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Computer Audio Playback

& Stereo USB DACs

JFVignal 1 SAE Br-ussels-AEDS 90812010
__ ~ o n t e n t s
1. Summary
2. Background & tvLl ajor Trends
3. Computer-base Audio
4. Digital 1 nterfaces
S. S/Pd if Topologies 038
6. S/Pdif Oversampling & Reclocking 054
7. USB vs FireWire 069
8. USB Ad apt ive vs A ync
9. Ethernet
1 O. From PCM To DSD
1 1 1
1 1 . Selection of Stereo DACs
12. Conclusion
13. References & Prefere11ces
1 55
14. Sources & Resources
1 8
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AE S 90812010 2
1 nis paper is about mus uction at home, not music production perse.
The tt:aditi a set-up of a typical Hi Fi system, with the CD player as the main
playback source, is being redefined by new products & technologies from
different industries (Pro Audio, High End Audio, Computer, Consumer
electronics), ali merging into the global Digital Convergence.
Today, options for copying, downloading, storing music & managing an audio
library have multiplied, as weil as options for playback & listening.
Music servers & digital jukeboxes, from iPod to PC, push consumers into file-
based audio management, as opposed to physical-format-based audio playback.
The 30-year old Red Book CD has been simply dematerialized.
One key benefit is the ability to download & listen to high-resolution files.
One key challenge is the ability of the end-user to manage this new complexity,
with so many variables both at the software & hardware levels.
ln particular, typical audio interfaces like AES/EBU and S/Pdif are now competing
against computer interfaces like USB, FireWire & Ethernet.
Because digital playback requires in any case a Digital To Analog converter
(DAC), more & more manufacturers are now launching USB DACs.
The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of this huge shift happening
today & to focus on the different designs used in USB DACs, a Iso including
other options like S/Pdif, FireWire, Ethernet & music servers.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 4
My primary objective for this paper was to adjust scope & depth with clarity
& relevance, the right mix for a primer (this is not a white paper).
One issue was to balance the amount of specifie info on the topic vs more
technical background data needed for reference.
Key points for each topic & section summaries are highlighted.
More in-depth technical information is readily available from the URL
sources & resources listed at the end (ali val id URLs as of April 201 0).
Because the computer-audio market is currently booming, more products
(both hardware & software) are being released from Pro audio & Hi end
manufacturers. Specs are fast-evolving as weil as retail priees.
USB right now is the most popular in terms of cost/performance ratio, but
FireWire is still a live & Ethernet is positioning itself as the new alternative.
Part of the background for this paper a Iso co mes from my own experience
in creating & managing an audio library of more than 4,000 CDs over the
last 5 years. Mistakes were made, insights were gained.
Another persona! learning curve has been the optimization of the computer
(custom desktop on W03/W7 and Mac Book Pro OSX 1 0.5.8) as the
playback source within an existing home audio system, especially in terms of
DAC interface. Efforts at improving the system overall are still ongoing.
J F Vignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 5
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 6
) Traditional CD playback= integrated CD player or CD transport + outboard
DAC, with S/Pd if or AES/EBU connection.
Impact of 1-Pod (200 1 ), 1-Tunes (2003) & 1-Pod docks.
Trivialization of music due to low-quality mp3, the hit single syndrome, radio
heavy compression, P2P downloads.
Today, new market for computer-based audio (digital jukebox).
Computer Audio= using a computer as the transport for music playback.
This strong trend in digital convergence brings together Pro Audio (production),
Hi-Fi (re-production) and computers (storage, playback).
The PC becomes a music player (drive), music library & music server.
As a result, new market for outboard DACs for connection to PC.
Which digital connections (S/Pdif, AES3, Toslink, USB, FireWire, Ethernet) ?
DACs with USB/FW, no need for soundcard PCI-PCie or outboard interface.
CD, SACD, DVD-A dying physical formats (dematerialization).
Blu-Ray (BD) as the new playback platform ? (eg., NeiiYoung'sArchives)
New market for high-res audio files downloads, PCM 24/96 to 24/192, DSD and
DXD downloads (eg., Norwegian music label 2L).
Cheaper costs of storage with HDDs, SSDs capacity increasing.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 7
CD sales down by +/- 1 0% every year.
Legal music downloads up by +/- 30% every year.
Hi end audio manufacturers strong focus on DACs & music servers.
Linn stops manufacturing CD players & transports, as of Dec 2009.
Vinyl: From survival to revival ( 180g vinyl re issues)
Internet radio streaming & music discovery sites (Deezer,, Spotify ... ).
Today audio is increasingly played back from computers, streaming network
players and hard disk players.
TVs, gaming consoles and portable audio players can also be interconnected via
Computer platforms & OS market shares:
0 Windows: 90%
0 Apple: OSX 5%
0 Linux: 5%
OS cross-installation solutions: Windows <=> OSX (Boot Camp, Parallel
Desktops,VM Ware).
Today we take ali the above for granted.
Over the last 50 years, audio & Hi Fi have come a long way.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 8
Technology and the Growth of Audio Markets
Sound ic es magazine
Misan& PlY Revival

UbFiHobbyi.rts i1 ]3pan &Itty l tJ:Jm. Fi Tm de

Ster e SoJ.,f1d,
Audio esearch, S. !J" epan, Krell,
P..poge l evins lnfir 1y & het'$
Sec t, Stere Tape,
,J High- End Audio

Rec ds,
Ma ra z, & M Dolby, THX
Ampe> etc. ( ISS 5-63] certification
High Fidelity
Home Theater
Mv Ra do
DolbyCa::.sett es,
.A.C-3,DTS no
44. 1116 Di gtal CD,
&E ectrical
F umihr e Con oies &
Rack Sereo
9&'24, D\oO-A
Phor o!}'aph$ p../DC Tat:Ae iadios
R ec ei V et'$
htfa ss J:vf.arket
(Priee, Ji:>pearance, & Features)

