Once the long-awaited Schiit Eitr USB> SPDIF Converter and Reclocker arrived at home from USA, I could finally compare WTFPlay, Volumio and the CD Transport once for all and under controlled conditions and decree a final winner.
-My English is not perfect. Please make an effort to understand what I misunderstand . Sorry for that.
- At the bottom of the page there is a list of all the devices in my Hifi chain
-In comparison I also included the trusted Meridian 588, used as CD Transport and my previous reference, the I2S> SPDIF converter and reclocker Allo Digione
- For those who don’t know, the Meridian CD Transport , unlike the Japanese philosophy (Esoteric for example ), that focuses on mechanic accuracy, is the closest thing to a computer audio logic. It is a simple pc-derived DVD-ROM (Toshiba perhaps ) connected to an hardware that is nothing more than a microcomputer, governed by a small proprietary software, which extracts a bitperfect data , then is accumulated in a 3-stage FIFO buffer where it’s "treated" and reclocked before being sent to the D/A converter.
The outgoing signal is identical and available form both the analogue and digital output / s. So it does not require further external / reclcoker / ddc treatment.
The CD Tansport is directly connected to the external DAC
Here The only difference with computer audio is the absence of internal noisy switching components and no operating system , kernel and drivers variables.
And then again, but I'm not sure, the clock should travel separately to the data from the DVD-ROM to the FIFO buffer, via I2S connection. A good thing , theoretically.
- All the electronics had always been put back in phase before each comparison
-The power cables and their position in the multi-outlet have always been the same
-The digital cable used is always the same. An RCA Van Den Hul The First
-The Schiit arrived today. So it is still running in, for those who believe in the break-in period
-The song used for the test is only one, both on original CD and CUE image extracted with EAC. It is a jazz / blues song and I chose it because it is a live, rich, recording, full of information to be able to judge all the Hifi parameters at the same time.
Song: "Contemporary Blues"
Album: "Boppin 'at the Blue Note"
-The WTFPlay version used is the first release. I have tested all of them, up to the most recent, one by one and each of them with both of two Kernel included . I still believe that the first release is the best one
-The EQ mentioned below is a "little trick" : download and install Volumio Simple Equalizer plugin and open the settings to activate it. But DO NOT make any equalization. Don’t touch the slides. The profile utilized is the “flat”. Tap on “apply”.
I do not know why, but it greatly improves openness and air between the instruments. Paradoxically ... since this should compromise the bitperfect flow
-The raspberry makes Wi-Fi streaming from NAS. Neither the USB or Ethernet ports were used, except for the one used to connect the Raspy to the Schiit Eitr.
A usb stick was connected to the nas / router with only the test track.
-The PC used for WTFPlay is a 10 years ago notebook with disabled Wi-Fi antenna. After starting WTFPlay the usb stick containing the operating system has been removed and only the one containing the test track has been connected. The same that was connected to the NAS / router.
1) Meridian 588 stand alone: 10pt
2) Raspberry PI3B Volumio (with EQ ON)> USB cable> Schiit Eitr> Coaxial cable> DAC: 9,5pt
2) CD Transport> Coaxial cable> DAC: 9,5pt
3) PC Notebook with WTFPlay> USB cable> Schiit Eitr> Coaxial cable> DAC: 9,2pt
4) PC Notebook with WTFPlay> USB cable> DAC: 9pt
5) Raspberry PI3B Volumio (with EQ OFF)> USB cable> Schiit Eitr> Coaxial cable> DAC: 8,5pt
6) Raspberry PI3B Volumio (with EQ OFF)> I2S> Allo Digione> Coaxial cable> DAC: 8,2pt
-The Schiit Eitr bested the Allo Digione when connected via USB to the raspberry: bigger soundstage, more impact, more bodied voices, more extension at the bottom more, with the same detail, dynamics, ambience.
-Activating the Volumio EQ plugin you gain significantly in air between instruments, ambience, liveness, openness
-WTFPlay with Schiit Eitr has more bottom articulation than with Volumio but is dull, gray and less live in comparison . Also Less three-dimensional. It also does have less dynamic expression
-WTFPlay without Schiit Eitr is the one that has the highest degree of ambience and air between the instruments. It is the most “analog” sound. It is live, open, fluid. But it loses in dynamics and control. Moreover, the background silence among the notes (blackness?) that characterize all other solutions is missing
-The CD Transport is the only one to push the Bryston DAC to it’s dynamic range limit and has more control, cleanliness (less sense of confusion in the excited phases), ambience, air between the instruments, depth of the scene, articulation at the bottom. But at the same time it sounds more "in face", it loses tonal saturation,l, sweetness of mid-high frequencies, definition of micro details, liquidity, PRaT and musicality. Therefore . I can not decide for an absolute winner It depends on the music. I would say Bryston with Volumio for pop / rock and Meridian for jazz and symphony.
-The Meridian 588 as a stand alone player is to another level of performance compared to everything else and on all parameters. Although The bryston sounds warmer and tube like in comparison. Despite being Canadian, it has the typical British , rhythmic, colorful, joyful, fluid, sweet, dynamic and amusing sound that the Meridian (which is british) does not have.
MY HIFI CHAIN:
-Raspberry PI3B with linear power supply
-Bryston BDA1 DAX
-Meridian 588 CDPlayer/Transport
- All MIT wiring
-Spectral DMC20S2 Preamp
-Pass X150 Power amp
- JPS Superconductor 2 speaker cables
- B&W 702S2 loudspeakers
- Nordost, Kubala, Purist and Synphonic power cables