USB Shinannigans

Lurch

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As many of you know by now, on Thursday I acquired an ex-dem Innuos ZenITH and it of-course only outputs via USB.
Other than a couple of old printer leads I didn't have a suitable USB lead, couldn't be bothered with a 40 mile round trip to AudioT in Portsmouth, so agreed a price for the dealers ex-dem Chord Epic usb lead. Anyway I plumbed it in direct to my Black Ice DAC, (hadn't re-installed he Mutec at this point) and set it to play RP whilst I worked out how to import files from my NAS. DAMN! this really does sound good, so for the rest of the evening I swapped between my files, Qobuz and RP, (all tracks 16/44 & 24/44 or 48)
Friday afternoon when I came in from work I settled in for another session and after a while I decided to have a play, so re-inserted the Mutec to see the difference, if any, this however entailed Coax out to the BI, with a 24/96 cap which was set with the Innuos Sense App. I returned to my listening chair with great expectations for a good lift in SQ, so having checked all the correct lights were up on the Mutec I fired it up.
WTF!!! How can £6k of kit and wires produce such a disgusting noise?? Yes there was music but this was overlaid with a horrible level of hash.
Bollox!! I pull the usb from the Mutec and plug it back in the BI and all is good with my audio world. Next step, give Tony at Coherent a ring to discuss the problem, with no joy, I also try different control devices (my Chrome book & Galaxy Tab A8) at Tony's suggestion still no joy so text T to let him know, to which he says yep looks like usb section in Mutec is fooked.
Oh dear looks like I'd bought a bum unit but never having used the usb IN before I had no idea it could be bad.
Having had enough of RP I stick a few albums in a queue and let them play whilst I checked the forums, after about an hour a 24/96 version of Alison Moyets Alf starts, hmm nice! But then I notice a few gentle ticks, so concentrate and realise the sound is the tiniest bit fuzzy around the edges. Never mind, maybe it's the file, so as the usb on the BI can handle 24/192 I jump to the next album Norah Jones Come away with me (24/192 Qobuz) WTF is going on? This is unbearable, dropouts, no lock clicking, hash and music. I try another album SRV Couldn't stand the weather (24/176 Qobuz) and yep you've guessed it, the same disgusting noise.

Well bugger me sideways, two pieces of kit on which I've never before used the usb IN are defective, with the BI working great on anything upto and including 24/88 but getting upset on anything above that. I contacted Rob Ayres (Open door who was the Jolida/BI importer) who said to return it to him, he would check it and if needs be get a new digital board from BI which are pretty cheap. So looks like two repair bills eating into my play money.
Sunday sees me sticking to 16/44 and researching affordable but decent usb capable dacs, either as a temp stand-in whilst the BI is repaired or as a long-term replacement.
Monday was mostly a day without music as I was on grandad duties, though I did spend the day taking stock of my current dilemma whilst trying to entertain my 9yr old & 6yr old grandsons.
1. Direct into BI the ZenITH sounds great upto a max of 24/88
2. Won't play nicely with the Mutec
3. Units could be away for upto a month for repair
4. Do I buy a temp/perm replacement dac, even though funds are low
5. Revert to Node and a FiiO Taishan whilst units are repaired.

Got home from daughters, stuck the system on and went searching for the Mutec & BI boxes so I could pack them for shipping. When I opened up the boxes there were the two giveaway cables so on a whim I decided to stick them in to see what happened (one into dac t'other into Mutec (as easier to swap over via ZenITH).
It didn't matter whether I played direct to the DAC or via the Mutec, both el cheapo giveaway cables worked perfectly 24/192 direct to BI & 24/96 via Mutec and Coax.
How does it all sound at higher Res via the cheapo cables, absolutely wonderful.

So there you have it, a virtually brand new Chord Epic was the root of a stressful 3 days but because it was piping music I had no reason to think it was at fault. Well normally a cable either works, or it doesn't, full stop, end of story, or so I thought.
Spoke to the dealer this morning and told him I wanted a full refund and I would send it back. Also thinking back I never played any hi-res music during the demo so neither of us knew that the cable wouldn't for whatever reason, play nicely with the BI.

Ohh, and this time on T's recommendation I've gone for a Supra usb cable, an Excalibur to be exact.
 

