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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 56  

post #826 of 1712
I have the hiface in my hands on home trial! Will keep you guys posted on how it does with my dac19 DF. Hehehe
post #827 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by regal View Post
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.
No I didn't mean to say that you need to spend $200 on a digital cable in order for the hiface to not sound thin. With the relatively affordable Belden digital cable (around $20) the sound is warm and not thin at all but not as detailed, extended and fast as the better cables.

But unfortunately, I haven't found any affordable digital cable that sounds nearly as good as the Sobek or the Oyaide. I also tried a very expensive (800€) Actinote digital cable that did not provide any benefit over the Oyaide.
The common characteristics between all the good sounding digital cables were : high purity conductors, teflon dielectric, multiple layers of shielding, 75 ohms BNC (or RCA) connectors.
post #828 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
No I didn't mean to say that you need to spend $200 on a digital cable in order for the hiface to not sound thin. With the relatively affordable Belden digital cable (around $20) the sound is warm and not thin at all but not as detailed, extended and fast as the better cables
Couple things.

1) I think people are taking my comments "bright/thin" in a negative light. I didn't mean harsh and devoid of warmth. I can see how it would be a synergistic combo with the HD650 which I feel can be too bassy/thick on warm setups. I'll have my HD650 back this weekend so I'll get to test this.

2) I use short (1.5ft) BJC LC-1 ICs and a short (1.5ft) BJC Belden 1694 coaxial cable, so if they are producing deleterious effects in the chain, they're probably minimal. Also, according to you, they should impart a warm/smooth sound but they don't (or not enough atleast to mitigate the cooler sound of the hiFace).
post #829 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fujak View Post
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
I used the Ploytec ASIO driver which helped to tighten up the bass, but it still wasn't as good as the bass from USB/hiFace.
If you're wondering, Ploytec ASIO with the Teralink had the best bass, then KS, then WASAPI and then finally DS.
post #830 of 1712
I have tried many different digital cables in the past with different lengths and etc, and all I can conclude is that the different is minor to nil. This topic is more suitable for "Science" forum as it usually creates an argument that nobody can agree on. :-)

With that said, shorter cable is the best way to go and BJC LC-1 is more than suitable for optimal performance. Don't need to spend anything above $30 for this type of cable.
post #831 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
Couple things.

1) I think people are taking my comments "bright/thin" in a negative light. I didn't mean harsh and devoid of warmth. I can see how it would be a synergistic combo with the HD650 which I feel can be too bassy/thick on warm setups. I'll have my HD650 back this weekend so I'll get to test this.
If it is not harsh and devoid of warmth ... and if it is noth bright and thin in a negative way, what is then?

When I review/describe components, I try to be as objective as possible and not take into account my personal preferences.
If I were still using the stock sennheiser cable, the stock power cords, no power filter and no vibration control, my system would sound dark, bassy and not very transparent, even if I were using the same chain hiface+Oyaide+dac19mk3+artisan silver cables+C2C.

And you are right, the Sennheiser hd-650 when used with the stock cable or copper upgraded cables (I tried the Moon Audio Blue Dragor, as well as the Stefan Audio Art Equinox) can sound thick. However, when used with the Artisan Cables (pure solid core silver), it becomes neutral if not a little bit on the bright side. You can see my reviews here and here.

Also, when I say that the Hiface is not thin and bright but neutral and transparent, I wasn't just basing my comments on a single chain (dac - headphone amp). I tried many combinations of different usb cables (for the other converters), digital cables, converters, interconnects, and headphone amps over a period of a few months.
I have also taken the dac19mk3/hiface to a friend's house to test in the context of his $20,000 speaker system (which uses ribbons for the highs) and at no time I found the Hiface thin sounding.

So while, I am well aware that the hd-650 is not as good as higher end cans (such as the hd-800), I am familiar with its sound and tested with it enough converters (over a long period of time) to be sure that the Hiface is more transparent and neutral than the ohter converters and usb inputs of those DACs.

You can also read the 2 professional reviews of the Hiface. None of them is describing it as thin and bright.
Link to the reviews:
M2Tech hiFace 24-bit/192kHz USB Digital Audio Interface A journey into the world of PC audio. Review By Mike Galusha
6moons.com audio reviews: M2Tech hiFace

As a side note: Personally, I don't use converters, interconnects and digital cables as tone controls. I think that if anything is missing at the source, it is impossible to recover it later in the chain.
I prefer using power filtration, vibration control and power cords to "fine tune" my system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
2) I use short (1.5ft) BJC LC-1 ICs and a short (1.5ft) BJC Belden 1694 coaxial cable, so if they are producing deleterious effects in the chain, they're probably minimal. Also, according to you, they should impart a warm/smooth sound but they don't (or not enough atleast to mitigate the cooler sound of the hiFace).
I haven't listened to the BJC LC1 but personally, it wouldn't be my first choice in the context of a high resolving system such as yours.

But most importantly, you are assuming that your DAC is neutral which is probably not the case.

