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15 USB/SPDIF converters shootout


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The Berkeley Alpha still rules the roost in the converter market IMHO.

 

The Regen still makes an improvement with the usb converter in the chain.

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The Berkeley Alpha still rules the roost in the converter market IMHO.

 

The Regen still makes an improvement with the usb converter in the chain.

 

Thanks Blake. Were there any comparisons with the Mutec MC-3+ and the Hydra Z?

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Thanks Blake. Were there any comparisons with the Mutec MC-3+ and the Hydra Z?

 

I haven't compared it to the Mutec or Hydra.

 

I did own the Bel Canto REFlink, arT Legato II, and Bel Canto uLink with the Alpha all at the same time and compared them head to head. Berkeley won. After that, I've had no interest in looking into others. Berkeley still recommends using the Alpha converter with the company's latest, top of the line, $16,000 Reference DAC. To me, that says a lot. I would be surprised if the Mutec or Hydra could compare but who knows... I'll never find out because I am 100% satisfied.

 

If someone wants to send me a Mutec or Hydra to compare then sure, I'll compare them :).

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You might look at the Yellowtec Puc2 Lite. Not aimed at audiophile market but is very very good pro-audio device. Only weird thing is it needs 1A to run so it ships with a dual headed USB cable but a separate power supply is a good idea as I don't know if the Regen can supply this much current. I had one, then wasn't using it as a reconfigured my system, now I wish I had it again. It is AES output only.

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@Kelly:

Yes the REGEN can supply up to 1A of 5VBUS current to devices that need it. So a lot of YellowTec PUC owners use a REGEN--both for the sonic benefits it provides and to fully power their converter without having to use 2 noisy computer USB VBUS feeds via YellowTec's supplied cheap double-headed cable.

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Dang, now I really wish I hadn't sold my yellowtec. I was using it with ifi iUSB Power and it made a nice improvement, I'm sure with the Regen it would have been even better.

Roon ->allo Sparky-USBridge w/ SBooster 5V LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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  • 2 months later...
@Kelly:

Yes the REGEN can supply up to 1A of 5VBUS current to devices that need it. So a lot of YellowTec PUC owners use a REGEN--both for the sonic benefits it provides and to fully power their converter without having to use 2 noisy computer USB VBUS feeds via YellowTec's supplied cheap double-headed cable.

 

Hi and sorry to jump in.

I wonder if the Regen provides also galvanic isolation from the pc.

Is galvanic isolation between pc and usb dac/converter a must for optimum performance ?

thanks a lot, gino

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Very interesting... looks like a significant development.

 

This looks great but I would have preferred a DC jack so you can spec your own LPS (even though it does have an internal LPS):

 

2016 Singxer SU-1 USB digital interface with XMOS XU208 CPLD DSD256 DOP - Professional Audio Store - Shenzhenaudio.com

 

Lots of action on Head-Fi for USB to SPDIF devices.

 

It is a little bit like tossing bread crumbs into a trout farm pond but lots of anecdotal accounts using various devices and the OP seems very informed and energetic...

 

XMOS XU208 USB BRIDGES - THE LATEST GEN HAS ARRIVED!

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

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*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

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*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

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@Kelly:

Yes the REGEN can supply up to 1A of 5VBUS current to devices that need it. So a lot of YellowTec PUC owners use a REGEN--both for the sonic benefits it provides and to fully power their converter without having to use 2 noisy computer USB VBUS feeds via YellowTec's supplied cheap double-headed cable.

 

 

I still have my PUC2 (not the lite version) and will have to try it out with the REGEN.

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Very interesting... looks like a significant development.

 

This looks great but I would have preferred a DC jack so you can spec your own LPS (even though it does have an internal LPS):

 

2016 Singxer SU-1 USB digital interface with XMOS XU208 CPLD DSD256 DOP - Professional Audio Store - Shenzhenaudio.com

 

I am currently using a Mutec USB in my main system and like it a lot. I would also like to add a converter to my headphone system but am hoping that the SU-1 comes close to the performance of the Mutec as it will cost about 1/3 of the price.

 

Another option is the F-1 and power it with the REGEN/HDPlex-LPS that I already own. Lots of praise for the F-1 on HF and it costs less than $200.

 

Seems like Spring for computer audio...


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The Audiobyte Hydra-Z with the external supercapacitor PS is a cost no object solution and a technological marvel. I believe it will be wrong to assume anything at all wrt. performance when toe to toe with others, IMO.

 

Dist

Former HZ owner.

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The Audiobyte Hydra-Z with the external supercapacitor PS is a cost no object solution and a technological marvel. I believe it will be wrong to assume anything at all wrt. performance when toe to toe with others, IMO.

 

Dist

Former HZ owner.

 

When you add all the bits together, the Hydra isn't really that expensive.

