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Is USB straight from a Mac computer to a DAC really that bad?


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Is USB straight from a computer to a DAC really a bad or should everyone always strive to isolate the computer's USB output from the audio stream???  I connect my Chord Quest directly to my Mac Mini; which is dedicated to only running ROON Core; with an AudioQuest Diamond USB and I think it sounds great.  But I according to manufactures of network streamers, eliminating the computer (or using an expensive audio optimized PC like an Innuos) will always sound significantly better.  I've also read that this is not necessarily the case and it really depends on how usb is implemented in the source and the DAC?  Specifically, I heard from Rob Watts of Chord explain that Chord DAC's are optimized for USB direct input.  So, I'm trying to decide if I need to try something like a SOTM SMS-200 Ultra or a Sonore UltraRendu but I'm hesitant to go to the expense and hassle of more boxes.   I recently read this update on this $150K system: https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/opinion/1392-after-25-years-is-this-the-worlds-best-audio-system  Specifically:

"Some Facebook readers criticized me for not using an audiophile-grade music server or USB link. I responded that if anyone can show me a music server or USB link that actually sounds better that what I have in terms of resolution, tonality, soundstaging, imaging, whatever -- I’m all ears. But so far, I’ve heard nothing that has proven itself better-sounding or more versatile -- my computer plays any digital music format and file type from streaming services and my local music drive, and my USB link, with its lengthy length, transfers the bits just fine.

The reason I can get away with using a laptop has to do with the next component in the signal chain: the EMM Labs DA2 Reference DAC ($25,000). Designed by Ed Meitner, who’s been creating digital-audio products since the 1970s, the DA2 Reference seems immune to swaps of USB links, as well as differences in source components."

 

Am I missing something??

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4 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

I really don't think his videos have anything to do with this thread, but they are good. 

I am ADD and admit i am "scatter brained".  Fair enough, i will start my own thread.  At least I have garnered enough new answers and new questions to keep my interest.

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On 6/8/2020 at 9:40 PM, davide256 said:

you need to stop spouting BS. What you mean is the engineers you want to agree with in the objective camp are spouting this... not the engineers who are actually exploring and selling products that aren't limited to midfi level of fidelity

 

Here are 2 engineers that explore and sell products that believe that bit errors are rare and that when they exist, it does not cause subtle degradation.

 

Note, i do not know if they are correct or not, and i remain unbiased as to different technologies.  But there doesn't appear to be a consensus of what exactly is happening that causes differences in SQ.

 

image.png.7e51c26f6c6d5de63d25b107e78806d1.png

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21 hours ago, Miska said:

 

That is sort of irrelevant for the topic here though. For 192k hires you'd want to have analog low pass filter fc at least not lower than 100 kHz. Which already means that you have quite severe phase shift at 50 kHz, but decent phase shift at 20 kHz. But then if your conversion section runs at 192 kHz sampling rate having fc of 100 kHz means that you leak severe amount of images and thus have very poor reconstruction accuracy. OTOH, if you put fc at let's say 25 kHz, you get a little more attenuation for the images, but severely modified phase response in audio band.

 

Now compare that to having 100 kHz analog fc and conversion section running for example at 1.5 MHz...

 

Well, the Soekris DAC runs always at either 2.8Mhz or 3.072Mhz, so I should be ok from that point of view.

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On 6/5/2020 at 1:12 PM, AudioDoctor said:

Interestingly, my new DAC has a Roon Bridge built in, however I find the sound to be better coming from the USB output of a Sonore Signature Rendu SE via Roon and HQPlayer than using the Roon Bridge directly.

I can wholeheartedly confirm that HQPlayer is an absolute must.

I have tested DCS Bridge, AquaLinQ (currently in my system) and my system plays way better with HQPlayer than with Roon alone. Also tried Zenith MKIII and Statement - no HQP again.

Huge, difference. My ears bleed without HQP.

Weeks of experience with this. Aqua says they are adding NAA. If not, there will be a LinQ for sale. And even with LinQ-Formula connected via I2S or AES/EBU. 

