Digital Transports - USB Solutions, CD and SD Players, DAPs, and More!

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Hands, Oct 11, 2015.

  1. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Friend

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    @Azteca your sarcasm is appreciated!
    I have the basic computer skills and patience to build a streamer/endpoint, however is something like the sonicorbiter OS better sounding than any of the other free ones like Volumio? I can't believe the sheer BS that Darko publishes on his site. I don't have a ton of free time but I certainly am not going to pay some company a 300+% markup to save me an hour or two of time.
     
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  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    It sounds better if you're using Roon.

    RAAT kills every other network streaming solutions IMO (AOIP not considered).
     
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  3. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Friend

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    I am interested in trying Roon out with an inexpensive endpoint. I found this article http://www.computeraudiophile.com/c...nopi-neo-7-99-high-resolution-audio-endpoint/ on Computer Audiophile. I wonder if it will perform similar to all the other DIY endpoints? It is interesting to see this type of article on CA. It would be interesting to gather all of these endpoints and do a shoot-out.
     
  4. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    Why is that? I'd love to read upon this if you've got any pointers to resources.
     
  5. Azteca

    Azteca Friend

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  6. jexby

    jexby Raised by Carthusian Monks - Friend

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    well I don't own speakers and never shall be caught dead listening to MJ, so we have some differences in our chain. ;)
    that being said- with Mutec 3.1+USB and this glass toslink cable vs. YFS AES cable, to EC Uber 7 and HE1K-

    with Lifatec glass
    can't detect any obvious changes to bass decay, brighter nor better hi hats, nor more depth nor wider presence.
    would fail an A/B listening test every time.
    just sayin.

    that being said, probably will use Lifatec cable from Mutec 1.2 to Gumby, since it lacks AES.
     
  7. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    I'm running fully balanced setup: Yggdrasil > XLR > Master 9 > XLR > HS8. Fully Balanced will have less crosstalk(separate grounding) thus improving stereo imaging. Also Soundstage/imaging on any good speakers is better than most headphones. Again it's a case of YMMV.
     
  8. jexby

    jexby Raised by Carthusian Monks - Friend

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    makes perfect sense + I'm Yggy single ended into EC Uber Super 7.
     
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  9. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    The other day I tested a few sources with an Oppo 103D with LPS, with the same 44.1 kHz wav material, played from:

    1. SDHC card (Sandisk Extreme 32 GB) via SD/USB converter
    2. microSD in a Sony Z3 streamed via wifi and the Oppo Media Control app to the Oppo
    3. USB stick
    4. SSD via USB adapter
    5. HDD via USB adapter
    Yet to be tested:
    6. Mac Mini via HDMI input
    7. Xperia Z3 via MHL input.

    I have tested with speakers (Harbeth monitors), Stax SR-007 and Fostex TH900 headphones, with coherent results.

    In this context, so far 1. sounded the best, being about the same as 2, followed by 3, then 4, then 5, which all sounded gradually a bit less defined and softer.

    Then I compared the SD playback vs CD playback with the following options (ordered by sound quality):
    1. CD source from modded Marantz CD10 + internal TDA1541 and analog stage
    2. CD transport from Marantz CD10 + coax + TDA1541
    3. CD transport from Oppo 103 + coax + TDA1541
    4. CD source from Oppo 103 via analog out.

    In general, CD sounded yet more defined and more dynamic than SD playback, but SD felt a bit smoother and sometimes preferable, with some music. I do see potential in SD playback, but I am not sure whether available players would beat the Oppo as transport in SQ by a reasonably large margin. I have measured the coaxial SPDIF output of the Oppo on a scope and it's basically as good as it gets compared to the plots on the lampizator transports page.

    Even more, I am curious whether is there anything (more convenient than CD player) that could replace the modded Marantz, which so far is unbeaten, as it has a uniquely clean, transparent, effortless sound with tremendous dynamics, with a very realistic sound stage and instrument timbre that I love. So far comparisons went like this: one sounds nice and musical (use your favorite expression), but then comes the Marantz and it sounds like being there. There is an uncanny phenomenon of rendering the body of instruments and the ambience, whether cello, piano, or sax, small chamber or large orchestra. Needless to say it rocks as well :).

    However, I have read so many wonder stories about good SD players it would be nice to try some of the normal priced ones.

    The D100 is on my shortlist, also the QA660, and more interestingly, the SDTrans384 (or SDTrans192).
    SSD players (especially with DLNA control such as the EC Designs SSD Music Server) also look interesting.
    I would prefer a DIY board that I could integrate with the 1541 DAC.

    Are there new experiences about this?
     
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  10. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    @zolkis

    In my experience current best sound via a storage device is from spinning usb disk connected to non music player pc and via ethernet (router or switch connected) to player pc. No usb devices on player pc except for dac.

    I would rank this above any disk attached to player pc. I did get very good sound with SD card on player pc but the second system shared disk just sounds better.

    And my pc systems have consistently beat any of my moderately priced cd transports I have tried way back when I made the perma switch to computer from cd players. It is fun to experiment, everything seems to matter, haha.
     
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  11. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    Thanks bixby, that sounds interesting and easy to try. So I need 2 PCs or laptops, one with an internal or USB-external CD reader, interconnected via an Ethernet router, and the player PC. What output do you use on the player PC, and what DAC?

    Can the player device can be anything that plays from Ethernet source, e.g. a network player, the Oppo 103 etc, and eventually that player connected via coax to external DAC?

    And the reason for better sound is no USB clutter and the fact Ethernet is galvanically isolated?

    Is this better than the other way round, a PC connected via microRendu to a USB DAC?
     
