Hiface Two vs. Hiface 1 vs. Xonar ST vs. DVD transport Review. Review on Tweek Geek Audio Dealer as well!
May 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

Audioexcels

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First of all, I am not sure where to post my impressions about Tweek Geek, but they are hands down a phenomenal dealer for those in the US that are looking to get your hands on the latest products such as the Hiface 2 or even to take a device for a test spin as they often have a demo of something you may be interested in, and you get a free trial with it.  The CEO of the company responded directly with me about the shiipping/handling, and also about my return (see more on that later).  I found this to be absolutely top rate as every other place one usually buys something from has multiple customer service representatives and they may do a fine job, but it's not exactly like going one on one with the CEO who is a very good guy from my experience.  
 
Website: http://www.tweekgeek.com/
 
When the Hiface 2 came out, I was very excited.  I know a person that owned the Jkeny MK2 and also a stock Hiface 1 w/custom power supply, and he said his stock Hiface 1 w/custom power supply (nothing fancy) was equal or better to the Jkeny MK2.  I made a note of this because the "very few" people reporting excellent results with Hiface 2 vs. Hiface 1 made me think if I did the same w/power supply upgrade, the sound may even be better than anything Jkeny has made.  This would save me a solid $200+ if so:)!  But I was not getting ahead of myself and rather, wanted to hear this device first hand to see just what I was hearing.  As mentioned already, I bought and received the item very quickly from Tweek Geek, and they are the only company that had this in stock at the time that I ordered it.  So kudos again to them:)!!!
 
Regarding what I heard, I have to say right off, that I have not heard much of any "noteworthy" difference between different transports.  I have heard some differences in another person's system, but that person's "sound" is extremely different than mine (like polar opposites).  So what I will say will not be much of a substantial review, but a more basic one:))
 
Hiface 1: This sound is "ok", as in, it's cheap especially used right now, and you can just plug n' play w/install of drivers.  With the used pricing, putting a nice power supply on one makes it an absolute bargain, especially if the sound does in fact improve by a lot.  There's plenty of reviews out there, but I would say the main "issues" I have heard with it have been some coating over the sound/signal.  It just doesn't sound as transparent as the others.
 
Hiface 2: This is a very clean sound, very similar to my DVD player, but maybe a bit better:wink:.  I use the word clean because it has a very good clarity from top to bottom, without emphasizing anything.  It sounds very neutral all in all.  Most importantly, it requires no drivers for Linux/Windows...this was a major issue with Hiface 1.
 
Xonar ST: I found this to have a bit of emphasis in the midrange section vs. other transports, but again, this is very very subtle.  I cannot seem to explain how in my system, even very high priced transports do not sound much different than low priced ones.  What I like about the Xonar ST is that it supports ASIO and it also does not have the synch issues the Hiface units do.  So if you watch tv, this is a good transport that does not give up anything to the Hiface 2, but does sound more "emphasized" than the more neutral Hiface 2.  Similar tansparency and other things.
 
DVD Player: I enjoy using this as a comparison because one can buy them or even get one for free from a family member/friend/etc.  The DVD player has held its own with anything I have had in home.  It reminds me of something like the Hiface+Xonar ST..a combo of the two.
 
All in all, this is my summary of these devices:
 
1) Hiface 1 is a bargain right now if you plan to put say, an Aqvox PS on it.  I would bet it sounds fantastic after that.
 
2) Hiface 2 is a bargain not only for the Linux/Mac users, but for anyone as it is easily a superior sound than the Hiface 1, and it may just get better with an Aqvox supply on it.  SO it is without a doubt a real bargain, too.
 
3) Xonar ST has a very clean sound, too, but does have something on it.  It is transparent, but I think what it brings onto the signal is a bit of midrange emphasis, but not in a bad way necessarily.  It sounds warmish, yet transparent at the same time.  Everything else about it is quite excellent.  That it can be used without issues while watching tv is a good thing for people like myself.  At its used pricing, it too, is a great bargain.
 
4) DVD player or any cd transport for the matter all will have different sounds I'm sure, but it's just a cheap ole device that simply works.  About all I have to say about it.  You want to keep things out of the computer, I2S into a known enough dvd-blue ray-etc. player and have nice sound, but not quite the convenience of the computer obviously.
 
 
Everyone seems to have some sort of different notion on what a transport "sounds like", with many making very bold claims so as to say the transport is more meaningful than the external dac/preamp/etc.  I entirely disagree with this and if higher end units have been only subtle differences much the same as these more budget units I have just spoken about, then they are hearing things that I may be able to hear, but it's so subtle why bother?  I am sure there is some merit to why people do and do not hear differences in transports or better yet, why they hear such a night/day difference, and I am not discounting or taking away their merit since I do not hear whatever they are hearing w/exception of hearing it in a polar opposite type system that I did.  
 
I want to say I have no affiliation with Tweek Geek, but have to recommend them big time.  I know in a Hiface 2 thread, they mentioned a UK dealer that was superb.  Sounds like we have the US version over here in Tweek Geek.

Don't know if this helps anyone, but there ya go!

Cheers all!
 
Aug 5, 2012 at 9:36 AM Post #3 of 4

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Try a powered USB hub, I use a Belkin that came with a 4A linear based supply (the hub has onboard regulation), keeps the clocks ticking over. My DAC has no output muting, so no "hash" from the DAC after shut down is a nice side effect.
 
Nov 3, 2012 at 6:36 AM Post #4 of 4

Audioexcels

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Quote:
Try a powered USB hub, I use a Belkin that came with a 4A linear based supply (the hub has onboard regulation), keeps the clocks ticking over. My DAC has no output muting, so no "hash" from the DAC after shut down is a nice side effect.

 
I've used the Empirical Off-Ramp 4 w/Full Modifications both by itself and with the shortblock.  Look it up as a reference:wink:.  The powered USB hub sounds interesting.  Thanks for telling me about that one.
 

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