• Bel Canto USB Link Review

    Connecting the past with the future is one way of describing what the Bel Canto USB Link is capable of accomplishing. Until recently most digital to analog converters relied on traditional audio interfaces like AES (XLR) and S/PDIF (coax & Toslink). Now more DACs are leaving the factory with USB interfaces to allow a direct connection to music servers that are the future of High-End audio. Even though DAC technology has advanced over the years there are still a plethora of excellent USB-less DACs in use that audiophiles simply won't part with. Fortunately the Bel Canto USB Link closes the gap between old and new by converting the USB signal from a music server to an S/PDIF signal almost all DACs can understand. In addition the Bel Canto USB Link is an incredibly simple device to use. It installs on Windows and Macintosh computers without any user intervention and without any additional software or device drivers. Many audiophiles have been waiting waiting to get into the music server game for many reasons one of which is complexity. The Bel Canto USB Link may be the component that lubricates their entry into the next phase of High-End audio.


     

     

    What, Why, How?

    The Bel Canto USB Link is an audio converter in the simplest terms and an advanced bit-transparent 24/96 capable adaptive USB to S/PDIF interface in more complex terms. On the outside the USB Link is as simple as it gets. A metal box with a USB input on one end and an S/PDIF BNC output on the other end. There is also a small light to indicate when the device is receiving power from the computer. The USB Link does not even accept an external power supply thus eliminating an additional device in the audio chain. The USB Link is so simple to use that it is impossible to physically connect the device incorrectly. The USB input only accepts the Type B end of a USB cable and the S/PDIF output is connected via the included high quality Stereovox XV2 BNC to RCA adaptor. I hate to say it but the USB Link really is idiot proof.

    Internally the USB Link separates itself from most USB converters with a true high resolution capable TAS1020 chip. The TAS1020 using CEntrance code is what I consider the best adaptive USB implementation available at the time of this writing. Thus, the Bel Canto USB Link is fully capable of handling digital audio natively at 16/44.1, 24/88.2, and 24/96. There is no up or down sampling necessary to pass any of these sample rates to the listener's DAC of choice. Not only does the USB Link work flawlessly with the Bel Canto DAC3 but it works great connected to any DAC with a coax input. The USB Link allows an extremely flexible upgrade path which is very important to almost all audiophiles. Since the device works with many different DACs listeners can upgrade their DAC separately without worrying about USB connectivity to their music server. There is no need to shop around for a "USB DAC" when using the Bel Canto USB Link. Simply find a DAC that sounds great and the chances are pretty high that it'll work great with the USB Link. On the other side of the coin, if a new USB converter is released there is no need to replace an expensive DAC that sounds wonderful already. Thus, when sample rates get to 64-bit / 768 kHz and a new USB converter is available existing expensive DACs will still work .... oh wait, no they won't. The sample rate is a little high for anything other than fictional DACs but the fact remains, greater flexibility is never a bad thing.


    Not only is the USB Link physically simple to understand and connect to an audio system, but it's just as easy to configure and use once connected. As I mentioned earlier there are no extras to install or worry about with this device. Simply plug it into an existing USB port on a music server and it's ready to use. Some operating systems may not route the audio signal automatically to the USB Link, or any USB device for that matter, so the only configuration change left is to simply select the USB Link as the audio output device in Mac OS X or Windows. I know some Computer Audiophile readers have stressed out over this part of the configuration for any music server, but it's really far easier than most people expect. Heck, it's even multiple choice and listeners can have as many do-overs as they need to get it right. For example in Mac OS X the Audio Midi Setup application provides a list of audio output device to select from and one of those will be the Bel Canto USB Link. I'm willing to bet the Computer Audiophile Chihuahua Archie could eventually get this one right and start listening to the theme song from Beverly Hills Chihuahua via a bit-transparent USB Link.

