M-audio Audiophile USB or FireWire Audiophile
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zhoufang

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Hi,
i'm looking for an external soundcard for as a source for my HD650.
I have narrowed my choices to M-audio Audiophile USB or the newer FireWire Audiophile.
My local prices for them are about $215 & $290 after conversion to US$.
I have searched through this forum as well as google but it seems that there is very limited user opinion on the USB and nothing regarding the firewire.
I intend to plug the HD650 directly onto the buildin headphone jack for this time being and may be getting a headphone amp later.
the firewire though newer and more expensive, its THD & S/N spec by m-audio is a few dB lower than the USB, so is the sound from the firewire indeed of a lower quality?
The only real benifit I can see for the firewire is more robust firewire interface that will not cause the sound to break down when the CPU load is high (but how often it happen when I'm just listening to stereo 44K/16). The 2 extra line out is an advantage but that isn't so important for my intended use.
It will be great if someone who have used both of them can share some experiance.
 
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SouthPaW1227

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Welcome to the boards!!

I recently picked up the newly released (well, a months now) FireWire Audiophile and can give some opinions on it. First off, I got mine for a really cheap price ($233 brand new!) so for just a few dollars more than the USB unit, I went for the FireWire unit. I wanted it b/c I use a Mac and a PC and both have FireWire ports, and I just like FireWire better b/c I know it's transfers are up to snuff and my Duallie G4 doesn't have USB 2.0.

First off, it's extremely well built, very nice looking, and very solid. Great software bundle and recently updated drivers have made it perform perfectly. The ins/outs work super on my Mac & PC, and I like the fact it can be used as a mixer so I can record some of my guitar tracks in through it. I got this b/c I listen to my tunes 90% of the time on my computer, and wanted a direct digital output into my amp & then to my headphones. (See my sig. for setup details) First, let me warn you, the included headphone out is NOT a highly amplified headphone out at all...even my ATH-A500s, which play beautifully un-amped, sounded noticeably less lively than when played through my PIMETA amp. It's just there for referencing quickly w/o playing through external speakers (for recording/mixing), it's NOT to be used as a dedicated headphone out like the output of a headphone amp.

So I connected my RCA-to-RCA from the outputs on the Audiophile into my new MGHead OTL amp, and then plugged my W1000s into the amp & cranked through some 320kbps AAC files...absolutely outstanding! Pristine quality throughout...this does a wonderful job of piping digital audio on your hard drive to your amp/headphones. It even has a "level controller" that does a great job of bringing your music up to a level and acts as a secondary volume controller of sorts.

Everything through it is perfectly hiss-free and hassle free operation...it also has another FireWire port on it so you can plug it in (and it powers itself from the FireWire, no AC adapter required for 6-pin FireWire use, however a 4-pin cable [and 6-pin] in included along w/ a AC adapter for those w/ just 4-pin FireWire ports) and power something else like an iPod or external hard drive.

I can't compare it to the USB one, but if you can find a good deal where you're at, you won't be let down!
 
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Andrew_WOT

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What about CPU utilization?
 
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raif

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I wouldn't suggest the firewire if you plan on unhooking it alot. I had one for my powerbook, and everytime I unhooked it, or it reset its connection, the volume would max out. I had to rip headphones off my head more than once.

Having it reset all of its settings everytime it was disconnected was also a hassle in and of itself.

Sound quality is really nice though.
 
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SouthPaW1227

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Quote:

Originally posted by raif
I wouldn't suggest the firewire if you plan on unhooking it alot. I had one for my powerbook, and everytime I unhooked it, or it reset its connection, the volume would max out. I had to rip headphones off my head more than once.

Having it reset all of its settings everytime it was disconnected was also a hassle in and of itself.

Sound quality is really nice though.


I have unplugged mine a lot and have NEVER had this happen...it could be your settings, or if you were using it just as a headphone amp, but I've never had this occur.
 
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SouthPaW1227

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Quote:

Originally posted by Andrew_WOT
What about CPU utilization?


I don't have an exact #, but it's got to be really low. I had iTunes going (at time w/ EQ), FireFox w/ 8 tabs, IE, Word, Yahoo Messenger, Photoshop, AND encoding/burning a DVD and the FireWire Audiophile never skipped a beat on my 3.0Ghz P4 w/ 2GB RAM.
 
