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Review: Jkeny’s modified Hiface - Page 12

post #166 of 431

Well I don't have much more to say than I already have, because at the time I was using a copper cable with my HD800s which noticeably thickened the bass. Though, I remember clearly that the Musiland 02US and the y2 USB input still had faster transient response and especially *attack* than the HiFace. The modded HiFace fixes this to a large extent but attack still isn't one of its strengths.


Edited by Shahrose - 7/21/10 at 10:08pm
post #167 of 431

I looked into the Y2 USB to see what they have done - if I'm right it's the Y1 that has the USB input?

 

This is based on the PCM2707 chip. I've listened to this chip in my own builds & in commercial products & it is what I would call edgy. I would also call the Musiland 01 US an edgy presentation. What I mean by this is a very digital like presentation, ultimately tiring. This, I put down to jitter.

 

I modified the Musiland 01 US & documented it on DIYaudio. At each stage in my modifiaction process I could hear the reduction in this edginess. When finished, I was happy with the sound but being as I suffer from the audio nervosa disease I bought a Hiface & this, in stock form, sounded as good as my modified Musiland so naturally I started into modding this. Again, at each stage, I noticed a reduction in this edginess & when finished I said it reminded me of very good (expensive) analogue reproduction, i.e. the edginess/digititis was gone but not the detail.

 

I notice it again when I use the attenuators - a certain haze or edge to the sound is lifted that I didn't even know was there. All this to me points to a reduction in jitter.

 

Some people prefer this apparent sharpness to the sound - I find it tiring.

 

It's good to now have choices in this price range - there is no longer a uniform sound to these USB audio offerings & it's useful to tease out these sonic differences!

 

I know all this sounds like I'm talking up my modifications but I believe in what I'm saying - just as I believed in what I was saying when i was being accused of being a Musiland fanboy when I posted about the sound of the Musiland & my modifications to it. That was what I believed then before I got the Hiface to compare it to. I then changed my mind. I'm just outlining my audio journey & my findings along the way so far


Edited by jkeny - 7/22/10 at 2:03am
post #168 of 431
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post


Quote:

   

Quote:

 


I'm still adjusting to its sound and didn't want to speak too soon. Oh well.

I don't think the unit changed very much from burn-in (it still compares the same way to the USB input of my DAC as it did out of the box), but I have learned its sound more in the last few days. My assessment may change as I get more accustomed to its MO, but here's what I think of jkeny's HiFace so far:

 

I still believe it is the best USB-SPDIF converter I've owned. As far as I can remember, jkeny's HiFace has a faster transient response, better transparency and a more layered sound than the stock HiFace. I find it to be tonally balanced, relaxed and very non-fatiguing (even with all my badly recorded tracks). It may be rolling off the top-end a tiny a bit to accomplish this because some of my other devices (like the 02US and the direct USB input of the y2) seem to extend higher. Fortunately, I don't think it loses too much treble detail as a result. Good stuff.

The midrange is quite detailed and bass is as deep and weighty (though not overly so) as I've ever heard on my system, while remaining textured and tuneful.

 

The transient response is slower and dynamics are more subdued than the USB input. However, the soundstage is clearly larger with the modded HiFace, sound is smoother and holds more bass weight. The sound isn't unfocused like the Teralink-X2, nor is it a bit thin or a bit shouty like the Musiland 02US can be. I know if I'm listening to something good if nothing about the sound is bothering me. I can *almost* say this about the jkeny HiFace.

As I said, the direct USB input can give me tighter bass, faster snaps/transients as well as better dynamics, so I know there is room for improvement.

 

The modded HiFace isn't particularly weak in any area (even if it's not as good as the USB input for a couple things). Listening to it, one can tell it's a clear step up from the Teralink-X2 in transparency and is better than the 02US in terms of balance, midrange-presence and low-level resolution. It isn't uneven in the treble and lacking bass extension like my motherboard coax output, or veiled and bassy like the STX output, or bassless like the ST output.

 

The 02US has a faster and airier sound with a soundstage equal to that of the modded HiFace, but the Musiland can't match it in any other area. The Teralink-X2 (as slim and I found previously) is fuzzy/blurry, slow and tubey sounding in the sense that it projects aural images out in front of the listener at the cost of accuracy/precision. It's a pleasing effect with some headphones in the short-run, but I certainly couldn't live with it. I'm glad to report that neither the stock nor modded HiFace suffer from this problem.


