Jump to content
IGNORED

Ayre QB-9 Asynchronous USB DAC Review vs E-MU 0404. Opening the discussion to a wider audience.


Recommended Posts

From the comments section of the review:

 

Thu, 01/28/2010 - 23:35 — tmitchmd

tmitchmd's picture

CHRI$ and A$YNCHRONOU$ U$B DAC$

 

From Chris’s Asynchronicity article:

 

"Asynchronous USB capable DACs are few and far between. Currently Ayre, Wavelength, and dCS are the major manufacturers with asynchronous products on the market. In my opinion the reason for this lack of async DACs is simply because it's very difficult implement this technology. There is a specific skill set required to implement asynchronous USB and it's not common place in high-end audio. Implementing async USB requires a manufacturer to write its own software for the TAS1020 chip and invest thousands of hours on this part of the DAC alone...

Note: I am by no means a leading authority on USB audio and I relied heavily on engineers in the industry while researching this article. Some, but not all, of my sources were Gordon Rankin from Wavelength Audio, Charlie Hansen from Ayre acoustics, and engineers at Data Conversion Systems (dCS). I filter out all marketing terms and bias when analyzing my correspondence with all experts."

 

No mention of the E-Mu 0404 until the comments section later:

 

"There's no free lunch as I'm sure you know. The EMU DAC does support 24/192 and is only $200, but just because it goes to "11" doesn't mean much. I think there is good reason nobody else is supporting 24/192 via USB. While it's technically possible there are some major compromises. This particular DAC has very high noise related to the oscillators and the USB circuitry. Thus, the jitter is about 15x higher than some of the CASH list products that only support 24/96 via USB.

Nobody I know has developed an asynchronous USB DAC at this level. The EMU 0404 is technically asynchronous via USB, but it's design and implementation are 180 degrees different than Ayre, Wavelength, and dCS. There is a reason the EMU is only $200 even though it's one of the only async USB DACs in the world."

 

Two pages of flatulent commentary on this review, yet no one has yet questioned the wave of the hand dismissal of the E-Mu 0404 as unworthy competition for Ayre, dCS, and other rarefied (and Computer Audiophile sponsoring) Asynchronous USB DAC uber priced competitors (God forbid that you might mention that "asio"is a common term for the same damn thing, lest the fool and his money make the connection?).

 

Well golly gee, this impoverished unit does not even require an optional several $$$ dollar hardware/software upgrade (if they’re dopey enough the first time might as well keep ‘em sucking at the teat) to decode native hi rez 24/176 and 24/192 music files, not to mention the hi rez tunes on your vintage DVD-A discs (Foobar DVDA decoder). No extra charge for the asio driver either (see new Wyred four Sound USB DAC).

 

If your proposed USB DAC purchase cannot decode an asio-excuse me, ASYNCHRONOUS- delivered hi rez music file out of the box, walk, nay run away! I am rocking out to downloaded hi rez files of every stripe (heck Foobar even has a plug in that will convert DSD to hi rez PCM and another for native rate decoding of DVD-A discs); even digital hi rez rips of SACDs.

 

Look, I know dCS, Meitner, and others make nice sounding products. But price no object, the humble E-Mu is right there with them and does not require a wealthy freshly killed elderly relative to afford.

 

The great thing about computers for the audiophile is that it exposed many of the rotten lies that pervade high end audio.

 

Look Chris,

 

Can't we reserve this $$$ nonsense for Stereophile and The Absolute Sound? I have no problem with you reviewing $1.5K-$40K DACs and Louis XIV barcoloungers, but would it be so painful to admit (at least way down in the fine print) that a damn fine "Asynchronous" 24/192 USB DAC can be had for under $200 clams? Where is your review of the Musiland Monitor 02, another sub $200 hi rez capable asynchronous USB Dac? BTW, Creative Professional is not a start up. I would venture to guess that their volume of product sales would swamp several-fold "major manufacturers" Ayre, Wavelength, and dCS.

__________________

 

"Damn it Chris! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"

 

* reply

 

Joined: 11/28/2007 .:. Offline .:. Comments: 5395

Thu, 01/28/2010 - 23:59 — The Computer Au...

The Computer Audiophile's picture

Wow, where to begin Doctor.

 

Wow, where to begin Doctor. Your comments are so full of misinformation that it's just easier to write off your whole post. I'm not sure where you got your information that ASIO is the same thing as Asynchronous but I suggest you find a new source. You also mention rips of SACDs. Again, wow.

__________________

 

Chris Connaker

 

Founder

Computer Audiophile

 

* reply

 

Joined: 12/23/2009 .:. Online .:. Comments: 6

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 02:28 — tmitchmd

tmitchmd's picture

Wow Chris. Why don't we begin here?

 

Chris,

 

Are these not your words?

 

"The EMU 0404 is technically asynchronous via USB"

"...the EMU is... one of the only async USB DACs in the world."

 

Perhaps you might consider the words of one of your sponsors:

 

"Guys,

 

Remember just like any other interface all Async's are not created equal.

 

The big payoff is using an ultra low jitter Master clock as the reference clock to output the I2S to the dac/spdif converter.

