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Hard time choosing USB interface!


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I know these topics hot by now but sincerely, too much is like not enough. Let me explain.

 

First, i'm a proud new owner of a berkeley alpha dac. Well, will be when it's gonna be siting in my house! I auditioned it for about 3-4 hours and all i can say is wow! Compared it with the Devilsoud i had with me and although it's not a fair match, at least i know what i was missing.

 

Then last week with one of my buddy, we had the chance to hear the new integrated amplifier DSI200 from Audio Research and while being there, listen to the new debussy from DCS. I was told that the DCS was so good that even the DSI200 was a bottleneck for this dac. True or false, the thing is that it's a great match. Can't say with Dac, alpha or debussy, is better cause the audition was completely different. Not same place, amp, cables, or speakers. While testing the DCS debussy, we tried the usb integration of the DCS + a Cardass usb cable vs a M2tech Hiface coupled with a pretty expensive Siltech coax cable vs a Ayre QB-9. To make a short story, the usb input of the DCS was no match and not by a small margin. What a surprise! Didn't know that little thing could sound so great. As for the QB-9, great little machine but again, no match for the DCS

 

I was pretty much sold on the new Halide Bridge since it's already BNC(great for the alpha dac) and async. But with what i'v heard with the Hiface with this kind of cable, i'm back to square zero.

 

The thing is, contrary as some had speculated earlier, supposedly berkeley will indeed be releasing a usb to AES/EBU interface but not until a year or two from now! So a future purchase but for now i have to find something that gives great sound without killing my wallet since it' a temporary solution.

 

So here is the choices i think is great for my kind of situation:

-M2tech Hiface=(24/192)Great price, but to get the kind of incredible sound i heard from it, well the siltech spdif cable is about 1200$ and once the berkeley interface is out, i wont have any uses of this cable.

 

-Halide Bridge=(24/96)Seems great but not enough reviews yet. And without judging just by look, it would be suprised that the lack of isolation for the usb cable of the Halide would give an edge over the Hiface, but then again, i could be wrong!

 

-Wavelengh Wavelink=(24/192)I think this will be the best converter on the market. The problem is, it's not out yet. And i wont wait another month or two. I'v waited a year to buy my alpha dac!

 

-ART Legato=(16/44)From what i'v read, looks great but impossible to buy the thing . Seems there's too much demand.

 

-Empirical Offramp 3=(24/192)This thing have the AES/EBU output the alpha dac would dare to uses but i hate the marketing for the thing! Ultraclock this, superclock that! PLEASE, without being on the negative side, i"m no engineering. So it is possible to make simpler like "I'm 5 years old and just want something between my mac min and my berkeley alpha dac" thanks you!

 

All those solution seems great, maybe better that the coming solution from berkeley, who knows! If someone can help me making the wiser choice. It would be appreciated.

 

Thanks!

 

Shunyata Hydra 8 V.II > Shunyata Python > Bolder Cable PSU(Furutech Fuse) > Mac mini(SSD/8Gb/Amarra/Drobo) > Locus Design Nucleus > Wavelength Wavelink > Siltech Golden Ridge BNC > Berkeley Alpha Dac > Shunyata Stratos IC > Audio Research DSI200 > Shunyata Andromeda SC > Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand/Rel Britannia B1.

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Coming in July, should have AES/EBU output, External Power Supply Options and optional external Word Clock.

 

Patience is a virtue!

 

One comment on the Berkeley forthcomer, surely they will also release a new/revised DAC with this included?

 

Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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astaroth commented... "While testing the DCS debussy, we tried the usb integration of the DCS + a Cardass usb cable vs a M2tech Hiface coupled with a pretty expensive Siltech coax cable vs a Ayre QB-9. To make a short story, the usb input of the DCS was no match and not by a small margin. What a surprise!"

 

Can I just clarify, you felt that the combination of the HiFace with Siltech cable into the dCS Debussy beat USB directly into the Debussy?

 

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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Chris,

Great to hear that the USB solution from Berkeley Audio will be out this year...

Mid year??? End of year???

I am wait to see how it will perform before deciding on the media playback computer refresh....

