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colecallen
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E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

In your article in the May 2009 Stereophile reviewing the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96, you mentioned the E-MU 0404 as a viable alternative. My desire is to get as high a quality of sound as possible out of a PC dedicated as a music server and connect it to my Anthem D2 via an S/PDIF connection, using the DAC in the Anthem which can handle up to 96/24. I have been looking for good alternatives for this that are not price prohibitive and the E-MU 0404 seemed like a good option. I consider myself experienced with PCs (but am a total MIDI neophyte), so your warning about installing an extra driver program was not worrisome.

My PC is Windows XP, 32 bit, service pack 3. I started with a sound card (Dynex DX-SC51) that was working fine, but I could not hear a difference between hi-rez music and regular ripped CDs.

I purchased an E-MU 0404 USB 2 and have installed it, using USB 2.0 to the E-MU and an optical connection to my Anthem D2. I went into Control Panel --> Sound and set all audio outputs to E-MU supplied alternatives. I am unable to get any sound out of either ITunes or MediaMonkey. I did go into MediaMonkey and supply it with an ASIO DLL add-on from otachan and placed this file in the MediaMonkey output plug-ins. In configuring the plug-in, I used the defaults. I was unsuccessful in getting any sound output.

I found a posting on the E-MU web site saying that I would have to plug patch cables from the analog outputs to the analog inputs in order to get audio out of the S/PDIF, but this defeats the entire purpose (http://203.211.142.198/SRVS/CGI-BIN/WEBCGI.EXE/,/?St=69,E=00000000001868...(2114),VARSET=centric:1004,Kb=creative_emu).

You said you were successful in using the E-MU 0404. Can you suggest anything I have missed in setting this up?

In the end I am looking for the best way to get hi-rez sound out of a regular PC (not laptop) and into the DAC in my Anthem D2. I am willing to use either iTunes or MediaMonkey. Alternative suggestions are welcome here as most articles concentrate on using external DACS.

andy_c
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

Here's a couple of things you can try.

First, the patch cable thing from the E-MU web site is nonsense. Feel free to ignore it.

Second, it's essential to realize that if you want to use the S/PDIF outputs of the 0404 USB (which includes Toslink), you *must* use ASIO. It doesn't work otherwise. Try setting up Media Monkey with ASIO and your built-in sound card first, and make sure you can get sound out of the built-in card in that mode. Once you get that working, switch the sound device over to the 0404 USB in the Media Monkey ASIO config (might be in "output devices" or "output plugins" or the like). Then in the ASIO config, on the "shift output channels" option, choose 2. I don't use Media Monkey, but this is how the Otachan ASIO plugin works when used with WinAmp. The 0404 USB has a virtual "bank" of output channels. The analog channels are at offset 0, and the S/PDIF outputs are at offset 2. So to allocate the two ASIO channels to S/PDIF, the appropriate channel offset is 2 - otherwise, with the default "shift output channels" offset of 0, ASIO will be allocated to the analog outputs, which is not what you want.

I hope this makes sense.

Edit: I just realized that your built-in sound card may not have an ASIO driver, so my first suggestion may not be possible.

Editor
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller


Quote:
You said you were successful in using the E-MU 0404. Can you suggest anything I have missed in setting this up?

It's been several months since I used the Emu, but I seem to remember that once you have selected its S/PDIF outputs, you need to reboot the unit for them to become active. I'll recheck when I get a chance.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

colecallen
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

Andy, I greatly appreciate the advice. I was able to get the E-MU 0404 working. It took two things in the Output Plug-ins --> ASIO output settings: set "Shift Output Channels" to "2" and set "Device" to "ASIO E-MU 0404 USB".

Any advice on the settings for buffer size? It defaulted to 7.

I assume Resampling is irrelevant since all I am doing is playback.

andy_c
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller


Quote:
Andy, I greatly appreciate the advice. I was able to get the E-MU 0404 working. It took two things in the Output Plug-ins --> ASIO output settings: set "Shift Output Channels" to "2" and set "Device" to "ASIO E-MU 0404 USB".

Any advice on the settings for buffer size? It defaulted to 7.

Great! Glad it's working.

The usual strategy for buffers is to try it for a while and see if you get any dropouts. If dropouts occur, increase buffers. This might happen, say, if the files were on a different machine accessed via wireless for instance. Another strategy is to just set them to max right away. This runs the risk of the play, pause, stop, etc. controls having a noticeable time lag, which can be a nuisance.

Make sure resampling is disabled.

CharlyD
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

Hello Andy,

I've been using the E-MU 0404 USB for about a month now with a pair of HD-600s and also had difficulties getting ASIO to work correctly. I tried Winamp and Foobar2000 with the various freeware ASIO drivers but without success. Through participation in the ComputerAudiophile forum, I learned of other users who had success with JRiver Jukebox. Jukebox has a native ASIO driver included and worked perfectly for me on the first attempt!

Some other tips about the E-MU 0404:

Automatic sample rate switching by the 0404 to match the sample rate of the content only works when using the ASIO driver. When using the standard Windows XP WDM stack, kmixer will apply any Windows volume control settings and will perform sample rate conversion to match the setting of the 0404.

The 0404 uses Asynchronous synchronization on USB. This means that the clock in the 0404 is free running (not synced to the clock embedded in the content) and drives both the communication channel as well as the DAC. This interface method far less jitter-prone than methods used by most other USB DACs.

The DAC in the 0404 is the same device used in the Logitech Transporter and sounds quite nice. I'd be very interested to see your thoughts on how it compares to the sound of your Anthem D2. A pair of TS-RCA adapters from Rat Shack and a RCA interconnect would be all you need to try that out.

colecallen
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

I was getting occasional artifacts (perhaps once each 2 hours with music on the PC's hard drive)in the playback and each time was able to return to normal by pausing and then playing again. Not sure if that was a buffer issue, but I doubled the buffers. I will see if I still get the noise.

My initial impression is that the sound of the system has improved significantly in moving from the generic sound card to the E-MU 0404.

I need to set up a listening session and compare CDs played through the audio system to the same music coming from the PC. I am a big fan of SACD and will also compare 2 channel SACD with PC playback, but I have no hopes of besting the SACD, even with hi-rez downloads. But I will be objective and am open to being surprised.

colecallen
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller

I am also curious to compare the D2 DAC with the E-MU 0404 DAC. When I get the chance, I will report the results.

I will have to try it on regular CD music as well as 96/24 hi-rez music. I believe both DACS do upsampling.

andy_c
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller


Quote:
I was getting occasional artifacts...

Allen, here's one thing you might check. When I got mine, I checked the E-MU web site for the latest drivers. The drivers I downloaded seemed more recent than what was on the CD. When I installed them, sure enough they updated the firmware of the box to a newer version.

I'd also second the recommendation for Media Jukebox (which is free).

CharlyD
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Re: E-MU 0404 USB as a hi-rez bridge from PC to Controller


Quote:
I believe both DACS do upsampling.


The E-MU 0404 does not upsample. The sample rate displayed in the control window is the sample rate applied to both the ADC and the DAC. Any sample rate conversion required to match the 0404 SR to that of the content is done by kmixer (Windows XP).

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