     

    The USB Link In Action

    I received the Bel Canto USB Link in mid November 2008 and have used it frequently since then. It's a great tool to have especially with all the different components that come and go from here. Needless to say I've listened to it with a ton of gear in a ton of configurations. The bottom line is the Bel Canto USB Link is capable of enabling wonderful sound from a music sever. It wouldn't make sense for me to say the device sounds great because after all it's an audio converter that shouldn't leave an imprint on the sound. Saying the USB Link sounds great would actually be an insult to Bel Canto! Like all audio components the USB Link does have a sonic signature. Partly due to the similarity in design, using the TAS1020/CEntrance chip, the USB Link has a signature a bit like the Benchmark DAC1 series. Sound is very tight and controlled when the USB Link is in place. This tends to decrease the soundstage in my system and a slight loss of overall transparency is evident. This is in comparison to my go-to Lynx AES16e card in my Mac Pro music server. Fortunately for the USB Link it can be connected to any computer or laptop with an available USB port. The Lynx has sized and priced itself out of many audiophile's music servers because it uses a full size internal PCIe slot and is several hundred dollars more than the USB Link. Similar to the Benchmark DAC1 series, with the USB Link there is a sense of tight studio sound as opposed to a live sound that I get with my Alpha DAC / Lynx combination. Fortunately using the Bel Canto USB Link allows listeners to avoid my one negative part of the DAC1 series, its analog output stage. As I said in my review of the DAC1 HDR I think its analog output stage is a weak link in an otherwise wonderful component. The Bel Canto USB Link doesn't have an analog output stage and allows listeners to select the DAC, with corresponding analog output stage, of their choice. Other than the two noticeable sonic signature effects mentioned previously, which some listeners may really prefer over live-ish sound, I have no complaints whatsoever with the USB Link. Again, it's actually quite weird to be talking about the sonics of a component that isn't supposed to do anything other than convert one digital termination into another. Using descriptors like "excellent highs" or "great mid-range" wouldn't seem appropriate. However, I did have a little time to compare the Bel Canto USB Link to the dCS U-Clock asynchronous USB to S/PDIF converter. Sure there are many sonic differences between the two devices just as one would expect with components using vastly different designs. The dCS U-Clock is in an entirely different class of performance as it should be for its hefty several thousand dollar price tag. However, I am very willing to bet the Bel Canto USB Link is as good if not better than the current crop of adaptive USB to S/PDIF converters. This includes converters with triple digit price tags from some high-end boutique brands. In addition in my opinion the Bel Canto implementation using the TAS1020 / CEntrance code is a better implementation that products like the M-Audio Transit. Sure the M-Audio Transit handles up to 24/96 and converts USB to S/PDIF, but the device requires installation of software and device drivers to function properly. Also, the fact that a device handles 24/96 or a high resolution sample rate does not mean it's equivalent to all other devices that can handle high resolution. I liken it to driving a car at high speeds. I own a Volkswagen Jetta with a 2.0 v4 motor and a v6 Honda Accord Coupe. Both cars can go 100 MPH, but everything about the experience of traveling 100 MPH is vastly different between the two cars. The Jetta is very noisy and makes one question the survivability of traveling another 1000 feet whereas the Accord Coupe handles 100 MPH like just another Tuesday afternoon drive to the store.

    At $495 the Bel Canto USB Link may seem a little expensive at first blush. But, considering the solid implementation of this conversion technology and the absolute ease of use the price is just right in my opinion. I've used and listened to many other converters at all price ranges and consider the Bel Canto USB Link a great product to link the traditional world of High-End audio to the new and improved High-End 2.0 where music servers reign and high resolution is the norm. The USB Link is a great tool in my toolbox as a reviewer and is a great addition to most listener's audio systems for every day use. Incredible flexibility, true high resolution capability, and true plug n' play operation make the USB Link a really smart selection for many audiophiles.

     

     

    Bel Canto USB Link


    Bel Canto USB Link

     

     

    Standard USB Cable Terminations for the Bel Canto USB Link

    Standard USB Cable Terminations

     

     


    Manufacturer: Bel Canto Design, Ltd.
    Product Page: USB Link
    Price: $495
    Availability: Dealers


     

     

    The following information was gathered using the Apple application USB Prober and built-in OS X System Profiler.

