I have just compared two USB spdif converters. This is the review
In one corner, the extremely well reviewed Audiophilleo 1.
In the second corner the relatively unknown, in hi fi circles - Yellowtec PUC 2.
Yellowtec, distributed in Australia by Production Audio Video Technology, is a German company that is well known in the professional broadcast industry. The Yellowtec PUC 2 has been around since around 2006.
The PUC 2 is a USB to AES converter, providing 24 bit 192khz playback and recording. It provides AES input and output, and a pair of balanced analog inputs and outputs. This means it really is aimed at the professional market, which is the primary user of balanced signals and XLR connectors.
My DAC has an RCA SPDIF input so I had to make up an XLR to RCA adaptor. I used a female XLR connector with pins 2 and 3 connected to a digital transformer and the secondary connected to a female RCA cable. Ideal? Yes, no, maybee? It did the job!
The comparison was done using a stock standard un-optimised XP desktop computer. Software used was Foobar, and cPlay (running on the desktop - not in CMP mode).
A low noise external aftermarket linear power supply, powered both converters, by "injecting" power into the device-end of a home-made USB cable. External power is the best way to power any USB audio device.
The Audiophilleo 1 is a really good sounding converter. It is nicely balanced, smooth and detailed, and clearly has low jitter, and exceptional clarity. I don't think I need to say much more. It has been reviewed before in so many other forums and online places. Just do an internet search.
The Yellowtec PUC 2 in direct comparison, gave that little bit extra of everything. Deeper cleaner more defined bass. Cleaner mids and highs. We did listen to a few test tracks but one that increased the obviousness of the improvement was German band "Focus" the track "Hocus pocus" typically using a lower fidelity source with this 1970's (by today's standards - low-fi) recording, the separation between bass guitar and bass drum is usually very hard to pick. The bass frequencies usually sound murky.
The Audiophilleo did a good job, but the PUC 2 was so much better. I could hear the bass guitar being picked, the "twang" of the strings, and the hit of the mallet on the bass drum even more clearly. The Audiophilleo just didn't do this as well - the murk was still there!
Many times when I have tried a cleaner audio transport, there seems to be the perception of less bass, but with the PUC 2, you get to have your cake and eat it too. Bass gets cleaner, deeper, and more tonal, yet maintains the same perceived amplitude. Perhaps giving even a little more perceived bass.
The PUC 2 presents a more forward detailed midrange, in a way that seems to strip back layers of muck, that I never knew was there, revealing the full clarity on the recording, yet without ever sounding harsh or clinical.
In conclusion, the PUC 2 retains all the smooth grain free sound of the Audiophilleo, but takes clarity, musicality and tone to a higher level, right across the frequency spectrum.
Professional users will be delighted with its robust functional exterior, and highest quality sound. The domestic audiophile will be suitably impressed with never before heard detail, and lowest jitter performance from a USB audio converter.
To me, at first it seemed strange that this professional device would out perform the highly reviewed and widely advertised Audiophilleo. I guess the marketing hype had got to me. However after thinking about it for a while, it makes perfect sense - the professional audio industry requires and demands the highest standards of audio capture and reproduction.
Sometimes there can be confusion regarding professional audio products. It can be difficult to know which ones are the real deal.
"Prosumer" (Professional products for the domestic consumer) come at a budget price and have XLR connectors, they "look" professional, and they do the job, but sound like nothing special.
Then you have real professional products, with real electronics engineering behind them, striving to push the boundaries, and developing new technology and techniques to beat the competition. Yellowtec falls into this category. Underneath the PUC 2's functional exterior lies a finely engineered circuit, designed to give the ultimate audio performance.
The PUC 2 comes supplied with a low latency ASIO driver developed by Ploytec. Even though the device is plug and play, and does not need a bespoke driver, use of the supplied driver provides even higher sound quality when running a windows operating system. The PUC 2 is not officially supported with a Linux driver, however it has been tested with the latest Vortexbox software and works perfectly and sounds wonderful.
For those who don't need analog inputs and outputs, Yellowtec also make a PUC 2 lite . I suspect this might sound even better than the unit reviewed, due to the lack of power demands from the analog circuitry.
The PUC2 sounds better in all areas, and there are no compromises to be had.. The PUC2 costs less as well, and the Lite version is even cheaper!
Audiophilleo 1 is $986 delivered.
PUC 2 is $761.00 inc 10% GST (Recommended retail price)
PUC 2 Lite is $599.00 inc 10% GST (Recommended retail price)
I guess its possible to get them cheaper than this, because no-one pays retail price anymore. Do they?
And I guess if you are in the industry you could probably get "dealer" (=cheaper) pricing.
If you would like to read another review of the Yellowtec PUC 2 see this blog: