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post #271 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Fosse View Post

I'll have the opportunity to attend the Ayre computer-based audio demo which will be presented by Steve Silberman in the SF Bay Area next week where he will be demonstrating both the DX-5 and QB-9. I have separate audio and video systems in different rooms. I am more of an audiophile than a videophile and have much more money invested in my 2 channel music-only system so the DX-5 would probably be overkill in my HT rig even though I own a 60" Pioneer Plasma 151 Kuro Elite which has been ISF calibrated.

I presently own the C-5xeMP which provides tremendous sound in my 2 channel audio rig. However I have been contemplating whether or not it would be advantageous to get into computer-based audio at this time with the QB-9 DAC. I do not want to compromise on convenience over sound one bit. I would certainly consider the DX-5 BD player if I had a single music and video rig in one room but would be impractical to shuttle the DX-5 back and forth in and out of the video room when I want to listen to music in my audio system. However I wonder if I could get as good of sound from my 2 channel rig by replacing the C-5xeMP player with the QB-9 DAC in a Mac based computer setup? I've read that there are additional variables to getting the best sound including running the Amarra software rather than i-tunes? Another variable is that I own about 130 SACDs. Although not a big issue for me, I understand the QB-9 cannot decode the DSD layer of these recordings?

The demo with Steve will be a blast -- bring your favorite disc and have fun!

It's very simple -- just buy two DX-5's -- one for each room!

The QB-9 is very competitive with the C-5xe MP sound-wise, so the only thing that you'd be giving up there is the ability to play SACD's. (See, you really do need that DX-5!) It's not the QB-9 that is the limitation, it is the fact that Sony promised the music companies that computer ROM drives would never be able to play SACD's.

Amarra does sound better than iTunes, plus it also offers automatic sample-rate switching (which is a weak spot for Mac's). Currently we are looking at the possibility of another solution that would be less expensive. Stay tuned....
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post #272 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 12:50 AM
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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

I currently own a No. 380S and all eight inputs are in use, and I have additional switchers hanging off some of those inputs as well, and I by no means have an "extravagant" system, merely a normal integrated two-channel/surround audio/video system.

We have eight inputs on our top-line KX-R. The K-5xe MP has four inputs and the K-1xe has six inputs. So there is a progression there.

I'm curious about your system. What are the ten or so sources that you have? I can't imagine that it would be a "normal" system...

With the DX-5, the only other source I would ever use would be a turntable. That's two inputs. Some people like to watch TV (not me!) so they might want a cable or satellite box. That's three, although it would be better to connect that with an optical digital link to avoid linking your audio and video systems.

What else do you have? A cassette deck? A VCR? An 8-track?
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post #273 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 01:10 AM
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It's an expensive product and it's not for everybody. The point of this thread is that it is *not* a rip-off. Unlike at least one other manufacturer, we are not simply taking an Oppo and putting it into a different case so that it will match the rest of your electronics and then charging 6x as much.

I wonder if this was a reference to the Lexicon.
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post #274 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post


With the DX-5, the only other source I would ever use would be a turntable. That's two inputs. Some people like to watch TV (not me!) so they might want a cable or satellite box. That's three, although it would be better to connect that with an optical digital link to avoid linking your audio and video systems.

Charles, I have three sources feeding my KX-R. Trading the C5 for the DX-5 would bring that down to two. The other source is an HD TV tuner though. How should I connect it using an optical link as you suggest? I thought the KX-R isolates the unused components.

Thanks,

Tim

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post #275 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

Charles, I have three sources feeding my KX-R. Trading the C5 for the DX-5 would bring that down to two. The other source is an HD TV tuner though. How should I connect it using an optical link as you suggest?

You would set the tuner to output LPCM, and plug it into a digital input port on the DX-5. Then you would actually have only one source plugged into your KX-R.
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post #276 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 09:03 AM
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Unfortunately my HD box (Motorola 6200) will only output Dolby Digital. If the DX-5 converted DD to analog I'd be set, but that would be unlikely. Wouldn't it?