     

    Bel Canto 2496 USB:

    Product ID: 0x0102
    Vendor ID: 0x1c07
    Version: 0.01
    Speed: Up to 12 Mb/sec
    Manufacturer: Bel Canto
    Location ID: 0x04100000
    Current Available (mA): 500
    Current Required (mA): 100
    _______________________________





    Full Speed device @ 4 (0x04100000):
    .............................................
    Composite device: "Bel Canto 2496 USB"
    Port Information: 0x001a
    Not Captive
    Attached to Root Hub
    External Device
    Connected
    Enabled
    Device Descriptor
    Descriptor Version Number: 0x0100
    Device Class: 0 (Composite)
    Device Subclass: 0
    Device Protocol: 0
    Device MaxPacketSize: 8
    Device VendorID/ProductID: 0x1C07/0x0102 (unknown vendor)
    Device Version Number: 0x0001
    Number of Configurations: 1
    Manufacturer String: 1 "Bel Canto"
    Product String: 2 "Bel Canto 2496 USB"
    Serial Number String: 0 (none)
    Configuration Descriptor
    Length (and contents): 109
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0000: 09 02 6D 00 02 01 00 80 32 09 04 00 00 00 01 01
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0010: 00 00 09 24 01 00 01 1E 00 01 01 0C 24 02 05 01
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0020: 01 00 02 03 00 00 00 09 24 03 08 01 03 00 05 00
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0030: 09 04 01 00 00 01 02 00 00 09 04 01 01 01 01 02
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0040: 00 00 07 24 01 05 01 01 00 14 24 02 01 02 03 18
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0050: 04 44 AC 00 80 BB 00 88 58 01 00 77 01 09 05 01
    Raw Descriptor (hex) 0060: 09 40 02 01 00 00 07 25 01 01 00 00 00
    Number of Interfaces: 2
    Configuration Value: 1
    Attributes: 0x80 (bus-powered)
    MaxPower: 100 ma
    Interface #0 - Audio/Control
    Alternate Setting 0
    Number of Endpoints 0
    Interface Class: 1 (Audio)
    Interface Subclass; 1 (Control)
    Interface Protocol: 0
    Audio Control Class Specific Header
    Descriptor Version Number: 01.00
    Class Specific Size: 30
    Number of Audio Interfaces: 1
    Audio Interface Number: 1
    Dump Contents (hex): 09 24 01 00 01 1E 00 01 01
    Audio Class Specific Input Terminal
    Terminal ID: 5
    Input Terminal Type: 0x101 (USB streaming)
    OutTerminal ID: 0 [NONE]
    Number of Channels: 2
    Spatial config of channels: 0000000000000011
    (null)
    (null)
    String index for first logical channel: 0
    Terminal Name String Index: 0 [NONE]
    Audio Class Specific Ouput Terminal
    Terminal ID: 8
    Output Terminal Type: 0x301 (Speaker)
    InTerminal ID: 0 [NONE]
    Source ID: 5
    Terminal Name String Index: 0 [NONE]
    Interface #1 - Audio/Streaming
    Alternate Setting 0
    Number of Endpoints 0
    Interface Class: 1 (Audio)
    Interface Subclass; 2 (Streaming)
    Interface Protocol: 0
    Interface #1 - Audio/Streaming (#1)
    Alternate Setting 1
    Number of Endpoints 1
    Interface Class: 1 (Audio)
    Interface Subclass; 2 (Streaming)
    Interface Protocol: 0
    Audio Control Class Specific Header
    Audio Stream General
    Endpoint Terminal ID: 5
    Delay: 1 frames
    Format Tag: 0x0001 (PCM)
    Audio Class Specific Audio Data Format
    Audio Stream Format Type Desc.
    Format Type: 1 PCM
    Number Of Channels: 2 STEREO
    Sub Frame Size: 3
    Bit Resolution: 24
    Sample Frequency Type: 0x04 (Discrete)
    Sample Frequency: 44100 Hz
    Sample Frequency: 48000 Hz
    Sample Frequency: 88200 Hz
    Sample Frequency: 96000 Hz
    Endpoint 0x01 - Isochronous Output
    Address: 0x01 (OUT)
    Attributes: 0x09 (Isochronous adaptive data endpoint)
    Max Packet Size: 576
    Polling Interval: 1 ms
    Class-Specific AS Audio EndPoint - Isochronous output
    Attributes: 0x01 Sample Frequency,
    bLockDelayUnits: 0x00 (UNDEFINED)
    wLockDelay: 0





