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hollowman
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Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
Low-/medium-cost high-rez USB to SPDIF options

Hard to beat the $/perf. ratio of Musical Fidelity's V-link, reviewed back in Spring 2011:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/musical-fidelity-v-link-usb-spdif-con...

That said, I have noticed that some e-tailers are now charging up to $40 more than the earlier $170 -- inflation?

IAC, the V-link is a bit cumbersome and not very portable -- that's important to me, anyway.   It did measure well, but as noted by JA, is limited to 96kHz. 

Low-/mid-$ competition is a GOOD thing! And the "industry" finally seems to be getting the message that (relatively) low-$, asynchronous mode + high-rez (24-bit/192khz) USB-SPDIF (or USB to I2S) converters (whether sand alone, or DIY kits, or engineered "OEM" solns for developers (see below) is a important (= makes a worthwhile sonic diff.) and marketable.

Some lesser-known manuf's (and related product offerings) are below:

>> UK-based XMOS has a decent model called “USB Audio 2.0 Reference Design”. XMOS has one of the best (most informative) web sites on this technology:

http://www.xmos.com/products/development-kits/usbaudio2

Watch the well-produced video on this page for a quick education on USB audio and related technology:

http://www.xmos.com/applications/usb-audio

You can’t buy the XMOS from usual sources, but electronics-parts supplier DigiKey has it avail for $148:

http://parts.digikey.com/1/parts/1850779-usb-audio-2-0-reference-design-...

>> Swiss-based ABC-PCB has 24/192 USB audio interface here:

http://www.abc-pcb.com/?page_id=187

(full manual here: http://www.abc-pcb.com/abc_docs/U2S192-DS-102E.pdf)

This is a PCB with I2S and SPDIF out. Radio Shack has small boxes that one can stuff this PCB into, almost rendering it Plug-n-Play like Halide. Not sure on the $$. Methinks it will be similar to XMOS.

>> Canada’s exaDevices offers a somewhat pricey (USD 430.00) but very high-rez (“384 kHz 32bit low-jitter bit-perfect performance“) USB-to-I2S converter: If you’re not into DIY or a product engineer, this is not for you. It’s noteworthy for its purported high-rez processing.

http://exadevices.com/exaU2I/Overview.aspx

---

Some more info: "USB-Interface: Modern USB audio interfaces are USB audio class 2 compliant. Asynchronous mode, external clock and galvanic isolation are the things to look for." is here:

http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/HW/USB_Interface.htm

---

USB-SPDIF (or USB to I2S or EIAJ) converters to avoid:

Diyparadise.com Monica USB and Black Crow. These devices are coupled to the Monica/Mojo NON-oversampling (NOS; aka zero OS) D/A processor (all based on the antiquated Philips TDA1545 DAC chip). Bottom line: Bad design, bad implementation, not asynch, and low-rez. JA's measurements of NOS processors should be reason enough to avoid them!

WillWeber
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Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Nov 11 2010 - 7:54am
V-link

That's a pretty comprehensive shopping list. Good work hollowman!

One update for you: Many places have the Musical Fidelity's V-link for $119.00 right now (e.g. MusicDirect). $50 less than original price; that's not inflation, it's competition. Or maybe they are coming out with a new model soon?

Just checked, Amazon has it at $99.00! At these prices I'll just get one and upgrade later when more hi-rez files are available, and this one will be relegated to the office. The next one can wait longer that way, and the prices and options will be even more favorable.

hollowman
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Last seen: 3 months 3 days ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
re:

 

WillWeber wrote:

One update for you: Many places have the Musical Fidelity's V-link for $119.00 right now (e.g. MusicDirect). $50 less than original price; that's not inflation, it's competition. Or maybe they are coming out with a new model soon?

Just checked, Amazon has it at $99.00! At these prices I'll just get one and upgrade later when more hi-rez files are available, and this one will be relegated to the office. The next one can wait longer that way, and the prices and options will be even more favorable.

