Well, the old upgrade itch had to be scratched, and even though it's a little behind the times now, I've invested in a refurbished PS Audio PWT and a used PWD MKII for my redbook CDs. The former is currently being assessed by the folks at PS Audio because it seemed unnaturally noisy when I received it, and the DAC hasn't actually arrived yet but should be here in the next day or so. So now that I can connect the two via HDMI using the I2S protocol, I need to stir up the old question of whether I'll get any advantage by shelling out some money for a high-quality HDMI cable? There's been a lot of verbiage devoted to this debate, but I would like to hear some real-world experiences. Have any of you compared different HDMI cables in this application, and did it make any difference? Of course one can carry this to its logical extreme, but I was thinking more along the lines of Audioquest Carbon (I use the coax versions of these in my system and think they're very good) or even their very modestly-priced Pearl cable. There's a Wire World Silver Starlight 7 available here on Audiogon just now, but I just can't work out whether it would make an audible difference over a standard (read: cheap) high-speed HDMI cable. Thanks for any input you may have on this. BTW, speaking of logical extremes: http://www.audiolab.com/audioquest-diamond-hdmi-digital-audio-video-cable-with-ethernet/?utm_medium=...
I tried the Audioquest Cinnamon and Carbon. Didn’t like them; lack of clarity and detail, Cinnamon had poor low-end extension. Maybe try the Chocolate. (but I am using PWT to Nuwave DSD DAC so YMMV). I went with the Cardas based on user reviews. It is warmer, as are most Cardas cables.
And yeah, I saw the price of the Diamond. It better be made of gold.
Cooper - PS Audio includes a VERY good HDMI cable for I2S with either the Memory Player or the DSD ( I don't remember which), but they do not list it for sale. Since you have been in contact with PS Audio, I would contact them again, thank them for the checking out service of your DAC and try and schmooze one of their HDMI cables from them. Even if there is a cost involved, it is such a good cable for this purpose, I would go ahead and do it! Good Luck
Thanks for the suggestions. I do have a contact over at PS Audio, so it can't hurt to ask. Meanwhile, I can go with my present pedestrian cables to get an idea of what that's like before I start climbing this upgrade ladder. Stay tuned...
To further expand on what jwpstayman said, the HDMI cable that PS Audio is supplying now is a “generic” cable, no name is on it and IS NOT the AC series cables that lowrider57 refers to. The best part is the new cable is relatively low cost, though, as pointed out it is not listed for sale on the website. They were supplying a 0.5m version with the DMP, which is what I have, but are now supplying a 1.0m version so keep that in mind.
i2s is a core digital interface communication protocol such as spdif. It is not the same as the standard HDMI audio/video interface protocol. However, in the case of companies such as PS Audio and Wyred 4 Sound, it uses the same HDMI cable as the connection. Sometimes it will use a RJ45 Ethernet cable as the connection.
As auxinput said, i2s is a different interface than HDMI. But an HDMI cable is used to carry the clock signal separately from the data stream. The advantage is less jitter than SPDIF, which combines all data.
Update: the PWT has been repaired and returned to me (high praise for PS Audio's customer service for how they handled this issue), and I'm currently listening via I2S through an old Monster HDMI cable I already had. Haven't really made my mind up yet about the combination of PWT/PWD hooked up this way, but the things I'm unsure about might not be the fault of the cable. I'm starting this journey at the ground floor (so to speak), awaiting a Pangea cable I ordered from AudioAdvisor. We'll see if it sounds any different. I'll give it at least a week or two before making any judgments.
I'm actually in the exact same situation as cooper52, except I'm waiting for my PWD 2 to come back. I got about a month of listening before sending it to PS Audio, to me it sounded pretty good with a cheap 1/2 meter monoprice hdmi cable. This was after using Audio Alchemy v3/v2DTI hooked up with a silver I2S cable for the past 20+ Years. I'm back to AA dac with PWT and it sounds good, but I sure hope they get the PWD2 figured out. I did a lot of research before purchasing the ps audio dac/transport and remember reading on there forum somewhere that power cables and interconnects have a big influence on the performance. I've got the bug so I have been buying some used power cords from Shunyata and Anticable. I just found a new audioquest vodka hdmi for about 1/3 the normal cost, unfortunately it was only in 2m version at the best price, I'm sure 1/2m would be better. I'll try and do a comparison between the mono price and aq vodka when I get my pwd2 back. Please let us know if you hear a difference between the Pangea and monster hdmi, I've always been curious about them since I think the designer has worked for quite a few hi end cable cable companies in the past?
