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Constantine USB DAC Rant - Page 3

post #31 of 64
Andrew,

Yes, it has a gain switch. The DAC is also optional and I had to keep the front panel controls the same for the amp-only version.

HeadAmp Audio Electronics - home of the Pico and Gilmore amps.  Now with Audeze, Fostex, HiFiMAN, Sennheiser, and STAX.
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post #32 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by justin w. View Post
Andrew,

Yes, it has a gain switch. The DAC is also optional and I had to keep the front panel controls the same for the amp-only version.
Thanks, Justin, for clarification.
I hope the next version will have it all, including line out.
post #33 of 64
alright guys, enough talking about microdac or stello and back to the topic of usb vs optical/coax-in on the mhdt lab dacs. well, i don't have the constantine, but i was able to compare the usb-in with the optical-in on my paradisea+ for a couple hours today. i believe the paradisea+ uses the same usb chip from c-media as the constantine. to me whatever difference between the two inputs was very very small. i think i hear a little more treble sparkle and high-frequency details with the optical-in, on the other hand, the midrange of the usb-in seems slightly fuller sounding. it really required some careful listening to be able to pick out the differences. if i was blindfolded, i highly doubt that i would be able to pick out which one was which. forgot to mention, my source was itune playing apple lossless files through my computer's usb port and built-in optical port (realtek). anyway, i definitely didn't find the drastic difference the original poster found in his constantine. going into the comparison, i was totally expecting to hear a much worse sound from the usb-in, but that was not the case. on a side note, the improvement i heard when i upgraded the power cord and when i put in the bendix 6385 tube were significant greater. just want to share my finding...
post #34 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by happybob View Post
alright guys, enough talking about microdac or stello and back to the topic of usb vs optical/coax-in on the mhdt lab dacs. well, i don't have the constantine, but i was able to compare the usb-in with the optical-in on my paradisea+ for a couple hours today. i believe the paradisea+ uses the same usb chip from c-media as the constantine. to me whatever difference between the two inputs was very very small. i think i hear a little more treble sparkle and high-frequency details with the optical-in, on the other hand, the midrange of the usb-in seems slightly fuller sounding. it really required some careful listening to be able to pick out the differences. if i was blindfolded, i highly doubt that i would be able to pick out which one was which. forgot to mention, my source was itune playing apple lossless files through my computer's usb port and built-in optical port (realtek). anyway, i definitely didn't find the drastic difference the original poster found in his constantine. going into the comparison, i was totally expecting to hear a much worse sound from the usb-in, but that was not the case. on a side note, the improvement i heard when i upgraded the power cord and when i put in the bendix 6385 tube were significant greater. just want to share my finding...
Hey HB

You don't have a Constantine and I don't have a Paradisea and I think that's about all we can say about that.

On the other hand, I am always curious to hear what kind of improvement you heard from your power cord upgrade and what other power cords, if any, you have tried besides the Zu.

I also wanted to ask you what amp and which headphones you were using for your comparison, because I only saw a NAD receiver and speakers in your sig.

USB
post #35 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by G-U-E-S-T View Post
MHDT Labs recommends using the ASIO4ALL driver when using USB input. Are you guys using this driver? It's supposed to make the difference...
FWIW, I tried this too, lots of static, much worse than C-media
post #36 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Hey HB

You don't have a Constantine and I don't have a Paradisea and I think that's about all we can say about that.

On the other hand, I am always curious to hear what kind of improvement you heard from your power cord upgrade and what other power cords, if any, you have tried besides the Zu.

I also wanted to ask you what amp and which headphones you were using for your comparison, because I only saw a NAD receiver and speakers in your sig.

USB
you are right, constantine and paradisea are different beasts. but my understanding is that the implementation of the usb input should be similar on both, using the c-media chipset.

btw, i've also tried the asio4all driver, though i don't really think that it sounded significant better than itune, it definitely didn't have any noticeable static. this makes me think that something might not be quite right with your setup. you might wanna try it with another computer. have you tried asio4all with other dacs, or just the constantine? you might want to do a little investigation here. although whether asio4all driver actually improves the sound quality is debatable, it definitely should not introduce any static to the sound...

finally, you caught me, i'm not really a head-fi person, so i don't currently own any high-end headphones or headphone amps. i've tried my paradisea+ with both my NAD amp and my Simaudio amp. Regarding power cord, I've only tried Zu Birth and Audioquest Noisebuster. I'm sure there are much better and more expensive power cords out there. the point I've been trying to make is that if you are using a generic computer style power cord (like i was before), then you might want to consider upgrading. but how much you should spend on the power cord is obviously up to your budget and taste. for me, the $40 i paid for the Zu Birth was probably how much i would want to pay, and it made a significant improvement. i'm sure i could spend $1000 for a Tara Lab and get even more improvement, but i'm not willing to spend that kind of money on a power cord.
post #37 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by happybob View Post
you are right, constantine and paradisea are different beasts. but my understanding is that the implementation of the usb input should be similar on both, using the c-media chipset.

btw, i've also tried the asio4all driver, though i don't really think that it sounded significant better than itune, it definitely didn't have any noticeable static. this makes me think that something might not be quite right with your setup. you might wanna try it with another computer. have you tried asio4all with other dacs, or just the constantine? you might want to do a little investigation here. although whether asio4all driver actually improves the sound quality is debatable, it definitely should not introduce any static to the sound...

finally, you caught me, i'm not really a head-fi person, so i don't currently own any high-end headphones or headphone amps. i've tried my paradisea+ with both my NAD amp and my Simaudio amp. Regarding power cord, I've only tried Zu Birth and Audioquest Noisebuster. I'm sure there are much better and more expensive power cords out there. the point I've been trying to make is that if you are using a generic computer style power cord (like i was before), then you might want to consider upgrading. but how much you should spend on the power cord is obviously up to your budget and taste. for me, the $40 i paid for the Zu Birth was probably how much i would want to pay, and it made a significant improvement. i'm sure i could spend $1000 for a Tara Lab and get even more improvement, but i'm not willing to spend that kind of money on a power cord.
Asio4all works OK if I use the optical connection, it just doesn't work for USB.... in my set up, KS sounds better though.

