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MUSICAL FIDELITY - V-LINK 192 USB TO COAX CONVERTER


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Looks like it will be available at musicdirect on December, 2011. Anyone have additional info/details on this product?

 

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-53356-musical-fidelity-v-link-192-usb-to-coax-converter.aspx

 

http://www.musicdirect.com/images/product/large/amufivlink192.jpg

 

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Custom C.A.P.S. Reference Music Server with UpTone Audio JS-2 External Linear Power Supply > Bel Canto REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter > AT&T ST Optical Glass Fiber > Bel Canto DAC3.7 DAC > Pass Labs XP-20 Preamp > Pass Labs XA160.5 Class A Mono Blocks > Martin Logan Summit X Speakers

 

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I just purchased one of these. It is now the V-Link II and has a silver case and has been available in England for about two weeks. HOWEVER, it is NOT 192K capable, but is still 96K, same as the old one. Both on the case and in the instructions it says '96K'. I have seen it stated as 192 capable in several reports and they are wrong.

 

I bought it because my low-cost DAC (Cambridge Dacmagic), which uses a C-Media chip is only 48/16 capable on its USB input.

 

The V-Link has overcome this limitation, but remember,96K maximum. Using it has improved the sound quality, removing most of the harshness of the USB input of the Cambridge DAC, bringing it up the same quality as the other inputs. I have not heard any difference in quality between the optical and coaxial outputs of the V-link.

 

It also works well with the much more expensive Naim DAC, which does not have a 'computer capable' input. Using the V-Link does not cause any noticeable deterioration in quality with the Naim DAC, at least on my equipment.

 

Recommended.

 

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These appear to be two different products. Have a look at the Music Direct site for Musical Fidelity products. The 192kHz-capable version is being offered for double the price of the 96kHz-capable version. The 192kHz version is supposed to be available in December, vs. the 96KHz which is supposed to be available in November.

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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That's a shame. I just waited a month for the V-Link II. Neither the dealer here in England nor Musical Fidelity itself said anything about a 192 capable one. Not the dealers fault, he was probably none the wiser, but MF can now rest assured (assuming they are bringing out a 192 version) that I will never buy anything else of theirs. Probably just flogging off their stock of the old circuit boards in new cases.

 

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Hi Chris,

Just became aware of this site - found your Async USB article very useful.

 

The dealer, quite a large one, was completely unaware of the forthcoming 192 converter. Not a single word from the MF rep. He had to order quite a number of the 'New' V-Link II, MF would not accept an order for just one. Obviously MF want to get shot of them. Now he is stuck with several of the 'Very new but about to be made obsolete' 96K V-Link II that no one will want.

 

As I said, I am pleased with it, but would have waited for the 192 version, as of course would everyone else.

 

Should have spent the 'New Harley' money on a dCS!

 

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You might also want to know that there is a new version of the Dac Magic coming. I saw it in the latest Audio Advisor catalog.

 

I prefer the optical output on my V-Link. Maybe that means my computer is putting more noise out on USB than yours (not too surprising as I have 8 USB devices) or it is the DAC. I'm not much of a believer in cables, but optical interfaces are very sensitive and I think a well made cable makes a difference in this case.

 

 

 

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Looks to me like you've been caught between the marketing strategy of the maker of the V-Link, and perhaps a US dealer releasing information too soon. The V-Link II and the V-Link 192 are two different products, to be introduced in November and December respectively. I quote below information and some inferencing that I made on another Computer Audiophile thread after visiting the US Musicdirect site:

 

"Looks like the V-Link II, which is listed at $189 on a US site is the same animal in a gussied-up case. $20 more than the original V-Link for a more substantial looking box, probably.

 

"I found a listing, without specifications, at Musicdirect for the V-Link 192 ($399) which includes pictures from which one can surmise the details: USB input; AES/EBU output; coax output; NO Toslink output; an array of 8 LEDs that indicate Power, Lock, and the various reports about bitrates. One assumes they've provided galvanic isolation, since they've abandoned Toslink.

 

"Looks similar to the Stello U3 (which I use) in concept, but in a fancier case, and the ability to report information that I now get from a read-out on my DAC. Hope it sounds as good as it looks; the original V-Link, which ushered me into computer audio, was certainly a great value."

