USBe Pefect is a little gadget sold by UnderwoodHiFi, designed to reduce jitter and signal degradation. Here is the link to the product https://www.underwoodhifi.com/products/conduit. I believe some of you here are familiar with Walter/Wally at UnderwoodHiFi, bought WireWorld Platinum Starlight 7 HDMI cable from him to use with Matrix X-SPDIF2.
I mentioned to Walter that I was considering upgrading my Melco N1/A music server, and complained about the difficulty to make USB link sound good. He introduced me to his new product USBe Perfect. So I got one, tried it, and liked it a lot, compared favorably to the Matrix.
I used the following albums for my evaluation, “AYA Authentic Audio Check” (DSD) by Stockfisch Records, “The Ultimate Demonstration Disc” (redbook CD) by Chesky Records, “This is K2 HD Sounds!” (K2HD) by FMI Records, etc. My digital system is from Melco N1A music server, Wireworld Silver Starlight 7 USB cable, Matrix SPDIF2, Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 HDMI cable, to PSAudio DAC, see this post for my other components System Photos!).
No Matrix, No USBe: no good, I don’t want to listen to this setup ever again.
Use USBe without Matrix: Everything improved, compared to without both Matrix and USBe, transparency, resolution, timber, tone, soundstage, focus, transients/microdynamics, macrodynamics, bass extension, airy treble, notes decay. You could clearly distinguish the two shakers in “Spanish Harlem” with minor difference in pitches; you could almost hear individual beads in the shakers, and more of them. The soundstage seemed move forward a little, depth improved a little but not much, but the notes in the back became a lot more clear, more clear decay, soundstage layering much improved, listen to “If I Could Sing Your Blues”, “Flute Concerto in D, Vivaldi”, “Touch”, “Zapateado” and “Canon in D”. Piano, violin, saxophone, guitar, male and female voices became more real, more body, more 3D, transients more sharp. In “Saxophone Improvisation” by The Tiptons, you could clearly differentiate the notes from alto, tenor, baritone saxophones, even when they all played together. In “Sharpening a knife”, “A hard rain’s A-goona fall”, the bass line deeper and tighter, much more visceral, decay more natural, longer, clear, I turned my sub off! The treble notes were more airy, extended. The full frequency was more coherent, more balanced, listen to “Firefly”, “Sizzlin”, etc. I enjoyed USBe a lot, its transparency and resolution, extended and tight bass, layered and 3D soundstage, especially with good recordings.
Use Matrix without USBe: Clearly much better than without both Matrix and USBe, everything improved. Some of you are familiar with the benefits of Matrix. Most of the improvements were similar to those with USBe as I described above. However, there were differences. Matrix was a little smoother, a little warmer, notes a little rounder, but, compared to USBe, improvements a little bit less, less revealing, less bass extension, notes less 3D, soundstage less layering. For example, less discernible of the differences in those two shakers, and among those saxophones. For some of you with very revealing systems, you may prefer Matrix, but to me, I very much prefer USBe if I have to choose one.
Use Matrix and USBe together: The benefits were additive, not synergistic, i.e., compared to USBe alone, the additional improvements were relatively small, a little more transparent, soundstage a little more coherent but not larger nor deeper. The overall presentation was a little smoother. Majority of the improvements by USBe still shined through, i.e., Matrix and USBe were not antagonistic. However, compared to USBe alone, a little less transparent, the transients a little less sharp, notes decay a little less clear, for example, the beads in the shakers a little less distinct. I emphasized “a little”. Probably to express this in a different way, USBe+Matrix vs USBe alone, the difference is not much about improvement, but about tuning and preference. To me, I felt the combination benefited my redbook CDs such as songs by Adele (a little harsh sometimes) and many downloads of lesser qualities. However, for me, since I have many Synergistic Research gadgets, I felt that the USBe+SR gold bullet combo on the SR power cables offered the best option, adding a little warmth and liquidity without sacrificing transparency and resolution. For my hundreds of dsf files and SACDs, I am quite happy with USBe alone, a little more visceral impact, a little more excitement.
Bottomline: USBe will not leave my digital system until I find a music server/streamer which solves the USB sound quality issue and make USBe, Matrix, etc, obsolete.