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SOTM tx-USBExp PCI-USB Card

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09:56
12 August 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

hello all

has anyone tried this newly released PCI Express USB3.0 card from SotM?  Any comments on its performance?

Thanks

14:22
31 August 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

I've ordered it…Should have it in a few days. I'm currently using SoTM's SATA power filter, which really made a terrific difference in sound quality…The PCIe will hook up to my Audio-gd NFB 3.2 DAC via a reasonably good USB cable…

15:10
31 August 2012


Adrian

Member

posts 95

Hello goldiver,

 

Are you using the new or the old version? I'm using the old one, but I'm about to receive the new ones… I also use sotm's dx-usb wich I think sounds great.

 

Regards,

Adrian

15:37
31 August 2012


Adrian

Member

posts 95

goldiver,

 

About the usb cable I can recommend Furutech gt2, an inexpensive and well made usb cable wich performs very well… if you want to invest more you can try the green label usb cable, wich I'm using after Furutech, and I'm very satisfied:

http://ppastudio.blogspot.com/…..grade.html

13:39
1 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

did the same exaAdrian said:

goldiver,

 

About the usb cable I can recommend Furutech gt2, an inexpensive and well made usb cable wich performs very well… if you want to invest more you can try the green label usb cable, wich I'm using after Furutech, and I'm very satisfied:

http://ppastudio.blogspot.com/…..grade.html

ct upgrade myself – very worthwhile.  Problem is that I need the SATA cables now…

16:22
1 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

goldiver said:

I've ordered it…Should have it in a few days. I'm currently using SoTM's SATA power filter, which really made a terrific difference in sound quality…The PCIe will hook up to my Audio-gd NFB 3.2 DAC via a reasonably good USB cable…

Goldiver,

Would appreciate it if you send me your comments once you had a chance to use it….. in my case (if I get it) the PCIe will hook up to my M2Tech EVO Spdif converter…thanks

KB

16:24
1 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

drez said:

did the same exaAdrian said:

goldiver,

 

About the usb cable I can recommend Furutech gt2, an inexpensive and well made usb cable wich performs very well… if you want to invest more you can try the green label usb cable, wich I'm using after Furutech, and I'm very satisfied:

http://ppastudio.blogspot.com/…..grade.html

ct upgrade myself – very worthwhile.  Problem is that I need the SATA cables now…

drez, did not understand… did you upgrade to the PCIe USB card?

KB

16:35
2 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

Havent personally tried the new pcie card, I have tried the pci card and did not think it performed well – motherboard USB sounded better and the card lacked focus and had excessive bloom and image smear.

A colleague of mine tried the PCIE card and thought that sounded bad as well, he tried sever power supplies, etc and still had bad results from the card.

I would spend money in other areas IMO.  The USB cable from PPAStudio is one such better way to spend $300Smile

07:11
3 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Post edited 07:15 – 3 September 2012 by KB


Drez,

Thanks for the candid feedback … I have got similar feedback offline as well…. all together does put a cloud over the proposition…agree on the part about spending on a good USB cable…

Btw, what does your system comprise?

16:03
3 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

At the moment my system is just p55 gigabyte motherboard with Intel i5 750, 8 GB of CL7 memory, Antec CP1000 PSU, 10 centimeter power cord.  Unfortunately I have have to use a graphics card and case fans as this is not a dedicated music server – I might set up a second PSU for those eventually.  I am using OCZ Vertex 3 SSD with Windows 7 64 Pro, and a Hitachi 5200 RPM drive for music at the moment, and 10 inch SATA cables from Monoprice until I save for ones from PPAStudio.

From there I have PPAStudio USB cable, AudioPhilleo2 with purepower, AudioGD Reference 7.1 and Master 6 pre/headphone amp, and HifiMan HE-6 headphones.  No room (or budget) for speakers unfortunatelyEmbarassed

04:23
4 September 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

Well, I plugged in the PCIe card a few hours ago and have listened carefully since…In my system it's removed that last, thin veil of digitalism…Vocals are more immediate, instruments fuller…cymbals, violins sound great!… In jazz ensembles, 'background' instruments like piano, double bass have real tone …No bloom, IMO. Just deeper bass, nicer treble. Images far more defined in the soundstage…(My Speakers do more of a 'disappearing act'..).