 

This is the real key...

 

The Transit does not do this. The EMU does, but has a lot of DCDC converters and power supply issues.

 

Thanks

Gordon

J. Gordon Rankin"

__________________

 

"Damn it Chris! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"

 

* edit

* reply

 

Joined: 12/23/2009 .:. Online .:. Comments: 6

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 02:33 — tmitchmd

tmitchmd's picture

Digital Rips of SACDs

 

The Sony PS3 converts dsd to PCM 24/176 over HDMI. The Oppos convert to 24/88.

 

Using an HDMI breakout box one then captures the 24/176 PCM converted to SPDIF.

 

Press record.

 

Voila...

 

"Again, wow."

__________________

 

"Damn it Chris! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"

 

* edit

* reply

 

Joined: 12/23/2009 .:. Online .:. Comments: 6

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 11:50 — tmitchmd

tmitchmd's picture

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

 

"Wow, where to begin Doctor. Your comments are so full of misinformation that it's just easier to write off your whole post."

 

Gee Chris,

 

Could you please document at least one or two of the misinformative comments?

__________________

 

"Damn it Chris! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"

 

* reply

 

Joined: 11/28/2007 .:. Offline .:. Comments: 5395

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 13:26 — The Computer Au...

The Computer Audiophile's picture

OK Doc - I won't play into

 

OK Doc - I won't play into your entire game here but I will respond. By the way I certainly hope you give more respect to the people you write to in your professional career than you have given me here. Your original post is full of innuendos and statements like you are the king of all knowledge. I'm beginning to wonder if someone has stolen your username and password as I find your comments rather sophomoric.

 

"Two pages of flatulent commentary on this review, yet no one has yet questioned the wave of the hand dismissal of the E-Mu 0404 as unworthy competition for Ayre, dCS, and other rarefied (and Computer Audiophile sponsoring) Asynchronous USB DAC uber priced competitors (God forbid that you might mention that "asio"is a common term for the same damn thing, lest the fool and his money make the connection?)."

 

A. The reason nobody questioned it is because I provided solid engineering reasons why the EMU is inferior.

B. Ayre and dCS are not sponsors of Computer Audiophile. Your comments suggest that I only mention the Async manufacturers because they are sponsors. This goes to show your ignorance or willingness to lie in spite of clear facts.

C. Wavelength and Ayre are far from uber priced. As a highly paid Doctor you are very well aware of this fact.

D. ASIO is not another term for Asynchronous Mode USB.

 

"Well golly gee, this impoverished unit does not even require an optional several $$$ dollar hardware/software upgrade (if they’re dopey enough the first time might as well keep ‘em sucking at the teat) to decode native hi rez 24/176 and 24/192 music files, not to mention the hi rez tunes on your vintage DVD-A discs (Foobar DVDA decoder). No extra charge for the asio driver either (see new Wyred four Sound USB DAC)."

 

You're right, the EMU doesn't require anything extra. Neither does a 1982 Ford Escort. It will travel 70 mph. But so will a Ferrari and the Ferrari will travel 70 mph much better than the Escort. To be clear, I am saying that just because the EMU can handle higher sampling rates doesn't mean anything in terms of sound quality.

 

"If your proposed USB DAC purchase cannot decode an asio-excuse me, ASYNCHRONOUS- delivered hi rez music file out of the box, walk, nay run away! I am rocking out to downloaded hi rez files of every stripe (heck Foobar even has a plug in that will convert DSD to hi rez PCM and another for native rate decoding of DVD-A discs); even digital hi rez rips of SACDs."

 

You mention the ASIO / Async thing again. Where did you ever come up with that information? Converting DSD to higher resolution PCM has nothing to do with any of the DACs mentioned here. It's been done for years. It also has nothing to do with SACD the physical format. DSD and SACD also have nothing to do with DVD-A discs. Again, what are you even talking about?

 

Then you suggest that SACDs can be ripped by something less than a several thousand dollar mastering workstation. What's happening with your PS3 example is a simple SACD DSD to PCM conversion. Again, this has been going on for years and is not what I call ripping DSD from an SACD. If you have native DSD or DST images ripped from an SACD that would be another story.

 

"Look, I know dCS, Meitner, and others make nice sounding products. But price no object, the humble E-Mu is right there with them and does not require a wealthy freshly killed elderly relative to afford."

 

I can't argue with what you hear but I can disagree with your inferences of equality. Suggesting the EMU is even close to sounding as accurate or "nice" is absolutely preposterous. When did you make the direct comparison between these DACs? What music was used? What sample rates? What was the rest of the system? What is your reference that you use to judge the sound of equipment?

 

"The great thing about computers for the audiophile is that it exposed many of the rotten lies that pervade high end audio."

 

That's a great thing if it's true. Please elaborate and give everyone a few examples of rotten lies that pervade high end audio. Again, it's a great thing if true.

 

"Can't we reserve this $$$ nonsense for Stereophile and The Absolute Sound?"

A $900 Proton and a $2,500 Ayre QB-9 are not "$$$ nonsense" whatever than means.

