My Pinkfaun 2.16 ultra experience

...cont.

Kristian Bezuidenhout plays a mean Beethoven Piano Concerto 4 in G. The recording on Harmonia Mundi with Pablo Heras-Casado is outstanding. The dynamics in the second and third movements is a good test for any system. Whether a system can populate the size of that space while maintaining control during these dynamic swings is a good test. With the v2 USB card, I get the fullness of the strings and tympanis but in comparison with the Ultra card, the lower mids and bass are not as clearly resolved. It’s clearly the same family of sound with good details and texture, just less focused. The bass looser with the v2 but I think ultimately it’s still enjoyable in classical music. The double bass sounds fill up the room. Piano is less punchy more sweet. An acceptable outcome and pleasing but overall not as natural as with the Ultra card.

harmonia.jpg

In this recording, Bezuidenhout plays a Conrad Graf piano. This is a period piano, around the time of and familiar to Beethoven, with a sound that is “heavier, less tinkling, and shifted in the direction of the modern piano” (Wikipedia) compared to period pianos which sounded more like harpsichords. I like the sound of this and when played through the v2 and Ultra card, both presents differently. Sweeter and fatter sounding action with the v2, tighter and sharper with the Ultra like the hammer felt pads have changed. I feel the Ultra is more natural and true to the sound but both are valid interpretations of the piece.

My next finding is with a Horowitz piece, the Schubert Impromptu No.3, Op90. I watched his Vienna performance in 1987 on Youtube which I cannot find on CD nor streaming. So I downloaded the clip


of his performance and extracted the MP3 from it. The strange thing for this is half way through the piece, a church bell starts ringing. Probably it’s the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Pummerin Bell which is around 800m away from the Musikverein Golden Hall where the piece was recorded. With the Ultra, the bells are clear, even the decay and echos are laid out clearly, almost as loud as the piano playing in some parts. This piano piece has low bass notes that, along with Horowitz’s pedal actions, is easy to sound muddled up. Not so with the Ultra card, those notes are clear and the texture of the piano bass strings are clear to hear. With the v2 card the piece still sounded excellent, but the bell is less defined, piano bass trills are slightly muddled.

One Snowy White track I like is the Blues is the Road (Remastered) on Tidal. On the v2 card the track sound great. Images are tight and focused. Bass taut, electric guitar exciting and energetic without being harsh. Switching to the Ultra card and suddenly, the cymbals at the beginning are that much more natural and real sounding. The already tight images are a clearer in space and Terence’s vocals are uncannily real. A great recording becomes just that much better. An example of a pop/rock track sounding natural, yup it can be so.

The Best Of.jpg

The same 3 character points I mentioned above are true for all tracks I listen to during my comparisons. For some just a little different but for others the changes are pretty obvious. Natural, tighter lower-mid/bass and tighter imaging.

The Ultra USB card has a Molex connector at the back. And since it comes with a well made Molex cable, I suppose Pink Faun wanted one to try using the internal power as well. For the longest time, I had (and still have) the belief that the quality of power to the last device prior to the DAC is critical. So for many years I have been working hard to prepare the very best DC supply I could muster for my chosen bridge USB or any other bridge, as an external supply. It’s always a good idea to have a quality DC supply handy as so many audiophile devices need them eventually. for me, it’s a keeper device in hifi.

So I have collected a few Paul Hynes, double regulated DR7t DC rails. One of them is made of teflon, with z-foil resistors and is regarded as the best ever made by Paul especially the latest incarnation with the teflon daughter boards incorporated into the main teflon board. All the tests above were made with this 5V/10A DR7tTef power supply.

When I compared this external supply with the internal Molex supply to the Ultra USB Card, I was expecting a significant difference in sound quality. Not so! The Ultra USB bridge powered internally sounded sweet, detailed and controlled. I would be happy to use this. For the ultimate nit picking, it its still a small step lower than the sound with the DR7tTef which provides more bass control and real sounds of minor details. Like in the Horowitz Schubert track mentioned above, the church bells are audibly more real and clear with the DR7tTef. But the molex internal power is smoother and a touch sweeter to listen to. Perhaps I need to add more output capacitors to my Paul Hynes rail to up it’s game. :D With the Snowy White track, the internal Molex power sounds so good. Without PH side by side to compare, the Ultra with molex power is already clearly a step forward from v2. I’m going to leave the internal molex cable connected even when I will be using the DR7tTef and switch between them for further trials. This is easy to do since the Ultra USB bridge switches power automatically when an external supply is plugged in or taken out. The super capacitors continue to work normally despite the disruption of power.

