Sorry for my mistake. My question should have been: empirical audio off ramp-3 or lynx aes 16 sound card. RV
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15 feet is supposed to be the limit for usb cables, unless you get something like an Opticis optical usb cable. I had the same issue, went with the Opticis for a while, but it had trouble with 24 bit data streams. I now have a mac mini on my stereo rack connected to an Empirical Audio Offramp that feeds the digital input of my Wadia 860x cdp. Having the mac mini on my rack means I can use a short usb cable. Buy a good one as they do make a difference.
As to the Lynx sound card, I suppose you could run a 20 foot (7 meters?)length of aes/ebu cable to the stereo...
You can run a long AES/EBU cable from either of these. Long cables are not exactly a great thing but the higher voltage of AES/EBU is the better way to go - even better than a long toslink.
I found the Empirical Offramp 3 with Superclock 4 to sound a touch better than the Lynx aes16. The Lynx sounding a little flatter, the Offramp a little more vivid.
IMO, the answer is it depends on one thing: If you are using a DAC that doesn't do 2-dimensional jitter reduction, then I recommend using the EA converter. If you use a DAC that does 2-D jitter reduction, then it doesn't matter whether you use USB (with or without the Empirical Audio converter) or AES out of the sound card.
I have a 30 meter Opticis USB cable from my PC to my rig. I also have an 80 foot AES cable, plugged into Lynx AES16, from PC to rig. And I have an EA Turbo2 that I can use to convert USB to AES, if needed.
Until recently, I used a Meitner DCC2se dac. It sounded better when I ran USB through the EA Turbo2 compared to when I ran AES from the Lynx directly into the dac. In fact, the sound with USB+Turbo2 was equal to using my Meitner CDSDse transport. So I ended up getting rid of the transport because I never used it. I believe the USB+Turbo2 sounded better because it had lower jitter than Lynx+AES.
Moving forward to present day, I now have a Playback Designs MPD-5 dac. The PD dac uses 2-D jitter reduction, so it doesn't matter what kind of digital signal you use. Whether I use Lynx+AES or USB+Turbo2 or USB directly into the dac, it always sound the same. To me this is a game changer. There is no need for expensive converters or worrying about which signal to output from your PC. My strategy was to save the money that I would have spent on an expensive converter and put it toward a better dac that doesn't need the converter.
That must be a very good DAC. But a claim to be completely immune to jitter is a very big one, and one that has many times before been made, only to prove to be untrue.
I would be very interested to hear more about the so-called 2-D jitter reduction. I read what is said on their site and it is pretty obtuse, but you get that with web sites - it doesn't mean they are not onto something.
Reading between the lines, they seem to be using the same jitter reduction process as used in a number of DACs, but maybe with a twist. I am guessing they are doing the over-sampling trick used by Bel Canto and Benchmark, where you upsample to a very high rate and then downsample just before the DAC chip. While this more or less eliminates jitter it simply maps jitter to broadband noise - ie jitter turns up as bit errors. The sound is at first impressive but ultimately sounds unnatural, particularly timbres of real instruments.
The process can also add errors due to any imprecision at the very high clock rates used. What they appear to be hinting at is that they do the same thing as say the Benchmark but then fix the bit errors. This is conceptually possible since the original jittery signal can be used as a reference, since it is likely to be bit perfect. But there is a "so what" here. Eliminating jitter is theoretically possible without using this particular strategy. There are many such strategies, and using ethernet for bit transport is probably the most promising of them. The tough thing is implementing it in real time, and the ethernet products we know like the Logitech products are not at all perfect. So far, I don't think anyone has done it, including Wavelength with their asynchronous USB, but it would be a massive breakthrough if someone did.
I wouldn't throw around the "must be a 2-D DAC" mantra too much. All they are saying is the DAC should attempt to eliminate jitter - that is all they mean by 2-D. Therefore there are a lot of 2-D DACs out there. Their implication that no other DAC attempts to deal with timing issues is not a fair comment. The only interesting thing, is their implementation - if it does indeed work as completely as they claim.
From your comments Big-amp, they have had some success. Experience to date makes me remain a skeptic about the claims of complete elimination of jitter, for the moment at least - but I now want to listen to one of these DACs, if I can get my hands on one at this end of the world.