Mac Mini Late 2014 (16G/SSD) w Uptone JS-2 w OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID (JS-2) / Roon

Aqua LinQ w EtherCon cable (Ghent) w Uptone EtherRegen w Uptone JS-2

Aqua Formula xHD w Ocellia RCA Interconnect & Shunyata Delta NR

Kora TB 200 Integrated Amplifier w Audio Art Power Cable

Magico V2 w Ocellia speaker cables w Shunyata Dark Field Elevator & JL Audio E-Sub e110 X 2

All equipment, including subwoofer on Modulum platforms (modulumaudio.com)

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7 minutes ago, jacques_racine said:

I can wholeheartedly confirm that HQPlayer is an absolute must.

I have tested DCS Bridge, AquaLinQ (currently in my system) and my system plays way better with HQPlayer than with Roon alone. Also tried Zenith MKIII and Statement - no HQP again.

Huge, difference. My ears bleed without HQP.

Weeks of experience with this. Aqua says they are adding NAA. If not, there will be a LinQ for sale. And even with LinQ-Formula connected via I2S or AES/EBU. 

Not sure how I missed the AquaLinQ!

 

https://www.aquahifi.com/linq.html

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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12 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Not sure how I missed the AquaLinQ!

 

https://www.aquahifi.com/linq.html

 

i overlooked his post too...looks like a hell of an endorsement for hqplayer....

 

I don't want roon subscription, and don't like HQ Players interface...maybe worth trying to figure out how to use it with jriver without reading through a 677 page thread.

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49 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Not sure how I missed the AquaLinQ!

You can see it on the top shelf in my system photo. 

Mac Mini Late 2014 (16G/SSD) w Uptone JS-2 w OWC Thunderbay 4 Mini RAID (JS-2) / Roon

Aqua LinQ w EtherCon cable (Ghent) w Uptone EtherRegen w Uptone JS-2

Aqua Formula xHD w Ocellia RCA Interconnect & Shunyata Delta NR

Kora TB 200 Integrated Amplifier w Audio Art Power Cable

Magico V2 w Ocellia speaker cables w Shunyata Dark Field Elevator & JL Audio E-Sub e110 X 2

All equipment, including subwoofer on Modulum platforms (modulumaudio.com)

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2 hours ago, jacques_racine said:

I can wholeheartedly confirm that HQPlayer is an absolute must.

I have tested DCS Bridge, AquaLinQ (currently in my system) and my system plays way better with HQPlayer than with Roon alone. Also tried Zenith MKIII and Statement - no HQP again.

Huge, difference. My ears bleed without HQP.

Weeks of experience with this. Aqua says they are adding NAA. If not, there will be a LinQ for sale. And even with LinQ-Formula connected via I2S or AES/EBU. 

 

2 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

Not sure how I missed the AquaLinQ!

 

https://www.aquahifi.com/linq.html

 

 

 

I nearly bought an Aqua DAC because of that, how do you like it?

 

edit: Nice system!

No electron left behind...

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On 6/11/2020 at 8:23 PM, jacques_racine said:

I can wholeheartedly confirm that HQPlayer is an absolute must.

I have tested DCS Bridge, AquaLinQ (currently in my system) and my system plays way better with HQPlayer than with Roon alone. Also tried Zenith MKIII and Statement - no HQP again.

Huge, difference. My ears bleed without HQP.

Weeks of experience with this. Aqua says they are adding NAA. If not, there will be a LinQ for sale. And even with LinQ-Formula connected via I2S or AES/EBU. 

Agreed, HQPlayer stand alone is better than Roon, however Roon leveraging HQPlayer for playback gets fairly close IME. Also, I hope Aqua Hi Fi adds an NAA module, I have an LinQ on order and would be happy to report on how it sounds and compared to my current streamer.