Hi Shahrose,

 

I am glad you finally found a converter/transport that you liked as you tried quite a few of them! By the way, if you have a chance, try 24/96 files, they sound amazing on the modified hiface.

 

I don't know if you already know it, but I just learned that some Hiface units had a miniature 44.1 clock (see here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/503323/hiface-sensitive-information). It might be the reason why we previously described the stock unit differently.

post #169 of 431
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post



 

Hey Shah

 

This is so strange. 

 

Your description doesn't seem to fit my stock HiFace.  Nothing sounds rolled off, in fact if anything, it's on the bright side with lots of detail and extension relative to my Blue Circle Thingee.  If I wanted to increase something I would increase the bass to match the treble.  What I've noticed is the HiFace does a similar thing, relative to the Thingee,  that the GS-1 does relative to the M^3.  In other words, a more extended and detailed treble with greater quantity with, a lesser quantity of cleaner, clearer, tighter bass.  

 

A similar thing happens when going from 880s to T-1s.  There is an increase in treble information and clarity and a cleaner, tighter, but not necessarily, more abundant, bass.  And although I don't have 800s, I'll bet yours fall into that category too.  This is an effect I've come to associate with moving up the chain because from its inception, HiFi was all about the degree of high end resolution. ¿Qué piensa usted?

 

USG    


While I also relate to your observation in many recent upgrades (including moving from the HD650 to the T1s for instance), I have found that moving from the stock Hiface to the battery powered one gave me a "fuller" sound. The Oyaide digital cable is also fuller sounding than some lesser digital cables. Overall, I was able to achieve a pretty well balanced system (thanks to jkeny's hiface among other things).

However, If I were to keep everything else the same in my system and used a stock hiface + stereovox XV2, I would probably end up with a lean and bright system. Good thing there are so many options in the usb to spdif converters right now.

post #170 of 431


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post

Hi Shahrose,

 

I am glad you finally found a converter/transport that you liked as you tried quite a few of them! By the way, if you have a chance, try 24/96 files, they sound amazing on the modified hiface.

 

I don't know if you already know it, but I just learned that some Hiface units had a miniature 44.1 clock (see here: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/503323/hiface-sensitive-information). It might be the reason why we previously described the stock unit differently.


I just found that thread yesterday and you're right, it may very well be a factor.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by slim.a View Post

While I also relate to your observation in many recent upgrades (including moving from the HD650 to the T1s for instance), I have found that moving from the stock Hiface to the battery powered one gave me a "fuller" sound. The Oyaide digital cable is also fuller sounding than some lesser digital cables. Overall, I was able to achieve a pretty well balanced system (thanks to jkeny's hiface among other things).

However, If I were to keep everything else the same in my system and used a stock hiface + stereovox XV2, I would probably end up with a lean and bright system. Good thing there are so many options in the usb to spdif converters right now.


I agree on both accounts.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkeny View Post

1) I looked into the Y2 USB to see what they have done - if I'm right it's the Y1 that has the USB input?

 

This is based on the PCM2707 chip. I've listened to this chip in my own builds & in commercial products & 2) it is what I would call edgy. 3) I would also call the Musiland 01 US an edgy presentation. What I mean by this is a very digital like presentation, ultimately tiring. This, I put down to jitter.

 

I modified the Musiland 01 US & documented it on DIYaudio. At each stage in my modifiaction process I could hear the reduction in this edginess. When finished, I was happy with the sound but being as I suffer from the audio nervosa disease I bought a Hiface & this, in stock form, sounded as good as my modified Musiland so naturally I started into modding this. Again, at each stage, I noticed a reduction in this edginess & when finished I said it reminded me of very good (expensive) analogue reproduction, i.e. the edginess/digititis was gone but not the detail.

 

I notice it again when I use the attenuators - a certain haze or edge to the sound is lifted that I didn't even know was there. All this to me points to a reduction in jitter.

 

Some people prefer this apparent sharpness to the sound - I find it tiring.

 

It's good to now have choices in this price range - there is no longer a uniform sound to these USB audio offerings & it's useful to tease out these sonic differences!

 

I know all this sounds like I'm talking up my modifications but I believe in what I'm saying - just as I believed in what I was saying when i was being accused of being a Musiland fanboy when I posted about the sound of the Musiland & my modifications to it. That was what I believed then before I got the Hiface to compare it to. I then changed my mind. I'm just outlining my audio journey & my findings along the way so far


1) Correct.
 

