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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 48  

post #706 of 1712
Don't be swayed too much by the pulse transformer - it may have benefits, but many of them cause ringing as well. Apparently the best ones out there are from scientific conversion, but of course they are fairly big and $$.

HiFace sounds very good indeed - and modded sounds even better.
post #707 of 1712
well, my computer is not grounded and my headphones happen to be uber-sensitive(32Ω/104dB)...I definitely cannot feed them a dirty ground otherwise it's a tickling/hissing party, so toslink or coax on a transformer are my only options.

I keep reading ppl saying that plastic toslink would sound ugly compared to coax, but that glass toslink(due to its much higher bandwidth) could even top coax in certain conditions(toslink being completely immune to EMI/RFI)

so I'll be comparing a 3m premium plastic toslink, a 6ft 280 strands glass toslink and a 2m Audioquest VDM-XR coax on several S/PDIF interfaces(one of them was developed specifically for SONY)...time will tell
post #708 of 1712
so without reading every page.. could someone tell me if there's a general consensus on the best buy/value?

is it the hiFace?
post #709 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by koven View Post
so without reading every page.. could someone tell me if there's a general consensus on the best buy/value?

is it the hiFace?
I would say so.
post #710 of 1712
Thread Starter 

m2tech hiface - 6moons review

6moons just published a review of the hiface here : 6moons.com audio reviews: M2Tech hiFace
post #711 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
6moons just published a review of the hiface here : 6moons.com audio reviews: M2Tech hiFace
Here we go again...
"Over the course of this reviewed I was shocked to hear that everything from the make and model of computer, CPU, RAM, hard drive, operating system, music playback program, file format— FLAC, WAC—plus the myriads of system and program settings all affected the sound to some degree. I suspect that storing music files on an external hard drive or on one of the new SSD drives just hitting the market would have exerted their own further variables."
Paul Candy, 6moons.com

So he claims there's a sonic difference between FLAC and WAV, between a regular HDD and SSD, between different CPUs and RAM amounts. Seriously, folks...
post #712 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post
Here we go again...
"Over the course of this reviewed I was shocked to hear that everything from the make and model of computer, CPU, RAM, hard drive, operating system, music playback program, file format— FLAC, WAC—plus the myriads of system and program settings all affected the sound to some degree. I suspect that storing music files on an external hard drive or on one of the new SSD drives just hitting the market would have exerted their own further variables."
Paul Candy, 6moons.com

So he claims there's a sonic difference between FLAC and WAV, between a regular HDD and SSD, between different CPUs and RAM amounts. Seriously, folks...
Either he is nuts, or there are slight barely audiple dropouts occuring in susceptable configurations. I know USB sounds bad on my old laptop due to these really quick dropouts, the cpu just can't keep up.
post #713 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post
Here we go again...
"Over the course of this reviewed I was shocked to hear that everything from the make and model of computer, CPU, RAM, hard drive, operating system, music playback program, file format— FLAC, WAC—plus the myriads of system and program settings all affected the sound to some degree. I suspect that storing music files on an external hard drive or on one of the new SSD drives just hitting the market would have exerted their own further variables."
Paul Candy, 6moons.com

So he claims there's a sonic difference between FLAC and WAV, between a regular HDD and SSD, between different CPUs and RAM amounts. Seriously, folks...
I think you misunderstood what he tried to say. If you are using a computer with a slow CPU, you will notice differences with different settings. The less the CPU is used the more consistent the data transfers occurs to the usb converter.

For example, there is absolutely no difference between FLAC and WAV (the same data). However, if you play both in a slow computer, you will notice dropouts with FLAC and flawless playback with WAV.
I did that test many times with the EMU 0404 USB (with the ASIO buffer setting is set low to 4 ms). I would have glitch free playback with 24/96 WAV and I would have a lot of dropouts with the same 24/96 FLAC file.
So obviously, when running fewer programs ...etc, you will have a more consitant data transfer, and in some cases an improved sound quality with less dropouts whether they are clearly audible (crackle, pops, ...) or they just decrease the sound quality (the dac didn't receive on time all the data that was transmitted).

