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lee730

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DACport LX is working great for me and I managed to get in on sale.
 
 
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post-7685214
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grokit

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That Luxman DA-200 has analog preamp functionality:
 

 
It includes a class A headamp and there's a 115-volt model now. S/pdif is 192k, USB is 96k.
 
 
 
 
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post-7686809
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wind016

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Quote:
Here's a link to an Ayre white paper with some info: http://www.ayre.com/pdf/Ayre_USB_DAC_White_Paper.pdf

Of course, it's a mfr's white paper so keep that in mind but I think it's a helpful leaping off point. Then just google a bit, there's a bunch of info out there. Just how conclusive it is is a different story.
Quote:
Gordon also has some very helpful info over at the Wavelength site: http://www.usbdacs.com/Concept/Concept.html and Empirical has a number of papers on their site: http://www.empiricalaudio.com/computer-audio/technical-papers/
 
The upsides to optical digital are that it breaks ground loops, and it's immune to EM and RF interference. Unfortunately those are the only upsides. The electrical > optical > electrical conversion makes a hot mess of timing, and performance is far worse than coaxial S/Pdif and AES/EBU. The traditional performance ranking for connecting a transport to a DAC would be 1. I2S 2. S/Pdif that is 75 Ohm from end to end, with BNC 3. AES/EBU 4. S/Pdif via RCA 5. Optical. The now mostly out of favor ST optical transmission format is superior to the common toslink system, but I don't know how it compares to the others.
 
Asynchronous USB is a bit apples and oranges because it's only for computers and servers, CD transports don't use it. The performance advantage comes from getting the timing control away from the computer. The jitter from soundcards via optical or coaxial digital is extremely high, which is where USB (or Firewire in the Weiss products) comes in. You get rid of the soundcard, and you take the timing away from the computer.
 
 
 

Thanks a lot for the info! Seems I'll have to wait until Anedio comes out with their asynchronous convertor.
 
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post-7686864
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DaveBSC

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Quote:
Thanks a lot for the info! Seems I'll have to wait until Anedio comes out with their asynchronous convertor.

I didn't know they were working on one. Do you know anything about it?
 
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post-7686886
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wind016

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Quote:
I didn't know they were working on one. Do you know anything about it?

project86 seems to have been keeping contact with Anedio. His post here says the convertor may be coming out soon and with a discount for D1 DAC purchasers. I guess I'll wait for my discount instead of purchasing one. I can't say I notice any jitter effects, but then again I've never used asynch.
 
 
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DaveBSC

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Quote:
project86 seems to have been keeping contact with Anedio. His post here says the convertor may be coming out soon and with a discount for D1 DAC purchasers. I guess I'll wait for my discount instead of purchasing one. I can't say I notice any jitter effects, but then again I've never used asynch.

Interesting, I'll have to keep an eye on that. There are quite a lot of them now, Stello just released their U3 which is asynch, and the newer Music Streamer products have that as well. Obviously not all are created equal, and it takes more than just asynch conversion to produce good sound (see the original Hiface). At this point it does seem like either high quality regulated AC power or battery power are better than USB bus power, which isn't surprising really. The USB spec wasn't really designed for that.
 
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Veniogenesis

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I just wanted to point out Vincent Kars' website The Well-Tempered Computer (http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/).  I think it's a fine introductory resource for computer audio.  You might be interested in his lists of equipment available on the market such as his list of USB DACs (http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/USB_DAC.htm).  Best of luck with finding the best source for you!
 
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post-7707777
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Elysian

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To chime in, I haven't heard either device, but from corresponding with people who have, the Wavelength USB-S/PDIF converter might be the better premium option on the market right now.  A number of people who have compared that against the Weiss INT 202 ($1885 + $290 remote) seem to prefer the Wavelength, and the Wavelength's almost half the price ($900).  Meanwhile, the V-Link ($169) seems the best in the budget category.  There are lots of complaints about the hiFace ($150) for people with very high-end setups. hiFace seems okay for lower to mid-end equipment.  The Audiophilleo 2 ($579) might be worth a look for something priced in between the Wavelength and the hiFace.  Last but not least, there's the Halide USB-S/PDIF bridge ($450).
 
