USB vs. Ethernet

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I just noticed today's the last day of July and it saddens me. I so adore summers in Colorado I am reminded to enjoy what's left! Hope you're having a good summer as well. We released Bridge II today, and you can read about it here. The Bridge connects home networks with DirectStream and PerfectWave DACs. Its chief benefits of one touch play and placement freedom are overshadowed by perhaps it's biggest advantage: better isolation than USB, I2S, coax or AESEBU for connected music sources. There's nothing better than Ethernet for isolation and sound quality. But, as we've come to know in these posts, nothing's perfect and there's no free lunch worth eating. Still, we can get there without much pain. Bear with me. I described USB as the simplest connection for computers and DACs in yesterday's post. But how do we easily and simply take that one step further, connecting by Ethernet to enjoy the benefits of greater isolation? It's as simple as changing a program. Imagine my setup for a moment. Mac Mini sitting close to the DirectStream DAC, tied together through USB. I open iTunes, launch Bit Perfect, select my track and play. Sounds wonderful. If I want to manage music selections from my listening chair, rather than my computer screen, I use Apple's free mobile program Remote on my iPad (which connects over WIFI to my Mini). Classic setup, takes all of 5 minutes to make work, easily duplicated on Windows machines as well. Now imagine you just bought a Bridge, stuffed it into your DAC, connected it through an Ethernet cable to your home router. That's simple enough, but how do we stream music? As mentioned, we have to choose a different program. iTunes will only play to USB or internal sound cards, unless you use their proprietary streaming protocol Airplay - but let's erase that from our minds so we don't get confused. Hang in there with me. I switch to JRiver at this point. Yup, JRiver. And in JRiver we can tell the program to look for the Bridge and play to it. And that is it. Using JRiver, or any UPnP based server program, you simply choose the Bridge from its available list (like you might choose USB) and you're done! It's that easy. I am simplifying this entire description to get across an idea I've been building up to for some days. If we keep things simple, changing from playing over USB to Ethernet isn't all that difficult. And once you figure that out, you're free to put your computer anywhere you wish - no longer tethered to the DAC. There's much more to go - and i'll cover a few particulars in the days to come of good/better options for storage on computers.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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