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PCIe interface vs usb interface/converter vs network streamer vs network server


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In my search for a replacement of my SOTM 200 ultra setup I have come across many different directions to go. I wanted to just ask for feedback and thoughts on different approaches to PC audio  and especially with respect to these options.

 

0. baseline: PC -> USB -> dac.

1. PC (RMEME PCI express card) -> spdif -> DAC

2. PC -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

3. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> DAC

4. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

5. Server instead of PC -> option 3,4 or 5.

 

And to these chains I can add various external PSU or external clocks. Previously I had option 4 and really enjoyed the SQ I got over just PC -> dac via usb. But now I have option 2 and still its a increase in SQ over my pc->dac baseline. But  do wonder if I should go back to either a streamer or maybe another approach. Some people argue adding certain key devices and external clocks yield incredible results equivalent to more expensive one box solutions. Others argue that more boxes and all these complexities degrade SQ and move you away from the music or add colour and the simplest option that gets away from USB is best.

 

Any thoughts? Thanks.

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6 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

Corning appears to still offer the hybrid copper fiber cable looking at their website and FAQ "Do USB 3.Optical™ Cables by Corning contain copper conductors?
Yes, two copper conductors transmit power from the host for the optical to electrical conversion and back again. All data is transmitted over the optical fibers"

 

This may be a possibility 10 meters USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables, USB AOC

 

Look at the Corning Thunderbolt 3 cables -- which are different. They *might* work but I'm not sure.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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When looking at now possible usb-c connector types and/ or thunderbolt on usb-c I needed to refresh my understanding of the various USB  iterations. There has been confusing changes to the naming conventions as the USB spec has been upgraded. USB 3.2 retrospectively changed names of previous USB iterations. Feel free to correct.....

 

USB 3.2 Gen 1, is USB 3.0.

maximum throughput of 5Gbps (625 MB/s), aka SS for SuperSpeed, about 10 times faster than the USB 2.0

For a while it was renamed USB 3.1 Gen1 (naming no longer used). These would be considered more recently manufactured USB 3.0

Distinguished from USB 2.0 counterparts by using blue color for the Standard-A receptacles and plugs, and by the initials SS.

USB 3.2 Gen 2, is USB 3.1 (2013)

 maximum throughput of 10Gbps (SuperSpeed+) 1250 MB/s, twice the rate of USB 3.0

For a while it was renamed USB 3.1 Gen2 (naming no longer used)

over the existing USB-type-A [blue] and USB-C connectors

USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, is USB 3.2 (2017)

maximum throughput of 20Gbps.

two new SuperSpeed+ transfer modes over the USB-C connector using two-lane operation, with data rates of 10 and 20 Gbit/s (1250 and 2500 MB/s).

Summary

USB generation 

Previous name

New name

Speed

Type

Brand name

USB 3.0

USB 3.1 Gen 1

USB 3.2 Gen 1

5Gbps

USB-A/C

SuperSpeed USB

USB 3.1

USB 3.1 Gen 2

USB 3.2 Gen 2

10Gbps

USB-A/C

SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps

USB 3.2

None

USB 3.2 Gen 2x2

20Gbps

USB-C

SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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3 hours ago, jabbr said:

There are new fiber thunderbolt cables that use the USB-C connector -- I don't know if they can do USB also -- each end powers its own end.

 

 

A bit hard to know from the Corning diagram and unlike the USB optical cables they don't say if copper is used between transmitter and receiver.902914195_Untitledpicture.png.c766a9bc3f8b82976a6f987e0ddecba5.png

 

 

 

One would assume they can do usb?, at least the usb-c thunderbolt connector should be compatible...

