USB - SPDIF on Eastern Electric DAC

I've recently gotten the upgrade bug and am looking to replace the stock USB input of my EE DAC with an asynchronous converter. I've tried a few USB to SPDIF converters, namely the Halide Design
Bridge, and the Stello U2 (which isn't asynch) fed into the RCA SPDIF input of the DAC. I've been having
some issues with the sound dropping out suddenly every 30 seconds or so
with both units. This doesn't happen at all when I use the stock USB
input, but does happen in both the RCA and BNC inputs when fed by the
USB->SPDIF converter. At first I thought it might be because I was using
a long USB wire, and the USB-> SPDIF converters (both being passive
devices) weren't getting enough current from the USB port. However, I put a 1 amp powered USB hub into the equation and also tried shorter USB
cables, but am still having the same problem. Have anyone ever heard of this problem or know of any remedies? Also I am using a macbook pro with OSX 10.6.4 and itunes if that helps. I'm thinking of trying either the musical fidelity V-link or ART legato, but am wary that these will have the same problem. Has anyone had any luck with any usb to spdif on this dac. Thanks, greatly appreciated.

I have the m2tech Evo with mac mini going via USB to Evo then BNC to ee Dac. It works like a charm. I'm using play as the software.
This is a newsflash for me.

I have been thinking I am long overdue to upgrade to a DAC with a USB input of its own.

But actually, an external USB to SPDIF converter might outperform the device's own USB input?

Now I know why we are all neurotic in this hobby.

Sorry I have no clue on the answer, but in another thread someone suggested a powered USB hub should be avoided, although it seems to work fine for me.
I am not going to ask why would you want to go this route (limiting yourself to only 24/96) instead of upgrading to a DAC with async USB built-in, (which could give you 24/192) but I'll ask this: Have you tried with another computer, just to eliminate the chance that what's happening is due to the computer/software?
"But actually, an external USB to SPDIF converter might outperform the device's own USB input?"

Some USB implementations are sub par...
I use the M2Tech Hiface and BNC into the EE Tube DAC and have never experienced any problems. I did have difficulty with a cheap DVD player and CD player via optical into the EE DAC, but once I used a high quality transport I consistently got a lock. Apparently the 9018 chip doesn't handle high jitter sources as well as the old chips. However, the sound is wonderful. I see no need to think about another DAC just to have 192 USB. Especially for the price of the EE DAC. So, to answer your question.....if the USB-SPDIF is located next to the computer, how long is the digital coax? What kind of digital coax are you using? Is it possible to temporarily move the computer and EE DAC close to each other and see if you maintain a lock? If all of that fails, contact Bill at Morningstar Imports ( He has been very responsive to all of my emails and we have talked at length on the phone several times about audio and music. He is very friendly and helpful person and would want you to be happy with the unit.
USB converters/interfaces all use different drivers and firmware. Some have higher latency than others. Your computer must have a fast-responding I/O system in order to avoid drop-outs with some of these. I have personally had great results with Toshiba laptops and the Mac Mini. Terrible results with Dell. It can help to remove all other USB devices and kill virus scan and other unnecessary apps etc..

And the concept that an external USB converter (particularly async) might be better than the one built-in to your DAC is not so far-fetched.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
If it is true that the 9018 chip is particularly sensitive to jitter, that may be the issue since the halide bridge and stello U2 both have jitter around 300-400ps. Has anyone else tried the EE dac with the hiface or other converter. I believe the hiface has only around 45 ps of jitter, so it may be worth a shot.
As stated above (and probably before your post came through), the Hiface has worked for me.

The only way you will know if an asynch USB will sound better is to buy it and try it. Also, you should be aware that Steve N. of Empirical Audio (see post above) sells the Off-Ramp, an asynch protocol USB converter for $799. This would be in addition to the DAC you already have. The Hiface sells for $200. Only you can tell if the difference is worth it.

It would be very helpful if someone might shed more light on which of the asynchronous USB to SPDIF converters offer the best value per dollar:

Bel Canto?


Hagerman Tech?

Musical Fidelity?

Art Legato?


Any others?
Try the Audio-GD Digital Interface, I like it better than the stock M2Tech HiFace
I have personal experience with Wavelink and Off-ramp v4 with Ultraclocks and monolith battery. I sold the wavelink. The EA is far superior via spdif or I2s. I doubt there's any better USB to spdif/i2s converter out there.
PROBLEM SOLVED!! I just purchased a musical fidelity V-link and it works perfectly. Definite improvement over the stock USB input and perhaps even more importantly it works with my EE dac and doesn't have drop outs. As others have mentioned above, as did the guy from morningstar audio, the Sabre DAC is very sensitive to jitter from its inputs. The Stello U2 and the halide bridge have too much jitter for the EE DAC to work properly, if at all. Don't waste your time purchasing either or any other high jitter devices if you have the EE DAC. The V-link has virtually zero jitter and hence works like a charm. I've also heard from others that the hiface works as well with the EE DAC. I'm assuming that other very low jitter devices like the wavelength, off ramp, and audiophileo will also work, but haven't tried them. Let me know if anyone has tried any of these with the EE DAC

This is great news, especially if older DACs without USB inputs are depreciating more rapidly?

Because it seems to me that the manufacturers are not afraid to ask a hell of a lot more for the latest generation of USB DACs than a $169 premium to their non USB capable predecessors?

If the V-link + older DAC might sound even better, I will be ordering several USB to SPDIF converters soon and look forward to scouring the digital classified ads.
I strongly believe that no USB to SPDIF converter will, jitter-wise, do the same thing as as "native" async USB DAC.
This is because SPDIF itself introduces jitter and no matter how jitter free the signal is inside the converter, once outputted as SPDIF, things tend to go to square one again.
I'm not saying that Linaeum66's solution didn't improve the USB input of the EE DAC which has a relatively weak USB implementation out of the box.
I Use the EE DAC with the M2 Hiface. If the Hiface is set to anything higher than 44.1k using the Midi setup software, I get intermittent signal drops. I am using 12 feet of BNC coax cable. I have two Macs, an iMac and Macbook Pro running 10.6. No matter what software used (Itunes, Pure Music, Fidelia, Audirvana, Decibel, Amarra, Song Bird, Vox) the story is always the same. Toslink yields the same signal drops but limited to 96K of course.

Would like to know how Linaeum66 has the MF V-Link hooked up? Toslink or Coax? What is the output set at?