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Spending money on USB converter or amplifier? Help me choose

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 

EDIT: Thanks for the help. I bought a Musiland 01USD 2012 edition which recived good reviews: http://hifiduino.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/musiland-devices-reader-review/

The thread has so far not let to any conlusion regarding the importance of a quality USB -> spdif converter and nor has anyone agreed on a point of diminishing returns. 


Hi,

I was lucky to get a very good DAC for cheap directly from the manufacturer, because he was closing up. Since then I have been looking to upgrade my usb converter because it's a 20$ dollar toy from ebay.

Here is my equipment:

Laptop -> 20$ USB converter -> 3000$ Danish Audio Design DAC 10 -> 200$ DIY tube amplifier -> Sennheiser HD600

 


My question is:  Where do I spend my money?

Suggestions:
1) 100$ M2tech hiface usb converter + 200$ to upgrade my amplfier

2) 200$ Audio-GD digital interface usb converter

3) 350$ JKSPDIF MK3 usb converter (this option is pushing the budget)

4) Other suggestions?...


What do you guys think? How important is USB->SPDIF converters compared to amplifiers?

Cheers,
Rune


Edited by Rune3400 - 9/5/13 at 10:11am
post #2 of 47

Adding converters especially going from what many DAC designers consider the lowest jitter option ( USB ) to SPDIF is not going to improve the sound at all.  Upgrading it is not going to give you the wow factor it sounds like you are looking for.

 

Why did you not end up with a DAC that had USB in to begin with?

 

Do you hear noise or something else that prompted you to think there is something missing or wrong with your setup?

 

Unless someone can supply you with actual measurements you are going to receive a ton of guesses and subjective comments.

 

In the end you may want to look into acquiring a USB 2.0 ASYNCH DAC which is known to have extremely low jitter.

post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response. As I said - I got this DAC at a great price. Besides - wether the USB data is converted within or outside of the box is not going to make that much of a difference I think. If you look at the way USB is implemented in DAC's it is to my knowledge often a seperate circuit, that is sort of just added. 

Your view on jitter is quite the same I had previously. However, I have read that some consider upgrading to something like a JKSPDIF MKIII as just as great an upgrade as getting a new DAC.

I really don't know since I haven't heard it myself - which is why I am asking you guys. How important is a good USB converter?

post #4 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune3400 View Post
 

Thanks for your response. As I said - I got this DAC at a great price. Besides - wether the USB data is converted within or outside of the box is not going to make that much of a difference I think. If you look at the way USB is implemented in DAC's it is to my knowledge often a seperate circuit, that is sort of just added. 

Your view on jitter is quite the same I had previously. However, I have read that some consider upgrading to something like a JKSPDIF MKIII as just as great an upgrade as getting a new DAC.

I really don't know since I haven't heard it myself - which is why I am asking you guys. How important is a good USB converter?

Have you compared your converter with the coax out of any cd or dvd player ?

post #5 of 47
Thread Starter 

My thought exactly. Unfortunately I cannot since my amps potentiometer is kinda bad. The amp works best on max volume and I am still waiting for my external volume controller to arrive.

Still, as you hint at. This is a good opportunity to test how much of a difference a good usb converter would make, so I will probably wait for it to arrive before I buy anything.

post #6 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post
 

Adding converters especially going from what many DAC designers consider the lowest jitter option ( USB ) to SPDIF is not going to improve the sound at all.  Upgrading it is not going to give you the wow factor it sounds like you are looking for.

 

Why did you not end up with a DAC that had USB in to begin with?

 

Do you hear noise or something else that prompted you to think there is something missing or wrong with your setup?

 

Unless someone can supply you with actual measurements you are going to receive a ton of guesses and subjective comments.

 

In the end you may want to look into acquiring a USB 2.0 ASYNCH DAC which is known to have extremely low jitter.

Budget minded DACs have pretty inferior USB implementation. The only good ones that come to mind are Auralic Vega and Metrum Hex, but they both are around $3.5K.

Everything else will benefit from good USB converter.

post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post
 

Budget minded DACs have pretty inferior USB implementation. The only good ones that come to mind are Auralic Vega and Metrum Hex, but they both are around $3.5K.

Everything else will benefit from good USB converter.

Not really, The usb input implementation inside the Hex and Octave MKII are actually the M2tech Hiface OEM, nothing fancy, a mediocre converter imho.

Not reaching 3k range to have great usb input, for example every single DAC from Audio GD these days come with their USB32, it's quite easy to spot on with the new product lines which end up with "xxx.32". And Currawong had compared his Audiophilleo 1 with PurePower and the USB32 of his Master 7, and they are pretty much the same performance and sonic wise.

post #8 of 47

If I were the OP, I would spend the money on a better amp, if your new DAC already had an usb input (in case you wanted to use usb, or whatever connection).

Spending for a usb spdif converter would be the last piece in your chain ihmo, even spending on ics would bring more effects. Just my .02.

post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhunter View Post

If I were the OP, I would spend the money on a better amp, if your new DAC already had an usb input (in case you wanted to use usb, or whatever connection).


