Digital Audio Output Differences? Is USB Audio Really The Top-notch?

Preston8452

Member
Jan 6, 2022
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Hello guys,

So after some struggles between spending time in optimizing my PC audio functionalities and adopting a dedicated music streamer, I opted for the second one.
I purchased the Munich M1T by Silent Angel, given it's good reviews in UK and Germany and Switzerland, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot, but frankly speaking, the mainly reason was because the price fits my wallet more hahahah...

Anyways, so there are several digital outputs on its back panel, AES/EBU; I2S(HDMI), Coaxial, USB Audio, hell hahah, I have literally no idea which one is better or which can provide a special feature or something, I mean it does show that the USB Audio supports up to up to PCM 768KHz and DSD 11.2M (DSD256), but does that the higher the sampling rate, the better the sound quality? I just can't make sure...

And if the USB Audio can provide the " best " digital sound quality, then why added other ports? Ain't that just costing more on the manufacturing end?
Hope you guys can give some insights on this, or share some of your experiences, because this is the first time I saw an AES/EBU port on a audio streamer...

Best,
 
Last edited:

markramler

Well-Known Member
Sep 20, 2014
45
45
195
New York, NY
Hello guys,

So after some struggles between spending time in optimizing my PC audio functionalities and adopting a dedicated music streamer, I opted for the second one.
I purchased the Munich M1T by Silent Angel, given it's good reviews in UK and Germany and Switzerland, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot, but frankly speaking, the mainly reason was because the price fits my wallet more hahahah...

Anyways, so there are several digital outputs on its back panel, AES/EBU; I2S(HDMI), Coaxial, USB Audio, hell hahah, I have literally no idea which one is better or which can provide a special feature or something, I mean it does show that the USB Audio supports up to up to PCM 768KHz and DSD 11.2M (DSD256), but does that the higher the sampling rate, the better the sound quality? I just can't make sure...

And if the USB Audio can provide the " best " digital sound quality, then why added other ports? Ain't that just costing more on the manufacturing end?
Hope you guys can give some insights on this, or share some of your experiences, because this is the first time I saw an AES/EBU port on a audio streamer...

Best,
This is very helpful in understanding the architecture of digital streaming.

 

AMR / iFi audio

Industry Expert
Aug 21, 2019
1,794
786
200
41
UK
ifi-audio.com
Hello guys,

So after some struggles between spending time in optimizing my PC audio functionalities and adopting a dedicated music streamer, I opted for the second one.
I purchased the Munich M1T by Silent Angel, given it's good reviews in UK and Germany and Switzerland, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a shot, but frankly speaking, the mainly reason was because the price fits my wallet more hahahah...

Anyways, so there are several digital outputs on its back panel, AES/EBU; I2S(HDMI), Coaxial, USB Audio, hell hahah, I have literally no idea which one is better or which can provide a special feature or something, I mean it does show that the USB Audio supports up to up to PCM 768KHz and DSD 11.2M (DSD256), but does that the higher the sampling rate, the better the sound quality? I just can't make sure...

And if the USB Audio can provide the " best " digital sound quality, then why added other ports? Ain't that just costing more on the manufacturing end?
Hope you guys can give some insights on this, or share some of your experiences, because this is the first time I saw an AES/EBU port on a audio streamer...

Best,
@Preston8452 a very interesting question. The short answer: there is no perfect audio interface to use.

USB seems to be the most obvious answer since it has the largest compatibility.
I2S(via HDMI) is a new standard that is still settling in. I've seen a few different pinouts for this connection, so it's important to check it when used. I2S is an interface that is used by audio chips inside the gear, so it seems to be perfect, as it doesn't need conversions. On the other hand, it's prone to interference, especially over longer distances. That's why it needs relatively complex interfacing circuits and an HDMI cable.
Coax, AES/EBU and TOSLINK are in one group, as they are variants of the S/PDIF format (generally speaking). While they lack the bandwidth of previous ones they are still very popular. Those are one of the first digital audio interfaces.

So, which one is the best? Depends on your needs and your gear. If you want to use the newest hi-res formats, then both USB and I2S are the answer.
When interfacing with older DAC, S/PDIF based connections will probably sound the best, as this system is mature for many years already. When that device was made USB and I2S might still be fairly new and not that polished.

That also answers the question of why are there so many interfaces in Munich M1T. Every customer can have different needs and different gear.
 
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