Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Focal Grand Utopia Diamond Tweeter Upgrade

I'm just putting this out there.

The Focal Grand Utopia with the Tioxid tweeter could be upgraded to a world class Diamond or Be tweeter.

Possibly the first generation Be tweeters can also be upgraded. This remains to be investigated.

If anyone is interested, let me know via comments.

The latter generation Focal's cannot as their casework makes it impossible to use the best of breed devices.

Thanks

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Focal Mezzo Utopia Be Upgrade Kit

I'm considering offering a modern, luxury upgrade for the Focal Mezzo Utopias.  If you would like more information or want to give me some feedback before I launch the project, please visit me here:

Focal Mezzo Utopia Be Upgrade




Based on previous research into the Profiles, this will probably utilize one of Scanspeak's low-profile Be tweeters.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fix Ground Loops Quickly, Safely and Easily

What is a Ground Loop?

It is video noise or audible hum that plays through your speakers that occurs when multiple ground points with slightly different potentials are connected together through your equipment. More on this is available from Jensen Transformer's web site. It's called a loop because it's actually that, a closed circuit.  All we have to do is either connect everything to the same ground, or break the loop in the safest and most convenient location.

A clue to a ground loop is that the hum stays constant whether you play music or video or not. Sometimes equipment such as a TV doesn't even have to be on to help cause in the loop.

Note that this is not mechanical hum. If you hear the chassis or transformers vibrating and making more of a buzzing sound your problem is more likely DC on the line. I'll cover that in another post, but this is often caused by PCs, light dimmers, and modern compact florescent bulbs.

Ground Loops and Digital Signals

The usual "scientific" belief is that digital signals are immune or at least very resistant to noise. While it is true that digital circuits are resistant to many types of noise these circuits, including digital video, can participate in a ground loop which can cause enough jitter to be audible or visible. This includes HDMI, coaxial and USB circuits. Optical digital connections however are completely immune to all external noise, including ground loops.

Ground loops will not occur in Ethernet cabling unless there was a fault in the switches / routers. In other words, almost never since preventing ground loops was part of the design of the entire Ethernet eco-system.

Diagnosing the Cause

There are a few common culprits:
  • Cable TV or Satellite Dishes
  • External antennas like FM or television
  • Audio or video cables from a Personal Computer
  • Laptops! (Problem goes away when you disconnect USB or charger) See USB fixes, below.
The best way to find the root cause is to disconnect each suspect and listen for the problem to go away. Sometimes the problem is related to two devices interacting, which gives you a choice of where to break the loop. This process also works for finding noise sources in general. Turning lights off and disconnecting wall-wart supplies may solve other symptoms.


Lethal Fixes and Myths

One type of fix can be lethal to you and your neighbors. That's a "cheater plug like this one. Any attempt to defeat the ground pins in equipment that has them may be lethal. Do not do it. Do not rely on signal grounds to work the same way. They don't.

Pangea originally sold "high end" IEC cables with removable ground pins. Don't buy them, don't let your friends buy them. They appear to be discontinued, probably due to safety concerns. There is now a 2 conductor C7 version with a removable pin, but that's perfectly safe, and the feature is kind of useless.

I recently heard this argument:
I've been removing ground pins for years and never had a problem.
The problem is these pins are like safety belts. So imagine me telling you this:
I've not had a car accident in 20 years, so I no longer wear a seat belt.
That should sound dangerous to anyone who drives a car. That's how we electrically minded people think when we hear of audiophiles removing ground pins for that last bit of audio nirvana. There are better and safer ways. Another myth, spread by audiophiles who do not understand the safety ground or the life safety issues involved in UL certification and the National Electric Code:
Your system will be grounded by your RCA cables. No problem!
If no problem means dead and on fire, they're right. 

Free Fixes

If your problem is caused by a piece of audio/video gear, try connecting it all to the same power strip or conditioner. This ensures all the ground wires are at the same potential.

Another free fix may be to use XLR cables. XLR cables are not usually quieter in homes than balanced, BUT! there is a difference. XLR cables don't mix the ground and signal together. You avoid this contamination and XLR inputs often have a safe "Ground Lift" switch. It prevents the grounds loop from occurring at all.

