Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal

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WGH

Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« on: 31 Dec 2013, 11:13 pm »
A person has to do a lot of reading to find any mention of Paul Pang's USB card, the first mention on AC was about 6 months ago in June 2013 and then sporadically since regarding building the C.A.P.S. music server. I trust ted_b's feedback so I began tracking down his Pang-Posts both here and in the Computer Audiophile forum.

Most of what is known about the USB card is on Paul Pang's website so instead of repeating it here just click on the link below:
http://ppaproduct.blogspot.tw/2013/07/audio-grade-usb-30-pcie-card.html

I am nowhere close to the 200 hour break-in point but so far I have noticed an increase in resolution and a greater enjoyment while listening to music, those two items make it a keeper.

I build my C.A.P.S. server 2 years ago (Dec. 2011) using the Jetway JNF96FL-525-LF board found in the Computer Audiophile C.A.P.S. V2.0. The server has all the power I need and I'm completely satisfied with it's performance. My landlady's evil daughter evicted me 6 months later through no fault of my own (she wanted to rent the house for big bucks to college students) so between moving and buying a house I had no extra money for the SOtM tX-USB card.

I'm glad I waited to get a card, Paul Pang's card sounds great and it is only $129. I learned a lot too, like a MiniPCI Express slot is different than a x1 PCI Express slot even though they look almost exactly alike. Once I got the right adapter everything worked perfectly the first time. The PPA card is powered by an Acopian 5v 2amp linear power supply from eBay for $20. The Amfeltec Flexible MiniPCI Express to x1 PCI Express Adapter was $55.70 + shipping. The 90 degree riser is a Logic Supply PCI Express x1 Low-Profile Riser Card PCIex1-LPR for $3.99.

Here is what it all looks like put together:



The Amfeltec adapter plugged into the MiniPCIE slot has a cool blue power light.



A closeup of the Paul Pang card and power supply, the black stuff on the terminals is impossible to remove gooey insulating tar from the previous owner.



Wayne


ebag4

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #1 on: 1 Jan 2014, 01:04 am »
Wayne,
Thanks for posting this.  I have been running through what I need to build a new audio PC and have been curious about this card.  Specifically I have wondered what type of expansion can be used to make the Pang card work.  I have been eyeing some of the mini PCs some of which have a half-length mini PCI Express slot which is typically used for wifi cards I believe.  It appears there may be options to make Paul's card work with this although some casee additions/modifications may be required.  If you or anyone else have experience making this work please post your findings.

Best,
Ed

ted_b

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Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #2 on: 1 Jan 2014, 01:35 am »
Yes, a half length PCIe slot will work just fine, especilaly if it lines up with an open slot on the back panel.  I power mine with an Acopian, too, Wayne.  :)  Although mine ios external and quite a ways away from the pc.  Vinnie built me a 12V/5V one for my Squeezebox years ago, and then simply walked me through how to remove the 12V side to use it for the PPA card.  The combo is wonderful.

BTW, thank you to Wyane for the nice comments about following my feedback.  But oh man, the pressure is on me now.  :)

WGH

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #3 on: 1 Jan 2014, 07:36 am »
The Amfeltic adapter card is available in both 1/2 and full card size along with 3 different ways to power it and a 12" ribbon cable for the x1 slot card so the adapter should work for practically every configuration. My computer wiring had an extra 12v/5v floppy drive connection so I went that route.

No pressure Ted, just wondering what you will come up with next and yes, the Anker battery pack is on my list.