Sound Or.tical GraduaJ T ec rt1ic ol cr, Otality

5.1 Crennel
on Dise Sound Retinemert Cinerama, Decline; ereo Compressed
211 2A3, & 71Xnm,& 71Xnm Jiical THX,

Tri ode 3008 Earl y 6-track & Sta"eO ou nd 71Xnm, ystems
&6l6 Stereo Ma(Tleijc fades oti
:tvfovie Theater Sound
1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 9
Jvfilestones ln Audio
1 8
Prere<:orded Doby 8 cassette
1 Open-Reet Ste'eo Tape 1
44.1 kHz/16 bit CD
1 1
45 Singt&s , _______ -----
1 1
..COLSttal 1 E le<:trta 1 7 8 Recor
1 Mooo LPI
Stereo LP Recor
- - - ~
1 1 J
I.Atmstron ~
1 88-1 Ollv1hz FM 1 88-1 Otrv1hz FM Stereo
1 1 1
Broadcast and Sr.ortwave AM Radio
RCA RCA Small 741 Fast LP&
26 6SN7 12AU7 Signal 301 .A.udio Triode 6
6SL7 12AX7 Transsta Opamp3 Opamp3 R'Yivat
RCA RCA EL341KT88 Quasi- Comp. LOYY True DHT
71,4S,2A3 6V6 More Feedback
Comp. Symm.
Tlh-1 cass Triode
WE 3008 6L6 tv1ore POVv'er
Trans . Trans.
Less FB A R'Yival
1 1
Voght Al tee ...IBL
BBC Computers, Higher
Tractrix 604 Klpscr KLH LSJl5A Potyprop EfftierK:y
Horn Dt.plex iranooy IAdvent Bextrene Kevlar
1920 l930 l940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000
High- Fidelity Transition Stereophonie
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - ~ - - - - ~ ~ ~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
Ra.dio & IYhvies
JF Vignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 10
0 Digital Timeline
Augustin-Louis Cauchy first proposed sampling theory.
Harry Nyquist presents sampling theory to the American lnstitute of Electrical Engineers.
Reeves proposed pulse code wave modulation (PCM) as a way of storing audio.
John Bardeen,William Shockley and Walter Brattain's bi polar junction transistor, which made
compact digital circuitry a reality.
C.H. Townes and A.L. Shawlow invented the laser.
I.S. Reed and G. Solomon's work on error correction codes gave us the technology that
would be directly applied to Compact Dise twenty two years later.
Japan's NHK Technical Research lnstitute publicly demonstrates a digital audio recorder
running 12bit resolution and a 30kHz sampling rate.
Physicist Klaas Compaan uses a glass dise to store black and white holographie images using
frequency modulation at Philips Laboratories.
Sony, Mitsubishi and Hitachi demonstrate digital audio dises .
Sony signs up to Philips 'Red Book' laser dise. Compact Dise is born.
Sony and Philips launch first commercial CD players.
Sony launches Digital Audio Tape (DAT) with 16bit, 48kHz digital PCM system.
MP3 (MPEG 1 Audio Layer 3) finalized. A compressed, lassy 16/44.1 format using
approximately 20% of the space of a WAV file, it ushers in online music distribution.
Super Audio Compact Dise (SACD) launched, offering high resolution digital sound using the
Direct Stream Digital (DSD) system, with effective 20-bit resolution.
DVD-Audio is launched from the DVD-Forum; offering up to 24bit, 96kHz resolution from a
DVD. The format dies from competition with SACD & lack of distribution support.
Josh Coulson finalizes Free Lossless Audio Codee (FLAC) v 1.0.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 Il
ormats, Med1a & Playback
1> LP 2> CD
- .1
3> HDD 4> SSD
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 12
We are now living in the age of computer audio playback.
Audio companies are offering stereo DA converters, either in USB (from cheap
plug & play boxes to more elaborate deviees with custom drivers) or FireWire,
Ethernet being still a more limited & costly option.
Laptops & Mac Minis will obviously favor the USB alternative.
For a desktop, the option remains to instal a Pro-audio PCI/e soundcard to keep
a digital output in S/Pdif and AES3, which can then be transferred to an outboard
stereo DAC.
End-users, depending on budget & performance objectives, can therefore choose
from severa! computer-audio configuration strategies.
ln any case, computer audio files can now be played on a home Hi Fi setup with
a quality level unheard of as recently as two years ago.
Jitter management remains a core issue to deal with, and cornes from a number
of different sources in the ove rail playback chain.
One potential jitter suspect was the laser-based optical playback of CD players:
by shifting from CD to HDD (ferromagnetic) or SSD (solid-state memor y)
playback, a more stable source can be established.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 13
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 14
0 Computer Audio & Clocking
Over the last 5 years, PCs for digital playback have been gaining popularity,
due to increasing CPU power, lower cost of storage & music libraries.
lt is quite convenient to store one's music collection on the hard drive(s) of
a persona! computer, where the entire musical library can be organized and
easily played back.
But clocking problems need to be addressed when transferring the music
from the computer to a high-performance sound system.
Key issue: the master audio clock is in the wrong place-the computer,
acting as the dise transport.
The DIA converter must lock onto the signal coming from the computer
and reconstruct a new master dock using a variable-frequency oscillator,
which cannot achieve the low jitter levels of a fixed-frequency master clock.
The original way to play the audio via a computer was with a soundcard that
was installed on the PC motherboard. Low-quality switching power supplies
and a chassis full of RF interference made it difficult to achieve high-
performance analog outputs.
Digital outputs on a soundcard allowed the conversion to analog in a more
friendly external environment, but the only standard is the jitter-prone
S/PDIF or AES/EBU connection.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 15
0 Computer Audio & System Building Decisions
Computer-based audio is basically about 3 key objectives:
0 To digitize favorite tapes/LPs & copy CDs for archiving & back-up
0 To organize audio tracks & downloads in an audio library & playlists
0 To listen to these audio files on a Hi Fi system (PC= jukebox)
Once the decision has been made, a whole number of hardware & software
options must be reviewed & evaluated in terms of budget & performance.
He re is a brief outline of the number of factors & variables to consider:
0 Computer: desktop or laptop, PC or Mac, OS, CPU, RAM, connectivity,
HDD vs SSD, speed, noise levels
0 Ripping software: EAC, CD Ex, Max ...
0 Format: lossless or not, wav, aiff, flac, a lac, m p3
0 Tagging & metadata, album art covers
0 Storage: HDD, SSD, NAS
0 Playback software: iTunes,J River, Foobar, MediaMonkey, Amarra ...
0 PCI-PCie soundcard or not, ASIO or not
0 Critical choice of a DAC for connection to amps & speakers
0 Which digital audio interface: S/Pdif,AES3, Toslink, USB, FireWire, Ethernet
0 Cabling requirements (digital, analog, power)
0 Clocking thru outboard reference master dock ?
0 Overall system optimization
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 16
0 Audio File Formats
0 Lossless Formats
ALC, AiFF, FLAC, FLA,WAV, PCM, WavPack, Monkey Audio, AIF, CDA,Apple
0 Lossy Formats
lossless Stereo: Speed Rates vs Frequency (kbps)
Fs (kHz) 16-bit 20-bit 24-bit
44,1 1411,2 1 764,0 2116,8
48 1536,0 1920,0 2 304,0
88,2 2822A 3 528,0 4 233,6
96 3 072,0 3 840,0 4 608,0
176A 5 644,8 7 056,0 8467,2
192 6144,0 14112,0 9 216,0
384 12 288,0 28 224,0 14 832,0
Wav/ Aiff ( 1 6-bit 1 44, 1 kHz)
=> 1 41 1 ,2 kbps
=> 1 min = 10 MB
Flac: 700-900 kbps
mp3 (CBR): 128-320 kbps
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 17
0 Which Audio Format For Ripping ?
Decreasing cost of HDD storage: 1 TB = +/- 90 Eur.
Lossless encoding: Wav/Aiff or Flac, preferred option for archiving &
Flac currently offers the best compromise quality 1 size.
Size of 1 CD= 700 MB at 1 411,2 kbps.
Flac will compress roughly down to 60% (mp3 in 320 kbps will compress
down to 25%, with loss of details, transients & spatial elues).
Using Flac, 2 400 CDs can be backed up on a 1 TB HDD.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 18
0 TheASIO ModeAiternative
High Quality Aucf10 Files
Source: bum pl htm
Volume Control
DSP Functions
Windows WDM
Mixer Driver
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 19
0 Computer Audio: A Strategie Breakthrough For Hi End Dealers
o Computer Audio has slowly arrived in the Hi Fi market, like a messiah for the
worried Hi End segment of the industry, already challenged by the rise of
Home Theater/Multiroom & TV consumer electronics.
Hi end dealers had been 'conditioned' for decades to glorify the virtues of
traditional stereo, with a multitude of brands & products.
Co ming from vinyl & tubes, with sometimes indecent gross margins, getting on
the learning curve for new AV technologies has caused a strategie shakedown
of Hi Fi dealers, as weil as a breakthrough.
The arrivai of Computer Audio, after sorne period of self-deniai both from the
press & golden ears, has finally initiated a who le new outlook for the Hi Fi
industry (and no doubt, revised business plans as weil).
The newfound cooperation between computers and Hi Fi opens up a whole
market potential, together with a sharp increase in integration competencies -
- and a de facto gap with the older, more traditional Hi End customers still
debating the virtues of single-ended triodes
As always in a booming market, it's interesting to note how quickly the priee
extremes in the retail market set themselves up.
Today, these retail priee extremes for stereo DACs start from 150 Eur ali the
way up to 15 000 Eur. Again, China vs the US.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 20
0 High Resolution Music Downloads
One of the advantages of computer audio is the ability to download high-res
audio files (PCM 24/96 or more, wav, flac, wma, a lac, DSD).
The benefit is to enjoy master tape quality performance
Several companies are now active in this new business:
0 https:/ /
0 http:/ / 1
0 l .asp
Most of the high-res music available today focuses on independent artists
but Rhino has started offering Flac on popular rock bands.
For the highest resolutions, the Norwegian label 2L offers for free a limited
number of downloads in DSD.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 21
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 22
0 Overview Of Digital Audio Interfaces
Specifie interfaces ded icated to digital audio include:
j A2DP via Bluetooth
AC'97 (Audio Codee 1997) interface between integrated circuits on PC
Intel High Definition Audio A (= replacement for AC'97)
5 (lnter-IC sound) interface between integrated circuits in consumer
ADAT interface
AES/EBU interface with XLR connectors
AES47, Professional AES3 digital audio over Asynchrone us Transfer Mode
MADI Multichannel Audio Digital Interface
MIDI low-bandwidth interconnect for carrying instrument data; cannat carry
sound but can carry digital sample data in non-realtime
S/PDIF, either over coaxial cable or optical (TOSLINK)
TDIF (Tascam) proprietary format with D-sub cable
Any digital bus (e.g., USB, FireWire, and PCI) can carry digital audio.
Note: OtherAN interfaces are also engineered to carry digital video and
audio together, including HDMI and DisplayPort.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 23
0 Clocking & Synchronicity
Two synchronous deviees have a single clock source and there is no delay
between them.
Two asynchronous deviees have absolutely no relation to each other.
They are free-running with separate docks.
Two isochronous deviees have the same dock but are separated by a
fixed propagation delay. They have a phase difference but that difference
remains constant.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 24
D AC'97
Short for Audio Codee '97; a Iso MC'97, short for Modem Codee '97) is Intel
Corporation's Audio Codee standard developed by the Intel Architecture
Labs in 1997, and used mainly in motherboards, modems, and sound cards.
Audio components integrated into chipsets consists of two components: an
AC'97 digital controller (DC97), which is built into the 1/0 Controller Hub
(ICH) of the chipset, and an AC'97 audio and modem codees, which is the
analog component of the architecture.
AC'97 defines a high-quality, 16- or 20-bit audio architecture with surround
sound support for the PC that is used in the majority of today's desktop
AC'97 supports 96,000 samples/second in 20-bit stereo resolution and
48,000 sam pies/second in 20-bit stereo for multichannel recording and
lntegrated audio is implemented with the AC'97 Codee on the
motherboard, a Communications and Networking Riser (CNR) card, or an
audio/modem riser (AMR) card.
ln 2004, AC'97 was superseded by Intel High Definition Audio (HD Audio).
JFYi gnal / SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 20 10 25
0 HDAudio
Intel High Definition Audio (a Iso cal led HD Audio or Azalia) refers to
the specification released by Intel in 2004 for delivering high-definition
audio that is capable of playing back more channels at higher quality than
previous integrated audio codees like AC'97.
Hardware based on Intel HD Audio specifications is capable of delivering
192-kHz 32-bit quality for two channels, and 96-kHz 32-bit for up to
eight channels.
Like AC'97, HD Audio is a specification that defi nes the architecture, link
frame format, and programming interfaces used by the controller on the
PCI bus and by the codee on the other side of the link.
Microsoft Windows XP SP3 and la ter Windows versions include a
Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) class driver which supports audio
deviees built to the HD Audio specification.
Mac OS X has full support with its AppleHDA driver.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 9081 2010 26
D 125
12S, also known as lnter-IC Sound, lntegrated lnterchip Sound, or liS, is an
electrical seriai bus interface standard used for connecting digital audio
deviees together (developed by Philips in 1986).
lt is most commonly used to carry PCM information between the CD
transport and the DAC in a CD player.
The 12S bus separates dock and data signais, resulting in a very low jitter
connection. J itter can cause distortion in a d igital-to-analog converter.
The bus consists of at least three li nes:
1. Bit dock line
2. Word dock line (also called word select line or left right dock)
3. Data line (at least one multiplexed line)
The following lines can also be found:
4. Master dock (typical 256 x bitclk)
5. A multiplexed data line for upload
Very few audio companies offer an 12S physical interface cable between CD
transport & DAC (PS Audio, Ste llo, Zanden), with different connectors.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 27
c. AES/EBU was designed primarily to support PCM encoded audio in either DAT
format at 48kHz or CD format at 44.1 kHz.
AES/EBU allows the data to be run at any rate, and recovers the dock rate by
encoding the data using biphase mark code (BMC).
The AES3 standard matches part 4 of the international standard IEC 609S8 for
digital audio interfaces (IEC 609S8-3= consumer use, IEC 609S8-4= pro use).
The following 3 types of connections are in common use:
0 Type 1 Balanced - 3-conductor, 1 1 0-ohm twisted pair cab ling with an XLR
connecter, used in professional installations (AES3 standard). Dual wire is
required to output a digital signal at 24/176.4 and 24/192 kHz.
0 Type Il Unbalanced - 2-conductor, 7S-ohm coaxial cable with an RCA
connecter, used in consumer audio
0 Type Il Optical - optical fiber, usually plastic but occasionally glass, with an
FOS connector, also used in consumer audio (Toslink)
0 The AES-3id standard defines a 7S-ohm BNC electrical variant of AES3
AES3 digital audio format cana Iso be carried over an Asynchronous Transfer
Mode network.
The standard for packing AES3 frames into ATM ce lis is AES47, and is a Iso
published as IEC 6236S.This requires a CATS or CAT6 type of network
infrastructure to SUpport this. JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 28
AES3 is a seriai digital bit stream containing audio that has been digitized
using the technique of linear pulse code modulation.
Each digital audio sample word is represented in linear two's complement
binary form.
Two audio samples are time-division multiplexed to make up a frame,
with each audio sample preceded and followed by specialty bits of data.
The digital data in the frames (except the preamble bits) are represented
in a bi-phase mark format.
With PCM, the amplitude of an analog audio signal is sam pied at a regular
rate and at regular intervals of ti me. For audio applications, the most
common sampling rate is 44,1 kHz. Here sam pies are taken every
1/44, 1 00 of a second, about every 22.6 J.JS.