I use Volex power cords, but I don't know why the last few inches of cable should make an audible difference with untreated power from the wall....

Regarding the headphones and amp you don't have yet: well, you know the drill around here...... sorry about your wallet.....
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by happybob View Post
...you are right, constantine and paradisea are different beasts.
The older Constantine is a different beast but the newer version is, in fact, quite similar to the Paradisea - minus the tube buffer. Maybe it has something to do with the voltage.

"As for the Costantine, indeed it is P+ without tube buffer basiclly.
All capacitors are in same grade (Nichicon KZ) but lower voltage.
OP is LM4562 same as P+ but working in lower voltage (+-9V), P+ is about 13+-.
OSCON cap is 100u while P+ is 470u.
P+ has many caps used because the tube stage.
Others are the same..

Thanks!!

Best Regards,
Lin-Li
Mhdt Labs"

post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
I was originally using a DAC-AH for my amps. Then I bought a Zhaolu D2 and took it to the last NY meet, where Jahn said it sounded all over-samply.
USG,

Can you explain what "over-samply" means? I've not done very critical listening of a NOS DAC.

Thanks.
post #40 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by holland View Post
USG,

Can you explain what "over-samply" means? I've not done very critical listening of a NOS DAC.

Thanks.

I don't remember exactly how he put it, but if you look in the impressions from the last NY meet, you will find Jahn's reference to the sound....

USG
post #41 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonkon View Post
MHDT Labs themselves do not think the USB connection is good enough for their DACs, so maybe their USB connection was designed more as an extra...

Not quite accurate - Mhdt didn't originally assume USB would be good for DAC input, but decided to try it anyway after many customer requests. After careful design and much test, Mhdt does feel their USB implementation is a success - but recommends using ASIO4ALL to achieve best sound quality with this interface. If Mhdt didn't think USB was appropriate, they wouldn't have implemented it in their DACs. [This info comes from direct communication with Mhdt.]
post #42 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by G-U-E-S-T View Post
Not quite accurate - Mhdt didn't originally assume USB would be good for DAC input, but decided to try it anyway after many customer requests. After careful design and much test, Mhdt does feel their USB implementation is a success - but recommends using ASIO4ALL to achieve best sound quality with this interface. If Mhdt didn't think USB was appropriate, they wouldn't have implemented it in their DACs. [This info comes from direct communication with Mhdt.]
ASIO4ALL does not work with my USB connection. It does work, however, when connected optically.

USG
post #43 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
ASIO4ALL does not work with my USB connection. It does work, however, when connected optically.

USG
there's no reason why asio4all shouldn't work with your usb connection. you should:
1. make sure it's set up and configured correctly
2. make sure it's compatible with the OS you are running, and there's no conflict with other devices you are running
3. if all else failed, contact mhdt lab directly to see if you might have received a defective unit with a bad usb connection.
post #44 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by happybob View Post
there's no reason why asio4all shouldn't work with your usb connection. you should:
1. make sure it's set up and configured correctly
2. make sure it's compatible with the OS you are running, and there's no conflict with other devices you are running
3. if all else failed, contact mhdt lab directly to see if you might have received a defective unit with a bad usb connection.
Hey Happy

MY Constantine USB works fine with c-media chosen as the output device, but it's worse than horrible when Asio4all is used, in any of its configurations. Optically, on the other hand, everything works as advertised, including Asio, with a much richer and more full bodied sound than the USB connection is capable of delivering.

Running from a receiver and speakers, you might not have the resolution to hear what I'm talking about, but several of the posters, using headphones and headphone amps, have already commented that the USB implementation falls way short of the optical.... which is exactly what I discovered and posted about.

Fortunately I only use optical, so the diminished quality USB provides in comparision is not a concern.

USG
post #45 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Hey Happy

MY Constantine USB works fine with c-media chosen as the output device, but it's worse than horrible when Asio4all is used, in any of its configurations. Optically, on the other hand, everything works as advertised, including Asio, with a much richer and more full bodied sound than the USB connection is capable of delivering.

Running from a receiver and speakers, you might not have the resolution to hear what I'm talking about, but several of the posters, using headphones and headphone amps, have already commented that the USB implementation falls way short of the optical.... which is exactly what I discovered and posted about.

Fortunately I only use optical, so the diminished quality USB provides in comparision is not a concern.

USG
nah, what you were describing has nothing to do with resolution. plus even if my speaker + amp setup might not be in the ultra expensive exotic range, they probably still cost a few times more than the average headphone setup most people have on this forum. not to mention that i did own most of the headphones in Sennheiser's line-up at one point a few years back...

anyway, the problem you were having has nothing to do with whether usb is better than optical or vice versa on the constantine. sure the optical might still be better than the usb connection. but even if that's the case, the usb should still be far from unlistenable, and definitely should not demonstrate any static as you described even when used with asio4all. so if you are hearing any static noise on your constantine through the usb connection, then something is not right. you should really check with Mhdt Lab for a fix. but what the heck, it's your DAC, if you don't think it's worth investigating and can live with the optical input only. i guess it's really none of my business...
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