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USB v Optical connection to DAC

dellroy

New member
Mar 1, 2009
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Hi guys I am hoping for a bit of advice. I play a lot of my music by streaming from my Laptop using Deezer, and more recently Tidal. I have been using a cheap Lindy DAC to connect the Laptop to the AMP via a USB connection. I am just about to purchase a better DAC (HRT Microstreamer most likely) in order to improve the sound, but I am just wondering what the best type of connection is to use from the PC to AMP. Is it USB or Optical?

And just out of interest do people think that the better DAC will show a decent improvement in sound?

Thanks in advance for any help.
 

unsleepable

New member
Dec 25, 2013
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I don't think there is an inherently better connection for DACs. DACs started implementing asynchronous USB because sources very jittery through TOSLINK. And then the USB implementation is so bad in so many DACs that they actually sound better when plugged on S/PDIF. So leaving specs aside, what port is better depends mostly on the DAC, but the good ones sound the same on all ports.

It also depends on how noisy your computer is as a source—which in turn depends on other variables such as your mains, the power supply on the computer, etc. It the source is noisy, you maybe benefit from a TOSLINK connection as it provides electrical isolation. Or from a DAC that isolates its USB port. But again, if the source is not noisy you won't gain anything from spending more just to isolate the DAC.

As for whether you will hear an improvement with the upgrade you have in mind, I really couldn't tell you. But since you already have a specific model in mind, I think it'd be best if you could audition it and compare with what you currently have.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
580
247
19,270
unsleepable said:
So leaving specs aside, what port is better depends mostly on the DAC
this. Some older dacs sound better on optical/coaxial because USB implementation was still improving - but nowdays most do indeed sound about the same.

Also, if you want to connect to an amp rather then headphones, you should also consider a DAC with RCA outputs. Micromega MyDac comes to mind, or maybe Musical Fidelity V90DAC.
 

dellroy

New member
Mar 1, 2009
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0
Thank you both for your replies.

Having looked at the MF V90 I will certainly be considering this. It will be very difficult to test with my equipment before buying, so i will be going most from reviews.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
580
247
19,270
hm... sorry, I didn't read your signature prior to my post - the V90 might be too smooth, since you run a Denon setup anyway, which is warm to begin with, and the V90 lacks some excitement - the Micromega might be a much better fit for you. But if you can audition with a setup like yours, then you should defenately do it, the V90 might cut it for you. In the WHF review, they actually say they prefer the HRT Microstreamer to the MF V90 if all you need is a USB input.
 

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