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Most bullet-proof way to get 24/192Khz pure bit-perfect SPDIF output to HeadRoom DAC?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
QUESTION: what is the most ironclad bullet-proof way to get absolutely bit-perfect 192Khz / 24-bit S/PDIF output from both my desktop and laptop (playing Apple Lossless files, hopefully some day in 24-bit tracks) to my external HeadRoom DAC? I want zero upsampling/conversion/processing/etc., just pure digital 1s and 0s culled directly from the files.

I just purchased a HeadRoom Desktop Amp with the Home DAC chipset upgrade integrated. I bought it because it's the highest quality DAC I could find and can handle 24-bit/192Khz natively. To my dismay, I now realize that its USB transport can only render 48Khz streams, not 96Khz or 192Khz. Which is common I now see, but it sucks, esp because even USB 1.1 has enough bandwidth to support at least 24/96. But I digress...

I want the HeadRoom DAC itself to do 100% of the processing of the digital stream. The solution I'm looking for -- preferably in an external USB form factor -- will be a tiny, single purpose unit that takes the high bitrate lossless audio file information from iTunes/WMP/Winamp/etc. and produces a bit-perfect S/PDIF stream, preferably over Toslink but Coax okay too. I want to avoid soundcard implementations both because I don't trust them and because I'm honestly quite satisfied with my Creative Extigy for powering speakers and don't want to duplicate it. I strongly prefer a *hardware-only* option that will work with whatever media player software I choose, rather than requiring me to hassle with specific software implementations or plug-ins. I want it off-loaded from my CPU and software-independent. Quick sketch of my criteria:

1) Bit-perfect 24-bit/192Khz S/PDIF output
2) Zero upsampling/conversion/processing/etc.
3) Hardware-only, software-independent; compatible with iTunes/WMP/etc.
4) (preferred) Not a soundcard
5) (preferred) External USB formfactor
6) (preferred) Toslink; but Coax okay; both even better.

Can anyone help? Is there such a device? A tiny USB 2.0-based unit that does one thing and does it really well? Thanks!
post #2 of 20
Quote:
QUESTION: what is the most ironclad bullet-proof way to get absolutely bit-perfect 192Khz / 24-bit S/PDIF output from both my desktop and laptop (playing Apple Lossless files, hopefully some day in 24-bit tracks) to my external HeadRoom DAC? I want zero upsampling/conversion/processing/etc., just pure digital 1s and 0s culled directly from the files.
Assuming you are playing files that you have ripped from CDs into Apple Lossless, what you are asking doesn't make sense. The files are 44.1kHz, 16-bit and if you want to output them at 192/24, they will not be bit-perfect.

Anyway, you should take a look at the EMU 0404 USB http://www.creative.com/products/pro...&product=15167
post #3 of 20
HagUSB, M-audio transit, maybe TBAAM?
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davvy View Post
Assuming you are playing files that you have ripped from CDs into Apple Lossless, what you are asking doesn't make sense. The files are 44.1kHz, 16-bit and if you want to output them at 192/24, they will not be bit-perfect.

Anyway, you should take a look at the EMU 0404 USB http://www.creative.com/products/pro...&product=15167
No, I know, I'm not talking about upsampling 16/44.1 files ripped from CDs. I agree that would be pointless. I'm talking about playing DVD-A/SACD/HDCD ripped files, and/or digital files downloaded from studios (such as studio masters sold by www.linnrecords.com) in the original 24/96 or 24/192 resolutions. I know this isn't going to be significant for CD tracks -- I want to get into playing with high res tracks.

Basically I'm looking for a fool-proof way to get 100% of the happy little 1s and 0s contained in hi-res audio tracks directly to the 24/192-capable chip in the HeadRoom DAC without anything adulterating them in between.

What's starting to confuse the hell out of me is all this talk of jitter and such in other forums -- if I can get all the 1s and 0s in bit perfect form to the DAC chip, why the hell would it matter what wire or anything else got them there? It's mathematical, not analogue, so nothing else should matter, right? Just the ability to keep the bit perfect digital stream coming with no interruptions (notwithstanding the groud-loop noise issues inherent with a conductive wire connection like USB and Coax).
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimothy View Post
HagUSB, M-audio transit, maybe TBAAM?
Thanks, Jimothy. Do you (or anyone else) know whether it makes a lick of difference which of those I use, as long as they all claim to be able to output bit perfect SPDIF at the sampling and bit rates that I want?
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by davvy View Post
Assuming you are playing files that you have ripped from CDs into Apple Lossless, what you are asking doesn't make sense. The files are 44.1kHz, 16-bit and if you want to output them at 192/24, they will not be bit-perfect.

