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Audiowise Opto-USB, SRC-DX and early experiments with the Chord Qutest before moving to TT2


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Thanks for the great write up @Gavin1977!

 

Have you tried the SRC-DX with regular USB outputs vs. the JCAT? Just curious to see if they are "like-for-like" or if unoptimized USB is worse (and by how much) vs. the JCAT. 

 

Thanks again.

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Hi Gavin, Nick linked your article and gives me hope it might be right in my simple chain. No DSD or upscaling. 

Just bypassing the internal USB on the Qutest. Until my aerospace job has a bit more security I've cut right back.

I am only of using a friend's free Spotify Prem and pimped a Win 10 Nuc for as low latency hacks I could do..

Pro audio tips no power savings on usb bus  Ethernet.. opened the cores, FSB, bios ect... QuickCPU  prog to. Open the cores...

 

Nothing fancy but I sold some bits nearly gets me there for the SRC DX... Why I've been lurking not much to add on AS just enjoying others journeys😉👍

 

I watched the DX and the opto get released with great interest and Raydude go for the opto links..

 

I didn't think a non upsampling Low data rate would be worth getting the DX for my Qutest...

No power pc HQP or upscaler..

 

Wasn't sure what extra benefit dual BNC gives, what my little  USB chain can add.. isoregen lps1 IFI bits..

 

Nick tried it and liked on his old Qutest. But he's has those beautiful cables..

I said I may, as I am so on the fence he'd have me for trespassing....

 

An indecisive rambling post Gavin... sorry mate..

Marginal gain refinement in my case?

Or a worthy boost well worth a punt..?

I don't want to waste my little Audio savings or waste anyone's time or good will...

 

But thank for your impressions and nice to see you post, thank you 👍

 

For a bargain basement set up In your opinion and no pressure..

either way do it? Lol 

 

Take care

Dave 😉

 

 

 

 

 

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On 6/23/2021 at 5:40 PM, Gavin1977 said:
Being from the UK I was hesitant to buy from Audiowise in Canada with so few reviews around.  In fact I cancelled my first order because I felt uneasy about the benefits.  Anyway this all changed when I managed to pick up a used Opto-USB on eBay (so very little risk to me and easy to sell on) and then I also found out that www.wavehighfidelity.com are stocking the SRC-DX in the UK so I could give that a try.
 
So, basis of this feedback is my own opinion - I own the Opto-USB and loaned the SRC-DX with the Wave Storm cables.  I have no vested interests.
 
Opto USB
IMG_9243-MOCKUP-final_345x.png.dbd512bc2688aac163fcb0bcfc4b904d.png
The most noticeable impact of Opto USB is that it really clears up the upper registers.  I’ve never really been one to focus on the benefits of good treble…being 44 I can’t hear over 16kHz.  But the effect of ‘cleaning up’ the treble from unwanted noise via the use of optical isolation is very much noticeable.  There is a slightly better portrayal of depth, better decay, better clarity and ‘air’.   These are all things that I would associate with optical isolation.  
 
This was compared against using a Sablon 2020 USB directly from my motherboards USB ports and also from a JCAT USB XE - the effect was similar in both.  The same Sablon 2020 USB cable was also used as the final leg from the Opto USB to the DAC.  Why didn’t Audiowise directly terminate in USB Type B?  I have no idea, as it just adds one more connection and the need to purchase a USB cable.  I think they should modify the design.
 
Perceived negative effects of having the Opto USB in place?  Perhaps very slight time smearing due to the conversion process. But you wouldn't notice unless doing very strict back to back comparisons. That's about it.
 
I think this is a very good addition to a music server for the price - also allows you to potentially locate your music server several metres away.  It also works well with lesser music sources, but don't expect it to make your laptop sound like a dedicated and optimised music server, it won't.
 
Then I tried the SRC-DX into my Hugo TT2.
 
