AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Welwyn, Herts, UK
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Well, it sounds like there are a few sceptics who may need to be enlightened. That's not too surprising, but I find the hostility, rudeness, and closed minds a bit more unexpected and disappointing.
There are generally two things that a player needs to pass to a DAC or Av amp - amplitude information and timing information. Both are needed by a DAC to decode the digital samples from a disc (any disc). To the best of my knowledge, bit errors are not an issue unless a disc is dirty or damaged , so pretty much any player can read and replay digital audio bits without errors. So yes, bits are bits.
To accurately reproduce an analogue waveform from a digital signal, both the amplitude and time values have to be accurate. It's like plotting a graph of a wave on graph paper - both the x and y co-ordinates have to be correct for every point. Getting the amplitude right doesn't seem to be the biggest problem - the timing info from the player has to be right, too, and that is corrupted by jitter.
Unfortunately, the timing info is embedded in the amplitude info in SPDIF, and the latter currupts for former. Digital audio over HDMI is packed differently, but the principle and the problems are the same. Audiophiles are starting to think that they may be worse. Although HDMI may indeed have a independant clock synchronisation channel, that only supports the timing of the video signal - not the audio signal at all. Digital audio over HDMI appears to have jitter that is just as bad, if not worse, than SPDIF. And SPDIF was not good enough to recover all the fidelity from CDs without I2S bus, iLink, Denon Link re-clocking or a separate external clock synchronisation connection.
And if the jitter on SPDIF is not good enough to realise the potential of 44/16 audio, then what is the point in pursuing 96/24 audio over a connection with worse jitter? This isn't just supposition; there are many people who have reported benefits from using iLink instead of SPDIF, and Denon Link is reputed to be better still (though I don't have any experience of that).
I think it's quite clear that the undoubted and considerable benefits of TrueHD won't be realised without a better way of connecting it than HDMI. A different architecture is going to be required, and since iLink can carry secure HD multi-channel 96/24 audio like HDMI V1.1 can now, it would be an ideal medium. Granted, it doesn't fit into the one-cable-fits-all, convenient, blind rush to adopt HDMI. But I know that many of the audiophile manufacturers are concerned about the possiblity of a backwards step with HDMI, and are looking at other ways to crack the nut. For myself, I really hope that iLink will make it into forthcoming BD & HD players.
Best regards, Nick