Anyway, you should take a look at the EMU 0404 USB http://www.creative.com/products/pro...&product=15167
Also, the EMU doesn't interest me because most of what you're paying for is its ability as a DAC and ADC -- I want the HeadRoom DAC doing the conversion, not the device. My sought-after device will have one purpose -- transmit pure unprocessed bits in SPDIF.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimothy View Post
HagUSB, M-audio transit, maybe TBAAM?
Thanks Jimothy -- none of those devices really seem like they're what I'm looking for. The HagUSB is kind of on the right path, but it maxes out at 48Khz sample rate and doesn't have optical Toslink, just coax output. The M-Audio Transport might kinda be on the same path too, but it maxes out at 96Khz, and I'm wary of its description of the SPDIF output being for AC-3 and DTS passthrough only. I'm not looking to use multi-channel audio, just stereo, and I want something that's completely agnostic as to the bits it is sending out in SPDIF form. The TBAAM looks like it's nothing more than a soundcard, also with the AC-3 and DTS passthrough.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding -- is AC-3/DTS pass-through what I'm looking for after all?
post #8 of 20
Sorry, I didn't look up the specs, just did that off of the top of my head.
I know a lot of people here use the transit, search around.
An internal solution would be to get an Chaintech AV710 and flash it to Audiotrak Prodigy firmware, since you're only looking for a digital out.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm really hoping someone can point me to an external USB 2.0 device capable of outputting a 24 bit /192 Khz S/PDIF jitter-free signal over Toslink optical or coax. Any takers? Would be MUCH appreciated!!
post #10 of 20
Have you asked yourself why go through all the hassle for 24/192 on your laptop? 192khz is considered fairly universally to be overkill, with 88.2 and 96khz being the norm for studio/audiophile quality. Not to mention you can't rip SACD's, DVD-A's, or HDCD's to your computer anyhow. The only way to capture such hi-fi audio is to do it via analog inputs, and hope you have one helluva ADC.


I would just stick with the USB input on the HeadRoom DAC for your laptop. Then, maybe consider a AV710 or X-Fi as your bit-perfect transport sound card on your PC. You wont ever have the freedom of bit perfect playback with any media player though. You'll have to choose wisely and setup your media players properly for bit-perfect playback.
post #11 of 20
Man I had no idea that studio master quality digital downloads were available via the web... that is pretty awesome. Know of any other sites that offer that kind of service? I look a look at Linn Records and it doesn't seem to really fit me genre-wise.

Sorry that this is a bit of a tangent.. I don't actually have any products to suggest
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by schaqfu View Post
QUESTION: what is the most ironclad bullet-proof way to get absolutely bit-perfect 192Khz / 24-bit S/PDIF output from both my desktop and laptop (playing Apple Lossless files, hopefully some day in 24-bit tracks) to my external HeadRoom DAC? I want zero upsampling/conversion/processing/etc., just pure digital 1s and 0s culled directly from the files.
Since you said Apple Lossless, the magical and easy answer is the Airport Express.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
Man I had no idea that studio master quality digital downloads were available via the web... that is pretty awesome. Know of any other sites that offer that kind of service? I look a look at Linn Records and it doesn't seem to really fit me genre-wise.

Sorry that this is a bit of a tangent.. I don't actually have any products to suggest
1. www.highdeftapetransfers.com
2. www. musicgiants.com - though this one offers only DRM-added recordings. What they call HD is CD quality and what they call "super HD" is what you are looking for. I had trouble downloading from them but it was their first day.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icarium View Post
Man I had no idea that studio master quality digital downloads were available via the web... that is pretty awesome. Know of any other sites that offer that kind of service? I look a look at Linn Records and it doesn't seem to really fit me genre-wise.

Sorry that this is a bit of a tangent.. I don't actually have any products to suggest
No worries, Icarium! Yeah, I just found out about Linn Records in another thread a couple of days ago and, I agree, it's not my style genre either, but at this point we're so neck-deep in the science fair project of getting that perfect song-listen it has become almost just a game to satisfy my geek self. I confess.

I'm not aware of any other studios that sell hi res tracks but I'm sure there must be at least several, and more in the future. Did you also catch the very significant fact that Linn Records was selling absolutely all of their tracks DRM-free? That's almost as big a story right there.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks all!!

Redo: I really like your advice and I agree with it for the most part. I'm sure I will be quite satisfied with just using the USB connection. Like I said in my previous post, this has basically transcended golden-ear pursuit and probably crossed the line into science fair project. But both are worthy causes, and at least not incompatible. And, I'm confident I can get my hands on at least some 24/96 or 24/192 files in the future -- I'm trying to future-proof my purchases as much as possible.

dougwx12: Yeah, I really like the Airport Express option too, with its optical out; the only problem is iTunes (as far as I have been able to tell) supports files at higher resolutions than the AE is capable of putting out -- basically I think the Airport is limited to 16 bit and maybe up to 48Khz, in which case I'm just as well off using the USB connection direct to my DAC anyway. But that's exactly the kind of setup I'm looking for, bit pure output; just need one that goes higher.
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