I just moved to a new home, and my new listening room will not allow me to connect my Directstream DAC to my PC at my desk via a wire (easily). My use case is the Directstream wired to my PC (foobar) at my desk via USB. I liked this and it worked.
What are my options?
Situation: My amp/DAC setup is in a corner on the far side of the room. The wall between my desk and the amp/dac, is glass and sliding glass doors. I can not go around the other way due to a hallway. There is no access into the ceiling… no Ethernet cable or other cable passages. A real cabling nightmare. The cabling distance is approximately 30’ between devices.
I suppose I can purchase those little plastic conduit tubes, glue them to the lower floor/wall boundary, and run a long USB cable. I have run super long USB cables with success for photography situations… remote triggering and control… and have a long IO Gear USB extension cable already in hand.
I’ve successfully used an old laptop next to the DAC. With that you can use a wireless connection from your PC to the DACs controller, sharing access to your music library, etc. and controlling it with a remote desktop. JRiver MC and other playing software/hardware more directly support remote control of the playing software.
I normally run with a 50’ active USB cable (USB 3 these days) so, as you mentioned, that’s a possibility.
I’ve successfully routed a USB cable under the carpet crossing hallways, etc. Also, I’ve drilled small holes thru a wall down low in the corner that aren’t obvious to others. Once I got lucky and a pair of electrical outlets were back-to-back in the two rooms and that made an easy path for a USB cable.
I normally run Wi-Fi wirelessly to my NAS (in fact, that’s the only way to access the NAS) which has my music library and with a good wireless network that’s perfectly reliable enough to play music, etc.
Probably not what you were looking for, but perhaps it will inspire some good solution for you.
Hi @tedsmith ,sorry to go off this topic, but I notice you say you use a NAS. I’ve just gone over to a Synology nas from a nuc running JRiver in an attempt to avoid bit-rot and add redundancy. Unfortunately the sound quality for me is no where near as good. Sound is very flat and much brighter. I connect via wifi, so no idea why as presumably noise can’t be the issue, is it jitter?
Nas uses Wd red+ hds
I’ve tried Minimserver (not bubbbleupnp though) on nas, sound unacceptably bad, then pointing JRiver to nas library instead of local nuc library, this sound better but still way off local library.
Anyway, did you initially have this problem, and if so how did you overcome this problem?
Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I am interested in Ted’s reply too… I have all my music ripped to an old Ready NAS with four drives RAID 5 (or thier implementation of RAID 5). This NAS is always plugged into my main router via gig Ethernet. Accessing this NAS was mostly via all wired Ethernet, but I have experimented with wireless. Anywho, I never could tell any difference of any kind in sound quality. On my PC (connected to the Directstream via USB), I use foobar and can set the buffer size. In particular to loading up the buffer on the PC from the NAS, I have no idea how this could have an effect on sound quality. My PC is very powerful and can handle that load… especially since I am running many other apps at the same time.
Not sure what your issue can be… but my setup appears immune from sound quality issues via the NAS.
Is your PC old and slow and maybe not keeping up? Did you try increasing the buffer size in you player software?
If the NAS is in my listening room the sound quality sucks.
I presume it’s a combination of:
RFI from the NAS,
Electrical noise and RFI from the NAS over the power cord,
Having a network cable near the rest of my audio system.
I keep the NAS a couple of rooms away with its own Netgear Orbi (wireless networking mesh hub.)
In general, having any Wi-Fi, wireless phone, etc. in your house will interfere with the sound quality of your system in various ways. When I turn off the Wi-Fi on my laptop I can hear a sound quality difference, but that difference is small enough that I find the convenience of wireless worth the small change in sound quality.
FWIW I’ve also got my system and NAS backed up to 5 portable USB drives configured as one ReFS volume in Windows. That has whatever redundancy you configure and bit-rot correction (if you explicitly enable it on the file data vs. the default of only on the file metadata.)
It’s more responsive than the NAS so these days I lean towards playing from them instead of the NAS.
So a bit more info.
Good sound = i5 SSD JRiver nuc, cheap cable to router, wifi via Google mesh to Auralic G2 (control point) usb matrix i2s dac
Bad sound = nas (in cupboard up stairs) wifi Google mesh to router, then everything else the same as above
It sounds like interference from the NAS, potentially over the power lines. Or perhaps is your system more directly in the wireless path to/from the NAS than the NUC? Is your NAS in a metal box or plastic?
Nas is Synology 920+ (plastic) with real hds, I might try placing it in exactly same place as nuc for a test. I suspect I will end up going back to nuc, but use nas for backup. I just don’t understand how something completely electrically isolated from the hifi can make such a difference
It’s not electrically isolated, there’s always the power cord. Also, it probably makes a different pattern of noise / timing of signals over the wireless system… Building PCs (and the NAS is one) that don’t affect audio systems (even if not nominally connected) isn’t easy.
Update: Thanx Ted, I got the system to work using an iogear 39ft USB 2.0 extension cable.
