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  1. #1
    Member AlexM's Avatar
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    Triode's USB 24/192 plug in - sound quality impressions

    Dear All,

    I am temporarily using a Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 as a loaner while my modded 840c is off for repairs. I installed Triodes's superb USB plug-in, and am happily running in USB 2.0 high speed async mode.

    Playback seems very clean, and relatively free from HF hash that gives listening a tiring quality. The sound is quite 'analogue', although not the last word in bass power or fine detail. I'm quite impressed with this little DAC so far - seems like quite good VFM, and sonically on a par with the the HRT Music Streamer II+, which is the only other USB DAC I have tried.

    I have also noticed that the CPU utilization on the SBT stays at around 20-24% when playing 24/88 FLAC files, so plenty of headroom for 24/192 FLAC playback, if not WAV (previously noticed this increased CPU utililization signifcantly, so have turned it off on the server).

    What have you tried Triode's app with, DAC-wise, and what do you prefer in terms of SP/DIF or USB, both for red book audio, and 96/192 digital files?.

    Regards,
    Alex

  2. #2
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    Smile

    Think you will find that as the Touch is bit perfect that nothing can change the sound quality, have you tried room compensation software eg Inguz, moving your speakers or physical room improvements to stop sound reflections ? These are all better solutions than any physically impossible voodoo magic imaginary improvements oft discussed in these parts.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by SBGK View Post
    Think you will find that as the Touch is bit perfect that nothing can change the sound quality, have you tried room compensation software eg Inguz, moving your speakers or physical room improvements to stop sound reflections ? These are all better solutions than any physically impossible voodoo magic imaginary improvements oft discussed in these parts.
    One person's improvement is another person's degradation.

  4. #4
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    I have a HRT Music StreamerII (not the +), it works very well with Triodes plugin and a hub. Adding TT3.0 significantly improves the sound, with this combination it's getting astonishingly good. (it's not the best, my homebuilt DAC still blows it away). The II with TT3.0 is sounding better than several other way more expensive S/PDIF input DACs I have. (except for my own design -- I'm not biased am I?)

    I had to do a little work to get TT3.0 to work with it, I had to set the buffer to over 5000, and I had to change some of the priority settings. The esiest way to change the priorities was to just turn them off all together. I didn't have time to figure out which one caused a problem.

    I tested the screen off part of TT3.0 and it didn't make any difference so I left the screen on. The part of TT3.0 that seemed to make the difference was the kernal settings, when I implemented just them I got the same sound improvement.


    John S.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSwenson View Post
    I have a HRT Music StreamerII (not the +), it works very well with Triodes plugin and a hub. Adding TT3.0 significantly improves the sound, with this combination it's getting astonishingly good. (it's not the best, my homebuilt DAC still blows it away). The II with TT3.0 is sounding better than several other way more expensive S/PDIF input DACs I have. (except for my own design -- I'm not biased am I?)

    I had to do a little work to get TT3.0 to work with it, I had to set the buffer to over 5000, and I had to change some of the priority settings. The esiest way to change the priorities was to just turn them off all together. I didn't have time to figure out which one caused a problem.

    I tested the screen off part of TT3.0 and it didn't make any difference so I left the screen on. The part of TT3.0 that seemed to make the difference was the kernal settings, when I implemented just them I got the same sound improvement.


    John S.
    Note that the app changes how the buffer setting is defined - so you will need to edit the EnhancedDigitalOutputMeta.lua rather than the standard file to change buffer setting. I'm interested if the kernel idle option makes any difference wrt to the kernel tuning?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnSwenson View Post
    ... The part of TT3.0 that seemed to make the difference was the kernal settings, when I implemented just them I got the same sound improvement.
    John S.
    Can you give the details on how implement the kernel settings alone in TT3.0

  7. #7
    Senior Member guidof's Avatar
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    For the last few days, I've been listening to my main system (see sig below) with EDO+TT3.0+buffer=20000+SBGK's priorities of 03-25-12.

    My impression is that there is an improvement in sound over the SBT+TT3.0 alone, very much along the lines of the improvements from plain SBT to TT2.0 and 3.0. More realistic tonal balance, better S/N ratio (blacker blacks), more detail more easily perceived, more three-dimensional and airy sound stage.

    The improvements are fairly subtle, but easily perceived upon listening to familiar recordings of a wide variety of music -- at least to my ears and on my main system.

    Of course, I have no way to attribute these impressions to any one of the above mods. But I'm grateful for the combined results and happy to post them in reply to the OP's request.

    Guido F.
    Music Room:
    Marantz TT 15S1, Virtuoso Wood Cartridge>ART ADC>Vinyl Studio
    Vortexbox Appliance>DLink Bridge>Ethernet>Squeezebox Touch/EDO>Benchmark DAC2 D>
    DSPeaker Antimode Dual Core DRC/EQ/Preamp+CIA PS>Music Reference RM-200 Mk II amp> Martin Logan SL3 speakers
    REL T1 Sub
    Bedroom:
    Squeezebox Touch (analog out)>Little Dot Mk III amp>AKG K701 headphones
    Sony D100 amp>PSB alpha B1 speakers
    Treadmill:
    FiiO X3 Digital Music Player>AKG K550 headphones

  8. #8
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    There has been some discussion on the Touch forum about the EDO app and the potential benfits to audio quality from the spdif output at 96k and below. This is not the primary purpose of the enhanced digital ouput app but people have debated whether any possible change in audio quality exists. I thought it would be useful to spell out what the changes are that are in EDO. As I may speculate about any impact on sound quality, I thought I'd do it here as its definately a discussion for the audiophile forum...

