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Is there a quality difference between the motherboard (ALC1220A) S/PDIF output and the Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus S/PDIF output?

dgnzcn

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Hello,

I connected my motherboard's ALC1220A S/PDIF output to Topping E30, I connect it to TOPPING L30 and listen with KALI AUDIO LP-6. My question is, If I buy the Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus and use its S/PDIF output to Topping E30, will I improve the sound quality compared to the motherboard's ALC1220A S/PDIF output or is it not worth it?
 

twsecrest

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Using optical output (ALC1220/ SB AE-5) for either one will sound the same.
As optical bypasses the devices (ALC1220/SB AE-5) built in DAC function, so the sound cards are just acting as signal transport.
But I believe you can still use the AE-5's headphone surround sound function (thru S/PDIF, if using headphones).

My two cents, I would rather use the USB connection, over the S/PDIF optical/coaxial connection.
 
D

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Hello,

I connected my motherboard's ALC1220A S/PDIF output to Topping E30, I connect it to TOPPING L30 and listen with KALI AUDIO LP-6. My question is, If I buy the Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus and use its S/PDIF output to Topping E30, will I improve the sound quality compared to the motherboard's ALC1220A S/PDIF output or is it not worth it?

S-PDIF is a digital connection. The signals and levels should be bog standard, so, I wouldn't expect any audible difference.
 
D

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Why?
My noise ratio is getting higher on usb connection.

I was comparing S-PDIF to S-PDIF... which is pretty much standardized.

Comparing it to USB is not valid since, while standardized, the standard is different.
 
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dgnzcn

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My two cents, I would rather use the USB connection, over the S/PDIF optical/coaxial connection.
I actually asked you the question but quoted the wrong person;

My noise ratio is getting higher on usb connection.
Why do you prefer USB?
 

twsecrest

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I actually asked you the question but quoted the wrong person;
My noise ratio is getting higher on usb connection.
Why do you prefer USB?
USB comes with an Asynchronous connection, better communication for audio streams.

I'm guessing there are "issues" with the USB connection, might be a (electrical) ground loop.
Try connecting the Topping E30's A/C power cord to a surge protector, separate from the computers or the speakers.
Also might try a USB cable with a ferrite core.

What is the make and model of the motherboard and which USB connection are you plugging the E30 into?
 
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dgnzcn

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USB comes with an Asynchronous connection, better communication for audio streams.

I'm guessing there are "issues" with the USB connection, might be a (electrical) ground loop.
Try connecting the Topping E30's A/C power cord to a surge protector, separate from the computers or the speakers.
Also might try a USB cable with a ferrite core.

What is the make and model of the motherboard and which USB connection are you plugging the E30 into?

Does the USB cable improve the sound quality over S/PDIF? What do you mean by better communication? I don't have a communication problem at the moment. I was just wondering if it could improve the sound quality. My motherboard is Asus Tuf B550-Plus, I tried the USB connection with USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port on the back of the motherboard ports. I got more noise than S/PDIF. My USB cable was not with ferrite core.
 

twsecrest

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Does the USB cable improve the sound quality over S/PDIF? What do you mean by better communication? I don't have a communication problem at the moment. I was just wondering if it could improve the sound quality. My motherboard is Asus Tuf B550-Plus, I tried the USB connection with USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port on the back of the motherboard ports. I got more noise than S/PDIF. My USB cable was not with ferrite core.
With S/PDIF (optical/coaxial), the source device (motherboard) is in control (clock timing thing?), the audio data packet is sent and the destination device (external DAC) has to just take as it is, whether it's ready or not.
With Asynchronous, the destination device has more in the say on when the audio data packet is sent (uses it's own timing clock?), so it can work at it's own pace (making it work better).
But I'm not the expert.

How are are the power cords connected (PC, Topping, Kali)to the surge protector or wall sockets?
 
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dgnzcn

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How are are the power cords connected (PC, Topping, Kali)to the surge protector or wall sockets?

Thank you for the detailed explanation, the power cables are connected to the UPS output with the cable coming from the wall outlet to the UPS.