bits (
per digital
Wl d
Total Number T T\\O' s Compkmenl Ranet:
1 of !
IP ( 2' 1 )
' ion
j lc\ (2'') j
ignal to
(6.02 x N) 1.76
9lU dll
122.2 ofl
146.1 dB
- -
1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
Encoded (BMC)
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 29
There are no differences between the signais transmitted over optical
or coaxial S/PDI F connectors-both carry exactly the sa me
Selection of one over the other rests mainly on the availability of
appropriate connectors on the chosen equipment and the preference
and convenience of the user.
TOSLINK cables do not work weil (and may even suffer permanent
damage) if tightly bent, and the ir high light-signal attenuation limits
their effective range to 6.1 meters (20 ft) or so.
On the other hand, TOSLINK cab les are not susceptible to ground
loops and RF interference, like coaxial cables.
Another deciding factor for many is cast: any standard 75 0 AN cable
can be used for coaxial connectivity, while TOSLINK requires a
specifie cable which, until recently, was not very affordable.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 30
( /
_ _...... .. -"""
Main differences between AES 1 EBU and 5/PDIF
AES/EBU balanced AES/EBU unbalanced S/PDIF
... _ ;
Cab ling 1 1 0-ohm shielded TP 75-ohm coaxial
75-ohm coaxial or
3-pin XLR, 25-Pin D- RCA, BNC, or
Con nectar
#1 Output level 2 to 7 V peak to peak
1 to 1.2V peak to 0.5 to 0.6 V peak to
peak peak
Min Input level 0.2V 0.32V 0.2V
Max distance IOOm IOOOm IOm
Modulation BiRhase mark code BiRhase mark code BiRhase mark code
Subcode information ASCII ID text ASCII ID text
SCMS copy
protection info
Max. Resolution 24 bits 24 bits
20 bits (24 bits
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 31
Multichannel Audio Digital Interface, or MADI, is an industry-standard
electronic communications protocol that defines the data format and
electrical characteristics of an interface carrying multiple channels of digital
The AES standard for MADI is currently documented in AES 1 0-2003.
The MADI standard includes a bit-level description and has features in
common with the two-channel format of AES3.
MADI is widely used in the audio industry, especially in the professional
lts advantages over other audio digital interface protocols and standards
such as AES/EBU (AES3), ADAT,TDIF and S/PDIF are: first, support of a
greater number of channels per line; and second, the use of coaxial and
optical fiber media that enable the transmission of audio signais over 100
meters and up to 3000 meters.
Seriai digital transmission over coaxial cable or fiber-optic lines of 28, 56, or
64 channels is supported, with sampling rates of up to 96 kHz and
resolution of up to 24 bits per channel.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 32
0 IEEE 1394
o The 1 EEE 1 394 interface is a seriai bus interface standard for high-speed
communications and isochronous real-time data transfer, frequently used by
persona! computers, as weil as in digital audio, digital video, automotive, and
aeronautics applications.
The interface is also known by the brand names of FireWire (Apple), i.LINK
(Sony), and Lynx (Texas Instruments). IEEE 1394 replaced parallel SCSI in
many applications, because of lower implementation costs and a simplified,
more adaptable cabling system.
IEEE 1394 was adopted as the High-Definition Audio-Video NetworkAIIiance
(HANA) standard connection interface for AN (audio/visual) component
communication and control.
FireWire is also available in wireless, fiber optic, and coaxial versions using the
isochronous protocols.
lt remains the primary transfer mechanism for high end professional audio
and video equipment.
Since 2003, many computers intended for home or professional audio/video
use have built-in FireWire/i.LINK ports, especially prevalent with Sony and
Apple's computers.
The legacy (alpha) 1 394 port is also available on premium retail
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 33
USB was originally seen as a complement to FireWire (IEEE 1394) and
designed for simplicity and low cast, while FireWire was designed for high
performance, particularly intime-sensitive applications such as audio and
USB networks use a Master-Siave topology, wh ile FireWire networks use a
PeerTo Peer topology.
USB 1 .0, 1.1 and 2.0 use a "speak-when-spoken-to" protocol. Peripherals
cannat communicate with the host unless the host specifically requests
communication. USB 3.0 is planned to allow for device-initiated
communications towards the host.
A USB network relies on a single host at the top of the tree to control the
network. ln a FireWire network, any capable node can control the network.
USB runs with a 5 V power li ne, wh ile Firewire (theoretically) can supply up to
The chipset and drivers used to implement USB and Firewire have a crucial
impact on how much of the bandwidth prescribed by the specification is
achieved in the real world, along with compatibility with peripherals.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 34
Non return to zero, inverted (NR 1s a me g bin
to a physical signal for transmission over sorne transmission media.
The two level NRZI signal has a transition at a dock boundary if the bit being
transm itted is a logical one, and do es not have a transition if the bit being
transm itted is a logical zero.
"One" is represented by a transition of the physical level. "Zero" has no
Also, NRZI might take the opposite convention, as in Universal Seriai Bus
(USB) signaling, when in Mode 1 (transition when signaling zero and steady
level when signaling one).
The transition occurs on the leading edge of the dock for the given bit. This
distinguishes NRZI from NRZ-Mark.
However, even NRZI can have long series of zeros (or ones if transitioning
on "zero"), so dock recovery can be difficult unless sorne form of run length
limited coding is used on top.
USB uses bit stuffing, which is efficient, but results in a variable data rate: it
takes slightly longer to send a long string of 1 bits over USB than it does to
send a long string of 0 bits. (USB inserts an additional 0 bit after 6
consecutive 1 bits.)
=:J 0 1 1 0
0 35
0 Digital Audio Interfaces: Key Specifications
AES/EBU (AES3) Inputs
Type Balanced, differentiai
Impedance 110 n
Sensltivity (unloaded) 1- 10 v pk-pk
Maximum Wordlenglh 24 bits
Con nectars XLR3 female (2)
Connections Pin 1 Grou nd or shield
Pin2 +Signal
Pin3 -Signal
SPDIF (electrical) Input REG Output
Type Single ended, ground
Impedance 75 75
Sensillvity (unloaded) 0.5 1.0 v pk-pk
Maximum Wordlenglh 24 24 bits
Conne ct ors RCA Phono RCA Phono
SPDIF (optical) T oslnk Input ST Input
Type Optical
Wavelength 660 850 nm
Maximum Wordleng1h 24 24 bits
Connector Toslink ST
EIAJ CP-340 (if fitted)
SOIF 1 Wordclock Input Output
Type Single ended, ground
Impedance 100 25 n
Sensrtivity (unloaded} TTL TTL
Connectors BNC BNC
IEEE 1394 uo
Type High speed, mu/ti-channel
Data format dCS encrypted DSD
Connectors 6-way (2}
Source: http://www.dcsltd .co.u ki page/assets/Del i usManual.pd f
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 36
0 Summary: Digital Audio Interfaces & Key Benefits
Sampling Rate: 32 kHz to 96 kHz (single mode) to 176.4-192 kHz (dual AES3)
J itter rejection, shielding/noise rejection, dual wire upsampling ( 1 76.4-192 kHz)
Sampling Rate: 32 kHz to 96 kHz PCM
J itter rejection
0 Toslink
Sampling Rate: up to 24 bits and 48kHz PCM (96kHz in sorne cases)
Electrical/galvanic isolation
0 USB Audio Class
B-Type connecter: up to 24 bits and 96kHz PCM
Ease of set-up, convenience (USB On The Go), up to 384kHz with custom driver
0 FireWire
Up to 24 bits & 192 kHz PCM & DSD
Speed, peer-to-peer protocol, dual wire (DSD), multichannel
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 37
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 38
D S/Pdif and 125
S/PDIF (part of the expanded AES3 digital interface specification) is the
industry standard for real-time transfer of digital audio from one
consumer audio product to another.
Within a product the same digital audio signal is transferred between
deviees via a different interface called 125 (also known as 125 or liS).
125 uses three separate connections- audio data, word clock and bit
clock- whereas S/PDIF combines ali three signais into one using bi-phase
As a result, when S/PDIF is decoded inside an external DAC the data,
word clock and bit clock have to be separated.
But when the dock is recovered its frequency can be modulated by the
digital data, resulting in data-related jitter.
Conventionally this effect is reduced using a phase-locked loop (PLL) to
recover the clock.
PLLs work by continuously comparing the incoming clock with the
regenerated clock using a long time constant, with the result that shor t-
t er m fluctuations in clock frequency are attenuated.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 39
0 S/Pdif & jitter Generation
S/PDIF is poorly designed. Either a separate dock line should have been
used, or (better) the system should have been designed so that the
transport can be slaved to the DAC.
ldeally the master dock must be positioned close to the DAC chips for
best audio performance
When the dock and DAC chips are dosely positioned & coupled, timing
errors are minimized.
When a CD player is connected to an external DAC via S/PDIF, the master
dock is in the CD player and the DAC chips are in the DAC, i.e. they are
separated by the S/PDIF interface.
The DAC has to recover the dock from the S/PDIF signal, and this can
easily introduce timing errors (jitter).
Moreover, S/PDIF circuitry represents a radio frequency (RF) noise source
and its presence in a CD player is audible.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 40
0 Types Of jitter
Interface and Sampll ng Jitter
Sources of Interface Jltter
Source: _e.html
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 41
0 Toslinl< & jitter Generation
0 Advantages Of Optical
Electrical (galvanic} isolation from EMI/RFI inside the computer (switch-
mode power supply)
Toslink can provide a dock but one issue is the high amount of jitter.
However jitter is masked as white noise, and in fact can sound quite good
as most converters can handle this weil (the PLLs have an easier job).
0 Disadvantages of Optical
Limited to 24/96
As the optical version of S/PDIF,Toslink requires a soundcard (except on
Toslink has a lot of jitter, due to the electrical to optical conversion
Frequently suffers from poor hardware implementation, cheap and
substandard parts.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 42
0 Splitting the CD player into Transport & DAC
A well-designed one-box CD player places a fixed-frequency master
audio dock right next to the DIA chip for the best possible audio
ln contrast, a two-box CD system splits the system into a dise
transport box and a D/ A converter box.
The two are normally connected with the industry-standard S/PDIF
or AES3 connection which places the master audio dock in the
transport box, where it is mixed together with synchronization
codes and the audio data and transm itted to the D/ A converter box.
The DIA converter box must then attempt to recover the critical
master audio dock from this jumble of signais for delivery to the
Dl A chip itself.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 4 3
0 lntegrated Cd Player
1 ntegrated CD Pfeyer

Ana log
lntegrated CD Plaver Configuration
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 44
0 The Two-Box CD Player
The standard solution for a two-box CD player is to use a PLL (Phase-
Locked Loop) to control a VCO (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator) in the
Dl A box, generating the master audio dock.
The VCO varies its frequency in order to lock onto the incoming signal
sent from the transport box.
Unfortunately, a variable-frequency oscillator sim ply cannot achieve the
low-jitter performance of a fixed-frequency crystal oscillator.
Over the years many schemes have been implemented by various
manufacturers in attempts to improve the jitter performance of the
S/PDIF connection.
These include dual PLL's,VCXO's (Voltage-Controlled Crystal Oscillators),
frequency synthesizers, FIFO (First-ln, First-Out) buffers for the audio
data, or external re-clocking deviees ("jitter reduction").
Wh ile ali of these methods are able to reduce the jitter levels, they
cannot eliminate the jitter that is inherently added by the S/PDIF
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 45
D Typical S/pdif 1 nterface CD Transport & DAC
CO dise
Motor, servos
& laser
S POif
Digttal filter DAC chip
Phase locked loop t ~ d O d t
(PLL} 1---..;.....;..;.....; __ --r--------_,
recovered dock
Digttal filter DAC chlp
Source: http://www.nai m-audio.comldownload/Naim _ DAC_ White _ Paper _ AuL 2009 .pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 46
D ASRC (Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter)
Another approach to redu ce j itter that has become increasingly popular in
recent years is to use an ASRC (Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter) chip.
The original audio data is replaced with newly calculated data that represents
wh at the audio data would have be en if the incom ing signal had most of the
jitter filtered out.
The technical theory behind this method is sound, as demonstrated by the
measured performance, which is generally quite good. However the audible
performance of these deviees is controversial, as it completely discards the
original audio data.
The only correct solution is to place the critical master audio dock in the
DIA converter box, next to the DIA chip itself.
This has been done in a few products using separate transports and DIA
converters, but there have been drawbacks to these solutions.
One scheme added a separate cable that carried the master audio dock
signal back upstream to the transport box.
While able to achieve low levels of jitter, this new interface was no longer
compliant with the SIPDIF standard.
lnstead a closed system was created that only worked with specifie pairs of
transport and Dl A converter boxes from a single manufacturer.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 4 7
D Signal Rate Conversion (SRC)
Synchronous SRC
The output dock is synchronized to input dock.
This mode is recommended for Digital to Digital transfers.
Asynchronous SRC
The output dock is generated by internai dock generator.
This mode is recommended for Digital to Analog transfers where the
SRC proceeds a DIA converter in order to upsample the signal and
provide 100% jitter immunity (eg., Tl/Burr Brown TAS 1 020B chip).
Usually, upsampling from Red Book specs 16/44,1 to 24/96 or more.
Also used for DSD upsampling ( 1 bit/2,24 Mbps) via DSP (Delta Sigma
modulation & noise-shaping).
JFYignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 9081 2010 48
Data+ Clock
--.. Clock flows
0 S/pdifTopologies & Design Variations

The two sub-units are synchronized by a single
master dock, which drives both of them: that is,
data are read out of the CD, transferred to the
DIA converter and converted into music
according to the pace stated by this master dock.
Other derived dock info (bit dock, word dock,
Ir dock, depending on the specifie chips used)
are transferred from the transport sub-unit to
the DIA converter, but are in any case
synchronous with the master clock
The S/pdif interface uses a special code,
named biphase-mark.
1 n this code any bit is transmitted by a
sequence of two half bits, but the
combination rule is such that there must
always be at least one transition (from low
to high or vice versa) for each transmitted
This allows to transfer not only the data
content, but also precise dock information.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 49
-- Clock flows
Data +Ciock
-- Clock flows
Structural problem in the S/pdif interface, as the
biphase-mark code used, causes interference
between data and clock information

The dock information is in sorne way mixed up,
polluted and confused by the data, and any
reconstructed clock suffers from data
dependent jitter
Need to supply the DAC with a dock as clean &
stable as possible.
The better the clock from the transport, the
better the reconstructed dock at the DAC.
One solution is to re-dock the S/pdif flow just
before it leaves the transport with the deanest
available dock.
The standard PLL (phase locked loop) systems
used by the standard receivers to retrieve the
dock are recognized as not good enough for
high end audio.
Often a second, much more tight and stable
PLL, based on a voltage controlled crystal
oscillator (VCXO) is added after the receiver
just to utterly stabilize the clock
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 50


Data+ Clock
--+ Clock flows
---+ Clock flows
The simplest approach is to transmit the
dock separately.
This solution is normally used in professional
environ ment, where it is necessary to keep
many different cards and units perfectly
A rather special implementation recently
adopted (by NorthStar, for example) is to
extend the 12S interface outside the
transport through a multi-wire interconnect
to the DAC unit.

