AES/EBU vs Bridge and Mac Mini vs PC


#1

I have a two part question.



I am using a Bryston BDP-1 server attached to the AES/EBU input. Would I get better sound quality with a computer-based system with a wired ethernet connection to the bridge to access the additional digital lens?



If the bridge rj45 is that much better then does it make sense to build a CAPS server or use a Mac Mini. I understand Jriver is player of choice and it seems to work better with windows. A pc, however uses atx power and is very difficult and expensive to find a linear power supply. The mac mini power supply is more easily adopted but is JRiver a viable option or is another player indicated?


#2

Ooooh. Tough one. The Bryston is a solid piece of gear for sure. I’ve not heard it with a PWD. Of course the extra lens is a factor but probably not as significant as having none at all. ATX power supplies are variable in quality but I can’t say how much they affect the audio per se. I was impressed by the Seasonic fanless units which claim a low ripple current and are efficient as well as silent. The newer Mac Minis have internal power supplies so the linear options are unlikely without as much complexity as the ATX linear replacements (somebody chime in if I am wrong).

I am planning on comparing the MacBook Pro to my new PC over ethernet soon but haven’t got to it yet. I still use EMM.


#3

Just my opinion on this:



I think the server/player is the new “source”. DACs are the new hubs, or preamps, as exemplified by the PWD. Different servers/players will sound different and have different strengths and weaknesses. How they connect to the DAC will also be critical, as that connection potentially exacerbates jitter.



The BP-1 is one of the best sounding server/players out there, mainly because Bryston completely neglected any concept of storage, and instead focused purely on the player. It sounds spectacular with with PWD. But, it is limited by the cable you use. With a short run of coax or AES/EBU into the PWD it will be hard to beat. Except if you go for the new BP-2, which could be even better.



Likewise, the PWT into the PWD is an extremely low jitter player, thus, the extra lens available on other inputs becomes less critical when using this device.



The extra digital lens available on i2s inputs and the bridge is really useful for cleaning up any residual jitter from a CMOS or computer based player such as the bridge or the ms2 (which I’m currently using). But a lot of the SQ is dependent on the player. This is why USB inputs can sound so good (especially when asynchronous), the better the computer/OS/player behind them is, or worse if these areas are compromised on.



Value wise, a Mac mini, or CAPS server over USB will sound great (rather than “good”) only if it is dedicated as a music server. Using either via a network into the bridge adds an extra insurance policy on jitter via the extra lens, at cost of $800 for the bridge, plus managing your network properly.



Alternatively, you can invest in a premium option like the BP-1 (you already have), or the ms2, or lumin or aurender, etc, and trust (hope) that the jitter is so low that you don’t need the extra lens anyway, while doing away with network issues and the idiosyncrasies of the bridge (well documented here!). Of course, if you get the i2s output to work on a server (like the ms2) you get the best of both worlds!



In my limited experience with a BP-1 via coax into PWD it sounded at least as good as the bridge from memory. The only way to be sure would be to compare directly, which I have not done.


#4

Based on various comparisons I have done and conclusions from other guys using the Bryston (and then moving to caps), here is what I found.

Bridge is equivalent to signal path through very high grade USB converter. Bridge will ALWAYS be your most cost effective path to audio nirvana. USB directly from Mac or CAPS into PWD MKII will be inferior, as will be the Bryston AES/EBU.


#5

My setup is Synology DS212+ NAS > gigabit ethernet cable > Bryston BDP-2 > Harmonic Technology AES/EBU > PWD II DAC > Balanced IC> Octave V80 with Super Black Box > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mk. II



I went for this setup after extensive auditioning with the Network Bridge / PWD and other streamer and DAC combinations. I was originally going to go with the Bridge/PWD combination as it sounded the best of all the combinations tried. Almost as an afterthought, the dealer suggested we try the BDP-1 into the Bryston BDA-2 DAC. This was OK but not quite as good as the Bridge / DAC combination. Then they suggested putting the BDP-1 on the PWD. This was apparently a combination they had not tried before.



The music made by this combination totally blew me away (and had the delaer calling his colleagues in to listen!). Despite the not insignifcant price increase over the Bridge / PWD combination, I walked out with a BDP-2 / PWD II combination. I would be surprised if a computer to PWD connection as you suggest would sound better than your current arrangement.



Another reason I did not go with the bridge was the comments I had read about its sometimes fickle behaviour. It demonstrated this in the demo by refusing to work at first until a reboot and power down of the PWD.



The consensus of opinion I have read seems to be in favour of keeping computers with their noisy power supplies and other issues away from the music renderer if possible. My network at home has been set up with NAS and music streamers on the other side of a gigabit network switch and therefore no need to have my computer running at all.



I am using the NAS for convenience sake as I have 2 music streaming systems connected to it. I have tried the BDP-1 with directly attached USB Flash drives and it probably improves the sound quality by a hair compared with streaming over the network.


#6

Thank you very much. I think I will not explore the computer option at this time. Your comments and the fact that I can’t see the bridge on my dac put me over the edge. I want to listen to music and not have to fight with hardware / software constantly.


