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Android phones and USB DACs

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by nztechfreak, Feb 9, 2012.
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  1. DanBa
    Radius RK-LCH61 USB DAC/amp & Ne PLAYER:
    http://www.radius.co.jp/Portals/0/neseries/rk-lch61.html http://www.phileweb.com/review/article/201501/22/1501.html
    Sony Xperia Z2 >> Radius RK-LCH61 >> Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 headphones
    Ne PLAYER: another music player which includes its own USB audio user space / soft driver like USB Audio Player PRO or HibyMusic?
    Anyway, it can play high resolution audio music files and output high resolution USB audio streams towards an external USB DAC (a generic music player like Neutron / Poweramp / Spotify / etc. has to interface with the Android media player framework which can only output 48kHz USB audio streams for the time being) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.radius.neplayer_ver2 http://bit.ly/1sLAHDq
    00.jpg 01.jpg
    96 kHz music file >> Ne PLAYER running on Xperia Z2 phone > 96 kHz PCM stream >> Radius RK-LCH61 USB DAC
    PL4.jpg                     PL5.jpg
    kawaivpc1 likes this.
  2. NZtechfreak
    Wow, interesting bit of gear DanBa, nice find. With Lollipop finally getting Androids USB audio chops into a more steady state, it's looking like we're in for a good year with lots of companies competing for our dollars in this market segment.
    DanBa likes this.
  3. kawaivpc1

    There are few other high res players:

    Radsone - DCT (24bit 192kHz playback support). FREE!!!


    Kamerton app (DSD, PCM)


    Max Team - FLAC HD Hit Stream (24bit 192kHz)


    Please add them to you Android app list.

    So, there are total seven usable Adroid apps for high res: HibyMusic, UAPP, Onkyo Player, NE Player, Kamerton, FLAC HD Hit Stream, and Radson DCT.
  4. DanBa
    I download Kamerton.
    It can play high resolution audio / DSD files, but the output PCM streams are always 48kHz PCM streams.
    Kamerton is just another generic music player interfacing with the Android media player framework.
    kawaivpc1 likes this.
  5. Theogenes
    @kawaivpc1: I believe a lot of the media players out there that advertise hi-rez playback simply mean they can read the file (often by downrezzing), not that they can actually output the file at the correct rate to another device. I'd love to see more developers come out with true hi-rez output (like UAPP can) though!
  6. StanD
    What I'd like to see is Android to properly suport USB Audio, natively. That's when we all win.
  7. Theogenes
    Agreed, wholeheartedly.
    kawaivpc1 likes this.
  8. seeteeyou
    It still wasn't done properly after 3 whopping years. Let's look forward to Android 6.X or something, LOL
    At least Sony did write some codes that's closer to native support in order to "ignore" useless Android media player framework for true hi-rez output.
    Actually Microsoft also didn't get it right for many years. Kernel streaming and WASAPI should be relatively new and most of us had to count on ASIO for a fairly long time.
  9. DanBa
    Usually, the audio subsystem of any existing operating system is not audiophile-oriented.
    A lot of audiophiles using Mac don't prefer the stock audio subsystem of Mac OS X. Their preferred music player is from third-party developers like Audirvana.
    Stock audio software has to meet a lot of different requirements (mixer, video audio, ...), while third-party audiophile-oriented software has to only focus on sound quality.
    The Android audio subsystem has also to handle a lot of features like Android Auto or Android Open Accessory 2.0 (AOA 2.0).
    However, " As mentioned at comment #1345 above, this is the initial support.
    I know there are more use cases and features that are not yet supported (for example "audiophile" and multi-channel).
    And there are combinations of Android devices and USB peripherals that don't work.  I can't commit to supporting everything, but I do want to increase peripheral coverage and add the most critical missing features." [Android audio team].
    One possible audiophile-oriented solution is the introduction of a deviation flag "Hi-res Audio via USB" à la Sony at the interface of the Android media player framework.
    If this flag is not set, the legacy Android media player framework is used.
    If this flag is set, the legacy Android media player framework is bypassed, and the USB audio PCM stream delivered by a generic media player is directly sent to the ALSA USB audio driver at the kernel level.
  10. jk47
    it seems to me that you are merging two issues that need to be separated.   1. the software-  the standard audio software may not be optimal for sq.  2. the dac itself.  whatever the software, what comes out will always be limited by the quality of the dac..  using, e.g., audirvana with a mac, for example, still uses the mac's own dac.
    so a primary question, it seems to me, is the quality of the dac's supplied with the devices in question compared to the dacs available in a usb dac/amp.  
    [i also don't understand why it would help matters for "a generic music player" to deliver a stream, since this implies the music file has already been processed by the onboard dac.  it seems to me that part of the point of a dac/amp is to BYPASS the onboard dac and send an unprocessed digital file to a superior music processor.]
  11. essentiale
    can confirm that Google Motorola Nexus 6 works with the ifi Micro iDSD using an OTG cable, no need to use UAPP as i was using PowerAmp. Do feel free to add it to the list. Android 5 Lollipop rocks!
    DanBa likes this.
  12. Mytheroo
    Update on my in-car USB journey:
    Due to horrendous GPS on Lollipop I've installed CyanogenMod11.
    Nexus 5 >> OTG-Y >> USB cable (+5V wire cut) >> USB powered hub >> HIFiMeDIY Android >>  JVC head unit (analogue in)
    Works but volume is either on or off (fine in this application) and I suspect I lose the 44.1Khz output from the phone and instead all is reconverted to 48kHz.
    I briefly had a USB cable without the +5v wire cut and at various points my phone would brick requiring the battery to be unplugged in order to get it to reboot. I am working on a constant 5v source for the hub (currently goes off during engine starts and ignition off)
    The interference is not present in headphones, so I have ordered a ground loop isolator for the EXT-IN to the head unit.
  13. Theogenes
    Interesting. Keep us posted, man!
  14. DanBa