 

fm

 

Qobuz via Aurender N10 > Devialet Expert Pro > Audio Physic Avantera

 

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Does look like that, but here in the UK Musical Fidelity has, as far as I can tell, (and my local dealer agrees) made no mention at all of a 192K converter. The 96K V-link II was released about six weeks ago but it took MF about four weeks before my dealer could get any, and then they would not supply just one. Draw your own conclusions.

 

However, I am very happy with it, and as a 96K converter has a theoretical frequency response up to nearly 48K, way, way past the range of human hearing, I suspect 192K is far more of a marketing exercise than anything else - they are all doing it.

 

On the absence of Toslink on the new one, the Toslink spec. says '48K max' so even 96K is pushing it. No doubt that is why the new one has coax only. But my DAC lights up its 96K indicator happily enough. The only high res material I have is a few minutes of Naim downloads at 96K that they provide free for you to test both your system and the download process prior to paying for 'real' downloads. The rest is CDs ripped to WAV files. The leading UK magazine is now showing response graphs of so-called 'high res' material in their music reviews. At least a third of it turns out to be upsampled 44.1 material. The download providers (except Linn and Naim, who don't do it) are really upset by these reviews.

 

The Cambridge Dacmagic is a wonderful box for the money, but it does use the cheap and cheerful C-Media chip for its USB input. Fair enough for the mere 300 dollars it costs here in the UK. As I said, the V-Link improves it no end. Cambridge Audio have a knack of producing very good boxes for very little money - the Dacmagic is easily equal to the Benchmark (an excellent DAC) at a quarter of the Benchmark's UK price.

 

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Various UK dealers do have the V-Link 192 listed and have for several weeks now.

 

Musical Fidelity don't have the product listed on their website; but neither do they have the Mk II version of the V-Link.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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that the Musical Fidelity site itself does not seem to have the most up-to-date (or complete) information on their own product releases.

 

Office desktop: iMac ((Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) (4 GHz Intel Core i7) (512GB SSD) (32GB Ram)) => USB (Kimber Kable USB Silver) => V-Link 192 USB Input => V-Link Coax Output (AQ Sidewinder) => Schiit Bifrost Multibit Coax Input => Schiit Bifrost Multibit RCA Output => Schitt Pyst => Schitt Asgard 2 => (Audioquest - Mini-3) => Audioengine HD6 (slave connected with Audioquest Type 4 cable) (Pangea AC-14 Power Cord) (IsoAcoustic L8R155 stands) => Audioquest Sidewinders => Audioengine S8 Subwoofer

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The thing I am most interested in is: disregarding the additional features of the Vlink 192, will it perform a 24 bit, 96 khz conversion in a superior manner to the Vlink 2 also at 96 khz? In other words, if one is buying for sound quality only and is limited to 96 khz, is the Vlink 192 going to be worth the higher price.

 

Personally I don't believe in buying any converter (or even a DAC) simply because it can do 192 khz and this somehow 'future-proofs" it.

 

Things move so fast in computer audio these days, I would be more interested to see what is on the market in the future if and when I had enough 192khz source material to even justify the purchase.

 

I remain skeptical that the majority of consumer digital gear and even professional recording gear can handle 192 khz better than 96 khz anyway. Most of what I have heard sounds best at 96 khz. I think the demands upon circuit design and precision are for the most part too demanding for 192 khz except for a small minority of playback and recording kit.

 

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Mark,

 

Although I empathise, I think its still ony fair to state that the 192 khz version is still some time off and costs possibly double the price of the one you bought. And notwithstanding features, it might not even be any better at 96 khz than the cheaper one (though of course it might be).

 

Anyway, welcome to the way MF seems to do business. Their website never seems to maintain sync with what one can actually see and buy in the shops, and their claims regarding the performance of their products relative to the competition usually border on the rediculous to the impossible.

 

That said, I have still been a fan of their gear right from the early days, having owned early model B1 and A1 amplifiers and nowadays an XCan V8. Interestingly, the only product of theirs I was ever disappointed with was the original V-DAC (I have not heard the new version).

 

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Aside from enraging some of those who have just bought the 96/24 version this unit seems to have some serious omissions:

 

1) No external power supply option which means you are stuck with 'dirty' USB power

2) No I2S which is a much better interface than 'legacy' SPDIF.

 

At this sort of price MF should be looking harder at these options...this is not the bargain their previous converters were and not very future proof.

 

Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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JonP,

 

I am certainly happy with the performance of my V-Link. I am just a trifle irritated how they have kept the 192 version so quiet here in England.