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post #277 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

Unfortunately my HD box (Motorola 6200) will only output Dolby Digital. If the DX-5 converted DD to analog I'd be set, but that would be unlikely. Wouldn't it?

Well, as a decoding disc player, it does convert DD to analog; however, the question is whether it can do that conversion when receiving a signal from an external input vs. internally.

Charles - just how full-featured will the DAC be?
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post #278 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

What else do you have? A cassette deck? A VCR? An 8-track?

In fact, I do have a cassette deck though it's not connected at the moment; I've a lot of cassettes that I continue to listen to now and then.

And I apologize, the 380S has only six inputs.

But just for fun:

Input 1: Phono stage
Input 2: CD player/DAC
Input 3: Composite video switcher
Input 4: Tuner
Input 5: DISH Network satellite box
Input 6: Surround Processor

Both the CD player and SSP are set up in pass-through "surround" mode.

The KX-R would suit my needs nicely, but as you don't have a factory-direct discount for those of us living down the street ( ) it will have to remain an aspirational piece for now.
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post #279 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

I have three sources feeding my KX-R. Trading the C5 for the DX-5 would bring that down to two. The other source is an HD TV tuner though. How should I connect it using an optical link as you suggest? I thought the KX-R isolates the unused components.

Isolating the video and audio systems is critical. If you don't do this, the audio won't sound as good as it should and the video won't look as good as it could. The biggest problem is that all video displays have switching power supplies that create noise on the ground of your system. As soon as you hook up any component to both your display and your audio system, you are in trouble.

When we built the Ayre D-1 DVD player ten years ago, we were the only company to figure this out. That product was basically two separate components in one chassis -- there was even a separate sub-chassis inside the main (video) chassis to shield the audio circuitry. By using opto-isolators to bring the digital audio signals to the audio section, we achieved total galvanic isolation between the video and the audio sections.

This worked great if you only had one video source -- the D-1. But as soon as you hooked up a VCR or other video source with common grounds, the video and audio ground were no coupled back together again. To combat this, we started designing preamps (and integrated amps) that switch the ground connection also when selecting inputs. The only component that is connected is the one that is selected.

This goes a long way towards solving the problem. The only other company to do this that I know of is Levinson on their No.32 and No.326 preamps. But it doesn't solve it completely as even a few picofarads of stray capacitance can couple noise very well when the noise is in the 100 MHz region. But it does get you 80% or 90% of the way there.

So if you have additional video components and you want to get the absolute ultimate in performance, the best solution is to use an optical digital audio output from the device and connect it to an audio DAC that has no connection to the video system.

The problem is going to get worse in the future, however. Why? In a word, HDMI. I don't know of any way to switch isolate HDMI inputs. None. I don't know how to switch the grounds. There is no opto-isolator that can operate at 750 MHz, I can tell you that right now. That is an order of magnitude faster than any isolator can operate.

So if you really want the best performance, at some point you almost need two audio systems. Most TV's have built-in speakers. Just let them handle the less critical things like "General Hospital" or whatever it is that people watch nowadays on cable. Then connect the DX-5 to your good audio system. Since it completely isolates the audio and video, then you are good to go.

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post. There are obviously several different ways to skin this cat. We are trying to make it as easy as possible to get good performance by just hooking things up, by isolating the inputs on our preamps and isolating the grounds on our video disc players. But since we don't make set-top boxes or VCR's or the standards for HDMI, there is only so much we can do. But if you understand the issues involved, you should be able to come up with one way or another to keep your audio and video systems isolated from each other.
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post #280 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 01:59 PM
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Originally Posted by racerguy View Post

You would set the tuner to output LPCM, and plug it into a digital input port on the DX-5. Then you would actually have only one source plugged into your KX-R.

