool setup, do you have any pictures of the rest of your system? glad you are pleased with!
BTW it is nice to know we don't have to have throw away digital equipment, if you know the right people!
dave

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bish
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Post by bish » Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:19 pm

Ho Say --

Congratz on your mod'd transport & DAC.

It's uncanny how well the mods integrate into the Reference DAC chassis. While it's been ages since I've heard the Altis Centauri/Ref DAC combo -- I suspect the mods make this a great fit with the later generations of BC gear.

Thanks for sharing the photos.

Cheers - Bish

Chowder_head
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Post by Chowder_head » Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:06 pm

Not to worry Ho say, you're way ahead of me. I am still trying to figure out what happened to the gumball machine. The rest looks entirely different. I'm sure the sonic transformation was just as great as the visual one.

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esoxhntr
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Post by esoxhntr » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:04 pm

I'll take this one HoSay...

Chowder Head - The gumball machine had it's own external power supply, which you can see in the picture. However, what used to be in the external power supply was removed, and Gilbert completely rebuilt it. Gilbert also tinkered with scoreboard on the top of the gumball machine, which as I recall, used to act goofy from time to time. Unfortunately, all the work is enclosed, and in it's original chassis, so you can't see any outward evidence of it.

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:10 pm

Dave,
Thanks. At some point I would like to put my system on the website. I have alot of odd sized equipment setup right now on some temporary stands and I'm kind of embarrassed at how it looks at the moment. I'm hoping to get my final setup done within the next year and will make some custom equipment racks to display it.

Bish,
Thanks also. It works very well running balanced through my Blue Circle AG series amplification.

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Ho Say
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Post by Ho Say » Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:13 pm

Eso,

Bingo! Thanks.

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