This has a further benefit, in that it does not
require any S/pdif transmitter and receiver
at ali, but only a simple array of li ne driver
and receivers, and ali the circuit can be far
No standard has been defined, and each
implementation is therefore quite different.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 51
Data(+ Clock)
-- Data flows
--+ Clock flows
Data(+ Clock)
--+ Clock flows
Another solution proposed by a few
companies (eg.,Wadia) is to move the
master dock where the cleanest dock is
needed: in the DAC unit itself.
ln this configuration the transport (slave) is
receiving a degraded, possibly jitter affected,
copy of the dock.
The job of the transport is to provide a
flow synchronous with the DAC dock,
while dock precision can be assured simply
by re-docking the signal just before entering
the DAC, the transport jitter causes no
problem at ali, unless it causes digital
transmission errors.
Linn, after studying the problem, decided
that transferring the dock back caused
too much RF interference.
To avoid transferring a high frequency
signal, and taking into account that the
S/pdif flow transports even dock
information that is made available in the
DAC by the receiver, they decided to
synchronize the transport using what
could be defined as a .. distributed phase
locked loop (PLL)".
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 52
0 A Recent DAC Topology:The Naim DAC (20 1 0)

-- fmrtp:m.
1 fk!l.!f

"'" ''*
""'t<'l Slackffl St'!t\RC (;OtJI)lel
""=: use ..... us

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}1 l

l OC<ll
rt, .... .
Autne..,bcat .on
cloc< .
. ..
.,.,.,... .
:-_.. S:POIF :


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Poww supp . .e!l lor AAM lrd eoor ..

: : OSP lllOO o! bulfor . ar..1JOOlelder
. . .
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fermer ::

p '<!I$UW" 300 orr
analr..g aicl& of i&olator fi' er
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Source: White_Paper _Aug_2009.pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 53
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 54
0 Oversampling & Reclocking: 6 Digital Setups
This section illustrates the comparison of six digital setups.
Each of these setups uses the same converter chip, the PCM 1704.
ln these simple schematics, you can see what possibilities engineers have to
overcome Jitter before audio conversion at the converter chi p.
Every incoming S/PDIF signal is Jittered.That's why this is important.
Setup # 1: Digital Slave Mode - No Oversampling - No Reel oc king
Setup #2: Digital Slave Mode- 8x Oversampling- No Reclocking
Setup #3: Digital Slave Mode - 8x Oversampling - Asynchronous Reclocking
Setup #4: Digital Master Mode, 8x Oversampling, Single-stage Synchronous
Setup #5: Digital Slave Mode, Upsampling and Asynchronous Reclocking
Setup #6: Digital Master Mode, Upsampling and Synchronous Reclocking
Source: ?id =44
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 55
0 Setup #1:
Digital Slave Mode, No Oversampling, No Reclocl<ing
The most simple digital configuration possible.
Ali Jitter which is present at the S/PDIF input is contributing to distortion
of the audio signal at the analogue output.
This is the typical scenario when a standard external DAC is used in
conjunction with a CD player.
This scenario is called Digital Slave Mode because the DAC receives its
dock signal from the external CD player's oscillator .
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 56
D Setup #2:
Digital Slave Mode, 8x Oversampling, No Reclocking
Oversampling: the frequency of the original clock signal is multiplied by a
who le number (i.e. 2, 4, 8, etc.). The idea is that when the converter chip
runs at this higher frequency, the low-pass filter after the converter chip
can be a simple second-order filter, as opposed to a sixth or higher order
filter needed in the case of no oversampling.
This leads to less distortion, which effect is easily audible and is not to be
doubted in any way.
Based on the Shannon-Kotelnikov sampling theorem, the low-pass filtering
should ideally eut off the first frequency which is above the Nyquist
Because analogue filtering causes the least amount of distortion when the
slope is soft (i.e. first or second order which means 6 or 12 dB per octave,
respectively), oversampling helps achieve the conditions where such a
filter can be used to achieve the desired attenuation of the first frequency
which is above the Nyquist Frequency.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 57
o 0 Setup #2:
Digital Slave Mode, Bx Oversampling, No Reclocking
Ali Sigma/Delta type converters contain Oversampling (whole-
number multiple) built in as an integral part of the chi p.
The PCM 1704, in contrast, is a parai lei resistor type converter which
requires any Oversampling to be done externally by another chip
dedicated to this process.
This is more expensive, is more laborious to build, and sounds better.
(loc- oscillator is in t" c player.
th c:lo<l('s JHt,er ount -., tn
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 58
D Setup #3:
Digital Slave Mode, Bx Oversampling, Asynchronous Reclocking
This method is used to attempt to reduce the Jitter present in Method #2
above.ln this example,Jitter is indeed reduced, because the new oscillator is
located right next to the digital signal it is newly clocking.
This avoids new introduction of line-induced Jitter. However, we are now
dealing with two Master Clocks simultaneously.
Part of the problem here is that no two clocks ever tick at the exact same
Another part of the problem is that the further clock signal is always more
J ittered than the nearer clock signal.
Therefore, we encounter an inevitable frequency d iscrepancy between the se
two clock signais, and this leads to distortion of ~ e audio signal due to the
real-time digital interpolation algorithm employed.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 / 2010 59
o 0 Setup #3:
Digital Slave Mode, 8x Oversampling, Asynchronous Reclocking
Even though Asynchronous Reclocking do es not bring about an actual
sampling rate conversion, (which would then be called Asynchronous
Resampling), the method of Asynchronous Reclocking cannat actively
rem ove ali present Jitter artifacts from the original data stream.
lndeed, by usingAsynchronous Reclocking (two separate docks), sorne
amount of existing Jitter is actually fed into the newly clocked data
S/PUf -+ ,---
1 CS84!6
CLOCJ: -+ .:cc_
t J,
r--. r
!ou:ux:""'"f nnnn !OVERSAMPLING
"' UUUU 1 DFI706
Clock oscillator is in the CD player.
Adjust the clock' jlttor a ~ o u n t with tho foor.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 60
o 0 Setup #4:
) Digital Master Mode, Bx Oversampling, Single-stage Synchronous
Here the re is only one dock source, and this is located right next to the
The source deviee accepts the same dock as the converter.
Not only at the same frequency, but the same dock signal itself.
Everything is kept in perfect synchronization, and line-induced J itter which
appears on the long path between the oscillator, through to the source deviee,
then back to the S/PDIF input, is quantized to perfection via the
synchronously running oversampling chip.
This is called Master Mode because the dock source is within the DAC, and
the deviee contains only this one dock source.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 61
D Setup #4:
Digital Master Mode, 8x Oversampling, Single-stage Synchronous
) Reclocking
This is the method we recommend using, because it is the method which
annihilates Jitter the most effectively.
The addition of multiple stages of this type of completely Synchronous
Reel oc king lessens J itter even more.
By appropriately applying the completely Synchronous Clocking and
multiple-staged Reclocking solution, no digital compromises are made
and a Jittered signal coming off of the laser mechanism of a CD player is
improved upon in real time as it reaches the DAC chip.

Clt:ldl Of..ltp'Jt t.o...._""""""" ________ ..,......,.,

lhoro is "O clo<k oscilltor 1n tho CD p
The o"lY clock is hereo in the
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 62
o 0 Setup #5:
.! Digital Slave Mode, Upsampling and Asynchronous ReclockingTogether
Asynchronous Reclocking With Upsampling is the method used when you
want to achieve a frequency other than a whole-number multiple of the S/PDIF
input frequency.
i.e. from 44.1 kHz input we want a 48kHz output
Multiple of 1.0884353741496598639455782312925
Or from 44.1 we want 96 kHz
Multiple of 2.176870748299319727891156462585
This is also known as Sampling Rate Conversion.
lt is important to note that in Asynchronous ReclockingWith Upsampling, a
separate dock is used with a different operating frequency than that of the
original dock.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 63
D Setup #5:
Digital Slave Mode, Upsampling and Asynchronous Reclocking
Setup #5, shown below, is the best possible solution for those who wish not
to modify an existing Master CD player (original CD-internai dock remains,
running the player).
The market is full of such solutions.
Although the Jitter reduction using this method is very exceptional, the user
will still encounter the traditional audible differences between digital cables,
cable lengths, and jittery playback deviees.
Using Setup #5, even with the highest quality digital cabling, it is impossible to
achieve the sound quality which is achieved using Setup #4 above (Multiple-
staged Synchronous Reclocking).
. U U U l.J PCM17il4 f/
n n n n , .. --- ____,. 1
.__, __ _. ANALOGUE

f1rst clock oscllator 1s n the CD player.
the clock's jitter aMount with the faoor.
'------------- ------
JF Vignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 64
- ~ , . , . 1
0 Setup #6:
Digital Master Mode, Upsampling and Synchronous ReclockingTogether

The standard frequencies which allow simple Oversampling (x2, x4, x8) of 44.1
kHz audio are the following: 11.2896 MHz, 16.9344 MHz, and 33.8688 MHz.
This is so because the numbers 1 1289600, 16934400, and 33868800 ali divide
evenly by 441 00, which is the typical sampling frequency used in the consumer
S/PDIF standard.
Because the standard oscillator in DVD players runs at either 27 MHz or 54
MHz (for video purposes), a Phase Locked Loop (PLL) is used within universal
DVD/CD players to achieve the 44.1 kHz needed for consumer CD audio.
If we want to slave a universal DVD/CD/SACD player to a DAC, the DAC must
contain the 27 or 54 MHz generator. Because we are on a 27 or 54 MHz dock,
we must therefore use Asynchronous Upsampling, because 27 or 54 MHz
cannot be divided evenly by 44.1 kHz.
This renders the question of highest possible quality audio from DVD players
ln this case, at best, we have a high-quality dock upgrade to a DVD player,
coupled with a quite effective Jitter suppressing solution.
The creators of the DVD playback deviees sacrificed high quality audio for a
frequency compatibility with their video schematic solution (it was probably
cheaper that way).
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 65
0 Setup #6:
Digital Master Mode, Upsampling & Synchronous ReclockingTogether
And this is the very reason why, using our method (Setup #4), a higher quality
sound is achieved by playing CDs at 44.1 kHz than is possible if we were to offer
this mathematically inferior DVD solution at even 96 kHz.
Many audiophiles and the more honest dealers tend to agree that weil
engineered CD playback solutions sound just as good as DVD or SACD.
Our solution goes to the extreme and it puts the CD format in the forefront of
the new format dise playback solutions.
Until higher resolution formats can be played back in both a mathematically
synchronous way and through parai lei-resistor type converters (PCM audio
instead of bitstream), the CD remains the best digital source out there.
lnterestingly, the mass-market, in its scramble for attention, has prematurely
moved on and has never utilized the CD format to its full potential. Haste makes
StPtlf _.
n n n n RECBVER