Antipodes - I'm also not sure what 2-D means. So, I don't know whether you characterize it correctly. As you said, they don't provide a good explaination on their web site, so it may or may not be similar to what the other dacs are doing. Yes, there may be other good solutions out there. Also, I agree -- is it really "no jitter"???
In any event, the proof has been in the pudding. When I use Lynx+AES, USB+Turbo2, USB direct into the dac, or coax from a transport it always sounds the same. Eliminating this issue of which connection type is best, let's someone choose the dac on the merits of its sound. IMO, the is quite natural (YMMV); much improved over my old Meitner dac.
It's interesting to read posts by people who blindly want to buy dacs simply because they have USB ports, without realizing that USB implementations are not all created equal and they may be settling for a dac that doesn't have the sound that they seek. I think the EA Turbo implementation is an excellent solution -- it allows someone to use the dac of their choice and also achieve low jitter out of their PC. Personally, I prefer the PD dac because it is an elegant solution in that it has the sound that I seek and doesn't require a converter.
Heres the inherent issue when asking untold numbers of card carrying audio nuts a question. One usually attains an untold number of answers . Plus from 3 to 30 more unasked for solutions which might be pertinent or not..
I found this online in a Q&A session with some in the know sorts which are all answering the exact same questions.
Of that lot, Andreas Koch of Playback Designs made a statement regarding the 2D item mentioned above here
>> "As we all know, audio is represented in a y/x-axis system: the y-axis for amplitude and the x-axis for time. Mostly because of analog audio's sensitivity problems in the y-axis, digital audio was introduced. But digital audio not only quantizes the y-axis, it does so as well on the x-axis. Sounds like we got more than we wantedtrue and too bad. A typical state-of-the-art DAC converts between quantization levels in the digital y-axis and the analog y-axis and is completely transparent and open as to what happens on the x-axis (time domain). Sounds like we forgot the quantization on the x-axis."<<
Read more at:
Links at the bottom of that page let you see what Bel Canto, Wavelength, Emperical, Weiss, and others have to say.
I think another mention of it is made by another designer somewhere at some point.. Read through it and see its kind of long, but definitely interesting.
If a DAC can speak to these X & Y axis items and according to andreas remarks virtually eliminate the rhetoric surrounding which drive, transport, feed, or digital source to the state of being inconsequential, while producing audiophile sound quality AND further, be AFFORDABLE, it would change the face of digital audio IMO.
Irrespective of A.K.s input, how amplitude and timing are addressed, in whomevers DAC, the litmus test is as always, how does it sound to you? In your own rig/setup with the most appropriate caveat being, Can it be had affordably? It matters very little if it does sound fantastic, but is then financially out of reach of the masses.
I also found quite curious the one major thing all agreed upon as the main obstacle DACs & digital audio face.... "jitter".
Each and everyone of these designers has by their own hands attempted to resolve this problem. The how of it varies. The end product varies too.
But then one must ask other questions given the resultant sonic performances are quite varied... Was jitter eintirely removed? How was the analog output stage outfitted? Waht about that power supply
to point out just a couple.
Personally, I like what the BC D3 does in my own setup. Apart from the fact that the whole of electronically recorded music is artificial and illusionary at best when replayed, I find little in tone or timber qualities which sounds artificial using my setup. So theres that for fake sounding DACs. After all, isnt artificial just another term for fake? A bit harsher a term perhaps yet within the original context, valid.
I will say as to the resultant sound of any DAC, how it is integrated into ones system, and with what associated appliances, means at times, a world of difference in the sound quality.
Ive connected mine as a preamp with SS, Hybrid, & tube amps, and found the latter best of that lot. Definite diffs were noticeable with each combo for sure. Adding a decent preamp provided a still better experience. Swapping in and out some pcs made other changes or gains appear.
AS to the Ops implementation a call to either Empirical and/or Lynx should answer the Q about distance and cabling interfaces.
Then, theres ONLY the Q of which flavor?
.and were back to the business of setup yet again, and the room, other components, preffs wallet, and ears of Rodvujovicsr.
G luck, Rod
I think everyone is in agreement that x-axis, or timing, plagues digital audio, and that it ought to be able to be dealt with. Getting bit perfect transport of bits is very much achievable and so regenerating the clock data ought to solve the problem better than expecting perfect cabling and interfaces.
