USB Convertors – Singxer SU-6 & Denafrips Gaia

Dealing with USB issues is something I’ve encountered before with some DACs. Fortunately, the updated USB input on the MSB Analog DAC was a standout, featuring galvanic isolation and delivering a clean, high-quality signal. In fact, when I compared it to the network input, the difference wasn’t particularly noticeable.

Not all DACs have galvanic isolation for their USB inputs, and unfortunately, the Rockna Wavelight is one such example. When coupled with a powerful PC, this can result in unwanted noise and interference.

Over the years, I’ve tried a number of things to improve USB sound quality. One method that’s often effective is to use a split USB cable that draws 5V power from a linear power supply. I actually wrote a review of the Forza Claire Hybrid Twin USB Cable, which utilizes this technique, and you can read it here:

https://headmania.org/2014/11/27/forza-claire-hybrid-twin-usb-cable-review/

Some motherboards come with a dedicated USB port specifically designed for audio outputs. In the past, Gigabyte motherboards had this feature and I actually owned one myself. This unique port can make a significant difference and eliminate the need for a split USB cable. While some people may question the importance of USB power for digital signals, it depends heavily on the specific DAC being used. Most DACs power their USB input with the 5V line from the USB cable, which can introduce instability and impact the sound quality.

Additionally, to illustrate the point, there is a picture below that demonstrates the fluctuations of 5V on a regular USB compared to the special USB offered by Gigabyte on their motherboards:

I was unable to find any recent motherboards that support the specialized USB port for audio outputs, so I decided to purchase a Matrix Element H PCIe USB card instead. This card has significantly improved the sound quality probably because of improved stability of the 5V line on the USB output.

However, there is another issue that can occur with USB connections when the DAC does not have a galvanically isolated USB input. Even with a high-quality USB card like the Matrix Element H, if you have noise coming from your PC, it can still be a problem. In my experience, I also tried using the IFI Micro USB, which did help to reduce the noise by 60-70%, but it was not enough for me to consider the issue fully resolved.

If you are lucky to have a DAC that has galvanic isolation for the usb input and the input is not powered by the 5v USB input, all of this should not matter.

In my case, I needed to solve the issue, because I love my Rockna Wavelight too much. This is how I got to own the Singxer SU-6 and now the Denafrips Gaia.

Both are galvanically isolated and solved my usb noise issue completely. I will give you a very short description on how the sound improved in general with both. For more details and differences between the two, please watch my short youtube video below.

General Sound Improvements

So, first of all, as I mentioned above, this completely solved my noise issue. With this, I had more goodies that came with this.

Noise/Background/Transparency

The background is now completely dark, like switching from IPS to OLED. The contrast is infinite, like opening a window to a beautiful mountain scenery, where everything is clearer, and the air is fresher.

Timming/Speed/Transients

The timing is improved, offering a natural flow to the music, and a smoother transition from one note to another. Additionally, the transients are better with a faster, but natural attack and decay. Although both Singxer SU-6 and Denafrips Maia have different characteristics, the musical notes fall into place better with both.

Dynamics/Prat

This is of course related to the above, but I feel like the energy of the music is better, the prat is much more present, engaging. The contrast between lower notes and higher notes is much better. You get better macro dynamics but also micro dynamics.

Details

Both units improve the details of the music, bringing out more nuances and intricacies.

Imaging/Soundstage

The imaging is greatly improved with both units. The sound decompresses with both, you can separate instruments/sounds in an easier manner than without them. The soundstage is more holographic and natural with Denafrips Maia

Textures

Both units enhance the textures of instruments and vocals, offering a more natural and vibrant sound. Gaia particularly does it to a better degree than Singxer SU-6.

Conclusions

Both units are remarkable if you are in need of such a device, and they can improve the sound of many dacs, elevating them to a new level of performance and enjoyment.

Although the price difference is substantial, I prefer Gaia overall because of its sound signature and other features such as having more inputs, making it a more versatile unit than Singxer SU-6.

Nonetheless, considering the price, Singxer SU-6 is an excellent unit and provides superb value for money. It may also be a matter of taste, as they do have different sound signatures.