SRC-DX
 
IMG_0256-A_345x.jpg.436b14493533e47709161c78aec658d8.jpg
 
I'm not one to go into product details - you can find that off the web.  But what benefit does converting USB into dual bnc have?  Well the answer is straight forward - spades of additional texture that is otherwise lost when feeding Chord DAC via USB. The impact is quite profound and certainly greater than the welcome, but somewhat marginal, gains of the Opto-USB.
 
You might find this interesting...What would I prioritise first for Chord DAC owners an MScaler or SRC-DX?  SRC-DX has the larger impact in my opinion, it is a no brainer for Chord DAC owners.
 
p.s. get some good quality BNC cables like Wave Storm or Sablon to yield full benefit.
 
Earlier experiments with the chord qutest
 
I wanted to try the SRC-DX because I had undertaken some earlier experiments with the Chord Qutest.  The Qutest sounds decent for a £1000 DAC, but not uber high end in stock form.  What I found is that with multiple layers of cleaning the qutest can sound really very, very good.  So good that I took the momentous decision to sell my T+A DAC8 DSD.
 
So first config:

 

JCAT USB XE (Powered by Teddy Pardo) -> Sablon USB -> qutest.  Nothing really amazing to write home about, sounds very good, but I wouldn't part with the T+A based on this as it is a step behind.

 

My final configuration was:

 

JCAT USB XE (Powered by Teddy Pardo, 5v @ 3A  - qutest set to 2v output so as not to overload)

1st USB port: Sablon USB -> Matrix Audio x-spdif 2 -> Altas Mavros Optical -> qutest

2nd USB port: 5v power to the qutest via micro-usb cable

 

This configuration is really stunning.  The sound opens up, noise floor drops and there's a lot more snap - but it all has to be top class gear otherwise the magic is lost (the only compromise that can be made is the toslink cable - a cheaper glass one would probably be fine).  But think about it, you've got a top class linear power supply, then feeding the JCAT which has a further set of LT3045 linear regulators - so effectively the x-spdif 2 and the qutest are now receiving double regulated power which everyone talks about in such high regard.

 

The x-spdif 2 then has further filtering inside it and it also has good internal reclocking.

 

The optical cable removes any emi/rf from getting into the DAC.

 

These are the same tricks as people are doing with multiple network switches.  In the above case we're getting double regulation and double clocking.

 

How does it sound - noticeably more lifelike and dynamic than the T+A and with more detail retrieval.  I also prefer it over the Mola Mola and definately over the DAVE in stock form (however I've now heard the DAVE with the DC4 and the SRC-DX which is currently the best DAC I have heard - significantly above the TT2 and way better than the DAVE in stock form).

 

With the SRC-DX I don't need all of this periphery that the qutest needed to shine.

 
What next
 
DAVE with SR4 is out of my budget, but I will be trying a Holo Audio May.  If I decided to stick with the TT2 then I'll definitely purchase the SRC-DX - its actually better than the chain I describe above to optimise the qutest, but with even better texture and tone.  Everyone should seriously consider using BNC and avoiding USB input on Chord DACs.
 
With regards to qutest vs TT2  - I moved over to the TT2 because the preamp in it is so darn good, my active preamp I was using just smeared the detail out slightly.  So the best preamp is the one in the DAC in this case.  The TT2 also retrieves more detail that the qutest (and I prefer not to use the MScaler, PGGB sounds more natural to me for those interested in upscaling).  An optimised qutest can come very close to the TT2, but nowhere near SR4+DAVE.
 
That's my ramble - please forgive me if there are typos and lack of polish... I don't have the time to write up like I used too.

Couldn’t sort out from the above… did you use the SRC DX/ dual BNC with the Qutest and if so what were your thoughts?

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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8 hours ago, Middy said:

Hi Gavin, Nick linked your article and gives me hope it might be right in my simple chain. No DSD or upscaling. 

Just bypassing the internal USB on the Qutest. Until my aerospace job has a bit more security I've cut right back.

I am only of using a friend's free Spotify Prem and pimped a Win 10 Nuc for as low latency hacks I could do..