Not A Ground Loop

Some issues have nothing to do with ground loops but are caused by induced noise from other sources. This noise can come through the power lines OR be induced by proximity to interconnects and electronics. Things to try turning off, disconnecting, or removing from the environment:
  • Compact Flourescent bulbs - VERY noisy! 
  • Wall warts - These tricky bastards stay on, and polluting even if the device they are feeding is off.
  • Wall dimmer switches
  • PC and laptop power supplies (yes, again!). Disconnect your PC or laptop cables to your stereo, TV, etc. If the problem comes and goes with the PC/laptop being plugged in, then you have a noise problem and will need to relocate it.
  • WiFi devices, including routers, streamers, receivers, modems, etc. If your Wifi device is part of your stereo, try moving the antenna or putting it on a different power strip/conditioner. 
 

Noiseless Cables

Sometimes the problem is noise our cables pick up. Especially problematic in apartments with a heavy concentration of WiFI signals or near transmission or cellular towers. Some electronics will help pick this up more than others.

Make sure your interconnects are 100% shielded. Most cheap and a lot of expensive RCA cables use a braided ground, which is more of a pick-up antenna than anything else. Regardless of whether you use RCA or XLR cables, the best use 2 conductors plus a foil shield. In essence they are built of conductors:
  • Positive conductor
  • Negative conductor
  • A super thin and delicate foil shield
  • The drain wire which is used to attach the foil to a ground conductor on the RCA or XLR jack
On RCA cables the drain wire should be attached to the negative conductor at the source. The destination end does not use it but instead uses the positive and negative wires. With an XLR cable all 3 wires are attached at both ends, unless the destination does not have a ground lift pin in which case the ground may go unattached at the destination.

My favorite brands for non-esoteric cables:

  • DH Labs
  • Connex
  • Mogami
  • Belden
I personally use Connex solid silver cables for everything, but they are delicate. Get the more expensive DH Labs varieties if you need rugged.

Cable TV & Antenna Problems

This problem can also cause Internet access issues. I use a dedicated Cable TV isolator like this one. You put it immediately inside the RF plug, unless you have a satellite dish.  More on that, below.


Satellite Dishes

Make sure the satellite dish cable is grounded before entering your home. Even though it is required by code, installers often fail to do this, and ends up in having your receiver or antenna getting fried by heavy wind causing static as it blows across the dish.

Unlike Cable TV and overhead local antennas, satellite dishes require DC power to operate the RF amps built into the little head. For this reason isolating them is a little trickier. Normal isolators block DC in all forms.

The trick is to buy a separate DC power supply for your antenna. Place the ground loop eliminator closest to your receiver, and your antenna power supply closer to the antenna.

HDMI

Your best / cheapest way to eliminate issues from your television over HDMI are to fix any connections going to it such as cable tv, satellite, a PC, etc.

USB/DAC

Early in the history of external DACs ground loops could occur through coaxial cables. Most good DAC's today provide what is called "galvanic isolation" meaning that there is no DC or ground loop path between the input plugs and the rest of the circuits in a DAC. This can be done by purpose built transformers or modern monolythic IC's. Unfortunately no magazine or agency I know of tests for this so there is no way to 100% guarantee a DAC's isolation. Of course, the way to test this is to disconnect your USB input and see if your hum goes away. There are also cases where you have very little ground loop noise. To fix either use a USB isolator like this inexpensive model designed for medical professionals, but works just as well with USB 2.0 DACs.

Another fix is to use a purely optical cable between your source and DAC such as the Audioquest Forest or Monoprice both of which come in a variety of lengths.  Check the size of the plugs, some may interfere with other sockets on your equipment. Optical cables are also a very good choice for going from PC to a DAC or receiver if the PC supports it since PC's are such noisy environments.

Of course, since the entire point is to avoid a current path, gold plated optical cables are kind of silly.


Audio Signal Isolators

Audiophiles hate putting anything in the signal path, and some fussy recording engineers may also, but pro's also know that it's far better to put in a transformer than delaying a show, so here are a couple of isolation products from Ebtech that are reasonably inexpensive.

