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USB DAC Power Supply

06/15/2012 4:20 PM

I've been looking for a decent, low priced USB DAC, and the best I've been able to find under $300 is the High Resolution Technology Music Streamer II: http://www.amazon.com/HRT-Music-Streamer-II-Resolution/dp/B0038O4UFQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

However, one review (which I can't seem to find) claimed that the use of a USB port as the power supply severely hinders the capabilities of this product. I have not found other evidence supporting this but it seems possible. Any EE's out there who can provide an answer?

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#1

Re: USB DAC Power Supply

06/15/2012 4:34 PM

Generally, most of the audio DACs out there that are not of extreme high end always seem to gain from a higher performance power supply. These DACs are not USB powered, but have their own wall-wart or other form of AC power supply. Even my M-Audio Mobile-Pre that I use for audio testing is wall-wart powered.

Now, this is not my personal testing, but just the buzz in all the audio magazines and forums.

Now, if there is any truth to that you can reasonably assume that any DAC using a PC as its power source is going to be even more suspect than those mentioned in my first paragraph.

My other concern about USB DACs is that USB 2.0 is going to be less than ideal as a mechanism for streaming music. Understand that USB 2.0 transfer rates are subject to interruption if other tasks are ongoing with the PC. Firewire is not subject to these interruptions.

Another consideration is Logictech's Squeezebox Touch. My understanding is that Logictech uses some very good internal DACs in this device that are comparable to their high end Transporter (at least 24-bits @ 96 kHz). Reviews for this device are very, very good for streaming music.

The Squeezebox also has its own wall-wart and connects via Ethernet, which has far higher streaming speeds over USB 2.0. You can also stream wirelessly

Even better, it only costs $250.

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#2

Re: USB DAC Power Supply

06/15/2012 4:53 PM

rawlifelivin

Would you tell everyone what this does?

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#3

Re: USB DAC Power Supply

06/15/2012 11:08 PM

Look at www.nadelectronics.com and search for a dac1

These can be picked up for around the mid to high 200 dollar mark (AU) and work exceptionally well.

The DAC has an added benfit of being wireless to the receiver, whilst I normally run away from anything wireless, I have used and sold these and they work very well.

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#4

Re: USB DAC Power Supply

06/16/2012 1:11 PM

To clarify to AP#1, a USB DAC is a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) which connects to the USB port on a computer to convert music files to analog format. It basically bypasses the soundcard with the intention of giving better sound quality. It is a DAC with the addition of a 'USB receiver' chip which communicates with the computer and converts the data into a format that can be read by the DAC.

I have also been looking at USB DACs, but have not yet decided which way to go (if at all, I might prefer to go the Squeezebox route, as mentioned by Anonymous Hero above). As far as PSUs are concerned, on the one hand it shouldn't really matter much in theory since it is mostly digital signals. On the other hand, I have not liked the look of any of the USB-powered USB DACs I've seen, and since WallWart/SMPS power supplies are so cheap, why risk it. I wouldn't be surprised if the PSU does make a difference, and I'm sure I read a review for a DAC that could be run anywhere from 12v to 18v, and they said it was better at higher voltages, in which case perhaps the 5v USB supply could be a disadvantage.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: USB DAC Power Supply

06/16/2012 5:32 PM

0My understanding is anything that the power supply contributes on the digital side that increases clock jitter is going to be an issue.

On the analog side, any noise on the power supply will bleed through to the audio.

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