     

     

     

    Associated Equipment: Mac Pro, Lynx AES16e card, Kimber USB cable v1 & v2, Benchmark DAC1 PRE, Kimber Select cable, Avalon Acoustics speakers, McIntosh tube amplification, Virtual Dynamics power cables, Richard Gray's Power Company cables, dCS Paganini DAC, dCS U-Clock, Devilsound DAC v2, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC, Ayre QB-9 USB DAC, Wavelength Audio Proton, Ayre AX-7e Integrated Amp, Windows XP "Music Server for a Song."



     

     

     
    Comments 43 Comments
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Maybe it helps you to adjust the article on a few places if I tell you that some things aren't completely clear to me ?<br />
      <br />
      <cite>It wouldn't make sense for me to say the device sounds great because after all it's an audio converter that should leave an imprint on the sound</cite><br />
      <br />
      I guess you wanted to say here "... that should not leave an imprint on the sound".<br />
      <br />
      Reading further though, I have the feeling that you might have wanted to say<br />
      <br />
      "... that should not leave an imprint on the sound, but sadly it does".<br />
      <br />
      But whatever you make of that, reading along makes me more and more confused.<br />
      It looks like you have been struggeling to turn all into something which is not really negative, changed your story and ... made it inconsistent.<br />
      Or otherwise it is just me, and I can't get it quite.<br />
      <br />
      Another thing :<br />
      <br />
      <cite>Thus, the Bel Canto USB Link is fully capable of handling digital audio natively at 16/44.1, 24/88.2, and 24/96. There is no up or down sampling necessary to pass any of these sample rates to the listener's DAC of choice.</cite><br />
      <br />
      I am not sure this is true (implying it is not hehe). Please connect it to a Vista machine, go to the properties of the device - Advanced tab, and see whether a 16/44.1 device shows up in the combobox. If yes, you are correct, if not then at least for Vista the driver prohibits 16/44.1 material to be natively played. At judging this, don't get confused with 88.2 not showing up, which is a Vista bug, and it just can (Exclusive Mode only).<br />
      <br />
      Please note I never had such a device in my hands, but can expect how it operates from the experience of similar devices (using the TAS1020).<br />
      <br />
      Just helping to improve,<br />
      Peter<br />
      <br />
      PS: Cross-posted with Elprior
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      Hi Peter,<br />
      <br />
      16bits material is transformed into 24bits, with the extra bits filled with 0s.<br />
      Apart from that, the sample rate remains unspoiled (confirmed by BelCanto, and at least displayed at expected value by dCS converter (although that does not prove bit-perfectness)).<br />
      <br />
      Elp.
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Hi Elp,<br />
      <br />
      Yes, I don't expect otherwise (bit perfectness), but I wasn't talking about that. I meant that under Vista you won't be able to connect the Bel Canto to a 16/44.1 stream unless :<br />
      <br />
      a. You use Exclusive Mode (AKA WASAPI); <br />
      b. The player software upgrades the 16 bits to 24 (harmless by itself).<br />
      <br />
      It is simple : If Vista doesn't show a 16/44.1 device, it will resample to the chosen device. Now, Vista's resampling is anything but bit perfect.<br />
      In the end it is merely the other way around : the only means to play bit perfect (Vista) is Exclusive Mode (or ASIO), and if the player software doesn't provide a 16 to 24 bits conversion, it just won't play (it won't connect). So, the TAS1020 may convert 16 to 24 bits, but it doesn't get the opportunity to do it, because ... the driver doesn't connect to 16 bits.<br />
      <br />
      <strong>IF</strong> Vista doesn't show a 16 bit connection, and I don't think it does (so, someone should really check this before it gets steamed up in here).<br />
      <br />
      Peter
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Peter - First, thanks for pointing out my grammatical error. <br />
      <br />
