USB Nervosa Thread Decrapifiers, pro interfaces, and bears oh my

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by zerodeefex, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I don't understand the science behind it and honestly I don't know if it's possible to do it either but think about what other people have said regarding what it does to the sound. It does do something and it does change but to me at least with the iusb 3.0 it wasn't good.
     
  2. Original Ken

    Original Ken Friend

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    Read:

    http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-john-swenson-part-1-what-digital

    Then read part two at:

    http://www.audiostream.com/content/qa-john-swenson-part-2-are-bits-just-bits

    Coincidentally, the author is also the designer of the Regen - but that is not why I am posting them.
     
  3. Judeus

    Judeus Almost "Made"

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  4. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    All that reads to me like a motor article that says, "The problem with motor cars is getting explosions of fuel translated into rotary movement."

    Yes, sure it is. But look out the window.

    I'm a maths dunce, and an avid reader of articles which help me to understand digital audio without my having to follow equations wherein I don't even understand the symbols used, let alone the calculation. Mr Swenson seems to be a guy who can back up with words with hands-on experience, but, sorry, they didn't really do much for me. The people who have really helped my minuscule understanding of this stuff (I recognise that I can't get much further with without the maths) are folk like Xiph's Monty, and JJ Johnston. JJ has spent a lifetime longer than mine living and breathing this stuff, and has that knack which makes me suspect that he could even explain it to a pre-school 4-year-old.
     
  5. Original Ken

    Original Ken Friend

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    Xiph's Monty is someone who knows about half of the area that he talks about. His post on 24/192 has been copied more times than any other audio article, and it has been rebutted many times, but the rebuttals never get 1/100th the attention ("A lie goes halfway round the world before the truth gets its boots on").

    For example, the Monty explanation of the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit is "Signal to Noise". Since 16-bit has enough, 24-bit is unnecessary and a "ripoff". Here is a rebuttal by professional recording engineer Barry Diament of the "Signal to Noise" oversimplification:

    "In a 16-bit recording, one is making the most of all 16 bits when the signal is loudest -- at the top 6 dB of the possible levels (6.02 dB for those who want more precision). Now of course, with real music the signal is not always at the top of the level scale. In other words, not every part of the song is at the loudest point. Further, there are things in the background that are lower in level than things in the foreground. Instrumental harmonics (the things that differentiate a Steinway from a Baldwin or a Gibson from a Fender) are considerably lower in level and spatial cues (whether real or studio generated) are lower still.

    To put it into numbers, the harmonics might be 20 dB lower in level than the loudest sounds. Spatial cues might be 40 dB lower in level. (I'm just picking the numbers arbitrarily to illustrate the point.) With a 16-bit recording, those harmonics that are 20 dB lower in level will be encoded using about 13 bits, not 16. The spatial cues that are 40 dB lower in level will be encoded using about 10-bits, not 16. This accounts for the coarsening of the sound and thinning of instrumental harmonics many have notices with 16-bit audio since the beginning.

    Now let's look at the resolution of the same items with a 24-bit recording. The harmonics, at -20 would be encoded using about 21 bits. The spatial cues, at -40 would use about 18 bits. Both still exhibiting more resolution than a full level 16-bit recording. So if you make the same recording at 16/44 and at 24/44, you'll find the complexity of instrumental harmonics much better preserved on the latter. Same with the spatial cues: where the 16-bit version defocuses the space, the 24-bit version makes the room boundaries clear and easy to hear by comparison."
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
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  6. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @MisterRogers You make it sound like I would enjoy the REGEN. I found with my latest USB->SPDIF converter, the Wyrd made it sound overly focused and edgy, in the sort of way that became rather irritating the more I listened. Made it hard to relax. With some lower end SPDIF converters, which were usually softer and less resolving, the Wyrd helped. I might have to try out the REGEN + the PSU you suggested at one of our future meets.
     
