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MUSICAL FIDELITY - V-LINK 192 USB TO COAX CONVERTER


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Eloise,

I mostly agree with you, and certainly Michelson has been in the business for a very long time - long before he started Musical Fidelity. His MF 'Synthesis' integrated amp was the first 'quality' hifi product I ever bought, and mine is still going strong after 27 years of regular use. Would be in about the 2-3000 dollar bracket at todays prices.

 

John Westlake has been in the business for a long time too, though (as far as I know) he was not involved in the original Audiolab equipment, I believe that was someone called Swift. When I bought the Synthesis 27 years ago it was a toss of the coin whether to buy that or the Audiolab 8000. They were both in the dealers, in fact the same dealers who's demo MF AMS35i is running in my house at this moment, currently amplifying an inane television quiz show! At its near 9000 dollar price, in my house it has to do everything. I chose the Synthesis because I liked the name, it looked more technical, and it was driving a pair of Quad electrostatics (which I could not afford).

 

I read that the British brand names have a certain cachet in China and that is why IAG bought them. Also, of course, they were either dead or dying so IAG got them for next to nothing. With those two motivations as the driving force, preserving a British 'heritage' had nothing to do with it.

 

On speakers, the various brands are all designed and 'voiced' by one person. A respected designer, yes, but for cost reasons alone many of the brands are bound to share similar internals. And while he is attempting to preserve the various brand's individual 'character' they are bound to come out as what he likes.

 

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MF apparently is going to include V-link functionality built in to updates of several of their amps/DACS. If you in general like their equipment and need a new amp/dac, it would be worth checking out.

 

If your dealer can't give you that info, I'm sure there are some others that have more of the inside dope about what's happening at MF, and could clue you in.

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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"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."

 

 

Are there really no capable mid/high end European manufacturers except Naim?

 

Sugden, Audio Note, Linn, Nagra, Densen, Meridian, Burmester, Gryphon, Leema Acoustics, T&A, Musical Fidelity to mention just a few, all produce exceptional equipment that at very least rivals Naim.

 

It will be interesting to find out what the new French owned Naim does. My own view is that Naim have modified and softened the sound that made them deservedly famous, that said they still have second hand values to die for. I am just selling a 20+ year old Chrome Bumper NAP140, price is over £300 on a well known auction site!

 

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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Hi Mark! I don't know much about the Cambridge Dacmagic.

 

I have the older CDX2, and in every respect, it blows the doors off of my computer/V-Link/Rega Dac. The computer/V-Link/Rega Dac is about equal to my CD5i when it comes to overall sound quality and musicality. If I burn hi-res and play it back through the CDX2 at obviously redbook quality, it is way better than the computer/dac set up. If the dac were a Naim dac, that would be a different story.

 

Since I can't afford a Naim dac, I'm doing the next best thing. Vinyl! Still waiting for Rega RP3s to be shipped to Canada.

 

As far as one box scenarios, I'm not crazy about them either, but 'the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts' applies here. For instance, ripping and streaming through a Uniti, then on to the Naim dac sounds much better than music ripped and streamed with a computer, to my ears. See Paul Stephenson's most recent interview about Naim and 'holism'. People with much better Naim systems than you or I have been happy buying UnitiQutes and hooking them up to separates like the Naim 250. So it's a bit crazy that $2500 can get you superb digital sound.

 

The dac in the CDX2 is astonishingly good and I can't understand how your computer setup is equal. That is just my opinion. I'm not denying your experience, however. Each of us hears things differently.

 

You may have a lot of dacs already, but the SuperUniti Dac would be the best in your room. Friends in the industry were astonished at the quality of the sound coming from the Naim room at the RMAF. Visitors were amazed at the low box count.

 

My advice would be to try and get a chance to audition the SuperUniti and ND5 XS if you haven't already.

 

Welcome to the forum. I enjoy it a lot, in addition to the Naim Forum and Steve Hoffman. All three are my major audio bookmarks each day. I find this forum to have more info and detail than I need sometimes.

 

Computer audio is a bit complicated. You can let a major stereo manufacturer do the 'computer' part of it, or you can have the freedom of mixing and matching, but the latter is a bit much, at times, IMO. The rate of change is staggering. One week I think Audirvana Plus is the best player. Then it's back to a new version of Pure Music. Then there's a new V-Link. Then another dac. Almost too many choices sometimes. Sometimes I much prefer ripping a greatest hits CD-R and spinning it in my CDX2.

 

Dave

 

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

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Do they? I was thinking internationally. Most of them are tiny. One passes itself off as the same as that wonderful Japanese company (You know who you are!). 1980's Burmesters weren't much good, and their prices are even more lunatic than Nagra's. Both are merely audio jewellery. Meridian has always been no more than a British B&O. I have not forgotten a friends 'modular' amplifier, adequate, but that was all. And most of the promised modules never came out. Lecson all over again - that was Boothroyd and Stewart too. And why do they charge 10000 dollars for what is no more than a touch screen PC and a small RAID? Gryphon look fantastic but how much market penetration do they have? Linn - if the Sondek has really needed so many 'upgrades' it must have been pretty rubbish in the first place. Which of course it wasn't. They gave up making CD players because they couldn't sell any. No other reason. Now its 18000 dollars for a streamer!

