Issue 227 - Computer Audio demystified 2.0 - same mistake

Barry Diament -- Thu, 10/18/2012 - 17:36

 I had the same comment for Computer Audio 1.0 and am sad to see the same statement, which I believe is in error.
Specifically, the false equivocation of USB and FireWire as protocols for transmitting digital audio.  In the paragraph about asynchronous mode, the article states "The DAC controls the audio transfer from the computer, ignoring the computer's USB bus clock..."  Are there any situations the author(s) can name where a FireWire DAC does *not* ignore the computer's USB bus clock?
Then, as last time, the article states "Currently the majority of USB and FireWire DACs operate in adaptive mode."
As I am not aware of a single FireWire implementation that is not in control of clocking, I would ask the authors to please name some as they assert "the majority" operate in a fashion I have never encountered with FireWire.  Put another way, every single implementation of FireWire of which I'm aware is in control of the clocking - not some of the time but always, without exception.
Perhaps I am mistaken and have simply not yet encountered an adaptive FireWire DAC.  This is why I ask for examples of such - especially when they are asserted to represent "the majority" of FireWire DACs.  While USB certainly presents an opportunity for commerce, I believe the equivocation of a protocol designed for connection of a mouse and one designed from the start with streaming audio and video in mind is off the mark.
Best regards,

Steven Stone -- Mon, 10/22/2012 - 21:49

 Hello Barry,
I had no part in the article. As far as I know you are correct.
And now turning to a lighter note, do you think the DSD DAC thing will catch on? :)

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Barry Diament -- Wed, 10/24/2012 - 10:54

Hi Steven,

Though I know folks, with ears I trust, who like DSD (and SACD), my own experience has been that there is something in the high treble I find discomforting. I much prefer properly done 4x PCM, where, with the best 24/192, I have not been able to discern playback from the direct mic feed - something I've never experienced with any analog format or with any other digital format.

As to whether either will catch on, I don't know. There are many not-so-good DACs with "192" on their spec sheets and this may be why even some audiophiles aren't as excited about 4x PCM as some other folks (who use it regularly) are. I certainly hope properly done 4x catches on because it crosses that threshold for me - being convincing in a way I have not heard from any other format.

In the end, the higher res digital formats may be something only enthusiasts appreciate, much like fine food, etc.
If any of it is to catch on with Joe and Jane Average, they're going to have to be exposed to it before they can appreciate it.
I think most "average" folks don't believe they'd hear a difference. When someone suggests that to me, I ask them if they believe they can tell the difference between live music and playback on a stereo system. They always say "yes".

Best regards,

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