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Jitter. We all have it , how does it sound when we make it better ?


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As I have to products that improve audio over USB with dacs. I have recently had a little more time then usual to play with toys I own .

I did the following tests. Just how much and what parts does jitter effect our music. I will say what I hear but I would very much like to know others opinions as well. One of the dacs I own is in a hdvd800 by sennheiser . It's a combo dac headphone amp. The amp is very good with the hd800. But the dac gets ripped apart in reviews at least the honest ones. So I played one of my reference tracks to try and here just what changes. Well the change is jaw dropping to say the least. But I noticed it's not so much with vocals it's more with horns and most defiantly cymbals . Big time with them. It also effects the base details but also the amount. One of my songs has the cymbals with the rivets they tend to give them more air around them. Well without the AP1/PP they sounded terrible . Like they were just hissing. When I added the unit the level of clarity was amazing . But as it improved the entire sound of the song it clearly effected some more than others. Does anyone here have any thoughts on this .

Al

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Your question is valid. But when I used my ap1/PP it's much better. This is why I did the post. But I can say that most dacs are improved by using it. As well as my offramp 5.

 

I also own own a msb stack platinum plus with a galaxy clock and the UMT plus. With diamond PSU and dual transport PSU. My point is i know how good it can sound and it is greatly improved when I use it. The is listed on here a USB converter shoot out to show that these devices to improve our sounds with most dacs.

 

 

al

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I am glad for you. I post this and I get bashed and basically get told , I am stupid as this jitter does not exist . I have posted this on 4 websites. And most replies are just abusive .

 

There red is a review on here for 15 USB converters. What really gets me going is why do we need them in the first place. We pay thousands for a good dac and why are they not doing something to fix it at there end. And surely if I was making a dac I would buy one of these and use it some how .

al

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Hey Al, I like your topic and your question.

 

I bought my Audiophilleo 2 three years ago this month and it quickly helped me get off the merry-go-round of trying a new DAC every month in the search for great sound from my computer-based music library. Six months ago I got the PurePower upgrade.

 

A reduction in jitter brings an increase in focus and clarity to the audio. It's like better lenses on a camera.

 

I notice it the most on recordings which have captured a natural acoustic space. There's so much more "there" there when jitter is kept very low. And I agree that cymbals are also greatly impacted by jitter; they are so much more beautiful when brought into proper "focus".

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Thanks for the reply. It is amazing how I get bashed from people who just swear it does not change anything when used. And yes it helps more detailed recordings more.

I have the offramp 5 also. I use it on the the ps audio Pwd mkii .

and the audio gd M7. What dac ,s do you have ?

 

al

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Al,

 

I would recommend John Swenson's articles at this link if you want to learn more about digital audio processing and the impact of jitter.

 

John Swenson articles about Digital Audio | Computer Audio | Forum | JPLAY - hi-end audio player for Windows

Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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With regards to jitter its very important to realize Jitter, technically, is a very specific thing. But we as hobbyists call jitter anything that when feeding the DAC can cause problems.

 

For example a Squeezebox has very low measured jitter. But put its output on a scope and you see spikes, hash and all sorts of junk coming down. That also affects things - still jitter is low. That junk is largely coming from its switch mode power supply. Feed it a linear supply and things improve dramatically and the difference is easily heard and seen on a scope.

 

There are some DAC makers that claim to completely eliminate jitter. One such maker is Playback Designs; I have one of their DAC's and have experimented with it. You can easily hear the difference between its internal USB and an Off-Ramp feeding it. Are they telling porkies? I suspect not - I think its simply the Off-Ramp takes greater care with stuff other than Jitter and that is the difference you hear.

 

Thanks

Bill

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My system has stabilised like so:

 

Mac mini with Audirvana doing 2x/4x upsampling via iZotope SRC in minimum phase config

Audiophilleo 2 with PurePower

Metrum Octave NOS DAC (I was lucky to get one which supports 192kHz)

Simple potentiometer for overall attenuation, direct into power amp.

 

I also have an Audio-GD DAC-19DSP to experiment with the PCM1704 sound, but the DIR9001 SPDIF receiver only goes to 96kHz and the DSP board (filtering, reclocking, re-coding for 1704 mono DAC) seems to impose a fair bit of its own sound... loses focus.

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Now this is the type of response I wanted. Reg the offramp , I bought it with the turbo clocks , Haynes regulators and his new PSU. I payed about 2k in all. But it dramatically improves almost every dac I have used it with about 20 dacs or so. And I agree with the loose use of the term.

Al

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Interesting chain of events.

 

My experiences have been quite the opposite of the OPs with many stand alone DACs being practically impossible to differentiate from one another when the downstream playback chain comprises capable amplification and speaker systems of flat response and low harmonic distortion.

 

......can't remember the last time I experienced a 'dramatic' change in my main system. Please excuse me while I feed my own thoughts a bit further.......

