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TC Impact Twin as firewire to spdif interface


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Product features jetPLL used in Weiss and other high end gear to minimize jitter.

 

Two firewire 400 ports and rca spdif outs.

 

Has up to 24/192 capabilities.

 

Also includes ad/da converters and mixing/pre amps/instrument capabilities that could come in handy for the creative folks.

 

Its $400, as opposed to others I have been considering to hook up to Wadia Dac: Legato (no high def); Wadia USB board addition ($1000 for an input???); Weiss (beaucoup $s); Wavelength UBD-spdif (not out yet and at least 2X$s); Empirical USB-spdif (more clocks, power supplies and options that add up to big $s that I don't frankly understand)....

 

Any thought from the technically proficient amongst us?

 

Tone with Soul

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Unlike their earlier TC Konnekt products (which I have one of) the Impact Twin does seem to offer SPDIF capabilities all the way up to 192 kHz, both input and output. That said, like many other semi-pro products, the specs are ambiguous and vague in some areas, and when all is said and done, you shouldn't expect a unit like this with mic preamps and many other hardware functions you won't use to perform on a par with a dedicated Firewire interface like a Weiss INT202. Jitter at the DAC chip is specified at 42 ps, but for all DIO just as less than 1 nsec. How much less is a pretty important question... OTOH, their chipset does work well and others, like Weiss, use it.

 

Just how well it will perform in relation to other budget solutions like the M2Tech Hiface is certainly an open point, and will be dependent on whether the associated DAC has any reasonable jitter rejection capability, and other factors like true galvanic isolation (which other TC products have provided).

 

The salient points for the Impact Twin are the DICE II chipset, the availability of both SPDIF inputs and outputs, and the extended sample rate range. Driver performance and stability is something else to consider; oddly, I've had better luck with the TC NEAR drivers for PPC than for Intel Mac, for example. On the PC side, it may be pretty well sorted out.

 

My thought is that if you have some need of the additional functionality, like the mic and Hi-Z inputs (for acoustics and speaker testing, for example) and have use for the SPDIF input (digital recording, for example), then at the typical street price of $399 it might be a very nice alternative to an RME Fireface unit with similar capabilities and much higher price. (Full disclosure: I do own an RME Fireface 800, use it a lot for various purposes, and am very happy with the driver support, feature set, and general performance- but we're talking 3X the price). The Fireface has one very important advantage that could be overriding in some circumstances, in that it supports using a separate word clock input for the system master clock, so it can be used with an Antelope Isochrone OCX, for example, with excellent results, while there is no similar facility with the Impact Twin. This is what puts the Fireface series solidly in the professional category, in my book, versus semi-pro or pro-sumer.

 

If you just need a playback interface, for up to quad rate PCM, and are on a budget, the M2Tech Hiface may make more sense at a far lower price, hoarding your cash reserves until the higher end interfaces expected later this year from Berkeley Audio and the Weiss INT202 are more widely available.

 

Unfortunately most of these items will not be found for audition or sale at your local Hi Fi emporiums, so it is somewhat of a ringer to suggest that you just listen to one and see if you like it, or that it meets your expectations. That's why a forum like CA can be helpful when there a variety of users with various experience and equipment levels willing to post about their opinions- still, their's may not match yours.

 

I'm curious about the Impact Twin myself, but have so many other projects going on demanding my discretionary income that $399 for something I already have good functionality for doesn't make much sense. I'm more interested in looking at what may be coming out later this year to use with my Berkeley Alpha DAC. It's unfortunate that the higher grade interfaces seem to cost almost as much as what we thought a few years ago was a decent price for a DAC, but getting the interface and clock stability "really right" is not at all trivial. In my own system, the best performance

 

In that more elevated price range, even an Antelope Zodiac DAC with SPDIF output may be an attractive consideration, considering Antelopes well deserved reputation for excellent clocks and clock distribution systems.

