Use asynch. USB converter with inboard DAC?


If playing music from a computer's USB out to a newer CD player equipped with inboard DAC and a choice of digital inputs including USB, is it better to put an asynchronous USB converter between computer and CDP and use coax or Toslink in? OR just run a USB cable directly from computer to CDP? I don't know if new DAC's make the use of an asynchronous converter unnecessary. Thanks for your input.
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&rotate=exif&w=128ghosthouse
I think that's a good idea. I'm probably going to do it that way myself. If you call Cable Company, they may have some units to lend you before you commit to a purchase.
Thanks for the feedback, Zd. I actually have a 1st gen Musical Fidelity V-Link that I use with their V-DAC (also 1st gen.) for streaming Pandora etc. Wasn't sure if the newer DACs still needed that asynchronous help managing feed from the computer. Guess I'll be doing some A/B 'ing.
External USB converters will ALWAYS beat built-in USB interfaces in DACs. This is simply because the power supply for the master clock is independent and usually higher quality, achieving lower levels of jitter. Some converters have upgrade optional power supplies thqt mqke a big difference too.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Steve, just curious why you think external USB converters will ALWAYS beat the internal USB of DACs. Isn't that a rather overly broad statement to make? Don't get me wrong, I don't know either way but you are implying that any USB converter would be better than the built in USB of even high end DACs like Luxman, Berkeley, etc?
"10-05-13: Tboooe
Hi Steve, just curious why you think external USB converters will ALWAYS beat the internal USB of DACs. Isn't that a rather overly broad statement to make? Don't get me wrong, I don't know either way but you are implying that any USB converter would be better than the built in USB of even high end DACs like Luxman, Berkeley, etc?"

That's a good question. Does that apply to digital front ends where everything is made by the same company? (a full dcs stack, clock link Wadia, Esoteric separates - products like that)
Tboooe - I have lots of anecdotal customer and personal experience with this. I have many customers driving their "high-end" USB DACs with the Off-Ramp 5 through S/PDIF coax, even though these DACs have built-in Async USB interfaces. There are significant differences in USB interface designs, even those that use the same chipset, such as XMOS. How many companies have already done 5 generations of USB interfaces? Only Empirical Audio. How many companies have received multiple best of show awards using this interface? What do the top reviewers use as their digital reference?

Don't take my word for it. You can read lots of these customer feedbacks on my forum:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=40

USB interfaces are like phono cartridges. There are lots of them out there but only a few really great ones. The designer of EA gear has 30 years digital design experience and was a design team lead on the Pentium 2.

The large companies are only now getting on-board with these, and many have third parties designing them because they have minimal experience.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
"...even though these DACs have built-in Async USB interfaces" - that's what was behind my question. I though I'd occasionally see a DAC product described as "asynchronous" which implied to me no need for an asynch. converter. Thanks Steve.
Steve N., I can't remember if you used your Off Ramp with your Overdrive DAC in your show demonstrations?

Ghosthouse, asynchronous is general term for the method, Google it. The quality and design of the actual receiver or outboard converter can vary greatly.

Lately their have been just a few comparisons of built in DAC USB receivers with and without outboard converters. A few of the built in receivers which have their own power supplies and unique design are beginning to compete very well with some outboard converters.

If there is a problem it's the very quickly evolving digital community improving designs almost monthly. Another pitfall is the digital community seems to be on a completely different incremental sonic scale compared to analog.

An interesting example are the subjective assessments of the digital volume control. My experience with five $2.5K and under examples has been extremely negative, for now.
Vic - Originally I didn't use the OR5 with the Ovrdrive DAC, but that was before I started using Hynes supplies for the OR5. This made all the difference. Now I have my own Hynes-based supply, the Dynamo that I use with the OR5, it's the only way to listen to ANY DAC IMO.

I also dont like to use digitql volume control, that is unless it is limited to -10dB or less of attenuation. If it is used like this, in combination with a gain control or passive transformer linestage, the degradation is not detectqble IME. I use this technique at shows now.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio