Topics for the April 26th, 2021 Digital Audio Discussion Forum

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Summary

It’s been a while since we’ve had a digital focus group meeting. In that time, David has been busy exploring a number of high-performance, low-cost DAC. He’ll discuss how he measured some of them to better understand how their sound differs. David will also talk about what he’s learned from having a second system.

 

Interesting new gear:

 

Most-talked about:

 

Network Acoustic ENO Streaming System: a passive ethernet RG filter and cable that allegedly improves the sound quality of network players. The ENO filters RF present in copper Ethernet cables.  Cost is about USD $1430

 

You attach the Ethernet cable of your choice to the input end. This device has a fixed cable at the output end  to your streamer, network bridge, Raspberry Pi, etc. Two different Ethernet cables by ENO are also available: Copper or Silver for the input end. The silver cable is $962. 

 

Review by Hans Beekhuizen here: https://youtu.be/CCLFJgwf21o

 

I should add that for considerably less money, you can add a length of optical fiber into your run and prevent the passage of RF in your streaming system. 

 

Allo Boss 2 Player: 

 

From Allo comes new Allo Boss 2 Streamer DAC at  €215

 

A new entry for the cheap and cheerful class of products the Allo Boss 2 Player is a combination streamer/DAC. The Boss 2 player 

From Allo: For sound quality we decided to use the new Cirrus Logic DAC CS43198 as a master (another first from the ALLO team). Unlike pcm5122, it has excellent THD (-120 vs – 83). Unlike Ess, the sound is “darker” (not bright, low out of band noise).

 

Link here: https://www.allo.com/sparky/boss2-player.html

 

Hans gave it quite a favorable review: 

https://youtu.be/Iklv_SwOBxk

 

Allo Nirvana Switch Mode Power Supply: $59

 

Also along the lines of cheap and cheerful, Allo also has their new Nirvana SMPS which they designed to specifically deal with the classic problems posed by SMPS: differential-mode noise, common-mode noise, and leakage current.

Allo  speaks at length about their developments to mitigate the problems caused by these noise factors for digital networking/streaming components: 

https://www.allo.com/sparky/nirvana-smps.html

 

Also from Allo is a true linear power supply that supports two outputs: 5v, 3A, and 5V, 1A for $159.. 

 

Denafrips D/D Convertors

 

Denafrips has a line of High, Medium, and Low entry point D/D Convertors. 

These are essentially high-end “USB cleaners” and reclockers. Top of the Line is their Gaia at $2298 (Vishine Audio)

From GAIA: More than 8 sets of Ultra Low Noise, Precision Linear Power Regulars along with oversized O-Core Transformer, delivers clean power to the digital circuitry effortlessly. 

We do not limit the GAIA to process only the USB signal. We raised the bar. The GAIA accepts USB, SPDIF (Coax, TOSLink, AES/EBU) inputs. These digital signal data-stream will be FIFO buffered and reclocked via the Precision Oven Controlled Crystal Oscillator OCXO. This process eliminates the jitter to negligible level, ensuring the digital output signal are free from the harmful jitter noise. The use of OCXO plays an important role here.

 

Hans has a link to his review here. Hans refers to it as a “USB cleaner”.

https://youtu.be/FmIy8H-h59Q

 

Hermes is in the middle of the line. $1698. 

 

From Denafrips:

The HERMES is our premium Digital To Digital Converter. It took us a good 3 years to perfect the development. It leveraged the technologies found in our award-winning DAC, namely, Proprietary FPGA DSP Processing, FIFO Buffer & Reclocking, Industry Leading USB Audio Interface Solution via STM32F466 Advanced AMR based MCU. 

Essentially, the HERMES is trickled down from the Gaia DDC. The major differences between the Gaia / Hermes are:

 

  • OCXO in Gaia is of superior quality
  • Gaia chassis is made of full aluminum panels
  • Hermes front panel is aluminum, chassis is made of metal alloy
  • Hermes available in black only

 

Also has outputs for clock sync. 

 

Inputs: USB. AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Optical 

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Entry-level is the IRIS D/D convertor for $698. 

 

The Iris has 8 sets of Ultra Low Noise, Precision Linear Power Regulars along with oversized O-Core Transformer, delivers clean power to the digital circuitry effortlessly. 

These USB digital signal data-stream will be FIFO buffered and reclocked via the FEMTO Crystal Oscillator. This process eliminates the jitter to negligible level, ensuring the digital output signal are free from the harmful jitter noise. Note: the Iris does not have OCXO, oven-controlled crystal oscillator.

 

Note that these units only output: I2S, AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Optical, no USB

Links here at Vishine Audio: https://www.vinshineaudio.com/shop

 

Stuff presently in-house at Stephen’s…

In-house for review is the I-O Systems fidata music server, cleverly named the HF-AS, for High Fidelity Audio Server. 

 

The HFAS1-XS20U incorporates two X-Cluster SSD units, one on the left and one on the right, for a total of four SSDs. The result is 2 TB cluster of storage configured in a way that reduces power supply fluctuations caused by uneven data access.

 

Configuration Scheme for Network Audio Streamer

 

Configuration Scheme to USB DAC

 

Server uses its own software for setup and music interface for control via smartphone or tablet.

 

Music recommendations:

Coleman Hawkins and Confreres. Includes Oscar Peterson Trio, Roy Eldredge and Ben Webster. Available on SACD or Redbook.

 

Classical: Linn Records 

Beethoven: Piano Concertos Nos. 3, 4, & 5 Scottish National Symphony conducted by Charles MacKerras. Link: https://www.linnrecords.com/recording-beethoven-piano-concertos-3-4-5

 

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Price in U.S. is $10,000

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San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society