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post #151 of 1442 Old 12-07-2009, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

I know one.

OK. We'll just take the R&D costs and amortize over the number of units sold. We have one pre-order. Let's call it an even $100,000. Another one would cut the price in half. Do I hear two? Two pre-orders going once... going twice...

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Part of the reason is that there have been so few mch players that would justify them. OTOH, this raises the issues of bass-management/distance adjustments which are usually accomplished in the player (but not for HDMI output) or in a digital processor. Another can of worms.

The source typically has primitive adjustments compared to a good SSP. However if you only ever listened to one source, you could probably make it work. But with multiple sources you would have to have a silly amount of redundancy. So the only way that makes sense is to use a great SSP.

Finally with Blu-Ray, there might even be a justification for making a great SSP. With the compressed surround formats, it was the equivalent of listening to 5 channels of 128 kbs MP3. Why spend $10,000 or $20,000 for an SSP to listen to MP3-quality audio?

But even with the uncompressed audio of Blu-Ray you are still stuck with the quantity versus quality dilemma. The $30,000 Mark Levinson processor didn't have volume control circuits as good as their $8,000 stereo preamp. I figure that if we made an SSP that performed as well as our $3,500 stereo preamp that it would cost at least $15,000. We might even build something like that simply because I think we could make something better than what currently exists. But the problem is that the darned things are so complex that it would take two years to develop it. And by the time we released it, it would be obsolete. That's what happened with the original ML No.40. By the time it came to market it was obsolete -- no HDMI capabilities for one thing.

I really think that the only way that a specialty manufacturer can make something like that is to "piggyback" on the product of a high-volume, low cost manufacturer. That is what we are doing with the Oppo. With Oppo we can get away with it because they tend to have a very stable product line. They don't change their lineup every year like the Japanese majors. I don't know of any SSP "engine" that would fit a similar job description.
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post #152 of 1442 Old 12-07-2009, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

As I understand it, it's also a no-go for any HDMI-equipped device to output hi-res PCM in the clear.

I believe that the Meridian HDMI "splitter" will accept HDCP encrypted signals.
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post #153 of 1442 Old 12-07-2009, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

Now if Charles would only put a magic switch on the new Ayre so that L/R would not be mixed in with the rears and LFE when decoded, I would be the first buyer.

This would actually be an easy thing to do from a technical standpoint. The problem is that we would have to put a switch on the unit and then have a display to show what mode it was in, plus document the entire feature set in the owner's manual.

Let us ship a few hundred first and see how it goes. Then maybe you could bribe us to write a custom version of the firmware to do something like that...
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post #154 of 1442 Old 12-07-2009, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Krobar View Post

The Meridian prepros will work with unencrypted 5.1 over 3 SPDIFs. A chap on the MeridianUnplugged forum sold quite a few modified Bluray players to lots of happy owners (Much chepaer than the Meridian convertor).

Do the Meridian owners really buy the modded unit because it is cheaper than the Meridian adapter? Or will the market for the modded unit dry up completely when Meridian makes a Blu-Ray player?

As near as I can tell, Meridian customers are pretty much Meridian customers. They buy the system, lock, stock, and barrel. Not too much mixing and matching going on there, even if one could save some money...
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post #155 of 1442 Old 12-07-2009, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

I believe that the Meridian HDMI "splitter" will accept HDCP encrypted signals.

Yes, that's its primary function. And in that case, the output is MHR encrypted, making it useless to anything but a Meridian processor. I guess it would output 48/16 in the clear if that were interesting to someone, but can't image that being the case with anyone in this thread.
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post #156 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 12:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

Do the Meridian owners really buy the modded unit because it is cheaper than the Meridian adapter? Or will the market for the modded unit dry up completely when Meridian makes a Blu-Ray player?

As near as I can tell, Meridian customers are pretty much Meridian customers. They buy the system, lock, stock, and barrel. Not too much mixing and matching going on there, even if one could save some money...