 

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jonmarsh, you have identified the options quite succinctly.

 

Having no computer audio other than an iTunes on an old laptop to support a free iTouch but a very musical hi fi set up (Wadia 861i, McCormack DNA-500 to drive Aerial 10Ts), I have been looking to "not go backwards" in sound quality and spend for the "new economy" to add a music server to access/store music (paying 2 Ivy League tuitions and one for prep school and have started a new business, so dropping $5-10Gs is out of the question and even $1500 for a box that USB/firewires to SPDIF seems dumb).

 

Unlike you, I do not have any overlap and do play guitar and having recording interface (like my studio hound buddy and fellow guitar player) is of interest. So the TC units extended features have utility, as long as I can hook up to Wadia and server music gets me to CD quality. Also know TC as HQ company, have a Chorus and familiar with their delay units designed for guitarists, all good stuff.

 

Could buy this unit and try for 30 days. One benefit of it being a pro-sumer unit. But RCA is the least attractive input on Wadia (BNC and AES/EBU are preferred).

 

Thanks for your time and well-considered opinions.

 

Tone with Soul

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If you can buy and try it for up to 30 days with return privileges, this sounds like a good bet. I do acoustics measurements and other things for which the analog I/O as well as digital is useful, and for under $500, I know of nothing that will match the Impact Twin in key functionality.

 

If you go ahead with it, please let us know how it turns out for you, as I have friends that might benefit from a good evaluation of the Impact Twin. And while BNC is certainly preferred for SPDIF, with a good cable you should be fine with the RCA connector.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

I have a TCIT.

 

For the price, it's fantastic. That being said, I have an upgraded power supply on both the unit and my Mac Mini.

 

It's somewhat forward and exaggerated stock. With the upgraded power supply this unit comes VERY close to the STOCK Metric Halo LIO-8, which I also own.

 

You can find it for $330 shipped off Amazon I think. It depends really on what you are using it for. Without some upgrades I don't care for it, but it is a VERY fun unit -- crystal clear and very dynamic. It just lacks the tonality, effortlessness, and smoothness when it doesn't have the upgrades. Again: for the price it's REALLY quite good. The HiFace doesn't come close.

 

Core Audio Technology Kryptos Media Server (Solid Maple Chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kratos fully digital amplifier amplifier (solid maple chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kalon Loudspeaker (crossoverless and full-range to 26hz).[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com[br]http://www.facebook.com/coreaudiotechnology[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/blog

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This is like the Profire I've been using as F/W to S/PDIF to DAC interface. Same Dice II chip. Works well for the prIce ($349 street). good low price solution.

 

Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

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This leaves lots of upgrade candidates. A lab/medical supply, LC filter for the stock supply, or a linear supply are good options.

If an Impact Twin with better supply is even close to a LIO, I need one myself. Still dinking around with an Apogee Duet for vinyl rips. This may be better.

How good is the ADC and mic pres?

 

George

 

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Eek... don't use a lab/medical supply. That's the whole reason people got the misconception that power supplies don't make a difference on the metric halo or TCIT. They can handle the current... but the level of noise generated and their slow speed KILL the sound. As I always say... bad in = bad out.

 

Upgrading the power supply on the Metric Halo and Mac Mini is the single largest upgrade I've made to my system in YEARS. Upgrading the power supply on the Mac Mini was larger than going for the Prism Orpheus and Metric Halo in the first place.

 

The prosumer units I've owned are the Apogee Duet, Ensemble, TC Studio Konnect 48, TC Impact Twin, TC Desktop 6, Prism Orpheus, Metric Halo ULN-8, Metric Halo LIO-8. And MANY MANY other DACs.

 

The TC Impact Twin is considerably better than the Apogee Duet. The Duet is smooth, but has an exaggerated LSB. The TCIT does as well, but if you leave it on power of two oversampling you should be fine.

