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USB to SPDIF converters shoot-out : EMU 0404 USB vs. Musiland Monitor 01 USD vs. Teralink-x vs. M2Tech hiFace - Page 88  

post #1306 of 1712

 

Continuing my ongoing evaluation, this is day 3 with the HiFace 192.  For the past two days I’ve evaluated it with a North Star DAC and GS-1 amp, and today I evaluated it with a lower-Fi rig:  A Constantine DAC and M^3/sigma amp.  Unfortunately even a NOS DAC couldn't control the clicking/hesitation/popping that occurs when windows are opened or closed.  I was a little disappointed in this because using a NOS DAC eliminated the same sort electrical popping sound that occurred when I changed channels on my cable box (when it was connected to the North Star).   I had high hopes that the Constantine might be able to do the same thingfor the HiFace as it did for the cable box, but, unfortunately, that was not the case. 

 

(Not withstanding that all amps sound the same), The M^3 is a warmer amp than a GS-1 so there was the possibility that the combination of a NOS DAC and a warmer amp might compensate for the frequency imbalance of the HiFace.  This also proved not to be the case either.   

 

(Not withstanding that all DACs sound the same), When I switched to the North Star / M^3 combination, I found the sound to improve in overall clarity but not balance.  No matter what I tried, the HiFace was still quite annoying with the drum, guitar or piano pounding away incessantly over the rest of the mix, kinda reminiscent of the way early CDs used to sound. 

 

I was going to say I can’t be certain if the treble is accentuated or the bass is attenuated, but after listening to the HiFace with this lower-Fi rig, I am in agreement with Shahrose that the treble is accentuated.  What I’m hearing is that the treble, vocals, piano and drums dominate the mix instead of blending in with them.

 

My conclusion is that the HiFace has a lot of detail, and it’s certainly a step in the right direction but it doesn’t present the audio mix in an non-fatiguing, balanced way, so I agree with Shahrose that our latest FOTM transport “has room for improvement”.

 

The next phase will be with K701s followed by HD650s.  Perhaps the the darker 650s will be more synergistic with the sound signature of the HiFace.

 

USG

post #1307 of 1712

Set the latency between 1000 and 2000 as recommended by foobar, if you do upsampling use 24bit, otherwise 16 bits will do.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post

      Quote:


You have some nice stuff K_19.  I see we have Stellos, Woos and Gilmores in common.

 

What happens if you run the HiFace on your netbook at 32bits and 100ms, other than increased popping/ clicking?  Does it pop if you're just listening, or is it when you are doing some sort of work, or just when you change tracks?

 

Are you running your Stello in bypass or 192? (I haven't tried it with my Stello yet)

 

By all means bring in your cable experiences.  I'd like to hear your impressions of what worked and what didn't. 

 

Regarding sibilance:  I don't really hear sibilance that is not present in the original source material.  What I find is that the entire spectrum is boosted, volume-wise, in the treble region relative to what I'm used to hearing... so in with that in mind, what transport were you using prior to the HiFace?

 

USG


Edited by Andrew_WOT - 5/18/10 at 12:45am
post #1308 of 1712

"Everyone is having clicks, everyone finds it bright" is a great over generalization.

I think that crackles and shift in frequency are somehow your hardware/OS/driver/foobar setup related. Are you on driver version 1.03? Did you try wasapi and DS? The only thing I've noticed going from Trends UD-10.1 with DPSU is the great increase in details and analog like smoothness. I have two HiFaces now, one paired with Stello DA100 and another with Chord DAC64, both perform exceptionally out of two different laptops (Sony Vaio AW and IBM Thinkpad, both are running Win7 64 bit), no shifts in FR or any crackles.  I use the latest version of foobar2000 with KS output and SoX resampler, set to 2x for stello (it can't do more than 96khz) and 4x for Chord. Buffer length is set to between 1000-2000. Try a different laptop for a kick or disable network (wi-fi) and playback some lossless files. Afraid mp3s would sound harsh and bright out of anything more or less resolving.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post




I don't know how, ironmine, but almost everybody seems to feel that the HiFace is "bright".  Since the manufacturers were able to make it brighter and slightly louder than my other sources, they should have the ability to tone it down or boost the bass a little, and end up with a better acoustic balance.

