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Newbie: Del Mini / MAudio Transit / Bel Canto 2 thoughts?


jbpsrca

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Hi folks,

 

Great website and forums! I'm a 2nd gen computer audiophile (been using an original Squeezebox for 6 years), and now have cash to upgrade most of my system (long time dreamer):

 

New system will have greatly enhanced detail and transparency (Magnepan 3.6rs with Nuforce Ref 9SE amps, Placette Remote Volume Control), so I need good computer source to match. My library is approx 10k songs in either EAC ripped WAV 16/44.1 or LP ripped 24/96 thru Pro Lucid A/D converter.

 

The 1 piee that I currently have that I like is my slightly aged, but still good sounding, Bel Canto DAC2 (TOSLink S/PDIF input, BB PCM 1738e 24/192 DAC, Crystal 8420 upsampler, buffered internal reclocking "that eliminates jitter" !! ?? !!)

 

For the computer source, I want to:

- control from my listening chair, have

- NO computer noise,

- and be able to browse my files easily.

 

Based on what I've read in the forum, I'm considering:

- Dell Inspiron Mini 9 (Window XP, SSD)

- - USB out (right side port) to M-Audio Transit

- - - Optical S/PDIF out to Bel Canto DAC

- - USB in (left side port) from USB hub which supports Lacie 500gb Drive and external CD.

 

To achieve WAF (Wife approval Factor) everything gets hidden in respective "under sofa" sites, which requires the following cabling lengths:

- 10 ft USB lengths from Dell Mini to the Transit and USB hubs

- 20ft Fiber Optic link from the Transit to the DAC

 

Media software will be on of the bit-perfect recommendations on this forum (Media Monkey, JRiver, etc - haven't started playing with them).

 

Questions:

- Any thoughts about pieces of this that will work well? won't work well? things you'd do different?

- Will the Transit really let me get bit-perfect 24/96 from Media Monkey thru S/PDIF to my DAC, if the software is set up properly?

- Any problem with the cable lengths? (fiber or USB?)

- Will the old Bel Canto DAC reclocking "really" eliminate jitter when it receives the S/PDIF signal?

 

Thanks so much ahead of time!

 

out: Windows 7 > jriver mc14 > asio4all > Lynx AES16e > Redco custom Gotham AES/EBU cable (70ft) > Antelope DA Clock > Harmonic Technologies Magic Digital 1 AES/EBU cable > Berkeley Alpha DAC > AudioQuest Cheetah RCA interconnects > NuForce Ref 9 v2 SE amps > Nordost Red Dawn II speaker cables > Magnepan 3.6R speakers.[br]vinyl in: Lucid AD9624 > Redco custom Gotham AES/EBU cable > Lynx AES16e > Windows 7 > Goldwave

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  • 2 weeks later...

The BC has coaxial output (nice cable included), and is Vista compatible, both significant advantages. I've read one review that indicates the sound difference, if any, isn't worth the extra cost. I think the biggest deficiency with either is that they both run off the noisy PC power supply over the USB cable. For the cost of the BC, they should have at least provided the option of plugging in an external DC supply.

 

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Like the original poster I have been a long time Squeezebox user and currently run an AT-Tunes Squeezebox+ modified unit available here in the UK for about £1000. This has a completely new PSU and DACs to the unmodified SB3, however as this because this is based on the SB3 it only works at sampling rates up to 48kHz so I have been looking at solutions to allow 24/96 playback. The obvious solutions would be the Logitech transporter or one of the Linn streaming products such as the Magik DS, however these are pricey. I also own a BC DAC2 and have been looking at ways of utilising this with a PC server for lower cost 24/96 streaming.

 

My original intention was to use a small footprint PC as a software based server/streamer, running Squeezecenter and either SoftSqueeze or SqueezePlay. As I use the iPod Touch running iPeng as the remote control I could also then run the PC headless and control it in the same way withough having to resort to having a keyboard and monitor in the listening room. Unfortunately, Softsqueeze does not support sampling above 48kHz and Squeezeplay seems to downsample 96k to 48 or 44.1 and in the process lowers the pitch of the music by a semitone or two. It is still under development so I dont know if there is an intention to support 96kHz natively but in any case the software is still buggy and locks up frequently.

 

So first of all I experimented with a BC USBlink 24/96, kindly lent to me placed between the test PC and the DAC2. This solution works pretty well "out of the box" and will stream up to 24/96 using any of MediaMonkey, Winamp and Foobar 2000. Tested with 24/96 tracks downloaded from the Linn website and from HDtracks.com give good results on listening tests. I then downsampled the files to 24 bit 48kHz and played through ny SB+. I have to say that overall I preferred the 48k tracks on the SB+ to the 96k ones using the USB link and the DAC2 but this was probably personal preference and I think comes down the the differences in the DACs in each case more than anything.

 

Following this I added an M-Audio 24/96 Audiophile PCI soundcard to the PC and connected this directly to the DAC2 and found out that the DAC2 will not work at 96kHz with this soundcard. It would however work at all speeds up to and incluidng 88.2kHz. An email to Bel Canto confirmed that the older circuitry in the DAC2 is probably not up to syncing with the relatively low signal output of such a sound card at higher frequencies.

 

Yesterday I was struck by inspiration and went out and bought a £15 Coax-Toslink Converter from Maplin. Plugged it into the sound card, plugged the output into the Toslink input in the DAC2 and now unencumbered by electrical incompatability the system is again producing music at 24/96.

 

I haven't had time to do extended listening tests but think I'm getting a sweet and crisp midrange There is slightly less bass than with the USBlink but what there is seems tighter and more controlled. Not bad for £65 total expenditure (soundcard + converter) against £400 for the BC USBlink

 

So my next step is to build a dedicated server, with higher spec digital outputs which I feel may improve things further/reduce jitter and eliminate the need for the converter and also maybe experiment with different DACs. Then when I'm happy with that it will be down to my local Linn dealer to do some A/B comparisons with the Magik DS.

 

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