Aftermarket USB cables seem to be all the rage with people paying as much as $15,000 for a short run of it!!! Lots of subjective performance reports are out there but none back with any objective measurements that demonstrates any difference. On the other side of the fence many believe there isn't or can't be any difference in USB cables ("they are all digital"). I thought it would be good to add some data to the conversation.
For DAC, I used our perennial favorite, the Schiit Modi 2 DAC. Of course I say that in jest as this is by far the worst DAC I have tested. It seems to be highly sensitive to power and USB conditions. I figured if there is one...
This is a review measurement of an Ethernet isolator cable (passive) which is sold to medical industry. Ethernet is normally an isolated interface with transformers at both end. Addition of this is likely for high voltage surges and such.
The unit retails for $204 in US and about 153 euros.
Searching on CA forum, seems like folks advocate its use to get rid of leakage noise. So I used the Sonore microRendu networked audio adapter which seems to be pretty sensitive to AC mains leakage. To make sure it didn't contribute any, I used my lap supply to power the microRendu.
The Ethernet connection is from my local lab switch which in turn connects to another larger switch in basement equipment closet. The cable from switch is about 6 feet. The isolator was placed at the end of the cable and terminating into...
Last year I reviewed the original version of networked audio streamer, Sonore microRendu. Recently someone offered to loan me the newest version 1.4 to test and measure. So here are the results.
The Sonore microRendu is a super light, tiny aluminum box, requiring external power to operate. The device is too light to support the weight of the cables attached to it and runs super hot. I don't recall the original version running this warm. I can barely keep my hand on it for a few seconds.
The microRendu comes with support for Roon which is the way I tested it. For external power, I tested it with iFi iPower power supply ($50), UpTone LPS-1 and my Lab Power supply.
Roon recognized the device after a minute of so of being powered on and reliability was good.
So as a way to network a DAC and remotely using it from your computer or NAS device, it works fine.
Retail price is $650 which is quite high. You can easily buy a computer for the same price...
Here, I am tearing down the box and showing the guts. Hope you enjoy .
The unit is rather small but pretty heft. The shroud is a heavy gauge anodized aluminum which gives me no doubt about its ability to dissipate the necessary heat. After taking off the very tight torx screws, we are greated to this beautiful sight:
As you see, it is a two-board configuration. The small board on top is the switchmode DC to DC converter (more on this later). The base board holds the microprocessor (most likely ARM based) and all the necessary peripherals.
I am a sucker for white solder mask and hence my comment about beauty. It doesn't do anything electrically but after decades of seeing green ones, it is an emotional relief.
Here is a measurement, teardown and review of Vinnie Rossi Ultracapacitor Power Supply. As I have explained before, this class of device aims to use a set of super capacitors as the storage reservoir to power an audio device. The idea is supposed to be to provide a mains isolated source of clean power for small audio devices and digital tweaks. This is implemented using dual capacitor banks, one of which is charging while the other powers the external device. http://www.vinnierossi.com/mini/
The unit is quite pricey in my book at $995.
The direct competitor to Vinnie Rossi Mini is the Uptone LPS-1. The Vinnie Rossi Mini includes a power supply internally while the LPS-1 does not. Uptone sells the UpTone with a switchmode power supply from MeanWell.
For this testing, I used my iFi iDAC2 USB Dac which retails for around $350. It is a popular DAC so I thought it would make a good test subject.
The proprietor of UpTone, Alex Crespi while accepting the above issue, said that only 30% of their customers purchase the Iso Regen with the MeanWell Power supply. Many others apparently buy it with one of their other products, the Ultacap LPS-1.
Due to kindness of one of the owners of LPS-1, I have a unit on loan to evaluate.
The LPS-1 came without a power supply. Looking on their web site, they optionally sell the MeanWell with it. Fortunately that is the power supply I have...
Hello everyone. Courtesy of a friend of the forum , I am in possession of boatload of new hardware to measure/test. I am starting with the well regarded Mytek Brooklyn DAC measurements.