Further update: the Pangea cable has been in the system for a while now and to be honest, I can't hear any differences between any of my various HDMI cables. Maybe doing so (if any such improvement is to be had) would require a really big step up the price ladder, but as it stands I'm not very happy with what I'm hearing. These issues will be addressed in a separate thread in the Digital section where I think that discussion would be more appropriate.
Hi and sorry for the delay, I’ve been trying to give the Vodka a little time to break in if that’s even necessary for hdmi? Anyway I’m really psyched to have the PWD2 back in my rig and have been listening to the aq vodka for a little over a week, I haven’t tried switching back to the mono price yet but will do so this week and report back next week with results. On another note, unfortunately I couldn’t hear a huge difference between my old AA DDEv3/DTIv2 when switching back and forth with my recently acquired PS PWD2/PWT. There is a slight gain difference between the 2 with the AA dac being a little louder, so this may have gave inaccurate results? In saying this my speakers are definitely the weakest link and may not even be accurate enough to make an appropriate comparison. I like building speakers and have a pair of the older cheap 2way “Andrew Jones pioneer budget speakers for now until I get my latest project finished. Cooper52 thanks for the heads up on the Pangea that’s very helpful info for all. I have a feeling I might get the same results with the vodka vs monoprice, will see? Best Regards
I just wanted to give a quick summary of my comparison on a 1m mono-price vs 2m Audioquest vodka hdmi cable. I really didn’t hear a huge difference between them. They both sound really good to me and I am second guessing myself on weather or not I really heard a difference or not? I think the vodka was slightly better and will be leaving it in and throwing the mono price back in the spare back up drawer. I think the vodka sounded a little more refined overall, like a slightly smoother and detailed tube upgrade. To my ears, which are no where as finely trained as most of you on this forum, I couldn’t hear enough of a difference to spend the extra cash. It may have a bigger impact on video but Ill never know because my home theater projector uses a 30ft run of mono price up through the wall and 2 meters will never reach from the ceiling to the equipment rack. Cooper52 sorry for kinda butting in this thread and wasn’t trying to hijack it in anyway, just wanted to share a little similar experience since we’re all usually looking for the biggest bang for our buck.
justinm, thanks for your posts and for sharing your experience with the cables. I'm still really on the fence about spending some serious cash for a significant upgrade to the HDMI cable, as it sounds like this would make only a minor difference. I was wondering if you had experimented with different power cables in the PWT/PWDII combination? Did this make any difference? I'm trying hard not to blame my speakers for the things I dislike about this setup. That conversation is over in the Digital section of the forum.
Update: am currently trying out a Transparent Audio High Performance HDMI cable I found here on Audiogon and initial impressions are that though it sounds slightly smoother than the Pangea, there's not a huge amount of difference. Not really an incentive to climb further up the upgrade ladder here, I think.
Hey Coop's: Amazing differences. Spotted and purchased a used Gustard U-12's (spdif converter) and experiment i2S OUT (over HDMi) into X-20pro (Gustard DAC).
Eventually I connected but had only a generic 15-ft. Hdmi. U-G-L-Y (lol -the sound).
Not sure of its contribution (i2S or cable quality) I decided to purchase the AQ 'Pearl' and 'Cinnamon' (both 2-m -as I thought I could use elsewhere if proved unsatisfactory. Yeah right !
Started with the 'Cinnamon' and OMG -you kidding me ? Another layer of dimensionality, tonal realism, articulation and layering that astounded me -and continues to. An audiophile (on the i2S topic) stated he'd never go back/use another digital cable type -it's clear to see why now. Furthering SQ descriptor's, the sheer sense of focus,definition musical flow/rhythm from an eerily silent background presents 3D-like sound projections mesmerizing to experience. And this, from 128 Kb/s Internet 'Streams'. Today, some 72-96 hours run time has settled the cables tonality.
I believe a 0.6m AQ 'Carbon' or 'Vodka' may be warranted for further exploration. All in all, a remarkable (and most welcome) discovery.
