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USB-S/pdif converters


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I am not an audiophile. I have enough money invested in audio gear to buy a new economy car, but I do not think about the kit most of the time--modest in audiophile terms. I obsess about it sometimes, make some moves, and forget about it for months at a time. I just want to listen to music. When Amarri and Pure Music came out I settled on Pure Music, and just recently remembered that I had intended to think more about my USB-S/pdif connection. I am using an Off-ramp II running with battery power, out of a Mac G5. I know a spate of new converters have appeared on the market. Will someone bring me up to speed? What should I look at? Thanks in advance.

 

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Sadly, there's a lot out there and no clear winners. I use a Legato, from Analog Research Technology. AFAIK, it has the best clocks and best reclocking (read: lowest jitter) that you can currently buy. But, it's limited to 44.1kHz sampling.

 

Then there's the Wavelength Wavelink, which supports files up to 24b/192kHz.

 

Both of these converters use asynchronous code written by Wavelength and require no "special" drivers to work.

 

Then there's the Audiophileo, M2Tech HiFace and Evo, Halide Bridge, and several others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

 

And not to mention a host of those now worth forgetting, including the HagUSB from Hagerman or the USBLink from Bel Canto. Nothing wrong with them, but AFAIK, the jitter those things have no longer qualify them for "serious use".

 

Prices vary, but generally range from $500 to $1000.

 

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Empirical Audio is also offering Async USB device in the form of USB Pace Car II reclocker thingy using HiFace software.

 

Regards,

Joe Ling

 

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is fair to say the following (as recommendations):

If you want the ability to decode up to 24/192, you have two (perhaps 3 with the new offering from Empirical Audio) real choices:

The Wavelength Wavelink (likely that nothing outperforms this, my opinion only).

And The HiFace Evo. The Evo is more affordable, but need an aftermarket power supply to provide its best performance; the Wavelink comes with a clever battery supply, that automatically charges from your computer when idle.

For up to 24/96, you can add the Halide Designs Bridge-reports are that this also offers top performance.

For 16/44.1 only, there is the a-rt Legato, as mentioned by Scott above, this offers top performance for CD res audio only.

If I was strictly looking for the best performing USB-SPDIF unit I would go with the Wavelink. Wavelength Audio is a proven leader in USB technology, and the Wavelink is a cool little box that requires no external power supply or cabling, and it can handle 24/192 files with no drivers (for Mac users, Windows requires drivers).

 

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Recently switched from using a firewire TC Electronics Konnekt8 to a USB Halide Design Bridge for S/pdif conversion to my Dac1. Vast improvement in almost every way. Smoother highs, a more solid bass, better music all around. Most of my music is 44khz with some 96khz. This product is listed in the CA recommended list and there was an excellent review a few months ago. Good luck.

 

Mike[br]Amarra Full Version 2.3.3 (Cache 2mb/Playlist)>OSX Lion/Jollyfast VNC>Mac Mini 2ghz 8gb>Halide Design Bridge>Benchmark Dac1>CJ 17LS>CJ MF2250A>Thiel CS1.6>REL R-205, PS Audio Quartet/P300, Nordost Heimdall/Cardas Quadlink.

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Everyone is generous with their knowledge and experience.

 

The amount of hi-rez music available is increasing, but I am guessing that the audiophile market will never be large enough to move the music industry. The quick money to be made is with mp3s.

 

We really are fuddy-duddies, I fear. Here, on a board devoted to computer audio, analog is still the standard of quality.

 

Young people don't know what an LP is. And their interest is not in reproducing exactly the sound of a Stradivarius. They are going to drive the music business.

 

Of course, there might be a niche for audiophile-quality recordings, if it could be done simply, but dealing with the rights issues would be complicated and involve many hours by expensive lawyers.

 

At any rate, I have 2000 LPs and twice or more that many CDs. Even though I buy a dozen or so CDs a month--at my age--I am not going to build a music collection in another format.

 

So my question is this: does Legato restrict its converter to CD rez, because they get better sound than they could by also doing hi-rez? If I think I don't care about the hi-rez, is the Legato my best choice/

 

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"So my question is this: does Legato restrict its converter to CD rez, because they get better sound than they could by also doing hi-rez?"

 

We designed the Legato to do one thing, and one thing only: play back Redbook CDs, without compromise. By only having one clock frequency,we are able to cut out any additional stages, that would be necessary to switch sampling rates.

 

Would that significantly affect sound? Maybe less than we want to claim or believe. It did make the layout of the PCB easier. We go to great lengths, to make sure the current flow, throughout the ground plane, is such that the most sensitive circuits are not affected by the chips that do all the heavy work. (The USB chip, mainly.)

 

OK, so is it worth it? More than one customer has ordered a second unit. They all tried most of the more popular units, but sent them back. Tried ours, on a lark, and ended up buying 2 of them.

 

I would say it does, but I'll let you decide. We provide for a very generous audition. Just in case.

 

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"We designed the Legato to do one thing, and one thing only: play back Redbook CDs, without compromise. By only having one clock frequency,we are able to cut out any additional stages, that would be necessary to switch sampling rates" Ar-T

 

Is there any issue, say, with running different converters for the different sampling rates? I'm wondering about running a dedicated 16/44 converter for large amount of RBCD material and, in another USB port, a higher resolution converter for the small amount of 96/44 material.

 

APS

 

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