Thx for the $ update on the V-Link. Those are decent prices. I just got the latest AA catalog, and the V-Link is $190.00. Usually, their prices are competitive, but not this time, I guess.

SPIDIF is a compromised format, so I'm holding out for an economical, high-rez, D/A processor with asynchr. USB. Er ... one that sells for about the Amazon $ you quoted for V-link! Economies of scale usually trickle down ... so perhaps by the same time next year ... perhaps ;)

hollowman
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Last seen: 3 months 3 days ago
Joined: May 28 2009 - 12:59pm
SOTM USB PCI card

Here's another one ...

Got a PC, with iTunes or Foobar, and a hard-drive full of 1000s of WAV or FLAC files ... and need a v. HQ way to pipe these to a USB-equipped D/A processor (e.g., Arye, MF, Bryston, Bel canto, etc.)

SOtM of Korea has interesting gear that may come to the rescue ... one is a PCI card:

http://sotm-audio.com/sotm/products/tX-USB.htm

They also have this "all-in-one" device:

dac-200-HD: [Sorry! Google translated from Korean to English]

"dAC-200 HD for users of the junggogeup 32bit D / A converter is CD, DVD player or TV, and you are using a variety of digital sources so that devices can be connected with the AES / EBU, coaxial, optical input jack to connect to a PC equipped with USB audio class 2.0 interface has features. PC that is connected with USB audio function compliant USB audio class 2.0 of the latest standards. The Windows OS, Apple OS-X, Linux, etc. using a variety of environments that are not affected by the PC's clock using Asynchronous Transfer Mode 192KHz/24 bit PCM audio data to be input can improve the quality of the input source for the dAC-200 HD, the high performance audio clock (sCLK-2224, option products) and 32bit SRC (Sample Rate Converter) technology was applied. SCLK-two thousand two hundred twenty-four a USB audio interface for audio data input through the D / A conversion process The most important role, and very natural, but a wider range without coloration to produce dynamic sound. SRC technology did not design the highest quality DVD, TV, etc. If you apply a lot of improvement in sound quality and high performance source component is expected to be The output of the SRC data, even if the connection hayeoteul the same 32bit DAC chip and output with a wide dynamic range because it sounds more natural, will be transformed. "

 

product feature

Digital Audio Input:

- USB input

  • USB 2.0 high speed
    USB audio class 2.0
    44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz sampling rate
    Max 24bit PCM audio data.
    Sampling rate auto detect and display
    Asnchronous isochronous mode operation
    Bit-transparent operation
    Windows XP with SP3 (32 bit), Windows Vista with SP2 (32 bit), Windows Vista x64 with SP2 (64 bit), Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 x64 (64 bit), Mac OS-X snow leopard, Linux

- AES/EBU, Coaxial, Optical input

  • AES, S/PDIF data format compatible
    32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz sampling rate
    Max 24bit PCM audio data
    Auto enable de-Emphasis filter for 32KHz, 44.1KHz, 48KHz sampling rate

Line output stage:

  • Full balance output stage
    Stereo balance x 1 and unbalance output x1
    Passive L-C low pass filter
    Wide range frequency response : 10Hz~100KHz(-3dB)
    SNR : -100dB >
    THD+N : -100dB >

User control input::

  • Power on/off
    Input select
    SRC on/off
    SRC fs select
    Mute on/off

Indicate LED:

  • Power status x 1
    Input channel x 7
    Non-PCM status x 1
    SRC on/off x 1
    SRC fs status x 4
    Mute status x 1

Power circuit:

  • Ultra low noise regulator circuit for all digitral and analog circuit
  • Split winding dual power transformer

Component:

  • AK4115VQ for digital audio interface
    AK4390EF for audio DAC
    XS1-L1 for USB interface
    OPA2228 for audio output stage
    Flat chip audio grade resistor
    PPS film chip capacitor
    SILMIC II audio grade electrolytic capacitor
    Polymer conductive capacitor
    Full size AT-Cut low jitter oscillator
    ALPS high quality long life switch

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