Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by vbetts, Sep 24, 2018.
An audiophile network card for $480. Why, God, why??
This is for those that want every last ounce of detail out of their PC controlled DAC.
The idea being that processing noise within a PC is responsible for masking some of the very fine detail on very high end audio systems.
You play back the audio on one PC, send it over network to a 2nd PC that sends it to the DAC.
That 2nd PC is doing so little its near the best it can be for noise and the CPU is available to service audio immediately so timing is more precise.
The software player can shut down most of the OS and display to bring EM and conducted noise to a minimum.
***Unless you have an extremely good DAC/amp/speakers and want to get the very best out of them, you wont care about this.***
The network card is designed to reduce EM and electrical interference produced by the 2nd PC controlling the DAC.
This nw card minimises its own EM emissions and conducted noise.
Its about perfecting the setup.
Some people have gone as far to convert the network to optical to minimise noise transferring between PCs. Then you only have to worry about noise/timing on the actual incoming signal.
There are a few software players that can use 2 PCs to play audio in this fashion.
Jplay is one.
HQPlayer can do it too I believe but I have not tried.
There may be more.
I considered going this route a few years ago but am more than satisfied using HQPlayer (for very high quality upsampling) with a single PC on my newish DAC that I dont care. Its crazy what extra HQPlayer brings out from the music if your kit is good enough!
Though tbh I often use Foobar despite it not being quite so detailed because I get such a f**k ton of extremely fine detail anyway, and its so much easier to use, EQ etc.
Note, I would never have bought this network card, even if I went the 2 PC route.
HQPlayer demo is free and doesnt expire but you only get 1/2hr at one go.
JPlay used to have a free demo which acted as a plugin for a few players like Foobar, the demo cuts the sound for a few seconds every 5 mins or so.
It also came with another standalone player that disables the display while cutting down processes, playing on a single PC. There is a good difference in detail with this player, and the normal JPlay plugin is no slouch either.
Of the 2 I prefer the sound of HQPlayer upsampling, more detailed and easier on the ear (and less buggy!! JPlay might have fixed that now though, I havent tried it for over 1.5 yrs)
Cause some people don't know about external dedicated dac units. The price people pay for being dumb. Can't wait to see audiophile video card, memory and motherboard. Gotta get them all for ultimate audiophile experience, otherwise some component gonna mess up the soundcard card you got in your PC with electronic interference.
Its designed to be used alongside an external DAC.
What? I don't understand this mess anymore.
I explained in the post above your first reply, #188
Its for a 2 PC music playback system to help reduce EM and electrical noise.
Its not required unless you are after very high end results.
Noise coming from where? Affecting what (digital or analog signal) ?
If we talk about noise coming from inside of the PC when converting Digital Signal to Analog, you also have to consider videocard and other components.
Yes, reducing any form of EM or electrical noise but before it gets to the DAC, purely digital domain.
If you read my post it covers disabling video and reduced use of the PC, thats what this is about.
ps I didnt bring this up or recommend it.
I wouldnt use this card myself and have not used the dual PC route to play music because I am more than happy without it.
Using optical cable seems like a cheaper and more elegant solution to me (Just SPDIF in and out ports). You also mentioned it.
I think @sverek is gagging on the concept of distorting digital information from EMI radiation. Rightfully so.
This ranks with the concept of digital audio quality is affected by the media they are stored on. And using silver interconnects for digital because it enhances some aspect of the audio, like better treble.
I agree, but I am not in a position to try any of this to determine what actually works best.
I used to have an Oppo 105 and Oppo 205.
These can accept audio over USB from PC, USB drive, SPDIF, HDMI and network.
edit: and it can play disks.
There is a difference in how each sounds:
HDMI was unpleasant, rough, sibilant. I only ever used this for surround gaming. Movies/music were played direct from the player via spinny disk or with a USB drive.
USB from PC was really good, no roughness and tons of detail.
SPDIF optical, network and USB drive (direct to the Oppo) were best, slightly smoother/laid back sound, an easier listen.
edit: disk playback is also right at top for quality and ease of listening.
There is method in the madness.
I thought there no difference between digital signal, it's just passing 0/1.
The same 0/1 you get by HDMI, USB, Ethernet, SPDIF, etc... The same 16bit 44,100hz audio that you copy in your PC.
Wouldn't the difference rather be in the way the digital signal being converted to the analog?
(For example HDMI DAC is poor quality and USB DAC is better one?)
I just can't wrap my head around how digital signal can be messed up so badly that 0 becomes 1 and 1 becomes 0.
That's my point, it's audiophile foolery. Plugging the DAC into the original source with all the EMI of the PC, vs transporting it around over a network and a surrogate PC to a DAC, would result in an identical package of 1's and 0's that the DAC would decode.
This is all before it gets to the DAC, that has its own issues.
But if the signal being sent to it has problems, those issues magnify.
The timing of the 0/1s is what makes a difference and whether they actually get there.
There can be enough noise that the leading edge of a signal is not received in time, isnt latched in and is discarded. This is passed on to the DAC (or even happens as it enters the DAC chip).
The DAC chip then has to interpolate which reduces quality.
When the signal does get latched, timing discrepancies receiving the signal caused by problems such as Jitter are the issue.
These cause noise, the less the better.
This is why so much money is spent in digital systems on power supplies, isolation and shielding, to remove noise and keep the pulse timing as accurate as possible.
Improvements in DACs are not all down to the DAC chip and basic circuit design.
tltd; Some people suffer more than others.
Boy I am glad I am don't have such issues.
You could well have issues and not know about it, but if you dont care it doesnt matter any way.
Even a different USB port can make a difference with an external DAC.
With my motherboard (Asus Maximus VIII Hero), USB 3.0 sounds muffled/less detailed in comparison with USB 2.0. Confirmed many times.
I actually worry whether my next mobo will have USB 2.0 because of this.
There surely are things that can be done to improve a system (unless they have already been done).
I tried quite a lot things and have had great success, I dont feel the need to pursue it further myself now. (at least not until something goes pop!)
If thats where you are at, fair enough
I couldn't tell much difference (besides volume) between SPDIF and USB2.0 for Topping D30 DAC.
There lots of placebo when changing hardware and cables. So I do my best not to run into judgement and let it sink first.
Expectations of better sound by applying essential oil on the cables and holy water on the DAC, might make it sound better in someones head!
I agree, although the quality of equipment used will change what gets exposed.
As soon as I started using ribbon tweeter speakers the massive improvement in clarity/imaging exposed lots I previously hadnt noticed. Then using biwire (not bi-amp) made treble a little clearer again. Going back to single wire the treble sounded a bit fuzzy. Before using ribbons I had not encountered this.
ie you may not notice some benefits because they are masked by the system or its setup.
Some tweaks are clearly better but some you need to be sure. Effects add up so might be worth the time invested.
I checked results by getting friends or my brother to report their own experiences and participate in blind testing with me.
Oh yeah, blind testing tells the harsh reality. The only sane island in ocean of madness.