You also have to understand that most usb to spdif converters work differently than say a USB hard drive. A usb hard has data correction, while usb doesn't most of the time. I am not an expert in this domain and perhaps Steve Nugent or Dan Lavry can better explain it.

However, what surprises me is that he noticed that with the Hiface which is a true async device. Even with heavy operation (virus scanning, downloading, ...) I never had any glitch or anything with it, and I am using a 3 years-old dell notebook. However, since that has happened to me with other devices, I wouldn't jump into conclusions and start saying "Seriously, folks..." until I have ALL the data on hand, and not just what I think is sufficient to deteremine the outcome of an experiment.
post #714 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
If you are using a computer with a slow CPU, you will notice differences with different settings.
That is absolutely correct. I'm still pretty sure that I did not misunderstand the whole picture. Especially when the review starts off by stating that SSD is "some sort of magnetic memory". Claims like "external USB HDD is audibly superior to internal HDD" show lack of basic understanding how a computer really works.
If anything, external drives are worse, because the spinning of the platters is audibly noisy (at least with a regular HDD) and USB data transfer consumes processor resources which may lead to dropouts with extremely slow systems.
So, my 2 cents - aim for a quiet computer and bit perfect output to an asynchronous USB DAC and you are pretty much covered.
post #715 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post
That is absolutely correct. I'm still pretty sure that I did not misunderstand the whole picture. Especially when the review starts off by stating that SSD is "some sort of magnetic memory". Claims like "external USB HDD is audibly superior to internal HDD" show lack of basic understanding how a computer really works.
If anything, external drives are worse, because the spinning of the platters is audibly noisy (at least with a regular HDD) and USB data transfer consumes processor resources which may lead to dropouts with extremely slow systems.
I agree with the fact that the reviewer didn't seem to have a deep knowledge (or at least he didn't express well enough) about computers.

However, his observations should not be discarded right away as there is some explanation to them.
For example let's take internal SSD vs regular internal HDD. While there is no magic about the SSD, there is a theoretical advantage. The SSD consumes less energy and will cause less energy spike than a regular spinning hard drive. So if the usb converter is sensitive to the quality of the power running through the usb line, it makes sense that its performance will be affected by the SSD vs regular hard drive.

As for the external hard drive vs. internal one. If the computer has separate usb sockets (one for the HDD and one separate for the converter), in certain cases, it might be less harmful/noisy to ask about the data from the external hard drive than from the internal one.

So while the reviewer might not be an expert in tech talk, some of his findings make sense and could be explained under some specific conditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post
So, my 2 cents - aim for a quiet computer and bit perfect output to an asynchronous USB DAC and you are pretty much covered.
The conditions you cited (bit perfectness and async) are necessary but not sufficient to get a nice sound from the computer.
For example, because of a better isolation and power supply, the adaptive Teralink-x performs better the async Musiland Monitor. So by just getting an async device, you are from being "covered".
post #716 of 1712
slim.a, most of your assumptions are purely theoretical. What does this "energy spike" caused by a regular HDD look like? Can you cite some valid research about its supposed effect on USB power and asynchronous USB converters? I'm not trying to open the usual can of worms (if these "spikes" really exist, can it actually be audible).
If Teralink measures better than Musiland, we can state, that on that particular case, other factors (not adaptive vs asyncronous) are more important.
post #717 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cer View Post
slim.a, most of your assumptions are purely theoretical. What does this "energy spike" caused by a regular HDD look like? Can you cite some valid research about its supposed effect on USB power and asynchronous USB converters? I'm not trying to open the usual can of worms (if these "spikes" really exist, can it actually be audible).
If Teralink measures better than Musiland, we can state, that on that particular case, other factors (not adaptive vs asyncronous) are more important.
Cer, I really don't care proving if what I stated has impact on the sound or not. I have neither the time, the experience nor the tools to conduct a valid experience.
If you read the following article : http://www.physics.sc.edu/kunchur/pa...rge-Foster.pdf or these (Information for prospective students). They went into a lot of trouble just to generate a perfect 7khz square wave to do their tests. They realized that the rise time of 7khz square wave generated by a digital device running at 16/44.1 was 1000 slower than what was needed for their experiment. What they realize is that human hearing was a lot more precise than we thought it was.