In my experience, I find that difficult to achieve a decent sound from a sigma delta based dac, especially when they use opamps for their output stages.
Sigma-delta dac chips have a lot of noise in the high frequencies. You can look at the following link for an example of high frequency sine waves by sigma-delta dac chips and R2R dac chips. What does it mean? It means that either the dac maker uses heavy filtering and the sound is thick or the dac maker uses light filtering to preserve perceived details and the sound is bright and thin. Upsampling can improve things a little bit but it doesn't solve everything. Of course, if you stick multiple dac chips per channel, use smart upsampling and oversampling algorithms you can improve the results but it would be much simpler to do better results with R2R chips such as the PCM1704.

Would it be possible for you to test the Hiface with different DACs? Ideally with a R2R discrete analog DAC as regal also suggested?
post #832 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tosehee View Post
I have tried many different digital cables in the past with different lengths and etc, and all I can conclude is that the different is minor to nil. This topic is more suitable for "Science" forum as it usually creates an argument that nobody can agree on. :-)
Well if you read this (http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f21/do...-forum-227350/) it is the opposite in fact. So people who have noticed differences between digital cables during subjective listening tests are allowed to talk about it on the equipment forum. Those who think such a difference doesn't exist and demand a DBT test to prove, well ... they should do it on the sound science forum according to the rules.
post #833 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
If it is not harsh and devoid of warmth ... and if it is noth bright and thin in a negative way, what is then?
If you go back to my post, I clearly said "a bit" thin and bright. The magnitude of my claim matters and it seems you're taking my statements too strongly. Perhaps "cool" would have been a better descriptor here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
I haven't listened to the BJC LC1 but personally, it wouldn't be my first choice in the context of a high resolving system such as yours.

But most importantly, you are assuming that your DAC is neutral which is probably not the case.
I agree about the BJC, but the difference I'm hearing is atleast an order of a magnitude larger than any difference coax cables have produced IME.

As for the DAC, here are AMB's measurements: The γ2 Compact High Performance DAC
MisterX tested my own personal DAC before he sent it out and sent me the frequency response graph as well. I won't post it here because it looks nearly identical to the one shown on AMB's page (ie. flat in the audible range).
Just to dispel any other factors, here are the measurements for my amp (in its exact configuration): The M³ Stereo Headphone Amplifier
Flat from 0Hz to over 1MHz.

Edit: I forgot to mention that I also tested the hiFace through my speakers with the same results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post
Would it be possible for you to test the Hiface with different DACs? Ideally with a R2R discrete analog DAC as regal also suggested?
Unfortunately, I don't own any other DACs.

I'll just add that in this case, I'll have to respectfully disagree with some of your impressions. I'm not claiming that you're wrong and I'm right, I'm just reporting what I'm truthfully hearing.
post #834 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
As for the DAC, here are AMB's measurements: The γ2 Compact High Performance DAC
MisterX tested my own personal DAC before he sent it out and sent me the frequency response graph as well. I won't post it here because it looks nearly identical to the one shown on AMB's page (ie. flat in the audible range).
Just to dispel any other factors, here are the measurements for my amp (in its exact configuration): The M³ Stereo Headphone Amplifier
Flat from 0Hz to over 1MHz.
Frequency response doesn't say much for the performance of a DAC. You can have a perfectly linear FR (such as the emu 0404 usb) and have a poor measuring DAC on other parameters (phase response, impulse response, jitter, ...). Usually, DACs that use slow roll off filters (they are rolled of in the highs) sound better in the real life (better time domain performance, and less phase noise).

I also looked at the square waves on the graphs and they seem to use a 1 khz frequency and they didn't look as clean as the measurement of the 8 khz square wave of an R2R dac.

If you don't believe what I say about the Frequency response vs. Tonal balance, you can do the following test if you can swap the opamps of your DAC (I did it with the Zero DAC and Audio-gd DAC-100 that both use opamps for the output stage).
1) Listen to the DAC with stock opamps
2) Measure the DAC with stock opamps
3) Listen to the DAC with a second set of opamps
4) Measure the DAC with the second set of opamps

You will be surprised to see that even if you hear big differences between the 2 different opamps, they will be almost no measurable difference between the stock and 2nd set of opamps (usually no more than 0.1db).

That is to say that something that measures dead flat doesn't necessarily sound dead neutral. I have tested and listened to many DACs and while most of them measure flat it doesn't correlate with the listening.
To avoid the placebo effect, I had some friends listen to set-ups that I found bright vs. set-ups that are warm (when there is no change in FR), and their findings usually mirrored mine.
People focus too much on the frequency resolution while the human hear is far more sensitive to the temporal resolution. (See this interesting article : http://www.physics.sc.edu/kunchur/pa...rge-Foster.pdf)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
Unfortunately, I don't own any other DACs.

I'll just add that in this case, I'll have to respectfully disagree with some of your impressions. I'm not claiming that you're wrong and I'm right, I'm just reporting what I'm truthfully hearing.
I also have to respectfully disagree with you

In your case you tested the Hiface with one DAC and one digital cable to draw your conclusions.

