Indeed it's a cracker and sounds rather brilliant when used with Pure Music & iTunes on the MacPro, the most recent release below is 100% cooking on my rig !
Also, in case you have missed these:
Thanks Coolhand! I checked out the Pure Music website and if I am understanding it correctly this program stores the music and plays it back while the "administrative" tasks are left to iTunes. My question/concern would be this: My music is stored on an external HD rather than in the Mac. Pure Music would load up the Mac with all the music right? Second, is there any real noticeable sound enhancement with Pure Music vs. iTunes by itself.
Thanks for the reply.
I am using the Mac Mini with digital output to my PS Audio Digital Link III. I started using the optical output to the DLIII and it is good. Adding the M2 Tech Hiface converter, the sound became more detailed with a larger soundstage. I use 2 external hard drives to store the music. I am only using iTunes and have not yet tried the other programs such as Pure Music but can attest to the improvement with the Hiface. It may be an interim step considering that there will be an explosion of USB converters in the future. But, for the time being it is money well spent. It also allows the playback of high resolution downloads which the optical would not.
Thanks Tgrisham - glad to hear you are having success with the HiFace. I really am tempted to go ahead with it. Like you, my music is stored on an external HD (2 TB mirrored) so I am not clear on just how something like Pure Music would work but frankly, I am happy with iTunes and hate to mess with it. Appreciate the feedback.
I liked it enough after listening to a borrowed one to buy it in BNC style.
Of Windows Media, J River Media Center iTunes and Fubar 102, the latter player provided the best results in itÂs Kernal straming setup. All were improved upon using the Hiface though . Just NOT to the extent Fubar did things!
ItÂs important to know, some media players are or can be optimized for playback using differring hardware. WMP & iTunes have the least degree of flexibility in this regard.
Media players like J River; Fubar 2K; and perhaps some others allow for more configuration flexibility. PURE MUSIC might just be one of those players that will give you the options necessary to see the Hiface at itÂs best . And at rates above 16/48 as with iTunes ceiling, for example.
Itunes & WMP are nice players with great organizational resources, but they just ain't the best sounding players out there.
I should say too... J R MC 15 beta was quite close to sounding as good as Fubar 2K, with better archiving options, but it was clearly second place IMHO to Foo' 25.
Thanks for the input Blindjim. I am not clear on how Pure Music and others work. Is it a music download operation or does it play my own library? If it plays my own library, what happens to iTunes? Does it mess with my iTunes artwork? BTW, still waiting for the arrival of the M2Tech. It is coming from Italy to Mexico and was shipped from Italy on April 23rd. Maybe the Iceland volcano ash has delayed its arrival. Happy to hear that you have experienced good things with it.
Wouldn't you know it - about 30 minutes after my last post the M2Tech arrived. I will test it out this evening and give my first impressions. No doubt the world will be waiting anxiously.
From where did you order your Hiface unit?
I ordered mine from Tweek Geek... it supposedly doesn't ship until mid May.
RE Pure music
I doubt seriously it will do anything to your existing configuration. I've several music players on one or more machines and they all operate independantly of one another save for MC 14. MC 14 USES some of the iTunes engines for replaying Apple associated file types.... but all the artwork, music folders and so forth aren't compromised at all.
In fact with most MPs, you have to tell them where to find the music on your pc if it isnt in the My Music folder by default.... mine are not.
I don't know enough about PM to say more... I saw it online and it's dedicated for Macs so I looked no further than to see it allowed high res music playback on those Mac OS's.
Personally, once I decided to go all in on downloading or ripping high res files to my PC I'd get it and see how well it plays them. I'm sure it'll play back normal res files too! it might even have a trial period so it can be found out for free.
Don't like it? Just uninstall it. Simple. No biggie.
Blindjim: Email Nadia at firstname.lastname@example.org. in Italy. She may be able to ship direct to you but I think there is some caveat that TG has a monopoly on the USA. Since I live in Mexico it didn't apply. Besides, originally I contacted TG for the purchase and they never even responded. My purchase was made in Euros - not to worry, paypal does the conversion. As it turned out the cost to me was $152.00 including shipping. Not bad.
Maybe I am really a dim bulb but I still don't get how PM or Amarra works. Do you buy extra equipment? Does it play your existing library? Is it a music download system? Is it a software download? what? Maybe you an explain it in layman terms. Hopefully I'm not the only one that doesn't see the big picture on this. Thanks for your response.