I'm holding out for more comprehensive comparisons on the Berkeley Alpha USB before making a decision on purchasing a converter, as the Berkeley might end up being the best-of-class.  It's going to use the Wavelength technology, which is good given the great tech in the Wavelength, but also makes the Berkeley's MSRP (nearly twice the Wavelength at $1695) raise some eyebrows.
 
From what I've read elsewhere, the USB-S/PDIF converters seem to be (subjectively) superior to the standard Lynx AES16 solution, probably because, as people have already mentioned, you're getting off of the sound card and onto USB/Firewire.  External clocks also seem to be overkill (and arguably detrimental) if your DAC already has a very good internal clock, so I'm not really seeing the advantage of the Lynx.
 
This is all based on my research, so my opinion's liable to change in a few months once I finally receive more gear to test :)
 
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post-7707820
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grokit

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Quote:
External clocks also seem to be overkill (and arguably detrimental) if your DAC already has a very good internal clock

Excellent post, thanks for that. Just shortened it for comment purposes, as my experience agrees with this particular point. I tried a Firestone Bravo/Supplier external clock/USB-spdif converter with a couple of DACs, and while it was a vast improvement on my Matrix Mini-i's USB input (which is by far its weak point), it sounded the same as a simple $50 non-clocking hardware USB-spdif converter with my Bel Canto DAC2 (or going with the optical input for that matter), which has an excellent internal clock.


 
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post-7707831
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Elysian

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Quote:
Excellent post, thanks for that. Just shortened it for comment purposes, as my experience agrees with this particular point. I tried a Firestone Bravo/Supplier external clock/USB-spdif converter with a couple of DACs, and while it was a vast improvement on my Matrix Mini-i's USB input (which is by far its weak point), it sounded the same as a simple $50 non-clocking hardware USB-spdif converter with my Bel Canto DAC2 (or going with the optical input for that matter), which has an excellent internal clock.
 
 
Thanks!  I've been doing a lot of research on the subject as I'm trying to find the best way to feed my Berkeley Alpha DAC once it arrives.  Your experience sounds spot-on with the people I've been corresponding with who know their stuff (high-end DIYers and technical/specs-minded people).
 
I'm sure you've already seen this, but for the benefit of any others here, I'm posting the epic Dan Lavry post debunking external clocks.  I've pasted the post in its entirety below.  The good people at GS also confirm this, and Dan has gone on the record since then reiterating this point.
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/340880-dan-lavry-tape-op.html
 
Quote:
http://recforums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/t/14324/0/
 
If you hear differences when you change clocks "controlling" your converters, then you have a defective converter design! A well-designed converter should contain internal phase locked loops whose performance reduces any incoming jitter artifacts to inaudibility. An external clock is a bandaid for a "cure" which can only be done properly within a good converter design. In fact, any converter which does not perform equally as good or BETTER on internal clock than external is also defective.

BK


Yes indeed! Well said.

The best way to clock a converter is with internal clock, using a good fundamental frequency crystal (third order types are more jittery), and locating the crystal properly (good ground to the AD ample hold and so on). You now have a low jitter clock inside the machine.

What happens when you get a stand alone “almost no jitter clock”? You look AT THE OUTPUT CONNECTOR of that “super clock box” and it generally can work as well as the internal crystal clock Now take a cable and hook it to the AD chassis. Now you have to go through some electronic circuit to receive the clock. At this point, you have accumulated a lot more jitter (I can list half a dozen causes).

Well, this is not the end of the road. The big one is the PLL circuit. Unlike the internal clock (fixed crystal case), you have a crystal that can be pulled up or down by some amount, we call it a VCXO (voltage controlled crystal oscillator). There is some circuitry in there that keeps comparing the incoming external clock rate to the VCXO, and makes the proper adjustment on an ongoing basis…
What is more steady? A mediocre internal crystal implementation is going to outdo even a good external clock implementation.

But there are times and reasons to use external clocks. For example, if one needs to sync many chassis…

It is true that the PLL does better when fed a less jittery clock, but that is just a tiny portion of the overall issue. As Bob stated, most of the burden is on the PLL. A Good PLL, inside the AD chassis should clean most of the jitter out.

Why do you get such different results with different sources? I am not there to probe. I would not start with comparing how much jitter each source provides. I would look into issues such as driving coaxial lines, and proper termination impedance. Make sure the clock lines have no “branches” – Driver to point A, than to point B, than to C all in series.

I am no fan of distribution amplifiers either. You can not beat:
Driver to point A (with a BNC T), than to point B (with BNC T)… at the end the BNC T is terminated with the proper line impedance (if the cable is 75Ohm, so is the termination). It is a cost effective solution that yields the best results.

BR
Dan Lavry
 
Last but not least, Berkeley Audio Design (some of the most knowledgeable people in the business; they were formerly the core Pacific Microsonics team, responsible for HDCD) has also confirmed that an external clock is actually detrimental to a properly designed internal clock.  A master clock makes sense in a pro studio when you need to ensure that everything is on the same clock, but it's pointless for an audiophile setup with high-end gear.  It'll help with improperly designed or low-end gear, but there's no need if you're buying Antelope, Berkeley, Weiss, etc.
 
Quote:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Clocks-and-Alpha-DAC
 
Regarding the Alpha DAC not having a word clock input, I understand your concern. It's interesting that clocking is perhaps the area of the Alpha DAC's design we spent the most time and effort on.
 
We learned from development of the Pacific Microsonics Model Two that the most critical clock in an audio system is the conversion clock - the internal clock in the ADC or DAC. That clock needs to be extremely stable and have as little jitter as possible. Ideally, the clock in an ADC or DAC should not have to lock to an external clock at all, whether it is derived from a digital signal stream or a separate word clock.
 
That is why there is a "Master" mode for the Model Two that makes the internal conversion clock a master clock output to lock external signal sources to, such as DAW's or transports. That way the signal source locks to the conversion clock for lowest conversion jitter, not the other way around.
 
In designing the Alpha DAC we spent a long time developing a sophisticated proprietary system with extremely transparent audio quality that allows the Alpha DAC's conversion clock to operate virtually as a master clock for the DAC in high isolation from the incoming clock signal. This also allows the Alpha DAC to lock very quickly to different input sampling frequencies (very important with music servers and something the Model Two can't do) and eliminates the need for a separate word clock input.
 
It's too bad so many people buy into the marketing without understanding the technology, and subsequently waste so much money on ridiculously overpriced gear.
 
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post-7708461
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chesebert

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I believe network players, like Linn DS or PWD w/ bridge, are the best way to play audio files stored on a computer or a NAS. Linn's Klimax DS sounds better than all the CDP I have heard in the past.
 
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anetode

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Quote:
It's too bad so many people buy into the marketing without understanding the technology, and subsequently waste so much money on ridiculously overpriced gear.


Like USB-SPDIF converters.
 
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Elysian

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The overpriced bit is arguable, though without getting a sense of the R&D costs, BOM, and margins necessary to keep a small company afloat, I'm not going to say yay or nay, other than that the functionality seems scant for the price.
 
The point is that external clocks are proven, for higher-end equipment (eg, the demographic which generally possesses the disposible income to even consider adding an external clock to their setup), to do nothing or to degrade the sound quality for a non-pro setup.  The V-Link has good reviews and is <$200, so it's up to the community to decide whether that falls under the category of overpriced.
 
USB-S/PDIF is a useful intermediary technology for DACs which aren't natively equipped with USB or firewire, as S/PDIF carries varying degrees of jitter based upon the source.  In a few/several years, DAC developers will probably figure out a way to get USB/firewire onto the DACs directly while minimizing the noise the input would introduce from a computer, but until then, USB-S/PDIF converters serve a meaningful purpose.  I've copied Berkeley's statement on why they don't put USB/firewire on the DAC itself.
 
