I’m wondering what others have done with their personal confusers & DACs using an USB interface.

I recently added more Bright Star iso nodes, small & large to see if some betterment could be had. I used the small ones under my USB HDD… and the large ones under the desktop…. MUCH IMPROVED!

Cleaner, clearer, and more discernable range articulation became evident.

I also use a PS Audio UPC 200 & Duet, for the desktop and some peripherals. That helps two ways… it makes the FILE playback better, and seems to aid the maind systems sonics too by helping to eliminate the influx of wall wart, printer, etc., from introducing artifacts to it.

Has anyone yet confirmed or dispelled the USB cable controversy?

With which USB cable are you running?

Anything you’ve done which has proven to exhibit audible enhancements to the overall sound waulity would be greatly appreciated to be disclosed here.
hdd format... ntfs, fat 32, Which RAID, etc.

Thanks very much.
I haven't tried this, but a few minutes ago I found this recent posting on another forum. Given your question I'm sure it will be of interest:

However, I have tried this: (I commented on it in the same forum referenced above, and boy did I stir up a hornet's nest) I switched over to Vista. In my view the sound produced by Vista is much better than with XP!

I went around the XP sound issue by using J River Media Player... and an ASIO driver.

The sound using the above is night and day diff! JR makes the needed changes to the pc audio system during it's install... Whoa! Adding the ASIO driver circumvents the sound mixer altogether, in windows.

My laptop uses Vista... but I've not yet run it into my audio system... I'm awaiting the completion of my HT/listening room first... and deciding upon which way to go with what NAS DRIVE, and how large.

Effectively, no sound card is being used in my setup... and I'm not getting any dropouts while playing files.
I have J River Media Jukebox downloaded now on both my PC and laptop running XP.
Are suggesting that I should still download ASIO driver?
Is that complicated and do I need to do that yet for best sound?
I would appreciate your help as I'm trying to get to the same place you are!

Here's my understanding of the ASIO driver.

The big deal with Windows production of Audiophile sound quality is getting around the Windows Sound Mixer inherent to the operating system. The ASIO driver circumvents the mixer by sidestepping it.

I'm using a USB sound card of sorts, A Bel Canto DAC 3. it connects via USB in my rig for listening sessions… and the integrated sound chip set for normal use of the PC as a prerequisite..

Drivers are used to allow software to talk to hardware.

Windows will put/place A driver for it by default when it sees the DAC.

Try the Windows default driver for yourself. or others, if you like, and as well, the USB FOR ALL German offering... the latter is a trial which will beep at 30 second intervals... until you buy it and enter the unlock code. There are some freee one’s out there too, though so many notes of those using both, pointed to the ASIO for all as the better one, so I just bought it and didn’t spend a lot of time trying out this one and that one and doing all the reconfiguring I presumed would be needed..

The main thing about the ASIO driver is the lessening or prevention of latency. Dropouts. Skipping. The JR software is doing the decoding and providing the improvement to the sound… the ASIO driver is just the conduit or carrier of that to the DAC/soundcard.

You can download it here:

..and try it for free.

J River has some Playback options. Included in there is the ability to use differing output devices, Windows, your sound card, an ASIO (Auto sound input output) driver. A couple minor means to configure it are directly under the playback device selection, giving you some more flexibility with the ASIO Driver. Other mo' betta means of configuring it can be done with other sound recording softtware who also use ASIO's. Those configurations are ‘global’ and not local settings so whatever changes are made in there, will affect it when using it with say, J River. It’s a little obtuse IMO, but if you wish to tinker around….??

ONce the ASIO (trial or not) has been downloaded, and JR restarted, it will see the new ASIO driver. Using the above path in JR, select it as the default output device.

One other step maybe necessary, and that involves going to the Windows Control panel, > sounds & audio devices > Audio tab > select the (once intergrated and energized) USBAUDIO DEVICE. vIOLIN! aLL IS WELL….OR should be at that time. A restart of the pc usually isn’t needed. Sometimes a restart of JR is though.

