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

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

  1. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    Thanks for those links.
    I kinda wish he went into more detail, but that can become rather situationally dependent in a big hurry.

    I did like his comments about ground within the grounding scheme of the design itself.
    But what about the 'assumption' that the ground connection as provided by the circuit breaker panel itself is 'clean' and does not contribute noise in and of itself?
    Let alone how to measure this in a meaningful way not to mention find a way to reduce this source of noise.

    And the more I fuss with SMPS units and observe the noise they create and inject back into the ground plane of the device itself, the more it seems that ground is a key aspect that is difficult to effectively deal with.

    And while SEU's can cause disruptions in the operation of a device, it seems to me that before the device locks up or goes sideways there are multiple other ways in which the device can be operating in a non-optimal mode.

    Such non-optimal situations as "bit rot, memory leaks" etc., where power cycling is quite effective in clearing up these less than debilitating situations, are even harder to track down and resolve.

    JJ
     
  2. Madaboutaudio

    Madaboutaudio Friend

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    Looks like clean power supply is crucial for reducing clock phase noise and jitter:

    https://www.ecnmag.com/article/2012/04/power-supply-challenges-data-and-voice-communication-systems
     
  3. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    SMPS units are ESPECIALLY prone to adding additional noise.
    They generate hi-freq semi random noise spikes of relatively high amplitude that can (and I figure do) 'influence' digital and other fi-freq circuits right where they operate.
    Which tends to support the findings of 'Better' SQ when LPS units are substituted for the SMPS ones.

    I have an LPS inbound for my RedNet3 just to determine if they are susceptible to this sort of PS noise.

    JJ
     
  4. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    I think it's really more a case of give-some-lose-some, trading one kind of noise for another. Like all things, it's how they implement it.

    Benchmark makes their case for SMPS here (with video): https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/ap...audio-myth-switching-power-supplies-are-noisy
     
  5. bimmer100

    bimmer100 MOT: Holo Audio

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    I'm going to give this a go with my Paul Hynes SR3 psu. I also have a Paul Pang V3 OCXO usb card, but since using an Intona it didn't seem to matter much whether I used it. We shall see. Price is expensive on all of these cards.
     
  6. bimmer100

    bimmer100 MOT: Holo Audio

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    Kingwa @ audio-gd once told me to power cycle my M11...now NOS11, as it is like Microsoft products... they just need to be restarted to function properly. The DSP is software and sometimes needs a hard reset to work. Soooo funny. :D but I used to leave my M11 on all the time and just reset it for 1min off and it always fixed small gltiches. Seems to be true? :D
     
  7. flashbackk

    flashbackk Rando

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    I have a laptop > modi > wyrd. It is unlisteneable when on battery. It is fine when plugged in. Isn"t this backwards???
     
  8. yotacowboy

    yotacowboy McRibs Kind of Guy

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    battery-saving power consumption settings in the OS can have a negative effect on perceived SQ.
     
  9. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    Yeah isn't that always the case, trade offs one way or another.

    Still creating hi freq noise in the PS for a hi freq (digital) circuit seems like a non-optimal way to proceed.

    And when I install a LPS into my RN3 it will give me an indication of any gains WRT SQ that are being masked by the SMPS generated noise.

    JJ
     
  10. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    It'll be interesting if you can hear the difference in the RN3. I value lighter weight these days as I'm always dismantling and moving stuff.
     
  11. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    Yeah I'll be interested in listening for any differences as well.
    Some have reported they couldn't hear any difference.

    I can't help but see how there wouldn't be changes, but then the design may already have great PS noise rejection.

    And as for lower weight, substituting a LPS for the SMPS will probably add a few lbs, just due to the transformer alone.

    JJ
     
  12. nedifer

    nedifer Facebook Friend

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    Thanks to this long thread's informative discussions of various solutions for improving the signal chain as much as possible (and especially @Luckbad 's evaluation of the Singxer SU-1 here and elsewhere), I bought an SU-1 a few weeks ago.

    I know that folks here have discussed much more sophisticated solutions but, on a limited budget, the SU-1 was about as much as I could afford.

    I have not been disappointed.

    As I said, I don't have a lot of money to throw at this hobby so I have to carefully evaluate each component for bang for the buck and figure that I'll have to be content with it's role in the system we have at home for some time. At present, the signal chain is as follows:

    Digital:

    Logitech Music Server (LMS) on a Rasberry Pi -> Cubox-i4Pro Squeezelite streamer -> Singxer SU-1 -> AES to a Berkeley Audio 1st Gen DAC

    From there, the analog output chains are:

    Living room: -> Adcom GFA-555 amp -> Infinity RS6 speakers
    Kitchen: -> Schiit SYS -> Adcom GFA-5200 amp -> Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 speakers

    Before getting the Singxer, I was using Toslink between the Cubox-i and the Berkeley Audio DAC because that was the only means I had. Returning to USB output from the Squeezelite streamer and inserting the Singxer into the chain led to some signal stability problems at first, where the sound would suddenly seem to pop out of cycle, yielding either distorted music or a rapid chuffing sound. But upgrading Arch Linux and the version of Squeezlite running on the Cubox, while offloading the LMS duties to a Raspberry Pi cleared all of that up.

    The effect of the Singxer SU-1 in the system was both subtle and very noticeable. Everything seems clearer and more detailed. The impact and decay of cymbals and drums sound more realistic, bass is tighter, vocals are beautifully rendered. The sound stage is better defined and lower level details come out of the background more readily. I wouldn't say that it colors the music particularly--it's pretty neutral. But everything is more taut and responsive.

