Author Topic: DAC input limitations  (Read 1754 times)

Offline AlienLlama

DAC input limitations
« on: September 18, 2018, 09:33:41 AM »
Hi everyone

I'm currently using a Nuprime udsd. Very impressed with the unit and can confirm the praise on the forum is justified.

However, I'm trying to move away from PC as a source. I feel the usb input is somewhat limiting. Would there be any major difference in getting something like a cambridge dacmagic or something similar?

DSD is nice but not a major requirement as my system is probably not high end enough to hear a difference (still a difference though). I mainly listen to high quality flacc or stream via Deezer. Want to upgrade to a flacc streaming service in the future.  Portability is not a concern. I use analogue outputs. I'm considering replacing my PC with a Pi solution.  The Allo USBridge is not an option. Let me also state that I'm not considering an all-in-one solution for the Pi as I believe the DACs can't beat a standalone DAC on audio quality and flexibility.

In short. A more flexible DAC than the Nuprime , but giving the same performance and maybe giving up DSD capabilities. Budget is tight as I'm looking for a straight swop, if I need to spend more I'd rather upgrade my amp. Any options? TIA

Sent from my HUAWEI VNS-L31 using Tapatalk


Offline capetownwatches

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2018, 07:08:40 PM »
"I feel the usb input is somewhat limiting"

Are you referring to sound quality or utility?

I use this as a USB-S/PDIF bridge. It has SIGNIFICANTLY improved my PC's USB sound quality.
It's also an excellent standalone DAC.





Perhaps something similar will work for you?

Offline GoodEnoughGear

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2018, 07:20:05 AM »
Schiit Eitr for a great budget DI converter. Singxer SU-1 is excellent but that's $$$.
Mobile: LG V30, CA Andromeda
Portable: LH Labs GO2A SE, KEF M500
Home: Soekris DAC1541, Genelec 8030+7050, Eddie Current Black Widow II, HD600

Offline chrisc

  • Trade Count: (+148)
  • AVForums Grandmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 11,751
  • Total likes: 653
  • Cape Town Hi-Fi Club - we're getting better sound
Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2018, 07:48:07 AM »
Strangely enough, I found the opposite

The DAC (Devialet) has USB, Ethernet and SPDIF.   Only the USB can resolve DSD.   I tried the SPDIF and while it works well, seems not to have the sparkle of either USB or Ethernet.

The quality of the USB cable is terribly important.   Some esoteric copper conductor makes no difference (IMHO) but the quality of construction, and proper shielding is vital.   There is a distinct difference when substituting a well-made USB cable from using a cheapie printer cable

I have a fairly expensive 5m USB cable which came with a USB alarm panel interface.   Putting this in circuit results in drop-outs and clicking sounds.  Horrible.   At the moment I am using a short (0,5m) Lindy Cromo cable.   Better by far than the Audioquest Forest.   A friend is getting an Audioquest Carbon, so will try this out when it arrives

Similar results were found when using a Viviere and a Denafrips ARES

Then of course, how do you have USB set up in the computer?   Does the (media) program allow you to use it in exclusive mode?  Devialet for instance provide a USB driver for Mac and Windows.   Even the OS of the computer has an effect.   It is reported on Computer Audiophile that Windows 10 offers better USB control for audio.   On a Mac, High Sierra works better than Sierra

Lastly, is your USB socket in good condition?   Physically clean it with a cotton bud and contact cleaner spray.   Does it offer a tight connection to the plug?
Music is the shorthand of emotion

Offline DACMan1

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2018, 08:05:00 AM »
Don't worry about DSD, ever.

Offline ron g

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2018, 09:33:27 AM »


i found that the usb power cable mod from hiphibian makes a very big difference to my udsd- much less noise & harshness.
also made a clear difference with the korg dac.



& you sit there in the rubble, till it starts to feel like home
mary gauthier

Offline Cross_over

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2018, 09:06:46 PM »
I had a uDSD for about two years and replaced it with a Schiit Modi 3. It is $99 but by the time that Fedex and SARS each got their bit ot cost me R3000. What I can say is that the Modi is a significant step up from the uDSD in all areas. It is also much more versatile with one each USB, optical and rca inputs, so allowing you to investigate other sources besides a pc. I use a pc that runs JRiver that converts the few DSD files that I have to PCM on the fly and pretty much transparently at that.

Jason Stoddard, co-founder of Schiit with Mike Moffat (previously of Theta Digital), writes in his online book, Schiit Happened, that they see DSD as a fad just like HDCD was years ago. Reality is that 99.9% of music is in PCM format so rather optimise for that. I couldn't agree more.
The only exercise I get is jumping to conclusions

Offline AlienLlama

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2018, 09:21:08 PM »
"I feel the usb input is somewhat limiting"

Are you referring to sound quality or utility?

