Jump to content
IGNORED

Best Audiophile USB Card ?


Recommended Posts

5 hours ago, cab33 said:

The cables are what really count.

 

The USB card is more important than the USB cable.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/28/2020 at 10:29 PM, matthias said:

 

The new JCAT USB XE and this one from Sonnet for example:

 

https://www.sonnettech.com/product/allegro-usbc-pcie.html

 

Both use the ASM3142 chip which seems to be the best sounding one.

 

Matt

Taiko chose a different chipset for their USB card, they rejected ASM3142

 

Also the Sonnet card doesn’t accept LPS and is unclear what the clock is. So on paper it can’t compete with others like Jcat or PF

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Topk said:

Taiko chose a different chipset for their USB card, they rejected ASM3142

 

Also the Sonnet card doesn’t accept LPS and is unclear what the clock is. So on paper it can’t compete with others like Jcat or PF

 

Yes, Taiko do not use the ASM.

Very often there is no relation between specs and musicality so there is no way than to do a listening comparison.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, matthias said:

 

Yes, Taiko do not use the ASM.

Very often there is no relation between specs and musicality so there is no way than to do a listening comparison.

 

Matt

Speaking about listening comparisons, I did try the El Fidelity (EF) USB card that was mentioned above. It is actually surprisingly good and will sound better (yes significantly BETTER) than Jcat Femto and XE if your system is not fully sorted with top LPS like JS2, optimo/initio, SJ or PH....etc, ATX LPS etc. The EF sounds naturally very musical, fuller and warmer. But it can’t reach the level of Jcat past a certain point. 

 

So yes, the Jcat cards have huge potential and ultimately are in a different level than the EF (no doubt) BUT they need excellent power and generally speaking a very well sorted PC AND they need a higher end hifi system.

 

With a lower to mid end setup, I actually recommend the EF vs Jcat. A friend who had or tried Pink Faun, EF, Femto and XE says the same conclusion. He bought and left Femto on the shelf for more than a year and used EF until he maxed out his PC and only then the Femto was better (much better actually). 

 

The EF is only 39 EUR so the value for money is off the charts and you can’t go wrong... it’s probably too cheap psychologically for many people... just use a decent LPS (like a Allo Shanti or lower end Uptone) or even an Anker 20Kmh battery pack. With a top end LPS, the EF doesn’t sound so good paradoxically and you really need to move to Jcat or PF etc.

 

This finding is correlated by alpha audio website. You don’t have to believe me so just buy both Jcat and EF and let us know... you might be surprised.

 

for context I have a McIntosh based setup and an Asus/Apacer/AMD 3950x (16 cores) based PC streamer with 4 LPS

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Savolax said:

The prices (or approximates at this point) would be interesting to know and maybe a general designing and end product goals regarding the known top cards JCAT USB XE and Pink Faun USB Bridge Ultra OCXO.

With this miniXLR clock connection the cards seem to have designed use just with your devices transmitting clock on such plug though?

Hi Savalox,

 

thanks for the question:

 

“As far as availability and prices, I can share the following actual infos:
 
- USB P24 card: 300 € gross enduser price
Early bird introductory price:  gross 250 € till May 31, 2021
- USB P24 OCXO card: 490 € gross enduser price
Early bird introductory price:  gross 400 €  till May 31, 2021
 
We appreciate the loyalty of those already chosen our USB cards!
 
Best regards:
    
the Core Audio team”

 

About the  clock connectivity: 

i’ll share some pictures about the clock connection between our P24 system parts (music server - usb/spdif reclocker - dac) in the next few days, thank you for your parience.

 

The reclocker (called KARUNA P24) have 4 clocks inside:

22.5792 MHz and 24.576MHz for the audio frequencies, 24 MHz for the USB connection via XMOS. The 10 MHz OCXO inside generate and control the PLL. We made 2pcs 24 MHz clock output to chassis with miniXLR 50ohm connectors.

The reclocker can send the 24 MHz signal to the USB-card (USB P24) and the other one to the dac (DENPO P24).

Used that 3 equipments all parts are on the same PLL and works like every part have a very good OCXO clock. That lift up the level of SQ. Of course the components works in stand alone version too.