 

quote

"Many USB-C ports don’t have Thunderbolt 3 capabilities. Ports must explicitly state, “USB-C Thunderbolt 3” . However, note that the reverse is not true; A Thunderbolt 3 port, by design, can also function as a USB-C port. There is no separate, special Thunderbolt 3 port, as there was for past versions of the Thunderbolt connection. However, there are special Thunderbolt 3 cables that are used to access the full capabilities of the connection,

From <https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/usb-c-vs-thunderbolt-3/>

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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8 hours ago, smodtactical said:

In my search for a replacement of my SOTM 200 ultra setup I have come across many different directions to go. I wanted to just ask for feedback and thoughts on different approaches to PC audio  and especially with respect to these options.

 

0. baseline: PC -> USB -> dac.

1. PC (RMEME PCI express card) -> spdif -> DAC

2. PC -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

3. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> DAC

4. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

5. Server instead of PC -> option 3,4 or 5.

 

And to these chains I can add various external PSU or external clocks. Previously I had option 4 and really enjoyed the SQ I got over just PC -> dac via usb. But now I have option 2 and still its a increase in SQ over my pc->dac baseline. But  do wonder if I should go back to either a streamer or maybe another approach. Some people argue adding certain key devices and external clocks yield incredible results equivalent to more expensive one box solutions. Others argue that more boxes and all these complexities degrade SQ and move you away from the music or add colour and the simplest option that gets away from USB is best.

 

Any thoughts? Thanks.

 

i have tried all but aes and a few others you haven't mentioned...oddly enough i liked spdif...which is frowned on by most, but it just sounded cleaned and didn't have hiccups that many dlna solutions had...but didn't support highres dsd...i want to go to fiber over ethernet but there aren't any reasonable priced complete solutions imho.  I bought cisco switches and sfp and xcievers with anticipation, along with audio linux, but shortly thereafter got pulled in different direction and then moved, so I am ready to give something a go again....i saw sonore has a xciever for $249, but i have a $30 one i already bought, and don't know if it would offer any more in the way of objective performance over the the $30 xceiver with a ifi power....and then i would need to pair it with a network dac.  If i had the money i would likely go with a sonore optical rendu, but with a recommended power supply that would be like $2K not even taking into consideration the price of the dac....i have searched around, and the only other sfp player is the lumin x1 and it is like $13K....more audio engineers need to get on this thinking.  FUnny, just for fun, i googled PS audio to see if they had anything, and i saw TED smith contemplated it back in 2015, but said the xceivers are too expensive (OMG)...crazy response considering their product line.....i think i may need to wait a couple more years and continue using my marantz streamer dac until market gets more competitive...at least network dacs are really coming down!!  the cambridge cxn v2 for $1K sounds interesting.

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2 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Have you guys seen these optical USB cables?

 

https://www.cosemi.com/product_category/usb-comm/

 

If a optical usb cable would work that would isolate all nosie for both power and data, that seems like it would be the cheap and easy way to do it all?!!  Could this be the key we have all been yearning for?  forget fiber over ethernet, forget dlna, forget unnecessary endpoints?   This sounds too good to be true??

 

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3 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

darn...i almost was reaching orgasm...

not that I want to further that image but 😵.......a possibility 10 meters USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables, USB AOC,

I have left a message on their site asking if copper carries the power or if separately powered at each end (I think it may be the latter).

 

There is also the optical Thunderbolt possibility raised by @jabbr

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

not that I want to further that image but 😵.......a possibility 10 meters USB 3.0 Active Optical Cables, USB AOC,

I have left a message on their site asking if copper carries the power or if separately powered at each end (I think it may be the latter).

 

There is also the optical Thunderbolt possibility raised by @jabbr

 

i am sure all the fiber usb cables have copper for the 5v...bummer...i wonder though if even a fiber usb cable connected to a schiit unisom usb might be the answer since they "advertise" electrical isolation and self powered dac, that between using the unison usb and a fiber usb cable if we can effectively claim noise isolation up to the dac?  I am thinking about trying another schiit since they are now advertising the unison usb input.

