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Audiophilleo 1 and 2 USB to S/PDIF transport - Page 77

post #1141 of 1208
Thread Starter 

It's very YMMV. Just because a DAC uses the XMOS receiver doesn't mean that the implementation is good or bad. I've literally had multiple DACs that use the same receiver and some were excellent and some were shockingly bad.

post #1142 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

It's very YMMV. Just because a DAC uses the XMOS receiver doesn't mean that the implementation is good or bad. I've literally had multiple DACs that use the same receiver and some were excellent and some were shockingly bad.

 

This mirrors my experience exactly. 

post #1143 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chodi View Post
 

Sorry no help with the driver but I am interested to know the improvement you find with your AP2. I just can't get over the concept of paying half the price of your dac for a new usb connection when there is already one built into the dac. I am really interested to know if you feel it was worth it?

 

I use an M51 and so I can chime in on that. The M51 is a great DAC with a very unique feature set. It is not absolutely the best DAC for the price, but it is still a strong contender and its features make it very appealing. The USB implementation on the M51 is not very good. It is 2 years old and a lot of progress has been made on that front in terms of isolating the electrical noise coming over the interface from the computer. With a lot of (mostly newer) DACs there may not be much advantage, but with the NAD there is definitely an improvement. A good converter takes it to another level.

post #1144 of 1208

I have found the AP2 w PP to be quite YMMV as well.

 

Back when I had the Wyred4Sound DAC2, the AP2 system was quite a step up in terms of performance over the regular usb input.  The bass tightened up and the highs smoothed out, reducing that 'digital glare.'  But however since I have ungraded to the Invicta dac, I have found that the AP2 system had very small improvements over the built in usb section.

 

So I believe it will be very dac dependent regarding the performance of the AP system.

 

Off topic a little, but I feel may be relevant while we talk about computer based audio.  I have recently had the chance to test a top flight front end vs my Macbook to BADA usb and invicta dac.  The top flight front end consisted of the flagship Luxman CD player (D-08) as a transport spdif linked to a Bricasti M1 dac. This was a speaker system using a audia flight pre and power amp, powering a pair of evolution acoustics Mini 2s

 

After over 40 minutes of back and forth listening and testing, we concluded that the sounds from both systems were so similar we'll call it a draw.  The Bricasti system may have had just a tiny bit more air and sound staging than the invicta, but overall timbre and frequency response and bass impact was very similar.

 

The next part was when things got a bit strange, the dealer asked me to try a very high end usb cable he has been wanting to test, but had no computer based system to try it on (since he only had cd players at the time).  The cable was of unknown brand to me, EnKlein TReK USB cable.  But after changing the cable from the macbook to bada usb (I was using a generic usb cable), we played the very same songs we were previously testing.  The changes were immediate.  Less high frequency glare, more definition in the bass everything was just clearer with a little more space around each instrument.  It was pretty much like upgrading a usb transport, I was quite dumbfound.  I believe the cable was a cool 3000 aud.

 

While I will never spend this much on a usb cable, this test opened my eyes on usb cables or any cable upgrade in general.  There is no other way to describe how the usb cable improved the sound quality other than to listen to one, so really in the end YMMV.

 

End of off topic

post #1145 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chodi View Post
 

Sorry no help with the driver but I am interested to know the improvement you find with your AP2. I just can't get over the concept of paying half the price of your dac for a new usb connection when there is already one built into the dac. I am really interested to know if you feel it was worth it?

 

I feel that with most of the available DACs the USB interfaces are somewhat of an afterthought, and are generally not up to the capabilities of the primary S/PDIF or other inputs most of the chips are built around. Even my beloved NAD M51 has a bolt on XMOS USB interface, and it's hard to believe the DAC was designed to deliver optimal sound through it. I think NAD wanted to build a component that could do pretty much anything as part of either a hi-fi or home theater setup to broaden its appeal. XMOS is pretty much state of the art for USB, but it is by no means the best solution as far as sound quality goes.