Fullrange

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Chord make their cables by hand. Maybe there was a problem when it was made and you were the first to discover it.
You made a great choice with the supra cable
 

Lurch

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Funny thing is whilst I never played any HiRes into my BI during the demo, near the end the dealer asked if I'd like to hear the ZenITH feeding a HUGO TT & M Scaler. He set them up using the exact same usb cable that I ended up buying, and as I had his control tablet I ran tracks I knew well including the 24/176 SVR track mentioned above + a couple of 24/192 with no issues at all. Go figure?
Perhaps the proliferation of assorted cables at the rear of my rack combined with the higher track frequencies somehow interacted and caused an electrical upset that defeated the cables shielding??
Currently have my eye on an UpTone Audio ISO-Regen, if I win it tomorrow evening I will treat myself to a second Excalibur so I have one in and one out to the BI.
 
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JD68

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Supra make great data cables. I use a Supra ethernet cable with my streamer and it's definitely the best one I've tried.
 
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MotherSky

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Currently have my eye on an UpTone Audio ISO-Regen, if I win it tomorrow evening I will treat myself to a second Excalibur so I have one in and one out to the BI.
I can 100% vouch for the performance of the IsoRegen, but as with so many of these things, sticking a decent power supply on it is well worth doing - I also found that it works best with the Curious Cables regen link ( I have the "evolved" version) and seems less fussy about the incoming cable - YMMV as ever - MH
 
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garn63

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It's a funny old game. I never liked a USB connection, preferring spdif. Got an Innuos the same as yours & used it with a B.P. dac via an Audiobyte convertor/re clocker. Sounded nice.
Tried a Schiit Dac recently & the USB connection between that & the innuos (minus the Audiobyte) sounded superior & to my liking ?
Nice choice with your streamer. It's become part of my life. I like the way it presents the mix a little further back. V. Nice.
Time to slow down chasing "better" John ? :) Enjoy yourself.
 
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Lurch

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Time to slow down chasing "better" John ? :) Enjoy yourself.
Yeah, don't I know it.
Currently running Coax out from the Mutec to the BI, and whilst it sounds Awsome in comparison to the Pimped Node, it's still bugging me that I have to cap the output to 96 kHz as the Spdif inputs won't accept 192 on the BI, that and DSD is reserved for the usb input.
 

griffo104

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It's a funny old game. I never liked a USB connection, preferring spdif. Got an Innuos the same as yours & used it with a B.P. dac via an Audiobyte convertor/re clocker. Sounded nice.
Tried a Schiit Dac recently & the USB connection between that & the innuos (minus the Audiobyte) sounded superior & to my liking ?
Nice choice with your streamer. It's become part of my life. I like the way it presents the mix a little further back. V. Nice.
Time to slow down chasing "better" John ? :) Enjoy yourself.
Don't Schiit make their own USB board - Unison USB. Not sure if your particular Schitt dac has it but it may explain why it's better.

The SPDIF on the Chord Mojo is noticeably better than the USB connection.
 

garn63

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Don't Schiit make their own USB board - Unison USB. Not sure if your particular Schitt dac has it but it may explain why it's better.

The SPDIF on the Chord Mojo is noticeably better than the USB connection.
They do. I'm impressed with the pairing. Have buried an old myth reg USB implementation.
 
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garn63

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Yeah, don't I know it.
Currently running Coax out from the Mutec to the BI, and whilst it sounds Awsome in comparison to the Pimped Node, it's still bugging me that I have to cap the output to 96 kHz as the Spdif inputs won't accept 192 on the BI, that and DSD is reserved for the usb input.
I don't mind that. I have the setting on the Innuos for 96KHz max.
I know, I know.. Every time I try diff I revert back after a while.
 

Jules_S

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Oh this all makes old-fashioned analogue seem so simple.... :ROFLMAO:

Glad you got to the bottom of the issue at least, John, and in time to save you all the hassle of sending those units back for a "repair" that wasn't needed.
 

bencat

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Oh this all makes old-fashioned analogue seem so simple.... :ROFLMAO:

Glad you got to the bottom of the issue at least, John, and in time to save you all the hassle of sending those units back for a "repair" that wasn't needed.
Really ? Just give a small consideration to what you have to consider MM/MC , separate Phono pre , what arm , what cartridge , suspended tt , direct drive belt drive or idler . This is a very small set of questions and the you start to his god the set up is . No digital is not always simple but to make the spurious claim that analogue is simple just does not wash . Then when all the rest is done there is noise , wow and flutter . Like and prefer analogue all you want even say you prefer it and no arguments from me but try and see it as simple and that is not going to wash .
 

