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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 55  

post #811 of 1712
Thread Starter 

More on the J River Media Center vs. Foobar v1.0

I have compared Foobar v1.0 vs. J River for long enough now that I finally got my hand on how they compare to each other

To my ears, listening through J River (in comparison to Foobar v1.0) is like turning up the sharpness controll of a TV set. With J River all the apparent details are over emphasized but at the expense of the very fine and more subtle details. For example, the image outlines are sharper with J River, but the fine little ambient cues are less audible and you feel like everything has been recorded in a dead quiet studio.

So like for TVs, a little bit of added sharpness (with J River) could be either a good thing or too much and fatiguing on the long term.
Of course, one could also suggest that Foobar is dull and that J River is neutral, but that wouldn't explain how Foobar has more low level resolution.

Overall, it is a nice thing to have yet another mean to "tweak" the sound through the media players. And given that J River contains a lot more than a mere music player, I think it is a remarkable achievement when we compare it to Window Media Player/Media Center.


Note: All my comments about Foobar, concern the v1.0. For an unknown reason, I have always found the 0.9.x versions grainy sounding and kept using v0.8.3 until the release of the v1.0.
post #812 of 1712
slim.a did you set the player to read the files from memory ? I believe it give a better sound.
You can also try some DSP like crossfeed and upsampling.

But i believe we are out of the topic subject.
post #813 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega17TheTrue View Post
slim.a did you set the player to read the files from memory ? I believe it give a better sound.
You can also try some DSP like crossfeed and upsampling.

But i believe we are out of the topic subject.
Yes I set the files to read from memory on J River
I also programmed Foobar to use 128 mb of full file buffering (Under Advanced/Playback).

As for other settings on J River. I found out that I preferred the 32 bits setting over 24 output.
I tried the upsampling but was not very convinced. It didn't seem very transparent to me unlike SoX (with minimum phase) with foobar.

The Crossfeed feature was very nice. I think it was better than any other crossfeed I have tried on Foobar.

Overall, the differences are rather small/subtle. If I weren't used to Foobar and was just starting from scratch, I am not sure I would have chosen Foobar over J River.

BTW, this is not off topic, I will write a short follow-up to my first post to include findings about media Players. While I prefer Foobar over J. River, it is not as clear cut as with the usb converters. I think people will end up choosing one over the other more because of personal preference and associated gear than because one is clearly superior to the other.
post #814 of 1712
just a quick question.
if all of my files are 16bit 44.1kHz should i set foobar to 16bit playback or 24bit? (or even 32bit)
i use a musiland 01 usd and a hiface.
post #815 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowlord View Post
just a quick question.
if all of my files are 16bit 44.1kHz should i set foobar to 16bit playback or 24bit? (or even 32bit)
i use a musiland 01 usd and a hiface.
You loose nothing by setting foobar at 32 bits (or 24bits). Personally, I think it sounds better at 24/32 vs. 16 bits.
Also, if you look at the specs sheets of most DACs, they are more linear when they are fed 24 bit data than with 16 bit data, even if the remaining 8 bits are only zeroes (page 4 of this dac datasheet for example)

Also, I did a recent test, by setting foobar at 32bits, and I still got HDCD decoding, which suggests bit perfectness.

So, as far as I know, and according to my own experience, it is better if you use 24 or 32 bits output in Foobar.
post #816 of 1712
I have a problem with my HiFace: it inverses the audio channels

And since under Win Vista - Win7 and foobar, one can use only KS & WASAPI for bit-perfect reproduction with HiFace I see no way to put the channels in the correct order.

If anybody has an idea, do tell.

If you want to check whether you're listening to the correct channles on your headphones, download the "Left Right" and "Left Right Center Surround" from here: Michael Knowles: Extras and play them...


I've already sent an e-mail to M2tech asking fr their suport and I'm waiting for their response.
post #817 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by himynameis View Post
I have a problem with my HiFace: it inverses the audio channels

And since under Win Vista - Win7 and foobar, one can use only KS & WASAPI for bit-perfect reproduction with HiFace I see no way to put the channels in the correct order.

If anybody has an idea, do tell.

If you want to check whether you're listening to the correct channles on your headphones, download the "Left Right" and "Left Right Center Surround" from here: Michael Knowles: Extras and play them...


I've already sent an e-mail to M2tech asking fr their suport and I'm waiting for their response.
Are you sure it is coming from the Hiface? It is the first time I read that anywhere ...