I'm currently working on Cable Mittens, a new concept to warm up the sound of an amplifier while breaking ground loops and reducing noise.  Until then, the choices below are the best available!

The Hum Eliminator takes 1/4" jacks, but adapters are easily found. For a little more you can get the XLR version shown here.

The EbTech models, especially at their prices, are very good, but audiophiles who only want the very best turn to Jensen Transformers for the gold standard in high quality audio isolation. If that's what you need, I present the RCA Jensen Iso-Max for your approval. It's usually the best solution for PC audio problems.

The XLR Iso-Max, below, is also available for around $250.

Last Ditch Efforts

If your problem is your electronics and the single power strip idea doesn't work, the only remaining almost safe way to prevent the problem I know of is the Ebtech Hum X. The Hum X is only rated for 6A which limits it to line  level electronics. You cannot use it on power amps, which is not really a problem because we can prevent the ground loop at either end. You will find it just as effective by putting this on a preamp, TV or source as on the amps. It should also be effective on PCs, but I'm not sure if it could cause other problems.

I say it's "almost safe" because it has not yet been UL approved. The 6A rating is probably why, as there's no way to guarantee users will only plug-in 6A devices.

Iffy Solutions

If you are an audiophile you might have gotten to the end of this article wondering why the real "power conditioners" weren't mentioned. The truth is that the solutions provided above are the most effective in solving ground-loops than almost any high-end power conditioner.   Balanced power conditioners, which are often touted as the best solution for this, may or may not fix actually fix a ground loop problem.  Bill Whitlock and Jamie Fox of Jensen wrote a great paper for the Audio Engineering Society on the matter. Balanced conditioners ARE completely effective at removing DC from an AC line however, and very effective at reducing other types of incoming AC line noise.

Other types of power conditioners will have no effect at all on ground loops but may reduce other types of noise or provide surge protection and, as mentioned, connecting all your electronics to a single strip or conditioner may also eliminate the problem but don't go spending big bucks on them trying to fix ground loop issues, or ignore the solutions above because they don't seem high-tech or expensive enough.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Wyred4Sound Remedy - First Listening Impressions

I have hooked up the Remedy between my Logitech Squeezebox and my Audio Research DAC 8.  The only true jitter measurements I could find were for it's slightly newer cousin, the DSPre.  It seems that the DSPre is wildly sensitive to jitter, at least the measurements are, so I'm just going to assume the DAC 8 is the same or worse.

Most of my listening these days is to Internet radio, including Toronto Jazz FM 91, which in addition to having great programming also streams at 24/96.   The other station was KDFC 90.1, Bay Area Classical.

In the middle of this my power regulator has started to hum, so I can't do the remedy justice until I move it to a quieter location.

Still, here's what I think so far.

The remedy works much more noticeably with low-resolution stations, but it IS better. The sense of space inside the sound stage and the treble decay. Sometimes it feels worse though. During mass string crescendos the sound gets too complicated.  With Jazz 91 the improvements seem much less pronounced, but still there.

However this is really hard to gauge with radio.  I'll give this a better listen soon, when my biggest noise sources have been fixed.


Update August 28, 2016
So I had thought my impressions might greatly change, but they did not. I think this is a good tool but only for more source sensitive DAC's like I had (just sold it), the ARC DAC 8. That DAC played brilliantly when driven by an Ayre CD player, but when I brought it home it was much fussier.

With high resolution music (96k and above) I could honestly not tell if it was working or not, which I guess is a good thing. So, overall I would recommend this to clean up the sound of a mid-Fi CD player or Internet radio or inexpensive streamer like my Squeezebox Touch. 

I have however switched over to a Mytek Brooklyn DAC which sounds as good as the Wyred4Sound + ARC DAC 8 without the remedy in place, regardless of how it was driven.

I'm now driving the Brooklyn with a 2TB Linux streamer I built myself ($650) and it's very happy to play PCM, MQA and DSD from it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Digital Audio - Upsampling and Oversampling Explained

Many types of digital sources, accessories and Digital to Analog Converters (DACs) provide some sort of sample data magic called oversampling or upsampling.  Put simply it means you end up with more digital data than you started with.

