Computer vs. standalone cdp
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dk123

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If I do a setup something like laptop--> m-audio audiophile/tranist -->microdac -->amp, is it safe to expect better audio quality than simply using a consumer grade sony/onkyo cdp-->amp?

Thanks.
 
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jjcha

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Yes. I'm still amazed at the improvement of the Overture (predecessor to the MicroDAC) over the CD player in my Denon mini-system and the redbook playback of my $600 DVD player.

BTW, why not just go straight from the laptop to the [EDIT]MicroDAC? It's got a USB input as well.

Best regards,

-Jason
 
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dwc

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If you can get a CDP with a digital out, you can use the micro DAC and turn off the PC.
 
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dk123

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jjcha

BTW, why not just go straight from the laptop to the [EDIT]MicroDAC? It's got a USB input as well.

Best regards,

-Jason




Thanks for the reply. I wasn't sure if I could go straight to the microDAC with good results, since I'm sure the onboard soundcard in the laptop is not good. Is the onboard sound card become irrelevant if I go straight to the MicroDAC?
 
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jjcha

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Yes, if you connect the MicroDAC to your computer direclty through your computer's USB port it will bypass any soundcard on your computer.

Best regards,

-Jason
 
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Covenant

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dk123
Thanks for the reply. I wasn't sure if I could go straight to the microDAC with good results, since I'm sure the onboard soundcard in the laptop is not good. Is the onboard sound card become irrelevant if I go straight to the MicroDAC?


Bypassing the soundcard that way is also the most ideal setup from a sound quality point of view. You want as little jitter introduced as possible, and USB is almost entirely jitter-proof.

Another DAC you may want to keep in mind is the Brick. Its not as reviewed as the Micro, but after my long correspondence with Gordon i owe it to him to help promote his excellent series here
 
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Edwood

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Covenant
Bypassing the soundcard that way is also the most ideal setup from a sound quality point of view. You want as little jitter introduced as possible, and USB is almost entirely jitter-proof.

Another DAC you may want to keep in mind is the Brick. Its not as reviewed as the Micro, but after my long correspondence with Gordon i owe it to him to help promote his excellent series here



How is USB any more jitter proof than other digital connections? Worse yet, some USB cables carry power along with the data, which can only add yo interference issues.

The biggest problem with USB based DAC's is their "bandwidth limit" with computers. They are limited to 48KHz (?). But if you are a 44.1 purist, this should be a non-issue. Perhaps there will be a USB 2.0 interface that will allow all the way up to 192.

-Ed
 
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cmirza

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I never understood all this talk of 'jitter' on digital connections. If i'm using a USB hard drive, will the 'jitter' corrupt the data as its send to the hard drive? Then why would 'jitter' effect the 1s and 0s being sent between the usb port and the usb sound card?
 
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Scrith

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The Audiophile USB I use goes up to 24/96. I've done a lot of A/Bing between 44.1, 88/2, and 96 and I still can't make up my mind if there is any real difference between them with the Benchmark DAC1.

USB potentially has a huge advantage over toslink, s/pdif, and AES/EBU because the data can be transmitted to the DAC asynchronously (i.e. without any timing information...it is sent to the device as needed, presumably when its music data buffer is running low). This is the future, and you can make a very strong argument that, once we have high-end DACs that accept an asynchronous input, computers (or music servers or any other device that can asynchronously transmit lossless music data) will be inarguably the best transport.

One could already make the argument that computers are the best transport based on the fact that 1) a computer with 1000 CDs stored on a hard drive is incredibly powerful and convenient for music lovers with large music collections, 2) reading music data off a hard drive is much, much more reliable than a transport trying to read it in real-time off a CD (once you try to losslessly rip CDs you'll quickly learn just how flaky and unreliable CDs are if you want bit-perfect data), 3) with a "jitter-immune" device like the Benchmark DAC1 the supposedly jitter-prone transfer of data from the computer to the DAC is not a problem (there are ways to overcome this already, like the externally-powered USB and Firewire "sound cards" that many computer users are currently using), and 4) the wide-array of digital equalization and DSP options (which are surprisingly powerful, effective, and fun to play with) available to computer users makes their downstream high-fi equipment sound even better.
 
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Scrith

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cmirza, jitter is only a factor on digital connections that send data to devices that depend on the time at which the data is received (i.e. the DAC will play it at the exact rate it is received).

Asynchronous and 2-way data transmission (like that used by USB, Firewire, and Ethernet protocols) is not dependent on the precise timing of the data, so the existence of jitter in the data signal is irrelevant with these types of connections.
 
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sgrossklass

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AFAIK, currently everyone is still using isochronous transfers on USB, making jitter a big problem when developing USB audio chips. A link to an interesting article from a B-B engineer who had worked on such a beast was mentioned in a past discussion here. With asynch transfers you'd be right.
 
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Scrith

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Yes, with isochronous transfers jitter would be a problem. Unless you buffered the input and then used the buffered data using your own clock (which is basically what the Benchmark DAC1 is doing with its toslink, s/pdif, and aes/ebu inputs). I guess the general nature of a USB device kind of makes this approach inevitable to some extent.

The strange thing, in restrospect, about most old (and current) DACs is that they ever depended on the timing of the data from the source in the first place. This was probably the fault of the CD players, which were already using buffering because of the inconsistent read speeds off those flaky optical CDs, so why buffer it on the reading and "writing" end of the chain? I am guessing that most DACs started as an external version of the original internal DACs, which of course did not need buffering because it was happening on the transport side.

I suppose this is what makes the DAC1 so interesting...a DAC that finally attempts to remove the dependency on the transport for timing.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Edwood
The biggest problem with USB based DAC's is their "bandwidth limit" with computers. They are limited to 48KHz (?). But if you are a 44.1 purist, this should be a non-issue. Perhaps there will be a USB 2.0 interface that will allow all the way up to 192.

-Ed



They aren't limited to 48khz, cards like the Audiophile USB will support 24/96 but only with WDM or Kernel Streaming. M-Audio chose not to support ASIO 24/96 with the Audiophile USB I think because of latency.
 
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