      Second, I think you are a bit off on the rest of your comments. I said exactly what I wanted to say in the article and your suggestion that I wanted to say otherwise is incorrect. Interjecting the phrase, <i>"... that should not leave an imprint on the sound, but sadly it does"</i> is not appropriate here. If I used such a phrase I would be obligated to say the same thing in every review because every single audio component has an imprint of some sort and I don't find it "sad" as you suggest. <br />
      <br />
      I'm not sure how you came up with the idea that I, <i>".. have been struggeling to turn all into something which is not really negative."</i> <br />
      <br />
      My assertion that the "USB Link is fully capable of handling digital audio natively at 16/44.1, 24/88.2, and 24/96. There is no up or down sampling necessary to pass any of these sample rates to the listener's DAC of choice" is 100% correct. The issues you mention are shortcomings of the Windows Vista operating system only. Again, the USB Link itself is fully capable of everything I said although certain software or operating systems may have issues that cause them not to work with any piece of hardware in this manner. <br />
      <br />
      Fortunately you and I have discussed many things off line and I don't take anything you say personally. I realize you are trying to help, but actually think you've created confusion with much of your post. I do appreciate all the knowledge and experience you bring to this site in the forums, but this time I think you are a bit off.<br />
      <br />
      Have a great week Peter :~)<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      He Peter,<br />
      <br />
      tested ok on windows xp, and BelCanto guys are claiming the same behavior under vista.<br />
      I don't quite see why they would not have included such a test, and claim the contrary.<br />
      I can test this very easily under windows 7 (expected to behave as vista, since they are very close).<br />
      <br />
      Elp.
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Yes, W7 will be similar to Vista, although the possibility exists that 88.2 and 176.4 show up there (they planned to solve that as a bug, which this 16 bit thing is not).<br />
      <br />
      If Belcanto claims a same behaviour on Vista, they clearly did not test it on Vista. Vista works totally different on this, and theoretically creates the problem for devices like this (while it is the device itself doing it).<br />
      <br />
      But if you can test that Elp, yes please and I can only hope that my fuzz about this has no ground.<br />
      I don't see why Chris can't do it though. If you have the device, it is the most simple (but if you think this is a Vista bug, well, all is worthless of course).<br />
      <br />
      Peter<br />
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      No problem Peter, I'll test this as soon as I go home.<br />
      I'll let you know the result, and we'll figure this out <br />
      <br />
      Elp
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -
      Peter,<br />
      <br />
      I did work with the Windows sound team and sent them a Proton to play with and they discovered the problem was in the middleware section of the audio stack not reporting those particular (88.2, 176.4) to the Control Panel interface. So that will be solved in 7 and an update for Vista will include that from what I was told.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      Gordon
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      He,<br />
      <br />
      I just connected the thing and here is what its reads :<br />
      24 bit, 44100 Hz (Studio Quality)<br />
      24 bit, 48000 Hz (Studio Quality)<br />
      24 bit, 96000 Hz (Studio Quality)<br />
      <br />
      Still no 88200 Hz displayed (W7 RC, this is almost the final release, hope there will be improvement here).<br />
      Have to play a 16bits/44.1khz file to test it, but not sure what to expect then.<br />
      Plus, this would mean moving the tower pc to the dining room (annoying to say the least), the laptop running windows xp.<br />
      <br />
      I'll be testing this, and again, will let you know.<br />
      <br />
      Elp.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Just to make things clear for everyone. The limitations listed above have nothing to do with the Bel Canto USB Link. They are limitations of the Windows operating system.
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Thanks. And exactly what I said. You don't need to test it, it won't play (16/44.1).<br />
      <br />
      But if it plays in your situation, Vista will have resampled it (Shared Mode).<br />