There are some benefits, but none of these methods truly gets you closer to the original music. They are all just ways of trying to make the experience more pleasant. Think of it as looking out your window with a screen. You may take a picture and find that you can see the screen itself in the image, or you can do some editing with Gimp or PhotoShop and remove it. The new image can't possibly contain more true to life data than you started with, but the picture should be much more pleasant to look at.

Many audiophiles have been led to believe that this kind of digital math can do things like you might see on the TV shows CSI or NCIS. Somehow four pixels on a grainy satellite image can be processed over and over again until the criminal's face is clearly visible. It's just not true.

Looking at it another way, the frequency response of up and oversampling does not change. A 44.1 kHz file is not going to have 30kHz created after 4x upsampling.  The frequency range and content density is unchanged. What may happen is that digital filtering becomes smoother and easier on the ears, or that jitter is improved somewhat by the use of higher data rates.


Differences Explained

Let's take original data.  Since digital music is always integer, I'll imagine two consecutive samples with convenient values of 24 and 28. Now lets see what happens at 4x up or oversampling. If the original data was 44kHz/16 bits the DAC will now see a sample rate of 176.4 kHz but the bit depth may or may not. So, just to be thorough, here is our original data:

  • 24
  • 28



at a sample rate of 44.1 kHz these two samples represent:

  • 2 samples / 44,100  = 45 microseconds of music. 
 Remember that we are adding samples in between the time slots, so we don't want to stretch out our time, that would result in pitch changes. Instead we increase the rate (samples / second) at which we feed the DAC, keeping the pitch constant.
So, instead of 2 samples, we have 8, but with a new sample rate.  Lets redo the math:

  • 8 samples / 176.4kHz = 45 microseconds of music.
Thhat's great, because if that didn't work the sound would be 4 times slower. :)

Oversampling

This is the oldest trick in the book. Almost immediately after CD players became commercially available oversampling became a buzz-word. I am no longer sure, but this may have only worked with so-called Delta-Sigma or 1-bit DAC's.

It's so simple you don't think it should work. Take a sample, and repeat it several times. It's that simple. It does not attempt to provide any more data but may shift some noise far above the Nyquist frequency.  No math is involved, just counting.  With 4x oversampling the DAC our orignal two samples become:


  • 24
  • 24
  • 24
  • 24
  • 28
  • 28
  • 28
  • 28
It's weird it helps, but it does. In fact, with oversampling, only 1 sample really matters at a time.


Upsampling

Bit Perfection

One of the objections to upsampling, is that the signal is no longer bit-perfect.  The DAC no longer gets the original facts, but the original facts, plus a lot more. That "lots more" is pure mathematical conjecture. However, there are some real benefits to be had.

Things get even more muddled when upsampling is used for ASRC, Asynchronous Sample Rate Conversion, but also more beneficial, as it's one of the best ways to reduce jitter.  More on that in a future post.

Technically and mathematically more challenging, there are two general approaches. To take the best advantage of this it's better if the bit depth increases beyond the original. So if the original was 16 bits, 24 or 32 bits will provide better resolution.  However remember that this doesn't really make it more true to life. It just makes some things easier to do and helps us keep more of our results. There are some VERY nice 32 bit DAC chips out there though, so taking full advantage of them may also get us much closer to true 24 bit resolution. That's a topic for someone else.

Linear Interpolation

Imagine two points on a chart. Draw a straight line between them. That's simple interpolation. It's no more complicated than simple algebra. Calculate the rise, divide it by the number of intervening samples, and add that much for each "new" sample. For linear interpolation, the sample rate converter needs to know two samples at a time in order to figure out the rate at which the intermediate samples should change.


Again, consider our original two samples, 24 and 28. The rate of change is 4/sample.  4/4 = 1. Now the DAC gets:

  • 24 +1 =
  • 25 +1 =
  • 26 +1 =
  • 27 +1 =
  • 28
We'll just assume there's no bit-depth changes, or that in this case no extra resolution was required. Of course, I chose 24 and 28 to make the math here easy.