That's a good idea, but would only work if we had digital inputs on the DX-5. There is one digital input, but it is only for USB audio connections to your computer. So unless you are using an Apple TV, you are probably out of luck.

We will make a multi-input DAC down the road. One of the things that is important is to provide isolation between all of the inputs, whether they are digital or analog. That's one reason we like to use balanced AES/EBU digital connections instead of single-ended S/PDIF connections -- the balanced signals make it easier to isolate things. But to get complete isolation you need to use an optical connection like Toslink.

This is a lower-performance connection in terms of sound quality, but you will be well ahead by using Toslink with anything that is connected to your video display -- it is critical to isolate the audio system and the video system.

If your other video source has a Toslink output, then just buy a cheap audio DAC and connect that to your audio system. Just make sure that the DAC doesn't have a switching power supply, or you'll be back in the same boat of dumping noise into your audio system!
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post #281 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim Wiens View Post

Unfortunately my HD box (Motorola 6200) will only output Dolby Digital. If the DX-5 converted DD to analog I'd be set, but that would be unlikely. Wouldn't it?

If your SSP has a Toslink input then use that with your HD box and you'll be all set. Even if the HD box only has an S/PDIF output, I believe that you can buy an external S/PDIF to Toslink converter. Just make sure that it doesn't have a switching power supply in its wall-wart power supply.
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post #282 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by racerguy View Post

Charles - just how full-featured will the DAC be?

Not very. It will only accept a USB audio input from a computer, and there are only two channels of analog audio outputs.

No product can be all things to all customers. If we kept adding features, either the price would go up or the performance would go down (or both!). So we have to pick a feature set that we think makes sense.
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post #283 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

Input 1: Phono stage
Input 2: CD player/DAC
Input 3: Composite video switcher
Input 4: Tuner
Input 5: DISH Network satellite box
Input 6: Surround Processor

Both the CD player and SSP are set up in pass-through "surround" mode.

Let's see if there is another way to connect things. We might need some more information.

1. The phono stage is its own thing.
2. The DX-5 would replace the CD player. It might replace the DAC function and it might not. Does your CD player have a digital input? If so, what is connected?
3. Composite video switcher. I'm not clear what this is for. I would guess that you have a VCR and maybe some other video source connected. These are unlikely to have digital outputs. The best way to isolate them from your audio system would be to send them directly to your display (assuming it has speakers built-in). Not as impressive sounding for those sources, but then your critical ones will sound better.
4. Tuner. Depending on where you live, it might be time to give up on FM and go to internet radio. This could be done with your computer feeding the USB audio input on the DX-5. If you live in Chicago or Boston,you will want to keep your FM tuner...
5. Dish Network Box. I don't know what you watch on here. If it is just the news or football games, you probably don't need surround sound. In that case (assuming your display has built-in speakers) you could just connect the audio directly to your display. It wouldn't sound as good for that source, but then the rest of your sources would sound better by isolating the grounds. Or if your Dish Box has a digital out, you could run it to an external DAC via Toslink and achieve isolation that way.
6. Surround processor. Until the day comes when somebody makes a killer sounding SSP, you will need this input.

Take a look at the list I've created. Depending on how attached you are to having low quality sources being piped through your "big rig" sound system, you might be able to pare it down to three inputs -- phono, DX-5 (with streaming internet radio), and SSP.

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Originally Posted by kucharsk View Post

The KX-R would suit my needs nicely, but as you don't have a factory-direct discount for those of us living down the street ( ) it will have to remain an aspirational piece for now.

I understand -- I don't have one at home either...
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post #284 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

The demo with Steve will be a blast -- bring your favorite disc and have fun!

It's very simple -- just buy two DX-5's -- one for each room!

The QB-9 is very competitive with the C-5xe MP sound-wise, so the only thing that you'd be giving up there is the ability to play SACD's. (See, you really do need that DX-5!) It's not the QB-9 that is the limitation, it is the fact that Sony promised the music companies that computer ROM drives would never be able to play SACD's.