Reminds me of a really good analog setup.

13:11
4 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Post edited 13:27 – 5 September 2012 by KB


Goldiver, thanks for sharing your experience.  Good analogue is the direction I would like to take as well (without actually buying an analogue set up just yet Smile)

Not unlike many things in audio, it appears from what I have gathered so far that the SoTM card performance is a bit of a hit or miss – perhaps it favors certain computer and DAC/SPDIF converter configurations over others Confused.  A couple of questions come to mind

-what is your PC configuration and is it dedicated for music duties only?

-are you using an external power supply for the PCIe card?

Btw, if you are interested, my dedicated headless PC is a i3-2100 SandyBridge on an Intel DH61 MoBo with 4GB RAM and a 2TB HDD for music (brand name escapes me – I must open it up and see but it could be a WD) –>M2Tech EVO.

02:31
5 September 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

Post edited 04:43 – 5 September 2012 by goldiver


Hi KB – yes, it's a dedicated music streamer (in Silverstone HT case) built around an Intel i3-2120 cpu and Asus P8Z77M Pro motherboard. I have SOtM's SATA filter connected to my SSD as well. I'm running a skeleton version of Windows 8, and I use Total Commander to load files into Jplay. (I use Valab's MS Audio Silver Litz power cord for my PC supply).

Valab's Musicaly USB cable connects to an Audio-gd DAC, high-end Marantz amp and Rega Ela speakers. 

No, I don't use the external supply for the PCIe card – but I'm on the lookout for one. (6.5v – 9v, 2.1mm adaptor jack – if anyone has any ideas for this, I'd like to hear them!).

14:43
5 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Hi Goldiver, 

Hmmm…I wonder if Win8 is the big differentiation here (esp since I have been reading all the glowing tributes about Win8's sound quality).  I use Win7 (as does Drez who didn't have a good experience with the PCi card)

Btw, what is the advantage of using Total Commander?

In terms of power supply, I recently searched around a bit while looking for a linear PSU for the EVO and Clock. There is Paul Hynes, IF you have the budget and I stumbled upon Teddy Pardo

http://www.teddypardo.com/Prod…..dyEvo.html who is more cost effective but still pricey plus he would need to mod this PSU to allow you to draw the 2A current which the PCIe needs.  Btw, TP also sells leads with DC pin adaptors 

An alternative could be a lab grade power supply like this one which might be available in your market and are much more affordable:

http://www.gwinstek.com/en/pro…..038;id=128

I tested one and to my ears it is as good as the stock battery supplied with the EVO and better, by a large margin, than the cheapo wall wart supply

16:18
5 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

Post edited 16:21 – 5 September 2012 by drez


I thikn the issue here is what is defined as better performance – analog gear actually has very poor timing accuracy and a softer treble definition that can sound more pleasing.  I can get some of the SoTM qualities from using galvanic isolation, larger software buffer, PATA drives, warmer USB cable, WASAPI instead of KS…  BUT I must say though that none of these gave the kind of bass presence that the SoTM USB delivered (which to me sounded too full and blooming) save for using the Young DAC drivers on JKenny's JKSPDIF mk3 delivered similar increase in bass and an overall more lush sound (in fact the effect was uncannily similar.)  For me with the PCi card I felt the presentation was too claustrophobic, maybe because I am just trying to cheat the limitations of headphones.  I guess we all have our different priorities and tastes.

In other words I agree with the impressions of goldliver on the SoTM card, but I disagree as to the classification of these properties as "better" or more accurate.  I will explain this in a minute.