Spline

A much more advanced way to create more samples is by using what are called splines. Remember the "French Curve" tools you may have used in drawing school?

Technically you only need 2 samples for a spline, but the result is the same as linear interpolation, so we'll ignore that case. With spline math we take a number of samples, usually under 20,  to draw a much softer curve. Wadia was the first company I know of who introduced this concept. In this case it really helps to have more bits, as the extra bits help with more fine grained results. As you might imagine, the math and CPU power required is greatest for this example.

If this was floating point math our working data set would be:

  • (nine samples before)
  • 24.000
  • 25.185
  • 26.355
  • 27.888
  • 28.000
  • (nine  samples after)
Remember that what's really going on is that the algorithm is taking more samples into account than our original two in order to fit the curve properly.  So why the third sample is 27.888 instead of 27.978 or 26.500 has to do with the nine samples in the original file before the first (24) and after the last (28) shown here. It is believed, without a lot of proof, that this method may provide the most natural resulting sound.

Are Splines Really Better?

Splines are very cool, but it may be argued, convincingly, that we are not doing much more than you could achieve with a capacitor and resistor with the proper time constants. In other words, it's a lot of math and hardware for what could be done with $2 or less in parts. The real potential benefit of this advanced though is in custom algorithms. You can be as creative as you want to in your algorithms.

What About Sound Quality? 

Personally I have come to believe that the analog output stages matter much more than interpolating algorithms and sample rates or bit depth but the devil is in the implementation details. As always, buy what you like, and what is most pleasant to your ears. Don't buy algorithms or chips. Buy results, and spend no money that isn't pleasing to you.

Wyred4Sound Remedy - Snake Oil or a True Panacea?

I've just ordered a Wyred4Sound Remedy.  I had been drinking and needed a pick-me-up and based on Digital Audio Review's positive impressions I ordered it.

What I have just realized however is that the Remedy is not the product I thought it was in a couple of ways.

Mind you, it's clear that for some kinds of low-grade digital audio sources the Remedy is probably a very good solution. I'm thinking of Sonos, Apple TV and Chromecast specifically. However, it is a terribly over-hyped product which smells of snake oil.

What Kind of Product is the Remedy? 

Of course, marketing people, being devoid of souls at birth, are free to call a tomato a vacuum cleaner and there's rarely any legal consequences. In my world however the Remedy should properly be called a sample rate converter (SRC) or Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter, a feature built into many of the top DAC chips today.  SRCs always includes re-clocking, so calling it an SRC with reclocker is redundant.

Using an ASRC is a very good way (and a little lazy by itself) to ensure minimal jitter with possibly very jittery sources, such as Internet radio.  The reason I'm kind of on the fence about this is that an ASRC is no longer bit perfect, but time-perfect. To ensure that every x picoseconds a new sample is processed, regardless of how the input signal may vary in the short and long term an ASRC resorts to a mathematical brute-force method, the details of which are beyond the scope of this posting.  Suffice it to say you can kiss bit-perfection goodbye, and not just for the interpolated samples either.

One major annoyance, that relegates the Remedy to mid-fi sources is that the input signal is ALWAYS recreated. What's worse is that if you have music with a higher sample rate, such as  24/192kHz, the Remedy will actually DOWN-sample it to 24/96kHz. This, plus having no input switching makes his solution seem kind of dopey.

For about three times more a more robust option is the Mytek Stereo 192 SRC. It gives you much better control over what you want to do with the signal, up, down or no change with equivalent or better jitter reduction, as well as being able to convert up to 24/192kHz

Of course, this is all spec-manship. Listening is the true arbiter of what you should buy.


Is it really a femto-clock?

Having examined one, it seems W4S has used one of the best commonly available Crystek oscillators, the CCHD-957 series, which does in fact have very good phase noise characteristics, among those affordable to mere mortals.  I'm still confused though. Based on W4S's own measurements this does not appear to be a femto-clock grade solution but a pico clock. What's the difference? About 1,000 times worse performance. It is possible that the internal clock device inside the case is a femto-clock class part, but that the other circuitry used can't take full advantage of it, or that it can only do so much in one pass. It would be very interesting to see measured comparisons using a standard Mac Mini or Apple TV to see how it measures to Mytek, M2Tech or Auralic with and without.