 

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2 hours ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

 

A bit hard to know from the Corning diagram and unlike the USB optical cables they don't say if copper is used between transmitter and receiver.902914195_Untitledpicture.png.c766a9bc3f8b82976a6f987e0ddecba5.png

 

 

 

One would assume they can do usb?, at least the usb-c thunderbolt connector should be compatible...

 

quote

"Many USB-C ports don’t have Thunderbolt 3 capabilities. Ports must explicitly state, “USB-C Thunderbolt 3” . However, note that the reverse is not true; A Thunderbolt 3 port, by design, can also function as a USB-C port. There is no separate, special Thunderbolt 3 port, as there was for past versions of the Thunderbolt connection. However, there are special Thunderbolt 3 cables that are used to access the full capabilities of the connection,

From <https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/usb-c-vs-thunderbolt-3/>

 

looking at the diagram it looks like only fiber (no power) is interfaced between devices??? its hard to believe that the conversion though can happen inside the usb cable like shown without power?  especially like from high dsd rates??  sounds way too good to be true.

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8 hours ago, smodtactical said:

In my search for a replacement of my SOTM 200 ultra setup I have come across many different directions to go. I wanted to just ask for feedback and thoughts on different approaches to PC audio  and especially with respect to these options.

 

0. baseline: PC -> USB -> dac.

1. PC (RMEME PCI express card) -> spdif -> DAC

2. PC -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

3. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> DAC

4. PC -> ethernet -> streamer -> usb -> USB to AES converter -> DAC

5. Server instead of PC -> option 3,4 or 5.

 

And to these chains I can add various external PSU or external clocks. Previously I had option 4 and really enjoyed the SQ I got over just PC -> dac via usb. But now I have option 2 and still its a increase in SQ over my pc->dac baseline. But  do wonder if I should go back to either a streamer or maybe another approach. Some people argue adding certain key devices and external clocks yield incredible results equivalent to more expensive one box solutions. Others argue that more boxes and all these complexities degrade SQ and move you away from the music or add colour and the simplest option that gets away from USB is best.

 

Any thoughts? Thanks.

 

I have a pc server > usb > DAC based system /local storage but have also been exploring ethernet based audio for its 'interface' technical advatages.Does ethernet offer something better than USB? Not terribly surprising but the feedback thus far is really it depends.

 

Mostly it depends on implementation and what your DAC is optimized for. Obviously if you stream from a NAS 50 feet away or from an internet service, then ethernet seems like a necessary step, preferably over fiber.

 

Of all the interface advantages of ethernet, like bandwidth and so fourth, the one relevant thing for me is the galvanic isolation. Now my DAC is particularly well isolated and so is my server setup + clean power, so its questionable whether ethernet would have any significant advantage if at all.Current sound is stunning, I can play DSD512, experiment with HQP, play any kind of PCM already. There is never any drop-outs, stutter, or issues with the network or internet going down.

 

Still, usb over an optical inter-connect would seem to be theoretically sensible, elegant and worth experimenting with.

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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9 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

I have a pc server > usb > DAC based system /local storage but have also been exploring ethernet based audio for its 'interface' technical advatages.Does ethernet offer something better than USB? Not terribly surprising but the feedback thus far is really it depends.

 

Mostly it depends on implementation and what your DAC is optimized for. Obviously if you stream from a NAS 50 feet away or from an internet service, then ethernet seems like a necessary step, preferably over fiber.

 

Of all the interface advantages of ethernet, like bandwidth and so fourth, the one relevant thing for me is the galvanic isolation. Now my DAC is particularly well isolated and so is my server setup + clean power, so its questionable whether ethernet would have any significant advantage if at all.Current sound is stunning, I can play DSD512, experiment with HQP, play any kind of PCM already. There is never any drop-outs, stutter, or issues with the network or internet going down.

 

Still, usb over an optical inter-connect would seem to be theoretically sensible, elegant and worth experimenting with.