 

"would it be so painful to admit (at least way down in the fine print) that a damn fine "Asynchronous" 24/192 USB DAC can be had for under $200 clams?"

 

It really seems like you have a vested interested in raising interest in this DAC. And Yes, it would be impossible for this type of admission as it would be a blatant lie on my part.

 

"Where is your review of the Musiland Monitor 02, another sub $200 hi rez capable asynchronous USB Dac?"

In the same place as my review of 10,000 other components that I've never heard.

 

"BTW, Creative Professional is not a start up. I would venture to guess that their volume of product sales would swamp several-fold "major manufacturers" Ayre, Wavelength, and dCS."

 

I don't get your point. But I do suspect a vested interest on your part.

 

 

 

If you don't like what your reading here at Computer Audiophile you can have a full refund of your purchase price and move on to any other website in the world that you like.

__________________

 

Chris Connaker

 

Founder

Computer Audiophile

 

* reply

 

Joined: 12/23/2009 .:. Online .:. Comments: 6

Fri, 01/29/2010 - 16:14 — tmitchmd New

tmitchmd's picture

Chris, I apologize for the

 

Chris,

 

I apologize for the inference that this is some kind of sliming. It is not. But i would suggest that your attacks on me have been a great deal more personal.

 

Nobody is claiming the E-Mu 0404 USB's innards cost the same as the dCS. The point is that there have been few computer dacs at any price capable of high rez playback. Even fewer that have done so asynchronously. The E-Mu and a few professional firewire units for the most part. Maybe a couple of others. And no I am not begrudging Ayre or Wavelength their right to a proper livelihood. dCS OTOH has abandoned the professional market for PT Barnum like reasons. What makes the E-Mu different and ultimately better sounding than the ~ 6X more costly Benchmark is asio. I'm glad that others are now getting on board, but you have to demonstrate why one should consider spending 10-12x the cost of the 0404 for a brand new dac that still cannot decode HRx and 24/192 until it has been sent back for a costly upgrade.

 

Granted, from a $$$ standpoint, the Ayre, dCS, and Wavelengths are apples to E-Mu's oranges. But from a functional standpoint they are not. Thus when you review one of these $$$ asynchronous Dacs you owe your readers some reasoned and detailed commentary beyond "published jitter measurements" and presumed power supply issues why they should consider spending their hard won $$ on equipment that may in fact have few advantages over much much less expensive professional units. You owe your readers some listening comparison between 24/96 asioed to an E-Mu and 24/96 asynched to an Ayre or Wavelength. And perhaps a reminder that an upgrade of __ dollars will be required before said Dacs will be able to handle the 24/176 and 24/192 sources that the E-Mu decodes with ease right out of the box (well after the asio drivers are installed anyway). My God man, higher sampling rates and longer bit lengths are what achieving high quality digital sound is all about. The rest is mostly sock chips and fancy enclosures.

 

If there is a significant distinction between asio (asynchronous input output) over USB and "Asynchronous USB" than clearly I am not appreciating it, nor from his remarks apparently is Gordon Rankin. As my moniker indicates, I am no engineer so please explain it to me.

 

You have an entire thread up about ripping SACDs with the conclusion that it can be done only by recording from the analog outputs or digitally in 16/44 from the CD layer. There would be little point in ripping SACDs to DSD as so few components would be able to properly decode the data. No place for that file on the old music streamer. Inexpensively converting dsd digitally to high rez PCM has been a bit of a holy grail for computer audiophiles for many years. The fact that it can now be done easily and $$ painlessly qualifies as significant. Or perhaps you have already described the process here on your website and I missed it. I know many have asked the question. Why don't you steer us to the post where you described the process of obtaining 24/176 files from SACDs without an analog conversion?

 

And I'm sorry but $2500 for a dac is uber in my house. Your Ford Ferrari metaphor is indeed appropriate to those dirty little lies about "high end" audio and video. Take the innards of a Ferrari and drop 'em in a Ford. What do you call that? Or more likely, take the innards of a Ford and drop it into a gorgeous Ferrari body and call it high end. Take an Oppo BDP-83, drop it into an opulent enclosure and you've got a Lexicon or a Theta or god forbid an Ayre? Take a Panasonic plasma display remove the label and add a shiny bevel and sell it for 3-5x the price as a Runco.

 

Ayre and dCS may not support the forum directly but their dealers may be another story. As a physician I must disclose any financial conflict of interest before I publish or speak in public. Do Ayre, dCS and the like not provide some perks and favors in exchange for your selection of their product among the 10,000 others competing for your attentions? What % of retail will you pay for your review sample, eh? Is that perhaps at least part of the reason that we should look elsewhere for that review of the Musiland Monitor 02?

 

Okay Chris, you got me. I just bought Creative Professional and I am now planning to corner the high end Dac market.

 

Just kidding....

__________________

 

"Damn it Chris! I'm a doctor, not an engineer!"

 

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

apparently you are new to the Computer Audio Forum, welcome! I would like to address a couple of things:

"Benchmark is asio. I'm glad that others are now getting on board, but you have to demonstrate why one should consider spending 10-12x the cost of the 0404 for a brand new dac that still cannot decode HRx and 24/192 until it has been sent back for a costly upgrade."

