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Better SQ when streaming off a USB stick?

Discussion in 'audio' started by 33RPM, Aug 6, 2014.

  1. 33RPM

    33RPM Hifi bug resistant

    I have a Pioneer N50 for the moment, and I'm happy with it.

    Has anyone else experienced as I do a difference in SQ with exactly the same material when played over (wired) the network compared to USB stick? Material that is copied onto the USB (front input) sounds markedly better, more 'fluid', with better soundstaging.

    Pity I can' t copy all material from my NAS to USB-sticks. I didn't dare to attach a small HD to the USB input. Probably wouldn't work. But something seems to get lost on the way in the NAS-network-streamer chain.
  2. shoom

    shoom open ears and mind

    Hi 33RPM

    Ok here are my experiences with using USB sticks for audio playback.

    Firstly I’m coming from a slightly different angle from your streamer in that I’m using a PC for music playback.

    Like you I tried USB sticks for playback and noticed a tangible jump in sound quality compared to when using my networked NAS drive. Clearer and more fluid are descriptions that I recognise and one that my own ears can confirm. I then went on to experiment with dedicated 5V linear supplies to power the USB stick with and again I noticed an improvement in SQ to my ears.

    But as you say there are drawbacks.:rolleyes:

    I’d need hundreds of USB drives to accommodate my music collection so I use USB HDD for music storage which to me sounds better than the network arrangement. I’ll wait until larger SSD drives become available and a little more affordable but I suspect that they may sound better than NAS or the USB HDD that I’m using ATM.

    As a stop gap I have my favourite music in USB stick and the rest on HDD. The NAS is used to supply my SB Boom and other computers around the house.

  3. Mescalito

    Mescalito pfm Member

  4. shoom

    shoom open ears and mind

    Yup that adds to the conversation.:rolleyes:

    Well done
  5. Mescalito

    Mescalito pfm Member

    I've got nothing to say to either of you.....except mebes to throw a quote from Schiller into the ring:

    "Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain"

    Do enjoy talking about all those lovely imaginary differences.

  6. shoom

    shoom open ears and mind

    Nothing to say so why post?

    did you get that quote from Linn?:D

    Or buffoons are us?
  7. zippy

    zippy pfm Member

    I just compared a good 24 bit recording (Loch Lomond black dresses) on USB stick with same streamed over wired network both into my Cyrus StreamX2 and I cannot detect any difference between them so I would say use whichever most convenient. For me that's network streaming.
  8. dudywoxer

    dudywoxer pfm Member

    How do you stream from a usb stick, its just replay from a different carrier. As you have copied the files from your ripped collection, there is obviously not t6ge ripping causing the problem, I would suggest you investigate the network set up.
  9. tonerei

    tonerei pfm Member

    Worthwhile investigating the complete picture. i.e what is your pc, software player etc. and the rest of your chain. The foolish fishies think it makes no difference and stupidly think they are on a lofty perch preaching to the innocent. In a small world they are king but look outside there is lots more to see and enjoy.
  10. julifriend

    julifriend pfm Member

    IIRC, one of the HFNRR reviewers always auditions equipment using music files stored on USB and played from a Mac Mini running software on top of some version of Windows. It was mentioned in a feature on the reviewers personal systems.

    A sad waste of a Mac Mini though which is perfectly capable of running a proper operating system.
  11. whatsnext

    whatsnext Naimless

    Well 33rpm

    As creating USB versions of music I would like to hear is going a bit too far, albeit in the persuit of optimal SQ. I'll happily settle for second best. It is more relaxing

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
  12. Mescalito

    Mescalito pfm Member


  13. shoom

    shoom open ears and mind

  14. 33RPM

    33RPM Hifi bug resistant

    As some people can't here the sound difference between two violins (a wooden case with strings isn't it) or different piano's (exactly the same thing - why bother if there are Casio's around that do the same thing) I guess the same is true in HiFi. As a friend of mine once said if cheap wine tastes fine to you, you are lucky and will save yourself a lot of money.
    USB - in my setup sounds better. Why? Of course it's not the file, but perhaps the way it is transported.
    My music will stay on a NAS, and I will select tru my phone TY. But in some cases I will definitely use a USB.
  15. rjs

    rjs Member


    It could just be that the network cable is collecting RF interference, and that this is getting amplified along with the eventual analogue signal. Any cable has the capability to act as an antenna in this regard.

    If USB sounds better to you in your system, then it is better. End of thread, really. Though I'm sure it won't be :).

    And yes, I've had a similar experience, so perhaps we're both just equally mad :). Try the HDD, it really shouldn't break anything, it's just another USB mass storage device. It'll work or it won't.


  16. Howdy

    Howdy pfm Member

    This is good news to me, because if I ever move into streaming, it will be like coping one album to USB-stick and stick it into the machine. Not just because every other way would involve huge investments in stuff I don't really care abour - NAS, smart phone/tablet ... - but also because I can't imagine listening to music any other way than selecting one album by another. With some sort of pause between.
  17. shoom

    shoom open ears and mind

    I tried USB drives just for the hell of it but was quite surprised by what I heard. It seems a little less edgy and more musical to my ears.

    I have most of my 24/96 WAV ripped directly to USB stick just to keep the number of sticks down.

    To my ears music sounds better on USB stick when compared to my NAS but I guess that we both must be suffering from network inadequacies.;)


    Give it a try and keep us posted.:)
  18. 337alant

    337alant Negatively Biased

    In my digital system USB drives are no better than FLAC rips from my nas drive wired
    Is there a setting ion the N50 to playback from memeory ie RAM that makes all the difference in JRIVER media if streaming

  19. Cheese

    Cheese Bitter lover

    This deserves more exploration. My guess is, some improvements could possibly be made by pushing your USB stick into the back input.
  20. Sloop John B

    Sloop John B pfm Member

    Is it just my dirty mind?


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