Strider

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Boutique cables often go outside of the standard USB specification to make the audible difference they claim to make. The first rule of USB fault finding is find a regular USB 2 printer cable or similar and substitute it for what you are using.
Ther was me thinking that special audio only USB cables with braiding, logo heatshrink, ferrite beds and exotic metal plating was responsible for the huge leap is sound quality over a bog standard cable?

I'm relieved I haven't been hoodwinked in waisting money on nice looking USB cables when an Amazon Basics does exactly the same job....
 
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Chumpchops

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I am not a USB user, it’s for old printers and peripherals as far as I am concerned (that’s a tease btw -no need to rise to that one folks, but I am ex HP printer business)

But if I was in the market and thinking of spending some serious bucks on USB components for hi fi, I would only invest in a hi fi manufacturer that was adopting latest USB standard and that is USB C.

That some manufacturers still ship hi fi stuff at a premium featuring USB B connects (dated to 1996) is inconceivable to me and is plain lazy in the world of high end hifi where componentry rigour is paramount to audiophiles (evidenced by many thread here) and huge premiums are being charged. But each to his own.

They are not all the same. Subsequent USB Generations have focussed on improved data throughput rates (currently 40Gbps on USB C Gen 4), tunnelling (not really relevant to hi fi, but allowing multiple protocols over same cable), and more power (up to 100 watts and 5A) to be carried as a charging device connection.

Whilst more power carried may ring alarm bells to audiophiles, USB C also applies far more rigour than previous gens to potential ESD/EMI for over voltage and spillages leakage events. Ergo it is the cleanest USB standard

The aforementioned tunnelling has also driven need for increased end to end isolation of data packets. Throughput rates are never going to challenged by audio, but increased dat streams isolation should also tick the audiophile box.

The real challenge for hi fi premium niche manufactures is in the need/option/cost to integrate low leakage diodes and ESD filters/signal conditioners into their devices to optimise clean fast USB C connectivity. The engineering skills and cost are high, which is why I suspect they tend to stick to older USB standards and connects, as these eat into profits.

One should expect latest and greates standards to be fully intergrated into premium hi fi. imho.

For example if I was spending the price of a car on a high end hi fi component such as the DCS Vivaldi apex, I would anticipate everything to be the best at component level. But, what do we see - even after their latest July update - for nigh on £30k you get USB 2.0?

Ditto Chord Dave 2 - still USB 2.0.

BTW am under no illusions that these are not amazing products to own and enjoy. But seeing OP having faff with USB 2.0 cables, made me think about just why the very high end manufacturers are not adoptng current standards?
 
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Cable Monkey

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The problem with USB C is that as a physical interface it is no where near as robust as USB B. The technical advantages of USB 3.1 via the USB C interface are self evident. But that isn’t needed for audio, and it is a rubbish interface for the banana fingered crew of which I am a fully paid up member! I struggled this morning with HDMI on a short stiff cable!
 

ChemMan

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It didn't matter whether I played direct to the DAC or via the Mutec, both el cheapo giveaway cables worked perfectly 24/192 direct to BI & 24/96 via Mutec and Coax.
How does it all sound at higher Res via the cheapo cables, absolutely wonderful.
I was doing a bit of research when your first thread came out, as I was ignorant to the idea a good Streamer and separate DAC connected by USB might make re-clocking unnecessary, and found this:
http://archimago.blogspot.com/2014/01/demo-measurements-what-does-bad-usb-or.html
 
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Strider

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To be honest we use supplied USB cables with BiAmp equipment, an EX-UBT carries 8 x 24/96 channels to a Dante network and I've never had one fail, it does make me roll my eyes when I see there are USB cables going upwards of £500 when you could spend £5 and blow the rest on hardware or music.
I still fail to see the requirement for reclockers, even a cheap DAC will ameliorate jitter.

I can't think I've had a duff USB cable in a domestic or pro audio but it might happen one day.
 

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