 

Their products usually perform well - I have one of their 'Synthesis' integrated amps purchased in 1984 in my 'secondary' system and it is still working fine after 27 years!

 

My experiments with computer audio, which have been going for only about four or five weeks, have been so encouraging that they are showing up the limitations of the rest of my system. My amp is well below par compared to the rest, and the computer audio is already performing better than my 5000 dollar Naim CD player. Sadly, that, or indeed any other optical disc player, is becoming redundant in my setup.

 

Requiring a new amplifier I have seriously considered the MF AMS35i, which is beautiful sounding full Class A amplifier and the dealer has let me have a home demo for a full week. But I do have doubts about MF's weird way of doing business - even the dealer says he is always having to chase them up about things.

 

But the AMS35i is very expensive. The dealer is only about four miles away from where I live and he also sells Naim. The Naim factory is only about fifteen miles away too, so they are likely to get yet another 5000 dollars from me! It is pleasant that they are actually manufactured here and not by 'Asia Inc'. They are also happy to fix everything they have ever made since they started up in about 1975.

 

Onwards and Upwards!

 

Mark

 

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Mark, welcome, especially from a fellow Naimee.

 

You say: "as a 96K converter has a theoretical frequency response up to nearly 48K, way, way past the range of human hearing, I suspect 192K is far more of a marketing exercise than anything else - they are all doing it." Do a search on this forum, and see what Barry Diament of Soundkeeper (and others) have to say about 192. You may be pleasantly surprised at the SQ, especially through a Naim Dac.

 

Try some of the hi-res from HDTracks, but beware, some albums will be amazing, some not so much. Moody Blues ('Nights') and some of the Stone's recordings sound fantastic. 192 from Cookie Marenco (Blue Coast) is outstanding.

 

I have the V-Link. No way I will spend $400 on the new one, given it costs 50% of the price of my Dac (almost $450 with tax versus $900 all in). I'll save that money and put it towards buying a better dac or a Naim ND5 XS streamer/dac.

 

If you need a new amp, you should audition something like the Naim SuperUniti, it's a 192 streamer with 80 watts per side. It's so good, I believe it was part of 'the' main set-up in the 'minimalist' Naim room at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

 

Dave

 

ps: which CD player do you own? I have a CDX2 and it outperforms my MacBook/V-Link/Rega Dac quite handily. Does your CD player take advantage of your nDAC?

 

 

MacBook->Audirvana Plus->Naim DAC-V1>Naim Nait XS->Naim Intros/nSATs

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and as someone who worked in consumer electronics, including high end audio (but no more,) I think that Musical Fidelity should be forgiven for not just selling just one to the retailer. The product is likely distributed in a pack quantity (a case) greater than one. Altering the distribution of such a product from a case to individual units raises costs substantially.

 

As far as the new product, it appears to be a different animal. The V-Link 192, in addition to the higher sample rate capability, has eliminated the TosLink output in favor of an AES/EBU one. This leads me to believe that it is galvanically isolated, which would explain the large price difference. That price difference makes it likely that the two V-Links will coexist in Musical Fidelity's lineup.

 

The real issue here, and it is very important, is that you seem to have buyer's remorse. Would you rather own the V-Link 192? If so, contact your dealer about a way to exchange what you have purchased when the new one is available. Even though the dealer's return period will likely have expired, they may allow you to apply full credit towards the purchase of a new one. It doesn't hurt to ask. The worst that can happen is that they will say "no."

 

Oyen MiniPro w/WD10JPVT (AIFF) ? generic FireWire cable ? Mac Mini (10.6.8)/Pure Music ? Pangea USB-PC ? Musical Fidelity V-Link ? SilFlex Glass TosLink ? Music Hall dac25.3 ? Goertz Tourmaline RCA? Krell S-300i ? Clearview Golden Helix ? Magnepan MMG

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Dave,

My CD Player is also the CDX2, an earlier one without the digital outlet. I also have the external power supply. It's good, but I feel the computer setup (Samsung laptop > V-Link > Cambridge Dacmagic) is equal. Using a borrowed Naim DAC, also with the V-Link, I feel that it is better than the CDX2.

 

Not the SuperUniti. I want the flexibility of separate boxes, so will probably go for the XS pre and power, or maybe the next one up. But then I have the demo MF AMS35i playing as I type this. It is absolutely superb. But expensive, and the 35P, without the integrated preamp is the same price.

