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One Computer -- multiple USB DACs?


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Hi, I'm a new poster (but not viewer) to the forums.

I'm interested in driving 2 USB DACs from a single computer so that I can feed the same music into 2 adjoining rooms.

 

I currently use iTunes to play Apple Lossless files via USB to a Bel Canto e.One Dac3.

I'm considering adding another DAC to the system in the near future but don't know if this would even work.

 

Does anyone know if this type of setup works on windows Vista?

 

Thanks,

-Mike

 

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Hi Mike,

 

I'm afraid that is not going to work. You can connect to one audio device at the time only.

 

You could consider an in between (intermediate) device that acts as a DAC towards the PC (think of a Pro device) that can pass through SPDIF two times, a DAC connected to each of them. In your case that must be USB out on that device, and I don't think it exists (or will be able to pass through SPDIF otherwise).

Two SPDIF connected (to that device) DACs theoretically may work, but it still would be strange, and from other theoretical angles may not work. I mean, both DACs will have their requests to refill the buffers, and they won't be doing that at the same time. So at some point in time DAC A requests earlier/more than DAC B and the FIFO (First In First Out) buffer of the intermediate device will need more at the In side for DAC A, while it can't get rid of the data yet at the Out side for DAC B.

 

I say this is to fail ...

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Mike - have you thought about going wireless? I am figuring all of this out myself, but perhaps a modified (Cullen) Sonos ZP90 in each room, which would output to your separate DACs in each room would work. You would also need a Sonos bridge BR100 connected to your computer via a router. Anyone else have any thoughts on a setup like this?

 

Peace,

Steve

 

Custom Music Server, i7-3770T with Core Audio Filtered ATX Cables, Win 8, J River Media 17 with JPLAY, USB 1TB, Nuforce IA7 V2 Upgrade Co Signature modified, TimePortal Interconnects, MIT Magnum powercord, Wireworld Silver Starlight USB, Northstar DAC32, upgraded by the Upgrade Company, RSL 3600 Studio Monitors

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You don't say weather you are using Mac or PC, but most of these comments apply equally to both and are ways to output to two separate DACs for different zones (or other ways to achieve music in two rooms)


    If using Mc OS X, then you may be able to add a second USB audio device (or FireWire device or use the optical output), then create an aggregated audio device under the Audio Midi settings.
    If you have a DAC with the capabilities, you could attach a second DAC to an SPDIF output.
    Add an AirPort Express to your network, feed the optical output to a second DAC.
    Connect a pre-amp out from your main amp to a second power amp (preferably one with a volume adjust or integrated with full volume)
    Connect a integrated amp to the "Tape Record" output of your main amp/pre-amp. This is particularly effective if the record output has a separate selector.
    If fitted, use a second output on your existing DAC into an amp for second zone.

 

Personally I would go for the AirPort Express route.

 

Eloise

 

P.S. Sorry you said Vista ...

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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How creative you are ! But honestly, I would say that all the options that work, are fake in the mean time. Of course they are options, but they are not outputting to two DACs.

... But I don't know about that OSX option, Eloise. For Vista such a thing can't happen.

 

It is a tad interesting though, like the SPDIF output of the one DAC putting through to the other. But again I don't think it will work in practice (but never tried it !). Otoh, when the first DAC is such a Pro device I was referring to, this 100% sure does work. (I did not think about that option before).

 

Just send out some WiFi and let lurk two DACs on it ? I wonder ...

 

Only if the "DAC" is something like a squeeze box, then yes. But then this is not a DAC.

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Peter said... "It is a tad interesting though, like the SPDIF output of the one DAC putting through to the other. But again I don't think it will work in practice (but never tried it !)."

My experience is using a Musical Fidelity A1008 USB from my Mac - the SPDIF output works as a passthrough and will send PCM onto my Yamaha AV Reciever - so in this case it does work. Another thought would be to use a device such as M-Audio CO2 and run one DAC on Optical and the other on Co-ax - though this will only work if you have an SPDIF output rather than USB from your computer, or use a USB to SPDIF interface that has both Co-ax AND SPDIF output.

 

I do agree with Chris though that the easiest way is with an Airport Express (only works at CD Quality), or (as I commented before) a single DAC feeding two amplifiers in some way. Is the two room truly are adjourning, then think there are probably more cost effective ways than having two DACs.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi everyone, I really appreciate your input here, thanks a lot.

 

From what Peter is saying it sounds like I’m heading into risky territory trying to

power 2 DACs. I have also considered the airport express units like Chris has suggested, but I do want to keep heading down a hardware path that leads towards 24 bit playback.

 

I think Eloise’s suggestion to keep it simple and to power a second amp from my existing hardware is right on track. My DAC has 2 outputs: a balanced set & a RCA output at line level...

 

I could use the RCA outputs to power a 2nd amp for the second room…

- I won’t have independent volume control and if I buy a second amp that matches my 1st, the one that is connected to the RCA outputs will be 6 dB quieter (this coming from Bel Canto tech support).

 

I think that this is the route I’ll go with... really it’s the most cost effective based on what I’ve got. But… will the 6 dB difference in sound level be awkward?

 

The 2 rooms share a 5 foot wide archway… will the music from the primary room overpower the 2nd room that’s playing 6 dB quieter?

 

Every solution has compromises I guess.

 

Thanks again everyone!

-Mike

 

 

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I hadn't realised but I guess the Bel Canto has a volume control that you use. You could always use an integrated amp on second room for complete volume control - though of course volume will still drop in second room when turning down main volume.

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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