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Power or Jitter?


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I'm relatively new to CA, and have recently put together a set up, which comprises a Synology 411j NAS, a Macbook Pro (running Itunes)from which I wirelessly (is that even a word) stream to an Airport Express (802.11n). From the AE I have a glass toslink into a Rega DAC -> Rega Brio-R -> KEF q300's. (Showing my native English roots).

 

So my question is what should I look at next to improve my system. I've read quite a few articles about the level of jitter from the AE, so should I think about plugging my MBP directly into my Rega? But then I read that the USB ain't great (although all my files are Apple Lossless 16/44.1), so should I invest in a USB to SPDIF and something like Pure Music or...

 

the other things I read are that the stock power cables for the Rega equipment aren't great, especially with the DAC, and so should I invest in a power conditioner with decent cables such as the Pangea AC-9.

 

So I'm curious as to what people would suggest, given that I could more than likely only do one of the options for now.

 

Thanks for reading

Mike

 

[br]QNAP+ -> Allo DigiOne Signature -> RequisiteAudio D3rs ->  McIntosh C52 -> McIntosh MC-275 MK VI -> Harbeth 30.1's via Roon

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Tough call on Pure music vs USB/SPDIF converter. I think I lean toward an SPDIF converter. Then other changes you make will be more apparent. Likely will want Pure music later. An interim solution is Bit Perfect which is just a few dollars. That and a converter will gain you more than just Pure music for about the same money.

 

Power cords are minor tweaking at best. Would be my last choice.

 

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Thanks for the reply. So I'm thinking if I go the SPDIF converter route the V-Link looks a good option, especially at the current price of $99. Anyone have any comments on whether the V-link II is worth practically double the price of the original V-link, especially given the rest of my system.

 

 

[br]QNAP+ -> Allo DigiOne Signature -> RequisiteAudio D3rs ->  McIntosh C52 -> McIntosh MC-275 MK VI -> Harbeth 30.1's via Roon

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First get rid of the AE by using a USB cable direct to your Rega DAC. Only if you are dissatisfied with that try a V-Link or similar. Then, if you do end up with a V-Link, try both the coax and the Toslink connection to the DAC, preferably with a glass Toslink. Toslink is not available on the new V-Link 192 as Toslink does not support 192.

 

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I would start with direct USB to the Rega DAC and also try optical from your MacBook to the DAC. While the USB on the Rega is not "buzz word friendly" asynchronous, except for the limits on sample rates the USB connection has been commented in reviews as being quite good.

 

If you decide to look at a further step, the V-Link is a good option.

 

Eloise

 

PS to Mark, TOSLink can support 24/192 though a lot of devices don't.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Thanks Mark & Eloise. I certainly think some more tinkering is in order this weekend. I did briefly try my MBP directly into the DAC via USB but was a little underwhelmed compared to the AE, but that was on the first day of purchase and I can already tell even after just over a week things have started to change. I do have a glass toslink from the AE (Lifatec) to the DAC, which is probably higher quality than the $14 Radioshack USB cable I have, so maybe that's also a factor.

 

Time to go play & listen!

 

Thanks

 

Mike

 

[br]QNAP+ -> Allo DigiOne Signature -> RequisiteAudio D3rs ->  McIntosh C52 -> McIntosh MC-275 MK VI -> Harbeth 30.1's via Roon

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definitely compare any upgrade like the V-Link vs. the Mac's optical out directly to the DAC.

 

I have been doing some basic A/B sessions comparing the V-Link to just my mini's optical out directly to the V-DAC. Honestly, I'm still a bit undecided, although leaning toward the V-DAC. (Granted, my system's very modest.) I found the optical out directly to the DAC can hold its own, seems to have better imaging and some instruments stand out better, but it seems to be at the expense of a sort of shrillness I have found fatiguing, esp in strings and vocals. The V-DAC's imaging seems less "clean", but vocals, strings, complex music are much smoother and very easy to listen to. It's also "more musical" - we find ourselves toe-tapping or more likely to dance (seriously) with the V-DAC.

 

This is all extremely subjective - bottom line is you very well may hear differences and it's definitely worth auditioning both setups.

 

iPad2 + RemoteApp/VNC Viewer --> Headless Mac Mini --> iTunes * ALAC --> cheap USB cable WireWorld Ultraviolet USB cable --> Musical Fidelity V-LINK --> SonicWave Toslink --> Musical Fidelity V-DAC --> $.97 (RadioShack clearance) Monster THX Digital Coax --> AIWA NSX-3300 --> Polk RTi4\'s --> Cheapskate Listening Enjoyment[br]

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V-Link prices. UK pounds as I am in the UK. You say the V-Link II is double the price of the V-Link.

 

There are three V-Links:

 

V-Link 99 UK pounds

V-Link II also 99 UK pounds

V-Link 192 229 UK pounds

 

I suspect the change from V-Link to V-Link II is a case change only. The V-Link (black, with odd lettering) is discontinued, maybe that is why your US price seems low to me.

 

At a glance, the V-Link 192 looks similar to the V-Link II. Both are silver colored. Only the name and connectors are externally different. It has more LEDs and a balanced XLR connector replaces the Toslink connector.

 

I have improved the sound quality by arranging non-USB power. Details on another thread. But it is fine as it comes.

 

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On amazon.com the V-Link is $99 and the V-Link II is $189. The 192 is $399 on Music Direct, so yes I think the original is a bargain at the moment.

 

[br]QNAP+ -> Allo DigiOne Signature -> RequisiteAudio D3rs ->  McIntosh C52 -> McIntosh MC-275 MK VI -> Harbeth 30.1's via Roon

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Just thought I'd do a quick update to say that I did some experimenting over the weekend.

 

I initially compared my MBP direct into the Rega DAC with both USB & toslink. I immediately preferred the toslink. The usb connection sounded more 'woolly', muffled if you will, compared to the toslink. I then downloaded the PM trial and gave that a whirl. That certainly made a difference and I also noticed that I was now getting 96k instead of 44.1 on the DAC. But I wasn't sure I needed all the extra bells & whistles that PM offers so I tried BitPerfect. For $4.99 from the Mac AppStore how can you go wrong, and to me it sounded no different to PM and still locked in to 96k, so thanks esldude for that suggestion.

 

So now I have two more questions!!

 

Firstly, what's the advantage, if any of upsampling my 44.1k files to 96k?

 

Secondly, given that I'm limited to 96k by the optical out on the MBP, would I see even bigger gains over plain usb if I invested in an USB to SPDIF adapter, even with just regular 44.1k files if I upsampled, or would I only see my next gains by playing higher res tracks?

 

So, just when I think I'm getting there, the string keeps on unraveling :-)

 

Thanks

 

Mike

 

 

[br]QNAP+ -> Allo DigiOne Signature -> RequisiteAudio D3rs ->  McIntosh C52 -> McIntosh MC-275 MK VI -> Harbeth 30.1's via Roon

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