Amarra does sound better than iTunes, plus it also offers automatic sample-rate switching (which is a weak spot for Mac's). Currently we are looking at the possibility of another solution that would be less expensive. Stay tuned....

Thanks for the informative reply and great suggestion Charles--- "It's very simple -- just buy two DX-5's -- one for each room!" Yes, that was my first idea too but don't think that I can convince my wife to let me do that!

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Steve's demo and hope to learn alot from it. I just bought the C-5xeMP last year after my old SACD player gave out but before the QB-9 was released.

And to think that Sony wouldn't even release their SACDs in Hybrid format so that one needs a SACD player to spin them!

Forgive me if I missed it on this thread or elsewhere, but will there be a future upgrade for the QB-9 and DX-5 to do 24/192?
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post #285 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 05:42 PM
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Isolating the video and audio systems is critical.

I have a Lumagen XD scaler which accepts HDMI and outputs video over HDMI to the projector and DD via RCA to the processor. Is this an effective isolation of audio and video. If the DD over RCA was converted to Toslink then there would be effective isolation?

Similarly, I have a Meridian HD621 which accepts LPCM and video over HDMI and outputs video to the projector via HDMI and LPCM to the processor over S/PDIF x3. I guess there could be separation of audio and video depending on Meridian handles the ground?

Thanks for your help.
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post #286 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 10:21 PM
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Hey thanks for taking the time to respond about my isolation concerns Charles.

I have tried to simplify the system to reduce interference since I do want to get the best out of my KX-R / MX-R system. I've done things like go two channel, and sell of my processor, rear amp, rear speakers etc., and disconnecting the Blu Ray player from the wall when not in use. The only offenders left are the projector and HD tuner. We don't have a TV, so I run the audio to the KX-R. But it isn't so much for TV as digital music. It's great for background and I get some new music ideas. I've modified my HD tuner to the point where it actually sounds pretty good. It does have an optical out. And I did recently purchase a small Gefen device that converts Dolby Digital to analog. But as you pointed out, it is powered by a switching power supply which causes it's own problems. Maybe finding a small linear power supply for this would work. Or maybe taking the power directly from the HD tuner power supply?

In any case I look forward to the DX-5. And if you do design a reference DAC, I'm sure I'll be a candidate for that too. Just give me a year or two to save up for all this stuff before you release the DAC!

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post #287 of 1445 Old 01-18-2010, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Let's see if there is another way to connect things. We might need some more information.

1. The phono stage is its own thing.
2. The DX-5 would replace the CD player. It might replace the DAC function and it might not. Does your CD player have a digital input? If so, what is connected?
3. Composite video switcher. I'm not clear what this is for. I would guess that you have a VCR and maybe some other video source connected. These are unlikely to have digital outputs. The best way to isolate them from your audio system would be to send them directly to your display (assuming it has speakers built-in). Not as impressive sounding for those sources, but then your critical ones will sound better.
4. Tuner. Depending on where you live, it might be time to give up on FM and go to internet radio. This could be done with your computer feeding the USB audio input on the DX-5. If you live in Chicago or Boston,you will want to keep your FM tuner...
5. Dish Network Box. I don't know what you watch on here. If it is just the news or football games, you probably don't need surround sound. In that case (assuming your display has built-in speakers) you could just connect the audio directly to your display. It wouldn't sound as good for that source, but then the rest of your sources would sound better by isolating the grounds. Or if your Dish Box has a digital out, you could run it to an external DAC via Toslink and achieve isolation that way.
6. Surround processor. Until the day comes when somebody makes a killer sounding SSP, you will need this input.

Take a look at the list I've created. Depending on how attached you are to having low quality sources being piped through your "big rig" sound system, you might be able to pare it down to three inputs -- phono, DX-5 (with streaming internet radio), and SSP.

