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Article: Audiophile Style Products of the Decade

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18 hours ago, vortecjr said:

I hear you load and clear on wanting a network-to-SPDIF/I2S/AES renderer product;) Saying the USB solution is inferior is a bit misleading though. From my perspective it's just trading one protocol for another and each has it's pros and cons.   

I believe SPDIF and AES are technically inferior to USB and I2S, because there are two clocks, sender and receiver, vs a master clock with USB and I2S. Some manufacturers get USB wrong, but that does not make SPDIF right. 

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@The Computer Audiophile, I think cliches are a useful and efficient way of writing, but my pet peeve is misstated cliches. 😉I will never get used to "chomping at the bit", even though it is now prevalent. Horses "champ" at the bit when they are anxious, that is where the expression originated:  

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/champ?s=t

 

I enjoyed reading the best of decade article very much, but I would have liked to see a single product instead of a manufacturer for product of the decade. The microRendu would be my choice, so not far off. Interested to see what Sonore comes up with next, although I suspect the future belongs to integrated streaming and/or ethernet DAC's, not separate streaming solutions.  

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10 minutes ago, audiobomber said:

I believe SPDIF and AES are technically inferior to USB and I2S, because there are two clocks, sender and receiver, vs a master clock with USB and I2S. Some manufacturers get USB wrong, but that does not make SPDIF right. 

The USB clock isn’t related to the timing of the audio signal though - the USB packets arrive in bursts every milli second and need to be reclocked before they can be passed to the DAC.


System (i): (iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodek/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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1 minute ago, Richard Dale said:

The USB clock isn’t related to the timing of the audio signal though - the USB packets arrive in bursts every milli second and need to be reclocked before they can be passed to the DAC.

Yes, but still only one clock determines timing, the receiving clock. 

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2 minutes ago, audiobomber said:

Yes, but still only one clock determines timing, the receiving clock. 

No, there are two clocks and the USB clock is controlled by the bus master which is the computer end.


System (i): (iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodek/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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3 minutes ago, mansr said:

With asynchronous USB, the receiver (DAC) is the master and tells the host (computer) how many samples to send per packet to maintain the proper average rate. The low-level USB link is controlled by the host, but that has no bearing on the audio processing.

Yes the DAC end is the master in the sense of how it controls samples per packet as you describe, but the normal use of the word ‘master’ in USB parlance is the bus master that controls the USB clock.


System (i): (iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodek/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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6 minutes ago, Richard Dale said:

Yes the DAC end is the master in the sense of how it controls samples per packet as you describe, but the normal use of the word ‘master’ in USB parlance is the bus master that controls the USB clock.

USB terminology is host and device. Whichever end is sending at a given time is responsible for the clock. This can be either the host or the device.

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3 minutes ago, mansr said:

USB terminology is host and device. Whichever end is sending at a given time is responsible for the clock. This can be either the host or the device.

I think you might be right about ‘host’ vs ‘master’ terminology here. But the computer device that controls the interval between USB audio packet bursts received by the DAC is the ‘host’, while the DAC as ‘master’ handles flow control by setting samples per packet. The clock in the DAC used for the digital to analog conversion is unrelated to the USB packet arrival rate.


System (i): (iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > 2Qute+MCRU psu; Gyrodek/SME V/Ortofon 2M Black/EAT E-Glo Petit/Magnum Dynalab FT101A) > Glow Amp One > Klipsch RP-600M

System (ii): iUSB3.0 Nano/RPi 2/Moode > Bel Canto uLink+AQVOX psu > Chord Hugo > (Tandy LX5; JBL LSR305 ; Audeze LCD-3)

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

I believe SPDIF and AES are technically inferior to USB and I2S, because there are two clocks, sender and receiver, vs a master clock with USB and I2S. Some manufacturers get USB wrong, but that does not make SPDIF right. 

In the end each will develop into i2s which feeds the DAC chip. Some implementation are good and some are not. 

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 "technically speaking, if a USB input is implemented correctly with the best engineering, it will outperform a SPDIF input with a similar level of implementation. No matter what, SPDIF is technically the poorer interface design, because four signals (master clock, bit clock, word clock, and data) are converted to one on the send end, and then converted back to four again on the receive end, in a real time (not asynchronous, with the exception of a very few, very expensive DACs) data stream without any error correction"

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3 hours ago, Raimund Heubel said:

Why not consequently have ethernet or optical input and optical output as you can see below and here in order to best possible isolate the digital data stream before it enters the DAC?

Very few DACs have optical input that isn't Toslink. I have the EMM Labs DV2 and NS1. I can connect the NS1 to the DAC via optical. It's pretty cool. But, if people don't like the few DACs with optical, it doesn't make sense to use a DAC they don't like just because it has optical. 


Founder of Audiophile Style

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1 minute ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Many manufacturers are attempting to create DACs with all the interfaces. However, none of them can move at the speed of Sonore when it comes to new features, bug fixes, etc... "All" the hardware manufacturers use off the shelf solutions which are really limiting. Plus, the sound I'm getting from the Signature Rendu SE Optical connected via USB is better than Ethernet to the same DACs. 

I don't doubt anything there. No multi-tool can compete with a specialized tool like a screwdriver and pliers, etc. But techy things improve over time,and a streaming DAC makes a lot of sense and will have some advantages (cost, convenience, design integration, etc).

