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Thoughts on a USB to SPDIF converter for an old creaky DAC ...


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I unfortunately like the sound of an ancient Arcam Black Box 1 (which utilizes the TDA1541A chip) - I'm sorry if some of you will scoff at such old technology but to my ears it sounds great.

 

However, this old Arcam BB1 demand a very high quality transport or the sound just falls flat on its face - I found this out by accident when using a Marantz NA7004 as a streamer. The Marantz serves as an excellent transport (albeit an aging streamer with less functionality than most newer variants).

 

My main streamer of choice though is an SOtM sMS-200 Ultra powered with the sPS 500 PSU. Problem is - this is only USB out (of course). What I need is to find an excellent USB to SPDIF converter between the two so as to ensure a superb digital transport upstream to feed the old Arcam.

 

I generally stream from Tidal and Internet Radio - and nothing else. On the SOtM I activate Squeezbox and LMS using iPeng from an iPhone (no I don't use it as a Roon endpoint).

 

Any ideas of a good one that will fit the bill? Sorry to be awkward with the DAC.

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I have a Denafrips Iris DDC between an Innuos Statement streamer and Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC.  It is hard to imagine it but the Iris improves the USB from the Statement via I2S to the Terminator Plus.  It has SPDIF out but I have not tried that output.

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9 hours ago, RikkiPoo said:

I have a Denafrips Iris DDC between an Innuos Statement streamer and Denafrips Terminator Plus DAC.  It is hard to imagine it but the Iris improves the USB from the Statement via I2S to the Terminator Plus.  It has SPDIF out but I have not tried that output.

Interesting - not heard of that one before - I will add it to the list ... the list also includes my own researched solutions including:

 

Wyred 4 Sound uLink

Audiophilleo (I like the inclusion of a digital attenuation on this product).

 

Keep the ideas flowing in ... the less I spend the better!

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19 hours ago, airguitar said:

I unfortunately like the sound of an ancient Arcam Black Box 1 (which utilizes the TDA1541A chip) - I'm sorry if some of you will scoff at such old technology but to my ears it sounds great.

 

However, this old Arcam BB1 demand a very high quality transport or the sound just falls flat on its face - I found this out by accident when using a Marantz NA7004 as a streamer. The Marantz serves as an excellent transport (albeit an aging streamer with less functionality than most newer variants).

 

If you still have the NA7004, you should be able to use it as as Squeezebox (except synchronisation with other Squeezeboxes) via the UPnP/DLNA Bridge 3rd party LMS plugin. The plugin's special 'flow' option may even provide a workaround for the old NA7004 issue when controlled as a UPnP/DLNA streamer that was never resolved by Marantz - its lack of gapless playback support!

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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2 hours ago, Cebolla said:

 

If you still have the NA7004, you should be able to use it as as Squeezebox (except synchronisation with other Squeezeboxes) via the UPnP/DLNA Bridge 3rd party LMS plugin. The plugin's special 'flow' option may even provide a workaround for the old NA7004 issue when controlled as a UPnP/DLNA streamer that was never resolved by Marantz - its lack of gapless playback support!

 

Wow that's clever thinking! I mean, I would save buckets (potentially) simply by keeping the Marantz - if I could 'tool' the Marantz intelligently like you suggest then I could effectively have a full functioning streamer with the Marantz subservient as the brilliant transport that it is.

 

The key thing - and I must stress the key thing here - is having the best transport I can possibly get from a streaming solution so that I can rinse the most out of any DAC downstream. Many a DAC is dismissed for sound quality simply because the transport isn't good enough to hear it at its best.

 

If I were to buy something - the Audiophilleo 1 looks most promising on paper, especially for its additional functionality as a digital volume control. I would worry about attenuating digitally but apparently if done right (according to Audiophilleo's reference to Weiss) - it can be better than an analog volume pot. Hmmm - not sure about that - however it is confidence inspiring.

 

 

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Funny - I am trying to play gapless music to the Marantz NA7004 via Tidal using the mconnect app which has gapless options in the software - it's not working?

 

Can I get around this somehow buy installing OpenHome on a PC - then OpenHome adds a UPnP renderer like the Marantz - and send music to the Marantz via OpenHome using a Linn app? I have no idea. Bit perfect of course.