Interesting question... There a lot of interest and purchases (Considering the size of target audience) at the moment but users may just be using it temporarily until Meridian can make a player. (I seem to remember Meridian were an HDDVD supporter and possibly a tad anti Sony)
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post #157 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

Yes, that's its primary function. And in that case, the output is MHR encrypted, making it useless to anything but a Meridian processor. I guess it would output 48/16 in the clear if that were interesting to someone, but can't image that being the case with anyone in this thread.

As another posted noted previously, I think Meridian is just about the only company that makes units with multiple S/PDIF inputs. So their box would only be of interest to Meridian owners, whether or not it had MHR outputs only or multiple S/PDIF outputs.

On a related note, years ago we asked Meridian if we could use their MHR protocol. Even though I had had several communications with Bob Stuart on DVD-related issues, this e-mail never received a response. I guess they weren't interested in playing with others...

For the DX-7e (our second DVD player), we developed our own high-resolution, multi-channel digital interface. We called it "SyncroLink" so that other companies could use it without having the Ayre brand name attached. We invited other companies to help develop the interface so that there would be a standard.

Theta said they *wanted* a proprietary interface. Levinson ignored us. The only companies that responded (out of a dozen or so enquiries) were two smaller companies that just wanted to argue about the details of the implementation.

We never made an SSP that would connect to the SyncroLink, although that was the original plan. Then we were planning to include it on the new Blu-Ray player but abandoned it for two reasons:

a) Our system would only handle 6 channels of 192/24, which was enough for DVD-Audio. But with Blu-Ray we needed 8 channels. We would have had to make a new physical interface with a new connector.

b) HDMI had taken over the world. Normally we would have ignored it because it has so many problems. But they finally *allowed* for one of the big problems to be solved with the Audio Rate Control feature. So we decided to stop spitting into the wind and just include HDMI with Audio Rate Control.

So far the only SSP's with Audio Rate Control are (presumably less than state-of-the-art for audio performance) units from Pioneer and Sony that only use proprietary implementations of ARC. But at least the door is open. Hopefully Theta or Meridian or Classe or *somebody* will make an SSP with ARC. Heck, we might even do it someday....
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post #158 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Krobar View Post

Interesting question... There a lot of interest and purchases (Considering the size of target audience) at the moment but users may just be using it temporarily until Meridian can make a player. (I seem to remember Meridian were an HDDVD supporter and possibly a tad anti Sony)

Considering that it is impossible to sell a DVD player for more than $100 at the present time, and considering that HD-DVD is truly and officially dead, and considering that Meridian spent million$ on video (the purchase of Faroudja), they would be crazy *not* to come out with a Blu-Ray player.

Of course, the question is whether it will be as good as ours!

Edit: The one-man-show that is selling Blu-Ray players to Meridian customers may be doing OK serving that niche, but it wouldn't be a large enough market to justify Ayre making a specific product for that.
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post #159 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

This would actually be an easy thing to do from a technical standpoint. The problem is that we would have to put a switch on the unit and then have a display to show what mode it was in, plus document the entire feature set in the owner's manual.

Logical but worthy of a smiley. Why not a switch on the back guarded as they often do with 110v/240v switches on the AC input? Then, all you would need would be a note in the manual and, perhaps, an LED on the front.

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http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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post #160 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 10:01 AM
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Edit: The one-man-show that is selling Blu-Ray players to Meridian customers may be doing OK serving that niche, but it wouldn't be a large enough market to justify Ayre making a specific product for that.

I think he sold about 50 units on the Meridian forum. Average price was probably around $1200 and that included the Oppo. However, his design was a real kludge. He took the Oppo, which legally does not use a safety ground, and added a third prong to the iec so he could "drain away" noise to ground.

The big advantage was that he intercepted the audio signal in its full hi-res unencrypted state right before the Oppo dacs, so that the 5.1-channel (actually he could output 7.1 channels) S/PDIF signals sent out were unprotected full hi-res.