    The digital music file is never sent to a DAC.
    The generic music player (i.e. stock music player, Neutron, Poweramp, Spotify, etc.) uses the AudioTrack class of the Android media player framework to output PCM audio towards a DAC.

    The basics:

    A digital audio system is composed of:


    . Storage module: Music is stored in file as a series of bits 0 & 1 with different encoding formats (MP3, WAV, FLAC, ...).
    . Player: The player decodes the bits 0 & 1 to PCM audio signals.
    . DAC (Digital to Analog Converter): The DAC converts the PCM audio signals to the original analog audio signals.
    . Amplifier: The amplifier amplifies the analog audio signals.
    . Headphones: The headphones restitutes the music.


    Like a PC or a Mac, an Android phone / device is a digital audio system.


    Android devices with USB audio enabled can output the PCM audio stream to an external standard USB DAC & amplifier, potentially much more efficient than the internal DAC & amplifier.

    The related post is focused on the audio software running on a computing device (i.e. Android device and Mac (via Audirvana)).

    On a same audio system (same Android device, same USB DAC, same amp, same headphones, same cables, same ears), different music player software (stock music player, Neutron, Poweramp, UAPP, ...) provides different sound quality.

    In other words, different software provides more or less clean PCM audio stream:
    . more or less jittered: less jitter is better, otherwise the DAC can be misled (i.e. when receiving a PCM audio signal, the DAC "needs to declare it a 1 or 0" at its sampling time)
    . more or less well-formed: a more well-shaped PCM audio signal is better, otherwise the DAC can be misled
    . more or less EMI/RFI: less interferences is better, otherwise the electronic parts of the DAC can be affected
    . more or less preserved: no 48kHz sample rate conversion or 48kHz sample rate conversion.

    More details can be found in the Audirvana article
    "This paper explains the main factors impacting sound quality on the computer side, and the means that have been implemented in Audirvana player and the AMR DP-777 DAC to boost the audio experience to the next level above the normal iTunes ..."

    or in "Modification Philosophy".
    jk47 likes this.
  15. jk47
    thank you for clarifying that, DanBa.
    what would be the effect, then, of using different players? neutron vs poweramp vs stock.  i know that at least on my last phone's onboard system, i did some a/b/c comparisons, and the music sounded better using neutron than stock or poweramp. 
    how big would the effect be of using different players when run through a much better external dac/amp?  i'd appreciate your thoughts.
    also, how does this compare with a dap? i have an ibasso dx90 that sounds very good [i'm looking to see if i can can even better sound without having to spring for an ak240.]  in my dx90 there is a "player" with involves the interface.  how good is THAT player?  [since we know all players are not created equal.]
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