Wavelength Audio, ltd. Setup page

If you are new to Computer Audio start here, if not you can move down the pages to applications and operating systems. If you are streaming content only then go to applications and operating systems.

The best way to setup your Computer Audio system is to think of your computer as a bunch of lanes on a busy highway and you are in charge of keeping this orderly. Therefore done clog any of the lanes in your system and your system will sound better for it.

If you are using a USB DAC then it is best not to store your library on a USB drive. Depending on how the application works if you have an Ethernet DAC then it may not be a good idea to store your library of music on a NAS drive. If the software is directing the library to the Ethernet DAC then this is acceptable. If the software is reading the content off of the NAS drive then forwarding that information to an Ethernet DAC then that would be considered clogging a lane.

Remember how the application will work… it will be reading from the library and writing to the DAC synchronously. If you have them both on the same lane then one of them is going to suffer and you will have a clog. For instance here is my home system which is what I take to shows also:

Apple MacBook Pro 15—USB—>Crimson DAC, Library is on a 4T SSD on Thunderbolt

To take this further using the root drive or the boot drive is a bad idea also as the operating system has that tied up heavily. Plus you should always consider backing up your library. For instance above I have an 8T Thunderbolt drive that is a mirror image of my 4T SSD drive. I usually have this turned off and update only after I have ripped a few CD’s.

Ripping CD’s is easy and there is some really good capable software out there even in iTunes. You should always remember to turn Error Correction ON and store your music in a loss less file type. AIFF/WaveB are best sounding as they are flat files, meaning they can be read and sent to the dac as is and require no manipulation of data. ALAC/FLAC files are loss less, but are like zip files and require unpacking which will increase the processing up to 30% which will impact the sound of your system.

Operating Systems

Windows 10 now supports UAC and UAC2 devices, what that means is it will support almost any type of USB dac on the market. If you are using Windows it would be best to upgrade your operating system to 10 before setting up your Computer Audio system. You should always set your default sample rate to 44.1KHz as soon as you connect your device. This is done in Settings->Devices or Control Panel->Sound.

macOS has supported UAC and UAC2 since 10.6.8 and therefore provides support for any USB audio device. When you attach your USB DAC you will have to go into System Preferences sound and select your new device. While you are there you should also set the Sound Effects to the internal Speakers instead of your new device so the bells and Whistles. You should also set the default sample rate 44.1KHz. This is done in the Audio Midi Setup found in the Applications->Utilities.

IOS supports UAC and UAC2 and therefore supports any USB audio device, but the IOS device itself cannot draw much power from the IOS device (typically 100ma). Therefore it is suggested to use the Apple Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. This is basically a Lightning to USB adapter that allows external power.

Android support has also been around for a number of years but varies from company to company. There are some applications such as ExtreamSD Android USB Audio Driver. Like IOS devices most Android phones and tablets have minimal current available and may require powering through some external device.

Software Windows

Audirvana Plus - extensive application for audio playback of all types and interfaces.

Foobar this is a free software base with a load of plugins and user base. Highly configurable for any type of environment.

J River This program has extensive USB and Network support and a very active forum for resolving problems with setup.

Roon Labs maker of award winning software for locally and remotely connected audio devices.

Software for macOS

Amarra sQ+, Play for IOS and Luxe for streaming, extensive interface for Apple based system, by Sonic Systems.

Audirvana Plus - extensive application for audio playback of all types and interfaces.

Bit Perfect and elegant and simple interface that hijacks the iTunes output stream to provide sample rate changes and DSD support via DSD Master.

Channel D, makers of Pure Music, Pure Vinyl (AD conversion for your albums) and other macOS software.

Decibel is a stripped down playlist type player.

J River This program has extensive USB and Network support and a very active forum for resolving problems with setup.

Roon Labs maker of award winning software for locally and remotely connected audio devices.

Software general

I did not include any of the software that is included with the operating system as there is information about that by plenty of companies. Most of these software products will not provide the best possible output for this level of converters as they are optimized for general use and the above list is specifically targeted for higher end use.

General setup information

Cabling, back in 2003 when SPDIF was the king interface for Digital Audio I thought we had overcome the interface cable wars with USB. Again I am reminded that not anything in audio is black and white. USB cables make a difference, and length can be an issue as well. Asynchronous USB docs require good USB cables and should not be used with lengths longer than 3M. Yes USB has specifications which have USB cables up to 5M, but because of the protocol it is heavily suggested not to use cables longer than 3M.

Analog cables for interconnect can also be important as shielding computer airborne noise can be an issue.

Power from computers, hard drives, networks and network modems can be really nasty, the use of good power cords, conditions and filters is always a good practice when setting up your Computer Audio system.

If you have questions about specific items from Wavelength do not hesitate to email me. If you have questions about software or hardware please email the specific company about those questions.