I finally got around to checking out the USB-DAC input.
I can say it doesn't sound bad...
As amirm indicates, jitter reduction is a subtle thing, may not be audible, depending on quality of the source, the specific recording, file compression, etc. The list of variables is many.
I'm sure, just like PQLS, the reduction of jitter is measurable on instruments. And IIRC, USB is supposed to be one of the noisier transmission connections.
I listened to 3 tracks I use a lot for comparisons:
- Opus 3, Test Disc 4 (Spatial Imaging, Depth, Timbre) SACD/CD: House of the Rising Sun
- Holly Cole Temptations CD: Tango Till They're Sore
- Patricia Barber SACD/CD: Too Rich for My Blood
I had ripped these to itunes as aac/mp4. I also re-ripped them again as 44.1 wav lossless files for today.
On USB-DAC: used Win XP laptop with WMP11 & itunes
On front panel USB ipod port: used ipod for aac files & flash drive for wav files
It was hard to tell audible differences between the USB-DAC port and front panel port. Having to change inputs & fire up the track in the software made fast a/b comparisons impossible.
If anything, the asynchronous connection had very slightly better sense of depth, which these recordings have in spades. And preserved the delineation between instruments and transient percussion effects. Both were so close, I'd call it a virtual tie. It may come down to the quality of the file format, sampling rate & bitrate. Maybe with a highly compressed mp3, it would make more difference than 96k wav file. I don't know.
What my comparisons did re-confirm to me was there still are slight differences between lossless & lossy
The aac rips were made at highest bit rate in itunes. The sense of depth was subtle but better with wav files, and on the Tango song, when Holly sings "boys" in one of the lines near the beginning, there is an edge and thickness (glare) that is not there with the wav file. Wav just sounded a tad smoother. They are very close, but the wav is still superior. I guess this is not unexpected, lossy is still lossy
If I were to pick one, I'd definitely pick the USB-DAC port
if just for the sheer convenience of direct playback from the PC, no network & having to use the Media Server interface. Good news is it preserves the integrity of the audio source.
For the record, I have not checked Media Server yet & don't know if they'd made improvements over their former Home Media Gallery. I'd rather watch paint dry than use HMG - it was clumsy, very slow & maddening to navigate complex directories & long file lists. I had tried using it for watching photos thru the SC-09 to my Kuro & gave up in frustration, ended up plugging flash drives into the plasma. I couldn't imagine navigating thousands of music files with HMG.
Hopefully, Pioneer's latest Media Server is an improvement but I don't know yet. If it's the same as in the SC-57, purdyd would know how well it works.
Guys, like I said, I'm not a big computer audio person
Other than ripping to itunes & ipods, when I'm at home I use discs
I just never saw the need to get into files & had no interest investing the time to rip my collection.
That said, since SACD/DVD-A's became super-niche, I do have a big interest in buying hi-rez music flac files. I had't gotten around to it, mainly because the SC-09 didn't support flac, but with the SC-68, I will
be starting a flac collection
Bottom line, if what you seek is "do no harm" to the sound, the USB-DAC does the job well! I'm glad its there and do plan to continue using it.
One of my future wish list items was Wyred4Sound DAC that would do async USB just so I had the option to use it. This little feature saved me $1.5K
Well done, Pioneer - a nice added benefit!Edited by ss9001 - 8/11/12 at 10:23am