USB isolation


#1

I wonder if this unit has the potential of improving the USB input on the DS, especially if fed by a computer source?

Intona USB High Speed Isolator

I would assume that the +5V VBUS line is not broken by this unit (needed by the DS for signalling).

Post note:

I actually got some answers to this promptly from Intona:

Quote:

'Thanks for your interest in our USB 2.0 Hi-Speed Isolator.

We confirm that the line in not broken, but also galvanically isolated and regenerated by low noidr linear regulation.

Your DAC can draw up to 500mA, should be more than enough to your needs.’

http://intona.eu/en/answer/1130

http://intona.eu/en/answer/1239


#2

I’ll bet that works great!


#3

Thanks Paul.

For your info the USB isolator card is also sold as OEM for putting it in e.g. a DAC.

It is passively powered.


#4

I’ve had the opportunity to hear this device in action, although not in my system. There are some very interesting reports over on the ComputerAudiophile site as well. Let’s just say I heard enough to tell me it does have a positive effect.


#5

I have been using it for a while now with a CAPs build using a PPA USB card. I can’t think of taking it out of the system - have gotten improvements at all level and it sounds more natural in my setup than what the Regen did.


#6

This is a new era in digital audio I a have had about 6 sub imrpovemt devices they all do something not always good and does vary from one dac to another

to make a point the regen ona good caps three separate supplies it actually improved my msb play stack. Making the Maui. Seem less tense like analog is. Now this can be or bad depending on what one likes


#7

I agree - there are lot of small little gadgets these days that does something or the other. I wish someone could consolidate all these improvements in one single gadget - not sure but Mutec could be the one. I thought Regen (w/ LPSU) was pretty good and nothing can improve upon it until I heard the W4S RUR and in two DACs in my system, it outperformed the Regen and also in three other friend’s system. I am yet to see a review or comment from any Regen user who thinks that it performs better than the RUR but it could be system dependent as well.


#8

Someone may introduce a “does all” device, but given all the possible ways to make an improvement, coupled with still immature market/technology, my bet is little add-ons will continue to proliferate.

This may not be the correct way of looking at the issue, but my read is it makes more sense to install a good S/PDIF card in one’s computer than to rely on the USB port that happened to come with the machine and then continually tweak it with add-ons.

What am I missing? Has USB become a fundamentally better interface, rather than simple being ubiquitous?


#9

It seems that on many DACs and other devices the Toslink and S/PDIF connections have limited bandwidth compared to USB. For example, a lot of devices limit the S/PDIF to 24/192 max, whereas USB can handle 24/384 and double DSD. Some manufacturers have gotten around the bandwidth limitation by doubling up and using dual AES connections to handle higher rates, but no that many. That is the primary advantage I see to USB, other than the ubiquity you mentioned, virtually every type of mobile device, laptop, or desktop PC has the means to stream audio out on USB.


#10
Elk said Someone may introduce a "does all" device, but given all the possible ways to make an improvement, coupled with still immature market/technology, my bet is little add-ons will continue to proliferate.

This may not be the correct way of looking at the issue, but my read is it makes more sense to install a good S/PDIF card in one’s computer than to rely on the USB port that happened to come with the machine and then continually tweak it with add-ons.

What am I missing? Has USB become a fundamentally better interface, rather than simple being ubiquitous?

No, USB hasn't been fundamentally a better "Audio" interface since it wasn't designed for audio use. Such is the case, I think, in most of the cases in Audio - an interface or a device is retrofitted to work with Audio.

Most of the folks who are serious with computer audio, doesn’t use the USB hanging off the south bridge anyway and use one from PPA, JCAT or SoTM which are purpose designed for audio. These cards don’t even use the power (PCI 3.3v) feed from the PCIe slot and you could feed them externally with good ones. The other problem to computer audio is even if you have a good SPDIF add-on card, it doesn’t necessarily means that it would always sound good - there are a ton of peripherals in a generic motherboard that potentially generates noise and degrades SQ - any high speed interface, like a DDR3 could potentially generate a great deal of noise and so you would need optimal amount with correct voltage and timings to get rid of most of it. So the point is we need a hardware and software in an optimal configuration to get a great sound quality, irrespective of what interface we use for audio. When you have come this far, the difference between SPDIF and USB slowly reduces and all is left is a couple of small things that these little gadgets takes care of and help improve the SQ further. Its just the getting all things right is really into putting some serious effort and timesmile

If I recollect correctly, there has been a review of Berkeley Alpha USB converter in Absolute Sound and it was compare to the Lynx AES/EBU Card and the converter came out as a clear winner by a good margin. The other advantage of having USB is the high bandwidth capability and thus playback of higher bit rates.


