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USB 2.0 or 3.0?

Discussion in 'audio' started by kevinrt, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. kevinrt

    kevinrt pfm Member

    I saw this comment attached to an advert for a USB cable:

    'While USB 2.0 and 3.0 are compatible, USB 3.0 is a dual-link system not used for USB Audio.'

    I noticed that the latest Mac Mini only has USB 3.0 sockets. Does this mean you could/should not connect it to a DAC via USB, or am I misunderstanding this?

  2. linnfomaniac83

    linnfomaniac83 I bet you can’t wheelie a unicycle!

    No, USB 3.0 is fully backwards compatible. I regularly use my USB 3.0 equipped MacBook Pro with external USB DACs and ADCs. It'll work just fine.
  3. kevinrt

    kevinrt pfm Member

    Great! Thanks for that information.

    A Mac Mini or something similar is part of my future plan when the old laptop dies.

  4. jirij

    jirij Virtual Member

    In theory, USB3.0 (or 3.1) should be fully compatible down to USB1.1 as long as the 3.x is the host side and 1.1 is the device side. However in practice, a lot of manufacturers screw things up, especially with transaction translators. :(

    As it stands, USB3.0 (and 3.1) would be much, much better for low latency streaming operations - dual simplex operation, gets rid of host-based polling, ... the device can actually request specific latency policies from the host (ie. preventing deep C states of the CPU), ... USB3.1 further adds PTM to better measure and compensate for link delays throughout the USB tree, ... not even mentioning the greater interrupt frequency tolerances, .. lots and lots of advantages for a very low-latency DAC (ie. for studio/audiovisual usage).

    Oh well, by the time we get there, Ethernet AVB (which is way cooler with its distributed clock than USB3) is going to be a common thing.
    Wilson likes this.
  5. Thetiminator

    Thetiminator Painfully virile

    I had problems with using a USB3 cable with a Primare dac, turns out it wasn't compatible for some reason....driver issue iirc...
    gryphongryph likes this.
  6. dweezil

    dweezil pfm Member

    I had repeated problems using USB3 outs with my USB2 printer and warnings implying it was never going to work.
    Messed around for a couple of hours to no avail but as soon as it restarted all was fine.

    i couldn't work in IT.
  7. clivem2

    clivem2 pfm Member

    I see that iFi are moving to USB3, their iUSB3.0 and iDAC2 are both USB3 but as you'd hope also work with USB2. Their new devices have USB3 B type sockets.
  8. gryphongryph

    gryphongryph Member

    Hi I have the same problem now, got my dac 30 just before Primare updated their drivers, so used it for 4 years with my older Mac book pro, now I have a 2012 late model Mac Mini and the usb doesn’t work.
    Did you update the drivers yourself?
    Originally Primare told me that I had to send it in for update, not easy for me as I live in a very remote location, therefore choosing to use my laptop, which worked fine until it died.
  9. Whatsisnaim

    Whatsisnaim pfm Member

    I have an Audioquest Dragonfly DAC which I sometimes use for headphone listening with an iPhone. The Apple lightning to USB cable I use for this is the USB3 version, and it works fine. In fact, Audioquest claim that it gives slightly better sound quality than the USB2 version, but I cannot verify that.
  10. Thetiminator

    Thetiminator Painfully virile

    It was a long time ago but if IIRC I just had to use USB2.....
  11. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    I have noted that some older USB devices don't work properly with the latest USB3.2 gen 1 ports and a USB 3 cable. The solution I have found is to connect the two devices together with a USB2 male-female cable and everything springs to life. My guess is that because the USB2 cable does not have the wires for the superspeed TX/RX connection it only connects the USB2 TX/RX thus forcing USB2 mode for older devices even if stated as USB 3.0.

    Its possibly a driver issue within the firmware of older devices but the above is a workaround.


  12. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    The two points I'd draw out are;

    1) That USB2 and USB3 can differ in two distinct way. One being the data/electronic methods available. The other being a physical difference in some hardware (plugs, sockets, cables). So two categories of 'standards' are involved - physical and electronic.

    2) That systems are 'supposed' to be back-compatable. i.e. USB3 items should also support USB2 (and USB1).

    The snag is that in reality various real world items fail to do as expected because someone messed up or could'ne be bothered. Hence some hubs, connectors, or devices duly give odd problems.

    It's a parallel with my experience when comparing external USB hubs. Some work fine and in any situation I've tried. Others show up all kinds of limitations, quirks, or serious defects.

    So experiment and then choose items you find work OK.

    The problem isn't in the standards, it is in the way some makers fail to meet them properly.
    Wilson likes this.
  13. mercalia

    mercalia pfm Member

    read the comments about Mdac and usb2.0 and 3.0 issues
  14. cctaylor

    cctaylor pfm Member

    I remember having a peripheral that didn't work if plugged directly into my USB 3 hub, but would work if I plugged it into a USB2 2 port hub plugged into the USB 3 hub.
  15. Jim Audiomisc

    Jim Audiomisc pfm Member

    Note also that the amount/quality of the power provided by some mains-powered external hubs varies a lot. More than once I've concluded that's why a given hub (or computer socket) can't support a given item when another can - even when all are nominally the same USB standard.

    For USB external hubs I came to decide that the most relable external hub I could find was a type sold by CPC as CS16383. However all such items are prone to being 'improved' (sic) by makers without warning.

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