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USB to SPDIF converters eliminating PC intermediate?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Noting Slim.a's (excellent) thread "USB to SPDIF converters shoot-out thread" in this forum;

Anyone know if a hybrid digital audio streamer exists, that is a sort of cross between the domestic video streamers such Western Digital Live TV and the audiophile M2Tech HiFace? Or if there are plans for one?

What I mean is something like a Western Digital "front end" with either a built-in display or a video output to enable browsing of audio tracks on an existing external hard drive without a PC/Apple intermediary, but with the ability to produce up to 24/192 digital audio stream (with accurately clocked digital output) ?

Given the popularity/reviews of both halves of the equation, it seems an obvious product to form the basis of the ultimate digital home jukebox source without bringing in the complications that go with a full-blown computer - such as expense, reliability, and interference from Direct Sound. 

 

Presumably the Optical output of the existing Western Digital Live TV units is a lo-end version of what I'm thinking of, and is equivalent to using M2Tech's Kernel Stream drivers?

 

post #2 of 9

There are audiophile hard-drive based transports with lcd screen, but last I checked most were like $1000+, some cheaper but I feel a little suspect at their sound quality. If you find a transport you like there are sometimes really cheap small tv screens on amazon so you don't have to use a tv to access music. What I use is iriver h120 mp3 player optical output to a reclocker, it only does 88khz output though, whether due to hardware or rockbox software configuration. And I'm not sure if it does 24bit properly either.

 

I imagine a decently priced hard drive based audiophile transport could easily obsolete cd players and be a power saving alternative to the computer. The hardest part would probably be writing the software, the hardware is certainly here. I tried asking rockbox and cplay if they were interested, but they don't seem interested in it. The next best thing would be to modify WD live's clock and psu etc, but I doubt its software is anywhere near ideal, ie loading music to ram and minimizing internal power usage, is the software even bit-perfect right now?

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'm probably naive, but both the hardware and software seem to already be here - albeit in two different boxes.

WD Live TV units provide the software/hardware means to pull appropriate files from any external HD device (even NTFS formatted) in tandem with, as you say, a small LCD TV screen, and, once present at its USB port, the M2Tech seems able to give an audiophile digital output up to 24bit/196kHz.

 

The WD can certainly be used to get the right (packeted) stream going to it's USB port.  If that port could be made to be seen directly by the M2Tech, would it behave as if it were receiving a (packeted) stream coming from a PC ?

 

 

It's almost as if you need to parallel-wire the USB ports of the two units together (not via a hub) ... but I guess you can't just do that (ignorance kicks in big time here!).....


Is there a way of achieving a functionally equivalent result? 

post #4 of 9

Better clock in the WD live is an option, and I imagine simply upgrading the wd live components would be much easier than getting m2tech hiface to somehow work directly from wd live's usb port. Something that can take wd live's spdif output and reclock it, however, is another viable option, but at the end of the day it is simply compensating for the jitter created by the transport. A good transport may not need a reclocker, but since manufacturers aren't making decently priced audiophile hard drive based transports, spdif to spdif reclocker may be the ticket.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

>I imagine simply upgrading the wd live components would be much easier than getting M2tech hiFace to somehow work directly from wd live's usb port

 

You probably have knowledge way beyond mine, but I could imagine that upgrading the WD live components might entail replacing/ditching most of the device...

You're right; reclocking the basic 16bit/44.1 kHz out would obviously improve it, but would rule out getting to 24bit/192kHz....

 

But if you could get the M2Tech to hijack the WD input port somehow, or be parasitic.... (pipe dream?)

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by haloxt View Post

What I use is iriver h120 mp3 player optical output to a reclocker, it only does 88khz output though, whether due to hardware or rockbox software configuration. And I'm not sure if it does 24bit properly either.


Hello Haloxt!

 

I am sorry to disappoint you but iRiver H120 can output 44/16 only (may be also 48/16, but I am not sure about that). As for higher formats, it can play them, yes (I personally tried 192/24 wav files), but all these formats are quite crudely downsampled to 44/16. This is what I read on tech forums when I researched this issue (I also own H120).

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by windbag View Post

Anyone know if a hybrid digital audio streamer exists, that is a sort of cross between the domestic video streamers such Western Digital Live TV and the audiophile M2Tech HiFace? Or if there are plans for one?
 

 

You can buy a small netbook or notebook and combine it with an USB-SPDIF converter.

 

I also heard that these media players are one of the best in terms of audio playback and support of hi-rez formats: http://store.duneplayer.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=4


Edited by ironmine - 8/18/10 at 3:59pm
post #8 of 9

When I go into debug of rockbox, it says 88khz "measured frequency", but 44khz "frequency", so you're probably right, ironmine, not sure what the "measured freq" thing is then.

 

As for my thoughts on the sq of h120 digital output... with a $30 glass optical cable it sounds a small degree worse than my computer usb output when I give the computer a power conditioner and use cmp+cplay.

post #9 of 9

I cannot understand why people want to walk away from a computer as a transport. The computer can digitally manipulate the sound before the DAC and this fact alone tethers me to my PC regardless of how I listen to music - through speakers or through headphones. When I listen to speakers I do digital room correction (and equalizing the sound sometimes when needed), which I cannot live without anymore. When I listen to headphones, I convert the sound from 2.0 to 5.1 binaural using "2 to VI converter" + Isone Pro Surround combo. I also remove a couple of ugly headphone resonances in the mids region with a hi-quality VST equalizer.

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