Wayne

r.wasserstrom

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #4 on: 1 Jan 2014, 10:58 pm »
Wayne et al.
Thanks for starting this thread.  I thought I had no company on this site respecting the Paul Pang USB card.  I am approaching 200 hours on my card, but heard subtle improvements in layering and recording space cues much earlier than that.
I'm powering my card with my PC power supply and am looking for alternatives, like the HY 3003d Mastech power supply at  mastechpowersupply.com
I've also looked at external battery supplies, but am concerned that some of them will shut down when they don't see a battery to recharge.  I've contacted customer support for several external batteries (forgotten which ones) and they told me their supplies would not work in this application.  I'd be interested to hear about your experience with external batteries.
Rich

WGH

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #5 on: 2 Jan 2014, 12:22 am »
I'm powering my card with my PC power supply and am looking for alternatives, like the HY 3003d Mastech power supply at  mastechpowersupply.com

The Mastech HY3003D looks like overkill if you plan to use it just for the PPA card, if you want to go that route then for a little more (relatively speaking) go for the HY3010D Linear Power Supply, with an adjustable range of 30V and 10A you could power both the music server and the USB card using the Paul Pang Wide Range Pico Box:

http://ppaproduct.blogspot.tw/2013/09/dc-to-atx-160w-psu.html

From PPA website: "My pico box PSU is a regular DC to ATX module but with my audio grade power cable."
So you could skip the cable and get another brand for less.

Wayne

Nick77

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #6 on: 2 Jan 2014, 11:29 am »
Ive tried the battery cell charger but had issues with it turning off the power and causing reboot upon repower. That was on the 2amp side, ive read 1 amp side might be better about not shutting off, i kinda gave up on that solution. I am currently powering card with board.

I bought the Acopian PS also to try out instead of using the board for power. I will report back when it arrives. The bass issue i reported was due to a pc on my DAC, bass is not an issue now. It will be interesting to hear the PPA card with a few more hours and external PS to see what chances might take place.

Wayne have you noticed any changes while break in occurs?

zybar

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #7 on: 2 Jan 2014, 12:59 pm »
Great thread!

While I don't yet have Paul's card, I do have his red USB cable and think it is excellent.

He was also great in terms of communciation and shipment.

I highly recommend Paul.

Thanks to Ted for letting me know about Paul.

George

Nick77

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #8 on: 2 Jan 2014, 01:19 pm »
Great thread!

While I don't yet have Paul's card, I do have his red USB cable and think it is excellent.

He was also great in terms of communciation and shipment.

I highly recommend Paul.

Thanks to Ted for letting me know about Paul.

George

Agreed service was excellent, shipped my USB card a day or two later and arrived in 2 weeks. I am hoping to try his sata cable some day. :)

WGH

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #9 on: 2 Jan 2014, 03:23 pm »

Wayne have you noticed any changes while break in occurs?

Too soon to tell, I might have 10 hours on the card. It sounds good right out of the box.

Wayne

Nick77

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #10 on: 2 Jan 2014, 03:27 pm »
Too soon to tell, I might have 10 hours on the card. It sounds good right out of the box.

Wayne

I agree, if it gets better than only a bonus. :)

ted_b

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Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #11 on: 2 Jan 2014, 03:51 pm »
Paul's card is quite susceptible to break in, yes.  The good news, as you guys are findin out, is that it is quite listenable out of the box, so I wouldn't worry about putting it in repeat mode, etc.  But many of us PPA card users (I have the slightly more expensive, i.e $169, Version 1 card) have found that 500 hours is a goal, with 200 hours being 95+% of the results.  It continues to get smoother and more balanced across the frequency spectrum.  A good external ps can realy help lower the noise floor (as does a simple $45 Anker battery on the SSD).

r.wasserstrom

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #12 on: 2 Jan 2014, 06:25 pm »
The Mastech HY3003D looks like overkill if you plan to use it just for the PPA card, if you want to go that route then for a little more (relatively speaking) go for the HY3010D Linear Power Supply, with an adjustable range of 30V and 10A you could power both the music server and the USB card using the Paul Pang Wide Range Pico Box:

Wayne--you may be right about overkill, but the 3003D sells for less than the Acopian and I can use it for other applications if I move to battery power.