 

Most of the people who can afford high end gear did not get to be able to afford it by being stupid. They are, in the main, perceptive and discriminating customers. Almost all the big boys in the high end section got there by being good. Naim just about qualifies, but only just.

 

Glad you said "Since the French bought Naim". In the UK they have been telling us it was 'merge' - next week "How to nail jelly to the ceiling".

 

It's all just my personal view. Might be right, might be wrong.

 

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Dave,

Neither do I. I worked for thirty years as a 'Systems Programmer' (don't ask) at an IBM lab and retired at age 55 ten years ago. My work was entirely on mainframes and my PC knowledge was zero. My interest in PCs was also zero, though we used them as 'dumb terminals' attached to the mainframes. Since retiring I resisted having any kind of computer at home, but about six weeks ago I bought this fairly high performance (because I fly light aircraft and fancied running a good simulator) Windows 7 laptop and thought I would have a go at computer audio.

 

I had never used Windows, didn't fancy Apple as they try to lock in their customers with their weird way of doing things. But in the end there is not a huge difference between Mainframe software, Windows, or the Apple product, so it all came back fairly quickly.

 

I had a few false starts and have one small question still outstanding but I feel I have got it sorted. The large number of options and boxes to tick or not tick began to become fairly obvious after a few days. I simplified matters by not initially installing any 'third party' software such as J Rivers Media Center or Exact Audio Copy, though I have played with them since. I use Windows Media Player for ripping (if you turn on 'use error correction' in the devices tab of the rip settings option it is as good as anything else) and Windows Media Center for playback. This has the user interface I have seen.

 

Why clutter up your box with a multitude of the other stuff. Particularly when we all have different opinions so no one is 'correct'.

 

On sound quality I was hugely impressed when I started but have more doubts know. Can I really tell any diffence between CD and PC? I am not sure. Made worse because my amplifier (A Yamaha) was definitely the weak point and I now have a Musical Fidelity AMS35i on a week's home demo. It is a pure class A, gets extremely hot, costs nearly 9000 dollars, is absolutely superb quality and has made me less, not more, sure of whatever is 'best', whatever that is.

 

Finally, far and away the best clarification of it all is on the dCS site. It is 'The dCS guide to computer audio'. It is superb and covers everything. In fact I had most of it figured out before I was aware of it (it was mentioned in an advert in a British magazine) but it was nice to know that I was correct in most of what I had done.

 

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I took computer science courses in 1976. Cobol, Fortran, assembler, etc. Mainframe/punch cards, PCs just came to our university that year, one lab, with 22 computers. I eventually became a retrogrouch. Never owned one until 2006.

 

If you can, read the Chris Thomas interview with the top guy at Naim (Paul Stephenson) at the Audiobeat.com, you'll get a better idea of why a streamer might sound way better (better than laptop/dac/stereo) inserted between your computer/hard drive and your stereo, and why Naim 'merged'.

 

Please, I implore you! Let your ears decide. Some don't hear the differences, but many of us do. Some can't hear the difference between iTunes and Pure Music. Some swear they hear differences between wav and aiff. I thought a streamer like the 'Qute' couldn't sound as great as it does. I thought it was a move down in amp (from my Nait), I thought it was a compromise, etc, but it's way better than it ought to be and defies logic. No B.S. There is holism and synergy that goes on here. You be the judge.

 

I never thought in a million years I would buy a $6100 CD player, but I bought the CDX2 last January, and to me it is reference quality sound. It is a much, much better sounding piece of kit than people give it credit for.

 

I am really enjoying computer sound as well, and the Rega is great for $1000, but side by side with the CDX2, the CDX2 eats it for breakfast. I don't have a 'virgin' computer, but everything is shut off when listening (Mac). No spotlight, only memory play, etc, and CPU is less than 2% on average.

 

Good luck!

 

Dave

 

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

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Wow, what did I start here? Very interesting! :)

 

My Dedicated 2CH System Gallery

 

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

 

Powered By Balanced Power Technologies - UpTone Audio JS-2 Linear Power Supply - CyberPower Sinewave UPS

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  • 1 month later...

Appreciate this site - already read a lot and have been only migrating toward computer audio for a few weeks. I have both the V-DAC II and the V-Link II, and am most impressed with both units. The V-DAC II has supplanted a stock Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC (older tech, but a nice analog section), and the V-Link II is handling USB Async transfer between a laptop and a modded ECD-1 on another system (modded by Empirical Audio).

I've been playing with trying to get the best sound out of 16 bit for years, and have finally realized that it's very difficult to get the sound I hear from 24 bit downloads from any of my 16 bit material. This probably is real "noob" stuff, observation-wise, but I can't listen to the output of iTunes anymore, where I've got hundreds of CDs stored in ALAC. The silver lining is they sound much better through Media Monkey.

I've got a lot more reading to do to catch up, but just wanted to put in a strong endorsement for the Musical Fidelity stuff. Will probably be looking for a V-Link 192 in January when it comes out. Oh, does anyone know if USB can handle 192? I thought I read somewhere that USB was inherently limited to 96khz?

