I haven't upgraded my USB/SPDIF converter yet, I have a Vlink right now, but from what I have read in the reviews, the A2 would be an upgrade from the hiface. I have the Audiophilleo or the Anedio in my upgrade list.
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I've been leery of the off ramp bc (it seems) every message board I go to re: computer audio Steve is pushing his products under the guise of objective advice. It just gets so annoying. But I imagine it's probably a good product. I will say that the ap2 with a high quality USB cable is very very good and I have no desire to upgrade that part of my system.
No doubt the Off Ramps have a great reputation and a big price tag. Seems like the $500 is a pricepoint that a great converter could still be picked up at. has anyone compared the SotM DX USB and the April Music U3 to the AP2?
Also on Ebay there are 2 attractive devices one at a bit over $100 and the other at around $175... both use a asynchronous Cmedia chip, galvanic isolation and reclocks, One outputs toslink/spdif-coax, the more expensive adds balanced... I have the cheapie, I don't have anything to compare to, except it blows the socks off the USB in on my DAC that uses a Tenor chip. Affordable quality converters are hard to find. This info would be good for us all.
Having heard both AP and JK mk3 I can echo Eugene81 on the differencies between the two. JK is smoother and more analog like, where AP is more vivid and more resolving. Adding the PurePower battery PSU greatly improves the AP and I think that in that configuration, it is the best of both worlds.
In order of performance, I would rate all the converters involwed as follows:
AP + Pure Power
JK mk 3
I haven't tried the SOtM piece.
Devilboy - the word 'big' (improvement) is very relative in this hobby :) I found the improvement to be very worthwile cost wise. The fact that you can do it in stages (first buy a regular AP 1/2 and the add PP) is another bonus.
I'm affraid you will have to send your AP for upgrade as well. They need to make an internal modification to make the PP option work.
I commented on this tread back in July. I ended up buying an Audio-gd, DI-DSP... They made several changes since this thing has been reviewed last. The reviewed models include the old TE7022(adaptive) for USB conversion and a DSP3 processor(jitter reduction). Audio-Gd changed to the TE8022(asynchronous)and updated the processor to a version 3.1. I had only compared it to very inexpensive convertors which it blew away. This past weekend a friend brought over his Wadia 121. Their presentation was similar, the Wadia had a touch more height, the Audio-gd had a touch more width. Tonal balance was similar between the 2, but the Audio-Gd has a nature to it that I'll call analog, a touch richer in the mid range that I really enjoyed. The Wadia was not dry, but in comparison, it leaned that way. Now the bad news, Kingwa has had terrible driver problems with the Tenor 8022 chip developing for Windows 8 and has already discontinued this piece until he has an answer. I use win 8 and indeed, occassionally it will fail, I restart and all is well. Don't know if its worth it for anyone to consider, it is in stock. I'd love to compare it to the Audiophilleo, my instincts are that it would compete well and it is half the price. I have no affiliation with anyone at audio-gd or any hifi company, I have just found this to be a huge value and thought I'd share.
@devilboy, I tried a Vaunix USB hub with an AP2 which brought improvements to mostly bass and mids clarity. Adding the PP added more of the same but expanded the soundstage width, depth and made everything sound bigger. At that time I was using an Anedio D1 and later a Neko D100 DAC. AP2 can be upgraded to support PP.
@ Mordante, no, I didn't - I bought a musical fidelity Vlink192 and got off the merry go round. Sorry! I decided I didn't want to spend that kind of dough on a converter. I'm pretty happy with my system where it is. I've spent plenty on the front end, my next foray will be replacing the amp, but that'll be a long time coming...happy listening.
Been using a Xonar Essence STX in a homemade PC based server for a while via SPDIF, using High Fidelity CT1-E digital cable to connect to my LampizatOr L4 DAC, I was always aware of a hardness on vocals, it didn't matter what I did elsewhere in my system to try and remedy this glassy and hard/nasal coloration/distortion, so I took the plunge, I bought a Audiophilleo2 with PurePower, wow, bingo, not just did the midband flesh-out, the whole sound came together in ways I never thought possible considering the limitations of digital (vs analog), for the first time, the A2 + PP is making the LampizatOr sing, my sound is genuinely reminiscent of my best memories I have of the days of analog, minus the pops and all! If youÂre looking to get closer to the master tape or analogÂness, look no further, the Audiophilleo will blow your socks off. It is grain-free, open, clear, has a dash of warmth through the mids without clouding resolution and goes deep in the bass with top-end that is beautifully integrated through the mids. I am using WireWorld Ultraviolet USB cable between my server and A2, I am so excited that I now ordered the Acoustic Revive USB-1.0sp to take my system to the next level.
The AP with Purepower upgrade is another subtle but noticeable improvement but again it all depends on your particular setup.
I ditched my Silverstar cable and went with the Direct Connection as I subscribe to the best cable is no cable school of thought. But the biggest wow moment I had was when I ditched my passive preamp and went direct connect from my DAC to the amp. My older recordings came so much more alive. I now use the Audirvana volume control. I figure just as in the no cable scenario, one less box to color the sound is another good deduction.