 

 

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Yes exactly. The combination of Hiface coupled with Siltech SPDIF cable connected to the DCS Debussy is far superior than connecting the mac directly to the USB input. The sound is much more analog without being dull or flat or irritating HISS. Could a really good USB cable, like a locus design, would have made a difference? Maybe but the store didn't have such a cable.

 

As for my comment of the berkeley USB interface being out in a year or two. When my seller called berkeley last week for when i would recieved my unit, i ask him if he could check for any USB interface the the compagny is working on. So told me that the Berkeley alpha dac will not change, and that they are indeed working on a USB interface but would be release only in about a year or two. Now, i don't want to start a war on this. But if it was true that the interface woud be out this year, my seller would had told me so cause he surrely knows i'm a potential buyer.

 

Shunyata Hydra 8 V.II > Shunyata Python > Bolder Cable PSU(Furutech Fuse) > Mac mini(SSD/8Gb/Amarra/Drobo) > Locus Design Nucleus > Wavelength Wavelink > Siltech Golden Ridge BNC > Berkeley Alpha Dac > Shunyata Stratos IC > Audio Research DSI200 > Shunyata Andromeda SC > Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand/Rel Britannia B1.

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If seams to me that you have written several of your option out already because you aren't willing to wait ... the WaveLink and Empirical Audio OffRamp (supporting 24/192) are all not yet available like the Berkerley and the ART Legato is difficult to obtain due to manufacturing delays (I think that was what you were suggesting). So your only options are the M2Tech HiFace and the Halide Design Bridge - oh and the Bridge is listed as not yet shipping on the website. So why not go for the HiFace with a more realistic priced cable? It will certainly give you good sound for now ... with the potential to upgrade later with a different cable or interface. The other option you didn't mention was the Weiss INT202 which is FireWire not USB so not sure if that is an option you could consider.

 

May also be worth contacting Berkerley direct to ask about their USB to SPDIF converter and when it's likely to be available.

 

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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That's exactly what I'd do -- get something for now and then get whatever it is you really want later. I had no idea Pat was so backed up, otherwise, I'd say its a no-brainer which way you should go. I have nothing against Empirical, but their prices are stratospheric for what they offer. M2Tech is not the *best* per se, but for the price, they're really hard to beat. All you'll need is a BNC cable.

 

Speaking of which, let's talk about Siltech. I personally feel that this entire brand is some kind of joke. There is, quite simply, no justification for that price. That's insane. All you need is a true low-capacitance cable with good quality connectors -- and only then if you're going to be running the cable at any serious length. It matters far more that you're using RCA vs BNC vs AES than if you're running Siltech vs Blue Jeans for the actual wire. And, unfortunately, that comment probably would start a flame war. LOL.

 

BTW, there are those (Pat at ART being the notable example) that hold that BNC is FAR superior to AES as a SPDIF connector. Just something to consider.

 

As an Alpha owner, I'm interested in a USB-to-AES converter so I can free up the coax input on my Alpha for my SACD player (for redbook playback only, SACD will of course have to go out to the preamp as analog). I think that the Alpha does really great as a DAC for a CD transport, but I really dislike having to duck behind the rack and rewire everything just to push a CD through it.

 

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Out of interest - does anyone know if the Berkerley USB converter is actually using the AES port, or is it something to do with the BADA encrypted RJ45 input?

 

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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I just thought of a good one after reading this thread.

 

There should be a company called Good Looking Cable. It would use cable like Canare, Gotham, Mogami, Blue Jeans, Etc... (think very reasonable price with high performance). Then use all kinds of designs to make the cable look as good as people's audio components. I think a company that came right out and talked about aesthetic appeal with good solid cable would be really cool. It would be very clear for people who believe cable is cable but want something visually appealing as well. Like saying, "Here is what's on the inside, and here's what's on the outside." No secret sauce.