If I can solve the USB noise problem, I will have the opportunity to try.
 

twsecrest

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Thank you for the detailed explanation, the power cables are connected to the UPS output with the cable coming from the wall outlet to the UPS.

If I can solve the USB noise problem, I will have the opportunity to try.
Plug the Topping E30 into a separate surge protector ($10?).
 

3125b

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I have measured the SPDIF output of my mainboard vs. my RME with a Topping E30 - for some reason the output of the mainboard is terrible at 74dB SINAD vs. expected 110dB on the RMEs optical output. I got the same results with a different DAC connected, however that DAC wouldn't work on the RMEs output for comparison.

I will need to do some more testing on this since the results are hard to believe and I lack some other Toslink DACs to compare.
I don't have the time right now, but I will come back to that.
 

wwenze

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Very easy to make the result easy to believe - Just do a DTS test. Though to do that you either need an SPDIF input on your computer or something that can receive a DTS signal.

I copypasted something I wrote in the past since I can't seem to find any guide available now. You can replace computer SPDIF input with AVR if you have it.

Testing your sound card for bit-perfect output - the DTS test - computer version​


For people who don't have an AVR/DTS decoder

1) Download a DTS file from above
2) Rename it to .wav, when played you will hear white noise
3) Get Cool Edit (Audacity will not work)
4) Connect SPDIF-out to SPDIF-in of your card (of choice, can be same card, can be different)
Set-up for recording through SPDIF
5) Configure the source soundcard's output - SPDIF sampling rate same as source file, master and/or wave volume max, no effects/filters
6) Play through player of your choice - DS, KS, ASIO, anything
Press play before recording
7) Click the red button to start recording - select the same sampling rate as your source file/card, for resolution if the source is 16-bit select 16-bit, if 24-bit select 32-bit (float) - not verified
8) If done correctly you should see a square wave of -12dB, which is white noise when played back
9) Save as Windows PCM (*.wav) file
10) Rename to .dts
11) Play with your player, if music comes out, DTS test pass

Note - My method is quite different from what most others had said on the internet, particularly the part requiring BeSplit. What's different about my method is that mine works for me and that doesn't, and as can be seen from the replies that also doesn't work for many others asking how to do the same thing.
I will not say that method doesn't work, but if you find that it doesn't work for you, try alternatives.

Results - 44.1kHz/16-bit Stereo source file

Note - the "Xonar D2" (in inverted commas) is actually a HT Omega Claro running on Xonar D2 drivers. It was like this before the test and I did not bother changing it back because the drivers are largely the same, I would not expect any difference between different versions of the driver
C-Media Oxygen ASIO is the ASIO driver for CMI8788-based cards

Player used: foobar2000 unless otherwise stated

Prodigy 7.1 HiFi comes with a flexible clock system that supports auto-detection and changing of sampling rate or can be locked to a manually chosen frequency, in which case resampling takes place if needed, or it can derive its clock from incoming SPDIF signal.

Prodigy (auto sampling rate unless specified)

Prodigy KS - ok
Prodigy ASIO - ok
Prodigy DS - ok
Prodigy QVE - waveform reduced in amplitude, file not recognized

Prodigy KS (reduced volume in foobar) - file not recognized
Prodigy KS (volume reduced midway) - file stops midway
Prodigy KS (locked frequency =/= 44.1kHz) - foobar returns error
Prodigy ASIO (locked frequency =/= 44.1kHz) - frequency force changed in control panel, foobar proceeds as normal - ok
Prodigy DS (locked frequency =/= 44.1kHz) - frequency remains locked, foobar proceeds as normal, Windows resamples sound, file not recognized
Prodigy QVE (locked frequency =/= 44.1kHz) - frequency forced changed in control panel, foobar proceeds as normal, waveform reduced in amplitude, file not recognized

"Xonar D2"

"Xonar D2" KS 44.1kHz - ok
C-Media Oxygen ASIO 44.1kHz - ok
"Xonar D2" DS 44.1kHz - ok
"Xonar D2" DS 44.1kHz (reduced volume in Windows) - file not recognized
"Xonar D2" Windows Media Player 44.1kHz - ok