Pro audio tips no power savings on usb bus  Ethernet.. opened the cores, FSB, bios ect... QuickCPU  prog to. Open the cores...

 

Nothing fancy but I sold some bits nearly gets me there for the SRC DX... Why I've been lurking not much to add on AS just enjoying others journeys😉👍

 

I watched the DX and the opto get released with great interest and Raydude go for the opto links..

 

I didn't think a non upsampling Low data rate would be worth getting the DX for my Qutest...

No power pc HQP or upscaler..

 

Wasn't sure what extra benefit dual BNC gives, what my little  USB chain can add.. isoregen lps1 IFI bits..

 

Nick tried it and liked on his old Qutest. But he's has those beautiful cables..

I said I may, as I am so on the fence he'd have me for trespassing....

 

An indecisive rambling post Gavin... sorry mate..

Marginal gain refinement in my case?

Or a worthy boost well worth a punt..?

I don't want to waste my little Audio savings or waste anyone's time or good will...

 

But thank for your impressions and nice to see you post, thank you 👍

 

For a bargain basement set up In your opinion and no pressure..

either way do it? Lol 

 

Take care

Dave 😉

 

 

 

 

 

No worries.

 

SRC-DX provides the same noteworthy benefits to either straight PCM (single bnc cable) or Upsampled (dual bnc).  If you want to get a taste of what it does try comparing the qutest or other chord DAC on USB vs optical.  The thing the SRC-DX does beyond this is add more texture, and it’s very noticeable.  Now I didn’t have a range of BNC cables to play with, just the wave storm, so I can’t tell you how much of the impact was cable vs SRC-DX (so that is a point I should have made clear in the article).  Either way, for chord DACs I think it’s great.

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7 hours ago, davide256 said:

Couldn’t sort out from the above… did you use the SRC DX/ dual BNC with the Qutest and if so what were your thoughts?

I actually didn’t have time with the qutest, just the TT2 and the DAVE.  However based on my prior experiments with the qutest I can tell you with a large degree of certainty that it’s going to have the same effect.

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Thanks ever so much gents.... Ultimately it's not about the expensive gear just getting the best out what you have. Sorry if my worries are coming out a bit.. but AS has become so bleeding edge and I am holding the handle... Far down the other end...

 

 

You can still glean great tips from these experiments.  Finally wrapped with metallic fabric tape/ RFI shield all the internal wires  power cables, SSD. another little boost.

The Pro audio/ Daw's Mixer engineers low latency tips.. All about turning off Win 10 power savings bios tweaks.. like the kids  playing with all the dimmer switches at once... QuickCPU for opening the cores ..ect max power..

 

All have got me dam close to Linux on this headless fanless Celeron NUC apacer ram.. easier set up with connect and when Spotify HIfi comes out that bit closer.. until we have a more normal life...

 

The Singxer SA1 DC coupling modded sounds fantastic and got me refining/experimenting again. 

 

I've fallen in the IFI trap and could had 2 DXs by now.. but margin gains...  Ironically the isilencers 'not' in the signal path just on the unused ports have worked quite well to quieten the USB bus...plug in circuit noise dampener.. X3 sweet spot..

 

I thought as I am not upscaling so the DX would be a waste in my use case... another decrapifier in the spares bin..

 

Even optical sound different on different cables.. this hobby drives you crazy... Nick's on the Chord owners Facebook page and reignited my interest. being Mr Chord and very knowledgeable..

  Same as you Gavin, was not sure and importing from Canada when we have a backyard supplier... 

 

Not posting for so long I am like an old auntie not seeing his nephew 🙄.. I'll shut up.. are you courting now Gavin..

 

Both your thoughts have been invaluable.. cheers both and lovely to be back.. for a bit..

 

Take care 

Auntie Dave..

 

 

 

20210625_145608.jpg

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The only other option I have considered and a little cheaper was the Singxer SU-2... An optional World clock interface and a chance to mod with an LPS... Like most of this hobby..in your system is the proof of the pudding...