ClQd( ___ _....)
PJ...,.... tZ7 or 91 ft.!Z l
first synchronous ths in slvd vp plyr
Adjvst jitter aaQunt due to this process with the raoer .
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 66
D Specs Chart Of DAC Chips by Manufacturer (ca. 2007)
Feature Crystal Wolfson Burr-Brown Burr- Burr- Burr- Analog Analog
Brown Brown Brown Deviees Deviees
DAC chip
' t ~ '4 >
Resolution 24 bit 24 bit 24 bit 24bit 24 bit 24bit 24 bit 24 bit
Max Sampling frequency
192 195 200 200 200 200 192 192
THD@ OdB & 44. 1 KHz -1 OOdB -104db 0.0005 0.0005 0.0004 0.0004 -123dB -IIOdB
THD@ OdB & 96KHz[%]
-IOOdB -104db 0.001 0.001 0.0008 0.0008 -133dB -IIOdB
Dynamic range 44.1 KHz 117 117 123 126 129 132 120 123
Dynamic range 96KHz [dB]
117 117 123 126 129 132 120 123
100 120 123 126 129 132 120 db 120
Outputs peak to peak 1.4Vpp 2Vrms 4.0mA 8.0mA 7.8mA 15.6mA 8.64mA 17.28mA
Source: _fi nai/DacFinal.html
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 67
0 Specs Chart Of DAC Chips by Manufacturer (ca. 20 1 0)
Fe at ure Analog Deviees AKM Burr Brown (Tl) Burr Brown (Tl) ESS Wolfson
DAC Chip AD1955 AK4397 DSD1792A PCM1704 Sabre32 WM 8741
Resolution 24/192 + DSD 24/192 + DSD 24/192 + DSD 24/96 32/500 24/192 + SACD
Technology Multibit Multibit Mult ibit R2R Multibit Multibit
Delta Sigma Delta Sigma Delta Sigma Delta Sigma Delta Sigma
DAC S/N (dB) 120 123 127 120 134 123
THD+N (dB) 120 105 0,0004 0,0008 118 100
Source: Revue Du Son, No 345, November 2009
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 68
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 69
0 USB Deviee Class Definition for Audio Deviees
(release 1.0, March 1998)
The USB is very weil suited for transport of audio (voice and sound).
ln addition, the USB has more than enough bandwidth for sound,
even high-quality audio.
Many applications related to voice telephony, audio playback, and recording can
take advantage of the USB.
An essential issue in audio is synchronization of the data stream s.
The smallest artifacts are easily detected by the human ear.
Therefore, a robust synchronization scheme on isochronous transfers has been
developed and incorporated in the USB Specification.
The Audio Deviee Class definition adheres to this synchronization scheme
to transport audio data reliably over the bus.
Audio synchronization types are briefly described in the next slide.
Source: docs/audio 1 O.pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 70
0 Audio Synchronization Types
Each isochronous audio end point used in an Audio Stream ing interface
belongs to a synchronization type as defined in Section 5 of the USB Specification.
0 Asynchronous
Asynchronous isochronous audio endpoints produce or consume data
at a rate that is locked either to a dock external to the USB or to
a free-running internai dock.
These end points cannot be synchronized to a start of frame (SOF) orto any
other dock in the USB domain.
0 Synchronous
The dock system of synchronous isochronous audio endpoints can
be controlled externally through SOF synchronization.
Such an end point must do one of the following:
,/ Slave its sample dock to the 1 ms SOF tick.
,/ Control the rate of USB SOF generation so that its data rate becomes
automatically locked to SOF.
0 Adaptive
Adaptive isochronous audio endpoints are able to source or sink data at any
rate within their operating range.
These endpoints must run an internai process that allows them to match their
natural data rate to the data rate that is imposed at their interface.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 71
D The USB Protocol
USB as its name indicates is a seriai connection (the S in USB).
Ali connected gear shares the same internai path and data is
dropped/picked-up in packets hopefully at the right place and time.
ln addition USB connections are managed by the computer's processor
which may have more urgent things to do than send data to the DAC -
like loo king up the latest Windows updates online or running anti virus
This can generate potential timing errors or altogether dropped data.
The only exception being the isochronous USB DACs by Wavelength
Audio, Ayre and dCS which manage their own USB connection and
secure a minimum of calculation power from the processor to ensure
proper operation.
Refer to next section on USB Adaptive vs Async for more details.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 72
0 jitter & USB Audio
With USB came a mode that is supported under ali operating systems called
Asynchronous USB.
Unlike ether USB DACS (Adaptive) the DAC actually controls the flow of data
and operates ali the internaii2S protocol and DAC clock using a very low jitter
Master Clock.
No longer is it required to fix the jitter as there was very little from the start.
Adaptive mode USB on the other hand is required to change the clock every
1 ms which in itself adds jitter to the system.
The Master Clock in Adaptive systems that gene rates ali the 125 signais is
derived from a programmable high jitter clock.
Ali of these types of products usually use sorne sort of method to Fix Jitter (eg.,
secondary PLL, FIFO's, reclockers, upsamplers) otherwise it would be too high
to tolerate.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 73
0 USB DACs & Clocking
The critical factor about adaptive vs asynchronous USB modes is clocking.
Clocking is extremely important with digital audio to achieve the most
accurate sound Qitter-free).
Two clocking strategies are possible:
0 Keeping the dock as close to the DAC chip as possible, sending dock
from the DAC to the front end components.
0 Using an external master dock (eg., Ante lope, Apogee, dCS) to
connect ali digital components to the same dock source.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 74
D Any advantages of converting from USB to S/pdif?
The main use of turning an USB audio stream to S/PDIF is to avoid using
the PC's or Mac's internai digital output interface, which is affected by a
relevant jitter and is generally limited to 24/96, operation (when not to
Also, using the internai USB input of most DACs should be avoided
because it generally suffers the same limitations of the PC's and Mac's
Moreover, most DAC's USB inputs work in isochronous mode and not in
asynchronous, generating jitter.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 75
0 USB 2.0
USB (Universal Seriai Bus) was developed
by a consortium of corn panies in the 1990s.
lt was incorporated as a standard in the
same year that IEEE-1394 was standardized.
USB features a master-s/ave configuration
that requires a host (master) and a client
USB is controlled through the host and is
typically referred to as the host control/er.
Most often, the host is a persona! computer.
This configuration requires overhead on the
host side in order to maintain the transfer
of data between host and client, hence
reducing overall sustained data rates.
If communication between two clients is
needed, then the data rates are reduced
even further.
/ ~
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H: Host
C: Cli ent
USB: Master-Siave
Network topology
Source: usb_ technote.pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 76
0 Advantages of USB
USB allows to eliminate the S/PDIF interface. S/PDIF interleaves the sample
rate with the digital data. By eliminating the S/PDIF entirely, its associated
jitter can be eliminated.
USB interfaces are a much "deaner" approach toward data transfer.
J itter destroys many spatial eues
USB has the advantage of widespread support, as weil as drivers that come
with the operating system.
USB is the only interface that can have Async protocol. Not supported by
Firewire, AES/EBU, S/PDI F or Toslink.
Async protocol allows the master dock to be located at the designation
deviee, either a converter, redocker or the DAC itself, which is the
optimum scenario.
This establishes the master dock near the DIA conversion and controls the
source rate using a flow-control protocol.
New spec added in 2001, USB "On The Go": PC no longer required as host
(for example, a USB key can be plugged directly into a P$3).
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 90812010 77
0 Disadvantages of USB
Current sample rate limitation at 16-24/48 (native).
24/96 can be achieved with the Burr Brown TAS 1 020B chip (USB 1. 1) and
third-party driver made by Centrance.
Cannot run at high sample rates using the standard drivers. Possible to
work at 96/24, but not input and output simultaneously.
As an audio transport, USB actually needs to use sorne of the CPU
resources to operate.
The USB port that the DAC is connected to is always competing for time
on the bus with ali other USB connections in the system.
The additional resources and resource sharing needs of USB can make the
audio stream turn on and off as it's routed to the DAC.
The buffer in the DAC can compensate for it, but it still causes a number of
problems with jitter and timing.
Unidirectional, does not work for multichannel.
0 Future Developments of USB
USB Class 2.0 with 24/192 capability and ab ove natively without drivers.
This is available now on MAC OSX 1 O.S.x but not in Windows or Linux
y et.
USB 3.0 SuperSpeed.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 78
D FireWire /IEEE-1394
Developed by Apple Computer in the
1990s, FireWire was eventually
proposed as a replacement for SCSI
(Small Computer System Interface) by
the IEEE (lnstitute for Electrical and
Electronics Engineers).
1 EEE-1 394 employs a peer-to-peer
Peer-to-peer networks use the power of
connected participants as opposed to
relying on a small, concentrated number
of servers.
The advantage of this strategy is that
1 EEE-1 394 provides sustained data rates
without requiring a computer host for
interconnection between peripherals.
P: Peer
PeerTo Peer Protocol
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 79
D The FireWire Protocol
FireWire was the solution developed to answer those potential issues
for video editing and music playback.
FireWire gear can operate in an almost completely autonomous
fashion thanks to an onboard processor which controls the
relationship with the computer to relieve the main processor and
enable smoother data transfer even during processor overloads.
Besides throughput, other benefits are that it uses simpler bus
networking, provides more power over the chain, more reliable data
transfer, and uses fewer CPU resources.
For audio, the IEEE 1394 is a high-speed multichannel digital interface.
lt can carry over 50 channels of DSD or over 30 channels of 24 bits 1
192kHZ audio data thru a single cable.
Because of its high sensitivity to j itter, word dock synchronization
(ideally to an outboard master dock) is recommended.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 / 20 10 80
D FireWire & jitter
FireWire can be operated in 2 modes:
D The asynchronous operating mode, similar to USB.
D The isochronous mode that allows deviees a dedicated amount of
bandwidth. This insu res the audio stream will keep flowing without
interference from collisions or glitches.
USB DACs work great as long as there are no other deviees on the USB
bus that interfere with the DAC, i.e. keyboard, rn ouse, trackpad, printer.
USB also puts more load on the CPU. Fortunately for many computers
this load is negligible when audio is streaming to an external DAC.
FireWire does seem like the way to guarantee a smooth audio stream to
the DAC, but it is not without its detractors.
Sorne in the industry prefer USB 1.1 because it allows a 24/96 audio
stream without the need to install additional deviee drivers.
Traditionally FireWire also has more jitter than USB interfaces. AJitter
Elimination Technologies QET) PLL is used to minimize jitter to extremely
low intrinsic levels.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 81
Advantages of FireWire
Support a sample rate of 24/192 (USB is currently up to 24/96 only).
Fi re Wire is a peer-to-peer protocol: any deviee in a Fi re Wire network can
share data with each other without a host computer.
FireWire supports a streaming mode, called isochronous mode transfer.
FireWire does not need CPU cycles to transfer data, and has a dedicated
transfer bus.
FireWire has wider bandwidth and can transfer audio data in isochronous
mode, with guaranteed bandwidth (CPU resources needed are set aside).
Suitable for stereo & multichannel
ln addition, Firewire (and USB) do not inherently carry a clock and do not
influence jitter (if they do then jitter can be affected).
With Fi re Wire, the computer can be slaved to the master clock in the DAC.
Properly implemented it has less jitter (Dice Il chip), less buffer under- and
overuns, and less stress on the DAC, which preserves the musical signal with
better integrity.
Other benefits: hot pluggable, daisy-chaining, multiple speeds on one cable.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 82
D Disadvantages of FireWire
Typically legacy driver s for FireWire connected deviees are unavailable for
operating systems.
Thus a DAC manufacturer would have to write and offer a custom-made
driver for every operating system.
FireWire emits large amounts of RF radiation requiring care in shielding the
analog converter.
Poor at transmitting a stable clock, so outboard clocking is recommended.
Except for Mac, not ali desktops/laptops include FireWire: Need for
PCI/PCie controller card or ExpressCard for laptops.
0 Future Development
Apple has dropped F/W on the basic Mac Book but offers FW800 on Mac
Pro, Mac Book Pro, Mini and iMac.
Available deviees in 2010 with IEEE 1394b forS 1600-53200 speed rates ?
Competition against USB 3.0 and E-SATA (and HDMI v 1.4 ?) .
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 83
0 USB & FireWire Speed vs Other Digital Interfaces
Deviee Speed (bit/s) Speed ( Byte/s}
Bus AGP8X 17,066 Mbit/s 2,133 MB/s
PCI 32-bit 66Mhz 2,133 Mbit/s 266.7 MB/s
PCI-e 2.0 x16 64,000 Mbit/s 8,000 MB/s
Peripheral FireWire 400 393.216 Mbit/s 49.152 MB/s
FireWire 800 786.432 Mb i t/ s 98.304 MB/s
FireWire 1600 1,573 Mbit/s 196.6 MB/s
FireWire 3200 3,145. 7 Mbit/s 393.216 MB/s
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed 480 Mbit/s 60 MB/s
USB 3.0 5 Gbit/s 625 MB/s
Audio 5/PDIF 3.072 Mbit/s 0.384 MB/s
AES/EBU 2.048 Mbit/s 0.256 MB/s
MADI 100 Mbit/s 12.5 MB/s
HO HDMI v1.3 10.2 Gbit/s 1.275 GB/s
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 84
0 Summary: FireWire Comparison with USB
High-speed USB 2.0 (480Mbps).
FireWire 400 (400Mbps).
Data transfers over 5400 FireWire interfaces generally outperform
similar transfers over USB 2.0 interfaces.
This is likely due to USB's reliance on the host-processor to manage low-
level USB protocol.
FireWire delegates the same tasks to the interface hardware (requiring
less or no CPU usage).
For example, the FireWire host interface supports memory-mapped
This allows high-level protocols to run without loading the host CPU
with interrupts and buffer-copy operations.
FireWire 800 is substantially faster than Hi-Speed USB.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 85

