Musical Fidelity - V-LINK 192 - Asynchronous USB To SPDIF Converter
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- True asynchronous USB -> S/PDIF conversion (output is same data stream as input)
- Accepts incoming sample rates from 32-192 kHz, bit depths from 16-24 bits
- Balanced output
- New V-II series chassis
- Upgraded power supply
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The Missing Link Gets a 192 kHz Boost Musical Fidelity's V-Link has gained reputation for extraordinary technical performance and incredible value for money. The new V-LINK192 is for ultra-high resolution 24-bit, 192 kHz USB. Up to now, this has been the territory of very expensive asynchronous devices only. The V-Link192 offers true 24/192 asynchronous performance at an outstandingly competitive price. Use It to Supercharge Your DAC Now more than ever, the V-Link is the missing link in the evolution of your audio system. If you've been suffering from the computer music blahs, wrestling with low-fidelity music, try the V-Link192 and hear what you've been missing. No, the V-Link192 isn't a DAC. But it allows your DAC to receive up to a true 24-bit, 192 kHz data stream from your computer so that you can enjoy a truly high-end, better-than-CD audio quality. Increasing numbers of music lovers are turning to computer-based audio, which means that the connections are almost certain to be USB. Quality outputs like S/PDIF simply are not available on most computers. With the growing popularity of downloaded music at CD-and-better data rates, computers audiophile quest after higher quality. The V-Link192 is an asynchronous 24-bit, 192 kHz USB interface designed to bridge the gap between the PC and a high-quality DAC. The V-Link192 offers outstanding technical performance. It has both coaxial and fully balanced digital outputs. Both are fully galvanically isolated for best performance. Additionally, the V-Link192 has input frequency LEDs (similar to the M1 DAC) which indicate the following frequencies: 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, and 192 kHz.
Top customer reviews
Once connected, I noticed that my 96MHz and 88.2MHz files sounded better - more open, but with better detail. I attribute how this device utilizes its I2S buss to manage jitter. This is certainly not the last word in convertors, but for the price, I'd say that we're at lease three quarters of the way there.
One last note. I gave this a 5 star rating because of what it can do at its price point. Certainly one can find better performance for more dollars, but this rating is based on value at price.
This review will be of most interest to those who use a computer with a GNU/Linux operating system though much about the quality of this converter will be applicable to anyone.
I have a home theater installation with, among other components, a Yamaha RX-Z9 9.1 Home Theater Surround Sound Receiver which I purchased new in 2004, a ZaReason MediaBox 5330 (a media center computer, purchased last year, running the Xubuntu Linux operating system) through which I can play music, movies, etc. and, of course, use it for whatever else one would normally use a computer), and ten (10) loudspeakers (including a subwoofer).
The receiver has no HDMI inputs (it was designed just before the introduction of HDMI) but it does have digital sound inputs (both TosLink and Coaxial).
I wanted to have the best sound quality possible in this system, for movies as well as music. I recently purchased a StarTech.com 7.1 USB Audio Adapter External Sound Card with SPDIF Digital Audio Sound Cards ICUSBAUDIO7D which is a fine unit and it represents very good value for money.
But it is limited to 16-bit depth and 48kHz sample rate. Though the sound coming through it was really fine, I thought I'd like to have a converter which offered "true" 24-bit 192kHz output. (But, if you choose to purchase the StarTech unit - its price is only about 1/6 of the V-LINK 192 under discussion - you won't go wrong. I'm keeping mine.)
I did some research on the web as well as here on Amazon and, as a result, I purchased this Musical Fidelity - V-LINK 192 - Asynchronous USB To SPDIF Converter.
Its performance is nothing short of superb. And at Amazon's current price of half the manufacturer's list price, it represents outstanding value for money. (The unit is being sold by a company called ListenUp which sets the price; the orders are fulfilled by Amazon.)
Now if you are familiar with GNU/Linux operating systems, you know that the default sound output is done by ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture). PulseAudio is also commonly used. The default digital USB output through ALSA is set to 16-bit 44.1/48KHz and that is true for PulseAudio as well.