2) It can be with some badly recorded tracks. The modded HiFace is certainly more forgiving, but at the same time loses that slight bit of top-end air and extension I've become used to.

 

3) I've never tried the 01US. I can only speak of the 02US and that's what I've been referring to up to now. I imagine the two sound a bit different.

 

Overall, I prefer using the modded HiFace rather than the USB, but there are a few areas in which the HiFace does not improve the sound, and I've already discussed those.


Edited by Shahrose - 7/22/10 at 8:39am
post #171 of 431

 

Apologies if this is a dumb question, but I can't find a straightforward answer:

 

Assuming a relatively low-end setup (albeit with high-end phones) : MacBookPro using Pure Vinyl - optical to Audio-Gd Sparrow - JH13 Pros

 

would the introduction of the HiFace (modified or no) or this new unit have any real effect on the sound, or would it be better to just upgrade the Sparrow to a HDP or some other separate DAC and AMP?  I know most won't have this exact combo, but assume the Sparrow to be identical to the sound of say, the Audist, Matrix mini-i, Pico Dac/Amp, iBasso D4/D10, Audio-Gd Fun, etc. DAC/AMP combo under $450.  

post #172 of 431
Quote:
Originally Posted by AVU View Post

 

Apologies if this is a dumb question, but I can't find a straightforward answer:

 

Assuming a relatively low-end setup (albeit with high-end phones) : MacBookPro using Pure Vinyl - optical to Audio-Gd Sparrow - JH13 Pros

 

would the introduction of the HiFace (modified or no) or this new unit have any real effect on the sound, or would it be better to just upgrade the Sparrow to a HDP or some other separate DAC and AMP?  I know most won't have this exact combo, but assume the Sparrow to be identical to the sound of say, the Audist, Matrix mini-i, Pico Dac/Amp, iBasso D4/D10, Audio-Gd Fun, etc. DAC/AMP combo under $450.  

 

Without a doubt, I would focus on upgrading the DAC first. That's the more important component.
 

post #173 of 431

Hi guys,

 

I decided that it is time to post a few lines on my experience with the modded Hiface that I got from John, hoping it might be helpful to someone. It's been quite a while now since I bought it and I believe I was one of the first to send the money to Ireland but time was not much and I actually do not like to post reviews on hifi equipment as this usually sparks a war. But here is my experience.

 

John has been generous enough to share his mods on diyaudio and no matter what people say on forums he has always told the things he has done and everyone can try and do what he does, in my book if you share your experience on forums freely you can ask as much as you want, I am very happy that I know him. His posts actually made me look at the Hiface, I have never thought that I would use a computer as source but all the modds he did to the Musiland and the Hiface made a lot of sense to me and I did not even bother to try the original  but decided to start with the battery powered straight from him.

 

Once the small package arrived I was very curios to see what's inside the Hiface and I had asked John to leave it open so I can see what he has done and man, that is one fine surgery he has performed on it, I am a surgeon myself and to be honest I will not try to do that no matter how good I feel with the iron, I have soldered enough to think I am good but this is not something I would attempt - so I do think the money is well spent even if he offered just that. But I have to thank him for the LiFeO4 batteries too - I would have never discovered them myself, fantastic little devices these are too, I am planning to order probably 10 more, 4 for my Buffalo II and some to be able to recharge in the meantime, I am really in love with them! So a second big THANK YOU to John.


And how does it sound? It is very very good. It has been compared (and everyone wants to know what it has been compared to, right?) to my Exemplar 3910 Denon which was used as transport and this is one serious machine as it has a very fine SPDIF out, it has been compared also to a friend's modded Sony ESD338 CDP that has been stripped of everything unneccessary and SPDIF out optimized seriously - a very fine machine too, feeding a modded EAD DSP7000 Mk3 with Y grade PCM63 chips inside , my personal DAC at that time was an Audio Synthesis DAX-2 with the same grade of PCM63 and the JK Hiface was very close to both. Very close translates to that it had better separation of instruments and vocals, the stage was wider but a little less deep, the general impression was of a "smoother" source that was a little lean in the bass department. I wouldn't say anything more as the time of the test was just to see if it works and we were using just a laptop with high resolution files  plus some cds that were extracted in wav format to compare to the CDPs, no optimization or anything. I do believe that this could be taken care of as I have heard systems being transformed just by adding different feet to equipment ( I am serious when I write this, don't want to start a fight but I have witnesses).