This is a $2,000 DAC with support for MQA and DSD, balanced output, and multiple inputs (Toslink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU). It even has an analog input!
The Mytek Brooklyn has a very nice OLED display, volume control, remote and headphone output. Unit is self powered with its own AC input/internal power supply. The box is the size of a paperback book, albeit in square format. It is heavy enough to feel solid and stay put.
Driver installation was a breeze and all worked the first time. For some reason I cannot get into any of the menus. The four buttons in the front that are supposed to do that, do nothing in my loaned input. Maybe there is a lock function some place.
As you see, it is a very functional device with multiple inputs, USB, Coax and optical. It comes with an external power supply which puts out 9 volts at 1.3 amps. It is mandatory as it would not power up with just the USB connection. It is labeled by their own name and seems a step above from cheap junk USB adapters thrown in by many other DAC companies.
The brushed, anodized aluminum case is hefty and stays put even with cables tugging on it. A...
Regular readers of this forum know that we have been searching for an excellent performing DAC for under $100. So far we have not found it. All DACs tested underperformed my reference, the iFi iDAC2 ($350).
This is a performance review and measurements of Micca OriGen+ USB DAC and headphone amplifier.
I purchased the unit through Amazon for $109 including (prime) shipping.
As you see, the box is somewhat odd looking compared to typical DACs. But overall build feel is very good. The device is pretty hefty and for this price range, it has good number of features.
The good news stops at hardware though. Installing the software drivers in Windows 10 anniversary edition is quite convoluted. The only process that works is in their FAQ rather than manual. I never did manage to get it installed on my laptop. Frustrated I had my son install it on my desktop machine and he managed to get it working. If you want a plug-and-play device or a simple setup that just installs, look elsewhere.
The unit oddly has three outputs. One large headphone jack...
My reference for comparison is the iFi iDAC2 which retails for $349 or 17 times more money.
FiiO does not have USB input. To feed it audio I used the Coax output of iFi iDAC2. SIGNSTEK does have USB input so I used that as a complete system. It also has Coax input but I could not get it to work. Nor could I find a manual for it.....
Some of you have seen my previous measurements of Sonore MicroRendu (http://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...asurements-of-sonore-microrendu-streamer.577/). If you have not, this is a device that "remotes" your DAC by letting you use Ethernet networking to connect to a USB DAC. Outside of this functionality, many buy this for the presumed improvement in audio fidelity. My measurements did not show such improvement however. And to this date, no one has produced any that show otherwise.
For a part 2 of this project I thought I open the unit and show what is inside. The unit is inside of a small, cheezy aluminum case. Put aside any expectation of high-end fit and finish here. A couple of screws opens the one end and lets the guts slide out. What is inside is a main "I/O" board on which there is a daughter card that holds the main CPU that runs all the software.
Dealing with the CPU part, it is a typical all-in-one SoC (System on a Chip) on a PC...
NOTE: this is an updated review of microRendu. Measurements were updated to use bitperfect path and max volume.
One of the latest trends in digital audio is to use a "streamer" device. This is something that sits between your music server on the home network, with then direct connection to the DAC. A lot of such devices have been built with Windows and Linux operating system on top of PC computer hardware. Sonore's microRendu is different in that it is built as an embedded, black box implementation.
This thread is about its measurements and not a full review. But briefly, this is a tiny device the size of a set of playing cards:
Both the packaging and aluminum enclosure scream "budget" equipment. So if you are getting this device as audiophile bling to impress your friends, this is not it.
The unit as mentioned, is a "bridge." It sits on the Ethernet network at one end and USB connection...
Here are measurements of the Entreq "signal grounding" box. If you don't know what that means, you are not alone . It is a type of device where you connect it to the ground or negative terminal of your audio signals and it is supposed to improve the fidelity of the system. I was kindly given a loan unit of Entreq Olympus Minimus for this testing by the company founder, "PO."
The box arrived a few weeks ago but have been too busy to test it until now. From the outside, it is a nicely made wooden box with a single terminal out back:
The box is very heavy so clearly filled with something substantial. I was not allowed to open the box so my evaluation is limited to measuring it.
