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REVIEW: Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 - Page 6

post #76 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BradleyP View Post

 

 

 

I've noticed one weird thing with the TD-11, and I can't tell if it's my computer or the DAC.  If I leave my computer on but shut off the DAC at night, then power the DAC up again the next morning, I get nothing but static from the USB connection at first.  Over a period of about ten minutes, the static fades and the music starts coming through.  There's no such problem from the SPDIF connection.  Go figure.

 

 

I've had different issues over the years with various computers and their USB connections. Does your computer go into sleep mode or hibernate mode or anything like that? In my experience, sometimes the system has problems reestablishing or maintaining USB connections after waking up from a low power state. It's especially problematic with devices that draw their power over USB - I had a pair of compact speakers that just would not reconnect no matter what. Required a complete restart. But even some AC powered units have had issues.

 

Can you disable the hibernate or sleep function and see if that helps?

post #77 of 267

I've been using the TD-11 for about one year and I've dealt with two types of serious noise.
The first is the fuzzy static sound which is common when the TD-11 is cold.  I also sleep my Asus netbook by closing the lid (not hibernate), so it's never getting a clean boot.  I've always suspected a connection between the noise and sleeping the netbook, but I am also able to reproduce this in windows w/o music [while it's cold] ...
  1. right-clicking on the volume control in the system task tray, and choosing "Playback devices"
  2. right-clicking on a device in the "Playback" tab, and choosing "Properties"
  3. switching tabs to "Supported Formats" (see image below)
  4. clicking on "88.2" or "96.0" and hitting the "Test" button

700


This fuzz noise I suspected to be jitter, but I have no idea what jitter sounds like.  Really wanted an Audiophilleo-1 to test this.  I also suspected that maybe it had something to do with the Yulong driver.  I keep the TD-11 near my preamp with short interconnects, and my netbook at my listening position.  So I had about 15ft of junk USB bridging the gap, when in practice USB shouldn't ever go over 2 meters (I read USB is good for 10ft, coax/rca/bnc SPDIF 30ft, and balanced SPDIF 300ft).  This was a great excuse to grab a JKSPDIF MK3 off audiogon!  While the TD-11's SPDIF input does behave better than the USB input, I was still able to reproduce the fuzz [while it's cold] through SPDIF, and I did so on a Core-i7 workstation.  But after a warm up the SPDIF input can play a clean test tone at 192khz!  I use a 17ft bluejean spdif cable and I only use the TD-11's DAC out.

There is a second [more troubling] sound that may have nothing to do with the TD-11 or it's driver (definitely not the wires).  When I hit the play/pause button on a multimedia keyboard the sound pauses.  When I try to take it out of pause by hitting it a 2nd time I get an extremely loud white noise sound, that actually killed one of my VIFA midranges.  I lived with this for so long that I became conditioned never to pause my music.  This was the first thing I tested with the JKSPDIF and there is no such danger.  I suspected my OS might be to blame for this -- I was using the Windows 7 x32 Starter Edition that the netbook came with and this weekend I finally reformatted with Win7 x64 pro.  Before the reinstall I assumed that my N550 atom cpu was junk and the pre-installed OS was the best performance I could expect.  Not so!  Some tuning steps I recommend for a dedicated audio pc are disabling onboard audio in the bios, omit any software that might require updates (like office and antivirus), uninstall tablet components, and uninstall all microsoft media features (dvd maker, media center, and media player).

SwanSong:
I don't have a great ear for small changes in the signal path (cable changes are almost lost on me).  I also don't have any music over 96khz.  But sound difference aside, I do think the TD-11 behaves better on it's SPDIF input.  My friend has a more expensive equipment chain including the W4S DAC2 and the both of us couldn't hear the difference between it playing on junk USB vs the JKSPDIF.  We easily sent a 192khz test tone into his USB port where the TD-11 can only do that through the SPDIF.  I will say that on my system (TD-11), when you don't use the RF attenuator the sound change is minor.  But with the RF attenuator I definitely noticed that much of the harshness was lifted from the music's peaks and loud passages (my Thiel speakers have a bad rep for being bright).  With the peaks tamed it was as if the subtle secondary sounds were now playing louder (and the milky way reveals itself in the absence of light pollution).  This is the type of improvement I expected from better interconnects, but the attenuator impressed me most.