  12. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    Well, reading through the SDTrans384 threads, it seems the shorter the signal path and the less processing, with the least involvement of USB power, the better. Nothing new under the sun :).

    If that holds, it's probably hard to beat a good CD transport integrated well with a DAC.
    SD transport may come close, or even surpass it in the simplicity of processing and signal path.
    Ethernet, well, has more complex processing in the network stack, receiving packets through radio HW, registers, interrupts, reassembling the data in memory etc.

    With Ethernet, the path would be SSD or SD to Eth (via SW stack supporting UPnP/DLNA), then Eth -> HW -> memory, and then the big question on what to do next: convert to SPDIF? I2S? It would be nice and convenient solution indeed. That's why I asked what DAC do you use.

    Of course all digital transfers do similar things, but SD looks simpler. SD card -> memory -> I2S or SPDIF. I don't know if reading SD card generates more HF noise than reading from Ethernet adapter, but I doubt Ethernet would be noticeably cleaner. The SDTrans384 is just the most minimal solution for SD -> I2S or SPDIF conversion. There are also cheaper solutions on ebay, not sure if good. The D100 is a complete box, but the board looks to be similar to these. Since I only need the board, the D100 would be overkill: the SDTrans384 is half the price (and based on the considerations in the diyaudio thread, it's probably better as well).

    Another option (since I don't need more than 24/192 PCM) would be HDMI from the reader to I2S or SPDIF on the player. The Oppo supports that.

    Also, MHL (without using the power line) is another option. The Oppo supports that as well.

    Time to test these. Since it's extremely convenient to use, I secretly hope the Oppo would be good enough middle-man with at least one of its many inputs (Ethernet, HDMI, MHL, optical disk, USB data port) via its coaxial SPDIF output.
     
  13. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Unpaid LH Labs volunteer - Admin

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    I need to page through this thread in a month or two and validate what is real and what is Nervosa. @Marvey, we're getting into the weeds a bit on this stuff again. We need to test a bunch of shit and make a quick and dirty guide this year.
     
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  14. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    That would be nice...

    Meanwhile, links to alternatives to the Soundaware D100:
    - SDTrans384:
    http://www.tachyon.co.jp/~sichoya/SDTrans/SDTrans6.html
    Discussion 1: http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-source/142562-microsd-memory-card-transport-project.html
    Discussion 2: http://www.tirnahifi.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3705

    - a similar Chinese solution:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/FPGA-Lossle...-APE-FLAC-WAV-DSD-192K24bit-HIFI/252288891588

    - and an even cheaper one:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/STM32F407ZE...al-Turntable-Coaxial-II2S-Output/252624675196

    I have no idea how do they sound. What is sure is they are kind of inconvenient.

    What looks like more proper solutions is the Sonore Rendu Signature (Ethernet --> I2S or SPDIF bridge, ) and the Focusrite RedNet (read a good intro on http://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/focusrite-rednet).
     
  15. Aklegal

    Aklegal Acquaintance

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    There is no reason why you can't use a regular hard drive in a chain like this. The benefits of a SSD are low noise, lower power use, and maybe lower EMI. They don't have musical properties. You definately don't want a standard hard drive on your audio rack with the rest of your equipment ( choose a SSD for that). But if you store music on a server somewhere on your network and well away from you other equipment use cheaper platter HDS instead.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  16. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    On CA there was reliable opinion (from Uptone IIRC) that the SSD vs HDD difference is nearly inaudible if changed in the same NAS, but from NAS to another NAS it is audible. Other people claim that SD card connected to the NAS (via USB) sounds better than the SSD... hard to imagine. Yet other say why stop at SD cards: CompactFlash sounds so much better, especially certain makes and sizes. SD, CompactFlash, PCIe generate much less electrical noise than SATA and USB (especially the latter), to the extent that the noise generated in the 2.4 GHz (well, not audio) region by a USB3 port on a wireless router can actually affect WiFi connectivity, as reported with a few 4G LTE + wifi + ethernet modem/routers.

    Dear people, can't we solve the problem of the digital transport any better than that of analog transports?
    Apparently not.

    But it's good there is a constant try. The Chord Poly (http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/product/poly/) was announced. I wish it worked not only with the Mojo...

    Also, I could add some desktop SD transports to my shortlist (Soundaware D100, D200, SDtrans384): Aune X5A, S18, and DAPs like Soundaware M1 Pro (Esther), apparently even better than the D100, and then Aune M2s, Xuelin iHifi990, or even iBasso DX90. It's getting too long.

    Something like the Chord Poly with standard I2S and SPDIF/coax/BNC output would be just perfect. I guess it's only matter of some time.
     
  17. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 Almost "Made"

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  18. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    I've been looking at the Aune X5S and X5A, the latter has I2S and analog (DAC) outputs as well. In that respect, it seems to be a newer version of the S18 (without the PSU). Add your favorite PSU and the X5A may be a bummer. Aune makes pretty good DACs but I don't know about the transport (and this seems to be a cheaper category). I have asked Aune about X5s/X5A vs S18 details in the HF thread, no answer yet.
     
  19. zolkis

    zolkis Rando

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    If I would have to make a pick from the list above, based on sound quality alone, that would be the SDtrans384, so far only superlatives (on diyaudio and Devialet forums). It's for DIYers (needs PSU, case etc), but it's made in the best Japanese DIY traditions. However, I just hope the more recent Chinese players have caught up. No one knows for sure... Anyway I measure the transports against my CD player, and so far no success. Perhaps I'll invest in the SDtrans384, at least it has the most and best referrals. Price around $500.
     
  20. Azteca

    Azteca Friend

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    What do you measure and what do you measure with?
     

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