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Review and Measurements of HoloAudio XEME2VE USB to SPDIF

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of HoloAudio XEME2VE USB to SPDIF Converter. It allows you to connect a DAC that only has S/PDIF input to the USB jack of your computer. It is on kind loan from a member. Retail price appears to be USD $169 but the company has it on sale for USD $99.

As little boxes go, this feels unusually good and solid:

HoloAudio XEME2VE USB to SPDIF Converter review.jpg

There is fair amount of heft to it which should stop most cables from tugging on it.

There are no external power supplies so all you have to do is connect the USB cable and S/PDIF to your DAC and you are in business. An indicator which shows it is powered on and happy would have been handy but is not critical in this application.

The XEME2VE is plug-and-play compatible with Windows 10 Creators Edition which means it is UAC2 compliant so should be driverless on Mac and Linux (or streamer of your choice).

Let's measure it to see how it performs.

Measurements
For these devices, sometimes I resort to measuring the quality of S/PDIF interface itself. But ultimately what you care about is how your DAC performs with it. To that end, I hooked my Schiit Modi 2 Uber to it which I know to have sub-par USB implementation. Measuring its native USB implementation versus S/PDIF through XEME2VE showed no difference in SINAD (signal over distortion and noise). So I resorted to the more sensitive jitter test:

HoloAudio XEME2VE USB to SPDIF Converter with Schiit Modi 2 Uber Jitter Measurements.png


Note that this graph is highly amplified vertically with the top of the graph being -70 dB (the signal itself is at 0 dBr).

With the USB interface on Schiit Modi 2 Uber, we see a set of spikes (in blue) around our main tone of 12 kHz. They are very symmetrical and indicate low frequency jitter components (some likely from its power supply). When connected via its XEME2VE driving its S/PDIF input, those spikes go away indicating that the XEME2VE USB implementation is cleaner than that of Schiit Modi 2 uber.

Of course the XEME2VE can't perform any miracles to lower the rather high noise floor (due to random jitter in Modi 2 Uber), or the two tall spikes at +- 4 kHz relative to our main 12 kHz tone. Those are inherent to the implementation of Modi 2 Uber.

In a recent review I showed the same test but driving a much better DAC: the Digital Amplifier Company's DAC DAC:



We see that the output is identical to using my high-fidelity Audio Precision S/PDIF output (blue). Hard to ask for anymore.

As with Schiit Modi 2 Uber, SINAD did not vary with or without XEME2VE converter.

Conclusions
While my tests are not exhaustive, the Holo Audio XEME2VE seems to be a well implemented USB to S/PDIF converter. At its current sale price, it fetches some premium over cheaper converters which can be had for nearly half its price. The higher look and feel should be enough to justify the small incremental cost anyway.

Given all of this, I can recommend the Holo Audio XEME2VE for a USB to S/PDIF converter for legacy DACs. For new DAC purchases, you should get a unit that has good, native USB support. There is no advantage to having it internal (if anything, it is harder to make an external unit perform well than an internal one).

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Veri

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#2
Any chance for a close-in on jitter and noise spectrum? To maybe compare with the allo ones :)

Thanks for the review @amirm. I see on the product page Holo audio also claims greatly optimised, 'great sounding' xmos drivers ;)...
 
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#5
Looks like a good companion for DAC only have spdif, like the recent hot topic Geshelli Labs ENOG2 Pro DAC
 

amirm

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#6

amirm

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#9
Hello Amir, I notice that the D10 seems to add noise in the low frequencies below around 500 Hz. Is that something worth noting? Doesn’t seem like the Holo does this?
Seems so. It could be a minor difference between different USB ports used and such too. It is all below -125 dB so audibility is moot.
 
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#10
For new DAC purchases, you should get a unit that has good, native USB support. There is no advantage to having it internal (if anything, it is harder to make an external unit perform well than an internal one).

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.
Well I got a big surprise yesterday when I hooked up an Armature Hecate USB to S/PDIF to my Anedio D2 DAC.
The D2 DAC has built in USB support of claimed high quality. https://web.archive.org/web/20161206045028/http://www.anedio.com:80/index.php/product/d2_measure They really did their best to make it high quality (one could even buy it as a standalone USB to S/PDIF converter which got good reviews at the time and measures very well).
But when I hooked up the Armature Hecate to the D2 with a good 75ohm cable, just as a test to get it ready for use with a Hypex Fusion plate amp not expecting any difference in sound whatsoever, I was shocked as it sounds quite different in the treble apparent immediately. Took me less than a minute to understand that this wasn't an error but that the difference was infact a significant improvement.. More high treble "sparkle/air" and the treble overall is smoother, more focussed and extended and simply gives me more information / transparency into the nature of the mix/music.
Can't explain the why, but in this particular case it's clearly better to use the external USB to S/PDIF converter..

Btw the Armature Hecate is a rebranded Singxer F-1. Cost is about 200 euro. As far as I understand it they are the same as the more expensive Singxer SU-1 with the excpetion that the SU-1 has an internal power supply and has more output formats/connectors.
There is also an Armature Hecate LT which is a cheaper stripped version (version with case 90euro, board without case only 45 euro), still featuring the latest Xmos Xcore-208 chip but with cheaper clocks, no Xilink chip I think, not the galvanic isolation and perhaps more things stripped. No idea if it's as good as the full Hecate/f-1, also not sure if this has a Singxer counterpart / is a rebranded product.
 

SIY

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#12
Is there a chance to test M2Tech HiFace Two?
I tested the original HiFace a few years back, though not with a Schitt (didn't exist then). With a Behringer DAC (DCX2496 with Didden mods), the performance was pretty much identical to the cheap Chinese unit I bought off eBay, and at 20x the price. To be fair, I didn't have the full AP bench that I have now, so maybe there could have been a minor difference that I didn't see using a good sound card. The guy selling them went ballistic.

I still use the cheap Chinese unit and the performance with engineered DACs has been essentially perfect.
 
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#13
I tested the original HiFace a few years back, though not with a Schitt (didn't exist then). With a Behringer DAC (DCX2496 with Didden mods), the performance was pretty much identical to the cheap Chinese unit I bought off eBay, and at 20x the price. To be fair, I didn't have the full AP bench that I have now, so maybe there could have been a minor difference that I didn't see using a good sound card. The guy selling them went ballistic.

I still use the cheap Chinese unit and the performance with engineered DACs has been essentially perfect.
Thanks. Somewhere I read that it greatly improves the sound, but I did not have the chance to check it myself.
 

SIY

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#14
If the claim is made without fully described and validated double-blind listening tests, put it on the pile of "stuff people say on the internet." As Amir has shown time and again, unless a DAC implementation is severely broken or incompetently designed, the SPDIF feed won't matter very much if at all.
 
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#15
If the claim is made without fully described and validated double-blind listening tests, put it on the pile of "stuff people say on the internet." As Amir has shown time and again, unless a DAC implementation is severely broken or incompetently designed, the SPDIF feed won't matter very much if at all.
Can you recommend a cheap and good USB-SPDIF converter in this case?
 

pkane

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#17
I'd be inclined to just hunt through eBay and get any unit that has the bit/sample rate you need. This is the one I've been using for my main system.
That Phiree converter is actually what I started with when trying to get audio from PC to my older DAC a few years ago. It's a nice and cheap unit, but the SPDIF (coax) out was a bit noisy and generated extra jitter and noise bands at the output of a couple of DACs I tested. Don't know if it was due to ground loops or something else The optical (toslink) output, on the other hand, was pretty much perfect (bit perfect and no additional jitter or noise measured at the analog output).
 
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