Project86:
(while we're on the topic of hibernation)
JPlay is supposed to have taken clean playback to extreme lengths, and one thing they are offering is playback IN [what they call] hibernation mode.  Hibernation is clearly the wrong term, but if the computer is indeed reaching sleep mode while continuing playback (although with zero keyboard control) than that's impressive.  Sadly I couldn't hear the difference between JPlay and Foobar but I was happy to make the purchase because I appreciate his goals and methods, and maybe one day my system (or someone else's ears) will be good enough to reveal the benefits of JPlay.

post #78 of 267

The TubeDAC-11 should be ready to go after about 30 seconds once the tube is energized and you shouldn't be hearing any sort of noise after this 30 second period and on all outputs the TubeDAC-11 should be dead quiet. Are you hearing it on all outputs? You have the Dac Direct which would eliminate any output stage issues (handy troubleshooter) and if you get the noise on the DAC Direct outs on startup then it is likely something from the computer end. When using USB audio from your computer it is a very good idea to use a powered USB hub if using other USB devices, such as a multimedia keyboard or USB powered hard drive. Also make sure all sound effects, systems sounds and EQ are off and make sure your volumes in the computer are all maxed to full. Use the TubeDAC-11's volume control or if hooked up to another pre use that as your volume control. Do not use digital volume controls in the computer as all that does is reduce bit depth when lowered from full.

 

Hope that helps,

Ian

post #79 of 267

Hi Ian, 

 

What are the benefits of a powered USB hub?  I also have an external hard drive where my music resides, a mouse, and a printer hooked up to USB ports on my computer and docking station.

 

- Brad

post #80 of 267
Quote:
Originally Posted by BradleyP View Post

Hi Ian, 

 

What are the benefits of a powered USB hub?  I also have an external hard drive where my music resides, a mouse, and a printer hooked up to USB ports on my computer and docking station.

 

- Brad

 

Current and voltage can drop with too many things hooked up to the USB port, especially USB devices that are receiving power from the host computer, this can cause issues like keystrokes or mouse movements interrupting music playback and even screen refreshes interrupting or worse increase jitter on any USB DAC. If you think you are having issues a $10 to $20 powered USB hub can be the solution, plug the powered USB hub into one computer USB port for your accessories and your USB DAC into another computer USB port. I think the USB spec allows for 2 or 3 USB devices to plugged in and active at the same time, but that isn't thinking about audio streaming which has to be free of glitches, you won't notice a hard drive, mouse or keyboard glitching :)

 

Laptops actually seem to have better USB implementation with regard to voltage, as the keyboard and pointer is hardwired. I have no issue running a USB mouse, USB hardrive and USB DAC at the same time with any of my laptops for the past 4 years. 

 

Cheers,

Ian


Edited by Grant Fidelity - 11/15/12 at 6:40am
post #81 of 267

or avoid the whole mess and use the digital optical/spdif.  all the inputs is one of the main reasons I gave this product a real hard look and I'm glad to have it now.   the optical cables just seem so much more futuristic to me, how could I not use them :)

post #82 of 267

1) I don't use earphones so I'm always on the DAC-out port.  I'll remove the vacuume tube if you think that will help.

 

2) I pre-ordered this unit so this is likely from your first production batch

 
3) While I didn't test with a powered USB hub, I was able to reproduce the issue from the USB input and SPDIF input.  My JKSPDIF-MK3 doesn't draw USB power because it has integrated batteries that are recharged by a 2nd USB cable that I unplug.  I was able to reproduce the issue on a netbook and a very good desktop.
 
4) 44khz is always clean and clear the moment the TD-11 is powered up
 
5) From my most recent testing earlier this week I found that 88khz became "clean" after a short wait (a few minutes - can't remember exactly).  Sadly it took almost 30min for my 96khz to sound "clean", at which time all other freq (172khz and 192khz) were also clean.  In the past I don't recall having to wait that long for the sound to clear up.  I thought these issues would disappear once I switched from the USB input to this JKSPDIF, but I think they got worse.
 
My measure for "clean" is the windows test tone (see screen shot in previous post).  Is there any utility blessed by audiophiles that I should be using instead?  Perhaps something that uses WASAPI or ASIO?  If not than I should look for a collection of test tone FLAC files that playback the same exact sound at different sample rates.  Then I can test with Foobar+WASAPI.
 
