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A Quick Guide: USB to S/PDIF Conversion


Sometimes hi-fi can get a little complicated. Here's a quick guide to help you understand some of the key aspects of USB streamers/processors and digital hi-fi.

With millions of tracks available at the click of a button, music streaming is fast becoming a popular and more streamlined way to listen to music. Services like TIDAL are offering high-fidelity music (Flac 1411 kbps - Lossless (16/44.1 khz)) so audiophiles can enjoy the ease of streaming without losing any of the tracks' original quality.

Many brands have also added to the ease and enjoyability of listening to music with USB to S/PDIF converters and DSD supporting components. Designed to help make digital downloads and streaming tracks more rich and detailed, the outputs of some of these devices create a pleasant listening experience.

USB converters and streamers act as a go-between for the computer and hi-fi system allowing tracks to be played at the highest quality possible.

But what does all of this mean? Let’s break it down.

What is USB to S/PDIF conversion?

S/PDIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format and can also be referred to as Sony/Philips Digital Interface.

Simply put, USB to S/PDIF converters convert USB audio input (typically from a computer) into S/PDIF digital audio. The S/PDIF output is then suitable for hi-fi systems.

One of the most important benefits from this technology is that jitter is vastly reduced. Thanks to this, 'blemishes' are eradicated from the final output.

What is DSD?

The term DSD stands for Direct Stream Digital and is the process used to digitally master audio to high definition levels. Another creation of Sony and Philips, the process transforms audio playback from digital sources to create clear and precise sounds.

Why use a USB to S/PDIF Streamer/Processor?

With this technology in place, a USB streamer/processor is the able to magnify the sound from your computer, tablet or phone and help turn your device into a music server.

Converters can also make your DAC perform better through your laptop, eliminating the need for a music server. With your computer, phone or tablet acting as the music server, you have flexibility to play your music from multiple programmes such as iTunes, TIDAL, Roon and more.

USB to S/PDIF conversion is a speciality of the Audiophilleo range, new to Elite Audio for 2017. The collection offers very high quality USB-S/PDIF conversion, with the Audiophilleo1 MKII SE supporting DSD playback (384Khz and DSD128). With the optional PurePower battery based power supply, the audio can also be cleaned up in the process.

Need more help?

If you think a USB to S/PDIF streamer or processor might be right for you, take a look at our Digital and Streamers section. Alternatively, you can contact us on 020 3397 1119 or for more advice and we can help you find the right component for your needs.

USB to S/PDIF Converters

4 Audiophilleo1 MKII's in a row
Audiophilleo2 MKII in box

Wyred 4 Sound µLINK


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