Newbie question re: USB quality

Thanks to everyone who has guided me to this point that I'm able to even ask this question! I'm learning quickly about computer audio and right now using a USB thumb drive with DSD files plugged into an OPPO 105 (non-Darbee edition). I'm getting good quality sound that is certainly superior to rebook CDs.

However, I've seen it mentioned in various articles on audio websites that USB as the interface has various weaknesses. Usually, this is just stated without any mention of other options. What other ways would I be able to get audio files to my Oppo. I have a Macbook Air, but other than connection via USB from the computer, I don't know if any other way to get files to the Oppo.

Again, I appreciate your willingness to help a technophobic newbie.


Showing 10 responses by cerrot

a piece of string will sound better than USB!
Do not know what Fonzie has to do with my trying to point out how poor the quality of the USB interface for audio is. Truth be told, the PC Audio industry is FINALLY progressing away from USB. USB was created for peripherialsice and printers, not music). It was embraced by the PC Audio crowd because users were unable to install a sound card and the drivers so they came up with the idiot proof way of USB! (way too much customer support required to install a sound card, drivers, adjust IRQ settings, etc). Problem is USB is horrible. If you spend the time to research it, you will see the power issue as well as the packet transmission issue, etc. It is the easiest interface but the one most subject to jitter and all the hideous effects of the inner workings of a computer. Get a $130 sound card and you will hear for yourself. Very easy to compare. Just dont use a Sound Blaster.
I have tried ALL of them. I have found USB to be pretty poor and my $139 ESI [email protected] soundcard sounds better than the $1,600 Berkeley usb converter into my Esoteric K03 dac to my ears in my system.
USB 'done right' is still inferior to everything else. The world has passed USB by, guys. USB is officialy a dinasour.
Bcgator - I have heard the Peachtree Grand on both the USB and spdif inputs and found the spdif involving and emotional - two qualities I could not get with USB input. We used my gateway PC with the ESI card and then the USB output. My buddy also bought over the Ayre USB/Spdif converter which was much better than the USB out of my PC but still thin and uninvolving. I would love to have you try the ESI sound card. My issues with USB are well documented on these forums. Nice to see the new Ethernet to spdif converters coming out. USB's shortcomings are becoming more and more obvious. Within 2 more years, USB audio will be pretty much gone. The USB bus is just too prone to garbage.
Thats not accurate at all guys. There ar some great sound cards. They brainwashed us in to using USB because they were spending too much money on customer service for people trying to install sound cards. Why would you spend $500 or $1,000 or $1,500 for a usb to spdif converter when you can just get a sound card that doesnt go through the horrible usb interface. Thats jitter alley.
Bcgator-yes. Invest $130 and get an ESI [email protected] sound card and install it and you will hear the difference.
I didnt buy it Bcgator. My buddy brought it over so he could hear my Esoteric transport through it so he could really hear what it can do. He still has it and loves it and its hooked up to a Baetis server and a cd transport, forget which one. We both dismissed the USB as the most inferior. Now, question for you. You own one. Have you compared the spdif in from the usb in from a native spdif (and then usb) source? I suspect the answer is no and you are contesting I, you have listened to both - and dont own one.
Guys - just ask yourself the question - why do puters have USB? It AINT for audio!
Bcgator-that was pretty much what I meant with my spdif/usb comparison queston. I have heard both. I too have extensive USB knowledge and was building machines before the usb protocal was created so I am also aware of all its issues and have always found it poor for anything other than generic implementations, since thats exactly what its for. They had to dismiss the IRQ conflicts everyone was getting when they tried to install something. And, mice and keyboards and printers IS why USB was invented. (and to keep customer service low and your computer case CLOSED)No one ever wanted to use it for audio. I saw a post where you said that you did think there was a significent difference between spotify and HD Tracks so perhaps your rig may not be as revealing as mine. I am fortunate to have a reference for computer audio as I have the benefit of owning an Alesis Masterlink which is hooked up directly to my esoteric upsampler and into my esoteric K03. The masterlink has the minimal of a motherboard and processor and just a hard drive (and cd drawer). No usb, no sound card. No nothing else but aes/ebu out or digital out (it has a dac but I dont use it). And, so far throughout my life, there is no computer audio that I have found that sounds as good. I have a friend with the same masterlink into a Puccinni. It is a pure music source and just sounds like nothing, but the dac you hook up to it. That is what I compare pc audio to.