 

That said, they are certainly on to something, it's just not fully worked out yet.  Maybe it's all in the drivers?? 

 

USG


Edited by Andrew_WOT - 5/18/10 at 1:05am
post #1309 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post


The only word I had trouble with in your description was "anemic", which usually means weak or lacking power, because the HiFace is anything but weak.  It is louder than anything produced by the Thingee, the USB implementations of the Stello and Constantine and the optical outs of my 3 Shuttles.

Reflecting back on what you said, it must be the bass spectrum of the HiFace, which, by comparison to the treble, could be considered anemic.  If this is what you meant, we are in complete agreement, right up to the "up-front sound", which I notice in female vocals, and piano and guitar solos.

 

USG

 

I thought the HiFace had great bass quality and an ample amount. It didn't sound "weak" in the sense that it was powerless. I'm not even sure what that would sound like TBH. Anyways, by anemic I meant there was a lack of air, ambience and overtone that was present through my soundcards, which is basically another way of saying it had a slightly dry sound. In addition, the upfront sound contributed to the feeling of a smaller soundstage. At this point, I've begun sounding like a broken record repeating what I just said.

I didn't hear any pops or crackles using 16-bit KS in Win 7 x64. However, I did get glitchy sound when using WASAPI or the 24/32-bit in any mode.

 

post #1310 of 1712

 

IMPORTANT:

 

I think I just discovered how to stop the HiFace from clicking and popping during opening and closing windows.  It was so simple I don't know why I didn't think of it earlier.

 

I have 3 devices plugged into my laptop's USB ports.  I opened the device manager, then opened each of the USB ports and made sure each device had its own port.

 

End of Mouse clicking and popping.

 

It still makes a slight electrical sound when I manually change tracks, but it is very minor, and foobar makes no noise while changing tracks on shuffle or default.

 

Someone try this to make sure it works.

 

USG

 

EDIT to say Oh Blast! 

 

Just when I think I found a solution.........  I've been toggling back and forth between ASIO/Thingee and HiFace Kernel streaming/HiFace so often I forgot to reset the latency back to100ms after leaving ASIO.

 

Transient orca may have been right all along.  With the latency set to 1960ms there is no clicking or popping, so I'm not sure having each USB device on it's own port matters.


Edited by upstateguy - 5/18/10 at 2:15am
post #1311 of 1712


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post




I googled it, but the clicking/hesitating/popping phenomena seems to be reported by almost everyone.

 

But that's not the most troubling aspect of the HiFace.  It's the unbalanced audio spectrum that's slanted heavily toward the treble that's most annoying.  The extra details are great, but they dominate the music rather than being part of it.  I EQ'd the bass with the foobar equalizer and it gave me an idea of what the HiFace could sound like if it had a balanced audio spectrum.... but EQing is not the answer, more has to be done to get the spectrum balanced and I'm sure the second generation of HiFace will address this.

 

USG


Sorry I wasn't clear in my explanation. Using the DPC latency checker you should be able to see a continuous graph of your computer's DPC latency over  time. If you see the latency graph spike when you are opening and closing windows, that's probably the reason you hear static noises. It's the case for me anyway. The DPC latency spikes into the red zone whenever I open a new web page in my browser and I hear clicks and pops through my USB dac.

post #1312 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post

I thought the HiFace had great bass quality and an ample amount. It didn't sound "weak" in the sense that it was powerless. I'm not even sure what that would sound like TBH. Anyways, by anemic I meant there was a lack of air, ambience and overtone that was present through my soundcards, which is basically another way of saying it had a slightly dry sound. In addition, the upfront sound contributed to the feeling of a smaller soundstage. At this point, I've begun sounding like a broken record repeating what I just said.

I didn't hear any pops or crackles using 16-bit KS in Win 7 x64. However, I did get glitchy sound when using WASAPI or the 24/32-bit in any mode.

 

 

This is a very tough medium to converse in to start with.  Trying to describe what something sounds like, so someone else knows what you mean, isn't easy.  Thanks for hanging in there.

