A Bridge II Devotee Rediscovers USB (and maintains TIDAL MQA decoding up to 24/96 without a hardwired computer)


#1

I purchased my DS Sr. without a Bridge II. I was using the DS’s USB input at that time, coming out of a MacBook Pro running Audirvana Plus v1.5.12.

Eventually, I added a Bridge II to the DS so that I could get the MBP and its switching PSU out of the system. I started feeding the Bridge II with a hardwired Ethernet connection from a Melco N1ZH60 and this setup sounds clearly superior to the MBP>USB>DS.

Newly released Audirvana Plus v3.1 can now stream to UPnP/DLNA network players, so I thought I would give it a try. Yes, I can stream from A+ v3.1 directly to the Bridge II, and that sounds at least as good as streaming to the Bridge II from a smart device control point app such as Bubble UPnP. But the real surprise was controlling the Melco via A+ v3.1 and feeding the DS via USB from the Melco. (My USB cable is the Revelation Audio Prophecy CryoSilver Reference DualConduit USB 2.0 Digital Link.)

The Melco via USB into the DS sounds way better than the MPB via USB into the DS, and that is to be expected given that one is a dedicated audio device and the other is a consumer-grade laptop with a switching PSU. But, comparing the DS Sr.'s USB input to the Bridge II’s Ethernet input with the Melco as the source for both, I was pleasantly surprised that USB held its own. And because A+ v.3.1 has built-in MQA decoding up to 24/96, I do not miss out on MQA entirely by bypassing the Bridge II. (The Bridge II decodes MQA up to 24/192, but only if you use the ConversDigital mControl app. I and several others have found that app to be somewhat less than stable at times.)

One thing I like about using the DS’s USB input as compared to the Bridge II is knowing that the DAC hardware’s sound quality is pure PS Audio, with no third-party OEM manufacturer’s networking module or related software impacting the sound.

Am I going to list my Bridge II for sale anytime soon? Probably not, as I am hoping MQA playback through the Bridge II becomes more reliable over time. But in the meantime, I will be splitting my listening time between the DS’s USB input and the Bridge II’s Ethernet input.


#2

same here, pc fanless (with jlaystreamer, very important…) powered through isotek sigma + usb cable aqvox to usb input of DS give results in a very large range superiors than bridge II, details, openess, energy, comfort, groove…


#3

I know this is an older thread, but I had the same experience with my Melco N1ZH/2 audio NAS. Streaming always sounded better when I was using an older Melco model, the N1A, so I stuck to ethernet when I moved over to the newer N1ZH/2.

After reading this thread I revisited USB, and with a quality USB cable, it in fact did sound better to my ears! Thank you for posting this thread and sharing your thoughts. I would never have known what I was missing. The newer Melco models must have some upgraded USB hardware or software.


#4

Congrats with your Melco!
Melco offers the N1A model at entry level, the N1ZH is one step up and the N1ZS is their flagship. Moving from N1A to N1ZH is definitely a step upward. The new Z-models are provided with a dedicated Neutrik USB-DAC port, which is a nice -and about only- modification related to the former models (all using the same firmware).

I’m a happy owner of a Melco N1ZS10 (no dedicated Neutrik USB port) and also prefer USB above BridgeII using both Audioquest Diamond USB and RJ/E. Used the Bridge quite a lot in the past with my Qobuz Sublime+ subscription but since Melco added Qobuz (and Tidal) integration I almost exclusively play over USB (except streaming Tidal, Melco over USB only delivers the first unfold up to 24/48).

Installing Minimserver on your Melco could deliver even more satisfaction…
Happy listening :grinning:


#5

+1 re MinimServer!


#6

Hi Wijber, thanks for the response and info.

Can you tell me a little bit more about MinimServer? I’ve heard so much about it, but what benefits do you gain from installing and using it? I’m not sure I have the technical savvy to install it, I would hate to brick my dear Melco, but if its worth it, I will look more into it.

Thanks!


#7

Here are the ‘official’ instructions for installing MinimServer on a Melco:

http://minimserver.com/install-melco.html

It is not as difficult as it looks at first glance. The SQ benefits are worth it IMO.


#8

I’ll give this a try on a spare Linux machine. Is it all text-based? There are zero graphics that show what the interface looks like on the website. Clearly the developer is a coder and not a visual person.

