Marco at M2Tech generously sent me the new Mac drivers for 10.6. The file is called hiface 1045106.dmg. What a surprising difference. The edginess that had been concerning me – an all pervading roughness that flattened the stereo illusion of depth and took away from the delight of female voices – was far reduced.
Performance is now really rather good and for the price it’s excellent.
But it is still not a high end solution. The Firewire output from my Mac into the TC Konnect 8 is still significantly better in virtually every way: More detail, better low end, sweeter voices and the list continues. There is a price difference of course: The Konnect 8 with a modified Naim PSC is around £500 making it around five times the cost of the hiFace. The question is, are you trying to save money or are you an audiophile?
Getting Pure Music was the motivation I needed to try the hiFace M2Tech again. Last time the results were a little dissapointing: it wasn’t the giant killer that various forumites had been writing about. It was OK value for it’s price of around £105 including the BNC output, but in my opinion no more.
To recap the M2Tech is a USB2 to S/PDIF device that comes in a small portable package.
More info here.
One caveat, and hence one more experiment required, is that I have been using the M2 with a 5metre coaxial digital cable terminated in BNC plugs. Maybe it would work better with a 5m long USB cable and a short digital? That’s for another day.
Remember that I’m comparing a budget USB to S/PDIF device with a more expensive Firewire based device powered by a good stiff linear PS (a modified Naim PSC). No great surprise that there was a difference especially as the Konnect 8 is my favourite way of getting digital music from a computer so far.
The results using the same system as used for the Pure Music listening, but substituting the M2 and cables for the Konnect 8 and cables, wern’t in the same league. The M2 is rougher, more two dimensional and just lacks the sheer class of the Konnect 8 based interface.
Pure Music works well with it, and Memory Play sounded cleaner and tidier than standard play.
With this and the Pure Music listening it’s just the start of the process. More when I’ve experienced them in more than one system.
Postscript: I experimented today with a 5m long hi-speed USB cable and a one metre BNC to BNC S/PDIF cable. There was a small improvement over the 5m S/PDIF cable but the results were still a little dissapointing. To be fair, the M2Tech is a budget product and as such sounds great. It just doesn’t really cut it in a high-end system.
Having a PC in my listening room was convenient as I have often been experimenting with different audio playback apps, sound cards, and all the various drivers like ASIO and Kernel Streaming.
The problem though was the noise of the PC. All that investment in a great hi-fi system and a signal to noise ratio destroyed by computer fans.
The solution came to me last week and it was simple.
OK, I have an advantage: a cable company as a client. Nigel at Chord was kind enough to send me a 5m HDMI Silver Plus cable and two DVI to HDMI adapters.
The experiment was to move the PC outside my listening room and then to use a 5m Chord HDMI and 5m USB cables to monitor and control the PC.
The worry was running a good monitor at 1920 by 1200 over a 5m HDMI cable. Would the image quality be reduced? The image was absolutely fine and so much so that I temporarily tried a 10 m cable which worked just as well.
Definitely a result. Noise removed from my listening room, the hi-fi sounds significantly better. The computer is no harder to use. I’ll use a USB DVD drive near the monitor for normal stuff but walk the few metres to use the Plextor Premium CD drive for serious ripping.
As designers will often say, designing a product with a strict budget in mind is very often far harder than designing something state of the art.
Chord set out to achieve superb performance at a very affordable price. The SuperScreen mains cable delivers wonderful value for money at £65 for a one metre cable.
In response to calls from frustrated customers, The Chord Company is supplying its first ever electronic component. Many owners of flat screens and projectors have benefited from connecting their components with Chord’s award winning HDMI Silver Plus cable but this hasn’t solved an increasing problem: the lack of available HDMI inputs. The solution is an HDMI Switching Matrix
HDMI Switching Matrix
The Chord Company has launched a improved version of its Indigo Cable called Indigo Plus.
Click on the Chord Tab above for Images
This cable is a significant improvement over Indigo. Existing owners can talk to Chord or their Chord retailer from March onward about getting their cables upgraded.