 

After only 24 hours with the AP2 all I can say really is that it does indeed sound different than the USB input on my DAC. But that's not really a surprise as I would expect the S/PDIF input to have some sort of difference inherently. So whether or not I am hearing the AP2 or the different input on the DAC will be a bit difficult to determine. I'm going to try it out on a few other DACs as well and see if there is a common difference or improvement. I think you have to be pretty dry and careful with this sort of change, as it seems there is a basic human tendency to see change as an improvement.


Edited by Sanlitun - 3/30/14 at 12:43pm
post #1146 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanlitun View Post
 

 

I feel that with most of the available DACs the USB interfaces are somewhat of an afterthought, and are generally not up to the capabilities of the primary S/PDIF or other inputs most of the chips are built around. Even my beloved NAD M51 has a bolt on XMOS USB interface, and it's hard to believe the DAC was designed to deliver optimal sound through it. I think NAD wanted to build a component that could do pretty much anything as part of either a hi-fi or home theater setup to broaden its appeal. XMOS is pretty much state of the art for USB, but it is by no means the best solution as far as sound quality goes.

 

After only 24 hours with the AP2 all I can say really is that it does indeed sound different than the USB input on my DAC. But that's not really a surprise as I would expect the S/PDIF input to have some sort of difference inherently. So whether or not I am hearing the AP2 or the different input on the DAC will be a bit difficult to determine. I'm going to try it out on a few other DACs as well and see if there is a common difference or improvement. I think you have to be pretty dry and careful with this sort of change, as it seems there is a basic human tendency to see change as an improvement.

I appreciate your objectivity. I can't imagine spending $1000 on a usb converter unless the difference is both obvious and very positive. I look forward to your further comments. Oh course some people spend $1000 on a single cable so go figure.

post #1147 of 1208

After a few weeks now with the AP2 it's clear it is an impressive device and still a step up over most implementations of the XMOS USB connectivity that is common in most of the DACs available. 

 

I've tried it out on two DACs that use XMOS, the NAD M51 and the X-Sabre, and as well on the Bifrost. I feel the real magic happens on the M51, as it seems to have capabilities that exceed what the XMOS can provide and the sound is notably improved.

 

There is a change to the timing and tonality that is apparent, subtle on some tracks and jaw dropping on others. But most of all is the feeling of a complete absence of background noise. It's as if some sort of pressure is taken off of the presentation and the music is closer and more of a real performance. Interestingly enough although there is more detail via the AP2, I find it a smoother and more pleasant sound. Perhaps even more forgiving than without the AP2. 

 

When you read though this thread there is a lot of talk about the various ways of connecting up the AP2 and the effects of using different power sources. Curiously enough I found the best results when I plugged through a powered hub. After doing so I found that the last bits of harshness were gone and the effect of the AP2 seems maximized. I don't have any particular explanation for this other than the thought that the AP2 is affected by certain common mode interference and the added isolation improves its performance. There is a very interesting video about the noise interference produced by things such as wall warts and how it can be detected in nearby components here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFLZm4LbzQU

 

As far as value goes I have friends who wouldn't be able to hear the difference and others who would pay $5K for this sort of an upgrade in sound quality. For me I feel pretty good about it, and it has been a positive step in my system.

post #1148 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanlitun View Post
 

After a few weeks now with the AP2 it's clear it is an impressive device and still a step up over most implementations of the XMOS USB connectivity that is common in most of the DACs available. 

 

I've tried it out on two DACs that use XMOS, the NAD M51 and the X-Sabre, and as well on the Bifrost. I feel the real magic happens on the M51, as it seems to have capabilities that exceed what the XMOS can provide and the sound is notably improved.

 

There is a change to the timing and tonality that is apparent, subtle on some tracks and jaw dropping on others. But most of all is the feeling of a complete absence of background noise. It's as if some sort of pressure is taken off of the presentation and the music is closer and more of a real performance. Interestingly enough although there is more detail via the AP2, I find it a smoother and more pleasant sound. Perhaps even more forgiving than without the AP2. 

