Publisher Profile APPEARANCE - Editor - Theme Header Google Adsense Top Banner

BSG Technologies QOL Signal Completion Preamplifier Review

By: |

Let’s Start Tweaking

Larry Kay of QOL suggested that I experiment with speaker placement after incorporating the QOL. In particular, he suggested bringing the speakers closer together and reducing toe-in. When the QOL arrived my speakers were placed about 12 feet apart and toed-in, so that the tweeters were pointed to a spot about six inches to the outside of each ear. I had noticed that on panoramically wide recordings the QOL caused the sound to begin wrapping around the side walls.

I moved each speaker about eighteen inches toward the other, losing about three feet of speaker separation. I also pointed the tweeters to a spot that was about twelve inches to the outside of each ear. The center image tightened in a way that I preferred, and the sides of the soundstage remained strong, but I felt that the overall image of the stage suffered from unevenness. I moved each speakers back out six inches, and changed the toe-in back to its previous position, i.e., pointing to an area about six inches to the outside of each ear. That did it, and everything fell into place. It’s clear to me that anyone auditioning the QOL needs to play with speaker placement to get the best results, and if your speaker’s are far apart, you should try narrower spacing.

Once I had the speaker settings tweaked, I introduced some additional isolation and damping in the way of Walker pucks and three Herbie’s Audio Lab Big Tall Tenderfoot isolation feet. I found that placing two isolation feet towards the back of the QOL and one toward the front worked better than the other way around. The change was positive but not dramatic, leading me to conclude that the QOL is not radically affected by vibration. Note however, that all my front-end components are set up on wall-mounted turntable shelves which themselves incorporate vibration control, so you may get more improvement in your own system.

Finally, I decided to insert the QOL before the Lyngdorf RP-1 in the equipment chain. This proved to be significant. Though I previously liked the change in sound in the vast majority of music I played, there had been a few recordings where things sounded a bit “processed.” The combination of reducing the spacing between my speakers and changing the location of the QOL in my own somewhat unique equipment chain completely eliminated any sense of “processing” on those recordings.

I have to say that at this point, a certain sense of elation had come over me. I realized that I had made a significant change to my system which greatly increased my enjoyment of the music I played.

BSG Technologies QOL Signal Completion Stage Rear Plate

Multiple Configurations (or, Let Me Count the Ways I Love Thee)

By this time the QOL had me hooked with the way it made the performance sound more realistic. It was time to start playing with different configurations of components to see what effect that would have. In particular, I wondered how it interacted with my Lyngdorf room correction device. I also wanted to see how the QOL performed as a substitute for the Lyngdorf.

As a point of reference, my usual configuration is MBL 1611F > Lyngdorf RP-1 > Electrocompaniet amps. However, at the time I also had in for review that absolutely fabulous Pass Labs XP-30 preamp, so I also made very liberal use of it while testing the QOL. You’ll need the score sheet to know the players, so here are the configurations used (without repeating the Qsonix server, Empirical Audio reclocker and MBL 1611F):

1. Lyngdorf RP-1 > QOL > Electrocompaniet monoblocks;
2. QOL > Lyngdorf RP-1 > Electrocompaniet monoblocks;
3. Lyngdorf RP-1 > Pass Labs XP-30 > QOL > Electrocompaniet monoblocks;
4. QOL > Lyngdorf RP-1 > Pass Labs XQP-30 > Electrocompaniet monoblocks;
5. QOL > Electrocompaniet monoblocks.

Finally, I also checked out the QOL in my midfi system: Pioneer Elite DV-38 > Sony EP9ES > NAD 916 > B&W SCM-1/NHT Sub Twos. Here are my findings after trying these different configurations.

2. The QOL as an Additional Component. The QOL made each system sound better in every configuration. This was confirmed by all four pairs of visitors who came to the house during the review period. However, the QOL sounded best when it was inserted immediately before the Lyngdorf RP-1 in my system. Specifically, the impact and definition of the bass were better. I can’t tell you why this was the case, but it may have as much to do with the fact that the Lyngdorf RP-1 has always worked best when it is the last front-end component in the chain, i.e., when it comes right before the amps.

3. The QOL and Soundstaging. The QOL’s ability to reveal room cues that were previously hidden has several effects on the perceived soundstage, the most significant of which was very significant addition of soundstage depth. This increase in soundstage depth not only adds overall realism, but it can also tame forward-sounding components. My MBL 1611F has a forward perspective. With MBL’s own omnidirectional speakers, which create a three-dimensional image, this forward prospective works fine, but it can seem too close when used in a small or medium room with other components that themselves have a forward perspective, particularly speakers with this characteristic. However, with the QOL engaged, the huge depth of the presentation creates an intoxicating combination of front-of-stage vocalists/soloists with set-back accompanying performers and a clear impression of the back of the stage.

