Topic: Madiface USB or PCI MADI Card

My current audio system chain is as follows.

Windows computer > MADIFace USB > RME ADI 642's AES out > DA Converter.

Will replacing MADIFace USB by a HDSP PCI MADI Card yield any benefit in terms of sound quality?

2 (edited by ramses 2022-10-03 08:31:54)

Re: Madiface USB or PCI MADI Card

Side note: the HDSPe MADI card is a PCIe card (not PCI).

No benefits. In the digital domain, it's simply lossless transfer of digital audio data (“zeroes and ones”) up to the D/A converter. It doesn't matter whether the recording interface is connected through USB or PCIe.

At the D/A converter, special RME features like "SteadyClock FS" can give you additional benefits. I put together some interesting videos in my blog: https://www.tonstudio-forum.de/blog/ent … ses-en-de/
Direct links to the YouTube Video about SteadyClock FS:
English version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ti0aHW-zYcs
German version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rcBVuWOHiw

An RME devices with SteadyClock FS is the perfect “clock slave” in a digital audio connection. By SteadyClock FS technology, they get a lock very fast and hold it reliably. You will see it in the video, even with a heavily jittered connection and such a high amount of clock jitter that you would not see in a real-life situation. And of course also not when using the components / signal chain mentioned above.

Another benefit of RME converters like ADI-2 Pro and DAC FS is, that after refreshing / “purifying” the clock signal by SteadyClock FS the final D/A conversion is being performed by the internal FS clock.
So, the D/A conversion inside ADI-2 DAC / Pro is fully decoupled from external clock signals.

To sum up: SteadyClock FS takes care to remove any clock jitter from a digital connection and to get a lock on the signal quickly and to hold the lock/sync reliably. The D/A conversion in the ADI-2 DAC/Pro is being performed by the internal precise FS clock independent of external clock.

BR Ramses
UFX+, 12Mic, XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT, X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro22H2, Cub12Pro

Re: Madiface USB or PCI MADI Card

I would note that I couldn't get stable USB performance on AMD's Threadripper platform, even with quality PCIe USB cards & Lindy cables I was still encountering errors and crashes. No issues with PCIe and Thunderbolt on the same platform. You can also run PCIe interfaces in Thunderbolt enclosures and get the benefit having the card external and constantly powered.

Not the fault of RME, but just something to be aware of. Most platforms do well with USB interfaces, especially when you dedicate an entire bus to the interface.

MADI FX, Fireface UFX+, ADI-648, HDSPe RayDAT, ADI-192 DD

4 (edited by ramses 2022-11-02 08:09:47)

Re: Madiface USB or PCI MADI Card

Ninbura wrote:

I would note that I couldn't get stable USB performance on AMD's Threadripper platform, even with quality PCIe USB cards & Lindy cables I was still encountering errors and crashes. No issues with PCIe and Thunderbolt on the same platform. You can also run PCIe interfaces in Thunderbolt enclosures and get the benefit having the card external and constantly powered.

Not the fault of RME, but just something to be aware of. Most platforms do well with USB interfaces, especially when you dedicate an entire bus to the interface.

I remember somebody telling this about USB3 on some AMD mainboards coming from chipset.

But if you use a separate USB PCIe card with supported USB3 chipset, then I see no reason for failures.
Was it about USB2 or USB3 in your case, and which cards with what USB3 chipset did you try?

From the RME UFX+ manual you can get information, which USB3 chipsets are known to work (and which not).

Some additional aspects:
Somewhere I heard (or read in this forum), that USB2 chipsets usually do not have these kinds of issues.
Regarding backward compatibility of USB3 to USB2: if you plug an USB2 cable into an USB3 port, then you use the USB2 part of the USB infrastructure, USB3 uses other pins in the plug.
I prefer USB cards with drivers which use MSI (message signalled interrupts), this is an interrupt mechanism which works more efficient. Windows 10 has for example such driver support for the supported FL1100 USB3 controllers. Some Sonnet USB3 card are using this USB3 controller.

BR Ramses
UFX+, 12Mic, XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT, X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro22H2, Cub12Pro