No one here is obligated to demonstrate anything to you. If you do not want to spend the money for better performing equipment, that is your choice, and if you would rather not listen to a product like the Ayre QB-9 to hear what kind of performance is possible, that is your choice as well. But, I would suggest that without the experience of listening to these products, in an appropriate system context, you are not qualified to make blanket statements regarding their performance.

Furthermore, as someone who has worked for a high end audio manufacturer (and is not currently working in the industry) your inference: "dirty little lies" could not be further from the truth. I live in the same town as Ayre Acoustics, I have been to their facility, and met their people, including founder Charlie Hansen. I have seen how they build their products. The Ayre folks take great pride in building a quality product, in the US, that offers great performance and great value. I can assure you that they, and the other high end audio manufacturers I am aware of do not have any "dirt little lies", and they are certainly not getting rich by producing high end audio gear.

The people I have met in the high end audio industry do what they do for an honest love of music, and for bringing that music into peoples homes, your negative comments regarding a subject of which you are ill informed are not appreciated by me.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

Link to comment

Nicely said Barrows.

 

Wavelength Silver Crimson/Denominator USB DAC, Levinson 32/33H, Synergistic Research Cables and AC cables, Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX cable, Wilson Sasha WP speakers with Wilson Watch Dog Sub. Basis Debut V Vacuum turntable/ Grahm Phantom/Koetsu Jade Platinum. MacBook Pro 17\" 2.3GHz Quad Core i7, 8GB RAM, Pure Music, Decibel, Fidelia, AudioQuest Diamond USB Cable.

Link to comment

tmitchmd,

 

I"m not exactly sure what your agenda is here, but your provocative posting style (some might call it 'attacking' Chris) would seem to be counter productive to anything useful, and it eliminates any interest I, for one, have in even listening to your 'story'.

 

That you copied several posts from another thread into a new post is quite unnecessary, and seems contrary to any honorable agenda, as well.

 

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

I may be wrong but AFAIK the Benchmark DAC does not use asio, and also cannot decode an HRx or 24/192 data stream over USB.

 

The only reason i transferred the thread was to allow a larger audience to read, consider, and comment. As a post review comment, only those actively seeking to read post review comments would discover it. I have no axe to grind with Chris. However, I do watch my pennies and like many I look for bang for my buck, especially in this economy.

 

How does one determine if indeed the equipment under review is better sounding and a better buy than what is out there already without a comparison both of features and of sound? Myself, I have not found MRSP to necessarily be an accurate measure of quality and versatility. There is wealth of information here at Computer Audiophile regarding the E-MU 0404 USB. When other DACs come along claiming to do the same thing only better, I think it is incumbent upon a reviewer to compare and contrast with other similar units at above, below, and at a similar price point. Moreover, in 2010 it is not unreasonable to demand of any reviewer some statement as to potential conflict of interest.

 

Since Chris raised the question, I will state for the record that I have absolutely no stake in any way shape or form in E-MU or any related company.

 

Please note I am not saying that Ayre (thus the ? mark) will be using non-modified BDP-83 innards in their upcoming Universal Blu Ray player. However, there does seem to be substantial evidence that other high end companies are dong little more than re-badging. Perhaps Mr Hansen himself might address this.

 

Look, I am not holding myself out as any great expert. But me I have long lived with extremely high end DACs and the majority of my music is now enjoyed in high rez.

 

I'm not an engineer either and if I am wrong and asio/Asynchronous USB are two completely different kettle of fish I will eat my humble pie. Somebody please explain to me how they differ, be it trivial or fundamental.

 

BTW, in reviewing prior threads it is clear that there has been some reference here to spdif ripping of SACD via HDMI PCM breakout.

 

Best thread I have seen that describes this process is here:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/ripping-sacds-via-spdif-176-4-ps3-455769/

 

 

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

"How does one determine if indeed the equipment under review is better sounding and a better buy than what is out there already without a comparison both of features and of sound?"

 

There is only one way to answer this question, you must listen for yourself-preferably in your own system. I know of no one on this forum who would suggest any other procedure for making purchasing decisions. It is impossable for any reviewer to have at hand any and all possible DACs to make comparisons possible-it is certainly not "incumbent upon a reviewer" to give comparisons of the exact products you might be interested in. A reviewer is only obliged to give his honest listening impressions of the gear that he chooses to, or is available for him to review.

"Please note I am not saying that Ayre (thus the ? mark) will be using non-modified BDP-83 innards in their upcoming Universal Blu Ray player. "

The above is just the kind of passive/aggressive statement that will not be appreciated here-by making this statement you are suggesting that it is possible that Ayre is going to be selling a re-branded Oppo. Charlie Hansen has already addressed this question in two other web forums, a search will devulge the reality within a matter of moments, so it is not neccessary to ask him to waste his time repeating himslef here.

As to SACD "ripping", I am in agreement with Chris. Getting to the unencrypted DSD data directly is what I would be interested in, as I doubt that most products which do an on the fly conversion to PCM are doing the conversion very well. If you know of an affordable way to get raw DSD data off of an SACD, I would be very interested to learn more about how to do it.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

Link to comment

 

"Please note I am not saying that Ayre (thus the ? mark) will be using non-modified BDP-83 innards in their upcoming Universal Blu Ray player."

