For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
The French Connection. Here it's not the William Friedkin film but Audiophonics from France's Bordeaux region. They're my point of contact for this type of ChiFi. Come service time, I won't feel up one of the Amazon's many Eastern tributaries without a linguistic or cultural paddle. I obviously can't know for sure until I actually suffer a warranty issue. Audiophonics simply have been in biz since 2005, are exceptionally punctual in their shipping and communications and run special pages for service tickets and support requests. Create an account and your own log-in page shows all your past transactions at a glance. This online shopping experience feels very scrupulous and organized. The same goes for product pages, photos, specs, downloads of PDF manuals and drivers. If you live in the EU, Audiophonics strike me as the ideal source for hifi imports one would otherwise order direct from Shenzen. I prefer it closer. Closer to 32/384 homies is Singxer's FPGA algorithm. It's claimed to enable a coaxial output that supports PCM 384kHz and DSD DoP128. That's above my pay grade. I always thought coax natively limited to 192kHz which gave rise to the dual AES/EBU workaround for 384kHz. Not that it personally matters. My rare hi-res files top out at 192kHz. Those who upsample all to 705/768kHz or higher will need to look elsewhere. As to a forum poster claiming that replacing this Meanwell wall wart with a proper linear supply makes a big difference? I couldn't be bothered. We just charge super capacitors for whistling Dixie!
This music server in pieces aka separates could start with a laptop. Since Audirvana-type software players cache albums or playlists in memory, fitting 32GB RAM helps. Whilst Roon is popular, it causes non-stop background threads hunting music. If you play local files over Audirvana, your selection caches to random access memory in a few seconds. Then all such activities and their noise stop. That's better for the sound. I've listed the cable connection from bridge to DAC in my order of preference. For I²S even over extended lengths—6 meters in my upstairs setup—I've had excellent results with affordable industrial CAT8a and 8K HDMI2.1 cables. As such a PC monitor for library navigation can sit right next to the listening chair to replace a WiFi tablet with a hardwired far bigger screen. With the bridge nearby to keep USB short, the DAC can move with the rest of the hardware farther down the sidewall or end up between the speakers. It's a convenient layout I've duplicated in two systems. If you dedicate a PC/Mac to music playback, you obviously won't install or run extraneous software. In fact if you set your software player to 'extreme' mode, it deliberately disables extraneous activities to focus your PC's computing resources on the one task at hand: rendering tunes. If you spend €20K+ on Pink Faun's 2.16 Ultra, you will get an ineffable extra described and awarded in its review. But to duplicate the above GUI, I'd still need our 27" iMac with Retina display, mouse and keyboard. The Dutch server is headless. Meanwhile our WiFi allergy cancels tablet remotes. So we need a hardwired interface. Using the iMac, I logged onto the Pink Faun via LAN inside the Firefox browser. But replacing the local storage of our iMac's FusionDrive with Ultra's SSD, our Singxer bridge with Ultra's signal routing, Audirvana with Ultra's OS licensed from Euphony smokes seriously more cashish; for ineffable. My weeds just couldn't justify it. So the Pink Faun returned to its maker and my accountant didn't fire me. I'm sticking to the above recipe.
The following photos are from Kitsune's product page for the SU-6.
For the money, this strikes me as serious hardware well on par with Pink Faun's equivalent output cards aka bridges. With USB its only input, once you set your computer's sound control panel or software player of choice to route to the SU-6 as your default device, switching whatever sources that feeds won't ever require resetting your PC. It never sees any of them, only the bridge.
In that sense it's not unlike a switched wall outlet that powers an outlet multiplier to turn on multiple components at once. Here it makes for instant A/B as another perk of USB bridges. Whilst you can certainly connect as many USB DACs or active speakers to your PC as you have spare USB ports, switching between them means accessing a control panel. That's far less convenient; and doesn't sound as good.
Over the SU-6 powered up, whatever you connect always has a live signal. It's very basic but solid, reliable and a proven way to clone costly audiophile server performance for pennies on the pound; without half-baked apps. The only 'go figure' to configure is to download then install a driver for Windows since this XMOS XCore U208 USB transceiver is 384kHz ready. Though later Win10 versions apparently no longer need to, Singxer still recommend installing it. Charging the super capacitors takes one minute, the clocks stabilize in 20 minutes and are thermally 'locked' in one hour. The DC input wants to see 7.5-9V with at least 2A of current. The ideal values are published as 7.5V/3A. A 25W power supply would suffice if you must go there.
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