 

The upgraded TC Impact Twin is actually higher resolution than the Orpheus, but it doesn't have the harmonic integrity that the prism has and by comparison the sound is a bit hyped. It's like artificial cherry flavor vs real cherry flavor. Both REALLY nice, it just depends on preference. NOS-heads will prefer the Orpheus, guys who have never heard a good NOS DAC will prefer the TCIT for the added hype and exaggerated LSB. I personally preferred the tonal layering of the Orpheus.

 

The Metric Halo sounds similar to the TCIT in terms of resolution. The upgraded power supply is what adds the REAL cherry flavor and tonal density. Stock, the unit is very similar to the Prism Orpheus. The Prism is smoother, the MH is purer. I think the Prism is the more accurate unit to begin with, but upgrading the power supply in the Prism is work whereas the MH DAC can easily be swapped out.

 

The Mic Pres on the TCIT are quite good. They're the next-gen mic pres from what are used on the TCK48, the flagship unit. Granted, the TC Desktop 6 and TCIT both sound CONSIDERABLY better than the TCK48. But the Mic pres are definitely better than the Duet.

 

Rather than advertise about our power supplies for these units, if you have questions please just send me a PM. Our company Core Audio hasn't officially launched. Lots of cool things in store that aren't offered anywhere else so we're trying to get ahead of the pack so-to-speak.

 

Hope that information was of use.

 

 

Kind regards,

Ryan

 

Core Audio Technology Kryptos Media Server (Solid Maple Chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kratos fully digital amplifier amplifier (solid maple chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kalon Loudspeaker (crossoverless and full-range to 26hz).[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com[br]http://www.facebook.com/coreaudiotechnology[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/blog

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With several TC Impact Twin owners here, has anyone looked inside? Like D/A and A/D converters, opamps, ASRC chips.

Read that the dacs are AKM, and with 192K capability they are AK4396, 4395, or 4394. No clue on everything else.

These specs are not that important to overall sound quality. The parts in the Orpheus and ULN8/LIO8 are ordinary quality. It is how they are used that matters.

 

 

George

 

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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I'm taking apart and modifying mine this weekend, time permitting. I can report back if people want.

 

 

To give you an idea of the kind of potential one can get from the TCIT here is a testimonial I just got from my partner at Core who just put our power supply on his TCIT:

 

"It has about 3 hours of play. Even RAW that PS transformed the TCIT. The BLOOM and TRANSPARENCY and 3D HOLOGRAPHIC IMAGING and ORGANIC TONE are intoxicating. The "slam" and "roundness" and "roll" of the bass notes is incredible. The micro-dynamics and micro-detail are on a whole new level. What was questionable and unbelievable "CG music" is now more organic than anything I can recall.

 

There is not just depth, image, and transparency, but the 3D presentation of the instruments within the 3D space is INCREDIBLE. It's like before the image was cardboard cut-outs with shading placed in layers (like old 3D movies) and now each shape has depth and dimension as well as depth in relation to the other instruments.

 

The PRAT is totally believable with INTENSITY when the music calls for it and subtlety when it doesn't.

 

I'd say it's easily as big an upgrade as putting this supply on the mac mini. And this is just the BASIC supply, looking forward to trying the dual regulators and bigger jensens..."

 

If you guys wish, I will keep you posted as we modify the TCIT to let you know what we change and where. Even with basic upgrades this thing can be one hell of a unit for ~$1k.

 

 

Best regards,

Ryan

 

 

Core Audio Technology Kryptos Media Server (Solid Maple Chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kratos fully digital amplifier amplifier (solid maple chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kalon Loudspeaker (crossoverless and full-range to 26hz).[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com[br]http://www.facebook.com/coreaudiotechnology[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/blog

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Ryan (Mintzar) - Posting about your products, including testimonials, is not allowed here. Despite what you may think I'm actually helping you. Posting about your products this way backfires 100% of the time here on CA. The readers here are smart and will see through all attempts at free advertising and will group you into the same category as many other unscrupulous people in the industry. Just so you know, CA members have already contacted me about your posts.