      The real merits can only be tested with Exclusive Mode Foobar/WASAPI), and you will see that it won't play at 16 bits ouput (XXHighEnd will, but this is because she converts the 16 bits to 24).<br />
      <br />
      Thanks,<br />
      Peter
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Chris, I am sorry, but this is not so. There is no way 16 bits can be output to such a device, because the device improperly tells the (Windows) driver she can accept it. This is not related to the 88.2 and 176.4 bug I started to talk about myself BECAUSE YOU JUST CAN TALK THAT RATES TO THE DEVICE ... because it accepts that for sure. It's only not shown in the list.<br />
      <br />
      If you know more or better, please explain.<br />
      Start with telling why the device doesn't show 16 bits for a possibility, which is something the device must tell. There is nothing strange about that, because 999 out of 1000 DACs and soundcards do. These devices, all of the exact same type, do not. If it is a Windows bug afterall that it doesn't come through, fine. But it still won't play at 16 bits output.<br />
      <br />
      Please note the difference with the 88.2/176.4 bug, which won't allow resampling to that rate by Vista in Shared Mode. *That* is a sure bug, and it needs Exclusive mode to make them work at that rate (because they just can).<br />
      <br />
      Yes, it is confusing, sorry about that ...<br />
      Peter<br />
      <br />
      PS: I only hope the message comes through that the Bel Canto does not play at 16 bits output on the majority of computers; why or who and what to blame is irrelevant.<br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Peter - I'm not sure what you are talking about. I just conducted a test using the Bel Canto USB Link, dCS Paganini DAC, Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit, and Mac OS X Leopard. I played 16/44.1 content and 16/44.1 content was received by the DAC as evidenced by the display on the dCS Paganini. Here are the pictures taken with my iPhone. Please excuse the quality.<br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
      <br />
      <center>Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit & Mac OS X</center> <center> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2009/0824/photo-1.jpg"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2009/0824/photo-1-33.jpg" alt="Bel Canto USB Link 02"></a> </center><center>click to enlarge</center><br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
      <br />
      <center>Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit & Mac OS X</center> <center> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2009/0824/photo.jpg"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2009/0824/photo-33.jpg" alt="Bel Canto USB Link 01"></a> </center><center>click to enlarge</center><br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
      <br />
      &nbsp; <br />
    1. JR_Audio's Avatar
      JR_Audio -
      Some small comments added:<br />
      <br />
      I also own this Bel Canto device, just for testing (not for listening). I have tested it with AP System and this device is 24 Bit 1:1 Bit-True, so all data leave the unit, as they enter the unit. 16 Bit as 16 Bit, and 24 Bit as 24 Bit, everything untouched.<br />
      <br />
      The “only” drawback of the Bel Canto device is the relatively high jitter at the output, because of the adaptive mode, without any high effort in reducing the jitter. (I personally prefer a 1:1 Bit True device over some other devices that reach low jitter, with the “help” of ASRC (they have low jitter in dead, but “destroy” the original data and are not longer Bit True).<br />
      <br />
      As with Vista and 88K2: If you are using either the ASIO over the ASIO4ALL wrapper to the device, or if you are using the exclusive Mode in WASAPI, you will have also 88.2 in 24 Bit 1:1 Bit true and automatic sample rate change (Vista SP2 and J.River MC14)<br />
      <br />
      Juergen<br />
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      weird result indeed.<br />
      I am told by BelCanto that a 16bits signal is transformed into a 24bits one with the extra 8bits filled with 0s.<br />
      I would have expected the Paganini to display 24/44.1 instead of 16/44.1.<br />
      I'll re-test this with the Delius and the Purcell, but am pretty sure they are both (without being connected to each other) telling 24bits input words.<br />