One possible solution would be adding the equivalent of an 8-channel Theta six-shooter (an outboard 6-channel volume control), which seems to be very popular with Theta owners. You now have a 3-box solution with Ayre 2-channel BD player, outboard 7.1 channel volume control, and outboard processor. Might pull it off for $30k and might sell 10 units, although I am still stunned that Boulder Audio sold 30 units of their $35k phono stage the first month with continued strong sales, so anything is possible.

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Why not a switch on the back guarded as they often do with 110v/240v switches on the AC input? Then, all you would need would be a note in the manual and, perhaps, an LED on the front.

Or you could be like Microsoft and not even document it. Just simultaneously press three buttons on the remote and there you are. Seriously, respectfully suggest you add the the software at this time, when it should be easiest, with some arcane way of accessing it.
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post #161 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 10:04 AM
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I guess it would output 48/16 in the clear if that were interesting to someone, but can't image that being the case with anyone in this thread.

Roger, thanks for the info about there being some 600 BDs with 48/24. Do you think 48/24 will become the standard for BDs or it will just be a niche resolution?
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post #162 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 10:07 AM
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Charles, you had mentioned earlier about wanting to design a video processor. Are you familiar with the Teranex, the $75k processor that the really big boys use?
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post #163 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

Roger, thanks for the info about there being some 600 BDs with 48/24. Do you think 48/24 will become the standard for BDs or it will just be a niche resolution?

48/24 is the standard for movie soundtrack production. (24 being chosen as a consequence of 8-bit bytes and not due to dynamic range needs or human perception requirements.) While I see no justification in delivering >20 bits to lossless encoders (soundtracks usually have no more than 18-bits of real info, so 20 is overkill already), it is certainly no niche, and fully justified, to use >16 bits. We have to work on Warner there so as to get all BD soundtracks into hi rez territory.
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post #164 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

So far the only SSP's with Audio Rate Control are (presumably less than state-of-the-art for audio performance) units from Pioneer and Sony that only use proprietary implementations of ARC. But at least the door is open. Hopefully Theta or Meridian or Classe or *somebody* will make an SSP with ARC. Heck, we might even do it someday....

What is an acceptable level of jitter for an HDMI connection? Zero is not an option.

What is the jitter performance achieved when using rate control? I assume the latter will depend on implementation variables. Just wondering if the Pioneers of the world are meeting acceptable levels with rate control.
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post #165 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

48/24 is the standard for movie soundtrack production. (24 being chosen as a consequence of 8-bit bytes and not due to dynamic range needs or human perception requirements.) While I see no justification in delivering >20 bits to lossless encoders (soundtracks usually have no more than 18-bits of real info, so 20 is overkill already), it is certainly no niche, and fully justified, to use >16 bits. We have to work on Warner there so as to get all BD soundtracks into hi rez territory.

Sorry to go OT but I would like to ask two more questions:

1) If 24-bit is the standard for production, why aren't more (all?) movies released as 24-bit? Why is the vast majority down rezzed to 16-bit?

2) If soundtracks have no more than 18-bits of real info I am confused by your earlier comment, "I guess it [HD621] would output 48/16 in the clear if that were interesting to someone, but can't image that being the case with anyone in this thread." What would be wrong with 48/16 in this case?

Thanks for your help.
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post #166 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

1) If 24-bit is the standard for production, why aren't more (all?) movies released as 24-bit? Why is the vast majority down rezzed to 16-bit?

According to this resource, the number of BDs with 16 bits is 439. 24 bit is >600. I'm not sure the data is complete or accurate, but I just cited it to show that 24-bit is not a niche condition.

One obvious reason to use 16-bits is to save space. It makes a huge difference for PCM and also lossless compression, since those last 8-bits are much more noise than signal, and noise doesn't compress well.

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2) If soundtracks have no more than 18-bits of real info I am confused by your earlier comment, "I guess it [HD621] would output 48/16 in the clear if that were interesting to someone, but can't image that being the case with anyone in this thread." What would be wrong with 48/16 in this case?

I was assuming that folks here are not generally satisfied with 16-bit formats in the face of hi rez BD, DVD-A and SACD. I'd say there is a significant benefit in 17th and 18th bits with good source material in a quiet playback room. That's 12 dB lower noise, right in the range that addresses one of the original limitations of CD's 16 bit cap. The next 2 bits, 19-20, are a bit of an extravagance, and the last 4 (20-24) are pure noise in reality. That's why I say 20-bits is a good target for a delivery pipe--plenty of margin.
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post #167 of 1442 Old 12-08-2009, 02:22 PM
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Hi Charles,

Just to satisfy my curiosity...
Was it cost/licensing issues all those years ago that ruled out ILink for the DX7E? (Ilink too can do 5.1 24/192). I noticed Cary Audio put an Ilink port on their universal player around that time and never managed to activate it!

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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

As another posted noted previously, I think Meridian is just about the only company that makes units with multiple S/PDIF inputs. So their box would only be of interest to Meridian owners, whether or not it had MHR outputs only or multiple S/PDIF outputs.

On a related note, years ago we asked Meridian if we could use their MHR protocol. Even though I had had several communications with Bob Stuart on DVD-related issues, this e-mail never received a response. I guess they weren't interested in playing with others...

For the DX-7e (our second DVD player), we developed our own high-resolution, multi-channel digital interface. We called it "SyncroLink" so that other companies could use it without having the Ayre brand name attached. We invited other companies to help develop the interface so that there would be a standard.

Theta said they *wanted* a proprietary interface. Levinson ignored us. The only companies that responded (out of a dozen or so enquiries) were two smaller companies that just wanted to argue about the details of the implementation.

We never made an SSP that would connect to the SyncroLink, although that was the original plan. Then we were planning to include it on the new Blu-Ray player but abandoned it for two reasons:

a) Our system would only handle 6 channels of 192/24, which was enough for DVD-Audio. But with Blu-Ray we needed 8 channels. We would have had to make a new physical interface with a new connector.

b) HDMI had taken over the world. Normally we would have ignored it because it has so many problems. But they finally *allowed* for one of the big problems to be solved with the Audio Rate Control feature. So we decided to stop spitting into the wind and just include HDMI with Audio Rate Control.

So far the only SSP's with Audio Rate Control are (presumably less than state-of-the-art for audio performance) units from Pioneer and Sony that only use proprietary implementations of ARC. But at least the door is open. Hopefully Theta or Meridian or Classe or *somebody* will make an SSP with ARC. Heck, we might even do it someday....

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post #168 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Logical but worthy of a smiley. Why not a switch on the back guarded as they often do with 110v/240v switches on the AC input? Then, all you would need would be a note in the manual and, perhaps, an LED on the front.

Space is so tight that we only have room for 4 DIP switches on the back and 4 opto-isolators sending signals to the audio PCB. We have 5 functions that we would like to implement:

a) "Listen"/"Measure" for the digital filter setting.

b) "On"/"Off" for the S/PDIF output -- the analog output sounds slightly better if you turn the S/PDIF off due to less RFI.

c) LFE mix-in with the two-channel mixdown.

d) SACD filter select -- the best sounding one is -6 dB lower than the PCM output level, so some people would rather have the same signal level than the ultimate in sound quality.

e) Front L/R only instead of the mixdown.

The easiest thing to do is leave one of the features out. The most likely suspect would be the last one just because so few people could ever possibly use it. The only other possibility would be to only have certain combinations of features available. For example, the LFE mix-in will most likely be activated by a numeric code on the remote. We could have the rear panel switch choose whether the user activates the LFE mix-in OR the Front L/R only. But then it would be extremely difficult to access both features. We're still mulling it over...
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post #169 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

I think he sold about 50 units on the Meridian forum. Average price was probably around $1200 and that included the Oppo.