4. Separation and Air. There is a greater disconnection of the music from the speakers with the QOL engaged. More instruments are more clearly spread out over the depth and width of the soundstage, with fewer sounding like they come from the speakers. There is also a great sense of air within and around the soundstage, as well as an “airier” and more live feel to the music. Curiously, even though the QOL tended to slightly blur the exact placement of each performer, it nonetheless sounded more realistic because of this sense of air and separation.

5. Ability to Play Louder. With the QOL engaged, you can play louder and not feel like it’s too loud. It took some time to put my finger on why this is the case. Bass is not airy in real life, and it does not sound that way with the QOL. Many vocals and treble instruments, on the other hand, sound quite airy live. Some CD players make everything sound airy and some make them all sound “hard,” but they generally don’t do both. However, the QOL lets bass sound solid while letting the treble-oriented airy instruments sound more ephemeral. Those treble-oriented instruments are often those that seem to be grating when the volume is up high. Giving them more “air” softens their impact at high volumes, making them loud without being grating. Consequently, you can play louder without feeling like it’s too loud.

6. Proper Phasing vs. Room Correction. My last observation requires a bit of explanation. I have heard a wide range of speakers in my system and one thing is clear: the particular positioning of my B&W 800D’s in my room can have a detrimental effect on their bass performance. I know this not only because I have heard my speakers in another setting, but also because I have had other comparable speakers in my room. The bass performance of those other speakers in my room was better, largely because they had side-firing woofers, and my system is set up width-wise, not length-wise. Consequently, room correction has been a necessity for me; I highly recommend that everyone check out room correction – you will probably be surprised at the improvement. As a result, in my case simply removing the RP-1 and substituting the QOL did not address my bass issues as well as the RP-1, though it did a good job of improving the midrange and treble performance of the 800Ds. Swapping the QOL back out for the RP-1 clearly bore this out. However, even though in my room the effect of my RP-1 room correction device was significantly more important than the effect of the QOL, the result is likely to be different in a different room with different speakers. My advice is to go for both if you can afford to do so!

Some Specific Musical Examples

After all the experimentation with damping, isolation, speaker placement and component sequencing, I chose my favorite configuration and just played music. That configuration was Qsonix 105/Empirical Audio Pace Car > MBL 1611F > Pass Labs XP-30 > QOL > Lyngdorf RP-1 > Electrocompaniet monoblocks. Here’s some of the music I played and my real-time listening notes:

1. Weather Report, “Boogie Woogie Waltz” from Sweetnighter – instruments slightly bigger; back upper and lower corners of soundstage much more evident and filled with music; can visualize realistic sized venue; rear and side walls of venue become apparent.
2. Eagles, “Hotel California” from Hell Freezes Over – harmony vocal placement about the same, but echoes of the rear stage and other parts of venue is replicated; small things more evident; feels even more live.
3. Dire Straits, “Money For Nothing” from Brothers in Arms – initial buildup of sound really swirls around, not really “behind” listener but the sound is bouncing off the walls like it is live. More space around the performers; bigger sound of amplified guitar; more depth.
4. Paul Simon, “You Can Call Me Al” from Graceland – flute echo goes way back in soundstage and organ/Mellotron echo is wider by several feet; percussion clear and fast but can discern echoes off the walls; bongos/wood blocks more discernible way in back left.
5. Pearl Jam, “Wishlist” from Yield – sparkle/chime of guitars more pronounced; whooshing much cleaner and clearer; upper and lower far corners more filled with sound; echoes of lead guitar clearly delineate recording venue.
6. Perez Prado – Mambo Jambo – congas bongos more pronounced more echo to trumpets/coronets
7. Peter Gabriel – Shock the Monkey – much more enveloping sound.
8. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon – much more “cosmic” and enveloping
9. Fun – Some Nights – chorus and violins much wider and sounding more “orchestral”.

Conclusion

I can unequivocally recommend the QOL. It’s effect improved the listening experience in every system in which it was inserted, without any negative effects. You definitely need to make sure you use the optimal speaker placement, as this will really maximize the performance of the QOL. Use of appropriate tweaks and power cords is always recommended, and I am sure that you can get further improvements by paying attention to details, but none of that is necessary to get a significant benefit from use of the QOL. And with a 30-day money back guaranty you really have nothing to lose. If your system sounds more like great stereo rather than great music, or if you want to increase your system’s realism, you owe it to yourself to check out the BSG Technologies QOL Signal Completion Stage.