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That's because the Marantz NA7004 does not support the standard UPnP/DLNA gapless playback mechanism enacted by gapless playback supporting UPnP/DLNA controllers like the mconnect Player app & the BubbleUPnP Android app.

 

The BubbleUPnP Server's Create an OpenHome renderer function uses the same UPnP/DLNA gapless playback support mechanism, so also won't work. In fact the BubbleUPnP Server is a bit more proactive than the mconnect Player app & will likely detect that the NA7004 doesn't support gapless playback and disable the option by greying it out. 

1254209765_gaplessbubbleupnpserver.png.30c572e64683f450f2f557ccfb450fab.png

 

Basically the UPnP/DLNA gapless playback support mechanism works by the UPnP/DLNA controller making sure it 'says' "here, play this one next" to the UPnP/DLNA streamer quite some time before the streamer has finshed playing the current track, to give the streamer enough time to fetch and cue the next track's audio in its playback memory.

 

Where gapless support isn't in place, the communication happens immediately after the UPnP/DLNA streamer has finished playing the current track and the UPnP/DLNA controller 'says' a more generic "here, play this one" rather than a (subtler) "here, play this one next".

 

 

Unfortunately Marantz were never able to provide the NA7004 with a firmware fix to get it to support gapless playback, but Marantz/Denon never made the same error again by ensuring that their later models did support gapless playback when operating as UPnP/DLNA streamers.

 

 

The UPnP/DLNA Bridge's special 'flow' function is designed as a fix for those (usually) first generation UPnP/DLNA streamers like the NA7004 that don't support gapless playback. Basically, it decodes all the files in the playlist and provides a continuous audio stream for the streamer to fetch, as opposed to getting the streamer to fetch the individual audio file tracks themselves from the media server as normally happens.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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11 hours ago, Cebolla said:

That's because the Marantz NA7004 does not support the standard UPnP/DLNA gapless playback mechanism enacted by gapless playback supporting UPnP/DLNA controllers like the mconnect Player app & the BubbleUPnP Android app.

 

The BubbleUPnP Server's Create an OpenHome renderer function uses the same UPnP/DLNA gapless playback support mechanism, so also won't work. In fact the BubbleUPnP Server is a bit more proactive than the mconnect Player app & will likely detect that the NA7004 doesn't support gapless playback and disable the option by greying it out. 

1254209765_gaplessbubbleupnpserver.png.30c572e64683f450f2f557ccfb450fab.png

 

Basically the UPnP/DLNA gapless playback support mechanism works by the UPnP/DLNA controller making sure it 'says' "here, play this one next" to the UPnP/DLNA streamer quite some time before the streamer has finshed playing the current track, to give the streamer enough time to fetch and cue the next track's audio in its playback memory.

 

Where gapless support isn't in place, the communication happens immediately after the UPnP/DLNA streamer has finished playing the current track and the UPnP/DLNA controller 'says' a more generic "here, play this one" rather than a (subtler) "here, play this one next".

 

 

Unfortunately Marantz were never able to provide the NA7004 with a firmware fix to get it to support gapless playback, but Marantz/Denon never made the same error again by ensuring that their later models did support gapless playback when operating as UPnP/DLNA streamers.

 

 

The UPnP/DLNA Bridge's special 'flow' function is designed as a fix for those (usually) first generation UPnP/DLNA streamers like the NA7004 that don't support gapless playback. Basically, it decodes all the files in the playlist and provides a continuous audio stream for the streamer to fetch, as opposed to getting the streamer to fetch the individual audio file tracks themselves from the media server as normally happens.

 

Very interesting... so the UPnP/DLNA bridge's flow function is only an app associated with LMS at the moment?

 

And also - quite important - does the flow function still maintain a 'bit perfect' stream to the Marantz? I say this of course because when choosing to use the NA7004 as the excellent transport that it is - I don't want to ruin it with messed up bits :). I also have a Yamaha CD-N500 which also does not support gapless (I was testing that too last night).

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, airguitar said:

Very interesting... so the UPnP/DLNA bridge's flow function is only an app associated with LMS at the moment?