4x20A circuits | Audioquest Niagara 3000 | Paul Hynes SR4T + HDPlex HD500 PSUs -> Music PC w/JCAT Femto nic, HQPlayer, Roon, Tidal / Qobuz | EtherRegen + BG7TBL 10MHz OXCO clock + HDPlex HD100 LPSU  | Aqua Acoustic Quality LinQ streamer | Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD Rev. 2 DAC | Purity Audio Silver Statement preamp | Audionet Max mono blocks | Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 | 4 JL Audio Fathoms | Echole ICs and SCs / Siltech Classic 550L jumpers, Shunyata PCs | Stillpoints -> components, Isoacoustics -> speakers + subs | Custom baltic birch rack and amp stands | Fully treated + dedicated 2 channel room

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49 minutes ago, audiophile911 said:

Excuse my ignorance but is there any advantage to run Roon+HQplayer with a Chord Mscaler (I just ordered one 😀!)

In my system in order of best to worst sonics:

1) HQPlayer alone playing songs from a RAMDisk

2) HQPlayer alone playing songs off a local HDD

3) Roon with HQplayer

4) Roon stand alone

4x20A circuits | Audioquest Niagara 3000 | Paul Hynes SR4T + HDPlex HD500 PSUs -> Music PC w/JCAT Femto nic, HQPlayer, Roon, Tidal / Qobuz | EtherRegen + BG7TBL 10MHz OXCO clock + HDPlex HD100 LPSU  | Aqua Acoustic Quality LinQ streamer | Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD Rev. 2 DAC | Purity Audio Silver Statement preamp | Audionet Max mono blocks | Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 | 4 JL Audio Fathoms | Echole ICs and SCs / Siltech Classic 550L jumpers, Shunyata PCs | Stillpoints -> components, Isoacoustics -> speakers + subs | Custom baltic birch rack and amp stands | Fully treated + dedicated 2 channel room

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On 6/10/2020 at 1:32 AM, Miska said:

 

Point is that the analog output from both DACs is not the same, it is massively different. Sure, you can make ADI-2 behave somewhat similarly by setting it into NOS mode and running it at 192k PCM. Instead of running it at 768k PCM or DSD256.

 

 

On 6/10/2020 at 1:32 AM, Miska said:

 

Miska i recently bought the adi 2 dac

is it better to sample 44.100 to 768 or dsd 256?  Would this be beneficial for me?

 

iam using hqplayer.  

 

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On 7/4/2020 at 6:56 PM, sb6 said:

Agreed, HQPlayer stand alone is better than Roon, however Roon leveraging HQPlayer for playback gets fairly close IME. Also, I hope Aqua Hi Fi adds an NAA module, I have an LinQ on order and would be happy to report on how it sounds and compared to my current streamer.

Hi sb6, may I ask what streamer you have now. 

I have also a Linq on order. 🙂

 

Regards Magnus

Vinnie Rossi LIO integrated amp with DAC, Sotm SMS-200 ultra/TX USB ultra, powered by an Uptone LPS-1 Audiostore Roonserver powered by a  HD plex PS. ASUS router AC 68 powered by a Teddy pardo PS, 

Speakers are standmounts Klångedang T1 with external crossover , Rega Planar 3 Lejonklou Slipsik phonostage

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5 hours ago, magnuska said:

Hi sb6, may I ask what streamer you have now. 

I have also a Linq on order. 🙂

 

Regards Magnus

Hi magnuska, please see my digital chain in my signature pasted below.

 

HDPlex + Paul Hynes SR4T -> Music PC w/JCAT Femto Ethernet, HQPlayer/Roon | Sonore Signature PSU -> SOTM SMS-200 Ultra Neo | Aqua Formula xHD rev 2 DAC 

4x20A circuits | Audioquest Niagara 3000 | Paul Hynes SR4T + HDPlex HD500 PSUs -> Music PC w/JCAT Femto nic, HQPlayer, Roon, Tidal / Qobuz | EtherRegen + BG7TBL 10MHz OXCO clock + HDPlex HD100 LPSU  | Aqua Acoustic Quality LinQ streamer | Aqua Acoustic Quality Formula xHD Rev. 2 DAC | Purity Audio Silver Statement preamp | Audionet Max mono blocks | Vivid Audio Giya G2 Series 2 | 4 JL Audio Fathoms | Echole ICs and SCs / Siltech Classic 550L jumpers, Shunyata PCs | Stillpoints -> components, Isoacoustics -> speakers + subs | Custom baltic birch rack and amp stands | Fully treated + dedicated 2 channel room

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