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USB to SPDIF Converters

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Im in the market for a USB to SPDIF converter to pair between my Mac and Ref 7.1 DAC. Having done some research, I'm keen on the converters from the likes of Anedio, Audiophilleo, April Music, Empirical Audio, etc.


Given the similar functionality, I'm not sure why there is such a large price difference of the converters from Empirical Audio and Audiophilleo. Do these converters differ greatly in sound quality/detail presentation? which is the 'best' converter available in the market today?


I'll be gratefull for anyone who has heard one of the above converters chime in or if anyone has any solid recommendations for a good USB to SPDIF converter.

post #2 of 7

From all impressions that I've seen, the Off-Ramp 5 is king of the hill. The Diverter 192 comes in at nearly 3 grand. The designer went to herculean lengths to try and deal with all of the problems of using bus power, but even if successful, it seems silly to me if it costs that much when other solutions such as batteries can do the job for FAR less cash.


The question mark is the Stahl-tek Audiophile Bridge To Computer, or "ABC", which is sort of like an OR5 and Monolith battery in one box. Price is supposed to be around $3,500. Again though, when you get to that level you might as well just get a USB DAC.

post #3 of 7

the new hiFace Two might be also something to consider for the job; or perhaps even better the EVO with its own PS; or you could sell the ref. 7.1 and get the 'Young' dac with a linear PS = outstanding.

post #4 of 7

I have the Audiophilleo1.  It has a mode that tells you if the data it's receiving is bitperfect.  Looks cool, sounds great, and they're now offering a battery upgrade option.

post #5 of 7

USB to SPDIF adapters abound now, in many configurations, and prices.  Obviously you "usually" get better performance with higher prices.  There are several variables which determine the "quality" of the transformation of the signal from one digital format to another.  Separation of the computer bus power supply from the outgoing signal is usually receommended.  (galvanic and/or transformer isolation)  There are several output styles - SPDIF (Coax[RCA or BNC], Toslink, AES/EBU) and I2S.  Picking one for your specific DAC may rule in or out a specific device.


Things to look at:


1) power supply (battery/wallwart/USB bus/other custom external PSU)

2) clock chip quality/upgradability

3) Which USB receiver chip or system.

4) Async vs synchronous.  Async usually requires a driver for Windows, but usually not for MacIntosh

5) If the adapter "reclocks" the digital stream (what happens in async devices) then jitter is usually decreased.


On top of all of that, depending on your system and source, you may or may not be able to tell a difference using a "better" interface device.  There are many passionate arguments by the different factions, with some common ground, and some wide differences about issues that I have a hard time even understanding.  


There are several well regarded converters in the $300-600 range which will work well for most systems.  If you have to have the "best" for a very resolving system, I would look at the Empirical Audio Offramp 5 or the Berkeley Audio Alpha USB devices.


I currently use a Halide Bridge with my NOS DAC, but have an April Music Stello U3 on the way to use with the AES/EBU input on my DAC, which is reportedly better.  When my listening room improves, I may upgrade to one of the 2 converters above.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Great info there, thanks!


Would be interested in your impressions on how the Stello U3 performs compared to the Halide Bridge.

post #7 of 7
Thanks for sharing.
Is anybody try Bryston Buc 1? 600 bucks for a brand new one is a comfortable price...but how does it sound?
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