So when I placed this device in my system (no special drivers are necessary when using this in a GNU/Linux environment), according to its LEDs, I was hearing only 44.1 or 48kHz sample rate, no matter how the original (FLAC) file was encoded (I have several 24-bit 192kHz FLAC files).
ALSA's sample rate, I understand, cannot be changed, but PulseAudio's can be. So I changed my sound output from ALSA to PulseAudio.
I found the following instructions for Linux on the web (they're what you'll find if you search):
Instructions to change PulseAudio sample rate in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf file
In the Terminal, type
< gksudo gedit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf >
Then look for the following line:
; default-sample-rate = 44100
and change it to look like this:
default-sample-rate = 48000
Note:- Make sure you have removed the " ; "
Save and exit the file
Now you will need to restart pulseaudio for that to take effect.
To restart pulseaudio use the following commands in the Terminal:
< pulseaudio -k > and
< pulseaudio -D >
Naturally, when I did all of that, it did NOT work. (I had even restarted the computer.) According to the Musical Fidelity converter's LED indicator lights, my media center computer was still outputting only 44.1 or 48kHz. So, rather than giving up, I tried making some other changes.
In the file there is also a second line which reads ;alternate-sample-rate = 48000 to which the instructions make no reference; at first I left it alone, then I changed that rate (only) to 44100 on my second try and then on my third try to 192000 (removing the " ; "). But these changes did NOT work either.
I "Googled" the problem but found no answer.
So I became "creative" myself.
What I did was this:
I followed the same (first two) initial instructions as given above:
--- In the Terminal, type
--- < gksudo gedit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf >
--- Then look for the following line:
--- ; default-sample-rate = 44100
but I then edited the file so that the appropriate section looks like this:
default-sample-format = s24le
default-sample-rate = 44100
alternate-sample-rate = 192000
; alternate-sample-rate = 176400
; alternate-sample-rate = 96000
; alternate-sample-rate = 88200
; alternate-sample-rate = 48000
; default-sample-channels = 2
; default-channel-map = front-left,front-right
(Notice that I ADDED four more lines (all with the " ; ") - there had previously been only two, one default and one alternate - and I changed the default sample format from s16le, the standard default, to s24le as well. Also please note - very important - there are three spaces before the words 'default' and the first 'alternate' - unfortunately Amazon does not allow this to be shown. In other words, all of the words 'default' and 'alternate' are placed directly underneath one another.)
Then I restarted the computer.
NOW --- everything works! My 24-bit 192kHz files play at 24/192 and my 16-bit 44.1kHz files play at that level.
This applies only to music played through the Audacious music player. If I play music with the VLC Media Player, the sound is outputted only at 48kHz (but I do not listen to music via the VLC player as it introduces gaps between the files; Audacious plays everything gapless). Movies are always at 48kHz - 48kHz is VLC's maximum so nothing playing in VLC is up-converted plus I left VLC's bit-rate setting at s16le - and the V-LINK passes full surround sound.
I have to tell you - I have had my home theater for twenty years now and there have been many changes in electronic equipment within it over the years. But this change, with the Musical Fidelity V-LINK 192 as well as the changes in the PulseAudio sound settings, has effected a MAJOR improvement in sound quality. I can hear it myself by merely comparing music files played through the VLC Media Player (48kHz) compared to those played through Audacious (set to up to 192kHz) and even sound played via the analog connections.
My son is a sound professional who lives on the West Coast and he will be coming to visit in late November. He has a better "ear" than I do and I am anxiously awaiting his visit so he can hear for himself what has been achieved. (I want his opinion on the whole thing!)
In the mean time, I am enjoying music played in this home theater more than I ever have in the twenty years I've had the theater and I believe that this V-LINK is the "key" to producing the superb sound I am hearing.
Obviously I give it the highest recommendation possible for me to give and I thank you for reading all of this.
Lawrence H. Bulk
One piece of info: the old VLink had coaxial and optical out. The new model loses optical and picks up AES balanced output.
I particularly like the display of received sample rates, for confirmation the PC player is indeed providing what you think it is. (For example, I found that I'd missed a configuration step in my JRiver Media Center (the PC player) to assure it was really delivering higher sample rates than 44.1 thanks to the V-LINK LEDs.)