That's the difference between a one-man show and a real company. We have almost 20 employees, a million dollars in inventory, an 11,000 square-foot facility, a quarter-million dollars of test equipment, a full-time customer service person, two full-time repair/update people, three engineers, et cetera, et cetera. If we made products that only sold 50 units, we would be out of business in a hurry.

Every once in a while we put out a slow-selling unit. Sometimes it is on purpose, just to make a statement about who we are and what we believe in. Sometimes we just miss the mark and make a misstep. A good selling product needs to hit the target in three areas -- it has to look good (physically), it has to perform better than the competition, and it has to be priced right. When all three are achieved you will have a home run and can sell maybe 50 units a month.

If you have a dozen products like that, then you can buy some more test equipment at the end of the year. But with the economy the way it is, we are seeing more and more companies failing (manufacturers and dealers). Let's put it this way -- I wouldn't be trying to start a new high-end audio or video company right now...
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post #170 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by GGA View Post

Charles, you had mentioned earlier about wanting to design a video processor. Are you familiar with the Teranex, the $75k processor that the really big boys use?

We used to be part of the big extravaganza that DTS would put on at CES. They always used our DVD player in order to get the best picture quality. The last few years they did it, they used a Teranex. There was a lot of talk about how it was developed for the military and had all of these super-complex predictive algorithms, blah, blah, blah.

After a while a company called Silicon Optix brought out the "Realta" video processing chip that was supposed to basically be a Teranex on a chip. I had a meeting with them and went through the presentation. As near as I could figure, it was a fine unit and did a few things that nobody else was doing at the time. The main things it would do that were unique were funny cadence detections (for proper deinterlacing) and sophisticated noise-reduction algorithms for low-quality source material.

It didn't take long for the ABT guys to improve on the cadence detection, and I have never been a fan of signal processing. To me it is just a set of tradeoffs, with the end result usually worse than the original problem. I always prefer the minimum amount of processing, both for video and audio. Plus the thing was super expensive and a huge power hog. It was like a Pentium processor -- you needed 8 amps at 3.3 volts and a fan sitting on top of the chip to keep it cool.

They didn't last long and they got bought by somebody else. For a while Faroudja (actually Genesis Microchip at that time) had a lot of design wins in DVD players and projectors, but I think that was more of a case of marketing and pricing rather than performance. I think the guys at Gennum make a really good product, but I've always been a DVDO (now ABT) man. I just think they have the best design team on the planet.
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post #171 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

What is an acceptable level of jitter for an HDMI connection? Zero is not an option.

What is the jitter performance achieved when using rate control? I assume the latter will depend on implementation variables. Just wondering if the Pioneers of the world are meeting acceptable levels with rate control.

When it comes to jitter, I think that lower is better pretty much without limit. I have never heard a digital product that didn't sound better when the clock was improved.

HDMI is goofy because they designed the connector before they finished designing the protocol. When they were making their final push to finish it, a friend at Silicon Image called and said that they were running into a few problems with the audio. I told him it would be trivial to solve them by adding a separate line with the master audio clock. He said they couldn't because the connector had already been designed and there weren't enough pins...

The funny thing is that there is a spare pin on the connector today, even after they have added Ethernet in 1.4....

The bottom line is that there is no audio clock transmitted in an HDMI signal. Instead the receiver (sink) must use a PLL to create an audio clock from the pixel (video) clock. Due to technical issues, the jitter from these PLL's are much worse than the jitter from the PLL's used for S/PDIF. I was just reading a report of a Yamaha SSP in Hi-Fi News (UK) and they measured the jitter with a 24-bit signal at 65 psec with S/PDIF and around 3000 psec with HDMI. This is fairly typical performance.

With Audio Rate Control, the master audio clock is a fixed-frequency crystal oscillator in the receiver (sink). Careful design should achieve jitter levels in the single digit range, and even sloppy design should be under 100 psec. Then there is a small data buffer, and when the buffer gets too low it tells the source (player) to speed up, and vice-versa. This provides approximately two orders of magnitude better jitter than a typical HDMI connection.

