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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 47  

post #691 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
anyone knows whether KS works on XP SP3 w/ the Teralink-x(not x2) when using either of these drivers? C-Media CM-108 | Catalog - X-DRIVERS.COM
Hi leeperry,

If you are looking to get the best sound from the (old) Teralink-X, I would advise against installing the c-media driver which is a poor quality driver that is not even bit perfect.

Below are some the comments/measurements I have done concerning the c-media driver.


Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
I have tried 3 drivers with the Teralink-x: the stock driver that automatically installs, then the CM-108 Driver v.5.12.8.2119, and finally the Ploytec usb asio.

The CM-108 Driver v.5.12.8.2119:
I tried after a few weeks of using the Teralink and I found the sound horrible. I tried to disable all the dsp effects but there was always a loss in resolution and sound quality. I did some research and found out it had only 14 bits of resolution vs. 16 bits of the stock windows drivers. I uninstalled it and went back to using the stock windows drivers.

The stock windows drivers that installs automatically:
This is a good driver. I did most of my listening with this one. However, the sound is the on warm side of neutral compared to all the other converters. After trying many digital cables to get a better perception of its sound, I noticed that there is a "dulling" of the sound and a smoothing/slowing of the transients. It has a pleasing effect but it is not accurate. The soundstage is very big but not very well defined.
Anyway, I am sure that people who like the "tube" sound will prefer it to most other settings or even converters for that matter. As for me, once I detected the added warmth, I could not continue to appreciate it.

The Ploytec usb asio driver :
This one improves the sound to a more neutral balance. There is less "dulling" of the sound. The soundstage size remained the same but the imaging improved.
This driver is closer in tonal balance to the sound of the Musiland and the Hiface which leads me to believe it is closer to the "truth".


Overall, I think that not all people are looking for "cleaner" sounding sources. In my experience, lowering the jitter (improving the quality of the transport) result in the following results : Bigger soundstage, less mid-bass warmth/bloat, more defined and deeper bass. Usually, you get less mid bass and more deep bass (if your equipment let you hear that) which might not be what people expect or want to hear.
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
I read about the cmedia drivers here : Homebrew CMI 8738 drivers - Hydrogenaudio Forums

By the way, when I chose to uninstall the CMedia drivers the first time I tried them it was based only on my subjective listening. You can read my comment about them here : http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f7/rev...ml#post6042974

Also, since I was in a curious mood today, I did some RMAA measurements this morning for both the generic/stock driver of the Teralink and the CM-108 Driver v.5.12.8.2119.

I put the results in a Zip file if anyone is intersted in them.

First, how did I test it ? I used to the EMU 0404 usb to record the output of my audio-gd dac-100 using the Teralink as a transport.

Since I have tested the EMU with a SNR of 113 db (the SNR drops to 96 db when tested in 16bits which is to be expected) and since the audio-gd dac-100 has a SNR over 100db, if anything is done wrong in the digital domain it would show in the analog stage. If data is lost somewhere in the path it cannot be retrieved.

For what is it worth, my findings are as follow :

The generic windows drivers do not seem to mess with the data.

The CM-108 Driver v.5.12.8.2119 seem to have trouble outputting correctly 16/44 without messing with the data. The SNR is worse by a 4 (and up to 6db) compared to the best results I had with the generic windows drivers.

To my surprise, the 24/96 test with the CM-108 Driver v.5.12.8.2119 drivers improved the results in SNR over 16/44. However the drivers are limited to 48khz. There is a cut-off at 48 khz.
After trying 24/48 and 24/44 I concluded that the benefits comes from going to 24 bits rather than from "upsampling" to 96.