Manufacturer’s Comment

BSG Technologies, LLC wishes to thank Dagogo, Constantine Soo, and, especially, Ed Momkus, for a fantastic review of our QØL™ Signal Completion Stage. Ed’s review of the history of efforts to improve sound created a context for the review that we’d like to see reviews emulate regardless of the product being examined. Ed’s thoroughness and hard work (all those changes in the configuration of systems!) should give pause to all the audiophiles who think reviewing is a lark.

In short, Ed’s review is a paradigm of how to do the reviewer’s job. And, of course, his praise of our product made us very happy indeed. Hence, we won’t quibble at all.

We’ll add only that a thirty-day, (almost) free trial is available and that many of our numerous dealers also will arrange for home trials by those interested. Call them—or see our website (www.bsgt.com) for details.

One last item: We’ve been granted our patent!

With thanks to all the consumers and reviewers who have made it a point to hear something really new in audio, we wish you all…

Happy Listening!

Sincerely,

BSG Technologies, LLC

3 Responses to BSG Technologies QOL Signal Completion Preamplifier Review


  1. Jon2020 says:

    I had an opportunity to bring home a unit for an audition in my system some time back. For me, to my ears, the cons add up to more than the pros. So, I returned the loan unit to the dealer.
    The one most important aspect of the sound that deterred me from an outright purchase was the unrealistic expansion of image size of every instrument. Although the soundstage has expanded, so too have the piano, guitar, saxophone, violins and whatever else that is playing together in a band or orchestra to the point that each of them seems to extend from the far side of the left to the far side of the right of my room boundaries. May be seductive initially but it just doesn’t sound real and right.
    Other aspects of my personal experience with the qol :-
    1) The S/N ratio is indeed rather low as previously posted; I can hear more hiss and noise from my speakers in between tracks and during soft passages. With the qol out of the chain, the added noise was gone
    2} When I cranked up the volume with the qol in place, there is a point where distortion can be easily heard and things start to sound ragged
    3) To reiterate, image size is stretched to the point of unbelievability. A glaring example is when the tenor sax is playing, it is as if I am standing at the “cusp of the crucible” so to speak, staring down into the deep belly of the sax – totally unreal
    4) The bypass mode is not a true absolute bypass. Remove the qol from the chain altogether and the comparison is startling – one gets easily seduced by the immediate signal gain and think, ah, instruments have more body but take it out of the chain, and gradually crank up your system. You will realise a similar gain in instrument body but without the image stretching effect.

  2. Jon Goh says:

    Some aspects of my personal experience with the BSG qol in my home system :-
    1) The S/N ratio is indeed rather low; I can hear more hiss and noise from my speakers in between tracks and during soft passages. With the qol out of the chain, the added noise was gone
    2} When I cranked up the volume with the qol in place, there is a point where distortion can be easily heard and things start to sound ragged
    3) Image size is stretched to the point of unbelievability. A glaring example is when the tenor sax is playing, it is as if I am standing at the “cusp of the crucible” so to speak, staring down into the deep belly of the sax – totally unreal
    4) The bypass mode is not a true absolute bypass. Remove the qol from the chain altogether and the comparison is startling – one gets easily seduced by the immediate signal gain and think, ah, instruments have more body but take it out of the chain, and gradually crank up your system. You will realise a similar gain in instrument body but without the image stretching effect.

    I could not bear with all of the above and so returned the loaner unit.

    • Ed Momkus says:

      I assume both of these comments come from the same person, so my response will treat than as the same.

      Hi Jon – I did not have the same result as you did with noise or image size. One of the things I mentioned in my review was that I tried the QOL in several different locations in my reproduction chain. I found that it worked differently in each and settled on the best configuration. This configuration produced no additional noise. However, I did get some noise in other configurations, though not very noticeable. One thing I found I had to pay attention to was proper grounding, and I don’t know whether that might have affected your system.

      I also did not have your issue with image size. I have an extremely large soundstage in my main listening room – 28 feet – and the performers are all “right-sized”. In my system the QOL illuminated the far corners of the soundstage and fleshed out the performers, but did not stretch them. What associated equipment did you use?

      Ed Momkus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popups Powered By : XYZScripts.com