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Al, my experience is similar to yours. One of the most revealing sounds of jitter are cymbals. Various other percussion instruments also.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Jitter is mainly a matter of the Transport! If your transport is already great and well setup, you may not hear a difference with a patch like OR5 or AP with PP or maybe even better iUSB Power.

 

Many of us have many transports, ie computer, spinners, SBoxes and other streamers and so the performance of each of these could vary widely from best to worse for any given dac. Most Dacs, depite what they say have a weak input. The DStream Dac is claimed to sound the same via any input.

 

Adding a quality USB/SPDif converter to a Comp Audio setup will more often than not improve the Dac performance.

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It is difficult to say whether it was jitter reduction or other electrical noise reduction which caused sound improvements, but sticking the Berkeley Alpha in front of every DAC I tried (incl MSB) improved the listening experience.

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May i ask what msb you tried it with , and psu as well ?And i agree based on other rsponces from other forums its nit just jitter . But most say it is better to call all the effeects as jitter to not confuse the issue .

 

Al

Hi Al,

I tried a IV platinum and an Analog, which both have their own separate PSUs.

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Adding a quality USB/SPDif converter to a Comp Audio setup will more often than not improve the Dac performance.

 

I'm not sure. I wonder if simply starting with a low jitter source, avoiding external converter would be more beneficial. The Vega and the Hugo are two DACs I know whose USB implementation outshines any S/PDIF input (AP1 or Hydra-X).

DIGITAL: Windows 7 x64 JRMC19 >Adnaco S3B fiber over USB (battery power)> Auralic Vega > Tortuga LDR custom LPSU > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ANALOG: PTP Audio Solid 9 > Audiomods Series V > Audio Technica Art-7 MC > Allnic H1201 > Tortuga LDR > Zu Union Cubes + Deep Hemp Sub

 

ACCESSORIES: PlatterSpeed, BlackCat cables, Antipodes Cables, Huffman Cables, Feickert Protracter, OMA Graphite mat, JRemote

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I signed up to post only for your benefit Al. I followed your posts on this subject on our other favorite forum (where I am a very active member). I cannot believe you think any sane person would spend $1400 for a usb connection to a dac that already has a usb input. Are we to believe that the designers of upscale dac's are devoid of the knowledge necessary to build a decent usb input for their dac? Should we believe that those designers know their dac could sound much better with a different usb circuit but they don't bother? They put their dac's out for review knowing that they have inferior usb circuits? I just don't buy any of that. Can you change the sound by connecting a different device to the front end - yes of course. I am just pointing out that you are not hearing what the designer heard when they built the dac.

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Hi Chodi,

 

Fair point. And they become subtle improvements in some setups, and inaudible ones in others. Only go that route if you are able to taste test and it makes a personal difference worth the money.

 

A slightly different way of looking at it is that it is easy to throw in an xmos chip to provide an USB input, but not that easy to isolate it from electrical noise coming from the computer and avoid increase in jitter. Pin 1 brings in horrible 5v from the computer and the shell and pin 4 a ground path for noise. Using an AM radio or EMI meter will show how noisy an USB connection is. Often there are cost and physical space limitations in a DAC design along with market/marketing pressures as well, which do not allow for the optimal isolation.

 

Berkeley Audio is a good example where even in their reference $14K DAC they chose to have the USB connection in another box. Was this purely to save cost and not cannibalize on their Alpha USB converter? I guess it is possible, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt.

 

Cheers

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One benefit of a product like the Audiophilleo is that it makes the downstream DAC far less sensitive to your choice of computer, software, USB cable etc. It may well be that a DAC's built-in USB interface can deliver superb results, but can it do so without requiring complicated tweaks or expensive cables?

 

The answer will naturally be that it depends on the DAC. The better and more expensive the DAC, the less benefit you'd generally expect to see from a high quality external USB-to-SPDIF converter. But YMMV.

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I'm not sure. I wonder if simply starting with a low jitter source, avoiding external converter would be more beneficial. The Vega and the Hugo are two DACs I know whose USB implementation outshines any S/PDIF input (AP1 or Hydra-X).

 

Even when you use a stock computer?

 

If its a tweaked computer, then you get back to my assertion that the Transport matters. There is one poster who alleges that the BA converter improves upon every device it connects to.

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One benefit of a product like the Audiophilleo is that it makes the downstream DAC far less sensitive to your choice of computer, software, USB cable etc. It may well be that a DAC's built-in USB interface can deliver superb results, but can it do so without requiring complicated tweaks or expensive cables?

 

The answer will naturally be that it depends on the DAC. The better and more expensive the DAC, the less benefit you'd generally expect to see from a high quality external USB-to-SPDIF converter. But YMMV.

 

Bingo!

 

Plus some Dacs just have a sweetspot in terms of their favourite input connector.

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