 

You said:

"Take an Oppo BDP-83, drop it into an opulent enclosure and you've got a Lexicon or a Theta or god forbid an Ayre?"

 

I'm not sure that using a question mark as punctuation after a 'statement' minimizes the impact or (perceived) intent of your words.

 

 

"However, there does seem to be substantial evidence that other high end companies are dong little more than re-badging."

 

Where is this substantial evidence?

 

"Perhaps Mr Hansen himself might address this."

 

Mr Hansen already has, in a thread on AVSForum, which was linked to here on CA within the last couple of days.

 

"Look, I am not holding myself out as any great expert. But me I have long lived with extremely high end DACs and the majority of my music is now enjoyed in high rez."

 

You've still not answered Chris' question - what experience do you have comparing the EMU 0404 DIRECTLY against the very DACs (that you denigrate) to support your contention that the EMU is of the same quality?

 

Absent that, your words are mere bluster.

 

clay

 

 

 

Link to comment

 

 

 

" Your Ford Ferrari metaphor is indeed appropriate to those dirty little lies about "high end" audio and video. Take the innards of a Ferrari and drop 'em in a Ford. What do you call that?"

 

I call that a very ugly and un-aerodynamic car with well crafted Italian "innards" that will fail to reach its ful potential due to substandard & inferior outer material.

 

 

 

"Or more likely, take the innards of a Ford and drop it into a gorgeous Ferrari body and call it high end."

 

A great looking car that nobody would purchase once they took it for a test drive themselves. Hopefully people would not rely on reviews of this car and they would actually drive it for themselves before commenting.

 

 

 

"Take an Oppo BDP-83, drop it into an opulent enclosure and you've got a Lexicon or a Theta or god forbid an Ayre? Take a Panasonic plasma display remove the label and add a shiny bevel and sell it for 3-5x the price as a Runco."

 

Sure this has happened and Lexicon appears to be a recent example. Your words are close to libelous and without any data to back them up are down right lies. You must consider a complete product instead of making these kinds of judgements. If someone wants the performance of an Oppo player but also wants the outer-build quality of a Lexicon they now have a product to purchase. I'm sure Lexicon will sell many units. Goods cost whatever people are willing to pay. Why don't you rip on Oppo for putting its components into a plastic type enclosure when it could easily be sold without an enclosure or a cardboard enclosure? Fancy plastic is driving the price up for no reason.

 

"Do Ayre, dCS and the like not provide some perks and favors in exchange for your selection of their product among the 10,000 others competing for your attentions?

 

They absolutely do not provide any perks! Please provide an example of why you even suggest there are perks.

 

 

"What % of retail will you pay for your review sample, eh? Is that perhaps at least part of the reason that we should look elsewhere for that review of the Musiland Monitor 02?"

 

Once in a while reviewers do purchase equipment for prices lower than retail. But this card is played way to often by skeptics such as yourself. There is only so much equipment a reviewer can purchase. How many DACs does someone need or how many DACs can someone afford? I don't really understand you comment about Musiland.

 

"I'm not an engineer either and if I am wrong and asio/Asynchronous USB are two completely different kettle of fish I will eat my humble pie. Somebody please explain to me how they differ, be it trivial or fundamental."

 

If ASIO is a watermelon, Asynchronous mode USB is a bird. They have nothing to do with each other. ASIO is a protocol for an application like MediaMonkey to talk directly to an audio card like the ASUS Xonar Essence STX. ASIO allows to audio being sent out of the computer to bypass the Windows operating system's manipulation of the data.

 

Asynchronous mode USB has to due with clocking and controlling the flow of data from the computer to the DAC or interface converter. An Async DAC tells the computer when to send data not how to send data from the application to the USB port. You can conceivably use an app like MediaMonkey with an ASIO driver to send audio to an Async USB DAC.

 

From Wikipedia:

Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) is a computer soundcard driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer's sound card.

 

ASIO bypasses the normal audio path from the user application through layers of intermediary Windows operating system software, so that the application connects directly to the soundcard hardware. Each layer that is bypassed means a reduction in latency, the delay between an application sending audio information and it being reproduced by the soundcard, or input signals from the soundcard being available to the application. In this way ASIO offers a relatively simple way of accessing multiple audio inputs and outputs independently. Its main strength lies in its method of bypassing the inherently high latency of Windows audio mixing kernels (KMixer), allowing direct, high speed communication with audio hardware. Unlike KMixer, an unmixed ASIO output is "bit identical", that is, the bits sent to the soundcard are identical to those of the original source, thus having higher audio fidelity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm now 99% convinced you are just playing with people here and trolling. Do you really think some of the things you are saying?

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

Link to comment

 

 

clearly you have NOT actually listened to the DACs you suggest are not any better than the EMU 0404, you're just casting aspersions on Ayre gear that others have posted elsewhere, for unknown reasons.