As if there weren't enough variables to sort out, I found that Foobar+SPDIF w/WASAPI took far longer to clear up than w/o WASAPI.  This confuses me further because it suggests that my issue may exist upstream in the computer.  After all, WASAPI should be less susceptible to noise.  I'm surprised that BradleyP was the first post about hearing static - although for him it was only on USB.

 

00birdy

While I don't have the tools [and definitely not the ears] to confirm this, with SPDIF there is a clear verdict, and 75ohm coax is better than optical.  I suppose it's not a shielding issue (because you could shield optical with black paint) so it must have something to do with the voltage=>light=>voltage conversion.

post #83 of 267

Hi Wynnytsky

 

If you play 24/96 music with Foobar just using the USB cable direct to the TubeDAC-11, no WASAPI, no ASIO, just the default windows USB driver do you get the same start up symptoms on Windows 7 computer? Is all your volumes at max (including the Control Panel). Try it like that, if all is fine then the TubeDAC-11 is fine and you need to dig in to find where the issue is elsewhere. Also try another USB cable if it still doing it.

 

You and BradlyP are the first I have heard of any sort of start up issue.

 

Cheers,

Ian

post #84 of 267
So I did exactly as you said:
-volumes on max
-used only the supplied short USB cable direct to the USB input
-no wasapi, and I never installed the yulong driver on this fresh win7pro x64 install
      and in addition I ...
-disconnected the cat5 cable
-disconnected the netbook's ac adapter
-disconnected the RF keyboard's rf usb transmitter
 
The good news is that the problem is no different whether on direct USB or through my JKSPDIF, and that is...
-through foobar - WASAPI all freq are clean
-through foobar + WASAPI all freq are clean, accept 96khz
-right channel is much worse (don't know why I didn't notice this before)
-the "Playback device test" (from my screenshot) continues to fail on 96khz
 
I'm fine as long as I begin listening w/o WASAPI and after 30min or less it's safe to turn on WASAPI for those few tracks that I have in 96khz.  At that time the playback device will also be clean.  One new test I did was, warm up the system, and after everything was clean I shutdown ONLY the TD-11.  30min later I powered it back on and the issue was back.
And BTW, when I let the failing playback device test tone complete (w/o hitting the stop button), that noise will continue to play even after I close the dialog window.  To stop the noise I need to initiate the test on a freq other than 96khz, or simply play an audio track in foobar w/o WASAPI.  I saw this identical behavior on another computer I tested with.
 
NOTE: this weekend I installed the latest WASAPI plugin and the new modes ("push" and "event") behave the same
 
FYI: this morning I heard *slight* static on 88.2khz but it was gone within the first two minutes of warm-up.  It's strange to me that the highest freq (172khz and 192khz) never struggle with this test.  I found a couple 192khz tracks that I'll test in foobar tonight.
 
FYI: I noticed that the *windows* volume and mute functions work fine through USB (with and without WASAPI).  But on SPDIF the mute never works.  And with WASAPI, the volume doesn't work either (I have to use the player's volume).
post #85 of 267

Since :

 

-through foobar - WASAPI all freq are clean

 

I'd have to say you will need to dig into your setup as the TubeDAC-11 is working fine. The only time  looked at WASAPI they (foobar team I think) said not suggested for Win7, that was a while ago though. Personally I don't bother with things like WASAPI, the TubeDAC-11 sounds great with the standard USB, and some can hear the difference with the ASIO Driver we provide. 

 

Again I note you playing with volume and mutes, I again suggest you leave those alone and use the TubeDAC-11 Volume for those.

 

Cheers,

Ian

post #86 of 267

I do appreciate that the TD-11 sounds so good w/o drivers (I could never tell a diff with any combination of Yulong or WASAPI).  But if others are able to pass the "playback device test" @ 96khz then that would confirm that something (either software or hardware) can be improved in my setup.  This windows test is in no way the final word, as foobar can still get the job done.  Merely curious as to what these results mean.

