Ethernet vs USB DAC Connection - Why?

Perhaps I should clarify a little bit: when I was trying to use foobar2000 to drive the bridge I had no end of frustration. Perhaps I overlooked some other workarounds. E.g. JRiver MC has a query language and can drive the bridge, but I couldn’t get JRiver to read the meta data for my (many) SACD iso’s and splitting iso’s to enable playing them on the bridge was a non-starter for me. Foobar2000 has multiple different routes to using DLNA/UPnP, the one that integrates most seamlessly into foobar2000 (allowing direct use of all of the playlist features, etc.) requires resampling everything and streaming it. The other set of foobar2000 plugins that support DLNA were (at least for me) much harder to configure than JRiver and force using a special playlist (the DLNA playlist) which didn’t play well with the rest of the system. Also at the time my network was segmented by repeaters, range extenders, etc. in a kludgy way that wasn’t friendly to UPnP/DLNA (whether I was using a Rendu, Beagle Bone Black or the Bridge I or Bridge II.) The last item was clearly my fault and wasn’t a problem in the Bridge and now I have a sane network.

Hi All,

I’m new to these Forums and recently purchased the DS senior without the Bridge. Out of the Box it destroyed by previous DAC (Mytek Brooklyn). Brooklyn’s a good DAC but can become too analytical and unforgiving after a while. I’m using the DS with an Aurender N100H w/Uptone Regen and Curious USB Cable(s). Don’t know for sure but I’m pretty confident that this is a high quality connection and most likely at least on par with the internal Bridge sound wise. I find the Aurender’s interface to be more than ok (Roon would be nice).
Streaming from the internal HD has been excellent also. I’m no expert but I would think the implementation of USB matters more than the interface itself. USB on the Aurender is leagues better than USB on a cheap laptop.
Thanks to Ted and Paul for a great product and excellent company. Really enjoy the Videos, Forums and all the information. Now that my kids are getting older and I have a little more time for this I’m really enjoying getting back into High End Audio and listening to more music again. Need to hurry before my hearing goes.
It’s really amazing how far digital has come in the last few years…

Welcome, cudfoo!

TED, we don’t have to go deeper on this, but I still have to understand what Foobar can do that Jriver can’t (incl. full library search, iso playing without splitting etc.).

Anyhow I guess then you won’t get a customer for pure Roon and probably Octave even more :wink:

I enjoyed what little of Roon I tried, but at the time it didn’t support user defined tags and it didn’t integrate any DSD tags that I had, user defined or not. It was too frustrating to not be able to play what ever I wanted whenever I wanted and the (very nice) other features didn’t make up for bad access to my music.

I don’t remember discs and/or tracks by say, the performer’s name or disk title… I remember whatever I was doing the last time I played something (or the first time…) and that almost always gets me enough info to search and find what I want. I like to play random things I’ve never played before. Or things I’ve played less than three times, or things I haven’t played for a year or so. I like to be able to sort by one thing, and then within those results sort by another… and perhaps organize the answers by the count of, say, how many albums they are on so I can then filter…

A common (stored) query I use is one which finds CD’s that I’ve recently ripped but don’t have the media field set or have multiple volumes in the set but don’t have a totaldiscs field, or have a leading 0 on the track numbers, etc., or haven’t been scanned for replay gain.

I also often combine queries like DSD (or CD, or double rate DSD files from Acoustic Sounds) that are played often, of perhaps were never played, or recently added to the library or recently played… Perhaps I want all greater than 48k sample rates in the order I last played them so I can easily replay something that was randomly selected a little while ago (or last Tuesday) … I have a query that I use for background music to only play things I’ve listened to at least 3 times (so I don’t clobber the never listened to flag).

I can also generate custom formatted reports of any of those using whatever meta data I’d like, etc,

I have play lists of test files for different purposes, I have my goto demo lists (separated into multiple lists like CD only versions, HiRes PCM only versions, DSD versions, the original format versions) for quick comparisons. I can quickly generate play lists of files that I have in, say, at least 4 different formats.

More than 20 years ago I was doing the same things using multiple computer controlled jukeboxes (so that one could be seeking to a specified disc while another was playing…) 30 years ago my music collection was smaller and I just reached to the rack beside my desk. It’s just the way I’ve always listened.