Hey coop52: For sure i2s (over HDMi) is both an excellent data transmission protocol -and SQ also influenced by 'quality' of HDMi cable. My set-up (computer audio/Streaming) is both recent and modest; Pi3B (AQ Carbon USB to), Gustard X-20PRO DAC/w usb input. Prior to purchasing the AQ Carbon USB cable, SQ was very AM Radio-ish (using generic usb cable). AQ CArbon = OMG, Hi-Rez hi-fi. Not kidding. Months later, I thought I'd try the HDMi input on the Gustard (X20pro DAC). Not having a HDMi 'transport', I thought perhaps I'd pick-up a spdif converter offering up i2S (Gustard U-12). With a 15-ft generic (lol) HDMi, although far from excellent, was doing something (quite positive), so I thought it would be worthy of further exploration/experimentation. So, some cheapy AQ Pearl (2.0m) and model up Forest (2.0) HDMi cables it was. Forget the Pearl, OMG -the 'Forest' HDMi) from U-12 (over HDMi) to i2S DAC was/is amazing ! (I'll creep up the AQ line (next is Cinnamon -on order), then Carbon, then Vodka -the highest I'd consider for my set-up.) But low/behold, my brother let's me use his Vodka (1.5m) HDMi (just last night).Is it better? I think so. But, it sat (unused) for a couple months, and I'm not certain it even has the requisite break-in time. So, (only getting it last night), I'll run it for a while and report back (if I remember).
What is very clear however, is the immense SQ gains going i2S -even with a very modest Audioquest 'Forest' HDMi. I'd imagine 'Word Clk' (over BNC) offers similar/superior SQ (vs. i2s). Yet, even with the $50.? AQ 'Forest' (HDMi), SQ has never been better. It is excellent. pj
I’m asking a very naive question simply because I didn’t understand the answers given above. So my apologies at the outset 1. Can I run an hdmi cable between the Oppo103D and my PerfectWave DAC? Use the hdmi out to I2S input on the DAC? Will it pass the audio signal properly? 2. Is digital by hdmi better than coaxial? Thanks for your replies 🙏
Johnread57: I did a little poking around about the Oppo and discovered that while it doesn’t support the I2s protocol, but you can buy an add-on card that will enable I2s output via HDMI. Here’s the link: www.oppomod.comThey have a number of different cards, so scroll down to the "I2s Card Upgrade." They confirm that it’s compatible with PS Audio but I’m not sure if it’s compatible with your particular Oppo model. I have no experience with this company, so can’t comment on their quality/reliability. My own experience with the PS Audio PWD II is that the I2s/HDMI connection was indeed significantly superior to the coax connection.
I2S is the way to go. And it’s not rocket science. I2S is the standard protocol of all redbook 16/44.1 and is how the data is prepared prior to the output stage. PS Audio just decided to use that data in its naitve format and send it on from player to DAC unchanged. HDMI is simply a good conductor for multiple data transfer in a single shielded format. It it’s good enough for video, it’s good enough for audio data. I2S always sounds better than coax, USB or optical. There’s no combining and uncombining of clock and signal data. Less chance for data anomalies.
And a final update here: I’ve jettisoned both of the PS Audio components, the PWD II and the PWT. Sorry, but I just never was able to come to terms with the sound of them, and no amount of playing around with the cabling could tame their shrillness. Not sure if anybody else has had this issue with these units, but in the end, I kept my Cambridge Audio CXU player and replaced the PWD II with an AMR DP-777 DAC which is in fact a tubed DAC (I swore I’d never go there, but DANG this thing sounds good!) and I’m a much happier camper.
I see there’s a newer version of the AMR DAC (the SE version) but I don’t know how much this improves on the original. AMR’s website lists all these as "Legacy Products" now, so I’m not sure they’re even in the business of manufacturing them any more. Any of you know more about this?
Hello, I am glad to have found this topic you guys are discussing :p greatly appreciated. I too was very confused about i2S protocol. My Dac has an I2S RJ45 input, but most CD transports I have found have an I2s HDMI output in lieu of Coax and Optixal. I want o utilize the I2S RJ45. Can anyone tell me would an adapter or a special cable that has a I2S RJ45 male end with HDMI female work? Or do I need a special box for the conversion?