My first comparison... was very tired but said Id do it, will update and clean up.
Alright I have finally gotten this done for the time being.
Here is a review of comparing Transit, Bel Canto USBLink, and the Musiland 01USD for USB>Digital Input converter for my Buffalo32s D/AC. Which btw has phenomenal jitter correction from the Sabre chip and all around creates an amazing sound, so the below is all IMHO and YYMV.
DIY Buffalo32s Balanced DAC - XLR Balanced output into ->
DIY Beta22 Balanced Amplifier (6 Board to give SE active grounds)
Denon D7000 - SE/XLR via adapter
Grado HF2 - SE
Sennheiser HD650 - APS V3 XLR Recable
Bel Canto USBLink 24/96
Music: All FLAC/ALAC Accurate Rips cept Vinyl Ripped in 24/96 via Foobar2k WASAPI/ASIO enabled, no DSP or EQ.
Jack Johnson - Sleep Through the Static
Shpongle - Nothing Lasts
Muse - HAARP + 2 singles from Resistance
Pink Floyd - UmmaGumma - MFSL Vinyl Rip 24/96
Duke Ellington - Money Jungle - MFSL Vinyl Rip 24/96
1812 Overture - 24/192 HD
Bear McReary - BattleStar Galactica Season 4 Score
Alright let's get down to business. I have spent many MANY hundreds of hours stressing over this USB issue for DACs. I would have just dealt with it and gotten an AYRE which has asynchronous USB of 24/192 without drivers, however it only has USB I/Os which to me is a problem for versitility. Anyway, I searched every possible solution and to keep my Buffalo32 which is an amazing D/AC and the best sound I have ever heard, I still wanted a way to connect it to my laptop with all of my FLAC with easy no mess connections, if only 16/44.1 was around this would not be an issue, but alas we have vinyl rips and HD audio. I know replaced Vista x64 with Windows 7 x64 which is fairly faster, I also run Ubuntu 9.04 or Ubuntu Studio for it's built in JACK and ALSA tools and framework. This proved to be an issue since my creative expresscard notebook had no functioning drivers, and my laptops spdif out was converted to the HDMI out that I use for my LCD. So how do I get above 16/44.1 in the best quality now?
I find the shortcomings of USB 1.1 audio to be a huge PITA, and I am hoping the newly announced USB 2.0 audio rec's will release WAY easier ability to gain higher bitrate and rates without all of the hassle of programming from scratch. So I tried the following devices, to get USB > SPDIF since Ubuntu was a pain and I wanted to have quick connections wherever I go, Emu 0404 USB, M-Audio Transit, Bel Canto USBLink 24/96, and now the Musiland 01USD.
Emu 0404 USB - This is a great little machine but ended up being too clunky for it's worth and not anything better for the $200 price considering I just wanted the conversion. Next the Transit-
M-Audio Transit - Was my second attempt, this little sucker was very nice and it also works in Linux! KACHING! I did not figure out how to get above 96hz but for Vinyl alone it was a great little gadgit. However I think it sounded a little hazy and also cold and lifeless. My system is already extremely neutral and it just took away from the music to me. So next I tried...
Bel Canto USBLink 24/96 - Ok this thing is a huge chunk of money coming from the others, however it needs no drivers and has specially written commands for the chip to process audio and purely for a musical basis. I love the fact it will run on anything without the fuss of drivers, big plus! The inclusion of BNC 75ohm is also a plus as I prefer Coaxial over optical as I don't have so many locking issues. The musicality of the Bel Canto is superb and no matter what stereophile says this thing feels and sounds more natural than the Transit. I believe their test for jitter was ghetto and not affective, as this thing sounds much cleaner and just a little bit better than the transit. Like the difference between a first pressing cd of Zeppelin and the MFSL cd's. Though the huge pricetag was a issue to me, it still is a very strong performer, and if I have a Bel Canto DAC 3 I would be in utter love, only 1 problem... where's the 24/192 love?
Musiland 01 USD - I was not expecting much from this little baby as it was much cheaper than the Bel Canto and foreign. However, this thing is a really amazing gadget, it works in Windows 7 x64 with no issues and actually does 24/192 with the ability to do BNC, Coaxial, and optical make your choice! This does need drivers, and Linux is out of the option, but this thing is indistinguishable from the USBLink and gives you more output options and 192hz. It gives a nice added authority to the music and just feels like it is invisible in the chain between PC > Buffalo > B22.
Now the BC USBLink and Musiland Monitor 01USD were the best I tried, and I do love the Bel Canto but it doesn't do 192 and but on the other hand the Musiland won't work in linux. So it's a toss up depending on your OS. I feel the USBLink at $400~ is just too steep for the only benefit of Linux compatibility. So I will just enjoy the Musiland on Windows 7 and wait for a better option for Ubuntu, let's hope USB 2.0 brings us more driverless HD audio converters.
Basically, the transit is a good tool for Linux if you can get it to work it's a little picky. It does sound colder and less powerful than the other 2 but it is a great linux tool for the price. The Bel Canto would be the king if it had 192hz and the soundstage depth added from the Musiland ( it is a minor increase but it's there). However, the Musiland is the most versital of the bunch with its 3 outputs and 24/192 support, just no opensource for you! says Musiland
The Bel Canto is very pricey and I believe unwarranted price increase, however it does give great sound and driverless functionality. Let your wallet and your alliagance to Windows/Linux be your guide. Hope this helps...
This is my first lengthy comparison, sorry if it is slightly washy, I will edit it in the morning and add more details on specific's in the morning when Ive had a little sleep