Hey guys I have been reading through this thread for the last few hours. I have been looking at purchasing the Gungnir and Mjolnir. I almost have enough money saved up to buy what I would need.
There is a lot of good information here. It has left me with some questions though. I plan on feeding the DAC in two different ways. One is from my Macbook Pro with USB, the second way is from my desktop PC using SPDIF out (either optical or coaxial) from my HT Omega Claro+ sound card.
So I read in this thread somewhat early on that the USB input on the Gungnir does not sound as good as the other inputs. Read in bold below.
Originally Posted by SourceGuy
At about 85 hours right now. The optical out on my new MacBook is sounding better than the USB out. I've been switching back and forth with pure music set to upsample only to 96 w/ USB so it's an even comparison. Maybe it's my setup but the USB is too edgy.... I keep wanting to turn the volume down. The optical on the other hand is much more involving. It's pretty incredible.
Would a USB to spdif converter out-do the optical out on the MacBook when using pure music with the Gungnir?
Originally Posted by grokit
Yes it's early, and most of us are aware that there are limitations to these kind of comparisons; I am not employing DBT techniques, yadda yadda. But I will say that I am firmly on the side of the USB input being less appealing than the Gungnir's other inputs, and accordingly less capable than the USB to Spdif converters that I am auditioning with it.
So my first question is, in order to get audio from my Macbook Pro to the Gungnir whether I should get a USB to SPDIF converter and skip out on buying the USB card from Schitt. It seems like converting from USB to SPDIF and then having the DAC convert that digital signal to analog could introduce more potential for degradation of audio quality. Obviously I do not want to spend too much on the USB to SPDIF converter as the Gungnir is only 750 bucks.
My next question is what exactly the "buy better gear light" means as referenced in bold in the quote below. Is the Adapticlock something that is specifically part of the purchased USB add-on for the Gungnir? Does this mean that "source" as referenced below means USB sources only?
From the reading that I have been doing it seems to generally be a bad strategy to buy a USB to SPDIF converter if the DAC already has an integrated USB input option. However, I only read this in reference to a lot more expensive DACs. Thoughts on what the best strategy for feeding audio to the Gungnir from a computer that only has USB as an option for digital output? Schitt's USB module or a USB to SPDIF converter?
The converter I've been looking at is the MF V-Link192. Is there a better option for under 250 bucks?
Originally Posted by grokit
All I can share is my experience, as I have tried a couple of mid-fi converters as well as a cheap one with three different DACs, and I experienced three different results:
- With the Bel Canto DAC2, a converter is required as it only has coax and toslink inputs. But the DAC2 has a rock-solid master clock, and as its asynchronous sample rate converter upsamples it takes care of jitter. According to one reviewer, it "employs the latest SPDIF receiver technology and a dual PLL reference clock recovery scheme using both analog and FIFO-based digital phase-lock circuitry for the lowest possible jitter performance. A local crystal oscillator drives the DAC directly." There was no benefit to using my Firestone Bravo 24/96 Tenor TE0722-based converter with separate Supplier PSU, as it didn't sound any better than an inexpensive eBay 16/48 Burr-Brown PCM2902E-based USB-powered converter.
- With the Matrix Mini-i, the adaptive 16/48 USB input is definitely a weak link, and sounds totally inferior to the SPDIF and AES/EBU inputs. I heard a drastic improvement with the Bravo/Supplier. There was no benefit to using the inexpensive 16/48 converter however, that pretty much just duplicated the Mini-i's built-in USB receiver. I recently upgraded to the XMOS-based V-Link192 so I could take advantage of the 192k sample rate, as well as the "balanced digital" AES/EBU output. I heard further improvement, but it wasn't as drastic a difference as comparing the Bravo to the cheaper converter or the Mini-i's built-in USB input.
- With the Schiit Gungnir, the difference wasn't that clear-cut. It has no AES/EBU input (my only real gripe with it), and its optional USB receiver is excellent: "Technically, Adapticlock is the industry’s most advanced jitter-reducing reclocking system. It automatically switches between VCXO and VCO reclocking, depending on the quality of your source. High-quality sources run on the VCXOs, for best jitter performance. Lower-quality sources that deviate from the range of the VCXOs are routed automatically to the VCOs, and an LED on the front panel comes on. We call this the “buy better gear” light... Sources that are outside of the industry-standard specified range of clock frequencies... still get... clock regeneration from the VCOs, but not the better regeneration performance of the VCXOs." I did hear slight improvement with the V192 but the Gungnir wasn't burned in yet. Now it's got about 150-200 hours on it, but through the RCA coaxial input. I am now proceeding to burn in its USB input and will compare again soon. It was so close that I can't rule out placebo.
So for me it depends on a couple of variables: how good is the DAC's built-in USB receiver (if it has one), and how good is the converter. My recommendation as always is to compare for yourself, in your own system, with your own ears. I would guess that the 903's USB input is exceptionally good, and that it would probably take an uber-expensive converter to improve on it. And while it may sound different with one of these converters, different isn't always better.
This is a great idea for a thread, I hope there is much more participation to come!
My last question is in regards to audio from my PC. I have an HT Omega Claro+ sound card. It has SPDIF optical and coaxial outputs @ 24bit/192kHz. Will this work well for feeding audio from my desktop to the Gungnir? Does the soundcard affect how the digital outputs sound?
What is the most optimal way to feed digital files to the Gungnir? The only one I am aware of is through USB or a desktop soundcard with SPDIF out options. I have read about people doing this in other ways but I dont really understand them.
I'm really loving the positive responses that the Gungnir and Mjolnir are getting, especially for their price. I'm hoping that I can manage to integrate them into my system because they sound facking awesome.