A quick suggestion: did you try to invert the left and right channels of the RCA/interconnect cables between the dac and the amp?
post #818 of 1712
I didn't use a dedicated amp for this test.

In order to be sure I used the ATH-AD2000 directly from the Lavry DA10 and the RD-25 and the results were the same.
If I use the RD-25 with it's wireless connection (it has an antenna which communicates with a wireless adaptop you plug in any USB port) the channels are good.
When I switch to COAX with the HiFace, the channels get inversed...


Note: RD-25 is a romanian DAC: RD 25




Can you play the "Right - Left" files you can download here: Michael Knowles: Extras to test whether your channels are correct?
post #819 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by himynameis View Post
In order to be sure I used the ATH-AD2000 directly from the Lavry DA10 and the RD-25 and the results were the same.
If I use the RD-25 with it's wireless connection (it has an antenna which communicates with a wireless adaptop you plug in any USB port) the channels are good.
When I switch to COAX with the HiFace, the channels get inversed...


Note: RD-25 is a romanian DAC: RD 25


Can you play the "Right - Left" files you can download here: Michael Knowles: Extras to test whether your channels are correct?
I just played the track and the channels are correct in my case.

It seems it is an isolated case (for your hiface). Given the number of hiface users, I am pretty sure people would have noticed if it was a common problem.

Unless there is a problem somewhere in your Windows audio setup, I can't understand where the issue might come from.

By the way, there is a DSP plugin in Foobar called "Reverse stereo channels". If you use it, you would still get bit perfect. It will just swap the left and right channels.
post #820 of 1712
I used the "Reverse stereo channels" and it works good now. Thanks - didn't think of that

Still, I have no ideea why this inversion would happen. I tried it both on my laptop with Windows 7 and desktop with Win Vista and the results were the same.

Maybe the M2Tech support will set things clear for me.
post #821 of 1712
I've been testing the hiFace for a few hours now. Here are my impressions:

-Excellent bass quality, noticeably better than the Teralink-X2, my motherboard-coaxial, and almost as good as the direct USB input of the y2 DAC (which is amazing for bass)
-upper/midbass quantity is less than all other transports, especially the Teralink-X2, but it extends a bit deeper and is definitely flatter (tested with sine waves).
-Overall sound signature is pretty much neutral, although the treble can be in-your-face at times. It is the brightest of all the transports. I prefer the sound signature of my motherboard coax output as it is a bit warmer and smoother. The Teralink-X2 is too smooth (at times) and too warm. The USB input is closer to the mobo in terms of tonal balance, very neutral...but it's dry and small sounding, all the coaxial output transports sound better than USB.
-I prefer the treble of the Teralink-X2 over all other transports, smooth but extended, very non-fatiguing...oddly enough, very tube-like.
-The Teralink-X2 has the worst bass, boomy and excessively warm, without as much impact as any of the other transports. This feature masks details often times.
-The Teralink-X2 has a great midrange and soundstage. The hiFace has a more neutral and transparent midrange, a smaller soundstage, sharper imaging and more detail but the Teralink sounds more pleasing with some recordings because of its soundstage and smoothness.
-The HiFace has the best dynamics for sure, as well as the best PRAT.
-Aside from the basic sound criteria described above...there's something else I'm noticing. The hiFace presents vocals in a way that sounds more coherent and easy to follow. Details are clearer but without any harshness. There's more microdetail apparent in recordings...probably because of less smearing of notes.

These are my preliminary findings. They may change with time, in which case I'll post again or update this one.
post #822 of 1712
Hi Sharose,

wow, thanks for this great review. In my opinion you described your impressions very precisely. And since I'm using the TeraLink X2 it is a very interesting review for me. Just one question: Did you use the Tenor-Asio-Driver for the TeraLink X2 or the standard asio4all. My experience is, that the Tenor-Asio-Driver improves the sound - especially the bass range (more precise and detailed).

Regards
Fujak
post #823 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Hi Shahrose,

Thanks for sharing your impressions. But personally, I disagree with the way you described the Hiface as being:”Overall sound signature is a bit thin and bright”. I think that it is an inaccurate description as the Hiface is rather a neutral and transparent unit. Below are the reasons why I believe the Hiface is not thin and bright as you described.