OK! the jury is in - the M2Tech Hiface most certainly did make a difference in my system. Bass is sharper - that is the main thing that I noticed but also, vocals are more in focus. I thought things sounded good coming out of the Mac before but this brought it all up at least one to two notches!! Worth the money.
The Hiface replaces my Pop Pulse Optical to SPDIF converter.
I bought the HiFace (BNC version) so I could use USB from my Mac Mini to SPDIF on my Cambridge Audio 840C. It replaced a glass toslink cable. The difference was remarkable: tighter more defined bass, much more defined soundstage, vocals sound real... let me put it this way... I had my new HiFace for 2 days and decided to order a modified version from John Kenny in Ireland. Can't wait for it to arrive. I'll probably sell my original HiFace on the Gon after it arrives.
The HiFace is the biggest bang-for-the-buck piece of equipment I've experienced.
System includes: Vandersteen 2Ce sigs, Arcam AVR350, Acoustic Zen cables, PS Audio PPP.
Oh... I forgot to mention Amarra Mini in my system configuration; also highly recommended!
I had the same experience Cdm! Tell me about the modified version.
yeah... what about that modified one, and who's doing it for how much?
As small as it is, what's he use? A microscope?
As best I can tell without getting to deeply into things, it appears as a plug in which see's and allows playback of file types that have higher than norm 16/44 & 16/48 resolutions.
Not owning a MAC pc... I didn't look too much into it apart from reading the intro.
I'd think it must have itunes running first... but I'm not sure. Amara does that as well... uses iTunes for HD file playback.
it's more than highly doubtful any problems would arise from trying it out, with your art work or music folder & files.
the only caveats to be wary of are the usual... uncheck the copy files to itunes folder when importing... to avoid duplications from pre-existing folders and files... and IF PM upsamples AND converts file types, you probably would wwant to disallow that too... in order to perserve the orig file integrity.
Amarra cost was around $400 for the lite version... nearly a grand for the whole shebang. For $80 or $90 provided there's a trial period... I'd give it a go were I to own a MAC... AND BE INTERESTED IN PLAYING HIGH RES FILES i'VE EITHER MADE ON SITE, OR BOUGHT FROM THE WEB.
aNOTHER OPTION AS i THINK OF IT IS fUBAR 2k.
iT'S FREE AND PLAYS BACK hd files... and when I had it with the RCA Hiface I had on loan here, the resultant combination of Fubar + Hiface was fantastic.... using kernal streaming mode.
Ohh... and Fubar? it's free.
Still haven't received the modded HiFace, but it should be here by Friday. It's a fairly modest mod... just includes replacing the 3.3V power supply coming from the USB source with a 3.3V battery supply.
John Kenny, from Dublin, is doing the work and there are a handful of glowing reviews on the results.
Incidentally, I think I paid $265 for Amarra (without the dongle) and consider it money well spent. It makes everything sound more dynamic, or present. It also lends more seperation (width and depth) to vocals and instruments.
At least that's been my experience on my system.
Just "Google" HiFace modifications for more information.
I bought mine here on AG, can describe the sound in one word.. AWESOME!
thus far I prefer the BNC version, and the cable used with it is as important.
Mine is a USB to RCA (SPDIF), I'm using MIT Avt 3 (2M) Coaxial digital cable and the results are impressive. I'm using foobar to stream 96KHz files from my Windows Laptop to Cambridge Audio DacMagic. The HiFace is worth the money IMHO
Indeed the M2Tech has been an impressive tweak in my system also. Now I am wondering if there would be enough additional improvement by going for the mod. If you have the mod, let us know if that is another step up or only a minor change not worthy of sending your M2Tech all the way back to Ireland.
Thanks to those that of responded. It seems pretty clear that this little gizmo really works.
how much does that power mod cost anyhow?
Blindjim I had a direct quote but now I can't find it but as I recall it would cost another $150-$170. Depends also on whether you get your own battery charger or have the modifier supply it. Same with the modified USB cable that eliminates the power wire so all power for the M2 comes from the battery pack.
It's hard to know if doubling the cost will double the improvement.
In a forum somewhere online, I saw the modder's assessment of a 95% boost to performance. making it nearly twice as good. maybe. Maybe not.
Mine is still running in and I'm quite happy with the results that continue to be revealed. I'm thinking it is about done though, or it'll be awile for changes to come now, or they'll be quite subtle. The Oyaide T510 continues to provide smiles as well.