How are you accessing Tidal or other steaming services via Mimimserver or are these not handled by it? I’ve read a bit on the mimimserver website, but its not clear what/where piece in the puzzle it fits.

Is it just a upnp processor used with some other player?


#9

You install MinimServer on the Melco and it functions in the background. You access the music files stored on the Melco’s internal HDD via your app or program of choice. I use the Bubble UPnP and Hi-Fi Cast apps on my Android phone. The graphics are provided by your interface of choice.

AFAIK, MinimServer does not provide access to TIDAL or the like. Here again, I use Bubble UPnP, and occasionally Linn Kazoo, to stream TIDAL HiFi to the Melco.


#10

Ah, got it. Right now, I’m enjoying the sheer simplicity of Roon ROCK. 2 mins. install and its done. I don’t have a Melco but I do have other PCs that I can run this and the other bits on when I’m needing another mini-project.

Thanks


#11

I compared Roon and MinimServer for a year and ended up dropping Roon due to MinimServer’s superior sound quality and ease of use in my system. YMMV, of course.


#12

I’d encourage you to try ROCK sometime, its just been available for one year this month. Its simply a stripped Linux with the Linux Roon core embedded. Super quick to install on any old PC you’ve got around.

https://kb.roonlabs.com/Roon_Optimized_Core_Kit


#13

I should get my Matrix spdif 2 in a few days. Listening to ROCK via Ethernet with and without optical isolation and LPS powering one or both converters, I’m favoring USB straight from PC to the DS vs. Ethernet. Your posts about the Matrix caused me to investigate and purchase the Matrix.

Ethernet to BridgeII does give some added convenience, namely better control over DS volume which I do use when not within IR reach of my preamp. But the USB even without any cleanup or isolation help sounds more alive to me. Perhaps its the noise being injected but I’ll soon be able to compare via I2S and optical via Matrix.


#14

Have you compared Melco to Aurender? The N1A II is very similar to Aurender’s N100H in both price and features. The Aurender doesn’t do any MQA unfolding so that might be one drawback.


#15

It seems the slices get pretty thin when comparing computer sources.

From this review, May 2016, comparing the Aurender and a Windows 7 old PC running Roon. ROCK is better than Windows 7 version in my experience on the same hardware.

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/966-aurender-n100h-music-server

‘Between the Roon and Aurender servers, differences in “Folia Rodrigo Martinez” were slight but generally favored the N100H. While the Roon-based setup was eminently listenable, the N100H sounded slightly more relaxed, with harmonic structures that were a bit richer. And while the Roon setup sounded slightly less dynamic than the N100H, it was scarcely lacking in this regard. However, bass extended just as deep, with as much impact, and the soundstage was as expansive.’


#16

I didn’t compare to Aurender, just auditioned all Melco models and immediately recognized the improvement SQ wise going up the three models. Initially with €8000,- the top model was above my budget. However at that moment Melco already published the upcoming mkII models, which is why the dutch importer offered me a deal on his demo model which I could not refuse (knowing the only difference with the mkII models were in the Neutrik USB port). I have had no regrets :slightly_smiling_face:


#17

I think the Pink Faun streamers deserve consideration. Unfortunately, no US importer/distributor, but the retailers will ship. https://www.pinkfaun.com/dealers

https://www.pinkfaun.com/index.php/products/streaming-audio/pink-faun-streamer-3-4.html

I would love to go from computer to DS via I2S. I’m just leery of the time and expense to eval.


#18

Pink Faun is a no nonsense dutch company delivering nice hand build units up to your specs;
https://www.pinkfaun.com/index.php/products/streaming-audio/pink-faun-streamer-2-16.html
Good service like free complete checks every 2 year on their products, which is very nice if you’re living around in Europe…
I’m a happy user of the Pink Faun Lan Isolator (galvanic) on the input of the Melco :grinning:


#19

Using a computer you could consider this;
https://www.pinkfaun.com/index.php/products/streaming-audio/pink-faun-audio-bridge.html


#20

Thanks. I’m aware of it. Given the price I’d rather replace my old computer with a dedicated streaming computer that includes the card. Although the euro is down to the USD the past few days making the price a bit easier.