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2 hours ago, Middy said:

The only other option I have considered and a little cheaper was the Singxer SU-2... An optional World clock interface and a chance to mod with an LPS... Like most of this hobby..in your system is the proof of the pudding...

Hi Middy,

 

Is the logic there to feed the Qutest with an optical cable?

I tried something similar using a Matrix X-SPDIF2 into my TT2, half expecting to hear ‘RF busting benefits’ from it. But there was little if any difference versus going USB direct into TT2, and that was using a QED Reference glass optical cable too (which is great value given its spec).

 

No idea how the Qutest’s USB input fairs against it’s optical input or compares to the TT2 implementation (no experience of Qutest), so others may be able to advise or ‘chime in’ here.

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This move to the SRC-DX has really been interesting. I used to use it with my DAVE (+SeanJacobs PS), but then I got an Innous Phoenix and switched to USB. I’ve really been pleased with the Phoenix. 

 

Sine the Phoenix is designed for USB, I never thought to try and go from server to Phoenix to SRC-DX to DAVE BNC. Does that make sense to even attempt? 

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1 hour ago, BlueDL said:

Hi Middy,

 

Is the logic there to feed the Qutest with an optical cable?

I tried something similar using a Matrix X-SPDIF2 into my TT2, half expecting to hear ‘RF busting benefits’ from it. But there was little if any difference versus going USB direct into TT2, and that was using a QED Reference glass optical cable too (which is great value given its spec).

 

No idea how the Qutest’s USB input fairs against it’s optical input or compares to the TT2 implementation (no experience of Qutest), so others may be able to advise or ‘chime in’ here.

X-spdif 2 sounds good because I’m sending it double regulated power from a JCAT USB Xe - feeding it anything lower and it loses the magic.

 

Pink Faun Spdif bridge with ultraclock is the best, but serious money for a few percent uplift over the above.


Now that I’ve discovered opto-USB and SRC-DX that is the better route.  X-spdif 2 has lots of use scenarios through.

 

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57 minutes ago, edwardsean said:

This move to the SRC-DX has really been interesting. I used to use it with my DAVE (+SeanJacobs PS), but then I got an Innous Phoenix and switched to USB. I’ve really been pleased with the Phoenix. 

 

Sine the Phoenix is designed for USB, I never thought to try and go from server to Phoenix to SRC-DX to DAVE BNC. Does that make sense to even attempt? 

I use PhoenixUSB to SRC-DX to my Dave and have also tried it with my Qutest. This was using USB from both my Antipodes K50 and from my Innuos Zenith. Using the PhoenixUSB in circuit seems to help with sound quality even when using the SRC-DX but it is by no means essential to get the SRC-DX magic.

 

The reason for using the SRC-DX with the Chord DACs is to avoid using their Amanero USB controller chip which is stated by some to have a high latency. This all kicked off with Taiko stating that the USB input on the Dave was not one of their supported DACs for use with the Extreme. Then a few of the Extreme owners started using the SRC-DX so they could take usb from the Extreme and convert it to BNC to connect to the lower latency BNC input on the Dave. That produced startling results for the Extreme owners in terms of sound quality uplift and therefore those of us who do not have Extremes wondered if this was just an Taiko Extreme thing or whether it could work for other USB output streamers as well.

 

Well it turns out that it sure does work for other sources as well as the Extreme and I have been startled by the uplift in sound quality  by converting the USB output from my Innuos and Antipodes streamers to BNC and using that to input to my Dave and my Qutest.

 

Of course the Antipodes K50 can output single BNC as one of its selectable digital outputs and many K50 owners had already decided they preferred the K50 BNC output compared to USB when connected to the Dave.

 

However that single USB from the K50 cannot handle 705 or 768kHz files from say PGGB or HQ Player and that is where the SRC-DX comes into play because it can take a USB signal at those rates and convert it to dual BNC suitable for Dave, TT2, Qutest etc.