 

sorry, but I don't feed trolls. :)

 

clay

 

 

Link to comment

thread is offering us nothing. If the good Doctor would like to get some of DACs into his own system, and then do a listening test, and then describe his findings, I would love to hear about it (along with a complete description of his system for reference purposes) Posting links to threads on other forums, where people are arguing like children over which sounds better is a waste of everyones' time.

Chris C. I for one would be in favor of this thread being closed.

 

SO/ROON/HQPe: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModuleDeluxe-Signature Rendu optical--Bricasti M3 DAC--DIY Purifi Amplifier-Focus Audio FS888 speakers-JL E 112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY EventHorizon AC cables, Iconoclast XLR & speaker cables, Synergistic Purple Fuses, Spacetime system clarifiers.  ISOAcoustics Oreas footers.                                                       

                                                                                           SONORE computer audio

Link to comment

"The hype around asychronous USB converters seems rather funny to me. In fact, such converters are not that rare and don't necessarily cost a fortune - Tascam US-144 ($149) is asynchronous, as well as the very popular E-Mu 0404 USB 2.0 ($199).

 

It's true, that "driver-less" converters (the ones that use the built-in USB Audio drivers) are usually adaptive and require some hardware programming to work asynchronously, but in the pro-sector, where the manufacturer usually provides custom drivers, the asynchronous approach is more common."

Thu, 07/02/2009 - 14:53 — Leonid Khachaturov

 

"There is also asynchronous mode, here the data is clocked out by the

local oscillator when the buffer starts to over or underflow it tells

the host to slow down or speed up the data stream. This is the only

mode where the DAC is in control. The host is still sending the packets

isochronously, there is no packet by packet handshake or anything like

that, but there IS a path back from the reciver to the host. This is

almost never done. There are only one or two USB chips that support

this mode and ALL of them require re-writting the firmware inside the

chip, not an easy task. I only know of one person who has ever done

that. I tried for a long time and gave up. (thats a whole nother

story).

 

There a few devices that DO have the DAC in control (such as the EMU

0404 USB) but they do not use the official USB audio spec, they came up

with their own packet protocol which means they have to write their own

drivers."

JohnSwenson

 

RE: "Asynchronous Mode" USB DACs and Price........ - soundchekk 01:36:07 04/17/09 (15)

 

M-Audio Transit runs 44.1 and 48kHz in async mode.

EMU-0404 USB runs async.

 

(I own both of them)

 

* Async mode - Gordon Rankin 11:23:45 04/17/09 (5)

 

Guys,

 

Remember just like any other interface all Async's are not created equal.

 

The big payoff is using an ultra low jitter Master clock as the reference clock to output the I2S to the dac/spdif converter.

 

This is the real key...

 

The Transit does not do this. The EMU does, but has a lot of DCDC converters and power supply issues.

 

Thanks

Gordon

J. Gordon Rankin

 

o RE: Async mode - soundchekk 15:06:05 04/17/09 (4)

 

In Reply to: RE: Async mode posted by Gordon Rankin on April 17, 2009 at 11:23:45

 

The original question was, if there is an async USB DAC below 1000$.

 

Yep -- the fun starts at 70$ -- delivering a decent sound with a bit of tweaking.

And continues with an 0404 USB at 199$, which will be a very good

USB device with a bit of tweaking.

 

WallyWest

08-30-08, 11:49 AM

If you want to get technical there are several different modes USB can run in, based on the Windows drivers. The really horrible one is synchronous mode. Which many cheap USB devices use. There is zero error correction of any kind used in this mode. And it uses a fixed clock which makes it virtually impossible to generate 44.1Khz. It's essentially fixed at 48Khz. Jitter in this mode is off the charts, and that has been backed up many times. I agree that in general jitter is an overblown issue, but this is extreme jitter. If you care at all about audio quality stay far far away from devices using synchronous mode. Which can usually be identified by running only at 48Khz.

 

Asynchronous mode, which is very flexible and allows any clock speed you want, would be great. Too bad nobody uses it.

Adaptive mode is what most decent devices use. It's better than synchronous, but still not great.

 

Or you can do what Emu does and throw all that out the window. They wrote their own standard which runs in what is essentially asynchronous mode with some fancy error correction, and they reclock the data at the other end. This is probably overkill, and I wouldn't pay a premium for it. But the 0404 is pretty cheap.

 

As for proof I've heard it many times myself. The 0404 supports ASIO, but only through it's own drivers since the timing is totally different. Using the standard ASIO drivers in Winamp produces all sorts of clicks and pops and dropouts. That's an extreme case where the source is completely out of sync with the card, but I've heard many people complaining of the same thing with cheaper synchronous USB sound cards.

 

Veda

09-02-08, 11:51 PM

I use the Emu 0404 USB.

http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/proaudio/emu-0404-usb.html

 

I've heard the 0404 compared favorably with DAC's costing thousands more. It may not the be the absolute best solution, but it's a fantastic value. USB is usually very jittery, but that's because of the way Windows handles it. The 0404 has it's own USB drivers that fixes that problem, and it's a reclocking DAC. Plus it has phantom power for a microphone if you want to use your PC to do room measurements, speaker calibrations, things like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

"Now on to the fun part, the synchronization modes. In all cases the data from the bus goes into a buffer and gets clocked out by a clock, how that clock is generated and how it interacts with the bus is the differences between the modes.

