From Portugal, a two-fer about a three-fer.
Connect a USB DAC to an average computer and we hear one level of sound quality. Swap that Macbook, HP or Dell out for an Innuos server/streamer and we what we hear is different: music sounds less tense, less rigid in the joints; it displays a greater sense of ease.
Why? Apple and Dell don’t optimise their computers’ sound quality by lowering the USB sockets’ electrical noise emissions. Noise that messes with the connected DAC’s audio data clock and analogue output stage. Innuos, on the other hand, seeks to lower the electrical noise spilling from their machines’ USB outputs by specifying linear power supplies and a bespoke software layer (among other things). Click here and here to go deeper.
A. Innuos’ latest digital audio product isn’t a server/streamer but a box that promises to elevate the sound quality of any USB source. USB in, USB out with signal clean-up in-between. The PhoenixUSB comprises three key ingredients:
- A USB output chip with no switching regulators
- A 3ppb 24MHz OCXO clock located in close proximity to the USB output chip to ensure the direct-connected DAC receives a constant and consistent stream of data* [See nerdnote 1]. This puts less of an error-checking burden on the DAC’s USB receiver chip that, in turn, generates less electrical noise. Back to the press release: “No precision is lost within cables and connectors, as is the case when using an external master 10MHz clock with an additional 24MHz clock generator.”
- Both clock and USB chip are powered by separate, dedicated linear supplies. The press release again: “All 3 independent voltages to the [USB] chip originate from an independent linear power supply with further regulation provided by 3 sets of LT3045 regulators.”
Price? US$3149, CA$4099, €2499 or £2249.
B. The second part of this story is that Innuos will be showing off PhoenixUSB’s audible amelioration at this coming weekend’s RMAF, moving their product announcement from the theoretical to the real. Partnering with Colorado natives YG, Ayre and Boulder, plus AudioQuest on cabling, Innuos will be giving A/B demos of the PhoenixUSB in Suite 3142.
A/B demos aren’t common at audio shows. RMAF attendees demanding more should vote with their feet accordingly. Europeans will get their first chance to see/hear the PhoenixUSB at XFi in The Netherlands at the end of the month.
Further information: Innuos
*Nerd note 1: this is a USB data clock, not to be confused with a sample rate clock that runs inside a DAC.