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Best Audiophile USB Card ?


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13 hours ago, Topk said:

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

 

I have tried the El Fidelity USB card.  If the motherboard uses a single-rail LPSU into picoPSU then into the motherboard and the EF card uses separate 5V LPSU supply, the EF card gives different sound, like more airy sound.  However, if the motherboard uses a good multi-rail LPSU, I prefer the sound of direct USB output from the motherboard.

 

One problem I experienced with the EF card.  DSD will not pass thru, both native DSD and DoP.

 

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4 hours ago, Nenon said:

 

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.

 

The 4pin molex on the back of the Pink Faun cards takes from 12v and 5v lines, do you know if one of these lines goes to the clock only?

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1 hour ago, k27R said:

 

The 4pin molex on the back of the Pink Faun cards takes from 12v and 5v lines, do you know if one of these lines goes to the clock only?

 

It takes 5V only. 

Affiliated with Sean Jacobs

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5 hours ago, Dev said:

 

 

Hi Victor,

 

Fascinating development and the boards do look excellent. Very clean layout as well. I am currently using JCAT USB XE and would be interested in the USB P24 OCXO version. I agree with Nenon now that the Taiko USB card is out of DIY market, this would be a viable option given that you are using the same Renesas chipset.

 

However, I am curious why didn't you choose to add an external input power connector in the PCI bracket to power it from externally power supply instead of only having a 4-pin molex internal connector ? The JCAT card actually has both - an internal molex as well as an external 5.5/2.1mm DC input so that it could be powered in both ways (and off-coarse from the PCIe if none of them are connected).

 

 

Hi Dev,

thanks for your comment.

We are looking for a solution how to upgrade a card with external DC across the bracket (maybe our users can choose an option: external DC or external clock IN)

The onboard dc socket wasn’t an option, it makes a degradation in SQ. 
 

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

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On 4/1/2021 at 11:44 AM, Topk said:

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

 

That's why we came out with OPTIMO 3 DUO and INITIO 3 power supplies - to extract maximum performance form the cards. 

The difference is night and day

 

Best regards,
Marcin

JPLAY & JCAT Founder

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3 hours ago, OAudio said:

Hi,

 

This is the OAudio RealStream USB card which I hope people will find interesting.

 

It's designed and constructed without compromise for what I think might be the ultimate in USB sound reproduction. Sound quality is best simply described as "next level".   

 

A few details:

  • Highly developed master USB RealStream clock subsystem incorporated onto the card.
  • 12 LDOs for people that count, many more commonly found in applications like top end RF test equipment.
  • Two user configurable USB ports
  1. Both ports No1 and No2 can have USB chipset firmware changes applied to modify the USB chipset's transmission characteristics.   
  2. In addition Port 1 has a bespoke system controlled via setting controllers at the rear of the card to allow Port 1's USB transmission signal integrity parameters to be modified to suit down stream system and musical taste.
  • Various Power options including PCIE sourced or dedicated 12 volt to rear of card.

No plans currently to offer this commercially but without a doubt listening to it, I think it is a contender for the title of this thread :)

 

Enjoy.

 

OAudio

 

20210411_120718

 

 

RealStream USB back 2

 

 

Thanks for sharing @OAudio So this card is voiced for a server you will be offering as well, correct? 

 

Exciting times.

 

Cheers,

-Rob

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@OAudiothe card looks very similar to the Taiko :-) it looks like you guys sharing the same reference design. The user configurable USB ports are an interesting addition. Why not offer it commercially ? 

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29 minutes ago, Dev said:

@OAudiothe card looks very similar to the Taiko :-) it looks like you guys sharing the same reference design. The user configurable USB ports are an interesting addition. Why not offer it commercially ? 

 

Hi Dev,

 

Haha you have some thing there. The Taiko, Core Audio (very nice looking design) and my card have all settled on the same USB host controller chipset and the "house" colour scheme for high end USB cards of black and gold :-). 

 

The card pictured was built in January this year after 5 months of very intensive development work, but pulls heavily on earlier ideas I had and projects going back a number of years. There was a lot I wanted to packed into the card so its actually had to be larger than the other designs I think and uses a full size PCIE blade. It has been in a 2u case but it was defiantly a tight squeeze. 

 

My aim is that the components I am producing will by used in the in the server I am working on. I am targeting a very high level of sound quality performance so having the flexibility to change individual components where I need to specifically to suit this application is important rather than producing components for general use.

 

     

OAudio Ltd.

 

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45 minutes ago, Marcin_gps said:

And JCAT set on the same USB host controller 8 years ago 😎


not the same USB host controller. Taiko, Core Audio and OAudio is using Renasus whereas JCAT is using ASMedia, if I am not mistaken.

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Just now, Dev said:


not the same USB host controller. Taiko, Core Audio and OAudio is using Renasus whereas JCAT is using ASMedia, if I am not mistaken.

JCAT USB Card and JCAT USB Card FEMTO use Renesas

 

JCAT USB XE use Asmedia

JPLAY & JCAT Founder

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50 minutes ago, OAudio said:

 

Hi Dev,

 

Haha you have some thing there. The Taiko, Core Audio (very nice looking design) and my card have all settled on the same USB host controller chipset and the "house" colour scheme for high end USB cards of black and gold :-). 

 

The card pictured was built in January this year after 5 months of very intensive development work, but pulls heavily on earlier ideas I had and projects going back a number of years. There was a lot I wanted to packed into the card so its actually had to be larger than the other designs I think and uses a full size PCIE blade. It has been in a 2u case but it was defiantly a tight squeeze. 

 

My aim is that the components I am producing will by used in the in the server I am working on. I am targeting a very high level of sound quality performance so having the flexibility to change individual components where I need to specifically to suit this application is important rather than producing components for general use.

 

     


It’s very interesting that some of you guys have chosen the c621 based motherboard for a reason. Could you share more details or links on your server ? As you would probably know, there is a Taiko DIY project offerings, including chassis, dc-ATX, etc currently in flux. I don’t mind DIY but what I understand it’s not gonna be cheap and hence I am not sure if I want to delve my hands into it at this point. If a commercial offering is closer to a price point, it might just be an excellent offering. Any idea at what approx price range is your server and when available commercially ? 

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11 minutes ago, Marcin_gps said:

JCAT USB Card and JCAT USB Card FEMTO use Renesas

 

JCAT USB XE use Asmedia


thanks for the clarification. Interesting that you went the reverse route than Taiko and others. Did the ASMedia sounded better than the Renesas is your testing or was there a different reason ?

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15 minutes ago, Dev said:


thanks for the clarification. Interesting that you went the reverse route than Taiko and others. Did the ASMedia sounded better than the Renesas is your testing or was there a different reason ?

Yes. I chose it on purpose based on the trials. 

 

Asmedia consumes slightly more power compared to NEC (renesas), but Asmedia has much better performance.

 

Also the NEC chip is old and I am not sure how long it will be availble. 

 

Regards, 

Marcin

JPLAY & JCAT Founder

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  • 2 weeks later...
34 minutes ago, prinz said:

I am replacing OCXO with Ultra OCXO on my usb card.

OCXO is for sale, drop me PM if interested.

Ultra already installed and working. Didn't listened yet, but will make some brief listening within an hour or so.

 

 

2.jpg

4.jpg

unnamed.jpg

Exciting!!! I envy you. Please give us a report after its burn in!

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