I've better uses currently for $200 than to fool around with what is doing me a great service already.
All I can say is... if you like what the hiFace did for your system, you will love what jkeny's mod adds to the performance. I was spellbound by the improvement; as was the wife. The mod takes the hiFaces clarity and smoothes it out --- digititis is removed. Incredible detail. Very analog sounding.
I'm not a reviewer, but suffice to say that my system never has sounded better.
Unfortunately, it only lasted 4 to 5 hours. The first time I attempted to charge the 3.3V batteries, the 6 amp charger (jkeny's recommended unit) fried the power switch. Game over. He has since removed his recommendation.
The unit is on its way back to Ireland. In spite of my disappointment, John Kenny answered every email within a very short time and patiently helped me troubleshoot the issue at hand.
To be contiuned...
You are correct Cdm, John Kenny is quick to respond to E-Mails. Addressing your charger issue - I noticed on his website that he recommends not using any charger that puts out more than 3A in the charging mode. (initially it said 2A but that was an error that he is correcting). I am packaging up my HiFace today for shipment to him and was greatly encouraged by your comments. The original HiFace did wonders for my system as well. Did you get the "box package" with his modified USB cable?
Thanks for the update!
Have any of you seen the outline of the new 'Evo' from M2T yet?
the info I saw at head Fi (?) said...
it's an aluminum box outfit now.
USB fed still, but with it's own power supply now, and an aux input for a master clock, SPDIF, TOS, & BNC OUTPUTS.
so a better regulated and higher pwoer sup, the option for adding another clock and more interfaces.
For about $300. Supposedly ships in July this year.
it seems this addresses both the Kenny mod, better colcking, and more flexibility interfacing to other DACs... for about what the Hiface 192 + the Kinney mod does, but more...
I suspect this will never end as more manufacturers get on the band wagon. The answer seems to be, pick your product, like it, live with it.
The new one that Blindjim refers to has options that I would never use but will no doubt be an awesome little gizmo.
One thing that still confuses me - so the modded Hiface comes with a 3.3V external power supply (batteries). This I understand but apparently the Hiface STILL needs the 5V power supply from the Mac for some other purpose. If you opt to purchase the modified USB cable that has the power line removed, or disabled, then you need to find another source for the 5V power supply which is in addition to the 3.3V battery pack.
Do I have this right? If so, then I wouldn't bother with the modified USB cable because according to what I am reading, this only "corrects" the final 5% of the sound quality being sought.
Cdm - Is this your understanding and what approach did you take? The modified USB or a regular USB cable and did not concern yourself with the last 5% of SQ?
I am concerned about the development of the drivers for the HiFace on Win 7. The current release (18.104.22.168) does not work with J River and WASAPI. You need a previous version (22.214.171.124) which has some problems of its own. This has been the situation for over 2 months. I know they are working on it, but I hope the driver becomes more robost soon. I hope they do not over extend themselves with the next generation product. I love the sound using the 140 driver.
I ordered the boxed version on John's mod, and also ordered the modded USB cable. I wasn't overly anxious to employ the USB cable because I was so floored by the battery mod. And I never got the chance because the box died shortly after I received it! It's on its way back to Ireland.
To be honest, if I had known how much improvement the basic mod provided, I would have skipped the cable entirely.
Cdm: How were you going to provide the HiFace with that extra 5V that normally comes from the Mac if you were using the Modded USB cable? Your experience has caused me to scratch the Modded USB cable anyway,
I just came across this thread :)
Thanks Curt (cdm)!
Yes, I've said before that the main mods account for 95% & the cable mod about 5% of sonic improvements.
As for the "Evo" - it still has internal regulators which I bypass & is the core of my modifications to the standard Hiface. The Evo has lots of options & flexibility. I would be happy to test my mods against the standard Evo - it is interesting to ask Marco from M2tech what he thinks is the best sounding (I know his answer!)
Honestly, I haven't a clue. I just ignorantly assumed that I could find a 5V supply! It wasn't that easy.
I "googled" 5V rechargable battery and found in nice, clean, compact, rechargable, w/charger unit for $90, but couldn't swallow the price. I'm glad I waited, since my hiFace mod died the first time I tried to charge it.
Glad I kept my stock hiFace BNC while I sort this out with jkeny!