 

No matter what your motives are for posting about your own products (good, bad, indifferent) these posts are not helping you or CA readers as a whole. When in doubt, don't post.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Bought one from eBay. Everything looks solid.

Opened it up to look inside. DAC's were a little of a letdown, pair of AK4620 look to be AD/DA converters. The output opamps are 4 NE5532. These are dip, hardwired in.

The design is new, but looks dated. Mix of surface mount and through hole.

All the electrolytics are through hole, all 66 of them. Some good good quality, Elna and Nichicon. Bunch of Elite. Couple Wima red case poly caps. Counted 20 leaded resistors. Maybe some of the circuitry came from the older Konnect series.

I used to think the NE5532 need to go. But if they are good enough for Metric Halo they are good enough for me.

The guts of the Apogee Duet look better. It will be interesting to see which is better for digitizing vinyl.

 

George

 

 

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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  • 8 months later...

Hello,

I tested an impact twin as firewire spdif converter last night into an altmann dac and I have to say the results were very pleasing - way way better then the hiface I used before.

But I could not get the spdif to work at highest sample rates.

It seems that only analogue outputs are active at highest sample rates.

Does any one know wether there is a possibility in set up activate spdif all the way through?

 

thanks

axel

 

Jan Allaerts Cartridge, Simon Yorke S9, Pass Lab phono, Balanced Audio Rex, Balanced Audio D5SE, Balanced Audio VK60 Monoblocks, Sonus Faber Amati, Cables Harmonic tech, experimemnting with mac book pro, Highface, TC Twin Impact, Altman Dac

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I used one of the Impact Twins before getting the Audiophilleo 2. The Impact Twin does a good job. I don't have any files above 96 khz sample rates. But it played 88.2 and 96 files just fine. If your looking to play 176 or 192 I seem to remember the manual somewhere saying it does 96 on Toslink and 192 on coax. I was using coax when I had it as my main playback rig.

 

 

 

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Thanks for the promt answer.

Comparing the Twin/Altman to my Balanced Audio CD Player, the balanced delivers that texture which really let the music embrass you. The Twin makes it more clean. In what aspect performs the audiophilo2 different.

Trying to get that texture into the sound again.

regards

axel

 

Jan Allaerts Cartridge, Simon Yorke S9, Pass Lab phono, Balanced Audio Rex, Balanced Audio D5SE, Balanced Audio VK60 Monoblocks, Sonus Faber Amati, Cables Harmonic tech, experimemnting with mac book pro, Highface, TC Twin Impact, Altman Dac

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Clean sound is easy.

 

Texture, organic tones, emotional content, and proper harmonic content -- or lack there of -- comes from the power supply. It has nothing to do with timing or jitter -- both of which are substantially below the audible spectrum. Master clocks do not fix timing, but allow the power supply voltage to be more accurately applied to the resistors in the DAC chip. More accurate voltage application translates to less amplitude distortion on the ones and zeros. This means more organic character, better harmonic content, and less of that hash and grain.

 

The likely reason that the BP CD Player sounds better is because they aren't using a cheap switchmode power supply like the TCIT.

 

Core Audio Technology Kryptos Media Server (Solid Maple Chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kratos fully digital amplifier amplifier (solid maple chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kalon Loudspeaker (crossoverless and full-range to 26hz).[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com[br]http://www.facebook.com/coreaudiotechnology[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/blog

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Well the Audiophilleo is asynch USB which should have very low jitter. The Twin Impact should have pretty low jitter already itself though not likely as low as what the Audiophilleo should get you.