Honestly, for me, I use Foobar for just a few reasons:

1 - It is Free
2 - Its database and organization is really fast (used to be the fasted compared to whatever else was out there)
3 - I am used to it… been using it for what, 15 years? I am a bit of a Neanderthal … I have a club, I club things with it, I like this club.
4 - I like the way I can drag and drop from one window into a play window and build lists on the fly
5 - Searching is blisteringly fast
6 - I configured the interface the way I like it.
7 - So far, I always found a plug in (FREE) that did whatever I wanted such as playing SACD ISOs adn Internet radio (although that appears a bit kludgy… still working on it)
7- It is Free and I like it and I like free

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I understand now!

You have even more custom demands than I have and I could imagine but never tried if some or most of those would be achievable by Jriver…it seems you tried already.

It’s a pity (for me) if most of such custom demands mean one has to go PC/USB because more and more SW suited for Ethernet /Bridge connection limits itself to high UI simplicity with otherwise very basic demands of newbies and those with quite small libraries.

Foobar has plugins to work with a NAS and the Ethernet bridge… Hydrogen Audio has instructions and plugins for download… I just haven’t pulled the trigger to dick with it yet.

Bruce in Philly

Thanks! Welcome to the forums and let us know if we can help.

Sure, but one still needs a PC. Currently I run Jriver on the NAS itself (which unfortunately is kind of unserviced in the meantime by Jriver)

So Pauls approach to not involve a PC unless someone wants to is perfect for me. I just don’t expect he can compensate for those many years of development/bugfixing time of what’s on the market already…if he aims for most of such flexibility at all.

So the whole market development stays interesting. A rough guess of myself of ~6k? for a Server only supporting one proprietary SW is stiff. Physical disc is a no go for me. Buying a streamer other than PSA, no. Always connect a PC, not if I don’t have to. So I’ll stay with the Bridge DLNA and see if I get a fan of Octave and can live with the compromises or stay with the old Bridge. I remember thinking „I don’t need it better than that“ :wink:

At least I can answer the initial thread question the way, that for me the Bridge sounded better than USB. I think it’s more complicated and expensive to make USB sound comparable, but probably possible, otherwise TED wouldn’t use it I guess.

The UI is dependent on what UPnP program you use. That said, I am not the biggest fan of most of the available programs though each has its ups and downs. Hard to beat sound quality of the Bridge.

I am using the Melco N1ZS10 music server (with minimserver transcoding my local uncompressed and HiRes Flacs ‘on the fly’ into WAV) connected with both Audioquest Diamond RJ/E (Bridge II) and Audioquest Diamond USB (DS-usb input).

Until recently I almost exclusively used the -purified- ethernet Melco-DS connection because of the ability to stream Tidal and Qobuz. After Melco in more recent firmware offered both Qobuz- and Tidal support I ‘re-discovered’ the usb Melco-DS connection offers a slightly better SQ, which is why I’m preferring this at the moment. On the downside; using usb the volume slider on the control points and MQA both don’t work. Switching between ethernet/usb is fast and easy so that’s more of a luxury problem :grinning:

I am sure this is a great setup (I mean it, I am not being smartazz)… if I only understood anything in your post. This is kinda my side-point. World Trade Federation (WTF).

All these specialized boxes are nothing more, as I understand it, disk drives with some sort of access software front end. We have all had the answers on our desks for years… A disk drive in your PC, or a disk drive attached to your PC, or a disk drive attached to you network (a NAS). Cheapo PCs / laptops from eBay can make this all happen easily (and cheaply). Even the “player software” can be cheap such as free with Foobar. Anywho…

By the way, I still exclaim World Trade Federation at this network audio and I have been in the IT industry for almost 40 years!!! I used to code on IBM 3270 green screens. We used to call all this crazy stuff manufactuerer’s FUD (getting the irony here?).

Bruce in Philly

Even worse, the Melco lacks any kind of access software front end!! You need the buttons on the Melco itself, any DLNA control point like Bubble, mconnect, mcontrol, linn kazoo etc. or even a pc/laptop for access…

However SQ wise it beats my PWT

On my DSJ, while there’s much to like about the Bridge II, the all too common DSD pops are very annoying. Setting aside the pops, I prefer the Roon/ HQP over USB route vs Roon over ethernet. Though both do sound quite good. I like with HQP does with the soundstage.