If SoTM want to go out and design or consult on the design of a motherboard I think I would be compelled to try their creation, but my current ethos is the less in the way of the digital stream the better (within reason of course) and a skeletal sound can be fattened/softened out with DAC selection, tube buffer/preamp etc.  I also think that analytical = accurate ie cleaner transients, faster attacks more precisely outlined images (to the point where I can see a virtual cone of sound emanating from the singer and moving as they turn etc.)  I definitely don't subscribe to the "make digital more analog" camp, unless of course there is a reduction in edge/brighness without reduction in resolution or soundstage.  For the records I have taken ferrites off my power cords as I found those to remove body without adding resolution of space – so I am not specifically after a more skeletal sound, I am just very suspicious of digital tweaks that reduce brightness and add body, as increasing deterministic jitter can also do this.

Either way I am happy for people to enjoy tweaks I do not like, as long as they give specific and articulate accounts of the changes the tweak makes.  Specifically I get very cross when people give impressions like "this just sounds so much better" or similar – the more specific the better IMO and I'm glad that goldliver can contributed the counter-argument to my "more analytical is more accurate" philosophySmile

17:10
5 September 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

You make a compelling argument, Drez! Certainly, I agree with your philosophy of less is best in a digital stream.

(KB, Windows 8 actually sounds fuller and punchier than Windows 7. The bass and midrange frequencies are better defined. Although I haven't tried the PCIe card with Windows 7, I'm inclined to think it would complement Windows 7 better…!). Hmmm….. 

Drez, I think the 'analog' analogy is probably over-used in digital hi-fi, so maybe I shouldn't have used that word. But to me, good analog equals accurate resolution of all frequencies – and, in particular, crisp, realistic treble. Certainly, I've never heard a digital system that can emulate the treble reproduction of a good MC cartridge in the groove of a record spun by a good turntable. 

But digital playback has an advantage when it comes to consistency: we complain about the poor engineering/mastering techniques of many popular CDs, but there are plenty of badly produced records too! I think that the convenience and quality of modern digital easily rivals the medium of vinyl these days. 

Having been a hi-fi junkie for many years – and working in the field too – I have to say I'm really impressed with the digital capability of Jplay. Personally, I've kicked around with top-line valve products by Audio Research, Einstein; solid state brands like Boulder, Densen, and Musical Fidelity's Class A kit; turntables by Avid and Germany's DSP-3 etc etc. The best digital setup I ever heard was a Theta transport feeding the top-of-the-line Weiss DAC. So I have a pretty good idea of what I like, personally. And the 'Beach' setting of Jplay is really excellent, IMO.

Back to the SOtM PCIe card. As it breaks in, I'm hearing an increasingly warm presentation…Sort of like digital on steroids! Perhaps my first 'review' was premature…

16:14
6 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

This may be my problem  - I have only probably ever heard midrange vinyl.  I must say though that to get good treble out of a computer transport system does seem to be quite difficult.  I think part of the problem is getting good quality CD rips.  I might have to do more comparisons between rips done on PATA vs SATA, the former with the lower bus speed and the latter with the better signalling technology but higher transfer frequency.  Some people seem to swear by using hardware CD ripping and I don't blame them.  I have never heard a truly high end CD transport either.  The most high-end tube gear I have heard so far has been the WA22 and LittleDot mkvi+ so I haven't heard an extensive amount of tube gear.

I also find in my system I need to use about 50 ms buffer while windows is running, less than that and the sounds starts to become edgy without any increased resolution.  In JPLAY 16 samples seems to be what is needed to take the edge off the sound – strangely though, this also improves bass presence, but also seems to reduce some of the stability and precision of the images.  Hard to say what is more accurate, but IMO using such a large buffer kills the advantage of JPLAY.  Maybe I just need faster RAM and CPU or something.  For similar buffer size though I seem to find xtreme has better imaging.  I guess the hard part for me though is to not continually chase my tail esp with expensive tweaks as I have far to go with my setup.

It seems I have jammed up JPLAY by spamming the buffer change too fast, have to cut this post a bit shortCry 

14:51
7 September 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

Post edited 15:22 – 7 September 2012 by goldiver


Drez…you and your buffers…

!!

