IMHO, those adapters are a waste and you'd be better off investing the money in a quieter source vs. a PC. Sure a better DAC is always going to make an improvement too. Try thinking where you want your digital rig to be in 3-4 years and I bet it's hard to envision a scenario where USB-SPDIF adapter is part of the chain.
Read up on the CA CASH list for general ideas where this stuff is headed and plan from there...Cheers,
For that kind of money, I would consider a Schiit Dac. They have many models, all of which would out perform your PS DAC or Audiophillo.
My 2 cents
I agree that upgrading beyond the HiFace for a PS DLIII is probably not a wise investment. I used this combination in the past. Then went to a Bryston BDA-1 with Audiophilleo 2 W/Pure Power. That was 4 years ago and I still use it today. Recently I purchased a used Wyred4Sound DAC2. I haven't had a chance to do a critical compare against the BDA-1 A2PP combo. I suspect they will sound different, however one may not be declared better across the board.
I do believe converters have a place when paired for computer purpose with many of the older hi end DACs known for having solid power supplies and output stages. Buying a new DAC today, to include use with computer audio, I would look for one having quality USB implementation built in.
USB is the worst thing you can use. USB is for printers and mice - NOT music! Get a good sound card.
USB is the worst thing you can use. USB is for printers and mice - NOT music!Would you please explain why you feel USB is inferior for audio? Isn't one of its advantages the ability to handle DSD?
Here's my experience with USB...
- started with the Schiit Bofrost with the onboard USB port
- I upgraded to the next gen USB port - which made some SQ improvements
- I then installed the Musical Fidelity V-Link 192 converter - significant SQ improvement.
- I also tried various USB cables but found the Doukmall dual lead to perform the best
- I also tried a few power supplies and found the Enercell USB power supply the best/priced - but there are better linear supplies out there
The main issues I believe is whether the DAC utilizes the power from the USB port (via the USB cable).The Bifrost and Gungnir does, (they share the same USB upgrade), which I believe to be their achilies heel.
- if it does - you will experience inferior sound quality
- if it does not - then you just need a reasonable quality USB cable in order to achieve very good sound quality
- or you can bypass the USB interface with something like the V-link192, like I did
My current streaming device is the Bluesound Node2 and PowerNode2(in my AV system). Works via Ethernet and is a significant improvement over the USB approach.
The Bluesound devices are easy to setup/use, less complicated to maintain from a software upgrade perspective and provide very good sound quality.
Gone are the days when the "player" does not work because of a Apple or Windows software upgrade (so far at least).
Don't get me wrong - there are Computer driven systems with DAC's out there capable of great fidelity.
There are also other streaming devices similar in nature to the Bluesound
But for me, the Bluesound was within budget and from a SQ perspective - the icing on my cake :-)
The Berkeley Audio DAC, which is one of the best, does not accept USB in. Why? Because using a converter is currently the best-sounding option. Their converter is top notch, as well as the M2Tech when its used with the optional battery and external clock add-ons.
I don't know why, but even though the Aries Mini has a direct coax out which is a compatible input to my non-USB equipped Schiit Gungnir DAC, I found using the Mini's USB out to a MF V-Link 192 and SPDIF from the 192 into the Gungnir delivered better sound. The benefit was NOT subtle...fuller, more-fleshed out, more engaging sound.
BTW - I had traded notes about USB/SPDIF converters and, specifically, the MF 192 with Williewonka. He provided info about Doukmall's low cost double-headed USB cable that separates power and signal.
The Aries Mini and, arguably, the Gungnir are reasonably current. From my perspective then, a USB/SPIDF converter continues to be relevant.
The easy answer for me is, yes. In my system using a headless modified Mac Mini as a music server (Amarra, Audirvana+ and Esoteric HR Music Player). Using Esoteric K-03x and Audioquest Carbon USB cables (2). After extensive listening, which really in retrospect was not required, the SQ improved dramatically when I installed a Bel canto REFLink USB convertor. (Transparent Ref Digital link (OUT) to K-03x).
The USB implementation of the Esoteric K-03x is very good and current. Certainly worthy of the claim that, improvements can be had by achieving complete isolation from your computer. For me its a no brainer.
Thank you all for the responses. It looks like a mixed field out there (as everything). Based on some of the comments here and other considerations, I went for a NuWave DSD DAC instead of buying an Audiophilleo for my DL3. I also purchased a WireWorld Starlight USB cable.
My consideration is that for similar price, I would gain advances in both USB technologies and DAC technologies. Every review I read comparing the DL3 and original NuWave said that the NuWave is a big improvement, so I am assuming the NuWave DSD is more?
@gocubs999 comment is interesting. I would be surprised the USB of such a device of the K-03x could be improved.. but apparently it could.
Regarding replacing my PC as a player, I've been wanting to build a custom player similar to the Bryston BDP-Pi.
I've already experimented with this a few years ago, with a RPi and HifiBerry which worked quite well. What I want to do is to build a linear PSU and put everything in a custom enclosure. I could connect that with SPDIF from the HifiBerry (like the Bryston) or via USB direct.
Plug your new USB cable into a good converter like the M2Tech or the Berkeley. Then run a good AES cable (I use MIT) from the converter to the new DAC. That will be better than running your USB cable directly into your new DAC.
Thanks @psag but the M2Tech I had was a Hiface that is either BNC or RCA, and the NuWave DAC I got does not have AES inputs so not relevant in my case
RPi and HifiBerry w/linear PSU will crush most of the computer bandaids being suggested. The Pi family is an amazing thing...nonprofit scientific community at its best, nice that us audio nuts can take advantage of some of that goodwill and product experience. If you haven't check out Daphile software for those. A builder friend of mine uses it with great results. You obviously have great building skills and that can take you a long way in this hobby! Cheers,
Right you are itsikhefez. I use the Hiface Evo, along with the battery power and external clock add-ons.