 

Comparison with high level cards (like Pink Faun, Pink Faun OCXO, Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO, JCAT Femto, JCAT USB XE, MATRIX Femto, PP V6 etc.): we listen a couple of weeks different cards and setups during the development phases. Included the cheapest 30-50USD normal PCIe USB cards too. It was necessary to know why so good or bad are some solution. Today i think the first class is the PF Ultra OCXO card. 
i didn’t can’t/want to compare our cards with these cards, that wouldn’t be a fairplay thing. I hope our customers will try them and compare and make a decision and write a review. 

Now we are in a development phase to make our flagship USB card too what use ASM chipset (the USB P24 and USB P24 OCXO use Renesas chipset, we found them a great sounding controller on the market). 
 

Thank you for your interesting.

 

Manufacturer of Core Audio equipments

                www.coreaudio.eu

Music Server: Core Audio DAIDO Reference - KARUNA USB/SPDIF Bidge - DENPO DAC - DECHA Power Amplifier monoblocks

Cables: TARALABS

Loudspeakers: MBL

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, matthias said:

 

Yes, Taiko do not use the ASM.

Very often there is no relation between specs and musicality so there is no way than to do a listening comparison.

 

Matt

Hi Matt,

do you know which type of chipset is preferred by Emile? I didn’t find it.

thanks,

Viktor

Manufacturer of Core Audio equipments

                www.coreaudio.eu

Music Server: Core Audio DAIDO Reference - KARUNA USB/SPDIF Bidge - DENPO DAC - DECHA Power Amplifier monoblocks

Cables: TARALABS

Loudspeakers: MBL

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, wittao said:

Hi Matt,

do you know which type of chipset is preferred by Emile? I didn’t find it.

thanks,

Viktor

 

There was no disclosure by Emile, he said it is an "industrial" one.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, wittao said:

Hi Savalox,

 

thanks for the question:

 

“As far as availability and prices, I can share the following actual infos:
 
- USB P24 card: 300 € gross enduser price
Early bird introductory price:  gross 250 € till May 31, 2021
- USB P24 OCXO card: 490 € gross enduser price
Early bird introductory price:  gross 400 €  till May 31, 2021
 
We appreciate the loyalty of those already chosen our USB cards!
 
Best regards:
    
the Core Audio team”

 

About the  clock connectivity: 

i’ll share some pictures about the clock connection between our P24 system parts (music server - usb/spdif reclocker - dac) in the next few days, thank you for your parience.

 

The reclocker (called KARUNA P24) have 4 clocks inside:

22.5792 MHz and 24.576MHz for the audio frequencies, 24 MHz for the USB connection via XMOS. The 10 MHz OCXO inside generate and control the PLL. We made 2pcs 24 MHz clock output to chassis with miniXLR 50ohm connectors.

The reclocker can send the 24 MHz signal to the USB-card (USB P24) and the other one to the dac (DENPO P24).

Used that 3 equipments all parts are on the same PLL and works like every part have a very good OCXO clock. That lift up the level of SQ. Of course the components works in stand alone version too.

 

Comparison with high level cards (like Pink Faun, Pink Faun OCXO, Pink Faun ULTRA OCXO, JCAT Femto, JCAT USB XE, MATRIX Femto, PP V6 etc.): we listen a couple of weeks different cards and setups during the development phases. Included the cheapest 30-50USD normal PCIe USB cards too. It was necessary to know why so good or bad are some solution. Today i think the first class is the PF Ultra OCXO card. 
i didn’t can’t/want to compare our cards with these cards, that wouldn’t be a fairplay thing. I hope our customers will try them and compare and make a decision and write a review. 

Now we are in a development phase to make our flagship USB card too what use ASM chipset (the USB P24 and USB P24 OCXO use Renesas chipset, we found them a great sounding controller on the market). 
 

Thank you for your interesting.

 

Can you use external LPS with those cards?

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, matthias said:

 

There was no disclosure by Emile, he said it is an "industrial" one.

 

Matt

Renasus UPD720202 from the package and circuit's pin out.

 

The -711 variant is the -40 deg C temp range otherwise not sure what would attract the "industrial" commet if not this, there are only two variants.

 

 

OAudio Ltd.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, OAudio said:

Renasus UPD720202 from the package and circuit's pin out.

 

The -711 variant is the -40 deg C temp range otherwise not sure what would attract the "industrial" commet if not this, there are only two variants.

 

 

Yes, we are using the same.