Thanks ever so much for your replies, Charles.

I actually run all my audio through my two-channel system. My display has no speakers at all - it's a display only.

I've never been able to figure out why anyone would want to run audio through a display/TV's speakers when you've got world-class speakers right there. Add to that a lot of TV content actually has pretty good audio, and it makes sense to run everything through the "good system."

In fact, this is one reason a pair of MX-Rs would break me; my system is on for all intents and purposes 24/7, playing something, even if it's just background music from the FM tuner.

The CD player has four inputs but currently I only use one for occasional use with my MacBook Pro, something the DX-5 or a QB-9 would do admirably.

BTW, you asked about "Chicago" or "Boston" but my "down the street, factory direct" joke regarding the KX-R comes from the fact that I do live more or less down the street from Ayre, in Louisville. For one, KGNU puts out excellent audio - in fact I live about 2500' from the transmitter, as all my devices that used to tune NTSC channel 6 used to have to deal with.

As far as the KX-R goes, I suspect that at the least you should be able to get one at cost.
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post #288 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 04:57 AM
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There is one digital input, but it is only for USB audio connections to your computer. So unless you are using an Apple TV, you are probably out of luck.

AppleTV outputs digital audio via toslink and HDMI, am 99% sure USB is only to add storage. As an aside, it's a very underrated product; nice interface paricularly with the new software, and it streams all kinds of content. With products like it, and for music only, Sonos and Squeezebox, I don't understand the market for expensive servers (pre - DAC). BTW, SB will soon be able to stream 24/96 inexpensively via the Touch.

As a guy whose got a few such devices around the house, I'm looking forward to an Ayre DAC. USB DACs don't make sense for me for a few reasons.
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post #289 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob Fosse View Post

Forgive me if I missed it on this thread or elsewhere, but will there be a future upgrade for the QB-9 and DX-5 to do 24/192?

The DX-5 will do 192 out of the gate (not like there's any meaningful software!!!). The QB-9 will require a hardware and firmware upgrade. It will cost about 1/10 the price of original player. We don't have exact numbers yet. At this point it looks like those should be available in March or so. Once we start shipping the QB-9 with the new input PCB, then people who bought the players within 90 days will get a free update.
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post #290 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

I have a Lumagen XD scaler which accepts HDMI and outputs video over HDMI to the projector and DD via RCA to the processor. Is this an effective isolation of audio and video. If the DD over RCA was converted to Toslink then there would be effective isolation?

Some S/PDIF inputs have an isolation transformer. Some don't. The sure-fire way is to use Toslink. I would think that somebody sells a box for $50 or $100 that converts S/PDIF to Toslink. That would be money well spent. You should notice an improvement in picture and sound by separating your display from your audio system.

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Similarly, I have a Meridian HD621 which accepts LPCM and video over HDMI and outputs video to the projector via HDMI and LPCM to the processor over S/PDIF x3. I guess there could be separation of audio and video depending on Meridian handles the ground?

Same as above. The Meridian is more likely to have isolation transformers built-in to their processors. But nothing isolates like Toslink. But I don't think that the Meridian has 3 Toslink connectors, does it?

I wonder if someone sells a 1:1 isolation transformer in a small connector-like module. The other way to do it would be to get two 75 ohm to 110 ohm transformer modules and put them back-to-back. That would give excellent isolation.
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post #291 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Same as above. The Meridian is more likely to have isolation transformers built-in to their processors. But nothing isolates like Toslink. But I don't think that the Meridian has 3 Toslink connectors, does it?

Some Meridians do but the TOSlinks are not configurable for 3xS/PDIF, as are the coax inputs.

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post #292 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 10:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

I wonder if someone sells a 1:1 isolation transformer in a small connector-like module.

