I am not an expert, but I would think that any conversion gadget would add a sound of its own. Wonder what the experts think and if such converters really exist.
What I can say however, that USB can sound excellent with the right DAC. I run Steve Nugent's SPOILER from my Toshiba and it clobbers both the Zanden and my DCS stack in all the important parameters we afficionados look out for.
Thanks Detlof. Perhaps my problem is that I'm using a sub par USB cable (the one that came with the DAH1). It appears to be very poorly shielded. The unit sounds great in every aspect (detail, smoothness, etc.) except for soundstage *depth*. The width sounds great, and the imaging is also good.
I've read other comments supporting your claim that USB can sound great, possibly better than coax or optical output from a computer. Could this have to do with the fact that the signal is almost always reclocked on the receiving end when a USB interface is used?
Yes, that is certainly the case with the SPOILER. As for the USB cable, I'm using a 4 meter Monster with very good effect.
I'm sorry, could you please clarify as to what is the case with the SPOILER? Do you mean that the USB output sounds the best out of all the available outputs?
I'm trying to determine why the soundstage depth is so poor with this unit. It could just be a design flaw, but there may be something else to blame, such as the quality of the USB cable, or the setup of my computer.
The coax output in this DAC may be better than USB, but I have no optical or coax output on any of my computers to try this. It seems as though getting a USB to coax converter for the PC may be the only way to go.
I've been doing a USB to coax conversion with an ESI U24 soundcard (no longer available, but a very good unit). However, my results are mediocre at best. There are so many issues though from the initial ripping, format, PC, USB to coax, and digital cable to D/A. I can compare the original CD to the ripped version and the original CD is winning by a pretty wide margin. This should not be the case from what most people tell me that really know digital (I am definitely NOT an expert in this area).
Bel Canto has just announced the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96,
a USB-to-S/PDIF converter which looks interesting. Will be unveiled at CES.
My Toshiba has, like your laptop, except for firewire, only USB output possibilities. I have no complaints about the soundstage, which is both wide and deep and I see no deterioration at all with the Spoiler compared to vinyl or CD direct. So I tend to doubt that USB per se is your culprit.
Rives - I have yet to find a PCI soundcard that sounds good.
Each of these devices has different drivers and different ways of avoiding kmixer, and PCI cards usually have poor clocks, so the result is a lot of jitter.
It's hard to tell whether it jitter or kmixer that is causing your problems, probably a bit of each.
I would recommend trying to unmap the device to avoid kmixer. WMP will not recognize it anymore, but you should not be using WMP anyway if you want good sound quality. I recently tried this successfullly with a Lynx AES16. Works fine with Foobar and Jriver.
Detlof - have you tried rolling thos tubes yet?
I have found that really new ones make a big difference in HF extension and clarity (Siemens CCA grey-plates). They need to measure about 18ma. I get them on ebay, usually from someone in Germany.
No I haven't so far, because I am happy with the sound as is. But I've been planning to try one day. Perhaps you just gave me the necessary kick in the you know where to do so soon. I'll report when I have done so.
OOps: Just saw, that I already have them. I had bought the Spoiler equipped with those, if you recall....
Apologies for being off-topic here....