The "quick 'n' dirty" way to reduce jitter for HDMI is to use an Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter (ASRC) chip. These are cheap now and can provide excellent measured performance. However, they throw away all of the original data and make up new data that they think would exist if there weren't any jitter. The audible results of this approach are suspect.
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post #172 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Krobar View Post

Just to satisfy my curiosity...
Was it cost/licensing issues all those years ago that ruled out ILink for the DX7E? (Ilink too can do 5.1 24/192). I noticed Cary Audio put an Ilink port on their universal player around that time and never managed to activate it!

I-Link was not only expensive ($15,000 per year), but it was expensive and complex to implement. It required a microprocessor at each end and essentially did the same thing as Audio Rate Control with a data buffer and a way to speed up or slow down the source.

I could never figure out Cary. It turns out that all of their optical disc players were OEM'ed for them in the Far East. I would presume that the only thing they designed was the analog audio circuitry. I'm not sure how they got away with selling products like that for prices commensurate with products made in the USA. But there are a lot of things that don't make sense to me...
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post #173 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

According to this resource, the number of BDs with 16 bits is 439. 24 bit is >600. I'm not sure the data is complete or accurate, but I just cited it to show that 24-bit is not a niche condition.

This is a favourite for all regions Roger ; correlates closely with 2600 odd.

http://www.cinemasquid.com/blu-ray/m...ew=specsmatrix

This discourse ;particularly the last few posts from a sound guy on BTDK; points to 2006 being the turning point ;as you say shame about warners

http://hd.engadget.com/2008/11/28/th...eview-roundup/
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post #174 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

According to this resource, the number of BDs with 16 bits is 439. 24 bit is >600. I'm not sure the data is complete or accurate, but I just cited it to show that 24-bit is not a niche condition.

One obvious reason to use 16-bits is to save space. It makes a huge difference for PCM and also lossless compression, since those last 8-bits are much more noise than signal, and noise doesn't compress well.

Thanks for the great site. According to the stats at the bottom of the loooong page, 34% of the 1920 BDs are 24 bit. Certainly not a niche and undoubtedly increasing.

I didn't realize BD storage was a problem. I guess with all the extras that are being added, 24-bit would be the first to go.

It is a pleasure to participate in such a civlized thread with knowledgeable people.
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post #175 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Charles Hansen View Post

When it comes to jitter, I think that lower is better pretty much without limit. I have never heard a digital product that didn't sound better when the clock was improved.

How do you determine if a design change is affecting the jitter? How do you decide you've done all you can to reduce it?
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post #176 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 12:15 PM
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Space is so tight that we only have room for 4 DIP switches on the back and 4 opto-isolators sending signals to the audio PCB. We have 5 functions that we would like to implement:

4 DIP switches, that's 16 states in binary. Plenty of modes!
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post #177 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

4 DIP switches, that's 16 states in binary. Plenty of modes!

Bingo! We have a winner. Now, we need to think up another 10 occult but necessary functions.

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post #178 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 05:14 PM
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Second that on this being a great, informative thread.

As for occult, what appears above as '10 occult but...' shows up as '11 occult but..' in my email notification. Maybe there's jitter in my system and 1 and 0s are getting mixed up
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post #179 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 06:08 PM
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Will the DX-5 split the central channel and put it evenly into the 2 channels of a basic stereo system?

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post #180 of 1442 Old 12-09-2009, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by rblnr View Post

Second that on this being a great, informative thread.

As for occult, what appears above as '10 occult but...' shows up as '11 occult but..' in my email notification. Maybe there's jitter in my system and 1 and 0s are getting mixed up

No mystery. I originally typed 11 which, with the 5 listed options, adds up to 16. Then I reconsidered that we would need a switch setting that invoked none of the options and edited the number.

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