4 3 2 1 .:l 3
Type A Type 8
Mini-A Mini-B
S.l 3Zl J
1 ..... -) 1
n S J l2 1 ?
t,lrcro-AB Micro-8
4-Pin ilink
FireWire 400
6-Pin A.lpha Connector
USB Speed Rates
USB 1 .0= 1.5 Mbps
USB 1.1 = 12 Mbps
USB 2.0= 480 Mbps (Hi Speed)
USB 3.0= 5 200 Mbps (Super Speed)
FireWire Speed Rates
S 1 00= 1 00 Mbps
FireWire 800
9-Pin Beta Connector
5200= 200 Mbps
5400= 400 Mbps
5800= 800 Mbps
S 1600= 1600 Mbps
53200=3200 Mbps
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 86
Source: nd ex. php ?section= Support&bo dy= U sb3
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 87
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 88
0 The Market Boom For USB DACs
Currently the most common way to bring the audio data out of the
computer to a high-performance audio system is via the USB port.
ln recent years, there has been an explosion of external USB DIA
Retail priees cover the who le range from 200 Eur to 13 000 Eur.
The advantage of this approach is that any music player software may be
used-iTunes,J. River, Windows Media Player, Foobar, WinAmp, Media
Monkey-so the customer is able to select the application that fits his
needs the best.
What has enabled this proliferation of USB-based DIA converters is a
series of chips from Burr-Brown (Texas Instruments) cal led the PCM270x
These chips are inexpensive (only a few dollars), very easy to use, and
require no programming skills.
They are similar enough to conventional DIA chips that any digital audio
engineer can easily design a product around them.
Source: USB_ DAC_ White_ Paper.pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 89
But ... the Burr-Brown PCM270x chips have high levels of jitter.
A fixed-frequency master audio dock is not employed.lnstead a variable-
o frequency master audio dock is generated based on the timing of the
incoming audio data.
The computer sends packets of audio data at one millisecond intervals
across the USB connection.
This system, ca lied "adaptive" USB mode, creates several opportunities
where jitter will be added to the DIA converter's master dock:
0 Any variable frequency dock will intrinsically have more jitter than an
equivalent fixed-frequency clock.
0 ln the "adaptive" USB mode, the dock in the DIA converter must
"adapt" to match the rate that the computer sends out audio packets.
0 The computer cannot send audio packets at a perfectly fixed rate. The
computer's internai clock is not designed to have low jitter (cost
factor). Secondly, the inside of a computer is fil led with RF
interference, impacting the dock stability.
0 The Burr-Brown USB-enabled DIA chips update (change) the
frequency of the master audio clock each ti me a packet of audio data
is received.This happens once a millisecond so there will be a strong
jitter component at 1 kHz, right in the middle of the audio band.
0 Finally, the PCM270x chips are limited to 16/48.
JFVignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 9081 2010 90
0 Background Of Asynchronous USB
At the same time thatTexas Instruments was developing the PCM270x
USB-enabled DIA converter chips, they also developed an obscure part
cal led the TAS 1 020B Stereo USB Audio Interface chi p.
This chip integrates multiple functions into one part-a USB
transceiver, a microprocessor, a memory controller with a FIFO buffer,
and an 12S interface to allow easy connection to A/D and DIA
converter chips.
Obviously this chip is very powerful and offers great potential to the
digital audio designer.
The difficulty is that this chip is a blank slate-completely unusable
unless programmed.
A third-party company, CEntrance, has been certified by Texas
Instruments to develop software for the TAS 1 020B.
Their code allows high-resolution audio data (up to 96/24) to be
transmitted across the USB port but doesn't address the jitter issue.
A new code was developed by Wavelength Audio, using asynchronous
USB data transmission.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 91
0 USB DACs: Adaptive Mode
Currently almost ali USB DACs use Adaptive Mode USB Audio.
Even the latest native 24/96 USB DACs using CEntrance code (like the
Benchmark DAC 1 HDR) useAdaptive USB Mode.
ln Adaptive mode the computer controls the audio transfer rate, and the
USB deviee has to follow along updating the Master Clock (MCLK) every
one millisecond.
The USB bus runs at 12MHz, which is unrelated to the audio sample rate of
any digital audio format (i.e. 44.1 K requires a MCLK = 11.2896MHz).
Therefore Adaptive Mode USB DACs must derive the critical master audio
dock by use of a complex Frequency Synthesizer.
Since the computer is handling many tasks at once, the timing of the USB
audio transfers has variations.
This leads to jitter in the derived dock.
(Adaptive USB description courtesy ofWavelength Audio)
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 92
0 USB DACs: Adaptive Mode
no DAC
t t
... ;o
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 93
D USB DACs: Asynchronous Mode
Asynchronous Mode USB enables the USB DAC to control the
Asynchronous Mode works by using an ultra law jitter master dock
in the DAC that contrais the audio transfer rate from the computer.
According to Wavelength Audio, "Jitter is reduced by a factor of
greater than 100 times."
This is accomplished using the standard USB drivers (Windows or
Mac OSX) for easy plug-and-play installation.
Current DACs using similar Asynchronous implementations are the
Ayre QB-9 (code licensed from Wavelength Audio) and the USB
products from dCS.
. . ~ .
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JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 94
0 USB DACs: Asynchronous Mode
0 )>
0 0
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Source: httpJ/
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 95
0 Summary
Asynchronous USB essentially turns the computer into a slave deviee as
opposed to adaptive USB which does the opposite.
Th us, an asynchronous USB DAC has total control over the timing of the
One very important feature of asynchronous USB mode is bidirectional
communication between the computer and the DAC.
The computer sends audio and the DAC sends commands or
instructions for the computer to follow.
For example the computer's dock becomes less accurate over a given
period of ti me and can send too much data too quickly and fi li up the
Asynchronous DACs will instruct the computer to slow down, thus
avoiding any negative effects of a full, or empty, buffer which can manifest
itself into audible dropouts and pops or clicks.
Plus ali of this is done without additional deviee drivers or software
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 96
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 97
0 Ethernet 1 LAN Digital Interface
The protocol of this network interface include the flow-control and retry
o mechanisms that enable the optimum audio streaming scenario, as weil as
having the advantage of avoiding altogether the audio software stack of the
computer OS.
Using networked deviees, either wired or wireless, can be no different than
sending data to a printer.
The only con cern is getting the data to the deviee intact. The re is no timing
information sent or implied.
The data is not contiguously streamed at real-time speed as with USB,
FireWire or S/PDI F interfaces.
lt is packetized and sent periodically in high-speed bursts over the network,
whenever the network has an "opening".
These packets are then collected in a buffer memory at the destination
deviee where they can be clocked out to the D/A using a locallow-jitter
master dock.
The fact that networked data flow incorporates flow-control and retry, and
bypasses the computer audio stack makes it the superior method.
As for bandwidth, networked interfaces can not only support the highest
audio sam pie-rates, such as 24/192, but multiple channels as weil, allowing for
multiple channel playback and even movie surround-sound.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 98
0 Ethe rn et DAC Advantages
An Ethernet DIA converter allows to avoid the S/PDIF connection jitter
An Ethernet DIA converter can have a fixed-frequency master audio dock
inside of it, sending commands to the computer to request more audio data
to fill the D/A converter's buffer.
Technically, this is an excellent approach and is able to provide true low-jitter
A similar approach can be taken with FireWire, although most computers do
not provide the hardware support for this connection.
The computer cannot send audio packets at a perfectly fixed rate.
Firstly, the computer's internai dock is not designed to have low jitter.
ln a market segment where costs are literally shaved to the fractions of a cent,
it would add too much the cost of a computer to use a high-performance,
low-j itter dock.
Secondly, the inside of a computer is fil led with RF interference, making it
impossible for even the best of docks to maintain their spectral purity.
ln the following si ides, we'll review the step-by-step implementation of an
Ethernet DAC, based on Linn's Klimax DS.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 99
0 Ethernet DAC Disadvantages
The player that interfaces to the network is currently a custom player, such
as Linn, Sooloos, Squeezecenter or Sonos.
These custom-made solutions are not inexpensive.
They require firmware/driver updates
Hopefully, in the future Microsoft and/or Apple will create more generic
player software to drive a networked interface so that more player options
will be available.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 100
D Typical Flow Chart of Ethernet DAC Implementation

