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  • HiRez Netbook audio system

    Put together an ASUS Netbook with a Musiland external USB DAC and you get to try out the latest in asynchronous USB technology. It supports 24bit/192KHz stereo output, and this looks to be native sample rates, not upsampled/sample rate converted.

    Just received the Musiland Monitor 01 US yesterday and got it setup. Going to give it a try this evening. Should be interesting to hear what it can do.
    Better living through Audio Nirvana!

  • #2
    Pics? Links? Test results? Detailed listening reports? Results of blind testing?

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    • #3
      http://www.pacificvalve.us/MusilandMonitor01US.html

      looks like a good candidate to pair with a Gizmo or something like the SP3 for streaming FLAC files.

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      • #4
        The Netbook is a ASUS eeePC. You found the Musiland model.

        I am using MediaMonkey to do native rates from 16bit/44.1KHz to 24bit/192KHz to the Musiland. Sounds really nice to me over Sennheiser HD650's. Tried it on my friends setup this evening and it sounds very good. No matched level comparisons, but it sounds better than the price would have anyone think.

        And the description on the Pacific Valve website is incorrect. It is not a Xilinx CODEC based DAC. There are pleanty of pictures on eBay to show what is inside. :doh! 1:
        Better living through Audio Nirvana!

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        • #5
          This sounds very cool. I thought I read somewhere the USB was limited to 24bit/96khz only. I wouldn't mind getting one except for the part about getting a PC (although) they can be had for very low prices these days.
          PhenomeNhan Audio Video

          Your authorized ONIX dealer for the Great States of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.!
          [email protected]

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          • #6
            Nhan,
            The Netbook was under $300. Very quiet unit even with the fan and hard drive running. The ASUS is running Windows XP Home.

            The USB2.0 interface is not limited to 24bit/96KHz as far as data rate is concerned. The issue is using the Windows drivers. These companies have written their own drivers and that is why they only support a few Music Server programs like Foobar2000 and MediaMonkey that allow this style of format. The nice thing is that both Foobar2000 and MediaMonkey Basic are free downloads.

            Next trip to an audioshow like the three this year I know of, I will have this setup to demo music if all the rooms only have their own music servers. The whole rig is about 3lbs.

            The only drawback so far is this Netbook needs AC power to keep the hard drive from trying to park all the time. I am looking into that to see what can be done to run off the internal battery.

            This is a fun setup! And no where near the prices I have seen for full up Music Server setups. I just use a long USB cable to put the Netbook by me and the DAC in the system. :huge:
            Better living through Audio Nirvana!

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            • #7
              In the power options for windows you can tell it never to shut the hard drive down. You can use Presentation mode so it will never sleep or turn the screen off or shut down the hard drive or anything until you tell it to, or you can just customize so the screen shuts off after so many secons or minutes, but it won't sleep or shut the hard drives down automatically.

              It should be a nice little setup as far as portable music playback goes. For that matter, if they get much smaller and cheaper, a netbook running windows could replace my squeezebox at some point. Talk about flexibility! I could stream audio or video of any format I want, attach any kind of external storage I want, use any media player, change out the OS entirely if I want. Pretty cool for those not wanting to go full-on HTPC.
              Angel City Audio
              East Street Audio

              ACA, Melody, Onix, NuForce, KR Audio

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              • #8
                Thanks! Will give the options a try.

                Since this setup will now playback up to 24bit/192KHz, you can listen to the Reference Recordings HRx direct copies of the master files. These are a bit expensive, but they are better sounding than the HDCD versions!

                The nice thing is WiFi letting me download stuff on the fly from places like HDTracks, HDTT, etc. to have full HiRez music capability. Nothing like listening to the direct master tapes or digital recordings!

                And for folks with P-T stacks, the Stello U2 is a USB to I2S Bus adaptor that does 24bit/96KHz. It sounds very good here as well with the moded P-T P-3A from the Netbook. :huge:
                Better living through Audio Nirvana!

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                • #9
                  Just to make sure, can it definitely play 176.4 kHz, 24 bit native or does the driver upsample it to 192?

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                  • #10
                    One may want to wait for the next generatin of Netbooks if they want to do this...the HD size will increase most likely and the amount of RAM could, as well. 2 GB makes the current generation run much more smoothly (1 gb is standard).

                    The extended battery is incredible, btw.

                    As for this DAC, I need to read up and see how it fares as a headphone amp...this makes for a good alternative to the Nuforce UDac. Apparently there's a Monitor 02 from Musiland but I'm not seeing it listed there.
                    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

                    -Bill Watterson

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by m-fine
                      Just to make sure, can it definitely play 176.4 kHz, 24 bit native or does the driver upsample it to 192?
                      When you install the Musiland software it gives a new mixer panel. It shows the input sample rate of the datastream. I played the HRx files and it shows 176.4KHz.

                      From the DIY columns it does not resample everything as the DAC chipset does not do sample rate conversion to 192KHz. It does the native rates. It does upsample as it is a sigma-delta design, but that is not sample rate conversion. This is just an integer multiple of the sample rate.
                      Better living through Audio Nirvana!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cujobob
                        One may want to wait for the next generatin of Netbooks if they want to do this...the HD size will increase most likely and the amount of RAM could, as well. 2 GB makes the current generation run much more smoothly (1 gb is standard).

                        The extended battery is incredible, btw.

                        As for this DAC, I need to read up and see how it fares as a headphone amp...this makes for a good alternative to the Nuforce UDac. Apparently there's a Monitor 02 from Musiland but I'm not seeing it listed there.
                        My wife has the newer ACER Netbook with 11.6" display and Windows 7. She likes it as it is bigger.

                        It is overkill for the music server as the smaller ASUS does just fine for this application. No problem with battery life as it is plugged in all the time.
                        Better living through Audio Nirvana!

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                        • #13
                          Yes, but those 11.6" Acer's have built in optical SPDIF output in the headphone jack, so that will help some people.
                          With a shovel...

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                          • #14
                            What would be interesting is seeing some measurements on clock jitter for all the interfaces, USB, optical, coaxial etc for the netbooks and adaptors. The optical is supposed to be higher jitter than coaxial S/PDIF, but each implementations is going to be different. The new asynchronous USB is supposed to be lower jitter than isosychronous USB, but have never seen any measurements on their jitter. I have read that the isosync USB is pretty high jitter in the nanosecond range.

                            Well at least hooking up good DAC's to PC's is getting easier and sounds good to me. Not much need anymore for compression to do more music storage. Adding USB external drives is doing very nicely for music storage and replay.
                            Better living through Audio Nirvana!

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                            • #15
                              HAL,

                              Do you have any comments on the sound quality of this DAC? I did some reading on the 01 and the self powered 02, and I think I know less than when I started! Some say the 01 and 02 are the same except for the self powering. Others say the 2 is much better sounding. Some say both sound great, clearly better than the EMU 404 and some other respected units. Others say the sound is un-listenable. Ain't the Internet grand?

                              FWIW I am thinking about trying an 02 since my USB power is pretty noisy and destroys the SQ of my TASCAM (I use it mostly for capturing measurements).

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