 

However, the Hydra is still sensitive to the Regen and different cables.

 

One can never win 100%

fmak

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  • 2 months later...
Ok. I use the Regen as well.

My HZ was fed from the Aries USB, going I2s to my DS DAC.

My HZ is now replaced with the Rockna WaveDream Net.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong the Rockna uses the same tech on its input as the HZ.... Using FPGA etc...

 

Great piece btw

 

I had the Berkely and the HZ+ HPZ and subjectively preferred the Audiobyte for exactly one reason and one reason only.... Using a wireless keyboard I could hear I static on the mouse board when in use with the Berkelay , not with the HZ.... Subjectively I could not really tell the sonic difference between the two ... I had the audiophillio + power when I first had the Berkelay and found that I preferred the Alpha USB sonically .... That said I only ever had the static reaction from the keyboard with the Berkelay...

As a matter of reference all of these were used with a Calyx Femto Dac and a W4S Dac2 dsdse

 

 

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Audiobyte is just a subsidary of Rockna.

I find the Rockna/Audiobyte a bit 'cold' sounding, but I think this is more because it doesn't add or remove anything and therefore does not produce its own timbre so to speak.

It is more of a class-D amp than a tube amp if you get my drift (based on old stereotype conceptions).

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Audiobyte is just a subsidary of Rockna.

I find the Rockna/Audiobyte a bit 'cold' sounding, but I think this is more because it doesn't add or remove anything and therefore does not produce its own timbre so to speak.

It is more of a class-D amp than a tube amp if you get my drift (based on old stereotype conceptions).

 

I was offered the Hydra Z only last week, on a "try before you buy" basis....hasten to add, it didn't take much trying to convince me.. I'm feeding it with the URendu, which does sound rather gorgeous.....

Will the HPZ really make a major improvement? Bear in mind the URendu is already being powered by the JS-2 power supply from Uptone Audio.

 

I should also get the opportunity soon to do a comparison between the Rockna DAC and the Antelope Platinum DAC.....

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Audiobyte is just a subsidary of Rockna.

I find the Rockna/Audiobyte a bit 'cold' sounding, but I think this is more because it doesn't add or remove anything and therefore does not produce its own timbre so to speak.

It is more of a class-D amp than a tube amp if you get my drift (based on old stereotype conceptions).

 

I actually think that is a perfect analogy .... The rest of my gear is very much like that as well. I simply prefer gear that doesn't editorialize in any way shape or form ... At least to the extent my budget will allow. Puts all the heavy lifting into the recording , when it's good it glorious when it's bad it's exactly as bad as it should be... Just my preference.

 

I have actually never used the Hydra without its associated power supply so I would have a clue how much of an effect it has... That said anything else I have put a quality power supply on has made a positive improvement.

I have also never heard any of the Rockna Dacs... Or should I say Dac in any of its available forms. I have heard the Antelope + power supply (Volticus???)directly against my Calyx Femto in a casual none dbt setting and subjectively preferred the Femto. I can say without hesitation that the Femto responds very well to a USB converter as I really don't think the USB implementation is all that great or more specifically up to the standard of the rest of the Dac . My W4S Dac2 dsdse seems to be less obvious that your using a converter . Which I suppose could either mean the xmos implementation is better than the Femto or the AES on the Femto is a better implementation than the AES on the W4S.... Who knows

 

All that nonesense aside I haven't personally owned a Dac that didn't sound better after a USB conversion and to date the Audiobyte has been my favourite

 

For those looking for a more objective analysis I'm afraid I have exactly none just my subjective experiences

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Here is the updated list from the USB thread on Head-Fi. Note the top of the list does not use USB. The poster has now moved to a modified Burl Dante B2 DAC which uses AOIP.

 

Here is the link. XMOS XU208 USB BRIDGES - THE LATEST GEN HAS ARRIVED! - Page 212

 

I am just pointing to it as an example one persons experimentation...

 

Quote:

 

Here would be my current ratings and rankings (the numbers are just a relative number - they are not percentages). The Breeze Audio (Talema) DU-U8 = 100

 

Obviously these are my subjective ratings YMMV - and yes I have owned (had a loaner) all these for an extended period of time:

 

REDNET 3/Cerious Graphene/Mutec 3+ USB (SPDIF)/Antelope OCX (RN wClock) 270

REDNET 3/Cerious/Mutec 3+ USB/Audience au24 se digital cable 250

REDNET 3/Cerious/Mutec 3+ USB (SPDIF reclocker)/AS Sliver Statement dig cable 240

