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Opinions: USB vs TOSLINK between MacBook Pro and DAC

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

Been lurking for a while and decided to finally sign up and join in on the action.

I've just ordered a Little Dot MkIV SE & DAC_I and was wondering if you prefer USB or TOSLINK to connect your computer up to your DACs. Is there much discernible difference between a run-of-the-mill USB cable vs something like the Synergistic Tricon USB cable.

If the preference is leaning towards TOSLINK, can you recommend any decent cables to look into (toslink to toslink mini) - >$100.

Cheers guys
post #2 of 15
Wireworld, Van Den Hul, Concept Sys
post #3 of 15
I use an optical cable between my D10 and PC Laptop - that's the same thing as TOSLINK right? (If not, ignore one of the votes for Toslink!).

I find the sound to be marginally better, but the kind of marginally better where I'm not sure if it's just my mind playing tricks with me (placebo). I mostly use the optical because it frees up a USB port (I only have three on my laptop).

In terms of which cable, I'd get the cheapest that still looks well built enough to last. With digital transfer it works or it doesn't. You aren't going to get a better quality of 1s and 0s by spending more.

I'd get an optical to optical cable and a mini-adapter (which will cost very litte); gives you more options to use the cable for other purposes at a later date.
post #4 of 15
TOSLINK
I use a Van den Hul The Optocoupler MKII, and really pleased with it. So recommended it is.
post #5 of 15
If both are bitperfect (so you set up usb to not use 48khz) then there should be no difference.

If you've got a spdif port you might as well use it, as it is far less versatile than USB. Usb uses a little extra cpu, plus you can put something else there.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info so far guys keep it coming.

@krmathis: the optocoupler looks fantastic! Going to keep my eye out for one to test.
post #7 of 15
The reason I choose optical is to electrically decouple the computer from the DAC. However properly implemented I have not been able to hear a difference.
post #8 of 15
Electric decoupling is a great reason all by itself. In my experience, not all USB implementations are equal. In a mid/low price setup, the optical will almost always beat the USB for SQ.

USB for convenience - traveling with MacBookPro + predator + cans.

Now there are very good USB implementations out there, but they are mosly quite expensive.

But then again, it should be not overly expensive to try both, and pick the one you like the best, then buy a nice optical or USB cable depending on your taste.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
TOSLINK
I use a Van den Hul The Optocoupler MKII, and really pleased with it. So recommended it is.
im debating between getting a optocoupler mk2 for my MBP and the HiFace usb converter, have you been able to use the HiFace to know if it sounds better?
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupRKnowva View Post
im debating between getting a optocoupler mk2 for my MBP and the HiFace usb converter, have you been able to use the HiFace to know if it sounds better?
Never tried the HiFace.
But then again you are comparing totally different units. The Optocoupler is an Optical S/PDIF cable, while the HiFace is an USB to Coaxial S/PDIF (RCA) converter/interface.
post #11 of 15
A high end USB setup will always be the best. Optical for me was boring and jittery in comparison to Amarra + Diverter. On a budget, usb may well be worse.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
Never tried the HiFace.
But then again you are comparing totally different units. The Optocoupler is an Optical S/PDIF cable, while the HiFace is an USB to Coaxial S/PDIF (RCA) converter/interface.
oh i know, but its still a relevant comparison i think, do i buy a nice optical cable(van den hul), or do i buy the hiface and then a Blue jeans cable spdif cable. i think that 6 moons shows that optical is just as good, but i think the actual interface for optical on the mac is probably lacking, with large amounts of inherent jitter?
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupRKnowva View Post
oh i know, but its still a relevant comparison i think, do i buy a nice optical cable(van den hul), or do i buy the hiface and then a Blue jeans cable spdif cable. i think that 6 moons shows that optical is just as good, but i think the actual interface for optical on the mac is probably lacking, with large amounts of inherent jitter?
I am using hiface Coax/RCA from my MacBook Pro and I find only slight improvement if any over Toslink.
I think you'll find improved performance with your setup and the hiface.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by scootermafia View Post

A high end USB setup will always be the best. Optical for me was boring and jittery in comparison to Amarra + Diverter. On a budget, usb may well be worse.

 

I’m in the same boat: MBP 2011 and Amarra but when playing 24/96 files in midi it is set to 16/96 output to my tubedac-11 via usb.  if I change it to 24 bit the music and Amarra and/or iTunes stop and when I change it back to 16 bit music again.  Are the MBP only outputting 16 bits via USB?  If so can I use optical out to get true 24/96 to my dac?  What’s weird is that it plays 24/96 via headphone out fine.  Its either the USB chip in my dac is not allowing 24 bits or USB is only outputting 16 bits.  If it was the dac, why would the players stop playing and immediately return playing when output is changed again? 

The players actually stop, they should be unaware of any malfunction in the dac, right?

 

I’m lost on this one, if I had another usb audio device I could eliminate the dac maybe.

 

Help MBP users!!

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by JesseDodds View Post

Hey guys,

Been lurking for a while and decided to finally sign up and join in on the action.

I've just ordered a Little Dot MkIV SE & DAC_I and was wondering if you prefer USB or TOSLINK to connect your computer up to your DACs. Is there much discernible difference between a run-of-the-mill USB cable vs something like the Synergistic Tricon USB cable.

If the preference is leaning towards TOSLINK, can you recommend any decent cables to look into (toslink to toslink mini) - >$100.

Cheers guys


TOSLINK carries awful lot of amount of noise. I had all kinds of sound quality issues with it.  It's not worth it...  High-performance USB is a better shot.

 

Or just get a high-performance power cord for your gear.  Much better impact than audio cables or usb cables.

 

 

ol'cheez

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