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Perfect marriage of the best UI and the best DAC?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

 

Lately I have been using Synology's phone app to pull music off my NAS, then do the D/A in the phone (Samsung Galaxy Note), and drive my Sennheiser HD650's with a FiiO e5 on the line to boost the signal. It sounds pretty great. 
 
Their app fails on half the songs though, on Android on the Galaxy Note. But on the iPad it plays flawlessly. However, the D/A in the Galaxy Note (and S II) is IIRC pretty excellent. Not so sure about the iPad 2. Not sure what DAC it uses.
 
I could also use iTunes on the Dell Mini 10 hackintosh. Then drive the Airport Express from there. That feeds a proper Compass D/A. I wish iTunes on the iPad would drive the Airport Express. But probably Steve Jobs decided to protect me from that. (And make me buy more hardware from them). I think I read the iPad has a proprietary digital out that can be licensed. 
 
NTL, still not finding a perfect marriage of the best UI and the best DAC. iTunes UI is not so great. I like the PowerAMP Android app UI best... in theory it could pull music off a mounted NAS but maybe I'd have to root the phone... the DAC in the Samsung Galaxy Note (did I mention I have a Samsung Galaxy Note which is not yet available in USA) is probably plenty great... but I wonder if there are Android apps that push audio out in digital form... either over USB to the USB input on an outboard Audio-gd DAC... or even directly to Airport Express which I read got cracked in mid 2011. 
 
I mostly listen at home, and this doesn't even address throwing in the issue of listening while travelling or off the cloud. Though in theory my NAS can serve music out like webDAV or something. Though the Synology Android/ iOS software called DS audio doesn't support https yet. I wonder if my Samsung Galaxy Note would support a 1TB micro-SDXC card... 
 
Anyone have any answers or questions about the above, or where things need improving?
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

Galaxy Note (and S 2) support USB OTG, so theoretically those and other phones could support a USB audio device if there were drivers for it. I mean outboard DACs like those from audio-gd etc. can receive music over USB. With the right drivers.

 

I've always wanted to find a player for Android (or iOS, but don't hold your breath) that could output music in pure digital form out the USB. (and then into a portable or desktop DAC). 

 

If that player could pull music off the LAN or the internet or Web DAV or one of the clouds so much the better. I feel like a lot more of the pieces exist, but looking for and app that puts them together the way us audiophiles want. I guess the DAC chip in some phones is plenty good, but would be nice to get the music out in digital form.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Here's an article about USB OTG (which has actually been around for a long time) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go 

 

Does this mean cell phones with USB OTG can send music in pure digital form out to a portable or desktop DAC that accepts USB? Has anyone ever seen this? Do we need an Android driver and a music player app that uses it to get this happy?

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

A friend writes... 

 

"I've been hunting around and it seems like a lot of people are trying to get usb otg dac working in android but it's not there yet, but it seems like it should be possible without too much trouble as the linux drivers are already available.

A lot of people are panning the [Samsung Galaxy] SII Yamaha DAC which is the same as in the Note but it seems like the [Samsung Galaxy] S I had a really good Wolfson DAC, so it seems it's a little bit of a letdown in the new phone. Personally I like it better than my iPod Nano 3rd gen but not quite as good as my iPod Mini 2nd gen which apparently also used a Wolfson DAC. Anyways, I've been pretty happy with the sound quality and expect it's mostly a let down in comparison to the older model."

 

Maybe I have to take that Galaxy S I back from my wife so I can get the wolfson DAC at least. Unfortunate that Samsung 1. decided not to support ICS on the Galaxy S 1 and 2. dropped the superior wolfson DAC in favor of the inferior Yamaha DAC.

 

I keep hoping some of the audiophiles here would at least understand these questions or have some answers, but I guess I'll just crawl back under my rock. I check in every year or two to see if anyone cares about getting the music out of their cell phone while its still digital.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

iPad's use Cirrus Logic 42L63 DACs.  42L61 used in the original iPad.

 

http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/technology-blog/2011/03/cirrus-wins-ipad-2-audio-codec-slot/

 

Apparently it is not bad.

 

http://rmaa.elektrokrishna.com/Comparisons/iPad%202%20-%20Impedances.htm

 

That said, I give up on you guys. 

post #6 of 10

LOL!  Hey, I found it worth reading, but didn't have any input.

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toe Tag View Post

 

Lately I have been using Synology's phone app to pull music off my NAS, then do the D/A in the phone (Samsung Galaxy Note), and drive my Sennheiser HD650's with a FiiO e5 on the line to boost the signal. It sounds pretty great. 
 
Their app fails on half the songs though, on Android on the Galaxy Note. But on the iPad it plays flawlessly. However, the D/A in the Galaxy Note (and S II) is IIRC pretty excellent. Not so sure about the iPad 2. Not sure what DAC it uses.
 
