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hsitas

USB to SPDIF converter for NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC

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I am considering the following converters for the NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC:

 

(1) Audiophilleo 2 +PurePower

(2) Bel Canto uLink + ifi iUSB Power

(3) Bel Canto RefLink

(4) JKSPDIF MK3

 

Which is the best ‘USB to SPDIF converter’ for the NAD M51 Direct Digital DAC?

 

Does the XLR-AES/EBU digital audio input sound better than the SPDIF-Coaxial digital audio input on NAD M51?

 

Does the Balanced (XLR) output sound better than the Unbalanced (RCA) output in NAD M51?

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hsitas - Do you think that Nad's direct USB input sounds inferior to its AES/SPDIF inputs, or you are trying to improve the connection further by adding a high quality convertor? It seems to me that Nad's USB input is a good one by itself, so you would need a converter that is best as possible. In this case you may be better of by testing some of these converters at home with your system to determine if you hear any difference. Can you home demo Bel Canto RefLink? If you do it will answer some of your questions and you may simultaneously try AES and SPDIF connections.

 

On your other questions, in theory AES should provide better interface than SPDIF, however this may or may not be true for a specific system. Same with analogue balanced connection - yes, it is better, but the actual result depends on your downstream equipment and whether it is truly balanced.

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Thank you for yor response. I use JRiver on my latop computer as a source. I am aware that the NAD M51 has Asynchronous USB connection and I have not tried the AES/EBU or SPDIF connectors. I am trying to get the best quality sound out of this DAC by using a quality converter.

 

I will check with the dealers on MA and try to get the Bel Canto RefLink for a demo. I am currently using a dual mono Musical Fidelity power amplifier (not balanced) and I am planning to change my power amplifier to a fully balanced power amplifier. I use the NAD M51 as the preamp.

 

It is difficult to try all the converters and connectors, so I am looking for advice from experienced computer audiophiles like you and NAD M51 owners.

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If you have not already, I highly recommend trying a very high quality USB cable between your computer and Nad. Only having used this with Mac I can not guaranty it will do the same with a PC laptop but it would definitely be worth a try. A REALLY good USB cable will set you back a lot less than a converter and cable combo.

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If you have not already, I highly recommend trying a very high quality USB cable between your computer and Nad. Only having used this with Mac I can not guaranty it will do the same with a PC laptop but it would definitely be worth a try. A REALLY good USB cable will set you back a lot less than a converter and cable combo.

 

David,

 

I'm curious about this statement. I don't mean to challenge it, but rather undertand it. An asynch USB connection slaves the computer to the converter's clock, therefore all jitter upstream from the converter is supposed to not have an impact in sound...but I guess you are saying otherwise, right? Could you ellaborate?

 

Thanks!

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Sure. The NAD has asynchronous USB input that supports 24/192 so why would you need a converter? In Stereophiles excellent review, Jon Iverson praises the USB input as being very similar to te Ayre USB only Dac and if you run a better USB cable with this setup I can not imagine it would not sound better.

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My OR5 is a significant improvement in SQ over the NAD m51's USB input in my system.

 

Not the same in my setup. I tried the OR5, but I still prefer the M51's usb input

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Thank you, Bill.

How important is a power supply in a converter?

 

 

IME, very important.

 

On the question of "why use an external usb/spdif converter in the first place?", I am not sure of the reason, as it seems counter-intuitive, but quite a few people posting in the forums as well as a number of professional reviewers find that sound quality improves by using an external unit. This is absolutely my experience.

 

However, I am sure this will vary from DAC to DAC so in home testing is critical. I would certainly demo an external unit with your NAD M51 before buying anything.

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Hi blake, as you have the AR-T Legato II and the uLink, have you compared them with 16/44 music?.

 

I have, but the AR-T is still quite new in my system so I want more time with the AR-T before posting any detailed comments. At this juncture, I will just say that the AR-T is a very special unit. :)

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I have, but the AR-T is still quite new in my system so I want more time with the AR-T before posting any detailed comments. At this juncture, I will just say that the AR-T is a very special unit. :)

Slightly OT: Blake, already tired of your uLink or do you just plan to start a USB-SPDIF collection?

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Slightly OT: Blake, already tired of your uLink or do you just plan to start a USB-SPDIF collection?

 

 

I am still very happy with my uLink and I have absolutely no regrets on purchasing the uLink. I still consider it one of my best purchases and I am still a big fan.

 

To put things in context, I did not order the AR-T because I was unhappy with the uLink.

 

I will post a review of the AR-T and will compare to the uLink once I have more time with the unit. I hope to be able to add a Bel Canto Reflink in my review comparison as well. My Bel Canto dealer says one Reflink demo unit is on the way and it should be here by now. Not sure what the hold up is.

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I am still very happy with my uLink and I have absolutely no regrets on purchasing the uLink. I still consider it one of my best purchases and I am still a big fan.

 

Thanks. Same here for my mLink. Looking forward to your USB-bridge shoot out.

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Thanks. Same here for my mLink. Looking forward to your USB-bridge shoot out.

 

My issue of TAS finally arrived in the mail. I am not sure if you have read the review comparing the mLink, uLink and Reflink. Using SPDIF, the reviewer struggled to hear much difference between the mLink and uLink (the reviewer said the Reflink was better than the mLink and uLink on SPDIF).

 

I have not heard the mLink but after reading the review and pondering why the Reflink is better, I am thinking it may be the superior power supply of the Reflink that makes the difference. In terms of bang for the buck, mLink may be the way to go, possibly coupled with an iFi or similar power device (KingRex battery supply for example), but who knows.

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My issue of TAS finally arrived in the mail. I am not sure if you have read the review comparing the mLink, uLink and Reflink. Using SPDIF, the reviewer struggled to hear much difference between the mLink and uLink (the reviewer said the Reflink was better than the mLink and uLink on SPDIF).

 

I have not heard the mLink but after reading the review and pondering why the Reflink is better, I am thinking it may be the superior power supply of the Reflink that makes the difference. In terms of bang for the buck, mLink may be the way to go, possibly coupled with an iFi or similar power device (KingRex battery supply for example), but who knows.

Thanks for the update. Hadn't read the review yet. I assumed they sooner or later will publish it on their website (the first editor's choice articles are starting to appear).

 

A said I'm very pleased with my mLink, extremely smooth and amazing 3D resolution.

 

The Ifi is still on my to do list.

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