 

there is the argument that there is no such thing as noise-free, but i believe you can get "closer" with fiber.

the "hans channel" likes the sonore optical rendu over the previously highest praised sotm ultra solution.    I was looking at using fiber over ethernet a couple years ago, when i got sidelined...i still think it is the best way to go....not paying $2k for streamer though that the sonore will set you back with power supply and xceiver.  I am not convinced that it would be that much better than just using a cisco switch with fiber to a network dac.   For someone with money though, it would be a good solution especially if you want to use the roon/hqplayer interface that it provides...it's just over my budget....and i am not a roon lover.

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9 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

 

i am sure all the fiber usb cables have copper for the 5v...bummer...i wonder though if even a fiber usb cable connected to a schiit unisom usb might be the answer since they "advertise" electrical isolation and self powered dac, that between using the unison usb and a fiber usb cable if we can effectively claim noise isolation up to the dac?  I am thinking about trying another schiit since they are now advertising the unison usb input.

 

 

I think I have something like that now with my DAC separately powering the USB input with a 12.5F Supercap. It needs no "handshake" from the pc either and is totally isolated from the 5v bus.Adding optical isolation would be a neat experiment

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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11 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

 

looking at the diagram it looks like only fiber (no power) is interfaced between devices??? its hard to believe that the conversion though can happen inside the usb cable like shown without power?  especially like from high dsd rates??  sounds way too good to be true.

Dunno. If the optical transmitter and receiver is separately powered at each end I would think the copper connection for power from host would not be required? Data via optical, power at each end

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

I think I have something like that now with my DAC separately powering the USB input with a 12.5F Supercap. It needs no "handshake" from the pc either and is totally isolated from the 5v bus.Adding optical isolation would be a neat experiment

you may need to lean on the optical usb cable link that you shared...the thunderbolt doesn't even use a usb connector so i am sure it is not compatible.

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Just now, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

Dunno. If the optical transmitter and receiver is separately powered at each end I would think the copper connection for power from host would not be required? Data via optical, power at each end

the thunderbolt is not going to be compatible.

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7 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

I think I have something like that now with my DAC separately powering the USB input with a 12.5F Supercap. It needs no "handshake" from the pc either and is totally isolated from the 5v bus.Adding optical isolation would be a neat experiment

can you clarify this 5v isolation design (pic?)

would it work with any dac? 

Is this a diy or store bought device?

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11 minutes ago, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

Dunno. If the optical transmitter and receiver is separately powered at each end I would think the copper connection for power from host would not be required? Data via optical, power at each end

 

I just looked at your system...you clearly have the money...if i were you, i would get the sonore optical solution...that or even get the lumin x1 with fiber....wish i had your money!

 

Fiber over ethernet is the way to go if you can afford it...look no further.

 

It's the first time i have recommended sonore product, but right now there aren't any other fiber over ethernet options that i could find short of the lumin x1 at $13k...

 

 

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8 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

 

there is the argument that there is no such thing as noise-free, but i believe you can get "closer" with fiber.

the "hans channel" likes the sonore optical rendu over the previously highest praised sotm ultra solution.    I was looking at using fiber over ethernet a couple years ago, when i got sidelined...i still think it is the best way to go....not paying $2k for streamer though that the sonore will set you back with power supply and xceiver.  I am not convinced that it would be that much better than just using a cisco switch with fiber to a network dac.   For someone with money though, it would be a good solution especially if you want to use the roon/hqplayer interface that it provides...it's just over my budget....and i am not a roon lover.

 

Yes, I am always willing to try something that might further eliminate noise

 

5 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

you may need to lean on the optical usb cable link that you shared...the thunderbolt doesn't even use a usb connector so i am sure it is not compatible.

 

Thunderbolt3 now on usb-c so use adapter to usb-A which I do now on laptop

6 minutes ago, beerandmusic said:

can you clarify this 5v isolation design (pic?)

would it work with any dac? 

Is this a diy or store bought device?

 

It is an expensive Gryphon DAC, so yes one expects the engineering to be OTT.

 

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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