 

OK maybe I'm a bit out there on this one :~)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Following on from Chris' thought... "There should be a company called Good Looking Cable. It would use cable like Canare, Gotham, Mogami, Blue Jeans, Etc... (think very reasonable price with high performance). Then use all kinds of designs to make the cable look as good as people's audio components. I think a company that came right out and talked about aesthetic appeal with good solid cable would be really cool. It would be very clear for people who believe cable is cable but want something visually appealing as well. Like saying, "Here is what's on the inside, and here's what's on the outside." No secret sauce."

 

I think I like Meridian's new plan ... wire everything with RJ45 Cat5e cables. No more arguments that way.

 

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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AK-DL1: Ultra Premium Denon Link Cable: $499.00

 

Edit: The only RJ45 / Ethernet cable to have its own User Manual [Link] and Product Sheet [Link]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AK-DL1

 

Denon's 1.5 meter (59 in.) proprietary ultra premium Denon Link cable was designed for the audio enthusiast. Made from high purity copper wire and high performance connection parts, the AK-DL1 will bring out all the nuances in digital audio reproduction from any of our Denon DVD players with the Denon Link feature connected to a Denon Link enabled Denon A/V receiver. The AK-DL1 employs high level tin-bearing alloy shielding not typically available in commercial cabling, to eliminate data loss caused by noise. Additionally, signal directional markings are provided for optimum signal transfer. Attention to detail when building this cable was used by employing high quality insulation and woven jacketing to reduce vibration and to add durability. Rounded plug levers help prevent breakage.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Okay good point Chris ... though Meridian are more ...

 

 

 

305m for £93.17 (+ VAT)

 

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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Get the HiFace and a Black Cat Veloce (or the slightly better stereolab XV-2 Ultra) BNC digital cable. Then upgrade to the Wavelink when it comes out. If you are not married to USB, you should consider the Weiss INT 202.

I very much doubt that the Siltech Cable you auditioned could be much (if at all) better than the Stereolab XV-2.

 

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

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Your Mac mini has an optical output and will connect directly to a Berkeley Alpha. It will support sample rates up to 24/96. This is the arrangement I use.

 

If you want to enjoy higher resolution audio than that, then you will need a USB interface or some other means of connecting the Apple to the DAC.

 

But if your motive is that you've read that USB or AES is a better interface than Toslink optical, and you merely want to listen to ordinary CD resolution music, then I'd urge you to do nothing until you've listened to your Berkeley with an optical connection for a number of weeks.

 

I've listened to several devices in my system with a variety of connections and find that the Berkeley is the most satisfying of them. Though there are many suggestions in this forum that the sound quality is strongly correlated with the connection method, it is my experience that this idea is grounded in theory rather than what I actually hear.

 

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To DacBuyer

 

I will make it clear, every time i'v listned to the optical output from my mac book pro or mac mini against my Devilsound DAC or the HIface, the toslink is nowere near the sound of my other device. When i auditionned the berkeley alpha dac, the same thing appened again. Once i connected my Occotocoupler MKII from the toslink output of the macbook pro to the berkeley, everything became wrong. The soundstage collapse, sound becomes flat and dull, not inviting anymore. I woudn't say that it's crap, but there is a lot more better solution out there.

 

Shunyata Hydra 8 V.II > Shunyata Python > Bolder Cable PSU(Furutech Fuse) > Mac mini(SSD/8Gb/Amarra/Drobo) > Locus Design Nucleus > Wavelength Wavelink > Siltech Golden Ridge BNC > Berkeley Alpha Dac > Shunyata Stratos IC > Audio Research DSI200 > Shunyata Andromeda SC > Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand/Rel Britannia B1.

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Ok thanks for all your help! Finally i'm gonna go with a Hiface. I think it's the wise choice for the money. But look's like it's impossible to purchase that in canada anymore! Anybody have an idea?

 

Shunyata Hydra 8 V.II > Shunyata Python > Bolder Cable PSU(Furutech Fuse) > Mac mini(SSD/8Gb/Amarra/Drobo) > Locus Design Nucleus > Wavelength Wavelink > Siltech Golden Ridge BNC > Berkeley Alpha Dac > Shunyata Stratos IC > Audio Research DSI200 > Shunyata Andromeda SC > Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Concert Grand/Rel Britannia B1.

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