I suggest you read this thread at Head fi. It may help - good luck.
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Go for a trends 10.1 it has very very very low jitter so low that I sold my GWLabs up-sampling jitter filter.... did not add anything, in fact it added artifacts with the extra cables etc.
For a dac, I would look into the musiland md10 or something like that... I have been using one and am pretty happy, there are also a few NOS options
Thank you all for your replies.
Shadorne - I will take a look at the HeadFi thread although I think I already read it awhile back and did not understand it very well.
Audioguru1 - By conincidence, I will be receiving a Musiland MD10 DAC next week from Pacific Valve. I up-swappwd my Giga Lab USB Moon Dac.
I already have the Trends 10.1 Lite literature printed out from thier web site. Their price is $140 w/ the optional 12v charger. What cable are you using to connect the Trends to the MD10?
As for your assumption #2 - that there "is more jitter" from the USB connection that is NOT correct. A properly designed USB D/A converter ELIMINATES up to half a dozen jitter sources as compared to any SPDIF connection, optical or electrical. Amazing sounding USB connectivity is one of the MAJOR sonic advancements we are now starting to discover with properly designed server / USB connected DACs - where SPDIF optical or electrical will sound much less analog comparably (think of any SDIF connection as much more two dimensional and artificial). If you are looking for a DAC that has better "sonic fluidity" and more realistic harmonic overtones typical of the master tape or a great analog rig, USB connectivity from the server to the DAC will typically be a common denominator in achieving this goal.
There is another manner to reduce jitter on USB connections, and that is to use a computer that has an extremely good USB implementation. The Fit-PC Slim has no on-board switching power supplies and an extremely clean USB output. The PC is low powered and can be driven off a linear supply or a 12 volt SLA battery, giving the cleanest sound I've heard from a PC transport.
Being a low powered computer, it doesn't have a lot of horsepower for upsampling and such, but it does work great as a network player. I control it with the Squeezebox Duet remote.
I do not have the latest version. I have the DIP Classic. Audio Advisor, where I bought it, calls it the DIP Combo. I beleive the lastest version upsamples. You could check that on the Monarchy web site. My Classic is pre-set at 16/44.1, which is exactly what I want. I can order an internal jumper that will take it up to 24/96, but I don't want that.
I want to send 16/44.1 into my Musiland MD10 DAC which has selectable (not automatic) upsampling.
Anyways, the DIP Classic really added something to my system. I expected a reduction in treble shrillness due to jitter reduction by re-clocking. I was not expecting more clarity in the soundstage over the entire FR. E.G., on many hard rock and metal tracks the rythmn guitar now comes out nice and clear. Before it was getting drowned out by the bass guitar and bass drums. Also, more spatial seperation between bass guitar and bass drum.
I am using the DIP in my computer stereo system. My desk top's only S/PDIF output is an optical out of the 3.5 mini input on the soundcard. I have disabled my soundcard, so I have to use a USB out. The DIP has no USB input. So, I'm using a tiny $30 Behringer head phone amp (the UCA202)to convert USB to optical. Today I ordered from Cryo-Parts/Locus Design a true USB to S/PDIF converter: the Pop Pulse SPDIF II. Hopefully, this converter will provide even more SQ improvemnt, but I'm not holding my breath.
I have 3 different pc audio set ups. The oldest is a Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe> Monarchy Audio DIP Classic (24/96 mod) > Benchmark DAC version 2. The DAL offers a isolated ground with excellent SRC. The hook up is Canare L5CFB coax and DA 206 AES/EBU cabling. The sound quality is excellent in this set up.
The next set up: DAL CardDeluxe > Apogee Big Ben > Apogee Rosetta 200. This set up is a major step up in pc audio performance.
My latest set up is just a simple WireWorld USB out to a Benchmark DAC1 pre...the later Benchmark is definitely improved over the other that I own. I wouldn't go as far to say it's in the same league as the Apogee combo, but it's very close out of the box.