Consider this. The Auralic Vega with a true femto clock (and 10x more expensive) has jitter around 80 femto seconds. The image on W4S's own Remedy page shows jitter around 87 pico seconds. That's about 1,000 times worse performance. Of course, many would argue that you can't hear 80 pico seconds of jitter, but the point is the marketing hype. I don't like being lied to or misled.

Another similar device with a price point kind of in between is the M2Tech HiFace Evo 2. It is intended as a USB to SPDIF interface, but it will also take a coaxial SPDIF as an iput and allow you to select sample rate conversion.  Price is around $700 USD.


Why does this matter? 

My point to all of this is that the Remedy is doing more than just jitter reduction, and I would really have liked to know this before I ordered. Hiding major behavior is not a sign of a trustworthy vendor. Remedy is playing with the bits and I should have known that first. For more on why this is different, see my post on Upsampling and Oversampling.

It's a little odd as many DAC's make upsampling a key feature. They charge more for it and often tout their proprietary algorithms as being better one way or another.

In the end though I'll have to listen to it to evaluate the Remedy as having any sort of meaningful benefit. More on that in the next several weeks. One of my sources however will be Toronto Jazz 91 which streams at 24/96kHz already, this will let me do direct comparison to see if the jitter reduction is worthwhile, in addition to a small selection of 24/96kHz FLAC recordings I have.

Many listeners are easily swayed by "different." Even John Coltrane suffered this, always thinking his next performance was better. If jitter or SRC at these levels is audible it's quite possible many will be swayed by a different sound, but not necessarily a better sound.  I can imagine many will get worse jitter than they started with, and then proclaim how audible and beneficent the differences are!

Friday, July 8, 2016

So your CPAP treatment isn't working?

I've gone through seven or eight sleep studies. I've lost count of exactly how many, but the last three at the same sleep lab, without my symptoms being fully improved. I would estimate that at the beginning they were about 20-30% better, but years later seemed to fail completely.

What I eventually discovered is that exercise actually made my sleep quality much worse. If this sounds like  you, it might, then it is possible we share an odd, and previously unreported condition. The only other two conditions which I've read that can cause this is Cushing's Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue.  However, sleep apnea that is not fully treated can mimic both of these, including elevated cortisol levels. So if you have noticed, or are able to determine if exercise is bad for you, then we may share a condition, which is treatable!

The problem in my case only was that I have two modes of sleeping. The lazy day, fully rested mode, and the "I've worked out" mode.

Why didn't the previous sleep studies help?

The previous sleep studies did find a partial solution.

I didn't notice the problem at the time, but looking back it seems that since I slept poorly after exercising I learned not to exercise, even a little. I stopped taking the stairs and always chose an elvator, had groceries and food delivered, anything I could do to avoid physical labor. That is, my symptoms conditioned me not to exercise, so I would go get a study done after a couple of days of being fully rested, and as a result my full symptoms did not occur. I only know this after-the-fact because of the use of a Jawbone UP (lasted 3 months, but did the job) which allowed me to discover exactly when I had good and bad days of sleep.


After using the Jawbone for several months looking for clues to my problem I was able to completely correlate exercise with poor sleep the next several nights. This is the exact opposite of what should happen for most people but for me was the wall I could not overcome.


Confounds

Moderate exercise (5,000 steps / day) would not cause this problem to occur immediately.  It would sneak up on me.  I needed it to be vigorous, or weight bearing to cause the symptoms to show up faster.

Another thing that seems to trigger this effect is calcium channel blocking medications, or medications which are related. These can be prescribed for a range of issues from depression to high blood pressure.  The good news is that if this is you then your sleep studies should show up without having to go through the exercise portion of this experiment. 

Further, the post-exercise crashes would last for days, sometimes even a week.


How can I tell if this fits me?