In my case I tested the Hiface with different DACs and different digital cables over a very long period to draw my conclusion.

So that is why I have to respectfully disagree with you
post #835 of 1712
Fair enough. I would argue the merits of my DAC based on comparisons with high-end DACs but it would only throw this thread further off-track, so I'll leave it be.
post #836 of 1712
Slim, do you ever eat, sleep and do other stuff beside evaluating and comparing audio gear?

I mean, the sheer amount of quality information that you compile on this board (plus some subjective opinions)... great stuff man.

Hope you do not ignore the rest of your life because of this. <gives a pat pat on the shoulder>
post #837 of 1712
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post
I used the Ploytec ASIO driver which helped to tighten up the bass, but it still wasn't as good as the bass from USB/hiFace.
If you're wondering, Ploytec ASIO with the Teralink had the best bass, then KS, then WASAPI and then finally DS.
I used the Ploytec Driver as trial/demo-version; and its sound couldn't convince me - neither in comparison to asio4all nor to Tenor-Asio-Driver - especially in the bass range. Of course the ploytec sounds better then asio4all but not that good that I would pay for it. Perhaps you are interested to have another try with Teralink X2 in combination whith Tenor-Asio-Driver. That is a combination that convinces me really - and who knows perhaps you too.

Regards
Fujak
post #838 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FauDrei View Post
Slim, do you ever eat, sleep and do other stuff beside evaluating and comparing audio gear?

I mean, the sheer amount of quality information that you compile on this board (plus some subjective opinions)... great stuff man.

Hope you do not ignore the rest of your life because of this. <gives a pat pat on the shoulder>
LOL, I still have time to eat, sleep and do other things as well... I am very efficient

But you are right, this takes a lot of time and could be considered as a (mild) addiction. That is what my non-audiophile friends tell me... But weirdly enough, they stop criticizing the time I spent building my system when they get a chance to listen to it: there must be a hidden audiophile inside each one of us

Also, I can't help but to listen critically. Whether it is with live music or reproduced music (at home or elswhere), I always find myself analyzing the music and taking mental notes about how it sounds. While this is a good thing for critical reviewing, it is a bad thing when you just want to sit and listen to music (and not sounds).
By comparing live sounds with reproduced sounds however, I realized that the common frequency response and THD measurements do not capture all what we hear in reality. A perfectly measuring DAC and amp (in FR and THD) can fail in a big way into mimicking real sounds. That is why I have been researching/reading lately about jitter, digital filters, different type of converters, negative feedback, time domain disortions, effect of cables ...

And since it is very time consuming, I try to share my findings to save time/help other head-fiers who are just starting to build (or in the process of upgrading) their system.

Thanks for the kind comments
post #839 of 1712
So after getting a bit more time with the hiFace, I am confident that it has changed since I first used it. I normally wait until burn-in is complete to review audio gear, but I wasn't expecting any burn-in from the unit because it didn't contain (to my knowledge) any caps and such (which do benefit from burn-in IME).
Anyways, the bass in my system is just incredible with this. I can't think of any area where it can be improved. The HD800 almost have too much bass impact when the recording calls for it...a "problem" I'd be happy to live with. Control, extension, speed, depth are all superb. The weight of the bass has increased from the initial run-in and now it has more bass than the USB input and about the same as the mobo, but with noticeably more impact and agility.

The treble remains unchanged since my last post when I mentioned that it had mellowed a bit. The frequency response at this point looks pretty much neutral, and now I realize what has been producing the occasional brightness/coldness that I attempted to convey earlier.
Up until this point, I just haven't been able to articulate it, but the soundstage is more closed in and the sound is a bit drier than the mobo/Teralink-X2. This is the same thing that I hated the USB input for and what made it so fatiguing, however, the USB input presented this problem to a much larger degree. This is what I feel is the reason for the fatigue that I seem to be experiencing with some recordings, since details are more "in-your-face" than either the Teralink or motherboard coax.

Overall, I still prefer the hiFace over the other transports, but it's not a knockout win as it doesn't do every thing better than the rest. The Teralink has the best soundstage, hands down, and its treble is less fatiguing (but less detailed). If there was a driver to rectify the serious bass/warmth issues with the Teralink, I wouldn't be surprised if I preferred its sound over the hiFace, but as it stands now, the latter unit makes the least amount of mistakes.
post #840 of 1712
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your updated impressions Shahrose.

I have also found that the old Teralink X + Belden cable gave the biggest soundstage. However, it seemed always big whether playing Norah Jones or the Mahler's 5th symphony, the soundstage seems to have the same size (unlike the Hiface which soundstage varies from one track to another). Is it the same thing with the newer Teralink-X2?

By the way, if you want to clear the bass/warmth issue with the Teralink-X2, you might want to try the Wireworld Ultraviolet USB cable. In my case, it has cleared the mid bass bloat and excessive warmth of the older Teralink-X.
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