#11

Expanding slightly: USB 2.0 has much more bandwidth than S/PDIF or AES/EBU and can handle high res multichannel. That’s a lot of AES/EBU cables. USB 3.0 obviously is another level above that in bandwidth.

Personally I’ve been working exclusively on laptops for many years and USB has been there for quite a while now, but AES/EBU was never a option on any of my laptops and the drivers for S/PDIF (and at times TOSLink) that some of my laptops had sucked. The aftermarket add in S/PDIF or TOSLink cards (whose slots have been disappearing with the ubiquity of USB) often had bad drivers too. I’ve lost count of the number of USB to S/PDIF or USB to TOSLink, etc. boxes I have laying around. I much prefer DACs that take USB even if I sometimes have to put a wart near the DAC for better sound quality.


#12
Dev said So the point is we need a hardware and software in an optimal configuration to get a great sound quality, irrespective of what interface we use for audio.
My thinking exactly.

I was assuming however that many, at least here, were using the USB port that happened to be on the machine rather than a dedicated card. Once you are buying and installing specialized cards everything is an equal bother.

I had not considered multi-channel either and USB’s suitability with its greater bandwidth.


#13
1234 said This is a new era in digital audio I a have had about 6 sub imrpovemt devices they all do something not always good and does vary from one dac to another

to make a point the regen ona good caps three separate supplies it actually improved my msb play stack. Making the Maui. Seem less tense like analog is. Now this can be or bad depending on what one likes


Hi Al, I too have a regen, with curious link and lps. On a system that was not my own, we tried the fully modded regen, with intona, without intona and intona by itself. I preferred the setup with intona only. I think you would like it.

#14

[nested quotes deleted, content is directly above]

This post is in response to a number of comments raised in a few posts above in this thread.

I have had the opportunity to listen to a Regen, W4S Recovery and an Intona plus Curious USB cables including 2 links over the past week. The Regen and the W4S are both powered by LPSs. I own a DS DAC but at the moment it is only a network connection because I do not have a USB cable long enough and it is too complicated to move the DS closer to the Server and Amp. The Server is an Antipodes DX. My listening was with another quality DAC. I do not understand any of the technical intricacies of USB. My comments below are based upon on what I heard and what I have read about the experiences of others.

The comments by stereophilus above were based on what he heard in my system a couple of days ago. Since then I have had another long llistening session today with another audio friend and the consensus on the outcome was the same as with stereophilus. Our limited but collective consensus was that each of the three boxes made a noticeably perceptible change in what was being heard. There was no if buts or maybes about the changes. The Intona on its own was the best followed by the Server and DAC with cable only. The Regen was superior to the W4S. The W4S lacked a little in the mid range. I own the W4S and I had expected and hoped that it would outperform the Regen but in my system it did not.

When each of the Regen and the W4S were connected together with the Intona in the chain the there was very little difference between the Regen and the W4S. Probably the W4S much closer to the Regen in outcome. Our definite preference was just the Intona on its own. With the Intona there was more life and air in the SQ and it seemed to refine the sound stage and imaging of my system. Whereas with either of the other two boxes there was a change in the SQ but it was not an improvement on the system without any of the accessories. There was a change with both the Regen and W4S. There was an increased emphasis or weight on the start of the note whereas other things were happening that may not be an improvement.

I have not tried all three accessories in the chain together.

Most of the tracks that we listened to were 16/44.1 so bandwidth for higher resolution was not a factor. Yet each box made an immediate noticeable change

Based upon the many comments in various forums about the benefits or otherwise of these accessories and my limited experience with them I have an some comments. Their use and benefits is probably system dependent. Therefore the experience of others could be quite different to my case. Given my system experiences and the many varied experiences of others I make the following observations.

  1. These accessories do in most or all situations make a difference that is mostly beneficial but not always even when there is more than one accessory operating.
  1. I wonder whether with the infinite variations in people’s systems if it would be achievable to design and build a universal accessory that could incorporate all the features of the various accessories that would ultimately have positive impact on all systems.
In the pursuit of system SQ excellence it was an interesting opportunity to try these accessories especially in my system and assess their respective impact. Their impact was easy to discern in each instance. Each box and the additional LPS are relatively inexpensive. It would be difficult to achieve such system changes at a minimal cost with cables for example. The trick will be to find which one(s) work best for you. For me the Intona was the shining light. Next week I am sending all three boxes and the other bits to another DS DAC owner to try and compare. His experiences will be interesting

John