I read in the Valab thread people linking the 24/96 upsampling with the CM-108 drivers. Since I don't own a NOS DAC, I cannot comment on that. All I know is that there is a real loss in transparency using the CM-108 drivers in my system. I understand however that some people might like the "sonic signature" of the CM-108 drivers, but it is not the most accurate driver in my opinion.
post #692 of 1712
hi slim.a, thanks for the feedback! I realize C-Media is worthless drivers-wise, but does KS work on XP at all using either of these three drivers? or any other way? ..using the ploytec drivers maybe?

my Firestone Spitfire 2009 DAC uses the DIR9001 receiving chip, that boasts about "50ps clock recovery"....so I'm kinda dubious whether some elite interface would make any difference at all

I'd use an AudioQuest VDM-XR coax cable: AudioQuest VDM-XR Digital Cable

and 16/44.1&48 is esentially all I need..besides the 14bit story has been measured on the CMI8738 only AFAIK.
post #693 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Yes, in my opinion, SoX sounds better than SRC (Secret Rabbit Code). It is also a lot faster (it requires a lot less CPU than SRC). Moreover, it is a lot more tweakable as you get to choose some settings such as minimum phase (my favorite)/linear phase ...

There is a bunch of sample rate converters here: SRC Comparisons and as you can see from the sweep test, SoX is a lot cleaner than SRC.
did you run the test using the old foobar plugin? because SRC used to be terrible, but the latest versions(especially >0.14) have improved the SQ pretty amazingly: Secret Rabbit Code (aka libsamplerate)

from what I see your url ran the old 0.13 build..and to be perfectly honest, I've compared zillions of resamplers...and SRC 0.17(in the highest quality mode) appears to be my favorite, the stereo image is spot-on and the SQ really good to my ears..the trebles are not mushy at all. Reclock and ffdshow have binaries for 0.17
post #694 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
hi slim.a, thanks for the feedback! I realize C-Media is worthless drivers-wise, but does KS work on XP at all using either of these three drivers? my Firestone Spitfire 2009 DAC uses the DIR9001 receiving chip, that boasts about "50ps clock recovery"....I'm kinda dubious whether some elite interface would make any difference at all

I'd use an AudioQuest VDM-XR coax cable: AudioQuest VDM-XR Digital Cable

and 16/44.1&48 is esentially all I need..
The sound was so bad with the c-media driver, that I uninstalled it pretty quickly. I don't think it worked with KS but I am not 100% sure.
The c-media driver is a very intrusive one (like the creative ones) and I highly doubt that you could get bit perfect out of it.

As for the DIR9001, it will reject some jitter but it won't restore lost bits by the driver.

By the way, the DACs I used with the Teralink-x (the audio-gd dac-100, audio-gd FUN and dac-19MK3) all use the DIR9001 and they were affected the same by the different settings.
If you look at page 7 of the data sheet you will see that the claimed 50ps depend on the sampling frequency. Also the specified jitter doesn't say at what frequency it is measured. For example most digital receivers can handle pretty easily the high frequency jitter while they do nothing for the very low frequency jitter.
However, I was able to try the DIR9001 against the CS8416 on the same DAC and I confirm that the DIR9001 is indeed better sounding than the CS8416 however, it is not totally immune to the quality of the transport.

Sorry for the digression, but I just wanted to point out that because you read that the DIR9001 has 50ps of jitter it doesn't mean that your DAC will be immune to it : the pcb layout, power supply, quality of the parts, nature of your dac (multibit vs. delta-sigma), ... all of that will determine the actual jitter at the analog output of your dac.
post #695 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
did you run the test using the old foobar plugin? because SRC used to be terrible, but the latest versions(especially >0.14) have improved the SQ pretty amazingly: Secret Rabbit Code (aka libsamplerate)

from what I see your url ran the old 0.13 build..and to be perfectly honest, I've compared zillions of resamplers...and SRC 0.17(in the highest quality mode) appears to be my favorite, the stereo image is spot-on and the SQ really good to my ears..the trebles are not mushy at all. Reclock and ffdshow have binaries for 0.17
I didn't try the newest versions. I only tried those that are compatible with foobar.

By the way, did you try SoX?
post #696 of 1712
no worries, I was pretty sure that this laconic "50ps clock recovery" was only telling half of the story

this said, I'd like to get a good S/PDIF transport for as cheap as possible...and here are my options as far as I can see:

-Dogbert's GPL drivers on a CMI8768 board, 16 bit only(but I only listen at low volume on headphones anyway, so 96dB is fine), they do 44.1/48/88.2/96...and you can get an Aureon 7.1 for 10 bucks
It only has one 14Mhz crystal, so jitter would *most likely* suffer...and it only does optical most of the time, this said the drivers are perfect! KS/WASAPI/WaveRT all the way baby.