If you have a Jawbone, FitBit or ResMed S+ you may see your deep sleep very disturbed, or lots of wakings, despite the CPAP measuring otherwise low AHI numbers and tolerable leaks.

In the picture on the left I share an image from the Jawbone UP application showing my very worst night of sleep.  See how many different periods I have of deep and light sleep?  There should be about 8 of them.  Instead I have about 17.  Also notice the time I slept. Over 11 hours! That's because the sleep quality was so poor.

You should have big chunks, around 6-9 of deep sleep/light sleep cycles with no awakenings. 





Be Your Own Guinea Pig


If you want to investigate on your own first, try to correlate it over a couple of weekends.  One weekend take it completely easy. Do no physical labor for two days, see how well you sleep Sunday night. If weekends are your housework days, hire a cleaning service this once. If you are already in a disturbed sleep cycle though you may need to do this for several days until your symptoms clear.  Only after you are in a "good" cycle should you attempt to disturb your sleep with exercise.

The next weekend, attempt to exercise normally both days. I don't mean do your normal routine, I mean work out 30-45 minutes each day, see how much of a difference this makes to your sleep Sunday night. If you find that your first Monday was great, and your second Monday terrible, you fit this profile.  However, there are many unanswered questions that remain, and I've noticed in addition to exercise a secondary, cyclical pattern which I have yet to pin down.

Notice that the ResMed S+ was less sensitive for me than the Jawbone for this particular issue.


How can I get better?

Schedule another sleep study, but this time make sure you exercise normally the day of the study, if not two days before the study. In my case this was really a challenge, since my symptoms had been getting worse, my energy levels and moods had been suffering, causing me to exercise less and less.

It really helps to hire house keepers and have friends to support you.  Let them know what you are up to and that you'll need extra help while you try this. Take time off from work if needed. If you are like me, you'll crash for 3-5 days and be completely unproductive after the exercise portions.

It's also important to stress that immediately after exercising I felt great. My lungs felt clear, I felt light on my feet, it was such a great thing. It was only after I slept and failed to recover that symptoms appear.


Tips:

Remember that exercise IS recommended as part of almost every sleep improvement regimen, so you aren't breaking any rules by following the advice here. In all cases follow the advice of your doctors and personal trainers, but the guidelines here should be in compliance with them.

Right now as far as I know, there is no guidance on exercise before a sleep study/titration, however it's generally recommended not to exercise in the late afternoon evening as it can wake you up and prevent you from sleeping fully. 

The day before the sleep study:
  • Have no alcohol.  Zero.
  • Stop caffeine and chocolate after noon. 
  • Have a couple of bananas.  
The bananas and stretching do nothing for sleep, they are to help prevent leg cramps, skewing your study, and possibly disconnecting your wires. If you aren't used to exercising, a little extra potassium will help.  Any other potassium-rich food will do of course, if you are allergic, or just don't like them.

The day of the sleep study:
  • Have no alcohol, Zero, nada, zilch. 
  • Exercise as much as you should be able to do if you had no sleep issues.
  • Exercise vigorously 30-45 minutes in the morning if possible, but no later than early afternoon. Get into your aerobic zone for most of it. Again, be an adult and follow the advice of your doctors and qualified exercise instructors. For me, it seems that weight bearing causes the symptoms faster than aerobic exercise, so a few squats to tire your legs out may be all you need. Climb stairs with a couple of gallons of water in each hand should do the trick as well if a gym is out of your reach.
  • Make sure to cool down and stretch your legs.
  • Have a couple of bananas after your workout.
You may be desperate for an answer, but if you are like me, this doesn't take THAT much effort to tip your body over, so don't give yourself a heart attack before your sleep lab!

In my case, it was like magic, symptoms that had never shown up before became clearly and consistently visible during the lab work. The CPAP machine that was fine for the first 6 studies was completely inadequate now.


By challenging your body, and your CPAP machine you'll have the best study possible.

If you are a sleep specialist, or researcher, and would like detailed information I would be willing to make that available privately.  Please leave me a comment with information about your publicly visible contact information and I'll reach out to you.