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Old 26th April 2013, 05:27 AM   #1
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Default usb dacs any audiophile grade ?

Hi,

I need a PC audio setup for music listening, got some new bookshelf actives

Ive been away from audio fro over 5 yrs

What a shock when I saw USB based sound cards and DACS

I cant believe that USB is acceptable

prove me wrong, please..it will diminish the nightmares using USB as a connector

How is it done anyways ?

Last edited by firehorse; 28th April 2013 at 01:57 PM. Reason: deleted too many ?????
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Old 11th May 2013, 08:53 PM   #2
Billyo is offline Billyo  Australia
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I used a DAC connected to spdif for a while, but then switched over to a USB soundcard - there were two reasons.

1. The signal from the DAC always seemed quiet to me
2. Because my rig serves as a HTPC as well, accidently feeding a 5.1 Dolby signal into a DAC, with the volume up will cause a ear shattering rattle. Since I also run another cheaper set of 5.1s, forgetting to change the config was common - a USB soundcard doesnt seem to suffer from this.

As far as audio quality between the DAC and the USB, I can't tell the difference (except in max volume). Its proven to be perfectly reliable.

I use a Behringer UCA202. I know that a purist would say the jitter due to clocks, but I've never heard it.
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Old 12th May 2013, 06:30 AM   #3
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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its more than acceptable, in properly done, its superior to spdif.

we dont need to prove you wrong, all of the information is out there, plenty already on this site. the rapid uptake of it should tell you something and its not just convenience. its simply a method of shuffling the data. neither timing, nor tone is carried on the USB bus, only the data that represents tone and the timing is taken from a local clock, in the dac.

then add in the convenience and you have a winner

Last edited by qusp; 12th May 2013 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 12th May 2013, 01:08 PM   #4
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Just a short note - pcm2902 in the Behringer UCA202 soundcard uses usb adaptive mode for playback. Therefore the USB link also carries the clock which gets recovered via PLL, just like in SPDIF.
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Old 12th May 2013, 03:01 PM   #5
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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sure, but arent we talking about the OPs request? which would presumably involve receivers made this decade?
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Old 12th May 2013, 04:24 PM   #6
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Using USB for audio data is fine. Using USB for audio sample timing is not. Unfortunately it seems that it can almost do it, which in a way is worse than if it totally failed because it leads some people to think that it can do it if only they find the right cable/software/DAC etc.
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Old 12th May 2013, 04:35 PM   #7
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DF96 View Post
Using USB for audio data is fine. Using USB for audio sample timing is not. Unfortunately it seems that it can almost do it, which in a way is worse than if it totally failed because it leads some people to think that it can do it if only they find the right cable/software/DAC etc.
it doesnt use it for timing, it hasnt for years. there isnt a receiver on the market today that uses the timing except for stuff hanging over from many years ago, like the 270X series

this has been explained to you numerous times...

sorry for letting my frustration show through, the main reason for this frustration is that you are otherwise a pretty switched on guy from what I can tell, but I have personally explained this to you on at least 2 prior occasions and you keep on going back to it. posting what is now effectively misinformation in threads like this.

Using any element of USB for timing information is ancient history as audio technology goes, I have interfaces dating back nearly 4 years that are asynchronous and personally own 4 different USB->i2s convertors of varying quality, none of them use any timing info from USB.

it was the ones that did that gave USB audio a bad name and its still living it down through people like yourself, who had experience from back then and somehow cannot understand that this is not relevant anymore and hasnt been for quite a while.

you can pick up a quite decent convertor here on the forum, the Amanero combo384 card, which is async, with a USB clock and 2 dedicated audio clocks for 44.1x and 48x up to 384kHz PCM and DSD over USB. onboard power that can be regulated from USB, or supplied locally. you can get this for less than 50 euros for members here. there are several other async cards of varying prices and quality here on the forum.

Last edited by qusp; 12th May 2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 12th May 2013, 05:35 PM   #8
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp View Post
it doesnt use it for timing, it hasnt for years. there isnt a receiver on the market today that uses the timing except for stuff hanging over from many years ago, like the 270X series
My estimate is vast majority of USB soundcards being manufactured and sold now is still adaptive. Async USB is easily available on the market today, but still a speciality for audiophiles. Windows even does not have a native (i.e. not third party) driver for USB audio v. 2 yet (which most of the new async DACs use).
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Old 12th May 2013, 06:11 PM   #9
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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windows probably never will or they would have already, but Thesycon and Centrance drivers are available to suit pretty much any device you buy. I think you'll find XMOS are more widespread than you think, since they offer such an extensive plug and play development platform. then you have Tenor TE7022L, CMEDIA CM6631A and a few other providers, including some FPGA and CLPD based custom devices that support async UAC2 or some bulk mode variants.

besides, since when do we judge the stock availability for drivers in an antiquated operating system? it has been native in mac since its inception and in linux for quite a while too. MS is being stubborn and IMO stupid/lazy, thats no reason to judge a technology as immature.
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Old 12th May 2013, 06:14 PM   #10
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qusp
it was the ones that did that gave USB audio a bad name and its still living it down through people like yourself, who had experience from back then and somehow cannot understand that this is not relevant anymore and hasnt been for quite a while.
You tell me it doesn't happen.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phofman
My estimate is vast majority of USB soundcards being manufactured and sold now is still adaptive.
Others tell me it is still commonplace.

Who do I believe? I wasn't recommending doing it the wrong way; I was warning people to avoid it. Advising people not to do something because it doesn't work properly is hardly "misinformation" if it is simply impossible to do (because the parts are not, and never have been, available) and is certainly not "misinformation" if it is possible because it has been done and is still done by some people even though it doesn't work properly.

There are a lot of people out there who seem to believe that timing can be obtained from USB, and they play with their cables accordingly. I repeat: audio sample timing should not be obtained from USB. That is not misinformation, it is good advice. Even following the USB Audio spec will give serious timing errors, as that is only intended for low-fi applications like movie sound. Use USB for audio data only, with a big FIFO, then all will be well.

I don't know why you get so excited about this. I thought I was agreeing with you!
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