 

My Thingee and optical out of the Shuttles have noticeably more bass than the HiFace, so we're not agreed on that point yet.

 

But I think I finally understand what you mean by "dry".  The Thingee also has some ambiance and overtones that the sound signature of the HiFace seems to preclude and I agree that the forward nature of the HiFace sound reduces its sound stage relative to my USB Thingee....

 

USG
 

post #1313 of 1712


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by transient orca View Post


 


Sorry I wasn't clear in my explanation. Using the DPC latency checker you should be able to see a continuous graph of your computer's DPC latency over  time. If you see the latency graph spike when you are opening and closing windows, that's probably the reason you hear static noises. It's the case for me anyway. The DPC latency spikes into the red zone whenever I open a new web page in my browser and I hear clicks and pops through my USB dac.


I think you're right. see edit to post above. 

post #1314 of 1712

Is there any sound card currently on the market, whose digital output (either coaxial or optical) is not worse (or better) than HiFace?

post #1315 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post


Hi Andrew, how are you?

 

I'm using a laptop rig for this evaluation and not the dedicated music computer I used when we discussed the Stello.  The laptop is a 3.0 Northwood with a gig of ram, running XP.  Foobar is 9.6.8 and I have it set up as per the HiFace instructions.  I've run it with and without SRC resampler and no software upsampling because my North Star DAC upsamples.  If I don't touch anything, I won't hear any crackling or popping, but if I open or close a window, or start clicking on things, like changing tracks or internet radio stations there is a static like pop. And yes, I'm using foobar for internet radio.

 

USG


Did you try the hiface on anything else than Foobar 0.9.6? As I mentioned a few times before, I have always found foobar 0.9.x to sound thin and bright. Foobar 0.8.3 is better sounding and the Foobar v1.0 is also an improvement.

 

As for the clicking noise, I have zero clicking noise with an old Dell Computer running XP Media Center and a bunch of equipment connected. I am still using the 1.0.2 version (not the latest) by the way.

As a more general remark, it is normal that a few people find the Hiface being "bright". The hiface is a relatively transparent and low jitter device which unveils the true tonal balance of the system. There have been a lot of users (dozens either on this forum or elswhere in the web) who have found the hiface smoother than their previous transport. It doesn't mean that the hiface is smooth sounding, it just means that it has less sonic signature than the rest of the equipment.

 

In my current system, when I switch from the Teralink X2 to the Hiface, there is no shift in the tonal balance: the improvement the hiface brings over the X2 is a better focus, faster transients, a deeper bass, purer highs, more low level details and a more coherent soundstage. But at no time I feel that someone touched the EQ like some people seem to describe. Some could say that it is because my system is not resolving enough but it is not the case because I have been able to detect previously audio drivers bugs (resampling issues...) that went totally unnoticed in other systems (88.2 poor resampling on the Teralink X2 for example).

 

My guess is that many (but not all) "audiophile" systems are built without a proper "foundation" (vibration control and power filtration). I really urge people to read this recent article that Nordost just published in their website (see here: http://www.nordost.com/downloads.asp?offset=14) . They were able to measure the effect of power cords and vibartion isolation devices on audio equipment (they use real music signal instead of static signals).

The implication is that it is very difficult to build a high rez system if the foundations are not there. The risk is to end up choosing equipment on the basis of how they cancel each other flaws instead of choosing equipment for their qualities. What is usually lost is the low level details and the true harmonic structure of instruments.

Personally, I have listened to a speaker system costing €20000 (using only audiophile electronics and interconnects) that lacked any low level details. It had a good tonal (frequency response) balance but it didn't sound right on non-amplified instruments. The owner of the system didn't spend any time on the power and vibration issue.

Just before that, I had listened to a system that was less half the cost but that had a better "foundation". There was simply no comparison between the 2 systems. The cheaper (but more optimized) system was faster, tonally richer, more detailed and generally more natural sounding.
 

post #1316 of 1712

Does anybody have experience with the Musiland Monitor 02 compared to this? I might decide to choose that if it does not have a similar sort of coloration as the HiFace.