I had thought of measuring a lot of things but once I got to it, the reality set in. The box has only one wire going to it, not two. That is, there is no return path for any electrical signal. Think of trying to test a...
Over the last few months I have had a number of requests to document my music server build. I finally got around to collecting and organizing my pictures and references.
There are a number of such efforts such as CA's "CAP" series of music server specs. I have read through them and much of what they do there doesn't make any sense to me and bring a ton of complexity. As an example is using a server-class motherboard, Windows Server OS which is expensive and very difficult to manage for ordinary users, expensive linear power supplies, etc.
The approach of then minimizing the tasks on the OS true third-party tools also doesn't make sense to me. From noise and jitter point of view, you want a chaotic/random activity. Removing all but a few system processes means both of these components can be become more correlated, predictable and hence potentially audible.
My goal in building my own server was much more down to earth:
1. 100% quiet. No fans. No spinning parts. Acoustic...
It seems intuitive that we would all have different tastes in sound reproduction. After all, there are thousands of different brands and models of speakers each with a different sound. Surely that is due to different people liking different sounds. Another fact that bolsters this intuition is that there is no reference for audio. So in that sense, there is no metric of accuracy either meaning it is a free for all, allowing anyone to pick any sound as being what they prefer.
Well, everything I just said is wrong! Turns out we are remarkably alike in what we prefer subjectively. We seem to have an internal compass that points to good sound and that when we only use that compass, we are able to determine what is proper and what is not. Dr. Toole in his book, Sound Reproduction, Loudspeakers and Rooms puts this most eloquently:
"Descriptors like pleasantness and preference must therefore be considered
as ranking in importance with accuracy and...
Really good talk/work by Bob Schulein, presented at Audio Engineering Society on how to determine an individual's dynamic range, and bandwidth that they can hear. There is a link to the files to be downloaded at the end. And summary results of the AES Chicago chapter.
Bob is a slow speaker so I watched it with no problem at 2x speed . Click on the gear and select the playback speed there.
Modern computing power has put in our hands incredibly powerful measurement tools. Prime example is Room EQ Wizard (REW), a free program which is an amazing toolbox of acoustic measurements. Alas, while computing power may be free enabling us to run such analysis that used to cost a lot of money in dedicated hardware, the fundamentals of what the tool measures must still be understood. Otherwise, it is exceedingly easy to arrive at the wrong data and worse yet, wrong conclusions about the science.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate a key element: the relationship between time and frequency resolution. This is an underlying signal processing concept that is core to functionality of everything from audio and video to compression to how we measure room acoustics. Alas, while the concept is rather simple, it is not intuitive nor is it talked about much outside of the circle of industry researchers and professionals. Simply put, time and frequency resolution are enemies...
I first ran into this site when I was at Sony’s web site looking at their high-res music page. A link for content took me to ProStudioMasters. What I found was a delightful experience. Modern, interactive and fast user interface that easily leaves all of their competitors behind. When I am interacting with other sites, they feel like what music distribution looked before iTunes revolution. Primitive web sites, lousy payment methods, and all around ancient experience. What a breath of fresh air it was to land on ProStudioMasters and not see most of these issues. Let me dig in to show you why.
Here it is:
Modern, “web 2.0” interface that is a delight to look at, and highlights the album art nicely.
Hi everyone. This is my review of Roon media player. It is the highlights of what I find attractive in the software. As some of you know, my team was responsible for building the Windows Media Player which ships in every copy of Windows. Alas that software has been frozen in time for the last decade or so, and does not for a variety of reasons meet the needs of an audiophile or music lover. So with the build of my new server, I decided to go a new route.
I had tried JRiver a couple of years ago and immediately dismissed it. It is a huge piece of software and quite bloated in my view. I know it has immense set of features and I am not giving it a fair review in what I just said . Having managed the development of another complex player namely Windows Media Player, and seeing how hard it was to keep it reliable and performant, I have learned to heavily appreciate simplicity. I don’t need or want video playback for example. What I need is something that doesn’t...