 

BTW: This morning I downloaded some 24/192khz albums and they played clean on a cold TD-11 w/ WASAPI (event and push).

post #87 of 267

i have a question, i never turn off my td-11 anymore, i've left it running for about 2 months now, i like having it always ready to go without waiting for it to warm up, but how does this affect the tube? am i significantly shortening its life span? i rolled out the stock with a mullard rca 6922, should i be concerned?

post #88 of 267

Hi, I'm new to the DAC info, but will be purchasing a DAC unit soon. I liked your write up on the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 and this appears to be what I'm looking for.

 

I would like to play music I have on my external hard drive, transfer my Cassette/Reel to Reel/Vinyl to my hard drive preserving the full sound information coming from the vinyl/Analog on to my hard drive.

 

I use a desk top to play the hard drive music through a Sansui AU9500 amp.  I also have my reel to reel, turntable, cassette running through the Sansui.

 

Is this device something that will fill my needs? I will be moving to a laptop in the near furture, replacing the desk top.  I also use high quality headphones.

I have looked at the Pro-Ject Stream Box DS, but fell I can get a cheaper/comparable set up using wifi from my laptop and a cheaper unti like this.  I have also looked at the Asus

ASUS Xonar Essence One Sound Card - CM6631 Sound Processor, 120dB SNR, 24-bit, 192KHz, 3.5mm Jack, Balanced Output (XLR), S/PDIF Coaxial/TOSLINK, RCA, USB 2.0 for about 650.00

 

Thank you for your write up and your help,

The Rooter

post #89 of 267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutchi MerenGue View Post

i have a question, i never turn off my td-11 anymore, i've left it running for about 2 months now, i like having it always ready to go without waiting for it to warm up, but how does this affect the tube? am i significantly shortening its life span? i rolled out the stock with a mullard rca 6922, should i be concerned?

 

6922s tend to have a lifespan in the 5,000 to 10,000 hour range. So powering the unit up all the time you have a theoretical lifespan of 7-14 months, give or take. There are different schools of thought on the issue though - some people claim there is actually more wear and tear on the tube when it constantly gets powered on and off. 

 

Sometimes I leave my stuff on all the time. Most times I don't though - if I feel I may have some listening time that day I'll power it up in the morning, or when I get home from work, and then shut it down before bed. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRooter View Post

Hi, I'm new to the DAC info, but will be purchasing a DAC unit soon. I liked your write up on the Grant Fidelity TubeDAC-11 and this appears to be what I'm looking for.

 

I would like to play music I have on my external hard drive, transfer my Cassette/Reel to Reel/Vinyl to my hard drive preserving the full sound information coming from the vinyl/Analog on to my hard drive.

 

I use a desk top to play the hard drive music through a Sansui AU9500 amp.  I also have my reel to reel, turntable, cassette running through the Sansui.

 

Is this device something that will fill my needs? I will be moving to a laptop in the near furture, replacing the desk top.  I also use high quality headphones.

I have looked at the Pro-Ject Stream Box DS, but fell I can get a cheaper/comparable set up using wifi from my laptop and a cheaper unti like this.  I have also looked at the Asus

ASUS Xonar Essence One Sound Card - CM6631 Sound Processor, 120dB SNR, 24-bit, 192KHz, 3.5mm Jack, Balanced Output (XLR), S/PDIF Coaxial/TOSLINK, RCA, USB 2.0 for about 650.00

 

Thank you for your write up and your help,

The Rooter

 

 

The Essence One is a respectable unit. Unfortunately I have not heard it myself so can't compare it to the TubeDAC-11. They each have their benefits over the other - Asus has a superior USB implementation, and balanced outputs. TubeDAC-11 has analog inputs for better use as a pre-amp, has the tube-buffer in the output stage (with alternate solid state outputs, so pick your preference), and a lower price. 

 

It's up to you to decide which of those is important to you.

post #90 of 267

thanks project86, i appreciate the help, just 1 final follow up question, i currently run my tube out to an external amp (matrix m stage) and am unsure on something, the volume potentiometer on the actual td11, for optimum performance, should i max it out and only adjust the volume on the external amp or leave it at around lets say 3 o clock on the td11 and adjust the knobs on the m stage even further?

 

 

i feel like if its max volume it puts less of a strain on the m stage but on the other hand, i think running at max might make the signal run too hot so to speak and introduce clipping and such and the m stage would then be boosting a degraded signal, what do you think? 

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