Spending for a usb spdif converter would be the last piece in your chain ihmo, even spending on ics would bring more effects. Just my .02.
I completely disagree, opting for a converter is one of the most significant upgrade in terms of sonics.

There's no way a pair of ICs yield a big enough change in sound over a converter.
post #10 of 47
To answer to the OP, converters in my opinion have different sonic characteristics. Do a bit of reading with a few that you've got in mind and go with whatever sound you are looking for, I also highly recommend getting a power source for the the converter as well. For example, I found some converters to have a more "forward" presentation than others.
Edited by DarKen23 - 9/4/13 at 10:30pm
post #11 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post


I completely disagree, opting for a converter is one of the most significant upgrade in terms of sonics.

There's no way a pair of ICs yield a big enough change in sound over a converter.

 

Yep, the bang for the buck effect from USB converters is greatly underestimated here, mostly because there is a lot of mediocre ones yielding little or zero benefit over on the board implementation on some DACs.

No doubt industry will catch up in a couple of years as more and more manufacturers realize that solid USB implementation is a great selling point that can make DAC stand up against competitors. Look at Auralic for instance.

BTW, HiFace2 is XMOS based which is one of the best USB interfaces today, yes, implementation matters, certainly Auralic XMOS USB sounds tons better than HiFace.

post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew_WOT View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post

I completely disagree, opting for a converter is one of the most significant upgrade in terms of sonics.


There's no way a pair of ICs yield a big enough change in sound over a converter.

Yep, the bang for the buck effect from USB converters is greatly underestimated here, mostly because there is a lot of mediocre ones yielding little or zero benefit over on the board implementation on some DACs.
No doubt industry will catch up in a couple of years as more and more manufacturers realize that solid USB implementation is a great selling point that can make DAC stand up against competitors. Look at Auralic for instance.
BTW, HiFace2 is XMOS based which is one of the best USB interfaces today, yes, implementation matters, certainly Auralic XMOS USB sounds tons better than HiFace.
It might very well be due to the fact that many neglect going with power source as well. Getting a converter only and not a power supply as well could be the reason many report no change. Personally, I'd never use a converter without a supply that provides the 5v.
post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post


I completely disagree, opting for a converter is one of the most significant upgrade in terms of sonics.

There's no way a pair of ICs yield a big enough change in sound over a converter.


I don't know but saying such thing like that is too general dont you think so? ;)

It all depends on "how much" would you want to spend i think, for $150 a M2tech Hiface would result in better performance. But having 1-2k to spend is a different story, ICs would bring out something significantly that you wouldn't expect, and might out-perform the price per performance that a converter would give you. Of course that you are not in the 'school' of folks who think ics and cables in general are all 'snake-oil'. 

post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhunter View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post

I completely disagree, opting for a converter is one of the most significant upgrade in terms of sonics.


There's no way a pair of ICs yield a big enough change in sound over a converter.


I don't know but saying such thing like that is too general dont you think so? wink.gif


It all depends on "how much" would you want to spend i think, for $150 a M2tech Hiface would result in better performance. But having 1-2k to spend is a different story, ICs would bring out something significantly that you wouldn't expect, and might out-perform the price per performance that a converter would give you. Of course that you are not in the 'school' of folks who think ics and cables in general are all 'snake-oil'. 
FYI, I have a pair of some very serious interconnects, TOTL headphone cables from Artemis, as well as a pure 5N silver coaxial cable. Im quite familiar with the effects of good cable. I will again state that there is no way cables provide a larger sonic benefit over converters, it isn't even close enough to be of a subjective matter. I do not know how you've come to those conclusions but I would highly advise you to re-do the research before you further provide misleading information.

I'm curious as to exactly which converters you've auditioned? "M2tech Hiface" come in 3 different kinds and they can be had for less than $150.00. A Hiface model also does not have any means of a separate power supply. Are you familiar with what a "dirty" signal is in the usb audio topic?
Edited by DarKen23 - 9/5/13 at 12:22am
post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarKen23 View Post


FYI, I have a pair of some very serious interconnects, TOTL headphone cables from Artemis, as well as a pure 5N silver coaxial cable. Im quite familiar with the effects of good cable. I will again state that there is no way cables provide a larger sonic benefit over converters, it isn't even close enough to be of a subjective matter. I do not know how you've come to those conclusions but I would highly advise you to re-do the research before you further provide misleading information.

I'm curious as to exactly which converters you've auditioned? "M2tech Hiface" come in 3 different kinds and they can be had for less than $150.00. A Hiface model also does not have any means of a separate power supply. Are you familiar with what a "dirty" signal is in the usb audio topic?

Fair enough, I just don't wanna argue with these non-conclusion topics. Your statement doesn't have any proof to strengthen it since this kind of topic is all about "your feeling", same with the endless topic "does cable make a difference".

FYI, I've tried the AP2 non PP, yep the difference is there, but hard to spot on, unlike changing the ICs, my WW Plat 6 just strikes right to my face yet it's just a average ic.


Edited by zhunter - 9/5/13 at 5:21am
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