Tips On Switching From Bridge to USB

Since my inquiry in a different thread was a bit of a hijacking from the original poster’s subject, I thought I should start a new thread.

I have gained some great insight from fellow forum friends, like Stevem2; especially the info about “Matrix Audio’s X-SPDIF 2.” Since it is an affordable piece of equipment, I plan on trying it for myself. I do not, however, have any experience with USB audio. My set up is: External HD>(USB)>Windows laptop>(Ethernet)>router>(Ethernet)>Bridge(2)>DSD(sr).

My questions are in regard to optimizing the server; in this case I do not wish to invest in a standalone server (e.g.: Aurender). I want to interface my laptop with the Matrix X-SPIDF 2 (then use Ethernet - I2S -from the Matrix to the DSD). I have read so many things about tweaking the computer (‘server’), such as adding a new sound card, adjusting settings ‘deep within’ the computer’s programming, and ‘other’ tweaks. From my very basic understanding . . . I don’t understand! If the computer is only passing data, do all of these “tweaks” really matter (i.e.: are they truly necessary)?

I’m not trying to start a debate on this subject, but I would appreciate some feedback on the different ways to setup a computer based USB server, including optional tweaks (with explanation as to why), from basic setup to ‘customized’ setup (“super-tweaked”).

Thanks . . . . Happy Holidays to everyone reading this!!

My initial setup was similar. An external hard drive to a Windows computer to a Router via Ethernet, and then my DS and Bridge are wired via Ethernet to the same router. I have UPnP/DLNA software called Minimserver running on the computer. I like it because it turns my computer into a music server, just like an Aurender box. It also consumes very little CPU resources, runs in the background and is free-of-charge. It also serves album art to the mConnectHD app on my iPad, where I choose songs to play.

I have been ripping my own CDs to lossless since the 90’s and by the time there were 23,000 albums in my library, I transferred them to a new Synology NAS. Now I keep my computer switched off and my external drives only serve as backup. The same Minimserver software runs on the NAS and I can still use the same mConnectHD app on my iPad to choose songs. If you have a large music library, a NAS may be a good place to put your money.

Curious about the USB and I2S inputs of the DS, I took advantage of Small Green Computer’s recent Black Friday sale and bought the discounted package consisting of an UltraRendu, an UltraDigital and two linear power supplies. The UltraRendu works just like the Bridge II, except its output is USB. Then the UltraDigital converts USB to I2S.

Compared to the Bridge, I can safely say the UltraRendu + UltraDigital combo sounds a whole lot better. I hear a wider and deeper soundstage and the imaging became more defined and focused. I like it so much that I have not yet tried removing the UltraDigital and connecting the Rendu straight to the DS via USB. This can be another option for you. Instead of plugging the Ethernet cable to your Bridge, plug it into an UltraRendu or its less expensive but just as good sounding brother, the MicroRendu. Then connect that to a USB input of your DS. Chances are it will sound better than the Bridge.

If I was still using a computer instead of a NAS, I would buy the Matrix X-SPDIF 2 since it isn’t very costly. My only drawback would be instead of just Minimserver, I will now need audio player software such as Foobar (free) or JRiver (not free) on my computer, which will feed digital audio to the Matrix box. Also, my listening chair is far and I like to keep cables short, so I will need remote control apps such as JRemote (not free) or Foobar2000 controller (free) to avoid having to stand up and walk to the computer just to change songs. These are a few more things for you to consider.

Whichever way you decide to go, have fun! :smiley:

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