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Jasper994

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Quote:

Originally posted by raif
I wouldn't suggest the firewire if you plan on unhooking it alot. I had one for my powerbook, and everytime I unhooked it, or it reset its connection, the volume would max out. I had to rip headphones off my head more than once.

Having it reset all of its settings everytime it was disconnected was also a hassle in and of itself.

Sound quality is really nice though.


??? The Audiophile USB volume control is a knob on the front of the unit. Its volume is not controlable through windows at all.
 
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Jasper994

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BTW, now that the Audiophile has had some burn-in time it sounds awesome!!!
 
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Andrew_WOT

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Quote:

Originally posted by SouthPaW1227
I don't have an exact #, but it's got to be really low. I had iTunes going (at time w/ EQ), FireFox w/ 8 tabs, IE, Word, Yahoo Messenger, Photoshop, AND encoding/burning a DVD and the FireWire Audiophile never skipped a beat on my 3.0Ghz P4 w/ 2GB RAM.


It doesn't indicate much. Can you run Rightmark Audio CPU utilization test.
Can be found here
http://audio.rightmark.org/
 
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raif

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Quote:

Originally posted by Jasper994
??? The Audiophile USB volume control is a knob on the front of the unit. Its volume is not controlable through windows at all.


its the firewire version.
and it was connected to an apple powerbook.

Also to southpaw, if you are using an amp seperately, then you keep the "volume" maxed constantly regardless, so you wouldn't notice a difference.

Or you are using windows.
 
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SouthPaW1227

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Quote:

Originally posted by raif
its the firewire version.
and it was connected to an apple powerbook.

Also to southpaw, if you are using an amp seperately, then you keep the "volume" maxed constantly regardless, so you wouldn't notice a difference.

Or you are using windows.


Not exactly sure what you're talking about here...I'm using Mac & Windows at times. My volume (level) on the FireWire audiophile is not always maxed at all, usually it's somewhere around midway.
 
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GSh

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I just put in an order for my Firewire Audiophile from jandr.com for $199. I can't wait to finally get away from my onboard PC audio. Now...on to shopping for RCA interconnects...
 
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zhoufang

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from what SouthPaW1227 said it seems to be not much of a point to buy any of the audiophiles without also getting a head-amp. (but I already bought my HD650 w/o any good source or amp!)
The only head-amps that I had found locally are Creek OBH-21SE and the older OBH-11SE, selling for S$640 and S$4XX respectively in Singapore dollars (1US$=1.68S$). But again the information about these Creek on the net is extremely limited, I haven't read of anyone using them for HD580/600/650.

http://www4.head-fi.org/forums/showt...5&pagenumber=1
from the above thread I have read that the USB audiophile use 7 cheap JRC 5532 op-amp, and by smart guess these op-amps are used for the headphone jack as well as the line-out.
Checking with the PCI audiophile 2496, it uses the same op-amp as well (of course it must be for line in/out).
I would guess that the firewire audiophile use the same cheap op-amp too.
This has caused me some worry about buying a audiophile as a "no need to upgrade" analog line out source.
But since all source without exception comfirm that the Line-outs from all the audiophile series product are pretty good, so maybe I should just take it as the fact and care less about the inside work of the "black box".

By Logically analysing the firewire doesn't really offer me any benefit over the USB, plus I need to get additional 1394 adaptor for it bcos my comp don't have one build in.
the firewire ver's real attraction to me is its much better looking.
The firewire looks pro and the USB looks rather cheapo.
 
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raif

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Maybe I got a funky audiophile.

I went to guitar center to try one and the volume knob barely worked. Got out a second one that had a little better reaction to the movement of the volume knob. I had all kinds of little annoyance issues with the product, but I guess each to his own.

Maybe the issue was on my computer's end, either way the settings on the audiophile I owned were reset everytime I unplugged it from the computer.
 
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sleepkyng

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if i just wanted to have a nice sound card to go out to my external dac, is the firewire audiophile the best choice???


right now i have a modded sonica which is good but not grand
 
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