 

No way to know for sure what causes the difference. But in short everything sounded just better using the Audiophilleo. A bit more detail, a bit more relaxed and easy to listen quality, firmed up bass and more texture. Just a higher quality playback overall. The Twin Impact wasn't bad. Probably equaled CD transports of at least a mid level quality. The Audiophilleo seems better than those transports of mid-level quality and perhaps on par with high quality transports (haven't had a good chance to directly compare with top quality transports).

 

I am using a Tact 2150XDM. This unit keeps everything digital until the actual amplifier output stage. It is a switching amp itself. Runs at 384 khz internally with digital processing at 192 khz. So nothing is analog until the speaker outputs at the back of the amp.

 

A couple of friends have the Musical Fidelity V-link. Haven't had them exactly side by side for comparison, but it has a similar quality to the Audiophilleo. If it doesn't equal the Audiophilleo it gets you more than halfway there. So no way to know for sure at this point, but as both V-link and Audiophilleo units reason to exist is improved timing of the SPDIF stream, and both make similar differences I would tend to lean toward that being why they sound better.

 

I have no way to do it, I did wonder how the Twin IMpact would do if you used it as your DAC letting it feed your amp or pre-amp. I did use it as a reclocker feeding it SPDIF from a player and then onto my Tact. I didn't think it helped much on a good transport. It actually did a pretty good job helping a cheap Bluray player sound lots better than the digital out of that player otherwise sounded. So I guessed the reclocking the Twin Impact does is in fact effective.

 

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Ryan,

When you tried an upgraded supply for the Impact Twin what did you hear? I have a Twin, and have considered a better supply.

I also think upgrade clocks provide benefits besides timing. Those massive supplies feeding the expensive ones are there for a reason.

 

George

 

 

2012 Mac Mini, i5 - 2.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM. SSD,  PM/PV software, Focusrite Clarett 4Pre 4 channel interface. Daysequerra M4.0X Broadcast monitor., My_Ref Evolution rev a , Klipsch La Scala II, Blue Sky Sub 12

Clarett used as ADC for vinyl rips.

Corning Optical Thunderbolt cable used to connect computer to 4Pre. Dac fed by iFi iPower and Noise Trapper isolation transformer. 

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Hey George,

 

Take this with a grain of salt since I've spent the last three years developing and testing power supplies and technologies specifically for digital audio and now sell them.

 

But my experience with a power supply upgrade to the TCIT translated to:

1. More real resolution (not top-end tilting that gives the impression of clarity)

2. Far better harmonic content, tones and textures are more layered and intelligible

3. Better musical flow. Dynamics become both more intense, but less forward.

4. Substantially less fatiguing.

 

The upgraded TCIT sounded better than the stock Metric Halo LIO-8.

 

Bare in mind that I had a high end power supply on my mac mini with my own internal power filter inside the mac mini chassis. I was also not running a cheap supply on the TCIT. So YMMV depending on the path you choose.

 

PM me and I'll give you some names of a few people who have power supplies on their TCIT or just ordered them.

 

Don't get me wrong, my digital amp uses a high-end clock for reclocking each stage up to the output of the amp -- so I obviously think clocking is important, but 90% of the performance comes from the power supplies IME.

 

Does that answer your question?

 

Core Audio Technology Kryptos Media Server (Solid Maple Chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kratos fully digital amplifier amplifier (solid maple chassis) > Core Audio Technology Kalon Loudspeaker (crossoverless and full-range to 26hz).[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com[br]http://www.facebook.com/coreaudiotechnology[br]http://www.coreaudiotechnology.com/blog

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allow the power supply voltage to be more accurately applied to the resistors in the DAC chip. More accurate voltage application translates to less amplitude distortion on the ones and zeros

 

Resistors? Sounds like you are talking about multibit ladder-DACs. ImpactTwin has delta-sigma DACs like almost all new gear. On those, timing affects amplitude as well as frequency, roughly 50/50 ratio. Even on old style ladder DACs, timing affects amplitude too, because reconstructed amplitude as function of time is function of time-relations as well as amplitude values of multiple samples.

 

 

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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