Two numbers show combination of source card's output sampling rate and sampling rate selected in Cool Edit

"Xonar D2" KS 48-44 - waveform does not look like DTS
"Xonar D2" KS 48-48 - waveform does not look like DTS
"Xonar D2" KS 44-48 - waveform looks like DTS, file not recognized

Realtek ALC888S

ALC888S Windows Media Player 44.1kHz - ok

Also to be noted: When using Prodigy's internal M-Clock to record others, pops/noise occur at regular intervals. Hows that for the supporters of synchronous reclocking?

Important things to note

- possible to pass DTS test using DS and WMP if all volumes are set to max
- card only passes test if the SPDIF output sampling rate is set to the same as whatever the player is sending it through DS/KS/ASIO - take note if you're not using a card with automatic sampling-rate changing
- Realtek (non-AC'97 version) is capable of passing DTS test


Possible follow-ups

- test with 48kHz and >48kHz source files

And while I'm at it, here's a screenshot of a 192kHz file recorded through TOSLINK for those who still believe it cannot be done


Whether the equipment can do 192/24 or above is up to the parts used. The Prodigy 7.1 HiFi sends and receives 96kHz max, but the Omega Claro and Realtek can do 192.
 
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dgnzcn

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I have measured the SPDIF output of my mainboard vs. my RME with a Topping E30 - for some reason the output of the mainboard is terrible at 74dB SINAD vs. expected 110dB on the RMEs optical output. I got the same results with a different DAC connected, however that DAC wouldn't work on the RMEs output for comparison.

I will need to do some more testing on this since the results are hard to believe and I lack some other Toslink DACs to compare.
I don't have the time right now, but I will come back to that.
If I understood correctly, you said that the s/pdif output of the motherboard is of poorer quality? what sound chip did it have?
 

AnalogSteph

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I have measured the SPDIF output of my mainboard vs. my RME with a Topping E30 - for some reason the output of the mainboard is terrible at 74dB SINAD vs. expected 110dB on the RMEs optical output. I got the same results with a different DAC connected, however that DAC wouldn't work on the RMEs output for comparison.

I will need to do some more testing on this since the results are hard to believe and I lack some other Toslink DACs to compare.
I don't have the time right now, but I will come back to that.
Smells like sound misimprovements in action. See if you can turn off all DSP for the device in Device Manager (generally there'll be a UI control as well though not necessarily too obvious). It shouldn't be happening in exclusive mode either. Otherwise there is something seriously screwy going on, and perhaps a sound driver update will help.
 

Abe_W

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Does the USB cable improve the sound quality over S/PDIF? What do you mean by better communication? I don't have a communication problem at the moment. I was just wondering if it could improve the sound quality. My motherboard is Asus Tuf B550-Plus, I tried the USB connection with USB 2.0 port and USB 3.0 port on the back of the motherboard ports. I got more noise than S/PDIF. My USB cable was not with ferrite core.

USB would always be the preferred option when connecting a PC to an external DAC. The external DAC takes care of it all.

On a S/PDIF connection, your external DAC now relies on the timing information (master cl/wd cl/data) from the PC motherboard or soundcard. A dedicated sound card's S/PDIF output could do better in this regard than the motherboard's S/PDIF out if you bought the cheapest motherboard out there. However, a higher end gaming motherboard with a better s/pdif implementation could negate the need to buy a soundcard for use as a transport.

I cannot tell the difference between the s/pdif out on my Asrock x99 board, which was a higher end board and my dedicated sound card. I can definitely hear the difference between an older MSI x58 board from 2011 and my dedicated sound card..
 

Killingbeans

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USB would always be the preferred option when connecting a PC to an external DAC. The external DAC takes care of it all.

Assuming you don't get a ground loop problem with USB.

It sound like that's the kind of nastiness OP has encountered when he/she says "My noise ratio is getting higher on usb connection."

Total thread necromancy BTW :D
 
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