The key issues in digital audio to resolve are:
1. How do you eliminate jitter just before, or in the DAC chip itself, to avoid jitter creeping back in subsequent transmission steps. Ethernet makes the most sense to me, because of how it works. Its just that not many audiophile firms have the knowledge to exploit ethernet so they faff about with USB, SPDIF, AES/EBU etc.
2. How high does the sampling rate need to be to make quantisation error immaterial?
3. How do you deal with digital filtering at half the sampling rate. Use DSD? Increase the original sampling rate? Upsample before conversion? Use a filter, not use a filter? If you filter, then what sort of filter?
It is pretty clear to me that the Playback guys mean dealing with these three issues as being 2-D, with the first issue being x-axis and the second and third being y-axis. Where they are claiming to be different is in the x-axis, ie in eliminating jitter. A claim many have made before them.
The only thing they are being clear about is that you should do it in the DAC, not separate from it. I think they are saying they are mapping jitter to change the bits, which isn't new, except that it is usually done in a separate stage to the DA conversion. It is not clear to me why doing it in the DA conversion step is such a good thing as it is generally better to keep the DA conversion step as simple as possible.
But until the Playback guys tell us a bit more about what they are actually doing this is just guesswork.
I found it curious that in the poll, the importance of the transport was diminished a very good bit... eg., "...walkman, DVD player, etc could be used with such a DAC and provide equal results.".
yet they don't want to use just any transport inside their own $15K CDP, opting for a far higher grade unit than simple run of the mill sorts. Apart from 'read errors', if their DAc is so adept at fixing/eliminating all other erros, why install such an expensive transport?
Perhaps as said above, many claim a thing... yet not all such claims are found to be valid in the end.
..and we're back to the listening event... and setup, despite the technology as the final axis waiting to be addressed.... regardless the claims made or who is making them.
I thought the DAC was supposed to address the area of jitter. Some do it better than others. Some have been measured by 3rd parties and shown to be better at addressing jitter too.
I've tried two of these tested DACs and could live with either, although one was a lot more jittery as tested than was the one I kept. What I'm saying is let's not beat a dead horse to death, hearing it is why we buy it. After that it's just simple chest beating as to why we did and a lot of the time people will then point to such things. had my needs for my system been different, I'd have bought the lesser expensive albeit more jittery DAC.... because of it's 'Sound'. As sound is all I have at my discretion to judge a thing with.
I found nothing wrong with the tone of either unit.... just one was softer and more refined than the other, and I had too much of a good thing by adding still more of that softer refinement to my system. A good stew needs salt.
If you are using iTunes consider Apple's Airport Express http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/. You can use ethernet cable from your router or even transmit wirelessly via 802.11n (very reliable). AE is very easy to set up, cheap AND has an optical output from the headphone jack. I know optical is often criticized, but I've found it to sound remarked;y good. I've read that AE limits output to 16/44. If it does then a conversion must be occurring somewhere, because I'm streaming 24/96 files that will play. You'll have to configure iTunes and the sound card digital output for your needs. If you are streaming anything but high res files I'd anticipate no problems at all. And even if you're not totally satisfied the AE is a great device to have anyhow. This is the cable you'd need: http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10229&cs_id=1022902&p_id=1556&seq=1&format=2
Airport express does sound good Lenny_pt and especially for the price. What can make it sound better is something like the Pace Car in mode 3 with the Airport Express modded and slaved to it. But the Pace Car and the modding process is expensive unfortunately.
Blindjim, it would be nice if you were right, that a DAC can eliminate jitter. I haven't found one that is not affected by changes in jitter performance. I also don't see improving jitter performance as just changing flavour. I have generally found that improved jitter performance improves everything - smoother, tighter, more resolution, less glare, better dynamics.
Check the 'corrected' jitter figures JA made in his review of the Bel Canto e one DAC3 in Stereophile. Additionally, the balance of the tested specs of the BC D3 also in that same review.
The important part of it all is just how much jitter, or how little jitter, can a human being actually hear?
At some point one has to be reasonable with specs. I've yet to find specs which dictate how a thing will sound, regardless how good or poorly the device measures out at. Especially given one uses only the manufacturers specs.
The only specs that still carry weight with me, are price, size & weight, (sometimes), and color (sometimes).
It always comes down to hearing it. That's the spec to go by.