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My bad. The 2-pin connector turned out to be a 3-pin connector. Meaning that the laptop didn't recognize the power source. So, it defaulted to the battery. That explains why the sound was so smooth.
So, I hooked up a ground wire and tried again. The SQ with the linear power supply was definitely different from the OEM supply. It was cleaner and with more dynamics. If anything it made music more neutral. I kind of like the warmer tone. Need to listen some more.
Steakster, are you still using USB with Off-Ramp 3. You might try Off-Ramp 5, that uses asynchronous USB, making timing of your computer irrelevant. Running programs would not make any difference. Also computer electrical noise would have less effect on the sound.I use OR-5 with dual PC transport. The PCs are optimized with Windows Server 2012 in core mode plus JPlay and AO and all have big impact on the sound. The servers are both powered with linear supplies and I can hear significant differences in the quality of pc to the supplies. Even the usb cable that connects the OR-5 is audible. So readily apparent are these changes that I now believe the transport mechanism is the most critical component in the audio chain.
Hew, I can understand linear power supplies and USB cables, since they change amount of noise coupled to OR-5 (not very likely). I can even imagine that overall amount of programs running on PC can change this coupled noise (even less likely), but I cannot understand how playback program can improve anything if transfer is bit perfect. In bit perfect transmission the only thing that can affect sound is jitter. For jitter to happen timing is required, but in async USB scheme there is no timing because data is sent (no timing) instead. DAC takes data from the buffer and writes it into D/A converter at its own stable internal clock - that has nothing to do with PC timing. I don’t question your findings, but something is missing. Perhaps OR-5 is not really async USB? I also believe that USB section of OR-5 is optically isolated making it even less susceptible to coupled noise.
Just reporting my experience. I claim no technical expertise. Some argue that regardless of whether the changes are related to software or hardware they all aim to mitigate noise and are not necessarily related to timing. I do know that even Steve has recommended particular transports with certain software configurations. BTW, I have found that the software optimizations are often of a bigger impact than switching to linear power or better usb cable.
Yes, software optimization and type of drive can make difference in S/Pdif connection but it should not in async USB. Perhaps ambient electrical noise couples from digital to analog cables or by polluting supply (same phase or even same outlet). In that case keeping cable far apart, using different outlets or power conditioner might help. Also USB cable should have good shield and no power wires inside - just twisted pair.