    There are more sophisticated (and expensive) solutions out there. But for $400, the Singxer SU-1 is performing very well in my home system now.

    Full disclosure:

    Lack of funds have prevented me from being able to try out any of the other equipment discussed in this forum so I can't compare the SU-1 to any of that. But I can say that comparing Toslink output from my Cubox-i to USB->Singxer SU-1->AES, the Singxer chain beats the Toslink connection hands down.

    So thanks to all of you writing for this thread and especially @Luckbad . You've helped me to find an excellent upgrade to our home system at a very reasonable price and for that I am very grateful.
     
  13. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Step 4 for the win. The darned thing actually surprised the schitt out of me when it cleaned up a really horrible USB bus from a work laptop. It sort of renews my faith that these magic boxes can make a positive impact.
     
  14. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Ain't nothin' magic about the Wyrd- its best trick is very down to earth- just replacing the power on the VBUS line with its own cleaner power. Bloody marvellous for the horrible noisy USB outs of laptops. :headbang:
     
  15. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    And if you REALLY want to be amazed even more…
    use 2 of them, (or any other decrapifier of your choice) in series.

    and for a decent low cost USB cable, the PYST is hard to beat.

    JJ
     
  16. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Why is the Cubox-i needed in that chain? Doesn't the Singxer have all the needed inputs?
     
  17. nedifer

    nedifer Facebook Friend

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    The Singxer is a digital to digital converter. It takes USB input, re-clocks it and converts it to AES, I2S or BNC/RCA SPDIF. The Cubox-i feeds the USB signal to the Singxer using an application called Squeezelite.

    The full chain I am using up to the DAC is:
    1. A Raspberry Pi with an attached USB drive that contains a copy of my music archive. The Pi is running Logitech Music Server, which I can access and control through a web interface or via Android/iPhone apps. It streams the output to the Cubox-i via Ethernet.
    2. A Cubox-i running Squeezelite that sends that stream over USB to the
    3. Singxer SU-1 which buffers and re-clocks the incoming stream and converts it to AES (in my case) and feeds it to the
    4. Berkeley Audio Gen 1 DAC (which then converts the incoming digital signal to analog and feeds it on to the stereo.
    At present that signal goes through an RCA splitter and then out to my two amps but hopefully soon it will pass through a Schiit Saga before passing out its two outputs to the two amps.

    It used to be that the Cubox-i performed both functions that it and the Pi perform separately now but I ran into performance issues and, since splitting off the LMS function was a modest cost outlay, I bought the Pi.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
  18. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Did you run into performance issues using only the Pi? Or have you not tried that?
     
  19. nedifer

    nedifer Facebook Friend

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    No, I haven't bothered. I own both computers now and with all computing devices, much less these low horsepower tools, they will still individually perform at their best when tasked with as few processes as possible.

    Sure, if constraints were such that I couldn't afford to replace either one then I'd be forced to think a little harder and tune one or the other to satisfactorily take on both roles. But I don't have to (yet) and the system sounds lovely, so why change it? I can understand the intellectual exercise of trying to squeeze as much performance out of a device as possible--that's something I do every day at my job. But here my goal isn't maximal efficiency and cost savings. Rather I am trying to improve upon the quality of the sound that I get out of the system as much as possible (within reasonable financial constraints). One inefficiency from an administrative standpoint is that now I have two different platforms to support (the Pi and the Cubox, both running different Linux variants). For another ~$55 I could replace the Cubox-i with another Raspberry Pi 3B, but the Cubox-i works fine in its current role and I had both up and running in a matter of hours, so why not save the money and spend it on something else?

    I do feel that there are some additional benefits to the current setup that are worth considering:
    • I have a copy of my music library attached to the Raspberry Pi on an external USB drive. I don't have a robust NAS on the network, so this arrangement gives me pretty good performance from the standpoint of indexing the collection, as well as efficiently streaming it to the Cubox-i (USB->Ethernet rather than Ethernet->Ethernet, hairpinning on the same port)
    • By segregating the LMS server and Squeezelite streamer functions, I don't have calls to the external USB hard drive and output to the Singxer contending for resources on the same USB bus. They are handled discretely by the two computers. I am also helping to shield the Cubox-i from some of the noise generated by the USB hard drive (though the Ethernet network is likely helping to propagate some noise from disparate sources into the system)
    • If I decide to upgrade either component (server or streamer) I am not putting the whole system at risk and I can better isolate and identify problems if they occur during upgrades
    • As mentioned above, I can make more efficient use of the CPU and RAM on each machine, fine tuning each to its own purpose
    • They are still relatively low power compared to desktop machines (perhaps consuming ~10-25 watts of power each, depending on load) so I feel I can afford a bit of a loss of power efficiency running both at once
    There are other solutions to the above (most costing more money) but for ~$55, this worked pretty well for me and still lead to an overall improvement in sound and stability.
     
  20. WNovizar

    WNovizar Facebook Friend

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    How do I use Singxer SU-1 BNC MCLK/WCLK to Gungnir Multibit?

    My digital chain is Laptop USB Out-> Wyrd USB In, USB Out -> Singxer USB In, BNC Out -> Gungnir Multibit BNC In. I want to use Singxer WCLK/MCLK Out and I can't switch the playback devices, it will always be speaker out D:, Using Win 10 by the way
     

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