    EDO essentially comprises three parts:

    1) A custom linux kernel which is the standard Logitech kernel with the following changes:
    - spdif - additional clock divider values to allow 176.4/192k playback
    - usb scheduler - minor changes including change of default compilation options to allow most dacs to connect to usb
    - usb audio - major changes to include most of the more recent linux kernel changes that support uac2
    - experimental alternative kernel idle routine [disabled by default]

    2) A squeezeplay applet which allows the kernel to be installed and provides menus to select the output device. It also starts up the audio output of squeezeplay and does a couple of things differently from standard squeezeplay:
    - it does not start an effects jive_alsa process (it is assumed users don't want to hear the effects processing)
    - it bypasses the alsa plug layer and uses the spdif output "TXRX" directly, simplifying the amout of processing required between jive_alsa and the spdif output driver
    - increases the priority of the irq task associated with the spdif driver (primarily to improve performance for 192k playback)

    3) A new jive_alsa binary which adds support for additional alsa formats for packing samples into alsa frames - this is necessary for the usb dac support, but there are no changes which I believe would impact spdif.

    Now I don't claim sound quality improvements from any of these for spdif playback and I have not done any critical listening for this. I would also not want to make any claims without being able to measure the circuit in more detail. However you could speculate about the following:
    - not sending output to the analog will avoid there being any data sent to the internal dac and avoid any audio related load on this part of the circuit/psu
    - bypassing the alsa plug layer will reduce cpu load
    - not having a second jive_alsa process running reduces cpu load slightly

    However all these could be achieved with TT3 (I don't run it, but reading the code it looks like it will do this and much more) So its probably best to see EDO as doing the more obvious bits of TT3 to me.

    There is one other component of the app which is dissabled by default and is a complete experiement - this is the kernel idle option. This can be turned on from Settings > Advanced > Digital Output. What it does is subsitute the default kernel idle task (which allows the cpu to enter low power mode) for an alternative one (which does not enter low power mode). I speculate that if cpu load has an impact on sound quality then this should have an impact as less than 100% cpu means the idle task is being run for a portion of the time. One could speculate that things like buffer and priority tuning change the frequency and duration at which tasks run and so also impact the frequency and duration the cpu spends in the idle task and hence the low power waiting for irq state. I would be very interested if people can tell the difference with it enabled or not....
    Last edited by Triode; 2012-04-21 at 13:49.

  9. #9
    Senior Member guidof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triode View Post
    There has been some discussion on the Touch forum about the EDO app and the potential benfits to audio quality from the spdif output at 96k and below. This is not the primary purpose of the enhanced digital ouput app but people have debated whether any possible change in audio quality exists. I thought it would be useful to spell out what the changes are that are in EDO. As I may speculate about any impact on sound quality, I thought I'd do it here as its definately a discussion for the audiophile forum...
    <snip>
    .
    Triode:

    Thanks very much for your thorough explanation. I'm not able to follow it in its entirety, but I think it's fascinating. Especially since your intended goal was clearly not to tweak the sound but to effect streaming of higher def files.

    And also many thanks for all your work. Those of us who are non-technical end users are indebted to folks like you, who do the heavy lifting for the rest of us.

    Guido F.
    Music Room:
    Marantz TT 15S1, Virtuoso Wood Cartridge>ART ADC>Vinyl Studio
    Vortexbox Appliance>DLink Bridge>Ethernet>Squeezebox Touch/EDO>Benchmark DAC2 D>
    DSPeaker Antimode Dual Core DRC/EQ/Preamp+CIA PS>Music Reference RM-200 Mk II amp> Martin Logan SL3 speakers
    REL T1 Sub
    Bedroom:
    Squeezebox Touch (analog out)>Little Dot Mk III amp>AKG K701 headphones
    Sony D100 amp>PSB alpha B1 speakers
    Treadmill:
    FiiO X3 Digital Music Player>AKG K550 headphones

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by SBGK View Post
    Think you will find that as the Touch is bit perfect that nothing can change the sound quality, have you tried room compensation software eg Inguz, moving your speakers or physical room improvements to stop sound reflections ? These are all better solutions than any physically impossible voodoo magic imaginary improvements oft discussed in these parts.
    Agreed 100%! I do suspect that any sonic improvements using this app with lower samplerates are imaginary - but who knows, maybe I'm missing extra-golden ears. It's easy to imagine improvements when there are none - I've been caught out in the past (suckered in by silly speaker wire claims!) and have been extremely cautious ever since. A classic example is hearing an improvement with 24/192 over 24/96. With most cheaper-end or mid-end DACs (which many here, including me, will be using) 24/192 can actually be WORSE than 24/96 or 24/88.2 due to artefacts introduced into the audible range as a result of poor handling of the extra data in the inaudible range. And yet people will almost always report audible improvements. But show me a single double-blind test that proves anyone can genuinely hear an improvement in 24/192 - bet you can't!

    The reason I installed this app is due to claims of reduced load on the processor. That is a measurable, verifiable improvement therefore worth taking, especially if playing through the SB Tiny server. I'll be experimenting with increasing the number of files the Touch can see (i.e. not hidden in folders starting with a ".") to see how far I can push it now.

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