Rich

r.wasserstrom

Paul Pang Linear Power Supply
« Reply #13 on: 2 Jan 2014, 06:32 pm »
I forgot to mention that when I corresponded with Paul Pang to arrange purchase of his USB card he said he will be introducing a linear power supply sometime this year.  So I guess I'll wait a bit to see what he offers.
Rich

dminches

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #14 on: 2 Jan 2014, 06:43 pm »
I am planning on powering the Pang card with a Channel Island Audio VDC-5 MKII power supply.  If that works well for a SB touch I hope it will be good for the USB card too.

WGH

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #15 on: 2 Jan 2014, 08:08 pm »
The Acopian Linear Power Supplies are built like tanks, solid and heavy for their size and built to last 30 years of 24/7 service so buying used should be no problem. The 5EB100 (1amp), 5EB150 (1.5amp), 5EB200 (2amp) are always on eBay for $30-$40; there is a 5EB100 for $10 that should work and it is available right now. I got my 5EB200 for $20, the seller had a 99% positive rating and the PS was pre-tested and guaranteed working. I put a meter on it and it was exactly 5v.

Wayne

shawbros3

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #16 on: 2 Jan 2014, 10:57 pm »
I am planning on powering the Pang card with a Channel Island Audio VDC-5 MKII power supply.  If that works well for a SB touch I hope it will be good for the USB card too.

I've used the CIA VDC-5 with the PPA card in my Winodws 2012 Server and it works great.  I'm currently comparing different combinations of linear and battery options for my server and haven't yet decided which one works best for my tastes.  The CIA is definitely strong enough to power both the PPA card and SSD simultaneously and is a great solution, but so far I do like to power each component separately.

Another solid linear power solution is from Teradak.  Their supplies are very good and super affordable compared to most currently out there.  I have a multi-rail linear supply (12V/13a + 5V/3a) and it does a fantastic job powering my server, PPA card, and SSD.  Price was $365 shipped :thumb:

So far, at least in my system, the battery solutions seem to have the quietest background and relaxed sound.  I know some folks report that mobile USB batteries work best on the SSD drive, but in mine, they are very effective on the PPA card as well.  If your system tends to be a bit bright and you don't need any help on the "dynamics" side, then I think batteries would be the way to go.  Linear supplies sound more powerful and with better pace.  Well that's what I'm hearing over here...

So far this is what I have tested on the power front:

Core Audio Kora and Kalos LPS
Teradak LPS
CIA 5V
Bakoon BPS-02 5V
Powergen and Anker 5V

Happy Listening!

Nick77

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #17 on: 7 Jan 2014, 11:50 pm »
It just keeps getting better!  :o

I picked up a NOS Acopian 5EB150 off Ebay for $29, there's just no reason to fight this combo, it just works!!
I have a tighter sound with more resolution and increased micro and macro dynamics. I was powering the card from the board which is feed by battery. The sound was quite good before but no returning now, the Acopian is just more bettah!

I have this attached with one of Pauls power cords, could be lending to total result.

Thanks for the heads up on PS.  :thumb:

DN2800MTE
PowerSonic 12v Battery
Intel SSD
PPA USB Card
WyWire USB Cable

raysracing

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #18 on: 17 Jan 2014, 02:29 am »
This is the first audiophile piece in my newly home built PC and it is Amazing in every conceivable audio category. I am doing the usual replaying songs I know and love except with so much more detail and the soundstage has increased by feet per side.  Imaging has become so much more realistic and not stacked on a speaker or everything oddly off center. I can hear individual instruments and the minutia clear as a bell even in busy passages. Bass has more impact too. It is as if someone tuned my sub and turned it up.. Vocals are truly in the room now. 

I cannot wait for the battery for the SSD.  I dont even have a linear power supply for the Pang USB yet.  Everything form here on out for me is gravy because I love it. I am so happy.

Nick77

Re: Paul Pang's Audio Grade USB Card is the Real Deal
« Reply #19 on: 17 Jan 2014, 11:48 am »
For perspective based upon my results and system, I found the linear supply hooked up to the PPA card to be much more profound than the SSD battery upgrade. The things you noted are bumped up several notches when you add the Acopian. The SSD upgrade is well worth the effort but would place the linear supply a higher priority.  :wink: