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Powered USB Hubs


Ned Kelly

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Hi All,

 

Without wanting to start another, ahem, debate along the lines of the 'Why Does the Computer Matter' thread, its pretty clear from most of what is written here that mains power is, potentially, 'Public Enemy No 1' for computer audio and audio in general. Re-reading a review of the HRT Streamer II/II+/Pro in a mag from a couple of months back, I was surprised to read that the author found the addition of a $20 powered USB hub 'completely transformed' the Pro model and put it into serious competition with considerably more expensive DACs and CDPs. Of coure, that conclusion is becoming a bit of a cliche with reviewers of late, but I'm interested in the experiences of those who have tried their USB DAC with a powered hub:

 

1. Surely the wall wart that comes with these hubs is about as evil as you can get in terms of transforming mains voltage to something the tiny hub can use ?

 

2. Audiophile obsessiveness aside (!), what sort of changes, good or bad, are people actually hearing with the addition of a hub ?

 

Thanks,

 

Ned

 

Just one more headphone and I know I can kick this nasty little habit !

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Hi Ned - I don't like to add any hubs in my system. A USB powered hub adds a noisy switching power supply to the system as well.

 

I like to connect a USB DAC straight to my computer and see no reason to change.

 

That said, I don't discount what others may hear when using such a hub.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

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Hi Chris,

 

You dont have to read far into your buildup story on the C.A.P.S. machine to realise that you are looking to minimise the impact of mains power on whatever signal comes from your computer, and you certainly arent the only person to feel that way. I would be interested to see if people like Gordon have done testing with powered USB hubs to see what impact it has, pluses and minuses. I am very wary of placebo effects in audio, particularly when you are looking for that last 10%, but its a much cheaper potential upgrade than buying a $300 USB cable, for example.

 

Ned

 

Just one more headphone and I know I can kick this nasty little habit !

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  • 6 months later...

I am looking for a powered usb hub as well. I'm running out of ports in my macbook pro (not that that is hard to do, :). Does anyone have any recommendations for a good quality one?

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Ned, thanks for your post.I have a HRT streamer II and I noticed a substantial improvement in sound quality when switching from my HP net book and larger Dell notebook.So I tried the Belkin USB hub as I bought the net book to play music from.

The sound using the USB hub was a further improvement on the larger laptop with fuller richer sound with a larger sound stage and better defined and textured bass.The only minor detraction was as slightly rolled off highs but I put this down to the fact that I am using the Belkin supplied(Audiophiles may cringe here) USB to mini usb fly lead from net book to hub and quality lead from hub to HRT which I plan to upgrade.

The reason for this ,I am guessing is that the HRT requires more current than most USB supplies deliver and the hub solves this.

Nickt1

 

 

Nickt1

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I tried out a powered hub for a while with my HRT streamer. It made the soundstage bigger; it also added some occasional static and so I stopped using it. Your mileage may vary but I am having some 2d thoughts about usb powered devices. (Although I know some devices do a clever job of dealing with the limited power supply).

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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I agree with Chris. And for what it's worth, Rob at Pure Music admonishes not to insert a hub, powered or not, into the configuration along with other recommendations in his FAQ section.

I followed some of his recommendations. And found that turning off certain operations made no difference or leaving them operational did not subtract from the ultimate rendition. At least that's my experience and discernment.

Just attempting to be helpful.

Best,

Richard

 

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I've had good luck with this, which works both with and without a power supply and has no obnoxious LEDs (click image for amazon page):

 

41iJIuOiuGL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

 

Although I use it with audio at work, I plug my ($100) DAC directly into one of the computer's own USB ports.

 

I only use one USB port on my main audio system -- the one for my Halide Bridge.

 

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@wgscott: for $30 I think I'll give it a shot; thanks. The macbook pro is starved for usb ports.

 

Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

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