Manufacturer of Core Audio equipments

                www.coreaudio.eu

Music Server: Core Audio DAIDO Reference - KARUNA USB/SPDIF Bidge - DENPO DAC - DECHA Power Amplifier monoblocks

Cables: TARALABS

Loudspeakers: MBL

Link to post
Share on other sites

in my experience thus far the best USB card is none, I went from USB to SPDIF to I2S an find that less conversion is more. See if you can use I2S to feed your DAC,  I'm using the Pink Faun I2S OCXO and it really shines, going to upgrade to the ultra ocxo soon.

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MarcelNL said:

in my experience thus far the best USB card is none, I went from USB to SPDIF to I2S an find that less conversion is more. See if you can use I2S to feed your DAC,  I'm using the Pink Faun I2S OCXO and it really shines, going to upgrade to the ultra ocxo soon.

 

51 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

That was my reference for quite some time - Pink Faun I2S with ultraOCXO. 

As the server, power supplies, etc. improve I found USB to sound better. This is still DAC dependent of course, but it has been my experience with multiple DACs now. No longer using I2S. 

Which lenght I2S cables did you guys use? In my case I think the biggest culprit on "whole I2S" would be distance between my PC and DAC. (which would be close to 1,5 meter)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm using 40 cm, but Metrum says their i2S system can drive many meters unlike most other I2S systems,

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, wittao said:

Yes, we are using the same.

 

They are very nice looking boards in your pics. I had noticed the UPD's 😉 thanks for confirming. Looks like you are also using the 701s with ROM which is the way I went as well.

 

I have some 711s I might have a look at them again. My understanding was that they are for embedded use where BIOS writes the firmware blocks to the chipset at boot time. That "industrial" comment has me wondering if I missed a way to use these ?

 

 

OAudio Ltd.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Nenon said:

 

That was my reference for quite some time - Pink Faun I2S with ultraOCXO. 

As the server, power supplies, etc. improve I found USB to sound better. This is still DAC dependent of course, but it has been my experience with multiple DACs now. No longer using I2S. 

Do you use USB with or without DDC like Gustard or audio Gd or denafrips? Do you use Isoregen? The reason I ask is that those are important in my experience for top sound quality (with LPS on Isoregen)

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, matthias said:

 

The USB card is more important than the USB cable.

 

Matt

 

Nope.  Just the other way around.  Instead of all the fancy schmancy science, you just have to listen.

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, matthias said:

The very best USB card seems to be the Taiko Audio USB, BUT it is only available for Taiko Extreme owners.

 

From the feedback on WBF this card seems to be a game changer.

 

Matt

Hi Matthias

 

I’ve went through this thread & cannot find any comparisons with any other card. Are you aware of they’re any? 
 

I would expect Taiko to be top class as usual but we do need comparisons before we can label Taiko as best usb card. 
 

Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, ASRMichael said:

Hi Matthias

 

I’ve went through this thread & cannot find any comparisons with any other card. Are you aware of they’re any? 
 

I would expect Taiko to be top class as usual but we do need comparisons before we can label Taiko as best usb card. 
 

Thanks

 

I understand your POV.

Emile from TA mentioned that the JCAT USB XE for example was different to the original USB output of the Extreme but more a side-step than an improvement. 

The Taiko USB card is certainly voiced and optimised for the Extreme so I can not imagine that another USB card will be superior in an Extreme environment. However, as the Taiko card is only available for the Extreme, comparisons in a set-up outside the Extreme are nearly impossible.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, matthias said:

 

I understand your POV.

Emile from TA mentioned that the JCAT USB XE for example was different to the original USB output of the Extreme but more a side-step than an improvement. 

The Taiko USB card is certainly voiced and optimised for the Extreme so I can not imagine that another USB card will be superior in an Extreme environment. However, as the Taiko card is only available for the Extreme, comparisons in a set-up outside the Extreme are nearly impossible.

 

Matt

It will be a matter of time when it’s sold to anyone. I appreciate makes sense to have them available to existing extreme users first. However in my opinion it would not make business sense to keep it that way. Reminds me of Steve jobs with the iPod, wanted it for Apple users only...we know what eventually happened there! As a result Apple skyrocketed 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, ASRMichael said:

It will be a matter of time when it’s sold to anyone. I appreciate makes sense to have them available to existing extreme users first. However in my opinion it would not make business sense to keep it that way. Reminds me of Steve jobs with the iPod, wanted it for Apple users only...we know what eventually happened there! As a result Apple skyrocketed 

 

According to @Nenon neither TAS nor the Taiko card will be available outside the Extreme.

