This is a USB card designed to transfer high quality audio content from a PC to an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) or a USB-to-S/PDIF converter. It includes an external or internal power input and two USB 3.0 ports. It is built with top quality military grade linear regulators and filters to eliminate noise interferences from a PC and guarantee superb sound.
• Audiophile USB Audio output for USB DACs & USB-to-S/PDIF converters
• Ultra low noise design for high definition audio playback
• Ultra low noise linear regulators and high quality filters designed to eliminate noise interferences from PC
• Femto Clock Technology (Crystek CCHD-957) lowers jitter below measurable levels
• uDP720201 NEC controller
• High durability gold plated USB 3.0 connectors from Amphenol
• Two USB 3.0 connectors supporting Low Speed (1.5 Mbps), Full-Speed (12 Mbps), Hi-Speed (480 Mbps) and Super-Speed (5 Gbps) data rates
• 5V PSU can be supplied from computer PSU via LP4 connector or from an external PSU via 2.1/5.5mm center positive DC jack connector (our 200W linear PSU recommended for best SQ)
• Both full-size and low-profile PCI-e brackets included
The ultimate USB audio output
3 years after the release of the first revision of the JCAT USB Card, designed to enhance USB audio playback experience with desktop PCs, JCAT proudly presents its successor – the JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Even though the performance of the original JCAT USB Card was excellent and by many customers and professional reviewers considered best on the market, JCAT’s endless pursuit of quality led them to new developments that set the bar at the level we have never thought would be possible with computer based USB Audio playback.
FEMTO clock technology
We have found that the quality of clock used for generating USB audio signal at the PC side is as important for sound as the quality of clock in the DAC. Therefore for the new revision of the JCAT USB Card incorporates one of the finest clock oscillators available, the Crystek CCHD-957, which has been designed specifically for High Definition Audio. It features a typical low close-in phase noise of -100 dBc/Hz @ 10 Hz offset, and a noise floor of -169 dBc/Hz. With this extreme low phase noise performance, you will “Hear the Difference”. The Crystek Femto Clock which is located just a few millimeters away from the USB controller chip is powered by a dedicated ultra-low noise linear regulator for maximum performance.
Ultra low-noise regulation
In the previous revision of the JCAT USB Card, the USB controller’s digital core 1V power was supplied from the PC via the PCI Express lane. JCAT has redesigned the card so that all internal circuits are powered by ultra-low noise linear regulators exclusively if any 5V power supply is connected (either external or internal).
External PSU option
Although the USB Card FEMTO will operate without 5V for self-powered USB devices, the best performance can be achieved with an external high quality 5V power supply. You can use the HDPlex 200W linear power supply from our shop or some other high quality linear or battery 5V PSU. If high quality 5V PSU is not available please connect an internal computer power supply to the LP4 connector on the card and switch jumpers J5 & J7 from default position 1-2 to position 2-3. By default the jumpers on the card are configured to use external PSU via DC jack connector on the PCIe bracket next to the two USB ports on the card. If a PSU is not connected then it is impossible to filter well. The JCAT USB Card FEMTO can benefit additionally from full galvanic isolation provided by the JCAT USB Isolator.
Used individually or together, the JCAT USB Card and USB Isolator improved virtually every aspect of the sound. The noise floor was lowered, and resolution was enhanced. In general, things seemed more relaxed and less, well, “digital.” Transient impact improved, and the sound was more transparent. Soundstages were higher, wider, and deeper, and imaging and focus improved. Within soundstages, voices and instruments had more focus and weight. There was less distortion and glare on high-frequency peaks, and the midrange, including voices, was cleaner and richer. Bass was firmer and better defined.
The JCATs thrived on digital downloads of well-recorded music. In Billy Cobham’s often subtle drum solo in “Anxiety/Taurian Matador,” from his Spectrum (24-bit/96kHz FLAC, Rhino), the prominent snare drum was now concretely placed at center stage. I could viscerally feel the initial impact and flutter of the hard-struck drum skins, and the subsequent decays were much longer and more detailed. Jan Hammer and Tommy Bolin’s duet on, respectively, Moog and guitar was now much more present and involving.
“Have a Cigar,” from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (16/44.1 FLAC, Columbia), segues into the title track with the sound of an old-style analog radio tuner being dialed through several stations, including one broadcasting the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.4. Even in this brief linking segment — a recording of the radio in David Gilmore’s car, in the parking lot of EMI’s Abbey Road Studios — it was apparent that the JPlay products were making possible wider, deeper soundstages and more detail — even the interstation static was crisper and better articulated.
Due to its slide, the trombone has the greatest range of notes of all brass instruments. This was beautifully demonstrated by Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um (DSD64, Columbia/Legacy), the second part of which is full of trombone melodies and solos. The JCATs nicely exposed the sometimes subtle note changes in these passages. While I’ve heard greater timbral definition with some very-high-end servers, the JCATs weren’t at all shabby in this regard, and eons better than the sound without them.
In Diana Krall’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” from Krall’s Doing All Right (16/44.1 FLAC, IMC Music Limited), her brooding voice was now more textured, the background “blacker,” the attacks of her piano notes cleaner and more penetrating.