      <br />
      Do you think the Paganini is "kind of" detecting the 0s ?<br />
      <br />
      Elp.<br />
      <br />
      PS : what a nice stack of electronics you are displaying on the picture : BelCanto / dCS / Berkeley ... very nice indeed.
    1. JR_Audio's Avatar
      JR_Audio -
      24 Bit out of 16 Bit in<br />
      <br />
      It depends on the setting of your playback software and operating system. In Windows XP, without ASIO4ALL, and in Vista without exclusive WASAPI, you will have 24 bit out of a 16 bit input (and also not bit true). In OSX, when you match the sample rate of the input to that of the MIDI Audio setup, you will be bit true, means 16 bit comes out, when 16 bit comes in.<br />
      <br />
      Juergen<br />
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      Hi Juergen,<br />
      <br />
      I'm pretty sure that is not the goal of the BelCanto Link, that is to be used through either ASIO4ALL or WASAPI.<br />
      The intend is to get this small box connected, and go for bit perfectness.<br />
      <br />
      Plus, this is not what BelCanto explains when asked about.<br />
      They told me that it would be outputing 24bits word for 16bits input, but with the last 8bits full of 0s, and the remaining being the original 16bits untouched.<br />
      <br />
      I don't think Chris was using the WASAPI during his test (see pictures above), did you Chris ?<br />
      Else, what's the point at telling this is as easy to use as just to plug it ?<br />
      <br />
      Elp.
    1. PeterSt's Avatar
      PeterSt -
      Dear Chris,<br />
      <br />
      I am staring at your last post for over 90 minutes now, and luckily just some backup from Erp came in, which now drives me to answer anything I don't know as off right now.<br />
      <br />
      ...<br />
      <br />
      ...<br />
      <br />
      :-) Ok, here goes. First off, I think it must be "some" 100% you did not use Exclusive Mode here. Or in other words, you can't have used a WASAPI based playback means which additonally to it being that, works in Exclusive Mode. The most easy to use - and to trust on this is Foobar with WASAPI plugin (which you need to select for output), and if you do so, you will see that it won't play, unless you set the output to 24 bits (default is 16 or the last you ever set).<br />
      <br />
      Side note : If you see for your 64 bit a 16 bit output setting for the Bel Canto (see Elp's earlier post) then things are different. This IMO can be so because 64 bit drivers are different from 32 bit drivers).<br />
      <br />
      Now, not assuming the latter, you will see that Foobar only plays at 24 bit output ...<br />
      <br />
      Next things are just guessings, which Elp already did for me : it must (or should or can or ...) be so that the Paganini sees that it is 16 bits only what it is receiving (long shot, because I wouldn't know how it can see that), which physically may be very well the case, assuming that Foobar just padds to 24 bits, hence leaves the additional byte at zeroes (which literally is not true, because the 3 byte word will shift one byte, and it is another byte which turns into zeroes, but never mind this at this moment).<br />
      <br />
      The truth on this long shot can be tested by using XXHighEnd by setting "DAC Is" to 24/96 and "DAC Needs" to 24 bits (not 32), and attenuate the volume a tad. This will actually utilize the 24 bits and it will force the Paganini into thinking that it receives 24 bits. If it still shows 16 bits in this case, something very different is going on, but let's put that aside for now.<br />
      <br />
      Assuming you won't go into the trouble of the latter (use XXHighEnd to try), it leaves us with<br />
      a. What happens at the Paganini side, showing that it receives 16 bits (leaving in the dark whether it ever will see 24 bits when the things are tweaked as should (XXHE);<br />
      b. What this will be worth for any other DAC behind teh Bel Canto.<br />
      <br />
      No matter what, and when my assumptions are correct so far, it must be the Paganini making something of it ... somehow. The "somehow" I denote as "officially wrong because confusing", but that is not the subject here.<br />
      <br />
      The other scenario : Shared Mode.<br />
      <br />