-Dogbert's GPL drivers on a CMI8738 board that has coax, but there's no transformer on the coax..so god knows whether it'd do any galvanic isolation at all, and it's 48kHz max on the 8738.

-AudioTrak Maya II POS, very good drivers too! 2 discrete clocks, still need to clear out whether 96kHz is also possible in "automatically bit-matched" mode...it doesn't seem like it..it does KS on XP.

-Musiland 01US...the drivers kinda stink, who wants to wait 3 secs to switch sample rate exactly(in "high precision" mode)??

-Teralink X, using crappy stock CMI drivers..and no KS probably

-Teralink X2, only ASIO

-M2Tech Hiface, too expensive to my taste atm.

I think I'll stick to Dogbert's CMI8768 drivers over optical for the moment
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
did you try SoX?
I did yes..I prefer SRC 0.17 in the highest quality mode.
post #697 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
I did yes..I prefer SRC 0.17 in the highest quality mode.
Too bad I can't find the 0.17 plugin to try it on Foobar. If anybody has the link...
post #698 of 1712
Foobar 2000 and the Rabbit

I'm sure some ppl must have compiled 0.17 for foobar anyway, but I don't use foobar I use uLilith...and I find its resampler very good sounding tbh, as its complete audio pipeline works in 64fp...reason why I'm not too worried about playing 24/96 in 16/96

so whaddayasay about the options I listed above? is optical that evil? even if the cable is made of glass?

could you honestly DBT optical/coax? some ppl make them sound like night & day, like these ones: http://www.stereomojo.com/LITE%20AUD...ACAMREVIEW.htm
post #699 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
Foobar 2000 and the Rabbit

I'm sure some ppl must have compiled 0.17 for foobar anyway, but I don't use foobar I use uLilith...and I find its resampler very good sounding tbh, as its complete audio pipeline works in 64fp...reason why I'm not too worried about playing 24/96 in 16/96

so whaddayasay about the options I listed above? is optical that evil? even if the cable is made of glass?

could you honestly DBT optical/coax? some ppl make them sound like night & day, like these ones: LITE AUDIO DAC AM REVIEW
Optical vs. coaxial:

It all depend on how the transport and dac are made. the optical involves 2 extra steps (conversion to light at the transport and then to electrical at the dac) which increases jitter.
However, in some cases, the optical could turn out to be better. It will depend on both the design of the dac and how "polluted" the source is. But in most cases, if the transport is good enough (which excludes computer motherboards), the coaxial will probably be better.

Personally, I have always find coaxial better than optical but I have to admit that I never tried a glass optical cable.


DBT tests on optical vs. coaxial:

Since this thread has been taken off topic too many times, I won't talk about DBT tests. Please read this : http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f21/do...-forum-227350/

My advice for you leeperry is to try for yourself if you are curious about the difference. There is no reason to doubt what the reviewer have found out : if we assume that people can hear differences between different level of jitter, there is a logical explanation why the reviewer in your link preferred coaxial vs. optical (higher jitter).
post #700 of 1712
well, I was told in the DIY forum that most of the coax gear you can buy is simply not built properly..so comparing coax/optical on them wouldn't make much sense

on the output side, they'll go cheapo and not put a pulse transformer...as explained here: epanorama.net/S/PDIF Interface

and on the input side, they'd simply put a DIR9001/CS8416...and hope for the best, hah

It's a good guess that all the internal souncards I've listed don't run a pulse transfo on coax...unlike the cards you've tested in your shootout.

ah well, I guess the best choice for me is the m2tech as I really need KS on XP to use Reclock...I'll wait for the Hiface2 and everyone selling the former version for dirt cheap

the musiland monitor serie would have been an option, if they had not gone so cheap on the clock synthesis....waiting 3 secs for each sample rate change is simply out of the question.