John - thanks for joining in. (Pete B here) Cdm - I'm with you. That extra 5% isn't worth all the trouble. You must have kept your original HiFace and had John do a mod on another one. Smart move actually. I've had the same thought. If both are working well I would use the original HiFace for my headset amp. I'm confident that John will make it right for you.
The new version offered by HiFace has a lot of options that have no benefit for me. I'll be happy with the original mod if it performs like you experienced.
About the 5V supply - I too think that there is a lot of effort for a 5% improvement but so many people asked me for this that I provided this option via the modified USB cable. Some people also get fixated by this 5% & forget about the bigger picture but there you go. I think your pragmatic approach is the way to go, Pete.
The 5V can/could be addressed at a later stage if desired.
I should correct my statement above to "ask Marco what he thinks MIGHT be the best sounding"
Here's the follow-up I got from John Kenny after he received my faulty hiFace mod:
ÂI just this morning received your Hiface & immediately opened it up to test it. Rather than it being a burnt out switch, I found a bad solder joint on the switch to one of the batteries. This prevented this battery from being re-charged. So the battery (that goes under the Hiface) now measures 2.7V The battery is the one that is connected to the LED & this explains how it dimmed after 10 mins (something I couldn't explain at the time) - the depleted battery will recover a small amount of its charge when left to sit & when reconnected this charge is enough to light the low current LED but at too low a voltage for the Hiface. I have put a new test procedure in place to prevent this problem in the future. Sorry you had to be the one that uncovered this & that you were an international postage away."
John's a completely trustworthy guy and the SQ of his hiFace mod is superb.
Thanks for the follow-up Cdm. I have the same feeling about John Kenny. Here in Mexico one cannot send insured mail (believe it or not), so I have given my HiFace to a friend headed back to the States. She will be mailing it to John from there. As you did, I will provide a follow-up. Most likely the whole process of sending and receiving back the Hiface will take a month depending on the mail and John's backlog.
In reading the thread, there seems to be an audible improvement in using the BNC rather than the RCA termination. Also an improvement in going with an external power supply.
Not sure if anyone tried it, but would there be a difference in where the device is located. Standard is to put it on the computer and then use a longer length of coax cable to the DAC. You could also locate it at the DAC and use a longer length of USB cable back to the computer. I was thinking that to locate the cable before the reclocking might be better.
Has anyone tried it?
Gee you're a trouble maker!
it's really gonna piss me off if plugging the Hiface into the DAC and using a longer USB cable sounds better!
My thinking on that was my Oyiade digital cable is shielded and/or constructed better than any USB cable I've seen... so I plug my M2Tech right into the tower and use a 1.3M BNC cable.
the other note was a BNC wire handles transmission of digital info better than does USB.
With a SPDIF RCA connection, perhaps there is something to going with a longer USB wiree.
I've heard/seen online it will work either way.
I suppose too one changes the sound perhaps too by eliminating the SPDIF/BNC cable.
Try it out and let us know... I'd as soon not find out I spent a couple hundred bucks more than I needed to.
Just got the modified HiFace back from John Kenny - he has proven beyond a doubt the notion that cleaner power provides cleaner sound. Using a couple of books to prop it up, I plugged the Hiface (Kenny's box style) directly into the computer and then out to a 35' run of digital SPDIF to the processor. The sound is markedly improved, I am excited about my system all over again. BTW, propping up the HiFace on books is really not a permanent solution - I'm trying to purchase a 1 ft. 2.0 USB extender but living in Mexico that is more difficult than you would think.
FWIW, I prefer the idea of a very short USB and a long SPDIF digital cable. I have more confidence in the SPDIF. I regret not being set up for BNC.
One other bit of advice - If you order John Kenny's recommended battery charger (3.0A version) from Batteryspace.com be sure you also order the Wadia Plug to 2.1 MM barrel plug adapter. Otherwise you get just the Wadia and alligator clips, neither of which can be used on the box style modified Hiface. I speak from experience. The adapter can be found when you click on the charger - just scroll down a little further.
I use both the BNC boxed jkeny-modded HiFace and the RCA jkeny-modded HiFace. Previously I used the unmodded HiFace, BNC and RCA. Never looked back, the difference is that great. I have not heard better from any digital source. and I've heard a few. dBpoweramp, FLAC, foobar, Oyaide coax and Bryston or Benchmark DAC comprise the remainder of my digital chain.
