For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
The only delivery surprise was the Shengwei-branded USB cable of far nicer than generic build; and that Audirvana called out the SU-6 as 768kHz capable.
Of course Sonnet's I²S isn't on speaking terms with Denafrips-type pin configs like Singxer's; and such sample rates wouldn't transmit down my AES/EBU tube in the first place. I also think that extreme upsampling in a digital transport can only increase cable-induced jitter. If it's to be done, let the DAC do it. That seems more sane particularly when one reason for a USB bridge is jitter reduction not magnification.
Needless to say, I had instant sound. Because I don't do DSD, I didn't even futz with the belly dip switches for related adjustments. Play'n'plug was the automagical order of the day.
Like many appliances with temperature-controlled clocks, the SU-6 is meant to remain powered up. So there's no mains switch. What look like familiar icons on a touch screen for 'on' and 'play' are simple idiot lights for power and signal; plus DSD. This is no capacitive screen, just a basic display.
And there's nothing you'd do to the SU-6 in the first place. Like a real foot bridge, its entire rationale is crossing traffic. It's not to build a home on or get cozy even though bridges like Firenze's picturesque Ponte Vecchio actually host four floors of permanent merchant stalls. Madman Hitler appreciated it enough to spare it from destruction during WWII unlike all other bridges on the Arno River. But this isn't a history lesson. It's sonic commentary.
With tech and features crossed off, should we expect real sonic tells between two quality USB bridges even were scope jocks to show one to measure better? They undoubtedly would. No two machines especially from different makers bench the same. With the extremely low noise and jitter Golden Sound show for the SU-6, what's still audible, what sheer brag ammo?
When in doubt, we get off our assumptive posteriors and compare. Given this segue, should we think ourselves a posteriorator or poseur for shorter if we do hear any difference? As long as I get to call myself names, I don't care.
Now insert favorite bad name.
I knew right away that something was different. The 'what' was a question which relied on careful A/B to suss out. When you know your sound intimately, even a slight change registers like a small loss in tyre pressure will on an observant driver.
To be sure, this was a global change not any isolated attribute. That made it subtle like a small color shift from sunglasses. You see the difference right when putting them on but by affecting your vision uniformly regardless of what you look at, it very soon stops being identifiable. We need to take the glasses off again to register the difference. Playing full tracks back to back, I simply listened without looking for difference. From experience I knew that sooner than later, my inner observer would throw up a word or concept to encapsulate the offset. After two deliberately mellow tracks—one Tania Saleh vocal, one Mark Eliyahu instrumental—my grey matter spit out fruitier and spacier. The former was the Soundaware, the latter the Singxer. I repeated the same two tracks two more times. My pointers held. The D300Ref felt dynamically punchier, the SU-6 softer but spatially more teased out. On a complex Juan Carmona cut of polyrhythmic Mediterranean guitar music with Arabian vocals dubbed in, Soundaware's reading had me stumble more over blatant seams. With the Singxer the music held together more. I was in the flow rather than cutting myself on technical incongruencies. Repeating that track twice more created the same response. Though I don't understand how, the SU-6's digital-domain massaging improved my comprehension of spatial context even where it was a patchwork of emailed tracks stacked up in a montage of mismatched recorded acoustics. I'd usually credit higher resolution for an easier mind read. Here I simply don't understand how 'more' data can even factor. Just so there was a tell each time I switched bridges. Poseur indeed.
During CD's heyday, upscale customers noticed the influence of different transports on the sound. Later many switched to PCfi. Some still do that. It's about digital transports again. Now they're simply called renderers, servers or streamers. A quality USB bridge works a bit like upgrading a cheap CD/ROM disc spinner with a Philips CD-PRO2. It's all the same digits which end up with our DAC. What comes out its analog tail end simply doesn't sound the same. If we can hear and appreciate that difference, is it really so important to understand why or how it works? Why not just reap the benefits and call it a day?
Good day indeed!
PS. To forestall inquiries about better—did I find the Singxer or Soundaware bridge superior?—I'll add that again like polarized sunglasses, the sonic scenery didn't change nor its details. We may suffer less or no glare versus wearing no sunglasses. That's where my comparison crumbles. But take the direct sun out of the equation. Surely we couldn't now say that looking at our car, house, backyard or loved one made them look better or worse because of non-prescription sunglasses. Likewise I found neither bridge superior or inferior. Just so their sonic feel or accent differed. Perhaps some radically superior tech/specs in a far costlier bridge might introduce an actual level change? In my sandbox, both were on the level. That made the shift a sideways move. I found that fascinating enough. I also liked that the Singxer cost me significantly less…
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