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 5 responses by doggiehowser


I think we need to make a distinction between USB Hosts and USB Clients.

A Host provides the "control" and is the master device controlling a USB Client.

To put it in simpler terms when you hook a PC to a printer using a USB cable - the PC is the USB host while the printer is a USB Client. The PC uses what's known as a USB Type A connector - signifying its role as a Host and the printer uses a USB Type B connector - used for USB Clients.

The USB problems we often talk about involve using the PC as the device controlling a DAC. The PC isn't a particularly good clock master and first generation USB-SPDIF devices/interfaces - ran in synchronous modes which sounded terrible. This has been addressed in a large part by asynchronous USB interfaces where the clock control is no longer in the hands of the PC.

Even then, you will find some USB-SPDIF devices perform better than others.

On the Oppo, this involves using the "SQUARE" Type B USB port on the back.

The Oppo is quite unique because it is also a media player (and CD/SACD/BDP etc). A media player is fundamentally a custom computer designed to playback media files. As such, you will also find Type A (flat/rectangular) USB ports on the Oppo. This allows the Oppo to work as a USB host controlling a USB device like a thumb drive.

In such a use case, the Oppo merely reads the DSD/PCM files on the USB drive and plays it back accordingly. There is no PC involved.
I don't know where Cerrot has been but welcome to the 21st Century.

USB-SPDIF devices have progressed tremendously. Do yourself a favour and try something like the Berkeley USB or the Wavelink HS or Steve's OffRamp 5 before you dismiss USB as an audio interface.

Guarantee it will beat most internal sound cards that are placed in close proximity to the EMI inside a PC.
@Metralla I have a Weiss INT202 and it is rather good but if you have the software that can enable Integer mode, I've found that the Wavelink HS outperforms it.
I find his alternative even more interesting :)
It's ironic but not illogical.

SPDIF isn't the most reliable way of transmission and all we are doing is making the conversion from PC to SPDIF in the best possible way. Most PCs and internal sound cards are prone to noise/jitter and other issues. Using the USB merely takes that conversion and handles it outside the box.