Curbfeeder:That is a solid recommendation given your experience with these things. My Modded HiFace got toasted in an electrical storm a few weeks ago because I was not smart enough to plug it into a surge protector. Now, John Kenny is sending me the latest version, MK II. That model has the battery charger built into the box (exact same size box) and it takes ALL of the power away from the USB line instead of just the initial 3.5V. I'm anxious to get it.
This little magic box deserves much more attention. When I added the John Kenny MK II HiFace mod to my system and powered it with the the same 12 volt car battery that I use to power my Altmann Attraction DAC, the results were phenomenal. Much, much quieter, smoother yet more detailed, more dynamic. The icing on the cake was the purchase of a Black Cat digital cable for a little over $100. I'm using with the Decibel software. Hardware is a 2006 Mac Mini with 2 GB RAM, so I know that there's room for even more improvement there. But as it stands, this is by far the best digital sound that I've ever heard. Finally, all the convenience of computer audio with sound quality that rivals the best analogue systems I've ever heard. People who still insist that digital has not caught up with analogue have not listened to what I'm listening to right now. Bravo!
After Much moving about, from one OS to another one DAC to another One Coax cable to some others My Hiface (unmodded) landed on my Bedroom system. Feeding directly attached to my Onkyo 805 receiver via a DigiKey BNC to RCA Gold adapter. It is fed from my Vista Laptop via a Belken Gold series USB extension cable. So the Hiface BNC, now RCA, sticks out of my receivers rear panel.
aS IÂve been forced to move much of my main system into my bedroom due to some re-construction efforts, IÂm using my main speakers and power filter, power cords, cables, my Odyssey SS Plus amp etc.
the SQ exceeds that of disc playback, STB playback, and rivals that of DVD replay. IÂm quite happy with it as is, for what it is it compares favorably with my main setup on many counts. Albeit, my main server is a skosh better overall. It has freed up my Oyaide BNC cable too, which is a real sleeper cable and surpasses anything IÂve heard from SPDIF cables costing several times itÂs asking price. It is indeed special. I should perhaps sell my Stereovox wire.
BlindJim, my experience has been the same as yours. Great bang for the buck. It remains in my system. The field is progressing rapidly and what you buy today will be obsolete in less than 2 years. Yet, it is an inexpensive solution that has great sonic capabilities and is a great starter solution for USB to DAC connection. As you say, it benefits from the proper cable. Many devices can best it, but the price goes up. Highly recommended for those dipping their toes in computer audio
Obsolete does not bug me at all.
I make a point of not allowing any of my equipment to subscribe to, peruse, or crawl the web reviews of new gear!
I also make a point of NOT talking about the latest stuff in their presence!
Not working... broken... burned up... blown up... died... these are a few of my not favorite things.... that really do concern me.
Obsolete used to bother me when I lived on the bleeding edge of technology. I've since retired to a less volitile life style and surely a less expensive one.
if or when it breaks... I will address it then.... like anything else... if I'm able.
Well a year after my OP here I am not using the M2 Tech. The first one got fried in a lightening storm (my fault for leaving it unprotected) and the second one didn't seem to work at all. Never could get my Mac to accept the drivers after the first mishap. BUT thanks to this post I discovered Pure Music so now it is back to the Pop Pulse (using the optical option), itunes and Pure Music. To be perfectly honest, had I discovered Pure Music before buying the M2 Tech I doubt I would have ever bought it. Not saying it isn't good - it is but for $129 Pure Music did everything as good as the M2Tech - IMO.
Say what? Is that an iTunes plug in? Or for Macs only?
Yeah... I bet you would have bought the Hiface anyhow... as you would have figured the SQ could be better still, not having experienced the Hiface!
Fried, huh? Amazing.
The PS Audio Duets, UPC 200, and RSA Haley have saved my bacon a few times so far... Early on however, I lost a ph system, one pc, (then, my only PC), and some other low voltage stuff. Lightening hit the phone line/telepohne power line feeding the house. About 70 ft from the house. Felt like it actually hit the house!
Since then, no problems. If it ain't in a filter, I throw the breakers as it's all on dedicated lines... or hit the big blue Duet button.
I am considering yet one more external sound card/USB converter I can run a pc office sound system from. Something to replace or upgrade from my Altec Lansing 2.1 spkr system, and Creative Labs SB Live 24/96 USB card. Which, for the under $200 ?? MSRP, ain't a bad deal at all.
I've gotten immense fun out of them for some time now.
Used it... like it... and upgraded to the M2tech Evo... liking the Evo even more.