 

Synchronous: in this mode the readout clock is directly derived from the 1KHz frame rate. There is a PLL that takes in the start of frame signal and generates a clock. Using this scheme its rather difficult to generate 44.1, but very easy to generate 48KHz. This is a primary reason why many early USB audio devices only supports 48KHz, they used this mode. As you can guess this mode is very susceptible to jitter on the bus, pretty much anything that causes the output from the host to be jittered (PS noise, vibrations, interference etc) AND things that can cause jitter on the interconnect (interference, reflections, ground noise etc) will wind up with jitter on the readout clock. This is a VERY poor mode to use for decent quality audio.

 

Adaptive: in this mode the clock comes from a separate clock generator (usually implemented as a PLL referenced by a crystal oscillator) that can have its frequency adjusted in small increments over a wide range. A control circuit (either hardware or firmware running on an embedded processor) measures the average rate of the DATA coming over the bus and adjusts the clock to match that. Since the clock is not directly derived from a bus signal it is far less sensitive to bus jitter than synchronous mode, but what is going on on the bus still can effect it. Its still generated by a PLL that takes its control from the circuits that see the jitter on the bus. Its a lot better than synchronous mode, but still not perfect by a long shot. This is the mode that MOST USB audio devices use today.

 

Asynchronous: in this mode an external clock is used to clock the data out of the buffer and a feedback stream is setup to tell the host how fast to send the data. A control circuit monitors the status of the buffer and tells the host to speed up if the buffer is getting too empty or slow daown if its getting too full. Note this is still isosynchronous, the host is continuously sending samples, there is no "per packet handshake" going on. Since the readout clock is not dependent on anything going on with the bus, it can be fed directly from a low jitter oscillator, no PLL need apply. This mode can be made to be VERY insensitive to bus jitter.

 

The reality: There are NO USB audio chips that out of the box support asynchronous mode! If any one here is aware of any please let me know. I have researched the field quite thoroughly and not found any. There are a few that theoretically do support it, but their firmware has to be rewritten to support asynchronous transfer. I have been trying to do this for one of these chips for the last several months and have been running into a lot of roadblocks. Sometime in the future I hope to get it working, but for now I have to live with chips that support adaptive mode.

 

These adaptive chips are not bad, they actually have quite good jitter performance, much better than I thought they would have when I started working with them. But its not perfect, or really even close. Because of this the DAC is still sensitive to whats going on with the cable and the host, not a lot, but it is definitely there.

 

As the quality of the power supply, DAC board layout and output stage have increased the level of grunge and noise from these sources on the output signal have decreased to the point where the jitter effects are a larger percentage of problems with the sound. You probably will have a hard time hearing these effects on a stock transit for example, there is too much else going on that is masking these effects. But once this other stuff is diminished significantly the effects of the interface jitter are much more noticeable.

 

Of course there is another way to deal with this, throw out the USB audio spec and write your own using the bulk protocol. Of course this means you have to write your own windows, MAC and linux drivers, AND your own firmware for a generic USB interface chip. It CAN be made to work and if done right could provide a very low jitter interface, but it is one heck of a lot of work, one I don't have the time for (unless someone here is willing to support me and my family so I can spend full time on this)

 

John Swenson

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

 

Whether any DAC uses Async USB (as opposed to other interface possibilities) is of LITTLE TO NO CONSEQUENCE unless every other element of the DAC and it's design is of extremely high quality, that includes power supply, analog section, board layout, filters, and dozens of other considerations.

 

Here is Charles Hansen's view:

"I think the DAC chip is only about 10% of the overall sound quality. The analog circuitry is probably 50%, the power supply is probably about 30%, the digital filter is about 10% and the DAC chip is probably around 10%."

 

notice anything missing there? :)

 

the advantage of asynchronous interfaces is, primarily, that it allows the DAC to take over as Master clock. Only if the DAC's clock has extremely low jitter, with it's associated circuitry contributing little to no additional jitter, will the advantages of Async interfaces be realized.

 

As if to underscore the premise (that Async alone is not the end-all, be-all), almost any interface method can be used to make incredibly good sounding DACs.

 

If I could have any DAC available, it wouldn't be Async USB, although there are certainly worthy candidates.

 

Doctor, you're out of your element here, and are simply parroting the words of others out of context, with apparently no understanding of what is required for good Digital to Analog conversion, and despite the change of venue to attract more 'interest' in your position, you've not done so.

 

enjoy your EMU 0404, it probably sounds good relative to it's cost. Probably so do a number of DACs at that price point, including the HRT streamers, etc.

 

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

I found the Oppo/Ayre thing mildly interesting for a couple of nano-jitters but, well, life's far too long for such things! Fancy waking up every morning worrying about who's re-badging what! Go down that path and before you know it you'll be taking the lids off things and photographing them, instead of listening to them!

