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Old 20th April 2013, 02:55 AM   #1
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Default Does USB to S/PDIF converter gives better sound?

Hi, I use a Musical Fidelity V-DAC MKII and guy told me that USB does not give the same sound quality as SPDIF, so he suggested me to buy a hiFace II USB to S/PDIF converter, is that true? I do not understand, what noise or quality should I loose if digital is only 00000000 or 11111111?
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Old 20th April 2013, 04:28 AM   #2
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Noise is carried over the USB cable from the very noisy source (computer). Many DACs with in-built USB adaptors are poorly isolated from this noise, whereas with S/PDIF, a transformer provides a degree of isolation.
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Old 20th April 2013, 10:00 AM   #3
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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See here for an interesting set of measurements. The conclusion I draw is that basic USB is simply not suitable for high quality audio, as it does not maintain (and was never intended to maintain) proper timing.
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Old 20th April 2013, 10:24 AM   #4
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Logic / binary is 0 1. Spdif digital is high voltage to low voltage with rise, bounce, noise, time error, etc. Logic is perfect. Digital is not perfect so can be good, bad, better, etc.

Asynchronous USB not need to worry for problem with USB time error. Hiface is asynch, so is CM6631A, so is XMOS ( no spdif ?) , so is Xilinx... many to choose.

CM6631A is best value to try IMO.

Here is test to show it is good.

Archimago's Musings: MEASUREMENTS: [UPDATE] Adaptive AUNE X1, Asynchronous "Breeze Audio" CM6631A USB, and Jitter...
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Old 20th April 2013, 07:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
See here for an interesting set of measurements. The conclusion I draw is that basic USB is simply not suitable for high quality audio, as it does not maintain (and was never intended to maintain) proper timing.
wow!!! outstanding info! great weekend reading! thx man.
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Old 20th April 2013, 09:14 PM   #6
SY is offline SY  United States
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IME, you don't need anything as fancy as a HiFace- I got essentially identical results with a cheap Chinese USB-to-SPDIF converter. The fellow who sold HiFace converters was very unhappy about my results...
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Old 20th April 2013, 09:35 PM   #7
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Perhaps anything which acts as a half-decent FIFO can do the job. USB delivers the bits (which it can do quite successfully) and then they just need sending on at a strictly regular rate.
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Old 21st April 2013, 01:22 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
See here for an interesting set of measurements. The conclusion I draw is that basic USB is simply not suitable for high quality audio, as it does not maintain (and was never intended to maintain) proper timing.
That information is specific to the DACMagic only, and the DACMagic does not specific whether it's isochronous or asynchronous. My guess is isochronous given the timing issues.

Every additional data conversion adds jitter. A properly done USB DAC is better than USB -> SPDIF -> DAC. Many DACs simply add a crappy USB interface as an afterthought to increase the feature set for advertising.
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Old 21st April 2013, 01:26 AM   #9
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Define "Crappy".
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Old 21st April 2013, 01:41 AM   #10
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Adding a USB board as an afterthought means its power supply arrangements aren't engineered optimally - particularly the grounding. I've noticed this with an Audio-gd USB interface for example. I take it that's what's meant by 'crappy' here.
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