Whether this makes sense from a business POV is open to debate. I understand that Emile wants to keep Extreme with these developments ahead of the competition.

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Nenon said:

No DDCs between my server and DAC in my system anymore. 

 

 

 

@wittao  - those are nice looking cards. I am interested to test one and write about it if you want to send me one. 

 

Now that we know the Taiko USB card would not be available to DIY, my alternatives for the new DIY server recipe I am working on are the JCAT XE and PinkFaun with ultraOCXO. Your reference card is worth considering as well.

 

One thing that I can't get manufacturers to do is to give an option to separately power the clock than the card. Something for you to consider.

Hi Nenon,

 

first of all thank you for your kindly words.

Of course we can discuss about the test card, the details we can fix in pm.

 

About the USB cards and the design of our cards:

I got a lot of question why planned that card with XO + OCXO PLL? Maybe it will be easier (and better?) to use 24 MHz OCXO on our cards than XO+OCXO?

 We have some year experience (our development teammates 15-30 years/person) HQ oscillator module development. At Core Audio we are using MasterClock panels (mono clocks, biclocks, triclocks with 1-2-3pcs XOs and 1pc OCXO) to make a great and most accurate PLL as it possible in our music servers, USB/SPDIF reclockers and DACs. We planned to transfer that technlogy into our new USB cards too.

The XOs starting time is 1us, the USB controller chip's 500us. So 500 times faster is the XO as the Renesas chip. There is enough time for the XO to build up their accurate 24 MHz clock freq. The OCXO? It is much more slower, sometimes more than 1ms. But the card need enough time to start and the OCXO need enough time to heat up and fix the PLL (1-2 minutes). In our solution the XO, controller IC and OCXO have enough time with separately start, PSU line. It is some kind of "soft start" of the clock system and the clocks not push/pull the voltages on the card. The clocks are calm and works with lower distortions, freq movements. The noise floor is also important , our XOs can working on [email protected] phase noise and [email protected] with OCXO (an extra feature : when our card is connected to our music server's and reclocker's master clock PLL, the card can use across the MMCX clock IN port the better reference OCXO with [email protected] ... that is the reason for external miniXLR clock IN option on our cards on the normal profile bracket. In our new ULTIMATE Series we will use for all of our equipment and equipment's main part [email protected] phase noise reference clock, for example the P20 USB card will run with [email protected] phase noise clock signal). 

 

We didn't want to add a different PSU for the controller IC and the clock module. The separation of clock side (5V) and controller side (1.05V + 3.3V) is solved. We haven't any reason to add different PSU input to the card. BUT: Your question is absolute normally we will try to regulate the 5VDC/GND line to 1.05V and 3.3V for controller, the 12VDC/GND line to 5V for OCXO and XO. It will be a new development, i don't know if it will be finished this year (new P20 USB Card, new Reference Serie... lot of work :) ). Of course we need to listen both card and compare them, the different main voltages helps or not to increase the SQ.

 

I am added a picture to this post. That is our basic 8 circuit PSU (120.000uF audiograde capacitors built in a Streacom FC10 case). There are normal ATX standard molex sockets + extra 3pcs 4pin molex socket:  1 x 5VDC-GND ,  2 x 5VDC-GND-GND-12VDC. That 3pcs sockets are an extra separated PSU circuits from the music servers other circuits and can run with ultra low noise (under 20 uV on 5V rail with 2A load). Our customers can use easier and cheaper the USB-cards with a 4pin molex connectors. Not necessary to connect external PSU for USB card or ethernet card.

(one of our customer solve that situation with our new card: he dismantled the clock IN miniXLR socket from the normal profile bracket and pulled the DC wires across the small hole... maybe in the near future we will make an own version, not easy to build it with good outfit and correct technical implementation.

 

 

 

USB to internal PSU_1.jpg

Manufacturer of Core Audio equipments

                www.coreaudio.eu

Music Server: Core Audio DAIDO Reference - KARUNA USB/SPDIF Bidge - DENPO DAC - DECHA Power Amplifier monoblocks

Cables: TARALABS

Loudspeakers: MBL

Link to post
Share on other sites

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...