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Role of soundcard when using USB DAC such as Ayre QB-9

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I have been able to play around with the Ayre QB-9 DAC, unfortunately with disappointing results so far.


I have strictly followed installation guidelines of Ayre, using Windows Vista platforms (coming back to these in an instance), J.River Media Center 14 as music player configured to use ASIO4ALL driver.

Even so, results are mediocre since there's no way I am able to achieve the same musical qualities as my Theta

Compli Universal player (let alone of my Accuphase DC800 DAC, but that is in a complety different pricing category).


In order to investigate further, I have setup 3 different Windwos platforms :


1) Dell XPS M1530 laptop with 4GB RAM, running MS Vista Ultimate

2) ACER Veritron L410 desktop with 2GB RAM, running Windows Vista Business

3) PaceBlade Touchscreen with 1GB RAM, runnig Windows XP.


Testing the last last configuration, provided me with a sound level which is at least 15db lower than the 2 Vista platforms.

I.e. that even using the ASIO4ALL drive, the soundlevel seems still to be dependant of the actual soundcard being used.


If that is true, can it be that the dissappointing results I have are actually due to the soundcards in my PC's, even when configuring the music player to bypass the operating system kernel.

Or to put it simple ; is it a question of hardware quality of is there still something else (software) going on?


Any thoughts on this would be highly appreciated




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Hi Dirk,


Long story short : When using USB no soundcard whatsoever is involved.


We could contemplate extensivley what could be the matter otherwise, but the above mentioned fact may get you on some track to start with ?





PS: If you perceive different dB levels from different PC's / players, something must be *really* wrong. That is, if the DAC is always the same (connected).


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Like you have a system configuration problem. I use Mac, so hopefully the windows experts here can walk you through it.

Is the QB-9 new? It will need break in to sound good if so. I would expect that the QB-9, playing back uncompressed files of properly ripped CDs, should sound better than the Theta playing the same CD into the same system (I have heard both). I have no experience with the Accuphase DAC, so I cannot comment on that-but it sounds like you have something wrong if the QB-9 is not sounding good.

USB cable?

What kind of files?

Have you chosen the "right" USB port on the computer, and have you reduced load on the USB hub?


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If you can change the volume of the sound using windows built in volume control, then your Asio isn't configured correctly.


If the sound is different between different players, then they probably are not all configured to use Asio.


Not using Asio will make a difference for the worse. A lot worse :)


My guess is that your foobar2k isn's set up corrently. Theres about 110 ways of failing it. Following Ayre's instructions is almost enough, but you might have to configure Asio and foobar outputs a couple of times before it works.


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