Author Topic: USB Audio  (Read 2272 times)

watchdog

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USB Audio
« on: September 04, 2016, 03:50:31 PM »
In one corner of the ring, you have the guys who are insistent that nothing can make a difference in the USB audio chain - they argue that an external hard drive runs fine and transmit data without error - no fancy USB cable or anything else is needed.

In the other corner, you have the guys sitting with every single box, tweak and power supply known to man. Stock USB cable from computer to DAC ? Surely you jest. Instead, you have aftermarket USB cables (some of which cost more than your typical computer), devices designed to clean up the data line and power line, regenerate the signal, offer galvanic isolation. Add to that mix, high quality low ripple power supplies designed to power all of that. Not content to use a single device ? Heck, you have the daisy chain users. One of the threads on another forum on the popular Uptone Regen has a discussion on using two Regens in series, and which version should be used where.

Care to share what you use and what difference it made ?

watchdog

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2016, 03:57:35 PM »
I'll start the ball rolling.

Here is a list of some of the stuff I've tried and some of my comments,

1. Astin Trew Concord Powered USB cable system

Quite expensive system - made a lot of difference, especially for bus powered DACs (it has a proprietary DC +5V power supply system). The special cable strips out the 5V from the computer and replaces it with its own power supply.

2. Audioquest Jitterbug

Quite obvious difference. I preferred mine in parallel rather than series (i.e. plugged into an adjacent USB outlet).

3. Curious USB cables

Perfect cable for the non cable believer. Very nice cable for those who feel that computer audio is dry and flat.

4. Entreq Konstantin USB Cable and MinimUs ground box

This cable really left my scratching my head. The cable doesn't perform until you connect its grounding cable to the MinimUs ground box, which is in turn connected to ... nothing.

5. JCAT USB cables (both standard and reference)

Standard is very linear, while reference has slight sweetness and enhanced resolution. Fantastic cables.

6. Wireworld Platinum Starlight USB cable

Dynamic, powerful and highly detailed.

7. Uptone Regen Amber

Made quite a lot of improvement across a wide range of devices. Quite sensitive to the power supply used.

8. SOtM tX-USBhub

Similar comments to the Uptone Regen except that I found this one to be more fussy about partnering equipment.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2016, 06:18:43 PM by watchdog »

zacho

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2016, 06:12:23 PM »
One of my personal barriers to entry to USB is the number of components there are to "clean up" the usb signal. Am currently contemplating whether or not I should stick to SPDIF or switch to USB. I guess it also depends on my dac's capabilities (EE Minimax Plus). What do you guys recommend?

watchdog

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2016, 09:45:08 PM »
One of my personal barriers to entry to USB is the number of components there are to "clean up" the usb signal. Am currently contemplating whether or not I should stick to SPDIF or switch to USB. I guess it also depends on my dac's capabilities (EE Minimax Plus). What do you guys recommend?

Zach, for most users, they are stuck to USB because of the need to handle DSD. There are some DACs that can handle DoP via SPDIF, but not that many. As you rightly point out, it depends on how well your USB board is designed. In fact, some users eschew their USB inputs in favour of after market USB / SPDIF bridges.

FWIW, I have found most of my DACs to sound better via SPDIF.

jb

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2016, 08:37:36 PM »
yes for USB high speed data, the signal is usually noisy and you need to limit the amount of extra capacitance added by the cable as it will limit it's performance. Typical USB signal data performance is measured using the eye diagram pattern as shown attached, for best signal performance, you need a wide open eye diagram, that is the signal "1" and "0" is wider apart to reduce data transfer error. But when extra capacitance is added by cable or circuit board, the eye diagram start to narrow, and this will introduce more error for signal transfer. Plus it also have the jitter that needs to take care of.
So anything that you can reduce the capacitance and noise on the USB line will improve your sound performance.



« Last Edit: July 15, 2017, 09:59:35 PM by jb »

Francis Huang

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2016, 09:00:16 PM »
I really like how the  synergistic research galileo le usb cable sound. Very big soundstage, detailed,focused and quiet
It really made digital sound more musical without losing the energy

watchdog

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2016, 11:08:41 PM »
Francis,

You have definitely tried more cables than most audiophiles. Can you share how the SR Galileo LE fared against the other USB cables you have owned before ?

OnePunch

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2016, 11:40:27 AM »
I was a non believer of USB cable.  But with more sensitive system that I have a long the way, I am a believer as i have heard it myself.

I am using intona now with Curious and Acoustic revive.  I am reconsidering my chain and thinking to move away from USB.  It has probably many flaws hence many type of product being offered to make it good.  The chain is getting too complicated


Wizardofoz

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2016, 07:57:58 PM »
I wonder if there is any benefit to running the shortest possible USB cable you can find or DIY? If only a few inches long how much impact would it have on performance and noise...?

watchdog

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2016, 12:19:01 PM »
I wonder if there is any benefit to running the shortest possible USB cable you can find or DIY? If only a few inches long how much impact would it have on performance and noise...?

Some guys believe in skipping the cable altogether and using a USB A to B adapter. Whether you can position your streamer or computer directly behind the DAC is another matter.

Wizardofoz

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2016, 10:27:50 PM »
I made my own Lightning to USB for my Oppo ha-2 that is as short as it possible to be...less than 2cm  :o

jb

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2016, 02:23:03 PM »
streaming audio data file through USB is not as simple as thought, as the PC clock and your network DAC clock has to be synchronize else you may have jitter data error. See the attachment file on how they implement USB audio streaming. Thus if you add any external clock it will improve sound quality, or a better USB cable that reduce interference noise also improve sound quality.

However if audio streaming is through a true asynchronous transmission, then clock timing is not that critical for data streaming. Guess they choose the easy way for consumer but not necessary best for audio.
 "In telecommunications, asynchronous communication is transmission of data, generally without the use of an external clock signal, where data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream.[1] Any timing required to recover data from the communication symbols is encoded within the symbols. The most significant aspect of asynchronous communications is that data is not transmitted at regular intervals, thus making possible variable bit rate, and that the transmitter and receiver clock generators do not have to be exactly synchronized all the time."

jb

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2016, 02:24:48 PM »
more attachment

owm

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #13 on: October 20, 2016, 03:39:44 PM »
Been reading up on the new Sonore microRendu:
http://www.sonore.us/microRendu.html

Would appear to make the transition to audio streaming affordable and painless. Pair it up with a USB DAC and a NAS and it's done!

Anybody has experience with the Schiit Mod 2 multibit DAC? Looks extremely well designed and priced reasonably at USD249.

Only thing I notice about all these devices is that they appear to require very highly regulated power supplies that can cost more than the unit (DAC, streamer etc) itself.

Gerry1

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Re: USB Audio
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2016, 11:11:48 PM »
Yes the micro-Rendu is worth looking at. Very good sound and can be plugged straight into the USB receptacle on the DAC. It actually costed less than my USB cable which is now surplus to requirements. It came originally with a low-cost nine volt power supply which ran it very hot. Best to use it with a seven volt power supply.

I am also running Roon with it, which has a great user interface. I did not use a NAS as the server with Roon core, just a simple retd laptop with a SSD hooked up to the USB port. Remote-control is via an iPhone, tablet or another PC. I only play ripped CDs and high resolution files nowadays. This front end is easily my most satisfying setup.