Edited by padam - 5/18/10 at 7:44am
post #1317 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by padam View Post

Does anybody have experience with the Musiland Monitor 02 compared to this? I might decide to choose that if it does not have a similar sort of coloration as the HiFace.


The "coloration" of the hiface is only the subjective perception of a limited number of people. The majority of people have found the hiface neutral and less colored than their other transports. You can do quick searches here on head-fi on elswhere on the web. Some people just like the sound of jittery transports like the Teralink X or X2.


The hiface is less colored than the Musiland 01. I didn't try the Musiland 02 though. You might want to ask jkeny who has not only listened to both the Musiland and the Hiface but also extensively modified both.

post #1318 of 1712


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post


As a more general remark, it is normal that a few people find the Hiface being "bright". The hiface is a relatively transparent and low jitter device which unveils the true tonal balance of the system. There have been a lot of users (dozens either on this forum or elswhere in the web) who have found the hiface smoother than their previous transport. It doesn't mean that the hiface is smooth sounding, it just means that it has less sonic signature than the rest of the equipment.

 

 

The people that have found problems with the HiFace have had a number of different DACs. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Reference 1, DA100, DAC19, y2, all of which are different sounding. I find it hard to believe that all of these DACs would have the very same flaws. It is much more likely that the HiFace is causing the coloration.

 

I've just come to the conclusion that our preferences differ. I just believe that you like the sound the HiFace produces, while some others don't. I do not think it had anything to do with their systems. Moreover, the HiFace was the ONLY transport out of all the ones I tried (02US, Teralink-X2, motherboard, Essence ST, Essence STX) that produced the sound that some like USG and I are describing.
 


Edited by Shahrose - 5/18/10 at 8:05am
post #1319 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post

You might want to ask jkeny who has not only listened to both the Musiland and the Hiface but also extensively modified both.


So you're suggesting to ask opinion from someone who is probably the most biased in this matter? 


Edited by padam - 5/18/10 at 8:10am
post #1320 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post



 

The people that have found problems with the HiFace have had a number of different DACs. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Reference 1, DA100, DAC19, y2, all of which are different sounding. I find it hard to believe that all of these DACs would have the very same flaws. It is much more likely that the HiFace is causing the coloration.

 

I've just come to the conclusion that our preferences differ. I just believe you like the sound the HiFace produces, while some others don't. It is not because their systems actually sound that way. Moreover, the HiFace was the ONLY transport out of all the ones I tried (02US, Teralink-X2, motherboard, Essence ST, Essence STX) that produced the sound that some like USG and I are describing.
 


You seemed to have skipped the last part of my comment where I talk about the importance of the set-up of a system. With the same transport and digital cable but with different power cords and vibration isolation the sound of my older dac19mk3 used to range from very forward and harsh sounding to dull and lifeless. So of course that the DAC plays, but the way the rest of the system is set up is even more important. All the other transports you have cited have more jitter than the Hiface. Their fuzzy sound "rounds off" the edges of the sounds.

I am not saying that the Hiface is perfect. But most people that described the Hiface as bright preferred knonwn jittery devices (motherboard, Teralink X2, Musiland 02). If the comparisons were made against a known reference CD transport (from Esoteric or CEC), I wouldn't say the same thing. But saying that the Hiface is bright because jittery motherboard, adaptive usb converters or a poorly made async such as the Musiland sounded "better" is drawing the wrong conclusions from the observations being made.

I wasn't going to make any comment, but if a new head-fier read the last the few pages, they would have found only negative comments made by a very limited number of dissatisfied people whining about how bad the Hiface is in their system.

I am just encouraging people to look at the fact that most people have been satisfied with the Hiface even those coming from CD and other transports.

Here are the links to the 2 first professional reviews on the Hiface:

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/m2tech/hiface.htm

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/0210/m2tech_hiface_usb.htm
 

Here is an extract from the EnjoytheMusic review: "My order of preference from least to most is the Denon 2900, modified Squeezebox, Logitech Transporter, hiFace RCA version and finally the hiFace BNC version."

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Dedicated Source Components › USB to SPDIF converters shoot-out : EMU 0404 USB vs. Musiland Monitor 01 USD vs. Teralink-x vs. M2Tech hiFace