The internal molex connected supply sounding good is a significant point as the preparation of a quality external DC supply is not trivial in effort nor cost. My Paul Hynes rails and it’s wired connections cost far more than the Ultra USB Card - so if the sound is already that good with just the internal molex supply, perhaps for many this will already be good enough. The last time I used the internal molex supply was with the v1/OCXO card before my DR7tTef was completed. When I eventually switched, there was a clear step up in sound quality going to external power as I had expected. Given that this time the jump in sound quality isn’t nearly as large, it seems to suggest the new power system in the Ultra USB card is doing a good job even when powered internally.

As for value, the Ultra USB card is not cheap at €3250. It clearly offers better sound but at many times the price of the v2 card, is it worth it? For me it's a yes! Until recently my v2 is already performing at such a high level and I was very happy with its sound. However, having heard the Ultra and experienced the added emotional connection to the music through the card, I won’t be going back to the v2 anytime soon. With the added advantage of using internal molex power supply without the need to an expensive external supply, I wonder if the high sound quality can be achieved using the Ultra card with a lower cost DIY PC? Difficult to know as Pink Faun is initially selling Ultra USB cards to users of Pink Faun streamers initially. Who knows, things change over time.

Recently alongside many new USB offerings on the market and new esoteric connection formats, with this new Ultra USB bridge I think that Pink Faun has proven that the USB standard can offer, not a baby step but quite a leap of next level performance and this surely makes it the King of USB bridges today. I will continue to try other USB cards as they come my way but for now, I look forward to spending time with it and rediscovering my entire collection of music for new insights.

Regards to all, Kin
 
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They use 5x 10F super capacitors. That is 50.000.000uf.

The capacitance of the super caps is crazy - this card has a bank of 50,000,000uF, when a typical "full size" monoblock has only ~250.000uF. That is 200x more PSU capacitance!

If the voltage wasn't only 3V, those supercaps could be used to weld stuff (and easily kill you).
Response I received about your statement in Highend forum in Czech rep. :
Anyway, that's a respectable amount of power, but the guys on the whatsbest forum have distorted ideas.

The actual value of the electric charge is the product of the capacitance and voltage values of the capacitors.
So you can't compare capacitor batteries of a USB card running at 3V and a power amplifier that runs at 60-100V only based on the uF value.
An example to visualize the real state.
50,000,000 uF x 3V = 150,000,000 Q
250,000 uF x 80V = 20,000,000 Q
The ratio of the actual value of the capacity of el. the charge of the described examples is about 7 x not 200 x larger.
 
Just finished working on them, should be fine now. Thanks for heads up
I just installed the Ultra USB bridge. Without even a break in period the improvement is not subtle. I’ve never been particularly good at descriptions, but the detail and dimensionality of the sound is amazing!
 
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I just installed the Ultra USB bridge. Without even a break in period the improvement is not subtle. I’ve never been particularly good at descriptions, but the detail and dimensionality of the sound is amazing!
Yes the Ultra card is a huge step forward. I dare say it sounds like more like a major component upgrade.
 
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Yes the Ultra card is a huge step forward. I dare say it sounds like more like a major component upgrade.
I have a trial card in place and intend going back to the original to compare but it's sounding so good I can't get up the enthusiasm.. it is just so revealing of the music .. as you say like a component upgrade ... If I get to comparing them I will try and do a report of what it improved
 
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I compared it with the PF USB v2 card and it's night and day different, not incremental. If someone could compare it with other cards that would be great. I don't have any others to try against right now.
I am very curious to listen to a PF Ultra server with the Ultra USB card.
Do PF recommend a certain DAC with this card?
I recall some time ago PF made their own DACs. :cool:
 
I’m using a Vinnie Rossi DAC2 (AKM AK4497EQ chips). Plays in NOS mode and sound great with the Ultra Card.

I’ve heard the Pink Faun DAC which uses the old Burr Brown 1795 chip. Wow is the word for it. Plays to 192 but unfortunately the PF DAC not for sale at this time.

Try the USB ultra if you can. It’s a large step up.
 
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I am very curious to listen to a PF Ultra server with the Ultra USB card.
Do PF recommend a certain DAC with this card?
I recall some time ago PF made their own DACs. :cool:
Jord has MSB ref in his room, so….
 
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I am very curious to listen to a PF Ultra server with the Ultra USB card.
Do PF recommend a certain DAC with this card?
I recall some time ago PF made their own DACs. :cool:
I'm using nagra hd upgraded to classic and it sounds superb.. also heard ac helene in my system .. really good - I would think hard to beat value .. I don't think you can go wrong
 
yes!I am testing ultra usb with WADAX REF DAC, and pk with WADAX Server linked to the power unit via Akasa.
 

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I’ve been following this thread, some great music recommendations as well as the updates on the ultra USB card.
Just received my Ultra USB card from Jord— and also a new PF Ultra USB cable!
USB cable is gorgeous it’s three braided, each about the size of a regular straw, w/ super connectors.

More importantly I found out about Farad Power across the street in the Netherlands…Mattijs is the owner and also chief designer of the PF music streamers— The Super 3 Power Supply w/the step up in silver power cable— is a beautiful well built power supply— very advanced electronics and super caps.


Easy to install the new Ultra USB card, and also I change the 2032 round coin battery inside my 2.16x streamer as well.

I let it slowly burn in —leaving it on for about a week—
—-wow— the increase in natural air , soundstage and fine detail is very impressive.. would not describe the background as black —-but— it’s a realistic air air and now I hear more of a natural air around voices and the Imaging has enormous space.

Very much recommend the new ultra USB card w/ the ultra USB cable— and the Farad Super 3 power supply.

(don’t forget to change your round 2032 coin battery when you install a new card).

* also note—Damian at PF showed me a trick to better seat the USB card when you install it.

There’s one screw that needs to be loosened on the back panel which frees up just enough space so it all allows the click of the card into the base… I attached a photo.
 

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Yes this new Pink Faun Ultra USB card is a huge step up, it like upgrading the entire streamer to a higher end model.

This installation trick with the screw is only needed for the 2.16x streamer. I don’t believe it’s needed for the Ultra streamer?

Also it’s worth trying to power it internally using the built in spare Molex connector rather than externally. For me this is now my preferred way rather than using external power. I’m getting perfect tone / detail balance from it.

If you do power it externally, have to ensure that external power is on first before booting up the streamer.
 
I will update the match dual pink(ultra usb)with wadax reference(psu and akasa cable) later through my Wechat Media of China. Then will post some information here.
 

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...cont.

Kristian Bezuidenhout plays a mean Beethoven Piano Concerto 4 in G. The recording on Harmonia Mundi with Pablo Heras-Casado is outstanding. The dynamics in the second and third movements is a good test for any system. Whether a system can populate the size of that space while maintaining control during these dynamic swings is a good test. With the v2 USB card, I get the fullness of the strings and tympanis but in comparison with the Ultra card, the lower mids and bass are not as clearly resolved. It’s clearly the same family of sound with good details and texture, just less focused. The bass looser with the v2 but I think ultimately it’s still enjoyable in classical music. The double bass sounds fill up the room. Piano is less punchy more sweet. An acceptable outcome and pleasing but overall not as natural as with the Ultra card.

View attachment 130195

In this recording, Bezuidenhout plays a Conrad Graf piano. This is a period piano, around the time of and familiar to Beethoven, with a sound that is “heavier, less tinkling, and shifted in the direction of the modern piano” (Wikipedia) compared to period pianos which sounded more like harpsichords. I like the sound of this and when played through the v2 and Ultra card, both presents differently. Sweeter and fatter sounding action with the v2, tighter and sharper with the Ultra like the hammer felt pads have changed. I feel the Ultra is more natural and true to the sound but both are valid interpretations of the piece.

My next finding is with a Horowitz piece, the Schubert Impromptu No.3, Op90. I watched his Vienna performance in 1987 on Youtube which I cannot find on CD nor streaming. So I downloaded the clip


of his performance and extracted the MP3 from it. The strange thing for this is half way through the piece, a church bell starts ringing. Probably it’s the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Pummerin Bell which is around 800m away from the Musikverein Golden Hall where the piece was recorded. With the Ultra, the bells are clear, even the decay and echos are laid out clearly, almost as loud as the piano playing in some parts. This piano piece has low bass notes that, along with Horowitz’s pedal actions, is easy to sound muddled up. Not so with the Ultra card, those notes are clear and the texture of the piano bass strings are clear to hear. With the v2 card the piece still sounded excellent, but the bell is less defined, piano bass trills are slightly muddled.

