Network/Bridge vs. USB

Hello All,

Opinions, please, on the sound quality of a good USB connection vs. the Bridge? I fully expect as many opinions as I get answers to this question, but I’m INTERESTED in what folks have to say.

Why? I am getting weary of the constant fiddling needed for streaming. On the renderer side, one needs to choose among (a) the Bridge lacking gapless, (b) the future Bridge with WaveStream, lacking compatibility with DLNA control points, or © a third-party solution such as the MiND.

As to server software, each product sounds different, for no apparent reason, and each one has enough bugs, flaws, or limitations that I keep two or three available. None offers the excellent search and selection one gets from JRMC at the computer keyboard, at least not for classical music. The servers also need to be reconfigured when they get upgraded (Minim, at least in my case), or they never get upgraded (AssetPnP), and so on.

Then there are the control points, each of which similarly has quirks, omissions, or limitations, and/or requires buying a new device with a new operating system. I’m thinking that buying a silent computer and walking over to it to select tracks would be a lot less distracting – and would give me more time and energy to listen to the music.


Building a silent-ish computer now but will still be listening via network and Bridge when it is done. I just can’t get past the great sound quality of the Bridge despite the lack of gapless. I am blessed and have almost (aaaaaahlmoooost) no network glitches. USB is neat for previewing HiRes goodies on the web but I haven’t heard the quality that I can get with the bridge. On the other hand, I just have a crappy BigBox (no, really WalMart) USB cable so I may not be giving USB much of a chance… I haven’t had much experience with hardware streamers in my system.

I’d hang on for WS and then decide.

P.S. I work off of AIFF and backup in FLAC. If I try to use FLAC as my working copy I get glitches.

wglenn said: I'd hang on for WS and then decide.

yup, what he said

WaveStream should be worth the wait. Whatever you use as the player, WaveStream ahould provide an excellent connection to the Bridge.

JRiver is a good player if you canget all the settings tweaked. As we have learned with PWD firmware, getting the right version may be important in order to get the best sound.

Thus far, my choice is Foobar2000 with foo.out.upnp to the Bridge. While not perfect, MonkeyMote does make a pretty good controller. This combo gives me gapless playback and quick access to my library. This setup works very well for me and I am comfortable recommending it for others.


There are a few of us who believe the best sound out of the PWD is achieved using an I2S input and activating nativeX setting. This enables 2 digital lenses in sequence. The other inputs in nativeX get the benefit of 1 digital lens only.

At least that is my understanding.

The bridge is connected via I2S and this may explain why it sounds better to some of us.

This is also why I am investing in trying to get a server to connect to the PWD via I2S. See my thread on I2S inputs.

It is basically true that when you go through the Bridge, you get 2 Digital Lens (if you’re also using NativeX) in series - just as you do with a PerfectWave Transport Memory Player. Most of us that have these rigs use either the Bridge or the PWT as our sources and when we do this, we get the best sound because of the double Lenses.

USB, while asynchronous and theoretically shouldn’t need a Lens, doesn’t sound quite as good as the Bridge or PWT - has only the one Lens. But again, because it starts life asynchronous it shouldn’t need a Lens. My guess on USB is the ultra sensitivity it has to cable quality - vs. the Bridge which is pretty much insensitive to cable quality.

Just a thought.

Thanks to all for the comments so far. I look to WaveStream with great interest. My concern, expressed several times already, is how (when using WaveStream) one can control JRiver without using a DLNA Control Point. AFAIK, the methods available are: JRemote (needs Apple device), Gizmo (underfeatured), or running a second copy of JRMC in the music room to control the first (not bad, but needs another PC, and not as powerful in search, etc., as using JRMC directly).

The thoughts about Digital Lenses are fascinating, and I’ll be glad to hear more views on this. One question that comes to mind is whether a future PWD wouldn’t benefit from a word-clock input. Would that not reduce the need for double Digital Lenses for optimal sound?

mike48 said: One question that comes to mind is whether a future PWD wouldn't benefit from a word-clock input. Would that not reduce the need for double Digital Lenses for optimal sound?

Yes, I was also thinking about an external clock and what computer cards support a word-clock input. I wonder if a good clock can solve some cable/servers/input sound issues.

For example:

After preferring the Bridge for the first six months, with the addition of Emperical Audio’s Short Block and now my Transparent Premium USB cable I have switched back. More analogue to my ears, I love it. Using JRiver 18 with JRemote, no more bridge drop outs

@rogerdn I just tried a better USB cable on the Meridian Explorer I use at work. I was prepared not to hear much – if any – difference, but to me, the sound is more open & the bass better defined with the Wireworld Starlight 7 (as compared to the Meridian-supplied cable). That cables can make such a difference is one of life’s mysteries.

Hi Mike, For me I get the best SQ when using a combination of wavestream and the infamous J play. The J river/ J remote combo works well and also sounds very good with the wavestream/Jplay combination. For the best SQ via USB I have found that J play and Fidlelizer yield the best results. I used to use a Wireworld starlight USB cable and thought it was good, but I splurged and upgraded to a wywires Silver series USB cable which is even better, although more expensive. Yep, USB cables do indeed make a difference

I did not know you could hook up a Windows 7 expansion drive/music library directly to the PWD2 via USB. I thought the USB port was for a dongle. Where are the instructions on how to do this? How do you manage the library? I have JRiver 18 + the JRemote (iPad). Will that work on a direct USB input to the PWD2? Christopher

This small creature looks like a replacement for the ditched (?) Silent Server:

birddogthecat said: I did not know you could hook up a Windows 7 expansion drive/music library directly to the PWD2 via USB.

Unfortunately this will not work. The PWD will play PCM data via USB streamed from a computer, but cannot play files directly from a USB drive.