 

Just in case it's not clear, the UPnP/DLNA Bridge plugin as a whole entity is associated with LMS - as a 3rd party LMS plugin component, available to optionally enable in LMS's Plugin settings page just like all the other LMS plugins:

 

16731279_192_168.1.12_9000_settings_index.html_player(1).thumb.png.fcac7790ddc9cc9bde400e87cfe443f3.png

 

It so happens that when you enable the UPnP/DLNA Bridge plugin, it does install & run a similarly named helper application on the machine that LMS is on. However, this is a design decision taken by the plugin's developer as LMS plugins don't have to have a helper application and the vast majority don't. 

 

The optional special Flow function is just one of many functions provided by the UPnP/DLNA Bridge plugin designed to work with the plugin's primary function of getting the UPnP/DLNA streamer to be detected by LMS (and therefore any Squeezebox controller) and used as a Squeezebox. So the UPnP/DLNA Bridge's Flow function will only work with the UPnP/DLNA streamer when it is being controlled as a Squeezebox (so not with a UPnP/DLNA controller app, if that is what you were thinking).

 

Might be best to see if you can actually get the UPnP/DLNA Bridge plugin enabled in LMS & configured to work properly with the NA7004 streaming from TIDAL & internet radio in the first place, before seeing if you can get the 'bonus' of the plugin's Flow function 'fixing' the NA7004's lack of gapless playback. 🙂

You only need to be concerned about it for TIDAL, anyway, as internet radio comes as a continuous audio stream so is naturally 'gapless'.

 

Not sure if it'll be ok to use the sMS-200's LMS, though - it might not work efficiently with the UPnP/DLNA plugin enabled and looking after the NA7004, if at all. So you may have to run LMS on a computer or NAS.

 

 

 

7 hours ago, airguitar said:

And also - quite important - does the flow function still maintain a 'bit perfect' stream to the Marantz? I say this of course because when choosing to use the NA7004 as the excellent transport that it is - I don't want to ruin it with messed up bits :). I also have a Yamaha CD-N500 which also does not support gapless (I was testing that too last night).

 

Good question. The answer is yes, but only if the playlist only contains tracks of the same resolution and you've made sure that the Flow function is configured to match - so isn't automatic. This won't be a problem with TIDAL, as Squeezeboxes are not MQA Partner manufactured devices and therefore TIDAL's online server always provides its audio file tracks in 16bit/44.kHz CD-res FLAC via the LMS TIDAL plugin connected with a TIDAL Hi-Fi account.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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Deleted - duplicate post.

We will win because our NHS is the beating heart of this country. It is the best of this country. It is unconquerable. It is powered by love.

-- Boris Johnson

 

We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.

-- Jo Cox

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@airguitar

 

I think one of the best converters you can get is the Singxer SU1.

You would also need an external 5VDC (like Uptone LPS-1.2) for best result.

 

The Singxer can also be further modified for better SQ. 
 

I happen to have an unused Sonore Ultradigital https://www.sonore.us/ultraDigital.html

 

PM if interested. 
 

I also have high hope that Uptone will present a converter soon. 
They have up to 5 possible product releases coming. I have no idea if a converter is planned. 
 

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On 11/16/2020 at 2:58 PM, airguitar said:

I unfortunately like the sound of an ancient Arcam Black Box 1 (which utilizes the TDA1541A chip) - I'm sorry if some of you will scoff at such old technology but to my ears it sounds great.

 

However, this old Arcam BB1 demand a very high quality transport or the sound just falls flat on its face - I found this out by accident when using a Marantz NA7004 as a streamer. The Marantz serves as an excellent transport (albeit an aging streamer with less functionality than most newer variants).

 

My main streamer of choice though is an SOtM sMS-200 Ultra powered with the sPS 500 PSU. Problem is - this is only USB out (of course). What I need is to find an excellent USB to SPDIF converter between the two so as to ensure a superb digital transport upstream to feed the old Arcam.

Yeah... When I visit my favorite local audio dealer, once in a while, he would get customers asking this type of question. And I would always say, hmmm... you can replace your old DAC with a newer better DAC for the money you’d spent on streamers or USB to S/PDIF converters. But inevitably my dealer is always happy to sell the customer what they want. Maybe you’re right, I might be scoffing a little bit.