REDNET 3/Cerious Power Cord 220

Singxer F-1 DC30W/Cerious/Recovery/DCiPur/ iPur2/Startech GB LAN Iso USB 170

Mutec 3+ Smart Clock USB/Cerious Power Cord 155

Singxer F-1 DC30W/Cerious/Recovery/DCiPur/ iPur2 145

PUC2 Lite TeraDak DC30W/Cerious/Regen 135

Singxer F-1 DC30W/Cerious 135

DXIO Silver/TeraDak DC-30W/Cerious 130

Singxer X-1 DC30W/Cerious/Recovery/DCiPur/iPur2 125

PUC2 Lite - USB power 110

Singxer F-1 Stock feed 110

Breeze/Cerious Graph/WBT RCA Nexgen 109

Breeze DU-U8 with Cerious Graphene 108

Breeze DU-U8 (Talema version) 100

Breeze DU-U8 (BingZi version) 95

Hydra Z with LPS 92

Melodious MX-U8 (upgraded caps) 85

Melodious MX-U8 (stock) 81

Gustard U12 (upgraded caps) 76

Gustard U12 stock 72

iDAC DAC2 (used as a DDC) 65

Musiland USB3.0 US Dragon 65

M2Tech EVO with LPS 60

Audiophileo 2 USB Power 50

M2Tech Hiface 40

 

Note the two major leaps - one by adding the ICRON/Startech GB LAN Iso Audio USB Extender into the chain. Then the bigger leap away from USB completely to the REDNET3 Dante AES67 AOIP. The Mutec 3+ did not help as an ext Word Clock to the RD3 - but after the RD3 as a SPDIF reclocker - excellent.


"Don't Believe Everything You Think"

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  • 4 months later...

HI,

Do you know what kind of info shows up on mac audio midi set up with a usb to spdif convertor. ie sample and bit rate and can it be altered in the same way that a dac's settings can. especially for breeze du-u8 but in general for usb to spdif convertors. ive been told for eg some convertors have a fixed sample rate output regardless of sample rate input from usb side from computer. finally how do you know 100% that the convertor is actually inputting a coax signal into the dac as the dac does not show up in settings. or is that an obvious question ie the dac would not output any signal to the amp and you would have no sound if the coax signal was not entering the dac. i am completely new to the usb convertor world. thanks mk.

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Hi,

I need advise on how to proceed with improving performance of USB/SPDIF converter.

My current set up: Mac Mini -> Musical Fidelity V-Link 192 -> AES/EBU cable -> Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC.

The maximum signal DAC accepts is 24Bit/96kHZ. I do not plan changing my DAC. I also want to keep using AES/EBU connection.

I am considering two options:

  • Keep V-Link and buy for it Swagman Lab Linear PSU for USB ($120) (or other brand LPSU)
  • Buy Singxer SU-1 ($400)

Is SU-1 going to be significantly better than combo V-Link / Linear PSU? Would the extra ~$300 justify the difference in performance?

Thank you!

M2000

Apple Mac Mini (8GB RAM / 256 GB SSD) –> Audirvana Plus -> USB REGEN->->Singxer SU-1->Electrocompaniet ECD1

Bluesound Node 2->Electrocompaniet ECD1 

 

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Hi,

I need advise on how to proceed with improving performance of USB/SPDIF converter.

My current set up: Mac Mini -> Musical Fidelity V-Link 192 -> AES/EBU cable -> Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC.

The maximum signal DAC accepts is 24Bit/96kHZ. I do not plan changing my DAC. I also want to keep using AES/EBU connection.

I am considering two options:

  • Keep V-Link and buy for it Swagman Lab Linear PSU for USB ($120) (or other brand LPSU)
  • Buy Singxer SU-1 ($400)

Is SU-1 going to be significantly better than combo V-Link / Linear PSU? Would the extra ~$300 justify the difference in performance?

Thank you!

M2000

 

if you're going to keep the ecd-1, then i don't think either of those will significantly impact sound quality. i would vote to do nothing.

 

if you're definitely going to do something, i would think the su-1 would provide the best opportunity for improvement.

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Given that the Singxer SU-1 is very much better than my AR-T Legato (internal LPS) was (with a relatively modest Eastern Electric DAC Plus), I think that you will see a significant improvement with it over the MF. Even with an added external power supply. The new generation XMOS chips are apparently the reason why given how the Singxer beats so many other converters as repeatedly stated by so many others. See also this Head-Fi thread: XMOS XU208 USB BRIDGES - THE LATEST GEN HAS ARRIVED!

2010 Mac Mini (8GB RAM, SSD, LaCie 4TB HD)>PI Audio USB Cable>Singxer SU-1>PAD Aqueous Aureus Praesto Digital IC (BNC)>Lampizator Amber II>Kaplan GS Mk2.5 ICs>Rogue Cronus Magnum (modded & NOS signal tubes and Reflector 6P3S-e)>Kaplan GS MKII SCs>Aural Acoustic Model B speakers. Furutech outlets, TWL PCs, and PI Audio Digi-Buss & Buss-Stop power conditioners.

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