I have been an owner of a GCD for a few months now and really enjoy it. It has gotten some undeserved bad press lately but I’ll digress since the source of it isn’t all that reliable in my world. My question is that I have been running a computer based audio server with USB going through a IFI Igalvanic 3.0 then into the GCD with USB. I have been told that the I2S input is a lot better sounding on the GCD than USB. How much better sounding is it? Is it something that will be a transformative difference or is it minor?
My PC is connected to my GCD via Matrix X-SPDIF 2 to the I2S input.
I didn’t notice any changes in SQ compare to USB input (with AudioQuest JitterBug).
There is however a difference between I2S input to coax input (also via Matrix X-SPDIF 2). Not sure which one is better
I don’t use the coax input very often unless I decide to spin a disk on my Oppo. The USB hookup is the one I am most concerned with. I have a music server pc that i run all of my music through Foobar2000 and also run Qobuz though it. I see many people online using I2S bridges in there pc for their dac so I was wondering the difference. I am using a usb out to a IFI Igalvanic 3.0 then to the GCD and it sounds great. Just trying to squeeze every last drop of performance with my setup
I don’t own the GCD, however I do have the Holo Spring DAC an R2R Ladder DAC that has both I2S and USB inputs. In my case I use a Intona USB Isolator from my Mac Book Pro which then feeds a SingXer SU-1 bridge that splits the USB signal into an I2S signal which then goes into the Spring DAC. I have compared both methods and found the differences to be more subtle than profound and would expect your situation to be somewhat similar, but could be wrong.
However like you I have also found the coax input via my Oppo 203 to be inferior to either of the other two methods. Its not bad, but just doesn’t have the quality of the USB or I2S inputs. I will add though the Intona USB isolator makes a profound difference either with or without the use of the SingXer SU-1.
Hopefully this helps.
I understand the isolator helping as my IFI Igalvanic helps quite a bit and that really was the heart of the question. Since i have galvanic isolation and with that a super clean usb signal going into the gain cell dac would I really gain to much switching to the I2S input.
I prefer the sound of my GCD with I2S via Matrix over just USB through my SOTM-SMS-200 running Audirvana. The difference in sq is quite noticeable and without a doubt worth the upgrade.
Is that the X-SPSIF 2 that you use? So you go out the pc into the Sotm and then to the Matrix box to I2S then into the GCD?
Yes, it’s the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 that I use along with many others on these forums.
I run my router to the SOTM-SMS-200 via ethernet cable, the SOtM SMS 200 to the Matrix via USB cable, and then the Matrix to the GCD via I2S cable. The only thing the computer is used for is the Audirvana software to play the files which are streamed over my network to the SOtM SMS 200.
Truly, the upgrade between only using the SMS 200 into the GCD vs having the Matrix in-between the two is phenomenal - one of, if not, the best upgrades I’ve placed into my system. Or, at the very least, there’s some very good synergy going on and it proved to be an integral upgrade as part of the greater whole.