      Because it can be expected that you didn't specifically try WASAPI Exclusive Mode, you must have been using one of the settings as shown by Elp. 24/44.1 would be the most logical that being the closest to 16/44.1 which is what you want. The closing part is the same as from the before scenario : The audio words sent out are physically 24 bits, but since one byte is zero always, the Paganini says it's 16 bits only.<br />
      <br />
      Right now I can't think of more, and I realize that my long shot is about the Paganini discovering to receive 16 used bits out of 24 physical bits, and I don't believe this can happen. Or ... Note that this can only happen when the hardware detects that there's just no low level resolution after x number of received audio words, which indeed would be something I'd dare to decide on myself. In order to understand this, again think of the shifted byte I mentioned. Thus, it is not the loudest byte which is zeroed at padding, it is the softest byte, hence the one which brings the real 24 bit resolution. If that is always 0 after a first signal is detected (and say for 1 second after that), it is the most hard to believe that this lowest byte is zero by coincidence. Conclusion : 16 bits really (which out of all is true of course !).<br />
      But if this is (all) so, the Paganini will really be the only one acting like this, and it is just a coincidental "bad case of test equipment".<br />
      <br />
      Lastly :<br />
      <br />
      <cite>I am told by BelCanto that a 16bits signal is transformed into a 24bits one with the extra 8bits filled with 0s.<br />
      I would have expected the Paganini to display 24/44.1 instead of 16/44.1.</cite><br />
      <br />
      This is the confusing part, because it will be true. So, on one side this kind of would proove that the Paganini uses its own intelligence (if this would be happening, read on), but on the other side this part of the game just doesn't come into play. Why ? because there is no way 16 bits output will connect to the driver, be it a Windows problem or other. So, funny enough all manufacturers will tell you this, but apparently they all did not try on Vista WASAPI Exclusive, which is the only mode which tells the real truth and merits because in that mode resampling is just not possible, and only playback software can do it.<br />
      Ask Steve N. and he will tell the same as Bel Canto told you.<br />
      <br />
      Ask Gordon, and I don't know what he will say. The only thing I know is that he told me enough to solve the problem for XXHE. By now he too may scratch his head. But I guess we'll soon find out.<br />
      <br />
      Sorry for the long post, and Chris, please let me know where I am wrong, may be wrong, may be right or any other option you may think of yourself. Btw, this is not about being right but about getting these devices to work for everyone without them causing resampling (which one might not be aware of).<br />
      <br />
      Best,<br />
      Peter<br />
      <br />
    1. JR_Audio's Avatar
      JR_Audio -
      What means 16 Bit?<br />
      <br />
      If I am sending 16 Bit Data on a 24 Bit Audio-Bus (SPDIF / AESEBU) or TAS1020 USB Device, and if the system is bit true, than I receive the same 16 Bit at the end and all other Bits are Zero (I do not need to fill this with Zero, they are originally zero). So my AP System indicates Bits 17 to 24 are unused and they are zero. If I would send 16 Bit Audio via Wave Out or Direct Sound out to the Bel Canto, I will have activities of all 24 Bits, so not longer bit true. But Bel Canto has not to fill in the Bits 17 to 24 with Zero, on a 24 Bit Audio-Bus, they are already zero, when not used.<br />
      <br />
      Juergen<br />
    1. Elprior's Avatar
      Elprior -
      Yes indeed.<br />
      <br />
      We consider 24bits instead of 16bits (with 0s on extra bits, ... blablabla) to be harmless (am I right ?), and not as being a huge violation of the 'bit perfect' predicate.<br />
      <br />
      That's also why Peter and I can't understand the Paganini saying 16 instead of expected 24 value.<br />
      <br />
      Chris, we desperately need you on this one.<br />
      I agree with Peter : this is about understanding how it will end up with windows (vista/7).<br />
      <br />
      Elp.<br />
      <br />
      PS : excerpt from the mail with BelCanto :<br />
      <cite><br />
      It is bit perfect and transmits at the native bit rate-in 24 bit mode but with no upsampling of any kind. 16/44.1 is transmitted at 24/44.1 but the last 8 bits are 0s with the original 16 bits in the 16 MSB positions.<br />
      </cite>