Roon is vastly beyond all the other software players combined when it comes to being well programmed and easy to use. There’s not even a second or third place, the competition’s best starts in 4th…

Roon is just pricey…

I have used my DS Senior DAC extensively with both USB and ethernet - was one of the beta testers for both Bridge 1 and Bridge 2, and have also used USB with the usual assortment of isolators, regenerators, etc. I had it set up with USB for quite a long time b/c I didn’t want the spousal unit to have to deal with any UPNP glitches while I was traveling, but about two years ago I permanently switched to ethernet, with one isolator between the switch and bridge (not sure if it makes any difference, honestly.) At this point the Bridge is 100% stable, in my system anyway, so I have no concerns about that. In terms of sound quality, I would not say that the difference is earthshaking, but I am pretty sure the Bridge consistently sounds a little bit better. At this point, I will probably go with i2s when the new server is ready, as I do keep my server physically near my DAC.

Just to reiterate what I’ve posted elsewhere several times …
I use a NAS running Minimserver on its processor connected to my home network but remote from the hifi. I have a wireless bridge from the NAS area to the hifi area with an optical link in the ethernet run connecting to Bridge II. Playback is controlled by BubbleUPnP running on a tablet. All the hifi runs off a separate mains supply from that for the NAS area. Sound quality is as good or better than from CD played via I2S on a PS PWD. I find this software combination provides all the facilities I need (I’m not interested in looking at album details while I’m listening) but I await with interest to see whether Octave can add something that I value highly enough to adopt.
My conclusion is that NAS + ethernet can produce exceptional sound (at a reasonable cost) if sufficient care is taken with isolation.

If Ethernet isolation is so important, it can be built right into the DAC’s Ethernet card… maybe it already is? Same for the USB interface, or any other for that matter.

I tried a bunch of different hookups with USB direct to the Junior, then I installed a Mutec 1.2 in between (a reclocking device, long story) that gave me a few options… so I went PC via USB to the Mutec, and from the Mutec, I tried a few different hookups, balanced, coax, optical. I could not hear a difference in any of the hookups.

So… my conclusion is this stuff doesn;t matter all that much. I know, in Audiophile Land small differences are important, but I need a bit more than that to make me sweat over USB vs Ethernet… in other words, why make it complex? I have even used USB extension cables for photography purposes over way long distances with no issues.

Bruce in Philly

Hello Bruce

Thanks for the email. I should have added “Your experience may vary” to my post as others I’ve communicated with have had similar experiences to yours.

I would also add that some ‘isolation’ devices appear better than others from what I’ve read online e.g. putting a powered ‘isolation’ device in a single box raises questions of signal contamination via the power supply and RF effects.

I’m sure the PS Bridge II I use (fitted in their Directstream DAC) has built in isolation but I do wonder whether this isolation could be improved by separating it from the actual DAC (as I understand PS Audio will do with Octave server). We shall see…….

My approach has been sledge-hammer-to-crack-a-nut I guess. I removed all wireless transmission devices to >6ft from the DAC etc, I use a separate dedicated mains power supply for the hifi electronics to that for the computer network NAS etc, and the pair of back-to-back fibre-to-wire ethernet converters have linear power supplies. After all this the SQ improvements are not huge but sufficiently noticeable to be worthwhile.

Happy listening


PS Audio and home distribution…

There will be huge rewards to any vendor that can turn complex IT stuff into a single-solution, no brainer exercise. PS Audio is trying to do that with their server. Sonos did just that albeit with bad sound… The higher end market is not served yet. PS Audio is making the right move in trying to do a Sonos for the audiophile market… if they get it right, they will own the market for bit-for-bit home music distribution. I suspect they will have a server and “end points” where the end point is just another input into your local system (your Ethernet card in your DAC is just such an end-point). They may make a complete endpoint with a speaker or speakers… hmmm… “Services” will run on the server and be invoked by the end points - services can be serving music files, internet radio, streaming… whatever…

I have no interest in a PS Audio server because being an old IT guy, I got it sussed… and have done it for a long time since Windows XP … I started a seminal thread on Stereophile a long time ago about this… to pass bit-for-bit through an XP machine, you had to remove a bunch of stuff in the Windows kernel… not for the faint of heart. If only I acted on my instincts and knowledge back then!

Bruce in Philly