#7
My setup is Synology DS212+ NAS > gigabit ethernet cable > Bryston BDP-2 > Harmonic Technology AES/EBU > PWD II DAC > Balanced IC> Octave V80 with Super Black Box > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mk. II

I went for this setup after extensive auditioning with the Network Bridge / PWD and other streamer and DAC combinations. I was originally going to go with the Bridge/PWD combination as it sounded the best of all the combinations tried. Almost as an afterthought, the dealer suggested we try the BDP-1 into the Bryston BDA-2 DAC. This was OK but not quite as good as the Bridge / DAC combination. Then they suggested putting the BDP-1 on the PWD. This was apparently a combination they had not tried before.

The music made by this combination totally blew me away (and had the delaer calling his colleagues in to listen!). Despite the not insignifcant price increase over the Bridge / PWD combination, I walked out with a BDP-2 / PWD II combination. I would be surprised if a computer to PWD connection as you suggest would sound better than your current arrangement.

Another reason I did not go with the bridge was the comments I had read about its sometimes fickle behaviour. It demonstrated this in the demo by refusing to work at first until a reboot and power down of the PWD.

The consensus of opinion I have read seems to be in favour of keeping computers with their noisy power supplies and other issues away from the music renderer if possible. My network at home has been set up with NAS and music streamers on the other side of a gigabit network switch and therefore no need to have my computer running at all.

I am using the NAS for convenience sake as I have 2 music streaming systems connected to it. I have tried the BDP-1 with directly attached USB Flash drives and it probably improves the sound quality by a hair compared with streaming over the network.


I have the same BDP-1 into PW DAC MK II
which input are you using? I'm using spdif.

#8

Hi Mr. Bill



The answer was in my post. Using AES/EBU from BDP-2 into PWD



Cheers


#9
My setup is Synology DS212+ NAS > gigabit ethernet cable > Bryston BDP-2 > Harmonic Technology AES/EBU > PWD II DAC > Balanced IC> Octave V80 with Super Black Box > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Mk. II

The consensus of opinion I have read seems to be in favour of keeping computers with their noisy power supplies and other issues away from the music renderer if possible. My network at home has been set up with NAS and music streamers on the other side of a gigabit network switch and therefore no need to have my computer running at all.


How is your BDP-2 not just a dedicated computer, with its own noisy power supply? Note that the CAPS 3 can be configured with (red wine audio) external battery power.


#10

As one of many who are getting very tired of the “Bridge-Gapless” roller coaster I’ve been on for over 2 years now, does anyone have experience with the current i2s version of the Sonore Rendu? Since I have already invested in all of the “recommended” player software, it would appear to be an excellent replacement for the bridge without changing anything else. I have been led to believe that it also works with NativeX which should allow the inclusion of 2 lens?


#11

@gswaul

Jesus should be able to answer that question by around the 15-20 of the month.

A PSA beta tester is giving it a whirl after his holidays.

At the moment it seems to work gapless with an Android controller but still not sure if it works with an iphone/ipad.

Send Jesus an email so he can forward the results of the test. [Aug 15-20].


#12

Thanks, Gordon! It has to be JRiver/JRemote compatible for me to consider it going forward.


#13

gswaul, I’m giving Native X support a very high probability of working. Also, the JRiver/JRemote combination is gapless with the Rendu…



Jesus R


#14

@vortecjr Native or NativeX, or both?


#15

gswaul, Native is not an issue. Native X just needs to be verified…



Jesus R


#16

Jesus, what would stand in the way of a PCI bus card that had i2s output? Is that a feasible project? It seems like something you would have tackled already unless there was some extra difficulty in accomplishing it.


#17

wglenn, we did this some time ago and it worked great with Native mode. Then for some “unknown” reason when Native X came out it was no longer compatible with it. The issue was compounded by the slow death of PCI on MBs, the PCI card we used was discontinued becoming difficult to find, and the advent of the SOTM PCIe to USB card that improved USB output on the servers. Also, the original design used power from the computer via the PCI connector and sound quality was directly related to the server’s power supply. Everything that followed was an improvement in the design of the servers and the servers became USB output only. As such, we designed an external USB to i2s interface in it’s own case and with a high quality power supply. We still have these available, but customers migrated away from i2s and mostly use USB now.



These are the options we currently have; 1. The Sonore external USB to i2s interface that supports gapless Native and Native X playback. 2. The Sonore Sonic Orbiter that supports gapless Native and Native X playback. The Sonic Orbiter is Ethernet input and USB output. 3. The Sonore Rendu that supports gapless Native mode playback. Native X remains to be tested. The Sonore Rendu is Ethernet input and SPDIF or i2s output.



Jesus R


#18


edorr said: How is your BDP-2 not just a dedicated computer, with its own noisy power supply? Note that the CAPS 3 can be configured with (red wine audio) external battery power.


edorr,

You are correct, the BDP-2 is a dedicated computer although I would suspect it does not have a noisy power supply. I don't think Bryston (or PS Audio for that matter) do noisy power supplies. The BDP-2 has a proper audio grade toroidal supply. The gubbins of the BDP-1 (similar to BDP-2) is shown in the Stereophile review. My original point was about a normal computer design.

Cheers,

Chris






Attached files

#19

Jesus, Thanks for the rundown on that idea. I never thought about the power supply. I could see where this would be a big issue.


#20

@cerobo, the unit in the image you provided does have a toroidal based power supply. However, in addition the large black box (part # MW P-05-5) located on the power supply board is a 5W switching mode power supply. BTW my i2s module will fit on that Julia card.



Jesus R

Attached files