I use this as a USB-S/PDIF bridge. It has SIGNIFICANTLY improved my PC's USB sound quality.
It's also an excellent standalone DAC.





Perhaps something similar will work for you?
Referring to utility (USB input only)

Sent from my HUAWEI VNS-L31 using Tapatalk


Offline AlienLlama

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2018, 09:27:49 PM »
Strangely enough, I found the opposite

The DAC (Devialet) has USB, Ethernet and SPDIF.   Only the USB can resolve DSD.   I tried the SPDIF and while it works well, seems not to have the sparkle of either USB or Ethernet.

The quality of the USB cable is terribly important.   Some esoteric copper conductor makes no difference (IMHO) but the quality of construction, and proper shielding is vital.   There is a distinct difference when substituting a well-made USB cable from using a cheapie printer cable

I have a fairly expensive 5m USB cable which came with a USB alarm panel interface.   Putting this in circuit results in drop-outs and clicking sounds.  Horrible.   At the moment I am using a short (0,5m) Lindy Cromo cable.   Better by far than the Audioquest Forest.   A friend is getting an Audioquest Carbon, so will try this out when it arrives

Similar results were found when using a Viviere and a Denafrips ARES

Then of course, how do you have USB set up in the computer?   Does the (media) program allow you to use it in exclusive mode?  Devialet for instance provide a USB driver for Mac and Windows.   Even the OS of the computer has an effect.   It is reported on Computer Audiophile that Windows 10 offers better USB control for audio.   On a Mac, High Sierra works better than Sierra

Lastly, is your USB socket in good condition?   Physically clean it with a cotton bud and contact cleaner spray.   Does it offer a tight connection to the plug?
I use Windows 10 Professional. The usb cable is an el cheapo printer cable. Read a lot on usb cables and found that it didn't make a difference , but then again I didn't try myself. I use foobar2000. Socket clean? Probably. It's not like it's an old PC (2 years). It's tight enough I guess. But if you use the same equipment and just swop the pc for the raspberry pi then the better source will reveal itself regardless of anything else? Or am I wrong?

Sent from my HUAWEI VNS-L31 using Tapatalk


Offline AlienLlama

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2018, 09:30:13 PM »
I had a uDSD for about two years and replaced it with a Schiit Modi 3. It is $99 but by the time that Fedex and SARS each got their bit ot cost me R3000. What I can say is that the Modi is a significant step up from the uDSD in all areas. It is also much more versatile with one each USB, optical and rca inputs, so allowing you to investigate other sources besides a pc. I use a pc that runs JRiver that converts the few DSD files that I have to PCM on the fly and pretty much transparently at that.

Jason Stoddard, co-founder of Schiit with Mike Moffat (previously of Theta Digital), writes in his online book, Schiit Happened, that they see DSD as a fad just like HDCD was years ago. Reality is that 99.9% of music is in PCM format so rather optimise for that. I couldn't agree more.
I feel like the dsd files are enhanced/mixed better than their PCM equivalents (for what it's worth). I've tested dsd and pcm extensively and couldn't really tell a big difference. A different nonetheless.

Sent from my HUAWEI VNS-L31 using Tapatalk


Offline AlienLlama

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2018, 09:31:19 PM »

i found that the usb power cable mod from hiphibian makes a very big difference to my udsd- much less noise & harshness.
also made a clear difference with the korg dac.
Trying to kill two birds with one stone by getting a different dac that has separate power.

Sent from my HUAWEI VNS-L31 using Tapatalk


Offline capetownwatches

Re: DAC input limitations
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2018, 11:38:08 PM »
The usb cable is an el cheapo printer cable. Read a lot on usb cables and found that it didn't make a difference , but then again I didn't try myself.
I was cable agnostic myself until fairly recently. However, I think my system has reached a level of quality where differences in certain cables can absolutely be heard and appreciated.

If you had said to me even a few months ago that I would be investing in an "audiophile" USB cable I'd have laughed at you.
Then I could not hear any difference, now I can.
My recently acquired Wireworld Ultraviolet has been a revelation in terms of blacker background, better spacial definition and detail that is now easier to hear.

My advice is simple - if you have quality gear and are using a PC as media player via USB, try and audition one in your system.
The difference, if there is to be any with your ears and gears, will be almost immediately apparent.

USB audio quality can be truly of the highest order IF one makes certain that the implementation is sound (!)

And that does mean using whichever "decrapyfier" works for you.
An excellent DAC cannot perform at its peak without being fed a solid, low noise USB signal via a high quality cable designed for that purpose.

As always, your mileage/experience/opinion may vary, but this is my story and I'm sticking to it.  :)