Sharing Bits, Volts and Noise!

In our upgrading scenario we were only using an integrated CD player, but if your system has a multi-box digital front end then it is vitally important to consider your strategy for upgrading multi-box digital systems. This is where the Vertex AQ digital leads come in – they function in basically the same way as all the other Vertex products, but the difference here is the way digital components react to systematic faults, and sometimes this area can be quite a critical performance limitation as systematic faults between digital boxes can really become intrusive, creating a significant loss in naturalness and realism, replacing it with that bright, flat, hashy digital sound.

In our work with digital systems that use multiple boxes, or computer audio, we have found there are often ABSOLUTELY HUGE gains to be had by using the Vertex digital leads (particularly USB and Firewire leads). Applying the systematic approach here brings out in very sharp relief just how much damage is done in these digital systems by vibration and RFI/EMI. It may be that as you get to the Phase 2 steps (see 11. The Hi-Fi Upgrade Steps), and you have a particularly ‘busy’ digital system, the digital interconnects should be looked at first – speak to your dealer for advice.

Oh yes, what about the argument that digital leads can’t make a difference. “Bits is bits” as they say, nothing more, nothing less! Okay, lets assume that’s the case, because essentially, thats correct of course. But when you plug a lead in between 2 boxes, what else do you connect? Well, the Earths for sure. If, for example, you connect a CD transport (which is doing a lot of processing) into a DAC (which is doing digital processing AND the analogue processing), the delicate DAC and analogue output stage may now ‘see’ all that extra noise on the earth. Also remember that vibration will travel along the lead – and maybe the casework of one box is picking up vibration in the audio band and sending it down the lead to that DAC circuit again. And what about computer audio and USB for example, that not only shares an earth, but also carries a 5V power supply, usually derived from a cheap switched-mode power supply, injecting RFI straight into your DAC. A Vertex digital lead will prevent the majority of all these interactions, providing a much quieter operating background for the important DAC processes.