One Snowy White track I like is the Blues is the Road (Remastered) on Tidal. On the v2 card the track sound great. Images are tight and focused. Bass taut, electric guitar exciting and energetic without being harsh. Switching to the Ultra card and suddenly, the cymbals at the beginning are that much more natural and real sounding. The already tight images are a clearer in space and Terence’s vocals are uncannily real. A great recording becomes just that much better. An example of a pop/rock track sounding natural, yup it can be so.

View attachment 130197

The same 3 character points I mentioned above are true for all tracks I listen to during my comparisons. For some just a little different but for others the changes are pretty obvious. Natural, tighter lower-mid/bass and tighter imaging.

The Ultra USB card has a Molex connector at the back. And since it comes with a well made Molex cable, I suppose Pink Faun wanted one to try using the internal power as well. For the longest time, I had (and still have) the belief that the quality of power to the last device prior to the DAC is critical. So for many years I have been working hard to prepare the very best DC supply I could muster for my chosen bridge USB or any other bridge, as an external supply. It’s always a good idea to have a quality DC supply handy as so many audiophile devices need them eventually. for me, it’s a keeper device in hifi.

So I have collected a few Paul Hynes, double regulated DR7t DC rails. One of them is made of teflon, with z-foil resistors and is regarded as the best ever made by Paul especially the latest incarnation with the teflon daughter boards incorporated into the main teflon board. All the tests above were made with this 5V/10A DR7tTef power supply.

When I compared this external supply with the internal Molex supply to the Ultra USB Card, I was expecting a significant difference in sound quality. Not so! The Ultra USB bridge powered internally sounded sweet, detailed and controlled. I would be happy to use this. For the ultimate nit picking, it its still a small step lower than the sound with the DR7tTef which provides more bass control and real sounds of minor details. Like in the Horowitz Schubert track mentioned above, the church bells are audibly more real and clear with the DR7tTef. But the molex internal power is smoother and a touch sweeter to listen to. Perhaps I need to add more output capacitors to my Paul Hynes rail to up it’s game. :D With the Snowy White track, the internal Molex power sounds so good. Without PH side by side to compare, the Ultra with molex power is already clearly a step forward from v2. I’m going to leave the internal molex cable connected even when I will be using the DR7tTef and switch between them for further trials. This is easy to do since the Ultra USB bridge switches power automatically when an external supply is plugged in or taken out. The super capacitors continue to work normally despite the disruption of power.

The internal molex connected supply sounding good is a significant point as the preparation of a quality external DC supply is not trivial in effort nor cost. My Paul Hynes rails and it’s wired connections cost far more than the Ultra USB Card - so if the sound is already that good with just the internal molex supply, perhaps for many this will already be good enough. The last time I used the internal molex supply was with the v1/OCXO card before my DR7tTef was completed. When I eventually switched, there was a clear step up in sound quality going to external power as I had expected. Given that this time the jump in sound quality isn’t nearly as large, it seems to suggest the new power system in the Ultra USB card is doing a good job even when powered internally.

As for value, the Ultra USB card is not cheap at €3250. It clearly offers better sound but at many times the price of the v2 card, is it worth it? For me it's a yes! Until recently my v2 is already performing at such a high level and I was very happy with its sound. However, having heard the Ultra and experienced the added emotional connection to the music through the card, I won’t be going back to the v2 anytime soon. With the added advantage of using internal molex power supply without the need to an expensive external supply, I wonder if the high sound quality can be achieved using the Ultra card with a lower cost DIY PC? Difficult to know as Pink Faun is initially selling Ultra USB cards to users of Pink Faun streamers initially. Who knows, things change over time.

Recently alongside many new USB offerings on the market and new esoteric connection formats, with this new Ultra USB bridge I think that Pink Faun has proven that the USB standard can offer, not a baby step but quite a leap of next level performance and this surely makes it the King of USB bridges today. I will continue to try other USB cards as they come my way but for now, I look forward to spending time with it and rediscovering my entire collection of music for new insights.

Regards to all, Kin

Thanks for the review, Kin.
 
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