Checking the box labeled ‘use only default devices’ will make this a more permanent thing, and to use some other output sorce for other instances, the box will need to be unchecked.

play whatever... the ONLY issue I've yet to resolve is playing back some older MP3 files. The "ASIO for all" driver is ONLY 16/44.1K Hz. And I may have done them at a higher sampling rate.

Either the ASIO driver, and definitely via USB to the DAC3, won't deal with higher word lengths, or sampling rates.

Given the USBB through put of the DAC 3 is exactly the same, well, fine. Were I to desire to begin using 24/96 or 24/192, I believe I’d need a sound card or DAC that supports it… as I’m not sure if it’s the ASIO limitations in truth, or merely the limitations of my present PCs audio device.

The bottom line is simple… this path allows me to emulate almost completely the audio quality I get using my SCD xa777 + BC DAC3… yet I can now stop running back and forth from the listening room to the electronics room to flip discs. I’m a great ‘taker outer’ but I’m not a great “putter backer”… and this way also allows all the ancillary bennys. Tons of whatever music, a few keystrokes away.

Lastly, as you’ll see at the above website, this driver works with loads of other sound cards… PCI or USB, if you wish to use another interface than the USB with your DAC.

Itunes however still sounds lackluster as I’ve not been able to find out how to get iTunes to see that driver. Though I think it’s not too hard probably. So I still use iTunes to rip and sort, then import to JR and play. JR also has an iTunes GUI/Skin so it can look nearly identical to iTunes if you wish.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the notes - I appreciate it!

I have been playing with J River and I see in playback there are two options - Direct Sound and ASIO.

Is this the same ASIO as the ASIO4ALL download or is it different and should I still do the download of ASIO4ALL?

I also see the option in J RIver with these two playback options to set to output 16 or 24 bit or 44 or 96khz?

Any thoughts on what settings work better with your BC DAc 3 or just leave it as 16/44 because the USB won't support it anyway. I see that Empirical Audio Off Ramp or Freeway might support this, but if you have a great upsampling dac, does this become a moot point?

Thanks Jim,

I have been playing with J River and I see in playback there are two options - Direct Sound and ASIO.

Is this the same ASIO as the ASIO4ALL download or is it different and should I still do the download of ASIO4ALL?

Good question. In the ASIO settings there is a selection which enables a notification window to pop up when starting the ASIO… check it and see what the version is… the current version of ASIO for all is 2.8.7

…of course if you’ve already downloaded and installed it… juset try it… if it beeps ever 30 sceonds that’s it.

I also see the option in J RIver with these two playback options to set to output 16 or 24 bit or 44 or 96khz?

Any thoughts on what settings work better with your BC DAc 3 or just leave it as 16/44 because the USB won't support it anyway. I see that

Right. I leave it at the 16/44.1

Empirical Audio Off Ramp or Freeway might support this, but if you have a great upsampling dac, does this become a moot point?

Ask Emperical that one.

I have a theory for life… if you like what you are getting, keep doing what you’re doing… If you don’t, change what you can.

I’m pretty happy with what I’m getting right now. Going to another type DAC just for the sake of change isn’t likely to happen ‘round here for a while.

The only changes that interest me now are some tweaks… here or there… and maybe new power cords for my amps… but in all, just minor stuff IMO. As I’m pretty OK with what’s going on here now.

One item I’m considering now is another sound card… just to see if there is a diff from changing or up sampling the signal for true with HDD Files.
I went through the ASIO4ALL thing and couldn't get it to function at all. I ended up with XMPlay and used a plug in which enabled WASAPI - much better sound. The only thing you may not like with XMPlay is that it offers a basic interface - some use 'Album Player' as a front end though which makes it look pretty with album art etc. If ASIO4ALL works for you, great; however XMPlay and WASAPI is a good alternative

Hmmm... No success with ASIO FA huh?
I used the JR Media center... my visual adaptive software just about eliminates the use of the video portions of the MC12 but the audio w/wo the ASIO driver was night and day different, to the gooder.

Had some troubles configuring things and getting used to JR MC 12, but in the end I'm extremely happy with the output and especially the fact it plays the 'purchased' protected files from iTunes too.

Now I'm wondering mostly about USB cables.

Anyone tried different USB cables and find any in particular better than Wal Marts, Radio Shack, or Belken?