Quote:
Michael Ritter:
"We deliberately do not have a USB or FireWire input on the Alpha DAC due to the noise it would potentially introduce from the computer.
D to A converters are both digital and analog devices, and for the best possible audio quality it is very important to keep the electrical environment inside the DAC enclosure as isolated and quiet as possible.
We feel the best way for a DAC to accept a USB signal is to convert it to a balanced AES3 digital audio signal in an external device and only connect the isolated AES signal to the DAC.
Since the external USB2 to AES3 converter will be designed to work with the current Alpha DAC there will be no upgrade required and no product obsolescence."
 
 
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post-7709052
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wind016

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Quote:
 
Thanks!  I've been doing a lot of research on the subject as I'm trying to find the best way to feed my Berkeley Alpha DAC once it arrives.  Your experience sounds spot-on with the people I've been corresponding with who know their stuff (high-end DIYers and technical/specs-minded people).
 
I'm sure you've already seen this, but for the benefit of any others here, I'm posting the epic Dan Lavry post debunking external clocks.  I've pasted the post in its entirety below.  The good people at GS also confirm this, and Dan has gone on the record since then reiterating this point.
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/340880-dan-lavry-tape-op.html
 
 
Last but not least, Berkeley Audio Design (some of the most knowledgeable people in the business; they were formerly the core Pacific Microsonics team, responsible for HDCD) has also confirmed that an external clock is actually detrimental to a properly designed internal clock.  A master clock makes sense in a pro studio when you need to ensure that everything is on the same clock, but it's pointless for an audiophile setup with high-end gear.  It'll help with improperly designed or low-end gear, but there's no need if you're buying Antelope, Berkeley, Weiss, etc.
 
 
It's too bad so many people buy into the marketing without understanding the technology, and subsequently waste so much money on ridiculously overpriced gear.


Great finds Elysian! I was looking for information like this. I didn't think an Anedio D1 DAC would improve at all (at least, audibly) with a convertor box and I suppose it shouldn't.
 
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post-7709067
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DaveBSC

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Quote:
To chime in, I haven't heard either device, but from corresponding with people who have, the Wavelength USB-S/PDIF converter might be the better premium option on the market right now.  A number of people who have compared that against the Weiss INT 202 ($1885 + $290 remote) seem to prefer the Wavelength, and the Wavelength's almost half the price ($900).  Meanwhile, the V-Link ($169) seems the best in the budget category.  There are lots of complaints about the hiFace ($150) for people with very high-end setups. hiFace seems okay for lower to mid-end equipment.  The Audiophilleo 2 ($579) might be worth a look for something priced in between the Wavelength and the hiFace.  Last but not least, there's the Halide USB-S/PDIF bridge ($450).
 
I'm holding out for more comprehensive comparisons on the Berkeley Alpha USB before making a decision on purchasing a converter, as the Berkeley might end up being the best-of-class.  It's going to use the Wavelength technology, which is good given the great tech in the Wavelength, but also makes the Berkeley's MSRP (nearly twice the Wavelength at $1695) raise some eyebrows.
 
I honestly don't know where Weiss came up with that price for the INT-202, other than they think people will pay it because it says Weiss on it, and I guess its a "retail" product as opposed to Weiss' professional use products, which means an 80% markup for no reason. There's no way Weiss isn't making HUGE profits on that thing.
 
I should mention that John Kenny's MK2 Hiface has been described as at least matching, if not beating the Wavelength Wavelink, at half the price again. Given all of the improvements in the MK3, I would expect that to easily outperform the Wavelink. There are two more options at the price level of the Berkeley Alpha USB - the Sonicweld Diverter 192, and the Empirical Off-ramp 4. The Diverter is a lot like the Audiophilleo (bus powered, all proprietary stuff) in a much more attractive package. Most of the online audio press raved about the original adaptive mode Diverter, so it may be worth looking in to the new one.
 
The Off-ramp starts at $800 and goes from there. Fortunately you don't need to spend a grand on the Monolith for it, B-P-T makes a battery supply that will work fine, for I think around $500. You can also attach a Hynes power supply rather than opting for battery power.
 
 
 
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