 

Besides, Ayre aren't the only company I can think of who take an 'off-the-shelf' item as the starting point for their own product. Apple, for instance, have made rather a good living recently out of re-badging PC's, don'tcha think? ;)

 

Link to comment

 

 

"I found the Oppo/Ayre thing mildly interesting for a couple of nano-jitters"

 

As Charles explains in the link below, the Ayre in question is hardly a re-badging effort, so hopefully the couple of nano-jitters you found interesting were this rather than the presumably perjorative HydrogenAudio link (I stopped reading after the first few sentences).

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=17948105#post17948105

 

 

"Apple, for instance, have made rather a good living recently out of re-badging PC's, don'tcha think? ;)"

 

nice! :)

 

well, if you're referring to the fact that Apple computers now use Intel chips, then I see your point ... although some believe that the PowerPC-based G5s sound better. :0

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

I happen to own an E-Mu 0404 USB. I've had it for two or three years. It sounds pretty good. In fact, sometimes I prefer it to my eight hundred dollar Lynx Studio 2B because the E-Mu kind of smooths everything out and is easier to listen to on some music.

 

But that is the problem with the E-Mu as well. It smooths over details that are important to communicating the soul of a really good musical performance. Small dynamic fluctuations in strings or the sticking of a really good jazz drummer get lost via the E-Mu. From a frequency response perspective, low bass also suffers a bit and mid-bass is kind of soft. So while the E-Mu is pleasant to listen to in that it is does not exhibit upper midrange glare and such, it is also rather unengaging because it lacks the ability to pass the small details which draw me into a performance.

 

While I like the E-Mu 0404 USB better than the M-Audio Delta series, and I think it can be easier to listen to than both the Benchmark and the Lynx in certain systems, it does not sound anywhere near as good as the following DACs (which I have also owned) when compared in a side by side comparison: MHDT Labs Havana, Wavelength Cosecant, Prism Sound Orpheus.

 

 

 

Link to comment

Joined: 12/06/2007 .:. Offline .:. Comments: 394

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 10:49 — audioengr

 

"If Foobar, JRiver TMC 12 and 13 deliver bit perfect PCM to the USB 0404 to then be converted, how can the software players possibly sound different as described in the above posts? Surely if a signal is truely untouched there can be no difference in sound between players."

 

With the 0404, which is an asyc device, there should be no jitter differences, but there still may be.

 

Assuming no jitter differences, there are still things in the audio stream that can make things sound different. Converting from 16/44.1 to 24/44.1 for instance. There are other control bits too, such as emphasis bit.

 

Those that are leading this industry are aware of these differences and we are trying to determine what is causing this. Amarra has their theories. Gordon Rankin has his theories. Empirical Audio has their theories. None of use know the exact mechanisms in each situation. Even WiFi servers have demonstrated this phenomenon. WiFi, being networked should have nothing to do with the audio stack, so it does not make any sense. Someday one or all of us will have an answer for you.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

Joined: 04/23/2009 .:. Offline .:. Comments: 7

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 17:44 — alpine

alpine's picture

Asyncronous?

 

Hi Steve N.

 

Thanks for your explanation above about the differences in software players. I was not aware the 0404 is Asyncronous. This must be one of the few on the market today!

 

Thanks again,

Adrian.

 

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

As Chris has pointed out asio provides a means to recover a data stream unpolluted by Windows.

 

He is right. I am wrong.

 

However, the E-Mu 0404 IS an Asynchronous USB DAC. While Chris has not yet conceded this point in this thread, he has done so elsewhere.

 

The point of the original post was to point out that quality Asynch USB DACs from EMU have been in common use by professionals as well as audiophiles for some years.

 

It's fine that Empirical, Wavelength, dCS, and others realize the potential of asynch USB DACS in the marketplace. Every day more and more high rez downloads become available and naturally this will drive demand for the best possible sound chain.

 

I felt it was misleading for both a feature article and the featured review that followed to omit any mention of a readily available and cost effective means of playing back high resolution audio over USB using an Asynchronous USB DAC that does not cost $$$. Especially when that unit has been demonstrated to produce bit perfect output from asio using popular media players like JRiver and Foobar.

 

Does the EMU 0404 sound better than the new high end asynch USB DACs when playing back high resolution audio files? Truthfully I cannot say. I have not done the comparison for 24/88 and 24/96 audio files. But an increasing volume of my collection is 24/176 and 24/192. Of the asynch DACs Chris is talking up, NONE can decode those files.

 

Others have favorably compared the sound of the EMU0404 to high rez capable DACs from Weiss and Apogee in direct a/b tests. These cost 10x or more $$ than the EMU . These anecdotes as well as a a not insignificant amount of objective data can be found on posts from last year on this very forum.

 

Chris I apologize for mistakenly insisting that asio=asynch.

 

I do again state that I am grateful for the versatility of the EMU 0404 that in combination with JRiver and Foobar allows proper decoding of high rez DVD-As, downloaded music files, HRx Reference Recordings, and dsd to high rez PCM digital transfers of SACDs using a PS3 and an HDMI audio breakout box.

 

Peace.

 

 

 

\"Damn it Chris! I\'m a doctor, not an engineer!\"

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×
×
  • Create New...