Fibre vs. S/PDIF vs. AES/EBU - Which Sounds Best? - diyAudio
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Old 1st June 2013, 04:24 PM   #1
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Default Fibre vs. S/PDIF vs. AES/EBU - Which Sounds Best?

I am ODAC rolling 5 low end DAC's and I hooked a PCM-2704 up to the PC via USB (reclocker), took it via SPDIF out to a 192/24 amp/DAC combo, then that output to a 6J1 headphone amp.

All gear under $30 per piece.

Sounded good. Better bass and mid than with a 2706 but the 2706 has superior treble on cymbals, etc. 3.5mm outputs on each vary in quality, some better than downstream amplified sound, etc. Various ODAC in series, differing sounds when various units in/out of the chain.

Killing time tonight I decide to use the fibre connection between the 2704 and 192/24 and I am totally blown away.

Tonnes of detail, room reverb, echo, low level detail all over the spectrum on recordings I have listened to for 40 years. Sounds of people walking on stage sub-sonically vibrating the floor, etc.

Wow!

Is this fibre over coax improvement usual and does AES/EBU offer similar improvements over optical?

This is on the cheapest gear possible with a free, throw-away optical cable.

Generic PC USB output>>DAC 1 is $8>>DAC 2 is $22>>Amp is $27>>Phones are $63

Starting at the lo end and rolling various DAC's was a good move. Great differences in sound between chipsets and i/o interfaces. I am looking forward to the more expensive gear.

Last edited by miragem3i; 1st June 2013 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 1st June 2013, 05:17 PM   #2
dacen is offline dacen  Norway
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If this is the cheap Toslink optical cable you are using I would expect an improvement if you upgrade to glass fiber ST connection. I have used these ST connection TX and RX units for many years and I am very pleased. HFBR 1414 and HFBR 2416. I am transferring the X-tal clock placed in the DAC and slaves the transport with this very same clock. (The clocks have to be the same or easily divided to match) The SPDIF data is transferred back from the transport to the DAC with the same units. With this arrangement you bypass the PLL regenerated clock in the SPDIF receiver. This is the best solution I have found.
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File Type: pdf Fiber optics.app_note78.pdf (548.2 KB, 28 views)

Last edited by dacen; 1st June 2013 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 1st June 2013, 05:29 PM   #3
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To do that would require new TX and RX for ST connector cable or just swap the Toshiba link cable with the ST cable and insert into the existing TX and RX optical ports?
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Old 1st June 2013, 05:36 PM   #4
dacen is offline dacen  Norway
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Yes you have to purchase these units (HFBR 1414 and HFBR 2416) or similar and do some really DIY work to get this up and running.
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Old 1st June 2013, 05:46 PM   #5
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Interesting. The usual advice is that fibre is inferior to SPDIF coax, presumably because the optical converters at each end add jitter. Possibly on really cheap gear they didn't put a decent coax line driver.
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Old 1st June 2013, 06:13 PM   #6
dacen is offline dacen  Norway
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The Tx side is very easy to do. Page 18 shows the schematic. You can take the TTL signal going to the input pin on the Toslink module and feed it to this new module instead. The receiving side is a little more troublesome. @DF96 I have been experimenting with these different connections for many years and I have found that putting a very stable jitter free clock as a master clock in the DAC and slaving the transport is as good as I am able to get it and is superior to letting the SPDIF receivers phase locked loop taking care of that job. I think this arrangement is the most powerful improvement to making good music reproduction. Btw. I am using an old DIY PCM63 multibit DAC, and I find this old chip very musical. Transport is a DIY Philips CDpro2M and a modified Sony CDP-X5000. The Dacs 16,9 MHZ clock is easily divided to the 8,4 Mhz of the CDproM

Last edited by dacen; 1st June 2013 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 1st June 2013, 06:48 PM   #7
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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With a local clock in the DAC it doesn't matter what transport method you use as all you are delivering is data. The difficulty is that most domestic sources do not provide a means of slaving their clock to the master in the DAC.
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Old 1st June 2013, 06:59 PM   #8
dacen is offline dacen  Norway
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Well, this is a DIY forum and must be the right place to present such information?
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Old 1st June 2013, 07:54 PM   #9
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IME transports and DACs fitted with ST glass and the other assorted connectors tended to sound noticably better when using ST.
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