Again, just getting feet wet here - thanks for all the experience and info.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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Downrange, there are several companies providing USB to SPDIF converters with custom USB drivers that allow you to play up to 24/192 as long as your DAC can.

 

My Dedicated 2CH System Gallery

 

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

 

Powered By Balanced Power Technologies - UpTone Audio JS-2 Linear Power Supply - CyberPower Sinewave UPS

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Thanks, that's good to know. The technology is moving very quickly in CA, and I'm beginning to get that "I'm "late to the table" feeling! I'm glad to see there are some products coming that bring the latest technology into play, and at an affordable price point.

 

This graph shows a measure of the V-Link II's jitter performance:

 

http://www.musicalfidelity.com/images/v-link-graph.png

 

PS: I am a bit confused that the web page there touts the optical connection, as I've found the SPDIF sounds better with my DAC - maybe need a better optical cable, but I thought the involved extra conversions introduced "degrees of separation" from the ideal. Who knows? This CA is moving so quickly that it's hard to keep up.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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I thought I read somewhere that USB was inherently limited to 96khz?

 

USB 1.0, used in some of the very earliest DACs with USB inputs, may have been limited because it was so slow. Any recent USB DAC or converter will be USB 2.0 and will not (at least inherently) be limited, though for cost reasons a particular unit might have its USB implementation limited to 96KHz by the designer.

 

Optical *is* S/PDIF. So is coax.

 

There are all sorts of advantages and disadvantages to all of these interfaces. Whoever's touting one can cite all its advantages and all the disadvantages of the others. If you've found you prefer the coax out from your unit, then that's good - trust your ears.

 

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 Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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See, I'm learning as I go - I always called optical "Toslink," but never thought about the underlying technology being the same. At any rate, I DO trust my ears - that's what's made me move toward CA.

Thanks.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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See, I'm learning as I go - I always called optical "Toslink," but never thought about the underlying technology being the same.

 

Yep, I see "optical" or "Toslink" more than S/PDIF, but for reading purposes its good to know generic references to S/PDIF could be to either optical or coax.

 

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 Ethernet to Fitlet3 -> Fibbr Alpha Optical USB -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I grabbed up my little HP Mini and this V-LinkII and took it into my local audio store. They had a set of Monitor Audio Gold 200s hooked up to a Peachtree Dac/integratedAMP combo. They heard some 24/96 and 24/192 download files and kind of got blown away ...

 

Before, the salesman was saying "but I kind of prefer my CDs." Until he heard this little setup. I was quick to point out I had a total of about 600 bucks in the whole front end, including the 10.00 USB cable...

 

Nice to see price points dropping on near-SOTA equipment. I ordered the V-LPSII today to go with a new moving coil cartridge I just picked up for the old Well Tempered. These MF guys are on a roll with me.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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  • 3 weeks later...

both the v-linkII and V-link192 are now up on the MF web site. They aren't the same product. Different feature set.

 

There is also a V-PSU, which can power up to 3 V products, for those who want cleaner power

 

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I called a couple of the usual sources, and they seem vague on when this will be available for purchase. Music Direct will let you pre-order, but who know when they'll have them. It's tempting to just get one from the UK...

 

To the last poster, who knows? The galvanic isolation may improve sound at all DL sizes. But the biggest advantage is the ability to move 192 khz over USB, imo.

 

Really want one of these.

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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Just found a copy of the review from this monts HiFi News... http://www.titan3d.co.th/content-VLINK192Review-3-5333-103099-1.html

 

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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He says in the review that the coax output is transformer coupled, and while it is isolated, it is debatable whether it is 'galvanically so....'

 

Thus 'circulating currents' may be responsible for any SQ differences heard by inserting this box, and gives it a sound quality rating of 87%.

 

Is his 'debatable' observation complete garbage?

 

Is the box totally transparent (100% SQ) but they don't want to say so?

 

We know that HFN likes to think of itself as more 'high end' than the other UK magazines and will try to find fault with a low cost box.

 

 

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It was my understanding that transformer coupling was the standard way to "galvanically isolate" SPDIF/AES. So I'm not sure what the Magazine is saying either.

 

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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All I know is the V-Link II already works so well with my high-end "legacy" DAC, that I would not even consider spending big bucks on a new replacement, which probably couldn't even come close to its analog performance. I think the digital-digital USB solution is where it's at - and will be ordering the 192 version as soon as it becomes available.

 

For sure, a lot of marketers of equipment that has now become of questionable value must be quite upset at Musical Fidelity for making this tech available for a relative "song."

 

I have thousands of LPs, hundreds of CDs, and dozens of 24 bit downloads. I mostly listen to the downloads...

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Well, while AES is a balanced (symmetric) interface, the connectors have a 3rd pin, for chassis ground. While the signal circuit is galvanically isolated by a transformer, there might still be a ground loop path through the chassis grounds. Easy to check by disconnecting the GND pin at one end of the cable.

 

For S/PDIF the transformer should provide 100% isolation.

 

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