Anybody see or use this?
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grinch

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wow, that thing actually looks really bad ass! i bet this is more of what kelly is looking for.. i bet it'd make a wonderful little addition to a laptop; provides a much cleaner spot for that headphone amp you carry around with you.. hope somebody tries it out and gives us a review! hell, i might even look into one for my desktop here at work..
 
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aeberbach

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I saw it at Macworld New York - a good thing, but I would compare the price to the Xitel hi-fi link before buying. 24-bit (vs. 20-bit) and optical/analog in one box seems to be the difference, but the Xitel boxes sell for only $40 or so. My hi-fi link (optical version) takes care of getting my MP3s and internet radio to the receiver, a really good device.

(incidentally they claimed that MacOS X 10.2 will be 5.1 ready, and that this box will give you surround sound. They had a demo that sounded very convincing...)
 
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kfaiman

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I am new to the world of hi-fi, but I recently bought a Sonica to go along w/ my HD590s and soon-to-come META42 amp. Out of curiosity, I popped it open to find the following:

- AK4353 96kHz 24-Bit DAC with DIT ...

- TAS1020A USB Audio Streaming Controller ...

- 24LC64 Serial Electrically Erasable PROM Memory ...

I'm happy w/ it so far. Waiting on the META42 to give it a true test w/ my HD590s. But, it sounds more detailed than out of my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz when I run the Sonica's analog line-out to my Denon receiver's built-in headphone amp. As expected, it really lets you hear all the defects in a poorly encoded MP3, like those annoying pops. For $80, its a pretty sweet deal, including a toslink output and 24-bit DAC analog line-out. Would be cool if some DIY'ers got their hands on it and found some ways to tweak this little DAC.
 
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post-172294
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morphsci

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Well I finally bought one of these. When I first hooked it up using a cheap AR mini-to-RCA cable I picked up a lot of noise, especially when I used the Wharfedale speakers and ASL Waves (rather than just the MID and my MSII's). That was disappointing so then I used the optical out to a Cal Gamma DAC. This sounds very good and no noise. Overall I am very happy with the Sonica. It replaced a Sony cs333es. I find that while working at my computer I cannot listen closely enough to warrant the 333 as a source. I lose the ability to play SACD's, but that is not a huge deal. If I need to listen to an SACD I just listen to it on the living room system.
 
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kelly

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Unfortunately, I need coax out to utilize my ART DI/O at work -- which seemed to be a common problem with these devices; many are optical only.

Does the Sonica force upsampling through its digital out? That's been another issue that's bothered me. I'd rather let my ART DI/O do any upsampling and have the device simply output standard 16/44.1.

The Acoustic Research cable isn't very good. If you had need to use the analog outs, the Bolder mini to RCA is very good. But, you knew that by now, I imagine.
 
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post-173023
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kelly

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Looks like they do at least provide an un-upsampled digital output. Here's the specs from their site:

- USB-to-S/PDIF Optical Out and 1/8" Mini-Analog Line Out
- S/PDIF Optical Out can transmit Linear PCM, AC3, or DTS
-Sonica Supports the following Output Formats
• 24-bit Linear PCM
• 16-bit Linear PCM

• 16-bit AC-3 over optical connector
• 16-bit Dolby Pro-Logic over optical connector
• 16-bit DTS over optical connector
• Windows 2000, or XP, or Max OS X version 10.1.5 or greater required for multi-channel output
- Sonica supports the following sampling frequencies (Hz) - 8000, 9600, 11025, 12000, 16000, 22050, 24000, 32000, 44100, 48000, 88200, 96000
 
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post-173027
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tangent

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Kelly,

The ART DI/O doesn't upsample. You might call it "subsampling", but that isn't right, either. When you set it for 88.2 kHz with a 44.1 kHz source, it samples each input bit twice. This doesn't give it any more information, but on output it's using a faster clock, which may have some obscure advantages. If you set the DI/O for 96 kHz instead, you will probably get noise or distortion because 96 isn't an even multipler of 44.1.

There's a thread over in the DIY forum about translating optical to coax digital. I don't know if I'll do this project or not. I just bought a used Monarchy DIP box which will do the conversion and re-clock my data at the same time -- it's not portable, but I don't need portability. And if you get the current model instead of the older one I'm getting, you do get upsampling.
 
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kelly

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tangent
88.2 on the ART DI/O does sound better to me than the 44.1 setting, whatever the reason. It seems there are plenty of people who disagree, though.

Regardless of this, people have said that soundcards that "upsample" (or whatever they do) to produce a higher rate from the digital out somehow manage to make the sound worse than it does in 44.1 when run to an outboard DAC. My soundcard here has ONLY the "upsampled" output so I can't make the comparison myself.

The ideal product I'm looking for would do the following:
44.1 PCM bitstream output
USB (or Firewire) input
DTS output
DD output
NO analog output
coax out
optical out
optical <- > coax conversion
small footprint
does not require power supply

I see bits and pieces of this want list in different products but none of them get the whole list.
 
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morphsci

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The Sonica does not force upsampling. The optical out is a limitation. Luckily my CAL Gamma has both an optical and coax input so that is not a problem for me. Definitely sounds better than the built-in audio on the laptop I am using this on. I really like it for its price, but as usual there are limitations.
 
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tangent

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Yes, modern computer sound cards do upsample. There's some Microsoft spec that says that PC sound cards have to use 48 kHz for everything natively. It's got to be some kind of bone for game developers so that they have a consistent target to program to.

Upsampling in and of itself isn't bad -- it can be good. It's a question of how intelligent your upsampling algorithm is. No surprise that a $50 PC sound card doesn't do as good a job at upsampling as a 4-figure Perpetual Technologies DAC.
 
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NewportGeek

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www.stereo-link.com

have used it before. beats any PCI soundcard (that isn't a professional recording tool)

laptop soundcards are ass. if you can put up with its annoying driver issues then the stereolink is a great option.
 
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zotjen

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I've been looking for something to use with headphones while watching DVDs on my PC. Looking at the three items mentioned in this thread, the Sonica, the Xitel hi-fi link, and stereo-link, as well as the Sennheiser DSP Pro, does anyone have any advice or opinions on which one would be best? Thanks.
 
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tangent

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First, dismiss the DSP series unless you're prepared to leave them set at a low volume level and add a good headphone amp downstream -- they have a significant amount of noise on them when driving Sennheiser headphones. You could probably drive Grados without bringing the noise floor up high enough to be annoying.

The stereo-link's headphone amp isn't as good as a CMoy DIY'd headphone amp. It's not nearly as bad as the DSP amps, but you will be better off if you also add a decent headphone amp to this one. I happily ran a stereo-link with various amps downstream for about a year on my work PC. That's probably the stereo-link's biggest advantage: the clean line outs. The headphone section is more of a bullet item than something worthwhile in and of itself.

The others I can't tell you anything about.
 
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