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<$200 External USB -> S/PDIF (Coax) vs. USB Isolation


Luckbad

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I know this has been discussed to death in various threads, but I'm the worst person ever at searching.

 

I'm trying to decide what to do for my Audio-GD NFB-2.32.

 

Since it's my less expensive work DAC, I'd like to keep the budget under $200. I already have good cables and such, so I'm specifically targeting getting the USB signal to my DAC.

 

I was going considering using my brand new ESI [email protected] XTe, but I'd rather not install that on my work computer secretly. So, instead of even opening it after its long journey from Germany, I'm going to sell it and use the proceeds for this (hence the $200 budget, as I expect to get about that for an unopened [email protected] XTe).

 

The first question:

A) Use a USB isolation/reclocker and continue to use the NFB-2.32's USB32 input.

B) Use an external USB->S/PDIF converter to go into the DIR9001 Coaxial input.

 

I'll probably get yet another Regen if Option A is ideal. One caveat is that this does not have the TCXO upgrade, but I might be able to buy that off a Head-Fier for $20 and install it myself. The Regen cleans up my intermittent issues with the USB32, but I only have one right now and I decided to keep that one at home.

 

If Option B is ideal, what's the best option for under $200 for USB->Coax? Bonus points for I2S (preferably HDMI) to test it on my Audio-GD Master-11, but not a problem if it doesn't have it.

 

Breeze Audio DU-U8? hiFace Two? Gustard U12? HiFime UH1? Used Melodious MX-U8? SMSL?

 

Relatively simple DIY projects are also an option. I have a good soldering iron and a bit of experience.

 

Thanks much. Hopefully this doesn't devolve into a debate, but it's my fault if it does. Preferably, I'd like to just get pros/cons of anything you're familiar with.

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The Regen cleans up my intermittent issues with the USB32, but I only have one right now and I decided to keep that one at home.

 

If you tried your Regen with USB input of your NFB DAC, did you observe any improvement? Were you satisfied with the sound quality? If you can do TCXO upgrade only for $20 and if you wish to continue to use your NFB DAC, I would suggest you to do that ... I would do definitive decision only after doing a TCXO upgrade and doing a listening test with your Regen.

 

I mean the USB to SPDIF approach has some disadvantages against well tuned USB transport. IMO USB to SPDIF has sense only in the case you are unable to improve your USB transport. What do I see as disadvantages of USB to SPDIF way:

- You are limited to 192k resolution. Many people on this forum profit from on the fly SW upsampling or are able to play DXD files in their natural format without downsampling. With SPDIF you would loose these possibilities.

- With USB to SPDIF converter you would not avoid USB but you would add yet one additional conversion (from USB to SPDIF) to your chain and additionally you would have to buy a suitable coax cable. These cables also make a difference, it's not only USB quality what matters. So you would add another things into your chain which affect sound and have their own issues. OK I understand that you would use SPDIF receiver in your DAC instead of USB32 input and that can make a difference for you, so the result depends on quality of SPDIF and USB digital receivers of your NFB DAC.

 

I personally would try the Regen and TCXO upgrade in your case, especially when you already have one Regen available so you can try it for those $20. If you wouldn't be satisfied with the result, then the question is if you want to buy other DAC, or to go with USB to SPDIF transport.

 

If you would like to try the USB to SPDIF way, then I would suggest you the inexpensive Gustard U12. Many people rate it higher than some more expensive products, you can look for example at head-fi discussions.

i7 11850H + RTX A2000 Win11 HQPlayer ► Topping E50 ► DIY headamp DHA1 ►HiFiMan HE-500

 

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  • 1 month later...

I'm curious if you indeed got the Breeze Audio. What do you think of it?

Nvidia ION running JRiver 21 on Win 7

- USB to Firestone Audio Bravo USB to SPDIF Converter. Optical to miniDSP NanoDigi eq/crossover. SPDIF to 2 Cambridge Audio DacMagics. Analogue to Audio Refinement Pre-5 to 2 M&K V-75 powered subwoofers & Audio Refinement Multi-2 power amp to Focal Chorus 716s.

- Intel NUC on Win 10 as JRiver 21 DLNA renderer. USB to Breeze Audio DU-U8 USB to SPDIF converter. SPDIF to Anthem MRX-520. Mirage OMD-5: left, right & surrounds. Mirage OMD-C1: center. SVS-SB-2000: subwoofer.

- Raspberry Pi2 with HifiBerry Dac+Pro on Volumio DLNA renderer to Rega Mira 3 to Dali Zensor 1s.

- Raspberry Pi2 with HifiBerry Dac+Standard on Volumio DLNA renderer to NAD 312 to PSB Alphas.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's a little difficult to figure out who Breeze Audio is but after some exchanges via alibaba I gather that Breeze Audio is no longer making their USB to SPDIF converter. I ordered one from eBay. If you are serious about getting one you might do so sooner rather than later. FYI

Nvidia ION running JRiver 21 on Win 7

- USB to Firestone Audio Bravo USB to SPDIF Converter. Optical to miniDSP NanoDigi eq/crossover. SPDIF to 2 Cambridge Audio DacMagics. Analogue to Audio Refinement Pre-5 to 2 M&K V-75 powered subwoofers & Audio Refinement Multi-2 power amp to Focal Chorus 716s.

- Intel NUC on Win 10 as JRiver 21 DLNA renderer. USB to Breeze Audio DU-U8 USB to SPDIF converter. SPDIF to Anthem MRX-520. Mirage OMD-5: left, right & surrounds. Mirage OMD-C1: center. SVS-SB-2000: subwoofer.

- Raspberry Pi2 with HifiBerry Dac+Pro on Volumio DLNA renderer to Rega Mira 3 to Dali Zensor 1s.

- Raspberry Pi2 with HifiBerry Dac+Standard on Volumio DLNA renderer to NAD 312 to PSB Alphas.

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I use a Gustard U12 USB convertor, then use I2S out to my Master 11. The only problem with this is a standard HDMI lead means the channels are swapped, as the word clock signals are inverted. The U12 can be had for only about $150 and uses the XMOS chip

Director Mad Scientist Audio Ltd.

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