Substitute for Waveterminal U24

About a week ago I ordered a Waveterminal U24 to use in converting a USB signal from my computer to a sp/dif signal that I could feed into my Musical Fidelity Trivista DAC. I got a note back today from the company that I ordered from saying that the model had been discontinued. I've done some checking around on the internet and that appears to be true.

Does anyone know of a comparable external device that will do a good job of converting USB to (RCA coax) sp/dif?
Hamburg- The HagUSB is similar to the U24 in that it can convert USB to SPDIF. No, it does not need to come out of the audio card. I have not tried a "pro audio card" out to my DAC - what do you suggest? I have actually been trying to completely avoid using the audio card, and instead sending a pure WAV digital stream out to an external DAC.


My Trivista came back from repair yesterday, and I hooked it up to my Apple G4 through the HagUSB using a generic USB cable and a Kimber D60 digital interconnect. How did it work? Like a champ. The Trivista still sounds like a Trivista (which is to say, great), but now it has a deeper soundstage, more focused images and close to zero grain.

The HagUSB was easy to set up on my G4. Just plug it into the computer’s USB port, go to System Preferences, click on Sounds, and select it as the output device.

How does the computer feeding the Trivista through the HagUSB sound compared to the computer feeding the Wavelength Cosecant? Very different. The Trivista has little tiny tubes in it, and the tubes seem to make a little tiny difference (in fact the Trivista sounds a lot like my prior solid state DAC, the Bel Canto DAC2). The Cosecant, on the other hand, is obviously tubed.

The Cosecant really deserves its own review, which I am working on and hope to post in Audiogon’s review section in the next week or so. That said, here is a quick summary: the Cosecant sounds tubed in both the good way (liquid, holographic ...), and the less good (slightly rolled off frequency extremes, lack of bass punch, a bit of coloration ...). It also presents music in a highly addictive and almost magically real way. So much so that, despite the Trivista’s superior dynamics, punch, frequency extension and neutrality, I am having trouble deciding between keeping the Cosecant or Trivista. One will eventually need to go, as I can’t afford to keep both; but it’s a tough call.
Steev --

Thanks for posting your comparison. I'm very surprised by your result. I would have expected the Cosecant to blow away the Trivista because of its direct USB input. I use a combination of X-DAC/X-10/DIY Power supply (together they are very similar to the Trivista), with my USB>S/PDIF conversion through an M-Audio Audiophile USB. I'm very impressed with the sound. I was considering upgrading the Audiophile for one of the modded Transits. But given your findings I'm deciding I may not gain much by the upgrade. I'm supposing my Audiophile is at least as good as the Hagman (it uses it's own drivers and AC power).

Thanks again for your post.
I think there are way too much credits given to "USB DAC".

Other than the low end USB DACs which actually use USB DAC chips, many "USB DACs" are just "regular" DACs with USB interface built-in.

There are certainly theoretical advantages in a tightly coupled USB interface, versus an external USB/SPDIF box. But a DAC is still a DAC. The DAC chip and the analog output stage are still crucial factors in producing the sound.
I don't want to give the impression that the Cosecant is anything less than excellent. It is, in fact, fantastic. All audio gear involves trade-offs. The Cosecant's seems to be maximum musicality at the expense of strict neutrality. In this way, it is a lot like a single end triode amp: a solid state amp will have more slam and extension, and measure much better, but a solid state amp will never approach the palpable realism that makes a SET amp so enjoyable to listen to.

With regard to whether the M-audio sounds as good as the HagUSB, I really don't know because I've never heard the M-Audio. That said, this might be a situation where simpler is better. The HagUSB only converts USB to s/pdif. The M-audio has pots and switches which, at its price point, may not be beneficial to the signal passing through it. Maybe someone will do a head-to-head comparison.

On the issue of whether a USB DAC can be superior to a s/pdif dac, all I can say is that the Cosecant is the most musically satisfying DAC I've had in my system (and I've had a few). I think it is a very well executed product. It will be interesting to see what competition it has a year from now, as I-pods fuel the interest in computer based music systems.