Coax SP/DIF to USB..thoughts?

I now have a DAC ( I like this DAC a lot, so it is not getting replaced) that only uses a CoAx input and does not have the ability to input USB. Many streamers seem to utilize just USB as their output. There are a few USB to SP/DIF cable converters out there, but I have not heard any of these cables, nor do i know anyone who has. For those who have heard this type of conversion, is this a good way to go? 

Personally, i prefer the SQ of a CoAx cable to most all of the USB cables i have heard. Thoughts?


You'll get past your resistance to replace the DAC much sooner than you think.

Cables? You want a DDC.

How can you attribute total SQ differences to a cable? VS what?

You'll get past your resistance to replace the DAC much sooner than you think

Nope. This DAC has bested a lot of others in my system. Not going anywhere.

@fuzztone  You should swap cables in your system. Until you have done this, you really do not know how much effect they have, and trust me, they have a major effect. 

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There is no such thing. A DDC will get you from USB, but It is two way tech making it impossible to convert a one way "to" it.

I have two streamers w//o USB and there is no way to get to it from there.

What makes you think I haven't played cable swap?? One variable at a time.

I suspect that this will make most coax sound better:

It did with anything I’ve thrown at it.

USB is a relatively new requiment. It can with the need to connect computers to audio systems. Before this SP/DIFF was the connection. USB presents a completely different input to the DAC… the DAC must retime the bitstream. Which sounds better depends on your DAC and streamer. In general, if your streamer is better than your DAC then USB might sound better, and visa versa. Some DACs were produced specifically to be connected to computers and hence only have USB inputs. But of course some streamers then started to have USB outputs.

For contemporary and equal quality streamers and DACs SP/DIFF (or AES.. the balanced equivalent) is best. But you have to try both to be absolutely sure. I have very high quality equipment, there is really no substsncisl difference between the two, so I use the AES.


Avoid conversion. 

@ghdprentice   I think what you said makes a lot of sense. What connection and cable do you use from your Aurender? I believe your model has the option of all three connections, AES, Coax or USB. I would think the AES or Coax would sound better than USB. Interestingly,well respected models from Innuos only allow for USB, and I think that USB is perhaps a downgrade to Coax or AES...maybe not for their gear??

The type of cable or the cable itself is not generally the issue but rather the designer's implementation of the connection interface at both the source end and the receiver (i.e., DAC) end.  Isolation, grounding, power, and more all make a difference.  As an example, JCAT makes a USB CARD XE selling for $909, which is said to be an excellent USB interface when properly implemented.  The point is, rather than generalize one type of cable/connection being inherently better than another, use what sounds best with your specific gear.  If you like your DAC, and it only accepts a coax (S/PDIF) input, then make sure your streamer/server offers a good coax output, or use a commensurately capable converter or DDC.

The type of cable or the cable itself is not generally the issue but rather the designer's implementation of the connection interface at both the source end and the receiver (i.e., DAC) end.

+1 @mitch2 


Yes my Aurender has all three… I use the AES.

Actually it has lots of additional outputs… even dual AES. 

Depends on the quality of the streamer in my experience. I currently use a BlueSound Node 130 (With LHY LPS) with various USB cables, to a Denafrips Iris DDC, and then I2S Audioquest Vodka 48 8K/10K HDMI cable to a Denafrips Pontus II DAC. The sound improvement of this stack is impressive for such a low cost combination, with each upgraded component adding to the SQ.

That said, I've borrowed a couple of streamers (Aurender N10 and N200) that were amazing and much better than my set up, and I suspect that the iris is not needed....but those are $6,000 streamers or there abouts. I am currently saving the funds to upgrade to the usual suspect streamers (Innuous/Lumin/Aurender)

@vthokie83   Agree that the quality of the streamer is important. Although, IME the ability and quality of the DAC is actually a lot more important. Seems to be about 20% for the streamer and 80% for the DAC. 

My experience is that ultimately the sound quality is about 50-50. While at lower levels the DAC makes a bigger different as the quality goes up the difference equalizes and really high end sound requires both at the very highest level. My streamer is actually more expensive than my DAC.

If you place a great sounding streamer with a marginal DAC, you will not be that happy, OTOH, if you place a great sounding DAC with a marginal streamer, this will still be very satisfying. At the highest level, it all matters, but my ratio still applies. Cabling and connections matter as well. So does all of the set-up and upstream/downstream gear. BTW, what to you is the 'lower levels'?? 


I'd try an Aurender UC100 converter, at $700 it's not cheap but you may be able to get one used. I use their UT100 usb to fiber converter and it works just great. 

I'm not going to argue the pros or cons of USB sound quality, I just don't like it due to it losing connections between equipment if I jump around tracks too quickly. Every other SP/Diff connection I use simply locks onto the signal.

Best of luck and enjoy that DAC.

@daveyf I don't know how universal this is but I think it will work with most streamers that have a usb output. I've used my UT100 on a MacMini M1 without any issue at all. Windows would probably need a driver which could be an issue but I think a streamer would just see these devices as a DAC.

@treynolds155 Thanks again. This is really good to know. It could open up a much larger number of potential streamers for me. I was leaning towards a Aurender, but was only considering their N200 and up as they have a coax output. Now the lower model N150 could be an option, along with the Innuos line. ( which i really like as well). Assuming of course that what you said about compatibility is correct. I will ask my Innuos dealer. 

From the Aurender website…

UC100 is compatible with Aurender models N150, ACS10, ACS100, A200, A15, A20 and A30. It is for use with Aurender only and not compatible with other USB devices.

You can pick up a used Denafrips Iris for $399 and have your problem solved…

@soix Thanks. Looks like a good option. I suspected the Aurender would be brand specific.