Alternative to ART DI/O?
Apr 1, 2002 at 11:53 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

MirandaX

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(This isn't an April fool's posting, BTW.)

I just ran across a new DAC that might be a really good match for computer users, and perhaps others as well. The Waveterminal U2A uses exactly the same 24-bit D/A chip as the ART DI/O (the chip is from AKM Semiconductor) as well as the same sampling chip (from Crystal Semiconductor). Unlike the ART DI/O, it doesn't have "hot" outputs, so you don't have to buy a 9v->2v attenuator cable that could potentially hurt the sound. It also has an extra USB input, for optional connection to a computer. The computer interface is just 16-bit PCM, but there's a slightly more expensive model (Waveterminal U24) that handles pure 24-bit PCM.

Here's a link: http://www.minidisco.com/minispecs/egosysu2a.html

Basically, like lots of others, I've been considering the ART DI/O, but I need a DAC that I can hook up through the USB port of my laptop, and there are no good (under $250) USB devices with coax S/PDIF outputs that don't automatically resample 44.1kHz audio to 48kHz. (The Creative Labs Extigy doesn't count; it gets consistently terrible reviews by real people.) It seems like this new Waveterminal DAC is a godsend. Also, being able to use my favorite interconnects rather than attenuator cables is another major plus.

Does anyone have any experience/information about this DAC?
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 12:30 AM Post #2 of 17

jerikl

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Ahhh Minidisco! They're a great company. I wouldn't mind finding out more information about this DAC as well. Hopefully somebody has this thing or will buy it and tell us about it
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Apr 2, 2002 at 1:02 AM Post #4 of 17

kelly

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So... if I have a DAC that has USB input, can I connect it to a computer and use it without using a soundcard to produce sound?

My work computer has an uber ****ty built in soundcard and I don't work in the kind of environment where I feel comfortable installing my own. However, if something could easily jack in and get shoved in my bag (ie, the same way my current pcdp does), that could be really nice.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 1:55 AM Post #6 of 17

Audio-Me

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It seems as though a lot of pro audio cards use the same Envy 24 chipset. Both the M-Audio DiO 2496 (owned) and Terratec EWS88 MT (currently own) use it.
I've experienced the Ego Systems Waveterminal 2496 and I believe that uses the same DAC as well.
Another alternative for the usb audio thing is the GIGAport AG (same company, Ego Sys), haven't tried it.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 1:57 AM Post #7 of 17

MirandaX

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Quote:

Originally posted by kelly
So... if I have a DAC that has USB input, can I connect it to a computer and use it without using a soundcard to produce sound?


Absolutely. That's the main idea. If you're looking for something really portable and inexpensive enough to try out as a no-brainer, the Xitel Hi-Fi link is about $50 and is as small as a large cigarette lighter. It's actually pretty decent, but it only uses a 20-bit DAC, so it's a step away from the Art DI/O. I have a Xitel and like it, but for some reason when I put my laptop to sleep and then bring it out of sleep mode, sound only comes out of the left channel. This doesn't bother me much for portable use, but in my home rig I'd like something that doesn't do that.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 2:03 AM Post #8 of 17

MirandaX

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Quote:

Originally posted by chych
I've had good luck with midiman's products (Audiophile 24/96, I use it to output to my DIO from the computer) and the Duo seems to fit the bill...


Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't know about this. I can get the Waveterminal for a bit cheaper ($199), and it's somewhat encouraging to know that it uses the same chips as the Art DI/O.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 2:18 AM Post #9 of 17

chych

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You really have to consider everything else though, like the analog stage and such for DACs... just having the same chips isn't going to mean anything. A simple change of one resistor on the DIO can make it sound like crap, for example.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 4:23 PM Post #10 of 17

Audio-Me

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Great point chych. So there must be a reason why I think the Terratec EWS88MT sounds better than the M-Audio DiO 2496 besides the advantage of a shielded breakoutbox even though they use the same converter chips.
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Apr 2, 2002 at 5:55 PM Post #11 of 17

taoster

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Quote:

I have a Xitel and like it, but for some reason when I put my laptop to sleep and then bring it out of sleep mode, sound only comes out of the left channel. This doesn't bother me much for portable use, but in my home rig I'd like something that doesn't do that.


I have a Xitel connected to my home PC, i like it. Ive never had any problems with it coming out of sleep(running on win2K pro and aopen mb).
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 7:37 PM Post #12 of 17

MirandaX

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Quote:

Originally posted by chych
You really have to consider everything else though, like the analog stage and such for DACs... just having the same chips isn't going to mean anything.


It's reasonable to think that there will be some family resemblance in the sound, since they use the same hardware, but you're probably right. I'd love to get an ART DI/O, but it seems a little too complicated to have to get a Toslink USB adapter, then a Toslink->Coax converter, then an Art DI/O, then attenuator cables.
 
Apr 2, 2002 at 8:25 PM Post #13 of 17

kelly

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IMO, if you're going to buy the attenuator cables, you're better off letting Bolder mod the unit.

Keep in mind, right now I am using the ART completely unmodded with the stock power supply and radio shack $1.35 phono to rca adapters and I still think it competes with >$1k redbook cd players. I'd like to have better, mind you, and I'm considering better, but I don't even have anything I'm considering below the $1000 mark--that'd be a downgrade from the ART.

I do think that DACs are getting a hell of a lot better over a very short period of time so I'm not at all trying to dismiss this new computer DAC. It could very well be just as good as the ART--I'm only conveying my positive impressions of the ART. For the money, it's pretty damned cool. (tm)
 
Apr 3, 2002 at 12:12 AM Post #14 of 17

chych

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Well I do have the Audiophile 24/96 and if it has the same chips as the DI/O, I can definetely say that the DI/O completely blows it away. Also for some reason I cannot describe DACs with "sonic characteristics," they all sound the same, but the DI/O sounds better than the MSB Link, which sounds better than the Audiophile 24/96, which sounds better than my pcdp...
 
Apr 3, 2002 at 12:22 AM Post #15 of 17

kelly

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You know, Chych, I wish someone with a technical background would explain why the ART sounds good. I understand that it's not just the DAC chip itself, but almost every damned thing else gets replaced in the mods--what else is left that, in combination with that DAC chip, makes it such a good find?
 

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