 

When you read though this thread there is a lot of talk about the various ways of connecting up the AP2 and the effects of using different power sources. Curiously enough I found the best results when I plugged through a powered hub. After doing so I found that the last bits of harshness were gone and the effect of the AP2 seems maximized. I don't have any particular explanation for this other than the thought that the AP2 is affected by certain common mode interference and the added isolation improves its performance. There is a very interesting video about the noise interference produced by things such as wall warts and how it can be detected in nearby components here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFLZm4LbzQU

 

As far as value goes I have friends who wouldn't be able to hear the difference and others who would pay $5K for this sort of an upgrade in sound quality. For me I feel pretty good about it, and it has been a positive step in my system.

Nearly a year with AP2 + PP with a M51. I couldn't never go back to USB input. TREMENDOUS step up in sound quality. For me, the difference in SQ is like a significant component upgrade. So yes, 1000$ in this case is money well spent.

post #1149 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lappy27 View Post
 

Nearly a year with AP2 + PP with a M51. I couldn't never go back to USB input. TREMENDOUS step up in sound quality. For me, the difference in SQ is like a significant component upgrade. So yes, 1000$ in this case is money well spent.

+1

post #1150 of 1208

I had the opportunity to try the AP2 via the IFI IUSB power supply and well, wow. To say it doubles the effect of the AP2 would be realistic. The difference is almost shocking really, to the point I doubt I can go back to the regular AP2. Some real voodoo stuff, as I had figured there would be either no change or something very subtle as I had experience from other cable and power tweaks.

 

My unit is the regular AP2 without Pure Power, which I chose not only to save the money but because I didn't think it would make a worthwhile difference. 

 

So I gather I am going to have to send my unit back and go for the Pure Power, or get the IUSB. Has anyone compared them?

post #1151 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanlitun View Post
 

I had the opportunity to try the AP2 via the IFI IUSB power supply and well, wow. To say it doubles the effect of the AP2 would be realistic. The difference is almost shocking really, to the point I doubt I can go back to the regular AP2. Some real voodoo stuff, as I had figured there would be either no change or something very subtle as I had experience from other cable and power tweaks.

 

My unit is the regular AP2 without Pure Power, which I chose not only to save the money but because I didn't think it would make a worthwhile difference.

 

So I gather I am going to have to send my unit back and go for the Pure Power, or get the IUSB. Has anyone compared them?

I have not compared the two but I did have an AP2+PP for about a month. The PP apparently supplies power to the clocks and output section but the USB receiver chip still uses the bus power coming over the USB port. So, the AP2+PP should in theory do a little btter job of isolating the two sections than using the iUSB Power. That said, I have no idea if it actually works better. I use a different converter with the iFi and am very satisfied.

post #1152 of 1208
Has anyone of the distinguished user of the ap2 tried it with MQn?

Seems not to work. This is puzzling as the ap2 has been such a plug&play darling the whole time.
Edited by 3daudio - 5/1/14 at 6:54am
post #1153 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanlitun View Post
 

I had the opportunity to try the AP2 via the IFI IUSB power supply and well, wow. To say it doubles the effect of the AP2 would be realistic. The difference is almost shocking really, to the point I doubt I can go back to the regular AP2. Some real voodoo stuff, as I had figured there would be either no change or something very subtle as I had experience from other cable and power tweaks.

 

My unit is the regular AP2 without Pure Power, which I chose not only to save the money but because I didn't think it would make a worthwhile difference. 

 

So I gather I am going to have to send my unit back and go for the Pure Power, or get the IUSB. Has anyone compared them?

I didn't had the chance to compare the PurePower to the ifi USB but I had the chance to compare plain AP2 to AP2 + PP and I can say the increase in performance was as significant with the PP as it was with Plain AP2 in comparison of NAD USB input. So story short, for me, in my system, the PurePower double the performance and listening pleasure. More accuracy and better bass are the most distinguishible improvments.

post #1154 of 1208
Anyone can comment on whether it's worth getting AP2 for my Wyred4sound Dac2 DSD? Is the sound improvement significant?
post #1155 of 1208
Quote:
Originally Posted by Capri87 View Post

Anyone can comment on whether it's worth getting AP2 for my Wyred4sound Dac2 DSD? Is the sound improvement significant?

Does it have upgraded usb input like the SE? I would read up on that. SE usb input is meant to be pretty good.
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