Now my next step is to run some of that stick-on plastic conduit along the ceiling line. When it comes to fidelity, well phooey… what am I supposed to do? I guess a wireless solution to link the PC and DAC would be better especially given the galvanic isolation such a solution offers, but not today.
Some oddities when setting this up: The iogear cable uses some sort of amplifier but is not powered by an independent power supply. I suspect it is using the Directstream’s 5 volt signal for power but am not sure which end gives it its juice. I first connected the loose iogear cable to my PC, and heard the USB insert tone… oops, I am not sure that was a good thing, so I unplugged it and plugged in the Directstream side first with a typical, random USB cord from my ever-growing cable graveyard. Then plugged that into the iogear, then the iogear into my PC. It comes up fine that way.
Alternatives? I am all ears especially since I installed a WireWorld USB cable (my old rig) and heard a surprisingly big difference. So… I know I am not doing anything good for fidelity, but … alternatives?
Bruce in Philly
The source/host of the USB cable provides the 5V so the active cable gets its power from your PC not the DAC.
I’m not a fan of cables that have a single segment longer that the USB spec of 15’. That spec isn’t there for signal loss. It’s there because a cable longer than 15’ can violate the timing spec of USB. Most active cables have a hub in the middle (or a hub for each 15’ segment). That way the timing from hub to hub is in spec. Now I use a Plugable 10-meter USB3.0 cable. (Amazon.com: Plugable 10 Meter (32 Foot) USB 3.0 Active Extension Cable with AC Power Adapter and Back-Voltage Protection : Electronics). Before USB 3.0 I used a similar USB 2.0 cable from Plugable (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004AGX4YO)
Once I settle in and learn the sound from my system, I will give your cable a try. The iogear spec does not note it is a repeater but I find it amazing that it notes you can daisy chain three of them together for 117ft without it being a repeater.
Bruce in Philly
Update & Question for Ted:
Ted, in your experience, can you describe the the sound degradation from bad USB cables… or in my case, badness from a long, 39ft, out-of-spec cable?
Update: My PSAudio Directstream DAC was losing the connection with my computer using that 39ft iOgear USB 2.0 extension cable (see earlier post for link). The system just would not play… the DAC would register the correct sampling rate… I would change a tune with a different rate and it would show on the DAC but the DAC would not output a signal. Further, the PC would sometimes not show the PSAudio driver loaded… I had other odd manifestations of trouble but no need to describe them all. To get it all to play again, I had to power down the DAC… wait about 5 mnts, and power it back up. That would usually fix the problem.
So I ordered a MutecPower USB 2.0 repeater cable, 50ft from Amazon $33. It appears to have two active repeaters in it, one at the far end from the PC and one midway (has two LEDs in each piece). Well I haven’t had a disconnect problem now for a few days butt… oh that big buttt… when I plugged it in, the sound BLOOMED. Wow, really surprised me. I honestly was only expecting a stable connection. But the air and space came back… didn’t realize it was gone.
Hence my question about bad USB cable sound. Everyone talks about cables that improve the sound, my question is the other way having installed a 39ft bad cable.
Bonus question… what goes wrong in a long, out of spec, USB cable. Just hazard a guess… timing? Jitter?
Bruce in Philly
The good stuff, pic does not show another repeater mid-way on the cable, mine is 50ft, you can select lenght or USB 3.0 from the order page. Some of their cables will have a 5V wall wart, mine did not have this power supply but the repeater at the end did have the port.
When a cable isn’t built to spec, the most common result is that everything takes a little longer to reach the other end of the cable. Sometimes that’s because the wire is too long, sometimes it’s because there’s too much capacitance, etc.
Anyway the biggest thing that happens with a long cable is that the handshaking that’s used to see if something is out there, (e.g. a new device or new hub) gets flaky. With cables barely out of spec this can also depend on the temperature, etc. This can cause devices to disconnect, to get lots of errors, etc.
Note that with a connection designed for computer data transmission a transmission error means that there will be retries. In general you don’t know how many retries will be there to guarantee accurate data transfer. Conversely for audio (video, etc.) transmission what matters is that the data gets there in a timely manner. This precludes retransmitting on errors. Most USB drivers that are using this mode, get the data there in time even if it causes errors.
So if your cable is a little out of spec and you use it to talk to, say a disk drive, the retransmissions will cause a significant slowdown of thruput, but as long as the drive doesn’t disconnect you get accurate data.
If your cable is a little out of spec and you are transmitting video or audio you may instead get silent data corruption.
You will also get jitter, but that’s the least of your problems and the DS is pretty insensitive to input jitter.
Long cables also are subject to more interference from, RFI, groundloops, etc. Active USB cables are a little less so.
Interesting… thanx Ted.
All I can say is that this repeater cable not only is not causing the DAC from loosing the signal, but sounds wonderful.
Thanx for the tip on repeaters.
Bruce in Philly