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  7. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Ahh... you rebut my appeal to authority with your appeal to authority, and raise me the words "professional recording engineer."

    Well, I don't give much value to your "professional recording engineer" authority --- and you'd be hard put to match one against JJ.

    |\/|

    Well, this thread is not yet-another Monty's 24/96 paper argument. I mentioned his name because, oversimplified some of that stuff might be, it allowed me to get a grip on some aspects of digital sound that I had been completely ignorant about.

    But if I have to actually bet on something... it's that the people that brought us FLAC, OGG, OPUS, and a handful of other file formats do know more than half about digital audio. Hey... they might even listen to music sometimes too! :D

    Now... about that USB thing....
     
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  8. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    @Hands - based on your 'read' of Wyrd, you might very well enjoy a well-powered REGEN in your USB chain. I'll definitely bring a few with PS' along to a future meet.
     
  9. Original Ken

    Original Ken Friend

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    I think the problem is that Monty's explanations oversimplify things in a way that makes laymen think they understand. They also oversimplify things in a way that makes Monty think he understands.

    Either one understands the whole process from beginning to end - the way that Mike Moffat or John Swenson do, or not. If not, then the parts one does not understand can be exactly where one fails to understand.

    In the 90's most amateurs were under the impression that all CD players must sound identical, because they were playing the same bits and "bits are bits".

    The John Swenson articles explain that digital is affected by the electrical aspects of the PC and the DAC, particularly noise in the ground. So, the issues are with the electrical aspect of USB.
     
  10. Judeus

    Judeus Almost "Made"

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    Again, if usb is such a problem why bother with it at all?

    Use coax/toslink out of a dap/computer/transport


    The whole usb thing
     
  11. Original Ken

    Original Ken Friend

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    Toslink has problems with the electrical-to-optical converters. Generally doesn't support 192.

    So, all three methods require an investment in the part that converts the audio in the PC kernel to an external signal.

    Most PCs have a USB port, so one route is to make the investment in a Wyrd or Regen (or similar previous devices).

    Ultimately, PCs are not designed for "real-time" uses, they are designed for processes that can take longer or shorter depending on processor speed, bandwidth, etc.

    So, some sort of tweaking becomes helpful for best sound quality. The differences are subtle, it may or may not be worth the $$ to any particular person.
     
  12. Judeus

    Judeus Almost "Made"

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    external usb/spdif converters are very nice for computers imo, the main advantage being you get galvanic isolation, I prefer using them to any usb direct as I don't have to worry about any noise from the 5v or ground on the usb cable.

    My personal setup is

    ifi mercury usb > wyrd > ifi mercury usb > ifi ilink > belden 75ohm coax > iggy

    absolutley dead quite, I am super anal about background noise so it's a must for me, before I added the ilink I was hooking it up usb on the iggy directly. When I tunred up the volume to the max on my liquid glass I could hear a tiny bit of noise. Did it make a difference? unlikely but I am just paranoid. I plan on testing out some other spdif/usb converters but I doubt there will be much difference.
     
  13. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    time to add another reclocker to the potential list: iPurifier2

    While I await my Regen returned, received the new iFi iPurifier2 and plugged on the modi2uber today - and yah, this little thing delivers differences as well.
    the typical suspects of: slightly wider and taller sound stage, less congestion when (rock) music starts getting complex/layered, and refined detail (lead in and fade out of guitar strings, etc).

    this iPurifier2 did NOT bring various mids or vocals more forward like Wyrd (IIRC) did.
    not sure it's on par with Regen tho yet.

    iPurifier2 does some "Active Noise Cancelling" of the power line- not a source with it's own clean power (LPS or otherwise).
    but it does claim (almost exactly) to regen, reclock, restore signal integrity of the usb.
    and since it plugs right onto the DAC (USB B), no 2nd USB cable needed. (a bonus in my book)

    source today: macbook pro, Audirvana+.
    (just a disclaimer: having owned Wyrd (sold), Regen and now iPurifier2 my experience is that the crappier the source (unmod'd computer) plus (some) combination with a DAC having less sophisticated internal USB guts is where these little reclockers can deliver audible difference. If your amp and headphones are resolving enough also of course.)

    certainly keeping iPurifier2 plugged into modi2uber for now and will compare against the Regen (SMPS, LPS) in the near future.
     