PS: some food for thoughts: http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic....d2=electronics
Quote:
As it turns out S/PDIF requires an absolute minimum of 9Mhz of bandwidth of which plastic conductor Toslink only provided 5-6Mhz. 30Mhz Glass Toslink with a bandwith equal to or even greater than may Digital coax cables provided enough bandwidth to let the harmonics of the Digital transmission fully develop
I'll be using a glass toslink on the CMI8768 w/ Dogbert's drivers
post #701 of 1712
this one looks nice too: HA INFO Audio Studio

pulse transformer to kill groundloops, dirt cheap on ebay...couldn't find infos about jitter specs though, and I wonder whether the ploytec drivers would give KS on XP w/ this thing.

this one even does I2S: http://www.ha-info.com/en/sm29mkii.htm
post #702 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
this one looks nice too: HA INFO Audio Studio

pulse transformer to kill groundloops, dirt cheap on ebay...couldn't find infos about jitter specs though, and I wonder whether the ploytec drivers would give KS on XP w/ this thing.

this one even does I2S: HA INFO Audio Studio
Hi leeperry,

in comparison to the other interfaces both units are limited to sampling speed 16Bit 44.1K/48K. Furthermore the Hiface owns to oscillators and works in really assynchronous mode for extremely low jitter. So I can't see both units as alternatives.

Cheers
Fujak
post #703 of 1712
yes sure, but the HiFace is quite overpriced, who wants to pay 120 EUR for a coax interface...and who actually has a lot of 192kHz audio? if KS could work on this thing, I'd give it a shot...I've asked the ploytec ppl, as they don't have a hw compatibility list on their site
post #704 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
yes sure, but the HiFace is quite overpriced, who wants to pay 120 EUR for a coax interface...and who actually has a lot of 192kHz audio? if KS could work on this thing, I'd give it a shot...I've asked the ploytec ppl, as they don't have a hw compatibility list on their site
Do you honestly believe that the hiface is overpriced?
Most people who have tried the hiface seem to think it is an excellent value product. You can read this thread (Just received: M2Tech Hiface USB interface | Computer Audiophile) or this review (M2Tech hiFace 24-bit/192kHz USB Digital Audio Interface A journey into the world of PC audio. Review By Mike Galusha).

The cost is totally justified for the following reasons:
1. It is an async 24/192 usb capable device
2. It uses proprietary drivers that proabably cost m2tech a lot of time and money in R&D (The Ploytec driver alone is selling for 59€ as an example)
3. the hiface doesn't require a usb cable (A nice performing usb cable such as the wireworld ultraviolet cost more than 60€)
4. The hiface uses a DSP to control the incoming data (instead of being slaved to the jittery clock of the computer)
5. The hiface uses 2 nice audio quality clocks : one for 44.1K multiples and another for 48K multiples. Other devices use a 12mhz (for example) to derive a 44.1K clock which far from optimal and generate a lot of jitter
6. The hiface uses a pulse transformer at the output which helps galvanically isolate the computer from the DAC
7. ... And Finally, the Hiface has an excellent sound.

So of course, there are cheaper units out there but I have to strongly disagree with you when you claim that the hiface is overpriced. If you find something better than the hiface even at twice the price, please let me know and I will buy it in a heart beat to try it. (Btw, I do not consider the Bel Canto USB nor the Stello usb spdif as being superior).
post #705 of 1712
hehe, sorry, I didn't mean to troll!

well, this thing also has a pulse transformer: HA INFO Audio Studio

yes indeed, the ploytec drivers are 59€, but you prolly could get WASAPI Excl. to work on the PCM2902 for "free"?

allow me to rephrase into saying that I'm not willing to spend 120€ on a coax output at this point...once my set up will be optimal in each and every possible way, I'll buy one second hand when the Hiface2/MK2(w/ native I2S?) will be out

besides I appreciate all your tests(I really do!), but I really don't trust that computeridiophile.com site...I've read so much bs on this site haha, even the XXHighEnd author is amazed by the credulity of most of its members...they drink his bs like it was "petit lait"
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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