Comparison with other usb to spdif converters:


So far, I have compared the Hiface to 4 other usb to spdif converters. I have testes each of those converters with different drivers and usb cables (Wireworld Ultraviolet, Monster, Belkin Gold, Real Cable...). And so far, the Hiface seems the most neutral in comparison.
Here is a quick recap of how they sound:
-Emu 0404 USB: thin and edgy sounding, small soundstage, limited extension at the frequency extremes
-Musiland 01 USD: relatively neutral balance, better extension at the frequency extremes than the EMU 0404
-Teralink-X: relatively warm sounding, better extension at the frequency extremes than the Musiland
-Purepiper usb to spdif converter: relatively warm sounding, limited extension at the frequency extremes.
-Hiface: The most transparent of the group


Using the Hiface with different digital cables:

I tried the Hiface with many digital cables. Here are some quick impressions using the dac19mk3 as a DAC.

-Hiface + Canare cable: The sound is constricted, edgy, the soundstage is small
-Hiface + Belden cable: The sound is warm, the soundstage bigger than life (but not very precise), the transients are slowed and muffled in comparison with higher end cables
-Hiface + Sobek (modded): The sound is slightly on the warm side of neutral. The soundstage is not as big as with the Belden but is more defined and varies from one recording to another. There is a big increase in details.
-Hiface + Stereovox XV2: The sound is slight on the thin side of neutral, a little bit bright/metallic timbre. However, it is more detailed and spacious than the Sobek.
-Hiface + Oyaide DB-510: The sound is neutral and transparent. It the most detailed but also the most natural combination.


Using the Hiface and Oyaide with different DACs:

Since I have settled for the Hiface + Oyaide as my reference front end, I have used it to test different DACs and here is how they sound

-Hiface + Oyaide + Purepiper DAC A-1: It has a relatively neutral tonal balance with a slight emphasis on the upper midrange. It is a little bit dry sounding. With the wrong associated equipment it can sound harsh.
-Hiface + Oyaide + FUN version A (with the AD1852 dac chip): The sound is darker than the Purepiper. It is smoother; it has a lot less apparent details (different voicing) but has more low level details. It is also richer sounding.
-Hiface + Oyaide + FUN version A (with the WM8740 dac chip): The sound is warmer than with the AD1852 but there is a definite loss of details and a little bit of mid bass bloat.
-Hiface + Oyaide + FUN version B (with AD1852): It has a more limited bandwidth than version A and has dirtier highs. The sound is constricted and edgy in comparison with version A.
-Hiface + Oyaide + DAC19mk3 (with the DF1704 digital filter): The soundstage is huge and well defined, with holographic imaging. The transients are faster. There is a great sense of transparency. The bass is deep and accurate. The highs are cleaner than any other combination above.
-Hiface + Oyaide + DAC19mk3 (with the PMD100 digital filter): While the PMD100 is not as fast as the DF1704 filter, it has a purer tone with greater tonal density. It is “analog heaven” not because it adds pleasing distortion but because it has purer highs.


Conclusion

Overall, I am not saying that the Hiface + Oyaide should be used in any system as component matching is important to get a musically satisfying result.
But both the Hiface as well as the Oyaide digital cable are very transparent components. It is possible to achieve a similar tonal balance with other combination, but by using lesser components, you loose at the same time low level details, frequency extension, soundstage and imaging clues, and timbre subtleties that cannot be recovered elsewhere in the chain.

So while I understand that a specific system can sound thin and edgy with Hiface, I believe it is not because of the Hiface but because of other components in the chain (digital cable, DAC) that are more likely to be the culprit.


Side Note: I suspect that in highly resolving systems when using DACs based on sigma delta chips (and opamps), it is likely that the Hiface will sound thin and dry simply because it will reveal the true sonic character of the DAC; other more jittery devices such as the Teralink seem to inject some kind of pleasing dither that makes the listening more tolerable and enjoyable (but less precise).
Here is again a few links to why sigma delta dacs are flawed and were only pursued to lower the cost of manufacturing in comparison with the R2R/multibit DAC chips.
Mother of Tone - Conversion Techniques
How DACs Work
post #824 of 1712
I don't think any part of my chain is particularly thin/edgy. I am finding the unit has mellowed down a bit since I posted but it is still a bit brighter and thinner than the mobo out (which probably isn't neutral, but is pleasing). It's closer to the direct USB input now in terms of tonal balance.
post #825 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Hi Shahrose,




Here is again a few links to why sigma delta dacs are flawed and were only pursued to lower the cost of manufacturing in comparison with the R2R/multibit DAC chips.
]
Agreed that a serious review should be with an R2R discrete analog DAC, but you need a $200 digital cable for this thing not to sound thin? Or am I misreading your post.
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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