Calrad Electronics does. I've never used any of their products, but they have a couple different varieties of isolation transformers usable for this purpose.
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post #293 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Some S/PDIF inputs have an isolation transformer. Some don't. The sure-fire way is to use Toslink. I would think that somebody sells a box for $50 or $100 that converts S/PDIF to Toslink. That would be money well spent. You should notice an improvement in picture and sound by separating your display from your audio system..

I thought the consensus was that using Toslink creates issues of its own, at least for CD, given the jitter induced by use of the plastic cable.

As far as a converter, there are several coax to Toslink and Toslink to coax adapters on the market. Audio Authority's are around $68 each way, but there are several much more inexpensive ones on the market, once again raising the question of how their internal electronics sound.

Coax to Toslink Converter
Toslink to Coax Converter
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post #294 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 05:10 PM
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If your SSP has a Toslink input then use that with your HD box and you'll be all set. Even if the HD box only has an S/PDIF output, I believe that you can buy an external S/PDIF to Toslink converter. Just make sure that it doesn't have a switching power supply in its wall-wart power supply.

How does one recognize if a wall-wart has a switching power supply? I'm pretty sure I have a battery powered Toslink S/PDIF converter in one of my boxes.

Quote:


The Meridian is more likely to have isolation transformers built-in to their processors. But nothing isolates like Toslink. But I don't think that the Meridian has 3 Toslink connectors, does it?

Meridian's goal with the HD621 is to isolate audio and video and feed only audio to their processor. They made the standalone HD621 instead of an HDMI card to add to their processor, as they did not want any video entering their processor. Like Charles, they think sending video to a processor is a very bad thing. I'm probably worrying about nothing.

However, if I really wanted to go bizarre I could use three sets of back-to-back toslink s/pdif converters, ie, convert s/pdif to toslink and then convert toslink back to s/pdif and use the s/pdif x3 inputs on the processor. Ultimate isolation but two sets of conversions on non-lossy LPCM cannot be a good thing.
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post #295 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 05:25 PM
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I wonder if someone sells a 1:1 isolation transformer in a small connector-like module. The other way to do it would be to get two 75 ohm to 110 ohm transformer modules and put them back-to-back. That would give excellent isolation.

When I have to convert between S/PDIF and AES I use these:

http://www.neutrik.com/us/en/audio/2...oductlist.aspx

Their only drawback is they use BNC and you have to attach an RCA/BNC adaptor. As a bonus you get the isolation Charles mentions.

They also make these:

http://www.neutrik.com/us/en/audio/2...oductlist.aspx

Jeff Rowland used to use (maybe still does) Jensen transformers on all his inputs for isolation. They are much more substantial but need another interconnect. Would they be the best choice?

http://www.jensen-transformers.com/iso_aud.html
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post #296 of 1445 Old 01-19-2010, 05:34 PM
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Charles,
Do you also consider it important to isolate digital audio from analog audio? If one has a DAC connected to their (non-transformer coupled) preamp would you think any of these transformer devices are worth experimenting with on the input of the preamp?
Thanks,
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post #297 of 1445 Old 01-20-2010, 11:51 PM
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Sorry for the delayed replies. You guys have some great questions. I'm busy putting the finishing touches on the last PCB for the DX-5 (HDMI Audio) and will try to get back to this thread in the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience.
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post #298 of 1445 Old 01-21-2010, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Sorry for the delayed replies. You guys have some great questions. I'm busy putting the finishing touches on the last PCB for the DX-5 (HDMI Audio) and will try to get back to this thread in the next couple of days. Thanks for your patience.

Since the DX-5 is what this thread is supposed to be all about, we'll forgive you.
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post #299 of 1445 Old 01-21-2010, 06:40 AM
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Message to all posters: please do not derail the thread

We want to keep this thread running smoothly, and we appreciate the participation of Charles Hansen
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post #300 of 1445 Old 01-21-2010, 08:06 AM
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I hope we haven't; with Mr. Hansen participating it's hard not to ask for his expert opinions on not just the DX-5 but also his other products and AV in general…
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