 

I will just add something else - the Hiface has allowed me to hear so much more new music that it is one of the great things I have done for my love/thirst to listen to music and this is the thing that makes this device so valuable to me that I would buy another one just to help John and M2Tech spread the word. I admit that I don't have an original Hiface to compare John's to but I do not care about that, I just wanted to share how happy I am with the one I have, it is up to everyone to decide whether it is worth the money to get it modded. But having a PnP box that will allow you to discover a whole new world of music is simply fantastic, thanks John, for everything.

 

 

post #174 of 431

Thanks Nikola, I'm blushing & I particularly thank you for being one of the first adopters of my mods & taking the leap of faith to part with money & trusting me!

post #175 of 431
Is there anyone who has tried the hiface with the hifiman 801?
post #176 of 431
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkeny View Post

Thanks Nikola, I'm blushing & I particularly thank you for being one of the first adopters of my mods & taking the leap of faith to part with money & trusting me!

Well, I thought I'd share my thoughts on the device as I am really happy with the results, taking the leap of faith wasn't that hard as all the things you described in your mods were well organized, you did it step by step and it all made sense, you usually know when the person in front of you is honest or not.

 

Your Hiface is a great value, I wrote what I compared it to because I have been in that situation - there are so many posts on so many forums that you feel lost sometimes, I have been in this hobby for many years and I always thanked people who tried at least to help others, there is no Universal truth and everyone should remember that no system is like the other, so results can be quite different. But when you change components you always know whether you can listen to the new device or component or not - in my case your Hiface was in the same league as the others, just the system needs to be adapted to it and the enjoyment would be the same or greater. I think that even Alex Peychev from APL hifi, who has access to all kinds of electronics at even absurd prices said he likes the Hiface so much that he will use it in his designs, I am sure he has done some mods to it but I believe you were on of the first to try and realize its potential, great work John.

 

I should probably stress something else - the great value the Hiface is it is even greater when you take into consideration how many CDs you can borrow and extract from your friends - rare ones, ones you wouldn't spend money on or are no longer for sale, extract and preserve your most valuable ones, all the music you can download - that is simply fantastic! We should all thank a lot to M2Tech too for developing the device at that price, that will definitely help Hirez files and high quality music download which I do like a lot.
 

post #177 of 431

Just wanted to update the thread with my revised impressions after some more experience with jkeny's HiFace. My modded HiFace has the 2 larger MEC clocks BTW.

 

I have to say, the few flaws I found initially with the jkeny HiFace turned out not to be the fault of the device itself, but the other components connected to it. I have since rectified the issue. Treble extension, air, speed and microdynamics are all excellent with the jkeny HiFace, and I realize now that it's the only converter that was transparent enough to show me the flaws of the coaxial cables I was using with my transport/DAC.

 

In sum, there really aren't any glaring flaws that I can notice anymore. If pressed, I would name the bass impact as a weakness. It isn't as great as my direct USB DAC, but this difference isn't too large.


Edited by Shahrose - 8/19/10 at 6:23pm
post #178 of 431

Interesting additional notes Shahrose. Isn't it amazing when a piece of kit allows one to realize gains in seemingly unrelated areas of the signal chain ? I'm referring to your SPDIF cable observation of course ...you have hammered the nail directly on the head when you mentioned a transparent source/transport capable of high resolution suddenly makes cable choices (SPDIF in particular) absolutely relevant.

 

Peete.

post #179 of 431

If I leave my modded hiface on without playing any music, what sort of drain will this have on the batteries and how long do they last.

 

I'm having unpredictable kernel panics when using it with my Mac.  I now plan to power on the HiFace prior to powering up my Mac and then turning it off when turning off my Mac.  I see the modded hiface website siting an 8hr battery life, but I think this is likely when using it continuously, or am I mistaken?

post #180 of 431

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it makes no difference or there is just marginal difference in battery drain if you use your modded HiFace or not while it is turned on.

 

The limit is around 8-10 hours of continuous use. This improves if you switch it off now and then (clock battery is then "refilling" the chip battery). Leaving it constantly on is not advisable because the chip battery will drain too much and "special refilling procedure" should be performed in such cases.

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