Thanks, KB, for your PSU suggestions. I'll have a look-see. You asked about Total Commander. Some Jplayers use the TC shell instead of Windows Explorer to play their files, in the interests of SQ. I tried for a while but I dislike the effect (the music is spread out – and washed out, IMO. I far prefer the crisper playback of the WE shell). But for single files I use TC to copy files to C: drive and rename them .wav – another suggested tweak.

Quick report on the SOtM PCIe card. Coming up to 100 hours and it seems to be settling in… Bass tighter, treble less splashy…

This card appears to be very sensitive to CPU power, however: setting my Intel i3 back to the default 'quiet' in Bios had a very positive effect on SQ. So too the SOtM SATA filter, which I have connected to my SSD: without, everything is a little less defined. 

With Jplay set to Xtream, I have to say I'm really enjoying the music I'm hearing through my system at the moment (electronica like SBTRKT, semi-acoustic stuff like Neil Young / Crosby Stills Nash; a few Beethoven string quartets…)

Will report again at 200 hours!

09:22
8 September 2012


nzitr

Auckland, New Zealand

Member

posts 8

I have had this card for a little over a month and I am quite impressed.

My setup is a recent model ivy bridge i7 with gigabyte mobo with Win7. I had run with the onboard usb 2.0 ports and the sound seemed quite good. As a trial I added an add-in usb2.0 card and the sound was definately improved so I planned to buy the SOtM PCIe card when it was available.

I incidently use an iTunes/ALAC/Airport Express/Glassfibre Toslink setup as a reference point so that I can evaluate USB cables and cards. Using this I can cue the same music and flip/flop on my dac to compare the two inputs. The iTunes setup is ok but definately has been shown up as my USB setup has been refined.

Enter the SOtM PCIe card.. The sound was a lot more realistic in comparison with more impact etc. Initially it lost out in a few areas to the iTunes setup but once the card had run in it was better in all areas by some margin.

SOtM recommend their battery power supply for the card and my local dealer was kind enough to lend me a demo one with my card purchase. Adding the battery power supply was very noticeable, possibly as my Eximus DP-1 usb interface is powered by the computer. The power supply added smoothness to the vocals and higher freqencies, a more expansive and separated soundstage as well as a more solid and tuneful bottom-end.

I have tried running without the battery supply several times over the last month and while I think the card on its own has greatly improved within this time it is always better again to use the battery power supply. ..I have had to return the demo supply but have ordered one.

The only downside of the card for me is that hibernate mode now doesn't work when it did before. I think the sound is better now without it than it was with it before but I would still like to be able to use it. Not sure if it somehow relates to my setup or if this is an issue with the Ti USB3.0 driver that is used. I am going to try Win8 at some stage.

regards,

David.

14:32
8 September 2012


Josef

Admin

posts 2267

Post edited 20:56 – 8 September 2012 by Josef


nzitr – when jplay v4.3 is out try hibernate on win8: if SoTM still does not work contact us on support@jplay.eu and maybe we can do something about it :)

15:47
8 September 2012


aleg

Member

posts 910

Josef said:

nzitr – when jplay v4.3 is out try hibernate on win8: if it SoTM still does not work contact us on support@jplay.eu and maybe we can do something about it :)

 

Or try running JPlay in Sandboxie, that allows me to run JPlay in Fullscale Hibernation on Windows 8.

 

