Home > General > Amanero vs Musiland

Amanero vs Musiland

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Finally hooked up the Amanero USB board to the Buffalo II DAC (80 Mhz). Managed to nicely install a ribbon cable matching the input arrangement of the BII board and not having to cross any wires which can potentially create interference and noise. One wire, the data wire, has to cross over but it does so over the ground plane of the board.

Here is a close up of the wire arrangement.  Every signal wire has adjacent ground wires. Most of the inner row of connectors are ground. I utilized 3 of the connections for the 5 ground wire lines. Only the actual GND wire connects to the BII board)

Connecting to Buffalo II DAC.  I salvaged the wire from some board. The connector proved very useful and convenient.


Also measured the unlocks right after power-on and compared it with the latest set of data I obtained from the Musiland 03US. In both cases the DPLL was set to lowest and the sample rate was 44.1KHz. Here are the results:

I would say the two interfaces are about even with respect to “jitter that matters” to the Buffalo II DAC. Even though the number of locks with the Amanero board seems to decrease rapidly after the first 10 minutes as compared with the Musiland board, there remains a low level of unlocks whereas the Musiland “settles” to about zero unlocks after the first hour. Of course this is just one set of data…

Several previous experiments with Musiland did show settling down to zero unlocks after about 1 hour. I continued the measurements with the Amanero board and the values are: 1:40- 6 unlocks, 1:50 -3 unlocks, 2:00 -3 unlocks. I don’t know what causes this remaining low level of unlocks. For one thing the data for the Musiland was taken a long while back, so noise in the power lines (feeding my house) might have changed. Further the driver for the two devices are rather different: the Musiland driver is a USB bulk driver whereas the driver for the Amanero board is a USB asynchronous driver.

Though the design of the Amanero board is indeed “better” than the Musiland with respect to minimizing jitter, the combination of the Musiland driver and h/w implementation seems to enable the Musiland devices to be competitive with the best USB interfaces.

  1. Javier
    September 23, 2012 at 06:19

    Have you considered removing the 1st LDO and feeding the Amanero from an external PS? do you think removing the USB Vbus will make any difference to drop outs? I mean something like a high quality shunt reg with its own external transformer

    What where you using as output with each device? ASIO for the Musi and WASAPI for the Amanero? WASAPI for both? From what I’m hearing and experiencing myself playing with an unconnected board, it would seem the drivers and/or maybe even the firmware of this board need some polishing to reach its full potential (it took Musiland some revisions too). The Amanero designer recommends Kernel Streaming instead of WASAPI and I know of one case with a B-III (100MHz) where DXD was causing drop outs using WASAPI whereas KS worked fine.

    • BlogGeanDo
      September 23, 2012 at 07:00

      Hello Javier,

      On both the Musiland and Amanero I used WASAPI/Windows 7 with iTunes and 44.1K material. That is what I use all the time (for various reasons, including having access to my kid’s music through iCloud).

      I have not considered removing the first LDO. It is already a very low noise regulator and there is good filtering of the USB power. The Musiland device doesn’t use such low noise regulators and it uses DC-DC converters… I doubt I would reduce the unlocks. I think the unlocks result from a combination of the BII and USB board clocks settling down, but after that, the unlocks are mainly caused by the USB interface.

      I had tried using an NVE isolator but it made no difference. That’s is why I wouldn’t think having external power would diminish the unlocks.

      Agree that the Amanero board FW and driver might need some maturing… Perhaps the Musiland driver being a bulk USB driver has some advantages (just speculation)

  2. Prime
    September 23, 2012 at 08:54

    Hopefully with so many devices out there we’ll sort these glitches out! Domenico seems helpful up to now.
    Is there a way to slave the BIII to Amanero’s clocks for synchronous operation?

    • BlogGeanDo
      September 23, 2012 at 15:07

      It works well right now. Just the number of unlocks seems to remain at a low level based on the one test i did. This can be fixed by moving the DPLL setting in the DAC one or two notches up. Perhaps some tweaking with the FW and driver would improve its performance

  3. Jeremy aka 'qusp'
    September 23, 2012 at 10:47

    no, the combo384 board must act as master unfortunately.

    • BlogGeanDo
      September 23, 2012 at 14:53

      I think it was supposed to mean slaving the DAC to the Amanero board :-). Should work in synchronous, but with sub-optimal under-40Mhz master clock… I still have not modified my BII to take on an external clock signal

      • qusp
        September 24, 2012 at 10:08

        haha so it did, I read it incorrectly. I would prefer if we could slave the combo384 myself, as the clocks arent very useful for sync mode. I toyed with the idea of changing the clocks for use in one of ackos new es9016 dacs and a raspberry pi for a video playback system, because the fifo makes video difficult

  4. Javier
    September 23, 2012 at 15:34

    Someone asked Domenico if the onboard clocks could be changed to 45/49 and he said no probs but a FW mod would be rquired (/2 clock for the FPGA). Probably 90/98.xxxx could be used if FW could be modded to /4.

  5. February 5, 2013 at 18:18

    Sorry for the newbie question, but is the “actual GND wire” that connects to the BII board pin 8? Are the other GND wires simply left unconnected? Thank you!

    • BlgGear
      February 5, 2013 at 19:23

      There are a bunch of ground pins in Amanero. Anyone would do since they are all connected together. On the BII side, there is just one ground pin. The amanero has “so many” ground pins because you can use a header and connect a ribbon cable. The ribbon cable will interlace Gnd wires between signal wires for noise immunity. In my case, I left the ground wires unconnected on the BII side (except the actual ground wire), but on the Amanero side, they all connect to GND

  6. February 5, 2013 at 22:58

    I’ll be sure to “warm-up” my Musiland for an nour before listening!

    Really unique that Musiland driver is a USB bulk driver and they are able to get such high bit rates with low jitter. I don’t know of any other high bit rate USB interface device implementing a USB bulk versus asynchronous driver solution.

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