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Old 28th March 2012, 09:43 PM   #1
50AE is offline 50AE  Bulgaria
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Default DIY friendly S/PDIF out

I'm searching for a digital out card or USB device that will be feeding a 24/192 DAC. I want it to be much DIY friendly as possible. I want it to be (or make it become) high end.

I need digital out for stereo only and not any analog outputs.

Maybe something like M2tech hiface or a internal digital out PCI card, but they must be easy for a DIY and accept a variety of mods like quiet PSU, better caps, regulators, etc. Also a not very high price if possible. Maybe something cheap, but with a DIY pottential to become high end . May you help me on this one?
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Old 29th March 2012, 12:01 AM   #2
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The USB cards that are using the native USB 1.1 audio host implementation are capable only of 16/48. The 24/192 require USB2.0 device and that will need dedicated driver.
You are better off with an internal soundcard to send SPDIF out. No need for super-regulation in digital domain.
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Old 29th March 2012, 05:23 AM   #3
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Do you want something like this ?
On Ebay
24/192 PCI Digital Sound Card - Musiland Digital Times | eBay
Same on Taobao but almost half price
MUSILAND 乐之邦 数字时代(Digital Times)PCI 声卡 内置声卡-淘宝网

I'm looking for something like this too - but pci-e.

Quite easy to upgrade - ams regs go and get ad151 instead, get a 24.576MHz cchd957 xo from Crystek, ... etc.

Last edited by KlipschKid; 29th March 2012 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 29th March 2012, 08:17 AM   #4
50AE is offline 50AE  Bulgaria
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Thanks! This is exactly what I had in mind. My only dilemma is, should I take a PCI or USB converter? USB is external, so it's easier to work with and it's also portable, but what about PCI?
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Old 29th March 2012, 09:09 AM   #5
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I dunno how much you know but here's my half-baked evaluation for what its worth.

PCI is a bus - and devices on the bus can stop others getting on when they want - they have to wait until the other device is finished. This can cause timing problems; the data doesn't arrive exactly on time, so the clock is a little off. The better the clock, the more definition you can get.

You can set PCI latency (timing) in the bios but different devices want different amounts so it's a compromise. The Musiland uses a buffer to overcome the problems the PCI bus creates. How good is it ? Depends on the buffer and the driver controlling it, it seems.

USB has a similar problem so again, some devices use buffers - the M2tech Hi-face is an example.

One advantage of usb over PCI is the ability to isolate the device from the PC with a chip like the adum4160, but this doesn't work with some buffers like the one in the M2Tech it seems.

One thing to look at is your PC's dpc latency - use can download a free tool.

DPC Latency Checker

If you have very low dpc then you won't experience much of a benefit from a buffer (that's imho !) because your computer can send data on time.

Why are timing and buffers important ? Poor timing contributes to jitter and jitter reduces the definition and hence the appreciable quality of the music.

Theoretically, PCI-e is better because it doesn't have to wait, has better error reporting etc, but I have owned PCI-e and PCI cards such as the Asus Essense ST and STX and, yes they sounded different, and part of this could be the bus but also because the ST had a jitter reduction chip (CS2000) and the STX was actually a PCI card with a PCI-e adapter chip (iirc). For me, I didn't like either. Nonetheless, I modded the hell out of the ST before giving up on it. It just never sounded sweet to me. So I canibalised it for another project.

Hope this helps. Forgive me if you already knew any of this.

Finally, one card I have, that I have always liked the SQ of, is Onkyo's Se-200PCI. After a few months I desoldered the op amps and fitted LME49720HA and now it suits me 100%. It isn't fantastically low jitter, but it does sound right to me. So I'm very tempted to get a SE-300PCIE.... ;-)

Last edited by KlipschKid; 29th March 2012 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 29th March 2012, 02:08 PM   #6
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The above has a test of the card. They listen to it through a Long March II dac - I've heard this DAC. It's not good. So take the comments not too seriously.

I've read elsewhere that the buffer is actually quite small and the latest buffers like this (FPGA) are much bigger, and of course the purpose of such a buffer is to provide a better clock than an xo.

I'm not sure it's going to lend itself to becoming a great spdif output, but then I don't know any cheap devices that will and aren't restricted to 16 bit or some such.

Hopefully someone else here can also help.

Last edited by KlipschKid; 29th March 2012 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 29th March 2012, 05:24 PM   #7
50AE is offline 50AE  Bulgaria
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My primary idea was to get as perfect digital signal as possible and isolate the computer power supply noise from the DAC path and forward.

The latency I get with the program you mentioned is always in the green area, let's say 250us average.
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Old 30th March 2012, 06:09 AM   #8
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250uS is quite good - certainly good enough for usb. My notebook is 150uS and my htpc is 30uS, but my desktop is around 350uS.

I'd go for a usb device in that case - either one that can work with the adum4160 usb isolator, or the latest FPGA one with a decent buffer size and a good driver. Do some reading up on this - many ppl say that the FPGA needs good clocks to work well but Musiland don't use it this way, and that narrows your options.

I have the Teralink X2 but it only goes to 96/24.
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Old 30th March 2012, 07:01 AM   #9
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Anyone know if the mhdt labs usb interface works with adum4160 ?

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Old 31st March 2012, 04:41 AM   #10
boris81 is offline boris81  United States
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miniStreamer | miniDSP

This looks like what you are looking for.
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