Sure would like to know about this USB CABLE bit.
Gee... one would think with all the PC audio supporters around here that notes on how or what is helping their PC audio systems along should be an easy enough question....

Maybe PC-o-philes don't tweak PC audio like audiophiles do?
Steve Nugent, owner of Empirical Audio, a high-end computer audio company, recommends Belkin Gold USB cable, 16' long or shorter.
I find that vibrapods under my DAC make a big difference in soundstage and clarity. They seem to help the bass response, too. (I also put vibrapods under my stand-mount Harbeth speakers, where they make a big improvement.) To control high frequency noise coming to and from the DAC, I use a PS Audio Quintet power conditioner and a JPS Labs Digital AC power cord. The latter uses material that helps to absorb high frequency noise.
Thanks for the info on the USB cable.

I used the V-pods for a while too. I've found the Bright Star isonodes to be better, improving the focus and impact, with less blunting of the leading edge of the notes. In other words, a bouncier presentation... more jump factor perhaps. I think they look better too. I use them under my USB drive, monitor speakers, and DAC.
I am running Windows Xp and using a pretty high quality sound card(Echo Layla 24/96) which has an external breakout box with built in dac. I have been using Windows Media Player 9 for all of music. But sounds like you guys are saying that J River is leaps and bounds in sound quality so i am interested. I would like to try this but i don't want to screw anything up with my soundcard. Will the J River integrate seemlessly with it or do i need to do some tweaks after downloading. I believe the Echo Layla already is using ASIO. When i went to try to disable this Kmixer thing i couldn't find it anywhere? I don't want to mess anything up as you can imagine and i am not the most PC savvy guy in the world but i can navigate around decently.
Can anybody help me out with the required steps i need to take to take this to the next level with J River? And is the J River everyone is using free or is that something i need to purchase for best performance as i understand also there is a free one and one you need to purchase?
I'm not too fond of the J River support forums, but if you are willing to dig a bit, your questions and the answers are likely there.

I'd not be too concerned about JR's install. it'll see what you have for your video and audio just like WMP, ItUNES, OR ANY OTHER media player would.

there's two JR players. Jukebox & Media Center 12. Jukebox is free 100%. Media Center 12 has a 30 day trial. Media Center can play ALL media files. Jukebox only plays audio files. MC plays protected, WMA, iTunes, etc.

I suspect yet do not indeed know, that JR MC (what I use on my XP Pro), alters the path for music playback apart from the Sound Mixer inherent to Windows OS AUDIO playback.

What I do know, is with as crapy a sound card as one can have, the onboard audio became immensely better with no other changes and doing playback simply through my desktop Altec Lansing 2.1 junkie speakers.

gaining a better USB DAC (or in essence, a diff Sound card), playback via a higher res system was again improved.

As I had no ASIO (audio stream input output) driver, I added one of them too... ASIO for all... together, the sound is rivaling my main CDP source... albeit not surpassing it. the immediacy or avialability of the greater variety and access of the tracks on my PCs USB HDD offsets the lessend presentation...

The other installed software media players I have on board werent' affected. I never use WMA... but do use and have installed, ituens, Power DVD, EAC, VLC, & Winamp. so it's doubtful something bad or irreversable will happen if you install JR.


Good luck, don't worry.
Thanks Blindjim!

Well you are right. I should get over there and read up on their forums and see what i can learn there before downloading, just to be on the safe side.
I'm curious if the sound quality of the free version is as good as the JRMC? That is something i would like to know.
And also if i download JR if it will disable all of WMP 9 functionality? It sounds like you are saying that your other media player software players weren't affected by the JRMC install and that you could still use them?

I need to find out if the Kmixer is bypassed in the install of JR and if my WMP files will still be able to be played. I have a few FLAC files downloaded but they will not play at present if i try and open them. I need to convert them over to Wave files via a program i use called Flac Frontend which then converts them into Wav's with the WMP logo on them which then lets me listen to them or burn to disc if i choose to. So i don't understand at this point how people are just listening to Flac files on their PC's and on their own at this point.
I guess you are saying maybe that the JR Media Centre CAN play the Flac files and JR jukebox and WMP 9 can't?