  14. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    I have a Regen hooked up at work now. I need to figure out a way to A/B with it. My placebo tells me it smooths things out a bit. There's certainly been zero stuttering since hooking it up (vs. occasional without), so that's a nice improvement.
     
  15. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    That's the kind of difference I love: can't even argue with myself about it, let alone anyone else :bird:


    .
     
  16. Azteca

    Azteca Friend

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    Some info here: http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2015/10/ifi-retro-stereo-50-ipurifier2-at-fujiya-avic-2015/

     
  17. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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    Hey All. So I've built a handful of dedicated power supplies for REGEN based on a tuned Reflektor-D PS. I passed one of them off to Jexby for his impressions; John - please chime in when you have time and share your impressions. I've found this PS as tuned to pair very well with REGEN, so I reached out to check availability of this PS. As only 4 kits were left, I snagged all 4. One is accounted for, so I'm willing to build 3 of these as dedicated REGEN power supplies if there's interest. Send me a PM if you are. Yo Jexby! share!
     
  18. The Alchemist

    The Alchemist MOT: Schiit - Here to help!

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    Maybe I am just lucky, but the cheap Monoprice USB cables with gold connectors works perfectly for me.
     
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  19. MisterRogers

    MisterRogers Ethernet Nervosa

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  20. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    Thanks for the lead in Mister R-

    a bit of a preface as this thread and products like Regen, Wyrd, iUSB 3.0, iPurifier 2 are not about making your DAC or USB cables "better" IMO.
    it's about helping to fix the (likely) crap USB output from a komputer that likely does not have LPS clean power, no fans, no interrupts or hard drive chop, etc.
    if you don't use USB, or your computer has LPS + quiet fans, all RAM and SSD no hard drives- indeed, these tweaks aren't gonna help as much.

    for myself and many others, the Regen has been the best bang for the buck in helping to deliver realistic, less digititus more analog sound to a variety of DACs.
    luckily Mister R and I share somewhat similar chains (Yggdrasil, Eddie Current Amps, HD800 and HE1K) so when he told me of his build of a Reflektor LPS to power the Regen, I was like: "WTF. the LPS will cost more than the Regen right? none of my other rigs are LPS driven so why make this my first LPS?"

    anyway, within 30min of the Reflektor LPS box at my door step and plugged into Regen (replacing an iFi iPower 9V, never used Regen SMPS).
    Differences for my HD800 ears are subtle but they are there.
    especially just sitting back and letting an entire familiar song flow by, and hearing better decays and notes "float" in the air now. elements that didn't stand out consistently from before are more obvious. the finer elements of instrument separation, vibration or timbre are a tad more clear and precise.
    doesn't happen every second or in every track, but the Reflektor does add one step closer to "in studio/room realism" on good recordings.
    that's what my ears are after: hearing a physical environment presented/echoed from the music, being present and "there, in the room".

    over on CA (for better or worse) others have noted that removing SMPS from Regen and using an LPS of some kind has helped, and (un)fortunately now I believe them.
    plus, a Regen + LPS set up likely removes the "audiophile cable chasing temptation" as the Regen can compensate using good/spec cables, without trying to chase esoteric boutique USB cable designs.

    my 2 cents summary:
    if your upstream gear is all highly resolving and you run a stock computer I'd recommend everyone try a Regen first. a Regen + Reflektor LPS second if you want to step closer to that analog/pure/realism sound with your headphones.
    (not going to speculate on Regen with DACs/Amps on speaker rigs.)
     

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