-

aleg 

AudioPC
HDPLEX H5.S Fanless PC Case; picoPSU-150-XT; Intel DH87RL; Intel i7-4770T; Crucial SSD M500 120GB
16GB G.Skill Trident-X DDR3-1600 (F3-1600C7D-16GTX); Maplin XM21X Linear PSU;
Windows Server 2012 R2 Core with Signature 1A of v1.22 Audio-optimiser
Connection
Direct Cable Connection via Cat.7 (AQ Cinnamon 75cm); Acousense GISO GB; via Cat.7 (AQ Cinnamon 75cm);
ControlPC
HDPLEX H3.S Fanless PC Case; picoPSU-150-XT; Gigabyte Z77N-Wifi; Intel i5-3750T; Samsung 840 series Pro 128GB
16GB Corsair Vengeance PC3-12800 (DDR3-1600) (CML16GX3M2A1600C10B); Maplin XM21X Linear PSU;
Windows Server 2012 R2 Core with Signature 1A of v1.22 Audio-optimiser
DAC
via JCat USB cable into Sonicweld Diverter HR2 via Naim DC-1 COAX into Naim DAC + XPS-2
HiFi
via AR Sound Lunar into AcourateCleaner via AR Sound Lunar into Naim NAC-282, NAIM NAP-155XS, Wilson Benesch Square Two
Music
stored on ZFS NAS (OmniOS) in MS-stereo and DRC convolved format with Acourate and AcourateNAS

09:58
11 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Goldiver/nzitr – Thanks for sharing your impressions on the card; I will stay tuned for any updates on the listening experience as the cards settle in more.

I completely get that a better PSU or battery pack will make the card sound better – that however stretches the budget further Frown

Goldiver, in your BIOS, does moving the Intel i3 back into "quiet" mode automatically result in down-clocking the processor speed or is it to do with the cooling fan speeds?

14:25
11 September 2012


nzitr

Auckland, New Zealand

Member

posts 8

Post edited 11:33 – 12 September 2012 by nzitr


KB said:

Goldiver/nzitr – Thanks for sharing your impressions on the card; I will stay tuned for any updates on the listening experience as the cards settle in more.

My reference USB card was a STLab U-321 which sounds pretty good considering the modest price.

Out of the box the SOtM card sounded more realistic, focused, articulate and dynamic. It did seem to lack a little height in the soundstage and was a little edgy in the vocals. Adding the battery powerpack did seem to fix these aspects though. Now that the card has been running for more than 5 weeks I think the 2 issues noted when I first put the card in have largely gone. I did some final testing with the battery power pack and it always added the additional refinement, soundstage enhancement and additional bottom end weight. Having run without the battery power pack for a week I could easily live with the sound as it is now. ..I just know it's better with the battery power pack in the setup.

A further observation I do note is that the system produces much lower and fuller bass than before. I have done quite a lot of testing on well recorded low frequency material and note no issues, however on some other material I note that it sounds a little uncontrolled (almost like I have a hidden sub). My impression is that the system is now exposing some issues with the source material and/or my speakers could do with some revised placement.

 

Also I have just had my Hibernate issue solved by a beta version of JPLAY so I have some further listening to do :-)

 

hope this all helps

10:27
12 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

nzitr

your feedback is helpful and makes it sound promising, thanks… :-)….. probably need to start saving up for the card..

What amp and speakers do you use?

good for you the new beta version solves your Hibernate issues ….. looks like you are all set (perhaps missing only the battery pack).  That's one of the cool things with JPLay – real time fix of the issues Smile. Hear that he new version of JPlay pushes up the SQ still further…

12:09
12 September 2012


nzitr

Auckland, New Zealand

Member

posts 8

KB said:

nzitr

your feedback is helpful and makes it sound promising, thanks… :-)….. probably need to start saving up for the card..

What amp and speakers do you use?

I run an all April Music Eximus system with the DP-1 Dac/Pre and a pair of S1 Amps running as monoblocks. Cables are the PPA Studio Green Label USB and MIT Oracle Balanced Interconnects. My speakers are Dynaudio Contour 1.8MKIIs (rewired with short tails to connect to the monoblocks directly). I have had the speakers a while but they do seem to be sounding pretty good these days.

I have done a small amount of listening in Hibernate mode and I think it is probably a similar step up as the battery power pack.

 

regards.

