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Use Toslink with my noisy computer?


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I have a dedicated low-noise music server connected to my Wavelength Proton DAC via USB and it sounds great. I'm planning to buy HD800 headphones and a Chord Hugo DAC to connect to my work laptop which generates a lot of electrical noise because it has a lot of attached USB devices and the CPU is always working on something. I've tried connecting headphones directly to its 3.5mm jack and I've tried connecting the Proton to it via USB but in both cases the laptop's EMI causes the sound to be too fatiguing (although less so via 3.5mm).

 

Should I consider a USB-to-Toslink converter to stop the flow of EMI from my laptop to the Hugo? I'm hesitant because audiophiles seem to speak very badly of Toslink. If this is a good idea, which converters should I consider?

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I have a similar situation, except the laptop is a macbookpro also with an external drive for music and movies on the road. In this case, I connected Sennheiser PXC450 noise cancelling phones to the 3mm headphone jack and I hear hum?! Yuk. Where did it come from??

The laptop was using battery, and while travelling I was watching a movie with the same phones and no hum. So, the difference is in the USB hard drive, and the power for this drive.... was from a wall wart. I connected the laptop's battery charger which has 3 pins on the AC, and the hum disappeared. The 0V from the wall wart was allowed to float connected itself to the 0V on the USB and from there to the 0V on the audio output.

Connecting the PSU to the laptop shunted the noise to a reference, and it was gone or was it? The hum is still there, but buried.

 

In the OP's case it is always wise to use a different medium for connecting hard drives than USB. The DAC uses the same bus, and it can cause problems like you describe. Some laptops have a different channel USB, so try different ports to begin with. Has the laptop a PCiExpress slot to add in an esata/FW or even USB3 to isolate the drives form the regular USB bus.

 

For music server at home which uses two external drives with wall warts (yuk), they are FW to the MacMini, the DAC is connected to USB. Using Toslink will work for 96/24 music maximum, and is really dependent on the cable you use and how well the section reduces the amount of jitter in combo with the DAC . You get isolation, but at the expense of sound quality and no clock master/async control as you can achieve with USB. Over time, you won't like the results with Toslink.

 

Normally I would suggest iFi Purifier, iUSB micro, but they don't do anything for me on the road or at home, but others report good results. Maybe the iFiTube Micro is the answer for you, could take away that digititus and provide some reasonable delay circuits to increase the spatial reception on the new headphones. Come to think of it, have been procrastinating about the iTube for while, time to make that decision.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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This is good advice. Unfortunately there are fewer drive connections available in laptops. Frankly, laptops seem to be the worse sounding devices IME. Too tightly packed and intentionally throttled down to save power would be my guess. If you are not sold on the Hugo, you may want to consider an Ethernet option or add one to the Hugo perhaps. Alternately, a cheap powered USB hub provides an opportunity for a better USB receiver power supply as well as an internal buffering controller for very little money.

In the OP's case it is always wise to use a different medium for connecting hard drives than USB. The DAC uses the same bus, and it can cause problems like you describe. Some laptops have a different channel USB, so try different ports to begin with. Has the laptop a PCiExpress slot to add in an esata/FW or even USB3 to isolate the drives form the regular USB bus.

 

For music server at home which uses two external drives with wall warts (yuk), they are FW to the MacMini, the DAC is connected to USB. Using Toslink will work for 96/24 music maximum, and is really dependent on the cable you use and how well the section reduces the amount of jitter in combo with the DAC . You get isolation, but at the expense of sound quality and no clock master/async control as you can achieve with USB. Over time, you won't like the results with Toslink.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I have a dedicated low-noise music server connected to my Wavelength Proton DAC via USB and it sounds great. I'm planning to buy HD800 headphones and a Chord Hugo DAC to connect to my work laptop which generates a lot of electrical noise because it has a lot of attached USB devices and the CPU is always working on something. I've tried connecting headphones directly to its 3.5mm jack and I've tried connecting the Proton to it via USB but in both cases the laptop's EMI causes the sound to be too fatiguing (although less so via 3.5mm).

 

Should I consider a USB-to-Toslink converter to stop the flow of EMI from my laptop to the Hugo? I'm hesitant because audiophiles seem to speak very badly of Toslink. If this is a good idea, which converters should I consider?

 

 

Isn't TOSLINK limited in bandwidth to ~96KHz? I don't know for sure that this is so, but I seem to remember reading it somewhere.

George

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