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The rabbit hole of USB audio connection "upgrades"


jwc
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15 minutes ago, CECAA850 said:

That's probably the difference in DACs, not delivery.  If you still have the extractor and an HDMI cable, you might try it.

 

I've done that.  Sold the oppo and returned the extractor to Amazon.

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1 hour ago, Shakeydeal said:

I don't understand why anyone would use a USB output from a computer anymore.

 

Agree. That is why I asked @jwc this

 

2 hours ago, rplace said:

But the constraint is the source of the noise (the PC) has to remain?

 

I don't get why you would be looking for improvements and not willing to explore all options.

 

1 hour ago, Shakeydeal said:

something like a Node 2i, or if more ambitious, something from Lumin or Innuous

 

Absolutely an option. However, I am constantly wondering why there is so much love for the Node 2i only to turn around and feed a DAC with it? There are 100 or more ways to skin this cat 50+ of them probably very good solutions. I'd guess most don't fully understand the technology involved and with all the good press and an attractive price point the Node 2 just "works". I fully get plug and play and ease of use. Easier to spend $500 on something that is plug and play than learn something new, source a few bits and spend 15 minutes putting them together. 

 

The constraints of PC and 100% USB and no RPi makes me think the mind is made up that there are improvements to be had. Best to pick a few items within the allotted budget and try them and make up ones own mind. If you hear a difference, maybe even an improvement, in your own room with your own equipment then you know. That difference/improvement may only be in your mind, but it does not make it any less real...right?

 

It a hobby and we all love chasing that next incremental "improvement". Its literally what we all do or we would not be here. I've probably spend $2,500 alone on various 6SN7 tubes. No doubt the older, rarer and more expensive for the most part were better...they had to be, right? Just my opinion, so not worth very much, but I think the less you understand the technology the more likely you are to believe there are hidden secrets that can be unlocked. The audio industry has always needed believers not skeptics in order to perpetuate itself. Keep moving like a shark or you die. Many parallels to other things that require belief over proof.

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If your DAC has a local buffer on the USB input channel,  then I'm not sure that your remaining issue is the USB connection, but perhaps the analog transfer function out of the DAC. 

 

There are USB to AES3 and I2S converters that have their own clocks internally and use those clocks to get rid of USB bus jitter.  I'd look for something in that area (if it were me).  I know you seem really invested in the USB bus only, JC, but the other approaches will provide equal or better results. 

 

About two years ago, I was looking for a USB (from a laptop) to AES/EBU converter with an internal clock.  I found some, but beware: the device drivers to recognize these converters on a USB bus weren't up to snuff (mainland China products).

 

Chris

 

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/08/demo-musings-lets-listen-to-some-jitter.html

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/jitter-does-it-matter.html

https://www.stereophile.com/content/2020-jitter-measurements

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I love my music server. The MacMini actually has a optical audio connection so I got toslink from my EAD DAC to music server. Never used a fancy cable it sounds better than I though possible for a music server. I also use it for Tidal....

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Chris A said:

If your DAC has a local buffer on the USB input channel,  then I'm not sure that your remaining issue is the USB connection, but perhaps the analog transfer function out of the DAC. 

 

There are USB to AES3 and I2S converters that have their own clocks internally and use those clocks to get rid of USB bus jitter.  I'd look for something in that area (if it were me).  I know you seem really invested in the USB bus only, JC, but the other approaches will provide equal or better results. 

 

About two years ago, I was looking for a USB (from a laptop) to AES/EBU converter with an internal clock.  I found some, but beware: the device drivers to recognize these converters on a USB bus weren't up to snuff (mainland China products).

 

Chris

 

http://archimago.blogspot.com/2018/08/demo-musings-lets-listen-to-some-jitter.html

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/jitter-does-it-matter.html

https://www.stereophile.com/content/2020-jitter-measurements

 

Many times I almost pulled the trigger on a Linx audio card to get the AES.

 

I am Married to a PC....I want this simplification.  I'm sure I've built between 200-300 PC's for novelty.  I got a bunch of extras laying around everywhere.  

 

Guys. I hear all yall.  I've read exhaustively on other ways to hook up.   This thread was to explore USB.....not all the other ways to use the DAC with other connection types.

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So the point of Jitter .....  that is a point of discussion but keep USB and not convert.

 

BTW...I really don't have an "issue".  Not a problem.  Just getting ideas for improvement with this connection.

