Best USB to Spdif Converter Into AN DAC

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Donivey, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    You need to read the title of this thread. He's requesting USB for an Audio Note DAC that uses an old codec. You don't need to worry about its support for DSD over PCM, etc. Its computer world contemporary is a Windows 98 Pentium II 233 with a Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold plugged into one of the ISA slots.
     
  2. ossidian

    ossidian Forum Resident

    The Wyred µLINK USB to S/PDIF Converter is a nice option. Good clocking for reduced jitter, good build quality and reasonable price.

    µLINK
     
  3. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I think we can probably do without this crap-talk and focus on the point of the thread, no? OP has a DAC from a highly regarded company and he’s obviously chosen it for a reason. Moving on.
     
  4. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    fact-talk.

    The digital input to the AD1865N in the Audio Note is being used much like it would be on a 1992 CD player (and much like in the 1999 AN DAC 2.0):

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It is certainly possible to use your own digital front end and DSP to say, use 48 of these chips to build a DAC that supports DSD via DOP, 384kHz over USB, etc, but that is not done in the Audio Note:

    [​IMG]

    It actually IS a very old computer source like a AWE32 that may be able to maximize this DAC and properly supply it with an 18 bit S/PDIF signal.
     
    beowulf likes this.
  5. Orangecrush

    Orangecrush Member

    Location:
    Canada
    I am very interested in your impressions. Any update?
     
  6. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    If you can wait until next weekend I would like to do a little A/B comparison between the Abbas and the X-SPDIF2 and then I will provide some insight. (My wife will travel to Croatia then, so I’ll have some time to be an audio nerd.)

    In the meantime I can say it’s a very nice piece of equipment and Abbas is great to deal with. It’s fairly large for what it is, but that’s not really a bad thing. Actually I think a slightly larger enclosure might even be a benefit given the proximity of the tubes to the transformer.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  7. Orangecrush

    Orangecrush Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Very cool. I can’t believe I finally found someone trustworthy who can compare it to a really nice low jitter source. Thanks!
     
  8. td19

    td19 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Zealand
    Same, for three years. Very happy with it.
     
    jgold likes this.
  9. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Well I took a stab at comparing the Abbas unit alongside my usual Matrix X-SPDIF2.

    Initial observations:
    1. Wood front panel, metal chassis. Looks nice, feels solid and has some heft.
    2. I don’t like how close the tubes are to the transformers.
    3. Tubes provided are various Russian flavours.
    4. No instructions about where to put the tubes, but the board is marked.
    5. Lots of Nichicon Muse caps.

    Setup was easy, just plug in the USB, plug in the coax and turn it on. My Mac mini had no issues recognizing it.

    Onto the sound. I didn’t really know what to expect with this thing as I pretty much bought it based on curiosity alone. But I suppose I wanted it to either do nothing bad or have the general tube “goodness,” if that’s even possible to inject with a digital signal. As it turned out, it did not sound rolled off at either frequency extreme. The highs sound quite clear, but while the bass was extended there did seem to be a lack of definition. Where there was once a clear baseline there was now a sloppier one. I switched back to the Matrix X-SPDIF2 and it was confirmed.

    An abrupt conclusion:
    I did several switches back and fourth over the day, all with the same result - very clear highs with sloppy bass. I run a lot of tubes in my system including 300B power amps, and any added bloom from new components can very quickly push the sound into the sluggish side of the spectrum. So in my system I think it’s not the best fit. Perhaps it would work in a system that sounds a little dry or over-damped.

    Pics:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    [​IMG]
     
  10. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Thanks for sharing. I’m supposed to borrow one tomorrow evening but I think it’s a different model with an external PSU, with two big (think 300B-sized) tubes.

    Edit: Indeed, one of the tubes does seem to be too close to the wires next to the trafo.
     
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  11. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Yes, I think the power supply might be one of the problems with the model I have. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on the model you’ll receive. Pics are always welcomed too. :D
     
  12. Orangecrush

    Orangecrush Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Nice write up and pics! Thanks so much for doing this as it has really satisfied my curiosity. It unfortunately (I really wanted it to be magical) it confirmed my suspicion that a tube clock is not a good idea. I believe that is the culprit of the poor bass is from the higher jitter from the tube clock. Your Matrix is providing jitter levels at the threshold of measurement equipment (same level as my Digione Sig) and it is really is noticeable in deeper and tighter bass as well as the usual clarity...

    It seems most of the people who have bought a Abbasaudio tube converter has not come from any other decent digital experience and so it had been hard getting a good read on what it might do. Again thanks again for taking the time for this comparison.

    So far my experience with my ANK DAC 4.1 LE is that feeding it the best signal possible, low jitter/noise brings huge rewards.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  13. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Well, my friend also has an Aries G1, and the Abbas is clearly better. Moreover, he also has a dac from Abbas, which I borrowed for a couple of weeks some months ago, and that is a killer dac and has a tube clock. So I don’t think it’s the tube clock that is the problem per se.
     
    Orangecrush likes this.
  14. Orangecrush

    Orangecrush Member

    Location:
    Canada
    That’s interesting. How he is he feeding the Abbas USB to SPDIF?
     
  15. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Likes it very much
     
  16. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    I remembered wrong--the external PSU was something Abbas built for his old Sony CD. The USB->SPDIF converter I have borrowed is a bigger version than the one you posted photos of, though. Has different tubes also. Unfortunately, I won't have time to try it out before tomorrow at the earliest ...
     
    Orangecrush likes this.
  17. Encore

    Encore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denmark
    Sorry, had overlooked your question. He feeds it with the USB of the Auralic G1, LOL. And he finds the Abbas better than the SPDIF straight of out of the G1.
     
  18. DaveP65

    DaveP65 Active Member

    Location:
    10016
    Donivey,

    I have a modded Audio Note DAC Kit 4.1 LE. A few weeks ago I purchased the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 and I am very pleased with the results.

    My source is a Laufer Teknik memory player that outputs USB via an SOtM txUSBexp sound card with the SOtM super clock. I switch off the 5v bus so that the signal to the Matrix is audio only, then I power the Matrix with an iFi 9v power supply. This allows the Matrix to stay powered-on even when my Memory Player is in sleep mode. The Matrix has both AES and S/PDIF outputs and I could use either, but I am using AES.

    I have not compared it to other converters, but it does all that I need, and it sounds fantastic. I'd recommend it.

    Dave
     
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