I could also use iTunes on the Dell Mini 10 hackintosh. Then drive the Airport Express from there. That feeds a proper Compass D/A. I wish iTunes on the iPad would drive the Airport Express. But probably Steve Jobs decided to protect me from that. (And make me buy more hardware from them). I think I read the iPad has a proprietary digital out that can be licensed. 
 
NTL, still not finding a perfect marriage of the best UI and the best DAC. iTunes UI is not so great. I like the PowerAMP Android app UI best... in theory it could pull music off a mounted NAS but maybe I'd have to root the phone... the DAC in the Samsung Galaxy Note (did I mention I have a Samsung Galaxy Note which is not yet available in USA) is probably plenty great... but I wonder if there are Android apps that push audio out in digital form... either over USB to the USB input on an outboard Audio-gd DAC... or even directly to Airport Express which I read got cracked in mid 2011. 
 
I mostly listen at home, and this doesn't even address throwing in the issue of listening while travelling or off the cloud. Though in theory my NAS can serve music out like webDAV or something. Though the Synology Android/ iOS software called DS audio doesn't support https yet. I wonder if my Samsung Galaxy Note would support a 1TB micro-SDXC card... 
 
Anyone have any answers or questions about the above, or where things need improving?

 

It sounds like you want huge storage (e.g., streaming from a NAS or 1TB SDXC), in addition to good UI and DAC, all in one box. I don't think there is an easy solution for that. Without huge storage, Galaxy SIII or iPhone 4 with an external DAC will work.

 

I wanted something similar (i.e., 1TB flac on-the-go) but ended up with a portable battery-powered NAS streaming flac to iPhone 3GS:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/620238/1000gb-flac-on-the-go-successfully-streaming-to-iphone-ipad-android-portables

 

The NAS (Patriot Gauntlet Node) can take 1TB of music, once you install a 2.5'' hard drive (HDD) to its inside. The DAC of iPhone 3GS is decent (it can output digital to an external DAC if you want better) and sound quality is good. The music UI is acceptable, but any screen movement / change on iPhone will produce noise. Battery life is only around 4 hrs with wifi and a spinning 2.5'' HDD.

 

As for Synology NAS, are you using DS212j? I looked into that before deciding on the portable NAS. I passed on the Synology NAS because: 1) it is not portable; 2) it has to format all SATA internal drives with its proprietary format, meaning once a HDD is used by Synology it will not be easily readable by another computer. Also, a SATA HDD with data will have to be formatted by Synology before use, if I remember correctly. In comparison, my portable NAS takes fat32 format which is compatible with both Mac and PC.

 

You do not have to use Synology's DS Audio software or app. If I remember correctly, Synology NAS is a UPnP device. There are lots of apps available to stream flac/wav using UPnP to iPhone or Android. As an example, I prefer AcePlayer Pro with my rig.

 

An Sansa Clip or an iPhone 4/4s with 1TB of internal storage is my dream. An external amp can be easily added, if hard-to-drive headphones are to be used.

post #8 of 10

USB audio is coming to Android.

Check DanBa: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=103447.0

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I still haven't settled on a solution. I think usb2go is going to be part of it. Something like an Android Samsung Galaxy S 3 or 4 sending the music out while in digital form. Then (see above post about usb2go and Android) I can choose from a dozen different portable DACs and feed them over USB. It may even be possible to use a portable USB hub and also put one or more external 2.5" drives onto my bat-belt. Still I think just streaming off the NAS is going to be easier to deal with in the long run.

 

I have the Synology DS1512+. I loaded it with WD "Red" class NAS drives. I don't feel the Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) format is not a bad thing. It lets you upgraded the drives one by one. For example you could have five 2TB drives and then upgrade them one by one to 3TB as you need more space. 

 

Anyway there are lots of ways to skin this cat since my original post nearly a year ago. Portable NAS sounds cool. Though it probably doesn't hold 11TB like my non-portable NAS. Though I doubt many people need more than a few TB of music max.

 

I should try some alternatives to the Synology streaming software, good idea.

 

Note that the internal format of the disks in the NAS is unrelated to the network file sharing protocols the NAS presents over ethernet (NFS, AFP, SMB...). You get your compatibility across platforms on that level. In fact I would be leery of FAT 32, it won't support 3 or 4 TB drives, and its fairly old and unreliable. People just use FAT32 on USB drives because they need compatibility when they want the drive recognized directly over USB. 

 

DanBa is coordinating some good information over in this thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs 


Edited by Toe Tag - 11/21/12 at 9:23pm
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toe Tag View Post

 

Note that the internal format of the disks in the NAS is unrelated to the network file sharing protocols the NAS presents over ethernet (NFS, AFP, SMB...). You get your compatibility across platforms on that level. In fact I would be leery of FAT 32, it won't support 3 or 4 TB drives, and its fairly old and unreliable. People just use FAT32 on USB drives because they need compatibility when they want the drive recognized directly over USB. 

 

 

^ You are absolutely right there with every word.

In my case, I do need USB drive compatibility though. My computers are very old.......

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