Klimax Room
Klimax DS
Sekrit. DS-1
OS Multi-Room
r - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~
1 Daia Storage & Network Infrastructure ;
Source: ds
Sekrit DS-1
. ! ~ ,
- )
- RS232--
~ WoFi
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 101
0 Step 1 : Connect PC to Router
1 LAPTOP 1-1 ---11 ROUTER 1
Connect the two deviees directly using a standard Ethernet cable
(RJ-45, Cat S)(crossover is not necessary).
Configure the PC's network adaptor (NIC) to obtain IP address
automatically by DHCP.
Disable any wireless NI Cs which are present on the PC.
Configure the router to have an IP address of, and enable
it's DHCP server to issue IP addresses in the range 00 ... 200.
Source: Network Setup
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 102
o D Step 2: Connect PC, Router & NAS via Switch
1 1
1 1
Connect the Laptop, Router, and NAS to the Ethernet switch.
Configure the NAS to obtain it's IP address automatically via DHCP
and disable its DHCP server.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 20 1 0 103
o D Step 3: Add DACTo Network
1 1
1 1
Note: DS= DAC
Connect the DS product to the Ethernet switch as shown in the diagram.
Switch on or power cycle the DS.
When powered up, the DS dis play, or LED on its front panel, should flash
for a few seconds then remain on continuously.
If it continues to flash, this indicates that it has failed to obtain an IP address
(via DHCP). If this happens, check ali network connections and the router
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 104
o D Step 4: Add DS To Network
1 1
1 1
SWITCH i-- 1-
v PLUG Note: DS= DAC
(If Homeplugs are not being used this step may be skipped).
lnsert the HomePiugs into electrical mains sockets as shawn in the
Disconnect the DS from the switch and reconnect it to one of the
Connect the other HomePiug to the switch.
Power cycle the DS and verify that it gets assigned an IP address via
DHCP from the router.
If the DS does not get an IP address check ali network connections and
troubleshoot the HomePiugs if necessary.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 105
0 Step 5: Add Wireless Access Point (WAP)
LAPTOP ) ) ~
Note: DS= DAC
WAP os
(If wireless control is not being used this step may be skipped)
Configure the WAP to obtain IP address automatically via DHCP.
Connect the DS, HomePiug and WAP together using a switch as indicated in
the d iagram.
Power cycle the DS and verify that it gets assigned an 1 P address via DHCP
from the router.
If the DS does not get an IP address check the network connections
between the DS and the switch and between the switch and the HomePiug.
Power cycle the WAP.
Disconnect the Ethernet cable from the laptop. Enable wireless connectivity
on the laptop and ens ure it connects to the correct WAP.
Run LinnGui and test that the DS is controllable wirelessly by playing a track
from the NAS on the DS.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 106
o D Step 6: Add Wireless Control Point
c Note: DS= DA
WAP os
1 1
If wireless control is not being used this step may be skipped.
Disable wireless connectivity on the laptop and reconnect it to
the switch using the Ethernet cable.
Switch on the PDA and open the KinskyPDA application.
Test that it is possible to play a track from the NAS on the DS
using the PDA.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 107
D Step 7: Add Additional Audio Deviees
1 1
0 1 1
f- t--
If additional Linn audio products are not being used this step may be
Connect other, network enabled, Linn deviees to the switch as shown in
the d iagram.
Open LinnConfig and check the room name of each deviee.
Give ali deviees the same room name by using the "Advanced Configure"
ta b.
If using an RS232 control led preamp see Adding a proxy preamp.
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 1 08
0 Step 8: Add Internet Router
.- ...
1 1
0 1 1
/l J'.
Connect the "Internet" (WAN) port of the router to an internet router
which is already connected to the internet. Reboot the WAN router.
Open a browser on the laptop and check that it is possible to access internet.
Open CD ripping application (example EAC) and test that the application can
retrieve CD metadata from the internet.
If there are any other computers or deviees which need access to the DS
subnet, these should be connected to one of the switches or the WAN router,
and not connected d irectly to the internet router.
If there are computers or deviees which need access to the internet, but
denied access to the DS network, these should be connected directly to the
i nte rn et router.
For a more detailed description of this see Configuring The Router: Network
JF Vignal/ SAE Brussel s-AEDS 908/ 2010 109
0 The Digital Home ConceptToday
HomePiug Applications
Sroadband TV ~ P T V )
Broadband Sbarlng
Powerline Ethernet
Internet \
Source: homeplug-av-apps.gif
Wlteklss Extender
: ml!lp$
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JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 Il 0
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 Ill
.._______ i CHrect Stream Digital
L __
Trademark name used by Sony and Philips for the introduction of the
Super Audio CD (SACD) in 2000.
The signal is stored as Delta-Sigma modulated digital audio, a sequence of
single bit values at a frequency sampling rate of 64 times the CD Audio
sampling rates of 44.1 kHz, for a rate of 2.8224 MHz ( 1 bit times 64 times
44.1 kHz).
On the DVD dise, 3 audio layers can be available:
SACD Stereo, SACD 5.1, and standard CD Stereo.
Noise shaping occurs by use of the 64x oversampled signal to reduce
noise/distortion caused by the inaccuracy of quantization of the audio
signal to a single bit.
Therefore it is a topic of discussion whether it is possible to eliminate
distortion in 1-bit Sigma-Delta conversion.
Source: Digital
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 1 12
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 113
D Delta-Sigma DACs
lnherently excellent linearity.
High resolution possible (24-Bit).
Oversampling relaxes analog antialiasing filter requirements.
Ideal for CMOS processes, no trimming.
No SHA required (sample & hold amplifier).
Added functionality: On-chip PGAs, ana log filters, autocalibration.
On-Chip programmable digital filters (AD7725: Lowpass, Highpass,
Bandpass, Bandstop).
Upper sampling rate currently limits applications to measurement,
voiceband and audio, except for bandpass Sigma-DeltaADCs.
Analog multiplexer switching speed limited by internai filter settling time.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 114
0 DSD-SACD Specifications
SACD audio is stored in a format called Direct Stream Digital (DSD), which
differs from the conventional PCM used by the compact dise or conventional
computer audio systems.
DSD is 1-bit, has a sampling rate of 2.8224 MHz, and makes use of noise
shaping quantization techniques in order to push 1-bit quantization noise up to
inaudible ultrasonic frequencies.
This gives the format a grea ter dynam ic range and wider frequency response
than the CD.
The SACD format is capable of delivering a dynamic range of 120 dB from 20
Hz to 20 kHz and an extended frequency response up to 1 00 kHz, although
most currently available players list an upper limit of 80-90 kHz.
The process of creating a DSD signal is conceptually similar to taking a 1-bit
delta-sigma analog-to-digital (A/D) converter and removing the decimator,
which converts the 1-bit bitstream into multibit PCM.
lnstead, the 1-bit signal is recorded directly and in theory only requires a
lowpass filter to reconstruct the original analog waveform.
ln reality it is a little more complex, and the analogy is incomplete in that 1-bit
sigma-delta converters are these days rather unusual, one reason being that a
1-bit signal cannot be dithered properly: most modern sigma-delta converters
are multibit.
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 115
Because of the nature of sigma-delta converters, one cannot make a direct
comparison between DSD and PCM.
An approximation is possible, though, and would place DSD in sorne
aspects comparable to a PCM format that has a bit depth of 20 bits and a
sampling frequency of 96 kHz.
PCM sampled at 24 bits provides a (theoretical) additional 24 dB of
dynamic range.
Because it has been extremely difficult to carry out DSP operations (for
example performing EQ, balance, panning and other changes in the digital
domain) in a 1-bit environment, and because of the prevalence of studio
equipment such as Pro Tools, which is solely PCM-based, the vast majority of
SACDs- especially rock and contemporary music which relies on
multitrack techniques- are in fact mixed in PCM (or mixed analog and
recorded on PCM recorders) and then converted to DSD for SACD
Note: Need to include DSD vs PCM in future Digitai/Mastering class at SAE.
Source: http://www.d igi tai audio.dkltechnical_papers/axi on/dxd %20 Resol ution%20v 3 .5. pdf
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 116
0 DSD Wide 8-bit
To address sorne of these issues, a new studio format has been developed,
usually referred to as "DSD-wide", which retains standard DSD's high
sample rate but uses an 8-bit, rather than single-bit digital ward length, but
still relies heavily on the noise shaping principle.
lt becomes almost the same as PCM (it's sometimes disparagingly referred
to as "PCM-narrow") but has the added benefit of making DSP operations
in the studio a great deal more practical.
The main difference is that "DSD-wide" still retains 2.8224 MHz (64Fs)
sampling frequency wh ile the highest frequency in which PCM is being
edited is 352.8 kHz (8Fs).
The "DSD-wide" signal is down-converted to regular DSD for SACD
As a result of this technique and other developments there are nowa few
digital audio workstations (DAWs) that operate, or can operate, in the
DSD domain, notably Pyram ix and sorne SADiE systems.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 117
High-resolution PCM (Biu-ray Dise) and DSD (SACD) may still technically
o differ at high frequencies.
A reconstruction filter is typically used in PCM decoding systems, much the
same way that bandwidth-limiting filters are normally used in PCM encoding
Any error or unwanted artifact introduced by such filters will typically affect
the end-result.
If the filter designer chooses a wide, flat passband, then the length of the
impulse response will inevitably increase {Time-domain analysis of filters).
A claimed advantage of DSD is that product designers commonly choose to
have no filtering, or modest filtering.
lnstead DSD leads to constant high levels of noise at these frequencies.
DSD's dynamic range decreases quickly at frequencies over 20kHz due to
the use of strong noise shaping techniques which push the noise out of the
audio band resulting in a rising noise floor just above 20 kHz.
PCM's dynamic range, on the other hand, is the same at ali frequencies.
(Sorne high-end SACD players employ an optional low-pass filter set at 30
kHz for compatibility and safety reasons, suitable for situations where
amplifiers or loudspeakers cannot deliver an undistorted output if noise
above 30 kHz is present in the signal.)
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 118
Another format for DSD editing is DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition), a
"PCM-Iike" signal with 24-bit resolution sampled at 352.8 kHz.
Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) is an audio encoding scheme for
professional use that was developed for editing high-resolution recordings
because DSD, the audio standard used on Super Audio CD is not ideally
suited for editing.
DXD is a PCM-Iike signal with 24-bit resolution (256 times the depth of a
Red Book CD at 16-bit, since it is exponential) sam pied at 352.8 kHz-
eight times 44.1 kHz, the sampling frequency of Red Book CD.
The data rate is 8.4672 Mbit/s per channel- three times that of DSD64.
DXD was initially developed for Merging's Pyramix DSD workstation.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 119
So what is DXD? SACD is based on a digital processing called DSD, Direct
o Stream Digital (DSD64).
From the Red Book specification (44.1 kHz), the data stream will go
through a 1-bit/64 times over-sampling process to achieve an audio date
rate of 2.8224 Mbitls.
DSD signais further require a noise shaping process to sustain the dynamic
range of 120 dB within the primary bandwidth of 20 Hz - 20 kHz but that
causes the noise spectrum to increase above 22 kHz.
One obvious solution is the process known as DSD 128, which increases
resolution to wider bandwidth by doubling the over-sampling rate to l-
bit1128 times.
The down side is that the data size would also be doubled and would
require large media storage, rendering it impractical for commercial
Digital eXtreme Definition is a professional audio format that brings
"analogue" qualities in 32 bit floating point at 352.8 kHz.
DXD preserves 1 1 .2896 Mbitls (4 times the data of DSD).
This leaves headroom for editing and balancing before quantizing to DSD.
The dise stilllooks like a CD and is totally compatible with conventional
CD players and computers.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 120
0 High-Res Downloads From Music Label 2L
For the same music track (duration 09:24), the hi-res formats & corresponding
file sizes can be compared:
Stereo Flac, 24/96= 171 MB
Stereo Flac, 24/ 192= 338 MB
Stereo WAV, 24/96= 304 MB
Stereo DSD 64, 2.8224 Mbits/s= 268 MB
Stereo WAV DXD, 24/352.8= 1 .0 GB
.,,c... r,-.. y z:e;
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'i!.,ea WAV Stereo Ill 1 Slrtl'G llrtgnol
Pt-rfnnnl!' from album "'< "lt :- E4 WAV
.. 1}...\1; AU
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1t.tri.t1111e ..... /Trondhl!lmSolbitM/ IIvw..t """""
J F Vignal/ SAE Brussel s-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 121
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 122
0 Selection Of Stereo DACs & Solutions for Computer Audio
0 1.
USB Adaptive
USB Asynchronous
Wi red Ethernet
USB to S/pdif adapters
AES/EBU Soundcards
lntegrated Music Servers
Outboard Master Clocks
With the market boom on Computer Audio, the current offer for USB DACs
has quickly multiplied, with products now covering ali priee points.
USB DACs can be found from 200 Eur to 1 3 000 Eur.
The purpose of this section is to highlight the most notable products
currently available for Computer Audio & music servers, including FireWire,
Ethe rn et, USB adapters & AES-EBU PCI soundcards for reference.
The specs listed for each mode! focus only on digital inputs resolution &
sampling frequency. More details (SNR, THD, ... ) can be found on each
manufacturer's website.As always, specs & retail priees are subject to change.
And new DACs are being launched in the market every quarter!
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 123
1. USB adaptive DACs > Aqvox USB2 DAC mk2
0 4 Digital Audio Inputs
lxAES/EBU, lx S/Pdif, lxToslink, lx USB
0 1 Digital output
S/Pdif, Toslink,AES/EBU-Input are routed to the USB-output (up to 48kHz/16bit)
0 Sampling Rates
AES/EBU & S/Pdif inputs: 16kHz to 192kHz at 16bit 1 24bit
Toslink input: 16 kHz to 96 kHz at 16bit/24bit (up to 176.4--192kHz)
USB- INput and OUTput: 16kHz to 48kHz, at 16bit
(with optional USB 2.0 Upgrade up to 192kHz/24bit, inclusive ASIO)
Retail 1 1 00 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 124
1. USB adaptive DACs> Bryston BDA-1
0 8 Digital Audio Inputs:
lx USB vl.l
-.. ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ 1
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4x S/Pdif (co-axial wire)
2x optical (TOSLINK)
Sample rates: 32kHz -192kHz
16-24Bit PCM, 16Bit 32K-48K USB
Retail 2 300 Eur
.. .. .. "' .. l

JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 125
1. USB adaptive DACs > Benchmark DAC 1-HDR
0 5 DigitaiAudio Inputs
3x S/Pdif= 28 to 195 kHz
1 x Optical= 28 to 195 kHz
AdvancedUSB TM computer audio interface for native 24-bit 1 96-kHz
USB audio (no driver needed)
Retail 1 900 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 126
1. USB adaptive DACs > Lavry DA-I 1
0 4 Digital Audio Inputs
Sample rates between 30kHz and 200kHz, 24-bit (USB 96 KHz)
lx XLR
1 x USB v2.0 (24/96)
1 x S/Pdif (Coaxial)
1 x Optical (Toslink)
http ://lavryengi nee ri
Retail 1 500 Eur
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 20 10 127
1. USB adaptive DACs > Grace Design-M902
0 4 Digital Audio Inputs
1 x USB (USB input supports 16 bit/44.1 and 48k only)
24bit/ 192kHz digital stereo inputs except USB
Retai 1 1 700 Eur
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussel s-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 1 28
1. USB Adaptive DACs > Antelope Zodiac+
0 7 Digital Audio Inputs:
2x Optical TOSLINK
1 x USB on mini B type connector
(Custom USB chip streams audio up to 192kHz)
lxWord Clock Input on BNC
3x Digital Outputs on AES/EBU and S/PDIF
http://www.antelopeaud 1
Retail 1 900 Eur
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 129
1. USB adaptive DACs > Naim DAC
0 8 Digital Audio Inputs:
2x coaxial BNC
2x coaxial phono,
4x optical toslink
2x USB
Audio files supported: USB =WAV (LPCM up to 768kHz /32bit)
0 Sample Rates
USB 32kHz to 768kHz, 24bit
S/PDI F 32kHz to 192kHz, 24 bit
iPod, iPhone 48kHz max
Retai 1 2 600 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 130
1. USB adaptive DACs >Audio Research DAC 7
0 5 Digital Audio Inputs:
USB: Spec 1 .0 to 2.0, 16 Bit, 32kHz to 48kHz, MAC or PC.
RCA: 75 ohm S/Pdif, 16/32 to 24/192.
BNC: 75 ohm S/Pdif, 16/32 to 24/192.
XLR: 1 1 0 ohm AES/EBU, 16/32 to 24/192.
OPT: 660 NM Toslink fi ber, 16/32 to 24/192.
Retail 3 600 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 131
1. USB adaptive DACs > MSB Technology-Piatinum DAC IV
0 5 DigitaiAudio Inputs
3x S/PDI F (Optical, Coax, Balanced)
lx S/PDIF (BNC) orWord Sync
1 x MSB Network with dock link
1 x Optionallnput slot (USB, limited to 96kHz)
0 Upsampling
44.1, 88.2 and 176.4 to 352.8 kHz at a resolution of 32 bits
48, 96 and 192 to 384 kHz at a resolution of 32 bits
Retail 14 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 132
2. USB Asynchronous DACs > Ayre Acoustics QB-9
0 Digital Audio Input:
1 x USB, 44.1 kHz to 96 kHz (up to 24 bits)
Retail 2 400 Eur