 

The Arcam Black Box 1 is an R2R DAC. Modern R2R DACs have much better clocks for jitter immunity and analog circuitry. The Schiit Yggdrasil is probably one of the cheaper ones that sounds great. Denafrips makes even cheaper ones that have great reviews but I’ve never heard one. Holo Springs also have a dedicated line of them that have good reviews. I’d be shocked if you don’t get better bang for your buck than getting new streamers or USB-to-S/PDIF converters.

 

But otherwise, yeah, I think all the recommended USB-to-S/PDIF converters others recommended here are great for their price point.

Roon (convolution filter using Acourate) > ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature + Sunfire TS-EQ10 subwoofers

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Thanks everyone... in terms of using a USB / SPDIF converter the Audiophilleo 1 is likely to sound about as good as the best mentioned here in this thread - but with the added bonus of also including a remote control pre-amp which is very useful when working with vintage DACs and a Croft pre-amp both of which do not have the luxury of remote control attenuation.

 

However - I am not going to dismiss the idea of putting the NA7004 in the chain yet to serve as my transport and therefore saving me a lot of money by doing the following:

 

LMS - Tidal Plugin - UPnPBridge Plugin, enabling flow control --> Marantz NA7004 --> SPDIF to Arcam BB1 (and others like the Metrum Octave).

 

I have these two choices. The latter does not give me the luxury of r/c volume but hey, I can still attenuate in the software from LMS controlled by iPeng if needs be - albeit unlikely to be as good as the one built in the Audiophilleo.

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3 hours ago, airguitar said:

Thanks everyone... in terms of using a USB / SPDIF converter the Audiophilleo 1 is likely to sound about as good as the best mentioned here in this thread - but with the added bonus of also including a remote control pre-amp which is very useful when working with vintage DACs and a Croft pre-amp both of which do not have the luxury of remote control attenuation.

 

However - I am not going to dismiss the idea of putting the NA7004 in the chain yet to serve as my transport and therefore saving me a lot of money by doing the following:

 

LMS - Tidal Plugin - UPnPBridge Plugin, enabling flow control --> Marantz NA7004 --> SPDIF to Arcam BB1 (and others like the Metrum Octave).

 

I have these two choices. The latter does not give me the luxury of r/c volume but hey, I can still attenuate in the software from LMS controlled by iPeng if needs be - albeit unlikely to be as good as the one built in the Audiophilleo.

mehh... the audiophilleo was never cheap and its old for USB design. My Metrum Octave is a back up DAC now, first for  a Schiit multibit Gungnir and then for a better

sounding Chord mojo. If you like the more euphonic R2R sound a Lampizator Amber 3 might be a good investment, sounded quite musical when I heard it at CAF 2019.

I used to always buy separate asynch USB devices but they have gotten good enough to where too much is lost when the USB section is external

 

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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16 hours ago, davide256 said:

mehh... the audiophilleo was never cheap and its old for USB design. My Metrum Octave is a back up DAC now, first for  a Schiit multibit Gungnir and then for a better

sounding Chord mojo. If you like the more euphonic R2R sound a Lampizator Amber 3 might be a good investment, sounded quite musical when I heard it at CAF 2019.

I used to always buy separate asynch USB devices but they have gotten good enough to where too much is lost when the USB section is external

 

 

I get what you are saying... my problem I suppose is that I like the sound of the old Arcam BB1 so I guess I must enjoy the 'presentation' of this DAC - in fact I also own the Chord Mojo (because I wanted to see why the rave reviews), plus a Metrum Octave -  but still 'enjoy' the BB1 more! The BB1 needs to be carefully set up to sound its best or it falls flat on its face (it must have a good upstream transport). From what I read - the Octave can get 'bitchy' if that too has a less than adequate upstream partner.

 

So getting the foundations right is important for me to establish which of my many DACs (some of them fussy) are the most musical. This revelation came about by fluke when using a Marantz NA7004 which ended up having the hidden strength of being a superior transport.

 

As a bonus the Audiophilleo 1 gives me a remote controllable pre-amp too! So no need for me to be concerned about searching for a specific narrow field DAC which gives me that functionality when I now 'always' have that functionality with the AP1 in tow no matter what DAC or amp (old, classic or new) sits in the stack. (The Croft valve pre-amp I use also misses the convenience of r/c).

 

Interesting btw that you rate the Mojo above the Gungnir - that's beside the point ...

 

 

 

 

 

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