Well i better get over to the JR forum and see what i can learn there.

Thanks for the thelp in this thread and on others!
installing either jukebox or MC won't affect the other sofgtware on your PC. The ONLY issue may be that YOU allow it to be the sole or default player on the PC via file associations. That can be changed too. Later. In the options menu under tools, in JR.


Sometimes you have to do both. I had no such porblem except with CD playback... and that took just a few seconds to fix by following the above steps.

This way with XP will ensure there are no conflicts... create another user account. Give it admin rights. Log onto that account. Download whatever software there using this new account. Windows should not allow that newly made accounts setting s to conflict with other normally used account settings... and vice versa.

I noticed no diff sonically using either Jukebox or MC 12. I chose MC 12 ONLY because it played my protected files as well. Jukebox would play them now and then but not always.

it might have needed to be reinstalled... I don't know. But MC12 did so that was fine by me. I don't even use the MC12's video facets at all as it conflicts with my adaptive software... or the other way 'round. But somethings going on that prevents it from showing DVDs, etc. other apps do the same thing too, so I know it's not just JR but my needed accessibility program.

jukebox will play FLAC too. winamp will as well with the right plug in. I'm sure there are others too.
Ok i just went ahead and downloaded the J River Media Jukebox 12. It prompted me through some things and i think i made the right decisions but time will tell. But just imported all of the music files on my computer into it and am listening to it now and it sounds fantastic. I went into the drop down menu and selected 24 bit since my sound card is 24 bit so i hope that was the right decision? Sounds just fine and when i did hit the 24 bit it did seem to open up a bit for sure. And heck i am just listening to an Mp3 file and i never heard this file sound so good!

I'm sure i will have more to follow down the road and probably more questions..... hah!

thanks again Blindjim!
it does provide a startling sonic improvement for sure, and it doesn't seem to matter which file format either... mp3, WAVE, AAC, etc.
And also i am really liking the very USABLE effects section for some added ambience to live shows i have downloaded that are a tad dry.
The eq section is also very nice and usable as well for the same application (live downloaded shows) that seem to lack that certain something.
Very nice.

And the skins and visualizations are really great fun as well.

I am very pleased thus far for sure!

next step is for me to rip a cd and see how that works and to try and do all of that organizing.

A question though:

I am going to be looking into an external hard drive for more storage space as i want to put a substantial amount of my collection on there at somepoint. Will i just have to hook that up via the computers usb out and media jukebox will just recognize that or do i need to configure that somehow so that it will do so?
A little ignorant about that for sure as I have never attempted anything like that.

Things are definitely moving in the direction that i was hoping!

A big THANKS again!
Are you going straight USB out of your computer to the BC Dac 3?
I wonder if it is better to have JRiver upsample or just pass straight 16/44 to BC Dac 3 for the upsampling?
well Bill there's a catch with the BC D3 using USB... OR any of the other interfaces as well... It all has to be PCM info. via USB it has to be 16/44.1K. Period.

... and it's only 24/96 at best anyhow. No matter what.

So I use the ASIO for All driver as it does add to the overall.

Feeding the BC D3 24/96 would necessitate a PCI or USB SOUND CARD... kind of defeating the USB slot/aspect entirely.

In spite of the limitations, it's a mighty close call between the pc + D3 via USB, and the D3 + xa777 es. Mighty close. Definitely distictive diffs, one to the other, but I can sure live with things either way. CDP or PC.


"I wonder if it is better to have JRiver upsample or just
pass straight 16/44 to BC Dac 3 for the upsampling?"

Well after making some changes in the ouput device, and altering the output settings to 24/96, just to see... there is a definite change to the sound and the sound field... over the PC playback system.

I'll need a card which outputs those number via balanced or coaxial to employ the BC D3.... Got any suggestions on a card that won't break the bank and has that type of interface?

there was more articulation, and a larger field although some elements of the presentation were set back further into it. Overall, very pleasant however. Indeed.
Good to hear your experiences Jim.
I don't run computer straight to dac, but rather through the Slim Duet so I don't have any sound card acvice though. You may want to check the Head Fi site as they have computer as source as a forum. You may glean some info there.