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Discussion Starter #1
Name: V-Link
Manufacture Website: Musical Fidelity V-LPS Phono Stage (nearly identical except brushed aluminum vs. black)
Price: $99 on Amazon.com

What does it do?: It connects to a Windows PC/Mac and allows Asynchronous 24-bit 96KHz output to your Optical/Digital Coax device. Essentially you can think of it as a digital only USB sound card.

My test-bed: Samsung Q1 Ultra Mobile PC running Windows XP Pro SP3, 1GHz CPU, 2GB Memory, 18GB SSD, 32GB USB Thumbdrive (music storage), (2) USB 2.0 Ports, Standard USB Cables, LIND Power Supply.

My Vehicle Audio System: B&G neo3 Tweeters & neo8 PDR Midrange mounted in A-Pillar Pods. Dayton Audio RS180-4 mounted IB in Front Doors. Alpine Type-R SWR-823D 8” Subwoofer mounted in sealed Dash Enclosure (0.41ft^3 net). Alpine H700 Processor. Aura MR (old school) ClassAB Amplifiers. Stock vehicle electrical system.

Tools for evaluation: My Ears


Now that the into stuff is out of the way let me give you a bit of a crash course on how I went about testing this unit..

For those of you that have been following my build thread you know this vehicle is coming up on the 2yr mark for fabrication. I have been through quite a few different pieces of equipment in a no hold bared quest for car audio perfection. Obviously I'm limited by money, and the ability to drive my vehicle... but I could care less about designing a car to conform to any SQ class definition. A few things have remained static.. my tweeters, midranges, and carPC setup. These seemed to be the staple of my system, and what I had felt was what I needed to achieve my goals. Till yesterday.



So here goes:


For my first test I chose to use the IASCA SQ CD as my media. I used tracks 39, 40, 41 for evaluation. This was a 3 step process for testing. I used my actual CD loaded into my DVA-7996 which is connected to the H700 via optical, my SoundBlaster 24bit USB Sound Card connected via optical, and the V-Link which was also connected via optical. [PC using FLAC rip of IASCA CD]. Each unit was set to the same input level so when switching between them mid-track I was able to keep a level playing field. In order to switch between them I had to change the input on the RUX, and if changing sound cards pause, cable swap, then couple clicks and resume. Not much time elapsed between changes.



39. (00:06:49) IASCA - Michael Ruff: 'I Will Find You There'
DVA-7996 [baseline]

V-Link: A bit more atmosphere. I think this is because the sound is a bit livelier in the 6-8k range. There is also a bit cleaner bass guitar overtones. Cymbals are crisp and clean. Snare drum as a bit more snap. Notice the bottom end of the bass guitar has just a cleaner more defined presence on the stage.

SoundBlaster USB: Room atmosphere is lost. The sound is clean, but it no longer has a 'room' it just feels dry. There is now an obvious bit of compression over the whole track. The only way to describe it is to compare an MP3 file to a FLAC file back to back. I had never noticed parts I was missing until running a back to back test. It's almost like comparing a partly cloudy day to a sunny day. You just don't feel the energy of the track.



To be honest I started writing this review thinking of all the different things I was hearing between the 3 different devices.. but in the end it all ties back to the V-Link being the superior device. In all honesty I am listening to my whole library again and thinking “whoa, I don't remember hearing the maraca that clean”, or “hey where did that harmonizing guitar riff come from?”. It's really that big of a change.

The V-Link gets (2) thumbs up.. and that's because I only have (2) to give. :)

I need to thank Sam again for the opportunity to evaluate this unit. I would be expecting a new V-Link delivered to your address. I'm going to keep this one. :laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If I come across an android tablet with USB I will give it a shot for ya.
 

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not android, but as soon as i pick up another V-Link (because Bowdown/Julian liked mine so much, lol), i will see if it will work with the iPad+camera connection adapter.

originally i was intending on using a iPad as the source unit and i was going to use a turtle beach microII usb sound card to get spdif out. these usb audio devices were designed to be able to run driverless so i don't see why it would not work on the android platform as well. in any case, as soon as i pick up another v-link i'll test it on the iPad and let everyone know.

a million thanks to Bowdown for taking his time and evaluating the unit. based on my own subjective listening tests, the V-Link made a big difference in my home. i just needed to see if it makes a difference in the car environment and Bowdown helped answer my question.

for those who care, i also did some blind listening tests using the V-Link vs the SPDIF out from the Mac Mini (using my home stereo as well as my headphone rig). Each time the V-Link sounded better.

i also tested the Halide Bridge at the same time and am undecided on which has the better sound. the halide sounds more natural/analytical but the musical fidelity sounds more musical...in any case, the halide bridge is usb to coaxial so if anyone running a car pc and has a processor with both spdif and co-ax input, i'd be more than happy to send you both units to test out.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Gotta say i had my doubts. I figured 24bit digital is 24bit digital. .. wow was i wrong. It really awakened me to the fact i was missing alot of overtones and dynamics that make the music just that much better. Really tough to describe in words.
 

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Gotta say i had my doubts. I figured 24bit digital is 24bit digital. .. wow was i wrong. It really awakened me to the fact i was missing alot of overtones and dynamics that make the music just that much better. Really tough to describe in words.
see you've updated your sig :)

i'm glad it worked out and i'm that much more excited to get my system finished.

on a side note, I've been communicating extensively with Bing for my system. He will be building it starting late May. Small world because he asked me to email you regarding using a CarPC.

one major piece of the puzzle done! Bing is now helping me decide 2way vs 3way and which components to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
:lol: Nice.

Keep in mind that my carPC is just what you see for a screen. I used a RAM mount to make it adjustable/removable. It does everything I need without requiring a dedicated tower/screen setup.

I have a wireless keyboard in my center console.. and a dvd-rw in my glove box.

Samsung Q1 FTW.
 

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Is there a FLAC app for Android?
 

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oK, I researched my own question. It seems PowerAmp is best for FLAC. Since it is a Phono Output, I was worried that it might apply a RIAA curve but I don't see anything about it.... Anyone know if it it straightthrough or if it does any EQ automatically, like a Phono preamp??
 
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