 

One problem with the SuperUniti is that I have too many DACs already. There is one in the television, one in the Freeview HD box, one in the CD player, one in the (soon to be redundant - I have only watched one DVD in the last year, Yamaha AV receiver) and one in the computer setup. I have probably forgotten a couple.

 

I may even just buy a poweramp, Naim or something else, drive it from the AV preamp out sockets, and eventually replace that with an MF CLIC or similar - that is a full analogue and digital preamp, and a streamer, with a volume control. The new XS streamer looks good, and I have been very impressed with Naim gear, but then I would still need a preamp.

 

I have even been tempted to try a SET amp, to see if the valve - single ended nutters are not nutters after all, but therein lies madness!

 

As I can get sound from either I have even tried the Naim and Cambridge DACs to replace the internal DACs of the television and the set top box (bought simply because the digital tuner in the TV has permanently 'locked up' and I cant be bothered to get it fixed). Don't hear the slightest difference.

 

I am considering a streamer simply because the cat, myself, and my wife are all getting fed up with the trailing cables from the moveable laptop to everything else. Though the cat never trips over anything. But a streamer is an expensive way of doing it, and they cannot possibly offer any sound advantage over a PC/DAC combination. Thinking that they can is only a short step away from thinking that expensive cables make an 'improvement' rather than just a 'difference' and I am not going there!

 

'The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits' - Albert Einstein

 

Mark

 

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Speaking of "I am not going there...," here's an interesting, but perhaps quite scary, alternative regarding amplification: Nelson Pass makes some really wonderful electronics, from the old Threshold amps through the current Pass Labs pieces. The cost is on par with or more than the Naim equipment that was mentioned. But - Pass has also supported the DIY audio hobby consistently over the years, and even his very recent commercial designs (the XA series, which I just heard at a friend's sounding wonderful with Wilson Sophias, the first time I've ever really liked the sound from Wilsons) are available as a DIY design, the "Aleph-X." The 100wpc Pass Labs XA 100.5 monoblocks sell commercially for $16,500; parts and enclosures for the DIY design are said to run about $1400 for a pair of monoblocks, about half that for a single stereo enclosure.

 

Not for the faint of heart, but the value-for-money proposition is very tempting to me personally. OTOH, other folks may be sufficiently busy that the money is well worth the savings in time, effort, and anxiety re screwing it up.

 

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I have the greatest respect for Nelson Pass. I am capable of building his DIY circuits and when younger would perhaps have had a go.

 

But his 'high end' stuff is very expensive in Europe, and his lower cost equipment, though at least the equal of most other equipment of similar prices, is not outstandingly superior.

 

At the 'mid price' level there is little that even comes close to the Naim equipment, though certainly the Pass stuff does. Of European equipment only, at the extreme high end it is fair to say that Naim has no equal, though it certainly does when US equipment is included.

 

Sadly, most of the once respected British high end has been taken over by a huge Chinese conglomerate that, rather like General Motors, has merely been collecting as many once famous brand names as it can, like one might collect stamps or whatever. As a result those brands have lost all credibility except for those buyers who want a 'nice stereo' and have a bit more money than the average music center buyer. The stuff sounds ok, but no better than the run of the mill Japanese mass market brands.

 

 

 

 

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Mark, I would take issue with your statement "Sadly, most of the once respected British high end has been taken over by a huge Chinese conglomerate that, rather like General Motors, has merely been collecting as many once famous brand names as it can, like one might collect stamps or whatever. As a result those brands have lost all credibility except for those buyers who want a 'nice stereo' and have a bit more money than the average music center buyer. The stuff sounds ok, but no better than the run of the mill Japanese mass market brands."

 

From several points of view:

 

First, as this thread is about Musical Fidelity product I think it's correct to point out that Musical Fidelity is still an independently owned (wholy by Julian Michelson IIRC) as a British company who contract out much of their manufacturing to Far East companies. Their high end (AMS) lines are still UK built.

 

Second, as a point of view, I would say that IAG (the huge Chineese conglomerate I assume you are referring to) actually do a good job of allowing the individual companies to retain their individuality. The new Audiolab CD players (and soon DACs) are especially well thought of being designed by John Westlake. They hold their own again others in the price range and higher.

 

Thirdly, the brands that IAG purchased have all been companies who were unable to survive on their own. If they had not been purchased then they would have been lost.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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