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1 hour ago, Richard Dale said:

I think you might be right about ‘host’ vs ‘master’ terminology here. But the computer device that controls the interval between USB audio packet bursts received by the DAC is the ‘host’, while the DAC as ‘master’ handles flow control by setting samples per packet. The clock in the DAC used for the digital to analog conversion is unrelated to the USB packet arrival rate.

Now we're in agreement.

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3 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Very few DACs have optical input that isn't Toslink. I have the EMM Labs DV2 and NS1. I can connect the NS1 to the DAC via optical. It's pretty cool. But, if people don't like the few DACs with optical, it doesn't make sense to use a DAC they don't like just because it has optical. 

Chris,

as you can see in the 1st picture both the „arfi-stream“ renderer on top as well as the „artiflex“ DAC below have multiple non-optical outputs respective inputs a customer can choose from when ordering such devices from the company „artistic fidelity“.

From my meanwhile years of experience in using these devices I can however say I sound wise clearly prefer the optical I/O over SPDIF, AES/EBU or USB. Only the ethernet RJ45 format - if properly implemented - comes close.

But if customers want Toslink I/Os they can have them, for me there is no turning back.


Best Regards, Raimund

 

Living Room

Apple Mac mini Mid 2011 (MacOS Sierra 10.12.6, 64 GB OWC SSD, 16 GB OWC RAM, iTunes 12.9, Pure Music 3.09c) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> artistic fidelity External USB-Module -> 3 Fibre Optical Cables -> artistic fidelity afis / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity RJ45 cable -> artistic fidelity arfi-dac2 / arfi-psu -> artistic fidelity XLR-to-BNC cable -> Bakoon HPA-21 Headamp + Sennheiser HD 800

Home Office

Apple Mac mini End 2018 (MacOS Mojave 10.14.6, 128 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, Audirvana 3.5.19) -> artistic fidelity USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital / Pro-Ject Accu Box S2 USB PSU -> Abacus C-Box 2 Active Speakers

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Several other manufacturers are doing this, as it is the only way of offering perfect isolation between the source and the DAC. PSAudio is implementing some form of fiber connection ("Air Gap Audio Interface") I believe. I have been using  optical connections with the ECDesigns product, and their latest implementation ("ElectroTOS") is quite impressive. The devil is in the details, as always, and all the technical aspects go way above my head. 

 

What I do find exciting is the idea that DACs my finally become "source immune" with these types of connections, meaning an inexpensive source will be sufficient, without the need for all sorts of tweaking upstream (for example, Audiophile network switches, the latest craze). 

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39 minutes ago, Raimund Heubel said:

Chris,

as you can see in the 1st picture both the „arfi-stream“ renderer on top as well as the „artiflex“ DAC below have multiple non-optical outputs respective inputs a customer can choose from when ordering such devices from the company „artistic fidelity“.

From my meanwhile years of experience in using these devices I can however say I sound wise clearly prefer the optical I/O over SPDIF, AES/EBU or USB. Only the ethernet RJ45 format - if properly implemented - comes close.

But if customers want Toslink I/Os they can have them, for me there is no turning back.

We use to build music servers with USB, SPDIF, or i2s and each was preferred 1/3 of the time. 

 

The Toslink is hard to enjoy with high sample rate PCM and DSD so people will also be divided on that. 

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33 minutes ago, hopkins said:

Several other manufacturers are doing this, as it is the only way of offering perfect isolation between the source and the DAC. PSAudio is implementing some form of fiber connection ("Air Gap Audio Interface") I believe. I have been using  optical connections with the ECDesigns product, and their latest implementation ("ElectroTOS") is quite impressive. The devil is in the details, as always, and all the technical aspects go way above my head. 

 

What I do find exciting is the idea that DACs my finally become "source immune" with these types of connections, meaning an inexpensive source will be sufficient, without the need for all sorts of tweaking upstream (for example, Audiophile network switches, the latest craze). 

I heard that project was not moving forward?

Which optical connection have you been using?

You may still need an expensive source depending on what it is. 

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@vortecjr

I have been using only ECDesigns equipment, so if you are referring to PSAudio I have no idea. ECDesigns is finalizing new products which should be available in a couple months. Their new DAC will use this ElectroTos interlink (which I am using now in a prototype version, between their UPL source and their current MOS DAC). The led is at the DAC end of the cable, to put it simply, but in their latest implementation they have further improved the circuits that generate the signal in the source and decode it in the DAC, from what I understand. They will be offering adapters for sources with usb, toslink, or coax digital outputs. The source immunity may not be perfect, but we are getting closer, I believe. This is all mentioned in their thread on Diyaudio.  Something to keep an eye on. 

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2 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Which ones?

 

The one mentioned by Raimund Heubel, PSAudio I believe, and ECDesigns (the only one I am familiar with). Could be others. 

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MSB has been isolating their DAC inputs with their proprietary ProISL fiber as well.

 

http://www.msbtechnology.com/accessories/prousb/

 

Or Bel Canto Black system went further and its "preamp" converts everything to 2 fibers and sends to the dac+amplifier monos.

 

http://www.belcantodesign.com/home/black/the-system/

 


1. Sonore ultraRendu - Uptone ISO Regen - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800 SL PRO - Thiel CS3.7
2. Burson Conductor V2+ - Audeze LCD-XC - Calyx Femti - Monitor Audio PL100
3. Hidizs S8 - Audeze LCDi3

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