17:54
13 September 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

Post edited 18:35 – 13 September 2012 by goldiver


Good to hear some positive feedback on the SOtM PCIe card. I also hear deeper bass with this card…At first I was a bit concerned: I thought the card was boosting the lower frequencies somehow, but as it settles in I realise that the entire frequency band is more open and pronounced. Interestingly, I had to shift my speakers further away from the front wall to ameliorate the sound post-SOtM. Prior to this I'd switched back and forth from the SOtM connection to motherboard USB as well as optical. I'd always heard a little bass boom in my room, probably around 120 hz or so. The SOtM connection only made this node more apparent. Now I'm hearing very nice SQ following the adjustment…a rich, yet quite a defined sound. 

KB – I think 'Quiet' mode adjusts fan speed in relation to CPU power. I've since switched back to 'High Performance' and disabled core parking…Although I'm still experimenting, I seem to get the best results with the higher power settings in my BIOS. (I'm also using Xtream more than Beach in Jplay these days…).

12:04
14 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Goldiver

Thanks for the clarification on the BIOS bit.  Interesting to read your experience with performance settings – I think I read somewhere on this forum that under-clocking the processor typically will help improve SQ…….. I haven't tried to adjust any BIOS settings as yet …. 

I also mostly use Xtream DirectLink, though I do alter the numerical setting in Xtream and typically run it at 500, which to my ears sounds most real and musical.  

12:23
14 September 2012


KB

Member

posts 218

Post edited 12:36 – 14 September 2012 by KB


nzitr said:

I run an all April Music Eximus system with the DP-1 Dac/Pre and a pair of S1 Amps running as monoblocks. Cables are the PPA Studio Green Label USB and MIT Oracle Balanced Interconnects. My speakers are Dynaudio Contour 1.8MKIIs (rewired with short tails to connect to the monoblocks directly). I have had the speakers a while but they do seem to be sounding pretty good these days.

I have done a small amount of listening in Hibernate mode and I think it is probably a similar step up as the battery power pack.

 

regards.

Thanks for sharing.  I see many PPA Studio cable users on this forum Smile  Have you tried their SATA cables?  While the PCIe card is a medium term option for me, I have been advised that a good SATA cable is a quick way to improve SQ.  Maybe I shd also check the other specific threads on SATA cables……

16:27
15 September 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

Post edited 16:28 – 15 September 2012 by drez


I have a PPAStudio SATA cable on the way – should arrive in a week or so, and from my experience with his USB cable it will take at least a week to burn in but will be well worth the wait and very smooth while burning in.  I also want to try out a PATA HDD some time – my guess it will sound darker and smoother than SATA, and wont hold a lot of music, but I still want to try it out in the future.

03:08
10 October 2012


goldiver

Sydney, Australia

Member

posts 39

And how is the SATA cable going? Would be interested to know.

11:58
12 October 2012


drez

Member

posts 96

I have done a brief comparison with Monoprice 10" ribbon sata cable versus a 30cm PPAStudio green label SATA cable on the data HDD (Hitachi 2tb 5200RPM).  

The PPAStudio green label cable had better layering, larger soundstage, more focused images, more 3D, and could throw images further.  Monoprice cable by comparison sounded congested, 2D and had smeared images.

I thought the PPAStudio cable was clearly better, able to convey more of the spatial information in the recording without adding any harshness, in fact I found it less harsh as the sound was more spacious and less congested.  There are no downsides IMO apart from parting with the cash.

Apparently the cable works even better on the OS drive, so I have ordered a further 2 green label SATA cables for the OS and DVD drives.

The cables are very well made, I have taken a peek under the heatshrink and they are very well put together, very well shielded and assembled.  A lot of work goes into them, and they sound fantastic.

I think it's only a matter of time before audiophile SATA cables become mainstream.

I still have to test some PATA drives to see how they hold up against SATA with high quality cabling, but IMO PATA is not really a practical option given the HDD sizes available, and seems to sound darker than SATA, which may or may not be your preference.  

15:02
13 October 2012


Nuuk

SW England

Member

posts 25

What is SOTM?

16:29
13 October 2012


Marcin_gps

Admin

posts 755

00:00
14 October 2012


Nuuk

SW England

Member

posts 25

Thanks Marcin. Smile

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