 

So yes, @edwardsean, I suggest you should certainly try the SRC-DX with your Phoenix.

Innuos Zenith + Antipodes K50 + PhoenixNET + PhoenixUSB,

Sablon 2020 USB to Mscaler, WAVE Storm BNC to DAVE (Sean Jacobs external DC4 power)

Pass Labs XA60.8 power amps + Spendor SP200 speakers, ATC150 actives.

 

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Thank you all for the suggestions, I am dancing around cost that's all and justification. 3 year old costing me nearly a Dave a year and worth every penny..... My secret savings got me a new HPA.. that opens up the headphones then the need to tinker and improve off the great ideas of A/S..

It is a great deal from Mr Bacon and done us Brits a service.  You guys are coming off nice gear and feeding quality upsampling, bending my head my celeron NUC and lps1 isoregen can give me a taste with the SRC DX... 

 

Cheers lads I'll give it more thought.

Appreciated as always 👍

 

 

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From the response, I'm moving to purchase the SRC-DX again. However, I remember that I wasn't too happy with the quality of the included BNC cables. So, I'm looking into better cables. 

 

Please let me know some suggestions. I don't think I want to spend more than the price of the SRC-DX for the pair, so around $500.

 

Thanks!

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12 hours ago, Fourlegs said:

However that single USB from the K50 cannot handle 705 or 768kHz files from say PGGB or HQ Player and that is where the SRC-DX comes into play because it can take a USB signal at those rates and convert it to dual BNC suitable for Dave, TT2, Qutest etc.


my bad, I of course meant to say, “However that single BNC from the K50 cannot handle 705 or 768kHz files from say PGGB or HQ Player “

Innuos Zenith + Antipodes K50 + PhoenixNET + PhoenixUSB,

Sablon 2020 USB to Mscaler, WAVE Storm BNC to DAVE (Sean Jacobs external DC4 power)

Pass Labs XA60.8 power amps + Spendor SP200 speakers, ATC150 actives.

 

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6 hours ago, edwardsean said:

From the response, I'm moving to purchase the SRC-DX again. However, I remember that I wasn't too happy with the quality of the included BNC cables. So, I'm looking into better cables. 

 

Please let me know some suggestions. I don't think I want to spend more than the price of the SRC-DX for the pair, so around $500.

 

Thanks!

That should get you a pair of Oyaide DB-510, which I’ve found to perform well with M-Scaler, and now SRC-DX.

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I’ve used Oyaide before and like their stuff, but haven’t personally tried their bnc cables.  I’ve only ever used high end cables, the one I used in earnest is the Sablon BNC - I could not tell it apart from an optical cable.

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10 hours ago, Middy said:

I pulled the trigger and see if it works out ok..Please dont tell my wife.. 

Please report back - you have a Qutest user watching for more feedback. I'd feed the SRC-DX with USB from a SoTM SMS200 Ultra. I've always had doubts about feeding the Qutest with USB.

Analog: Rega P8 > Ortofon Cadenza Black > PS Audio Stellar Phono Pre

Digial: SoTM SMS200 Ultra > SPS500 > Chord Qutest

Sound: Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II > Harbeth P3ESR

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Of course  with a big pinch of salt but I'll do my best.. Until reading about the extreme server Amanero USB issue/ weakness a while back, i'd not had much luck on the USB chain...

My chain is low end, I follow the developments generally but thought the SRC DX and Opto's were Dave/ Upscaler toys. Or a powerful PC required.  I am turning Gravel into a blood bank...

 

A few toys I can jiggle around IFI's Intona and Lps1 + ISOREGEN ..

 

Anything in my limited ability I can add I will with pleasure ☺

 

Take care 

Dave

 

 

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Nice one, Dave.......I mean......Middy.

 

I was wondering if a USB-powered decrapifier between source and SRC-DX might be drawing too much current from the source. If you don’t mind me asking, what decrapifier are you using? Thanks.

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