Which type of cable sounds best for Streamer to DAC: AES/EBU or DIGITAL COAX or USB ??


Hi,
What is the best sounding cable to use when linking a network streamer to a dac? 
AES/EBU or DIGITAL COAX or USB ???

 thanks 

mike
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My opinion is that there is no one right answer. It all varies with the components you are looking to cable together. So for one set of components AES/EBU may be the best way to go, for another set USB, and for yet another Digital Coax. And that doesn’t even get into the fact that even within a given class of cables there can be a considerable degree of variation, as the cable itself is also a component.

That being said, my starting point would be to contact the manufacturer to get their take on their component. They might be able to provide some valuable insight into what works best with their particular component.

In your system, I would stick with Digital Coax between your Node and Auralic DAC. I own Vault 2, both RCA and Toslink sounded pretty flat to my ears.
As said, it depends on the components involved. You can ask the manufacturer or just see what sounds better to you.

USB has the advantage of handling higher sample rates. SPDIF or AES3 are usually limited to 192 kHz. USB does much higher. (It doesn't matter to me, but it might to you.)
Could one use an HDMI? I have an HDMI running from my source, whether it be my phone, tablet, or MacBook, to my oppo.
No idea on the HDMI, but when one considers the work put into the AES/EBU, coax and usb, with regard to taming sources of jitter and whatnot, on those three formats..

..and that HDMI is a complex system, more complex than the others and exists purely at the consumer level....

...and has had no jitter and noise taming for audio, in the high end direction...that no devices, chips or schemes to tame high end audio problems in HDMI exist...well..it clearly marks HDMI as the inferior audio data transfer format. all for a plethora of issues and potential issues, that are not easily detailed in simple posts on forums.
USB has the best potential, when they are properly isolated, and well engineered.

Optical removes ground loop issues which can cause excessive jitter. Good choice from a PC/laptop due to power supply grounding issues.

Ethernet is also a good choice, as it is specified ad highly isolated. Use shielded cables if you are worried about EMI/RFI noise.
Cool. I wasn't championing hdmi, I was just asking from a novices perspective if it was a viable transfer medium. 
You will find a ton of opinion on this as there are a ton of variables. 
Not all components will have every available connection option. Some components will have weaker or better connections. Just not a consistent arena. It is a good idea to check with the manufacturer.

Coax is usually better than optical for good audio. Basic Toslink will not move hi def streams well. Toslink is mainly free from interference noise that can be an issue with Coax. Toslink can have jitter issues. Coax much less so. If your system is susceptible to noise/interference then it is good to know what is causing it. Bigger and better cables help here for sure. 
I have swapped around many times between aes/ebu - coax and usb and have used different equipment

I have a Bryston sp3/DCS dac+ upsampler+clock in my main system and indeed I can switch at a press of a couple of buttons between aes/coax/usb

Aes/ebu is much better - I would hate to be limited to the lesser options 

But then again you do get people denigrating xlr (better) compared to rca (worse) .... getting it the wrong way round as they haven't really tested.

So people will always disagree for the sake of it.
Just wait for those on this forum who will chime in saying that bell wire is as good as any!
In my setup, too, AES/EBU seems quite a bit better than USB.  I'm connecting an Auralic Aries streamer to a PS Audio Directstream DAC with modest cables (Curious for USB and DH Labs for AES/EBU).  I strongly suspect, though, that Jazzman7 is right.  It depends (on equipment, on cables, etc.).  The PS Audio DAC handles incoming data very differently than the Vega does. 
I asked Bryston, and they recommended AES/EBU to me for improved sound quality over other alternatives.
Ethernet or I2S. You don't want any computer in your audio room
But then again you do get people denigrating xlr (better) compared to rca (worse) .... getting it the wrong way round as they haven’t really tested.
In my experience of designing the cables and analyzing the technology employed..single ended RCA is a lower jitter format than AES/EBU.

AES/EBU starts of with a problem it cannot surmount. That balanced inherently has a problem that cannot be overcome. That the two halves of the signal in opposite polarity cannot be the same. It’s impossible. Therefore the reflection of the two against one another, is off kilter.

It happens in the transient domain. the transient domain is where the human ear hears. the rest of the signal is irrelevant to the ear. the ear literally does not hear the rest. the physical body of a blanced cable is literally impossible to make as being a perfectly accurate reflecting pair. there will always be a residual out of kilter micro difference at best, between the negative copy of the signal vs the positive copy, so perfect cancellation of the two cannot happen. It literally cannot happen. And the error is entirely in the transients. And the ear hears exclusively in the transients.

AES/EBU is much the same. The fault happens in the transient domain, and is doubled and even worse, compared to single ended RCA. As the leading edge of the square wave is distorted and mis-cued between the unmatched off kilter pair. The misalignment of the paring of transients in the balanced design, creates a reflection that is realized as jitter.

AES/EBU, like balanced analog audio.. was designed to go long distances, with low interference. Fidelity was and is an entirely secondary and lesser concern, in either application. Theoretically it is perfect but practice in the real world, makes it a case for signal degradation. Degradation in the signal area, where 100% of your hearing is listening: transients. Studios use it as single ended in studios is an impossibility due to the run lengths and potential for signal interference. So balanced became the norm. That it is inferior to single ended, in ultimate sound quality, was lost in the mix.

The best, in a home, or small space and small distances, is single ended RCA, for analog audio and for Digital transmission. It suffers the least amount of transient degradation. Transients being the critical part, as it is the only thing the ear hears.


The trick is to understand that smeared and mis-aligned transients are first heard (grasped by the ear) as being increased detail. After close listening, it can be discerned that it is ultimately ..just smear...and not correct.

No two people, and no two systems -are the same.... so it is quite easy to argue it.

Since we are not all the same, some figure this out, and some don’t. Some never will, some are on their way to getting it, and some are well past it.

teo_audio
1
Maybe you should try aes/ebu instead of pointlessly mocking it 

As usual - ears are better than someone throwing statistics to prove a wrong point and making that point more important than the sound itself. Measurements again thrown in to cloud issues. I have heard this jitter argument before - is just not a hill of beans to the better aes/ebu. 
My ears are good thanks .. just been tested.