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10 minutes ago, Chris A said:

If your DAC has a local buffer on the USB input channel

 

Wouldn't a simple test to check for USB problems be to sit in your listening position and have a 2nd person pull the cable out and see if  you can hear a difference? The buffer will let the music play and the offending noise from USB can't be there any more.

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8 hours ago, jwc said:

I've read on other forums the long threads on this subject.  Let me first throw out there.....Yes I get it if you think the data connection is just "1" and "0" s.  I don't really need to hear this argument again as there are certain individuals who refuse to listen.  If that is your opinion.....so be it.  I'd like to entertain some reasonable investment into this from those that have experience.  No I'm not talking about a $1000 USB cable.  I'm not doing that.  I am interested in purchasing some items to possibly improve the results from cables to other inserted gadgetry in the connection line.

 

 

Unless you have lots of transmission errors, or a grounding problem

It is a stream of 1 & 0 framed with timing bits and error correction CRC ARQ

It's a real data protocol that includes error correction.

Other than a shielded cable, you are pissing money away.

$20 solution for a good shielded cable.

 

As to which chip set the DAC uses, and how it handles internal buffering, errors, and A to D conversion

these are all design considerations by the Engineers, with cost and performance trade offs.

 

A bake off, where you bench test DACs with frequency sweeps, and run test patterns, aka Lazy  Dog, and count the errors. Is probably the only way to define any differences, a suck implementation may have audible problems.

 

Frequently, better designs are the ones that handle errors and problems better or gracefully.

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4 minutes ago, jwc said:

Guys. I hear all yall.  I've read exhaustively on other ways to hook up.   This thread was to explore USB.....not all the other ways to use the DAC with other connection types.

 

For what it is worth my system is 100% USB. I was not advocating a different connections to the DAC since you seem keen on that after my initial questions. I'm more unclear on the unwavering devotion to the PC. I'm also wondering why the video streaming is a deal breaker? Maybe some more information on the system as a whole. I've got thousands of CDs ripped to FLAC, 100s of DVDs/Blu-Rays ripped to .MKV and endless digital pictures all on a home network somewhere independent of any music/video device. They all play where/how I want them to. They all sound great, IMO, for the device they are intended to play on. Those devices could be casual listening outside, LoFi, or a dedicated room. Nothing plays directly from a PC....but just about every device is in one way or another a computer. Except my turntable and stacks of wax.

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3 hours ago, rplace said:

Is the goal to improve the sound by removing the noise? But the constraint is the source of the noise (the PC) has to remain? Furthermore, a Rpi solution like allo digione or hifiberry digi+ pro is not an option because your not "doing the whole raspberry thing". If so have you considered a DDC from Denafrips to sit between your PC and DAC? 

https://www.denafrips.com/ddc

 

If I'm wrong above, what are you trying to accomplish over your current configuration?

 

I'm assuming USB out from the computer, please correct me if I'm wrong. What would be the input to the DAC SPDIF/I2S/AESEBU/OPT?

 

 

If the PC is creating noise that is transmitted to the DAC via a cable

the best fix is to use an optical cable

Get a USB to toslink converter and use it between devices

Most DACS have an optical in port.

Also possible the PC is putting noise into the ground

a good power supply should filter it out, along with good grounding.

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Bubo...you have said something about $20 cable and power supply and grounding.  Please elaborate more.  This is the type of stuff I wanna hear.

 

By the way....I'm not hearing noise or noticing any jitter....  Even If I could.. lol.

 

I've yet to hear of anyone here that uses some "contraption" in the USB line to make "audiophile changes".  :)

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42 minutes ago, jwc said:

So the point of Jitter .....  that is a point of discussion but keep USB and not convert.

 

BTW...I really don't have an "issue".  Not a problem.  Just getting ideas for improvement with this connection.

 

Jitter would be caused by a defective timing implementation on the transmitter, or receiver

or in the case of a noisy cable; lost or garbled bits causing the clocks to lose sinc

Optical cables that are inferior or defective can cause lots of problems, better to use glass carefully.

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21 minutes ago, rplace said:

 

For what it is worth my system is 100% USB. I was not advocating a different connections to the DAC since you seem keen on that after my initial questions. I'm more unclear on the unwavering devotion to the PC. I'm also wondering why the video streaming is a deal breaker? Maybe some more information on the system as a whole. I've got thousands of CDs ripped to FLAC, 100s of DVDs/Blu-Rays ripped to .MKV and endless digital pictures all on a home network somewhere independent of any music/video device. They all play where/how I want them to. They all sound great, IMO, for the device they are intended to play on. Those devices could be casual listening outside, LoFi, or a dedicated room. Nothing plays directly from a PC....but just about every device is in one way or another a computer. Except my turntable and stacks of wax.

 

Well, I had over a TByte of Flac files that I never use anymore and don't plan too.  TT setup on idle for a long time.

 

Off my topic.... but What device do you recommend to stream Youtube videos, Youtube music or if I invest in a Tidal account for videos later?

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3 hours ago, jwc said:
4 hours ago, MeloManiac said:

Have you considered upgrading... 

1. Your usb-out card

2. To Ubuntu Linux (Windows is limiting USB output specs) 

 

check out this card

https://sotm-usa.com/collections/accessories/products/tx-usbexp-usb-3-0-interface-card

 

I've had almost zero problems with Linux Mint, and not had to install separate drivers. USB3 support is built into the newest distros, and Mint is based off of Ubuntu. Far, far less overhead than running MS Windows. I use the MATE version of Mint, which is a clean install that would look a lot like Win 7. Navigation is easy. Boot a live version from usb and check it out. All my interfaces use USB2, and ca easily handle multiple outputs at 192K.

 

https://linuxmint.com/

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23 minutes ago, jwc said:

Bubo...you have said something about $20 cable and power supply and grounding.  Please elaborate more.  This is the type of stuff I wanna hear.

 

By the way....I'm not hearing noise or noticing any jitter....  Even If I could.. lol.

 

I've yet to hear of anyone here that uses some "contraption" in the USB line to make "audiophile changes".  :)

 

Short version

Buy a $20 or less shielded cable with USB, the rest is just snake oil.

Plug all of your devices into the same power strip, preferably that has some filters built it

and ground loops should not be an issue.

 

Grounding my home like a commercial radio tower

did more to improve my TV picture than you would expect

It already rocked.

4 grounding rods, 8ft around the house, tied together in a ring, all pluming, cable, and power connected into the ring.

Added a whole house surge suppressor in the circuit breaker box.

This was done as part of putting a TV antennae and separate FM antenna on the roof

and ditching satellite and cable for steaming and broadcast.

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7 minutes ago, jwc said:

 

Well, I had over a TByte of Flac files that I never use anymore and don't plan too.  TT setup on idle for a long time.

 

Off my topic.... but What device do you recommend to stream Youtube videos, Youtube music or if I invest in a Tidal account for videos later?

 

Sorry I won't be much help there as I don't subscribe to any streaming services nor do I use YouTube.

 

Archaic, I know. After 30 years in the software industry I'm more Ted Kaczynski than Amazon Prime, as I value my privacy. That said, I'm very happy with my Nvidia Shield Pro. I only use it for PLEX but would find it hard to believe there is something better/easier for anything you wanted to stream...I'm sure there are cheaper options.

 

If you can't identify an issue (grounding, noise, isolation, etc. they should be obvious) but think/wonder if it could sound better with something inline between source and DAC why not just pick a few you believe the reviews/hype on and try them? return or resell as needed to scratch the next itch. Its what most of us do with most A/V choices.

 

Most people when asked by someone else what XXX should I buy. Will just tell you what they have and why they love it and why they made the choice (correctly of course) they did. They have done their own reading, investigating, research. They have arrived at that point with their own biases and external influences. There is a reason they already have it.

 

I can't tell you how many times I've asked about XYZ, been told to look at ABC or DEF but still bought XYZ. The one thing I did not do that with is my most recent DAC. I was hell bent on a Mytek Brooklyn DAC +. Months of reading, searching, posting on forums. Eventually I bought something totally different, a R2R NOS DAC, based on numerous comments on how analog they sound. Glad I did.

 

Good luck, let us know where you land and what you hear...or didn't hear.

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1 hour ago, Bubo said:

4 grounding rods, 8ft around the house, tied together in a ring, all pluming, cable, and power connected into the ring.

This sounds interesting. Any pics to give a better idea how it looks? 

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1 hour ago, The Dude said:

This sounds interesting. Any pics to give a better idea how it looks? 

Adding grounds WILL NOT usually solve "ground" (really noise/interface) problems.

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