Also, you didn't realize that you also used theoretical assumptions based on your knowledge when you said that internal hard drives were better than external hard drives, and that those spikes do not matter, ... etc

So we are given the choice between:
1) reading carefully and critically what the reviewer said and try to understand what might affect the sound or not in other systems as well
2) believing that we have figured out everything, that bits are bits, that most changes/tweaks are inaudible, ... and that we should think that the reviewer was crazy to notice any difference

Personally, I prefer to choose option 1. Of course, I do not believe all I read, but when there is a difference, I try to understand where it comes from even if it doesn't fit a certain "logic". Most people are unaware about the importance of the Time domain performance and they believe that the best way to evaluate a DAC is through a RMAA graph (which is mainly limited to the frequency domain measurement).

I have also heard a lot about placebo effect. And in my personal opinion, those who live and listen by measurement graphs live in a placebo world. I tried to like the EMU 0404 usb for more than a year simply because it measured near to perfect and much better than CD performance. However, during that period, I would get tired/bored after only a few minutes. It was until I started trusting my ears (instead of a limited set of measurements) that I started to enjoy music (and not just sounds).

Hopefully, we will have in the future tools and theory that are good enough to skip the subjective reviewing part. Until that happens, subjective listening is essential in assessing the performance of equipment.
So the fact that the 6moons reviewer brought up a few parameters that affect the sound should not bring criticism but curiosity. Of course, it is simpler to laugh at people who say things that seem "outside of the box", but it would be more constructive to investigate those issues instead of plain criticizing.
If some many "gold ears" hadn't complain about how horrible sounding transistor based amps sounded in the late 60s and early 70s, we would be listening to horrible equipment now. The "thd war" led companies to use high level of negative feedback to generate vanishingly low thd measurements. What they didn't seem to realize is that most system were not fast enough to do the corrections in real time. So they were creating problems elswhere (Time Intermodulation Distortion). So at that time, one could have said: since the THD measurement is only known form of distortion, those new amps shoudl be better sounding...

While I might have digressed from the subject of the discussion, it was to point out that when differences are heard, it is more constructive to study why and how it was possible rather than stating the same remarks : "Seriously, folks...", "Bits are bits",...
post #718 of 1712
Those who live and listen by measurement graphs live in a high tech cave!
post #719 of 1712
to broaden the discussion a little, do those uber-low jitter interfaces still make sense on a CS8414 instead of a DIR9001?

Audio-GD says that the CS is in the 200ps region and the DIR in the 50ps

and the diff between PCM2902E(USB Adaptive Mode for Playback)/PCM2704 for coax transport is not too clear either...apparently 2902 is newer/better?
post #720 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Also, you didn't realize that you also used theoretical assumptions based on your knowledge when you said that internal hard drives were better than external hard drives, and that those spikes do not matter, ... etc
There's nothing theoretical about the sound a normal external HDD creates during operation. It is easily audible if you are close enough. SSD really has a clear advantage because it does not operate mechanically and therefore is dead quiet. Still, as old as it sounds, bits are still the same bits both on HDD and SSD, internal or external. On the other hand it is possible to isolate the computer good enough so that the operational sound of the HDD is not an issue anymore. Probably much cheaper than buying a large enough SSD.
The consumption of CPU resources while transferring data from USB devices is also very real and can easily be observed. With most modern computers it's not really an issue. At least if you are not pushing your computer to its limits.

Regarding those spikes. They might exist. Unfortunately I also don't have the resources to thoroughly test their audible effects on USB converters. Do they matter? It seems we don't know and therefore here between us this topic is actually more hypothetical than theoretical. That said, I have not experienced any difference between external and internal HDDs other than the operational sound of the external HDD raising the overall noise floor in my room. Of course, this does not prove anything.

And then measurements. I'll be brief, because I am well aware, that this has been discussed over and over again. Measurements is all we have when we talk about measurable things. Sound is measurable. IMHO if measurements show that a component is audibly transparent and I'm still not happy, I have to look elsewhere. Sometimes I close my eyes.
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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