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JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 133
2. USB Asynchronous DACs > Wavelength Cosecant
0 Digital Audio Input:
1 x USB data input for use with Mac or PCs
Supported input data formats: 16- or 24-bit word lengths
Sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, or 96kHz
Ana log output jacks: 1 pair RCA
Retail 2 800 Eur
J F Vignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 1 34
2. USB Asynchronous DACs > dCS Paganini
0 4 Digital Inputs
1 x USB2.0 interface on a B-type connector. Ope rates in asynchronous mode.
1 x AES3 on a 3-pin female XLR connector.
2x S/Pd if on 2x RCA Phono connectors.
Ali digital inputs will accept PCM data at up to 24 bit PCM at 32 to 96kS/s.
0 6 Digital Outputs
IEEE 1394 interface on 2x 6-way connectors.ln DSD mode, the interface
outputs dCS-encrypted DSD ( 1 bit data at 2.822MS/s).
2x AES3 on 3-pin fe male XLR connectors. Each outputs 24 bit PCM at 32 to
96kS/s, or as a Dual AES pair at 88.2, 96, 176.4 or 192kS/s.
2x S/Pdif on RCA Phono connectors. Each outputs 24 bit PCM at 32 to 96kS/s.
Retail 14 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 135
3. FireWire DACs >Apogee Mini-DAC
0 G E E E L E C T R 0 N 1 C S Menea.c:'
0 5 Digital Audio Inputs
2 x AES-EBU on 9 pin D-Type (breakout cable to 2 fe male XLR-3 required)
Handling sample rates: 44.1 k-192k single-mode and 88.2 k-192k dual-mode.
1 x S/PDIF optical on TOS-LINK 44.1/48k
1 x S/PDI F coaxial on RCA 44/l-192k
1 x FireWire 400 (OSX and Windows XP only)
ADAT 44/1-48k
ADAT/SMUX Il for 88/2/96k
ADAT/SMUX IV for 176.4/192k
Retail 900 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 136
3. FireWire DACs >Weiss DAC-2
--... . . . . - - - ~ - ..
w ~
ON FlkfW!lE AiS/BU S/I'Dif
'80 ...
0 0 D .... 1
0 4 Digital Audio Inputs
2x Firewire 400 connectors (daisy-chaining)
1 x Toslink (optical)
Sampling frequencies= 44.1 to 192 kHz, 24-bit
An internai jumper allows to set the XLRIRCA inputs to the dual wire
AES/EBU scheme in the case of 176.4 or 192kHz sampling rates.
Retail 2 500 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 137
o 3. FireWire DACs > Mytek-Stereo 1 92 DSD
0 6 Digital Audio Inputs
1 x S/Pdif
lxToslink Optical
lx USB
1 x FireWire
lx DSD
Resolution & Sampling Frequencies: 24-bit, 32 -192 kHz
Retail 1 500 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 138
4. Ethernet DACs > Linn Klimax DS
0 Digital stream player: Ethernet
Supported file types FLAC,WAV, MP3,AIFF
Audio sample rates 7.35 KHz to 192 KHz
Word depth 16 - 24 bits
Retail 1 5 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 139
S. USB to S/Pdif Adapters > M2Tech-HiFace
Digital Input: 1 x USB A type male
Output: 1 x RCA or 1 x BNC
1/0 Standard
1 np ut USB 2.0 Format
Output S/PDIF Stereo Digital Audio Format
Sampling Frequency= 44.1 kHz to 192kHz
Resolution= 16 up to 24-bit
Custom Driver (Microsoft, OSX and ASIO native drivers= 96kHz max)
Retail ISO Eur (RCA) 180 Eur (BNC)
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 2010 140
o S. USB To RCA Out > HRT-Music Stream er Il+
0 Digital Audio Input
1 x USB type 1.1 or above
Data Rate up to 96 kS/s
Bit Depth up to 24 bit
Retail 250 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 141
o S. USB to S/Pdif Adapters > Bel Canto-USB Link 24/96
Converts USB computer-sourced files to S/Pdif output
Compatible with native drivers on Mac and Windows
Accepts high-res audio files with data rates up to 24 bits and 96KHz
Retail 400 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 142
S. USB to S/Pdif Adapters > SonicWeld-Diverter 24/96
Passes up to 24/96 data via USB input
Digital output BNC 750 + RCA adapter plug
No special drivers or software needed 1
Retail 1 1 00 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 143
6.AES/EBU PCI-Soundcards > LynxAES-16
Sixteen-channel AES/EBU Digital 1/0
192 kHz 1 24-bit Single-wire and Dual-wire Modes
Synchrolock J itter Attenuation
Word Clock and Multi-card Synchronization
Powerful Mixing and Routing Engine
Low-latency Drivers for Windows and Macintosh
Cab ling for Direct Digital Interface Yamaha, Apogee, Mackie,
and other Equipment
Retail 600 Eur
J F Vignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 201 0 144
6.AES/EBU PCI-Soundcards > RME Hammerfall HDSP 9632
Balanced stereo analog in- and output, 24-Bit/192kHz, > Il 0 dB SNR
Optional analog expansion boards with 4 balanced in- or outputs
Ali analog 1/0s capable of 192 kHz, constant number of available channels
1 x ADAT digital 1/0, supporting 96 kHz S/MUX operation
1 x S/Pdif digital 1/0, 192 kHz-capable
1 Breakout cable for coaxial S/Pdif
1 Stereo head phone output 1 MIDI 1/0 with 16 channels of hi-speed MIDI
via breakout cable
Retail 350 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 145
7. lntegrated Music Servers > Sooloos
Hard-drive-based networked music system.
Source-One: system control 1er with 24-bitll92kHz converters, two-channel
ana log and digital outputs, 4-port Ethe rn et switch.
Store-Twinstore hard-drive, mirrored storage for contents of +2000 CDs.
Control-One: 17'' LCD touchscreen display/interface and CD drive.
http://www.m er id ian-aud
Retail from 1 1 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 146
7. lntegrated Music Servers > Mclntosh MS-750
Music server with 750GB hard drive, integrated Web interface, CD
player/burner, and Ethernet Web interface for rem ote control and music
Supported audio formats: Encode: FLAC, MP3. Decode: PCM, FLAC, MP3,
Digital outputs
lx Optical
2x Coaxial
Sampling frequency: 44.1 kHz
Retail 8 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 147
7. lntegrated Music Servers > Naim-HDX
Sample Rates: 44.1 kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz and 192kHz native
Other rates converted to 44.1 kHz
Bit Depths: 16-bit, 24-bit, 32-bit fixed, 32-bit float
USB: x 1 on the Front panel, x4 on the rear panel
1 x Ethernet Rear panel RJ45
Other: PS2 keyboard, PS2 mouse
http:/ /www.naim-aud
Retail 6 200 Eur
JFYignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 148
8. Outboard Master Clocks > Antelope Trinity
., .. .1 ...
Rubidium dock input for ultimate performance
3 lndependent & simultaneous audio generators up to 384kHz
USB connection via PC & Mac allowing full remote control, loading/saving
presets and firmware upgrades
http://www.antelopeaud en/products .... trinity.htm 1
Retail 2 800 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 149
8. Outboard Master Clocks > dCS Scarlatti Master Clock

- -
Accepts word dock or AC coup led signais at 32kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48kHz,
88.2kHz, 96kHz, 1 MHz, SM Hz or 1 OMHz. Lock range is +/-300ppm.
8 independently buffered outputs on 750 BNC connectors
Clock frequencies: 44.1 kHz or 48kHz, calibrated within +/-1 ppm, (typically
+/-0.1 ppm), temperature compensated.
http://www.dcsltd .co.uklpage/aud ioph ile
Retail 7 800 Eur
J F Vignal 1 SAE Brussel s-AE DS 908 1 20 1 0 1 50
8. Outboard Master Clocks > Esoteric G-Orb
. -

Rubidium Master Clock Generator
Output frequencies: 44.1 kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz,
1OOkHz (universal frequency)
Term inals: BNC coaxial mrclocks/g-Orb/
Retail 14 OOOEur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 151
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 152
0 Conclusion
Computer-audio playback: a booming market for persona! music libraries.
The end-user has to choose from many options to set up his system, with a
number of variables to evaluate in terms of hardware & software.
One key issue for audio quality playback is the selection of a DAC & audio
interface, although ali system parameters will matter, induding grade of cable.
FireWire, Ethernet or USB each have the ir own merits & demerits, if the
choice of a PCI-PCie soundcard for AES/EBU or S/Pdif output is not an option.
The connection type in itself is less an issue than its proper implementation &
overall performance is much more system-dependent than conventional audio.
Another factor to consider is the budget available for assembling a system.
Lower budgets will favor USB DACs for cost as weil as plug & play.
Bigger budgets will explore FireWire & more likely Ethernet-based servers.
ln any case, jitter management & dock stability are critical factors.
Outboard master docks from Pro Audio offer an alternative solution.
Another strong market trend is the high-res music downloads (24-96 or
more), which is likely to impact the way music is produced in the studio.
Master tape quality is now available for home use. Happy listening!
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 153
0 Key Success Factors
___ . __ -. ) Obviously with Computer-Audio, many configurations & setups are possible.
And ali the details are important. Below is a checklist for ONE alternative.
0 Computer generation with latest CPU and RAM specs available.
0 External audio interface with FireWire input to AES3 output.
0 AES3 output to stereo DAC digital inputs, then to XLR analog outputs.
0 External CDRIDVDR reader/burner with FireWire connection.
0 Ditto for external hard-disk drives (back-up & playback).
0 Optional outboard master dock reference.
0 Drivers & firmware update.
0 Ripping software: CD-DA Extractor, Max.
0 Ripping format: Flac.
0 Playback software:
./ PC:J River Media Center .
./ Mac: iTunes + Fluke (+Amarra$$$).
0 Windows on Mac (both options above, via VM Ware or similar).
0 Avoid automatic sample rate & depth conversion within the OS or media player.
0 Short audio cables, quality aftermarket cables (discard OE cables).
0 Clean power supply and dedicated power cable for desktop/laptop.
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 154
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 155
0 Computer Audio Dream 1: Let's Go !
FireWire ~ AES3 XLR
Weiss Vesta-FW Weiss DAC-202
Toslink 1 USB W/C BNC
Mac Pro iTunes + Amarra

dCS Paganini DAC-Upsampler-Ciock
.! XLR
Mel ntosh C-1 000 P
Harbeth Monitor 40.1
t ElectroCompaniet Nemo t
iPad 1 NAS 1 Network-Piayer 1
CD/SACD/Biu-ray 1
SAT-Receiver 1 DAB-Tuner 1 USB-Stick
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010
= - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~

0 Computer Audio Dream 2: A Full dCS Scarlatti System
The system is synchronized by a Clock running at 44.1 kHz
The Upsampler takes data from the Transport or the Laptop (with upsampling set to 24/176.4 or DSD)
The DAC takes DSD data from the Transport via 1394, or PCM from the Transport 1 Laptop thru the
Upsampler via 1394 (DSD) or Dual AES (24/176.4)
Select the DAC input first before using the Sync button to select WCLK
Total budget (if you need to know) = 62 000 Eur
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 157
----........ =---t -----,_,...._ _____ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/ 2010 158
0 Sources & Resources, 1
0 Computer-based Audio
http://www.positive-feedbackcom/lssue41/ca intro.htm
http://www.positive-feedbackcomllssue22/nugent.htm 008servers/!white paper computer playbackpdf
0 Digital Audio Interfaces audio interfaces l.htm
0 S/PdifTopologies DAC White Paper Aug 2009.pdf in ica/ diginterf 1 e. html
0 S/Pdif Oversampling & Reclocking
http://www.dcsltd. co.u ki page/ myths
JFVignal/ SAE Brussels-AEDS 908/2010 159
0 Sources & Resources, 2
0 USB vs FireWire sampling jitter.pdf DAC.htm,2845,33848,00.asp
0 USBAdaptive vsAsync USB DAC White Paper.pdf
0 Ethernet
0 PCM, DSD, Flac papers/axion/dxd%20Resolution%20v3.5.pdf
SAE Brussels-AEDS 908 1 20 1 0 160