High-end network music player - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by PhilNYC View Post

How so?

Unless you use one of the Neutrik digital XLRs that have a circumferential shield termination (ie. 360 degree termination with no gaps in the shielding between connector body and shield), the shielding is pretty worthless: not only is the standard XLR shield termination not circumferential, it usually ends as a pigtail which increases its inductance, both of which make the rest of the shielding much less effective. The impedance of the connector and most cables used for XLRs also isn't great. The only reason AES/EBU's use of XLR came into use was that someone thought people could reuse all those analog XLR cables they had lying around the studio. Unfortunately, that brought up another issue which is people mistakenly plugging analog components into digital components and vice versa. All around, it was just FUBAR.

Today, AES standardizes on coax with BNCs.

--Andre
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post #32 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by scorch123 View Post

Lowest jitter of the Transporter would be via AES/EBU.

Sorry but that is just not true. The lowest jitter by far (on the order of 90% lower than AES/EBU) would be achieved using Transporter's internal oscillators to play your music over the network.
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post #33 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 11:50 AM
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I have a modified SB2 (better power supply and internals), and it beats my Proceed PMDT into either my Ack Dack 2.0 DAC or my Proceed AVP's DAC. I gave up listening to CDs, especially since all of my music is available with a few presses of some buttons. And, it's searchable. I can't go back to normal CDs.

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post #34 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 11:56 AM
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OK, so what would be a good inexpensive (relatively) word clock to match up with this? I know there is a Big Ben by Appogee, anything else not priced according to this forum? Would it even be worth it?

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post #35 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 11:57 AM
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As for the XLR debate for a digital connection, I use this for the connection between my Proceed PMDT and my Proceed AVP for movies, and I compared this with very fancy RCA and glass optical fiber. I preferred the AES. but I might be using the Neutrik digital XLRs.

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post #36 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctviggen View Post

As for the XLR debate for a digital connection, I use this for the connection between my Proceed PMDT and my Proceed AVP for movies, and I compared this with very fancy RCA and glass optical fiber. I preferred the AES. but I might be using the Neutrik digital XLRs.


My Oracle transport has both XLR/AES/EBU and BNC/SPDIF outputs, and I can't really hear a difference between the two into their respective XLR and BNC inputs on my DAC. Both are better than when I hooked up a BNC/RCA cable to my DAC's RCA input...

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post #37 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Grant View Post

Behold the Slim Devices Transporter... AKM professional-grade DACs, 96kHz support, balanced analog, analog VU meters, word clock input... EDIT: I think the VU meters are simulated on a VFD display. Still, that's cool.

You can preorder now for $2K and they'll give you a Squeezebox to hold you over until it arrives in December.


Holy...I have been looking for such device all my life...well at least for the past three years.

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post #38 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 01:42 PM
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yeah, how so... DCS recommends AES/EBU for it's interconnect choice, and from a quite google:
"AES/EBU

(Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) A professional serial interface for transferring digital audio from CD and DVD players to amplifiers and TVs. AES/EBU is typically used to transmit PCM and Dolby Digital 5.1, but is not tied to any sampling rate or audio standard."

but AES probably doesn't know what it's talking about.

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post #39 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzucc View Post

"AES/EBU

(Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) A professional serial interface for transferring digital audio from CD and DVD players to amplifiers and TVs. AES/EBU is typically used to transmit PCM and Dolby Digital 5.1, but is not tied to any sampling rate or audio standard."

but AES probably doesn't know what it's talking about.

What is your point? The quote above doesn't mention quality. It just tells you what it's used for. Look up AES3, and then let's talk about what the AES recommends.

--Andre
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post #40 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreYew View Post

Unless you use one of the Neutrik digital XLRs that have a circumferential shield termination (ie. 360 degree termination with no gaps in the shielding between connector body and shield), the shielding is pretty worthless: not only is the standard XLR shield termination not circumferential, it usually ends as a pigtail which increases its inductance, both of which make the rest of the shielding much less effective. The impedance of the connector and most cables used for XLRs also isn't great. The only reason AES/EBU's use of XLR came into use was that someone thought people could reuse all those analog XLR cables they had lying around the studio. Unfortunately, that brought up another issue which is people mistakenly plugging analog components into digital components and vice versa. All around, it was just FUBAR.

Today, AES standardizes on coax with BNCs.

--Andre

So if you use a Neutrik digital XLR, it should be fine, right?

And aren't there additional benefits to running a balanced signal, particularly for long runs? BNCs are just for single-ended SPDIF, right?

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post #41 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 02:30 PM
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One or both of my manuals for my Proceed PMDT or AVP recommends balanced digital ICs, which is why I went that way (I already had some obscenely priced RCA IC, so I wouldn't have started down that path). To me, balanced ICs make sense, and I try not to use unbalanced unless I have no other option.

Bob
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post #42 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Andrew, you really haven't answered anyone's question. Your description of why AES/EBU connections are bad focuses on poor shielding---but it doesn't actually get to the point which is the performance of the connection, in terms of the only ways that matter: uncorrected bit errors or increased jitter.

Are you suggesting that AES/EBU Type I is actually worse than Type II or III---or more practically, S/PDIF optical or coax---in either of those aspects?

I've never heard of any suggestions that Type I causes undue numbers of bit errors under typical circumstances. And as for jitter, sure, I suppose shielding could help, but someone like Tzucc is going to be using a master clock anyway, so that's irrelevant.

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post #43 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by seanadams View Post

Sorry but that is just not true. The lowest jitter by far (on the order of 90% lower than AES/EBU) would be achieved using Transporter's internal oscillators to play your music over the network.

now I am confused. SeanAdams, are you saying that the Transporter performs best with it's internal DACs, and NOT using the external word clock from an external DAC like the DCS DACs?

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post #44 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AndreYew View Post

What is your point? The quote above doesn't mention quality. It just tells you what it's used for. Look up AES3, and then let's talk about what the AES recommends.

--Andre

I hadn't even worried about the quality of the shielding of my xlr cables used for digital data (yes, they are the good neutriks), because isn't the whole point of differential or balanced signalling to get rid of the need for a shield to kill off all noise? What happens if there is some noise injected on wire of the unbalanced but nicely shield coax, versus that same noise appearing on both of the xlr's.
The xlr is supposed to reject the common mode, right?

My point originally is your surprise at AES/EBU being used for digital audio data transport, given that just about any DAC and transport will sport AES/EBU connectors for just that purpose.

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post #45 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 05:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Tzucc---when I read that post of Sean's I assumed he was speaking strictly about scenarios that use the Transporter's analog outputs.

Obviously an external DAC that supplies a word clock to the Transporter inherits that DAC's jitter characteristics.

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post #46 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 05:04 PM
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thanks, makes sense.

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post #47 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tzucc View Post

yeah, how so... DCS recommends AES/EBU for it's interconnect choice, and from a quite google:
"AES/EBU

(Audio Engineering Society/European Broadcasting Union) A professional serial interface for transferring digital audio from CD and DVD players to amplifiers and TVs. AES/EBU is typically used to transmit PCM and Dolby Digital 5.1, but is not tied to any sampling rate or audio standard."

but AES probably doesn't know what it's talking about.

You have to understand that Transporter is not like a "DAC for your computer". Instead, the computer sends the music across the network to Transporter in exactly the same way that this web page gets to you from a server somewhere. i.e. there is NO clock signal involved in the transmission at all. The clock is generated downstream, inside Transporter, as it moves the data into the DAC chip. Furthermore, there is no chance of data errors because the system will retransmit data until it is received correctly.

AES, S/PDIF, or I2S are all connections which involve transmitting a clock signal (plus the music data) from one device containing the clock source to another containing the DAC. It is in this process of encoding, transmitting, receiving, and recovering the clock where a relatively massive amount of jitter is introduced compared a local clock.... not to mention the possibility of data errors.

If you want to compare AES to S/PDIF, for example, then we can talk about that...
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post #48 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by tzucc View Post

now I am confused. SeanAdams, are you saying that the Transporter performs best with it's internal DACs, and NOT using the external word clock from an external DAC like the DCS DACs?

No - when using a word clock signal, it is dependent on the clock in the DAC. (This is a general statement, not specific to Transporter).

The idea with using a word clock signal is to _confine_ the path that the clock has to take to just a short hop from the oscillator to the DAC, which are both in the same chassis. Effectively it turns your s/pdif or aes/ebu connection into "just data" instead of "clock + data".
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post #49 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Yep, we get it, Sean---indeed, many of us on this forum have been specifically waiting for a network player with a master clock input, and even considering building one ourselves. Needless to say I'm going to put up my soldering iron!

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post #50 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanadams View Post

You have to understand that Transporter is not like a "DAC for your computer".

yeah, got it, in fact, we may have gotten it before you got it... as MG says, we've been talking about this for years. Nonetheless, happy to see someone finally do it. I don't see why the box has to cost $1700 though, but that's your decision.

I would DIY with an HTPC and one of those high end audio cards that takes in a master clock, but the concept of fan noise from the HTPC power supply pretty much kills that solution.

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post #51 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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$2K doesn't seem particularly out of line given the target market. I'm guessing they'll sell plenty at that price. I'd rather pay $1K for a standard Squeezebox modded with a word clock input, but oh well.

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post #52 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilNYC View Post

So if you use a Neutrik digital XLR, it should be fine, right?

And aren't there additional benefits to running a balanced signal, particularly for long runs? BNCs are just for single-ended SPDIF, right?

Maybe. The connector's still not 110 Ohms, and the cables aren't particularly great at maintaining a constant impedance especially when subject to mechanical stresses. As for distance, due to the impedances, and signalling conventions, shielded twisted pair AES/EBU can maybe go 300 feet, but AES3id, which uses coax, can go over 1000 feet.

Balanced is useful for rejecting noise in so far as the sending and receiving circuits maintain their impedance balance over the frequencies of interest. For high frequencies like digital audio signals, that's at least 10 MHz if not more. I don't think there are any balanced circuits that have matched impedances to that high a frequency, so balanced doesn't buy you much for RF. That's why high frequency transmission uses coax instead of twisted pair.

For coax, there are certain construction techniques well-known in industries where noise rejection matters that are used to deal with noise impinged on the cable's shield. The important thing is to never let common-mode noise enter the chassis. One example is a chassis-mounted BNC jack whose ground is capacitatively coupled to the chassis to prevent low-frequency ground loops, but still allow a low-inductance path for RF to the chassis, which in combination with a ferrite bead on the signal conductor and the capacitance of the shield of the input pulse transformer which is tied to ground forms a pi-filter for preventing common-mode RF noise from entering the chassis.

Shielding is important because jitter is just one effect of noise injection into the system. There are lots of things out there (eg. cell and cordless phones) that can put RF noise into the system and not only introduce jitter in many parts of the design, but can also mess up other parts of the system. Audiophile designers seem to like using high-speed opamps that often don't have well-designed power supply bypass structures (eg. through-hole parts, bypass caps far away from the the device, etc.), and that's an invitation for RF to cause trouble.

--Andre
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post #53 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by tzucc View Post

yeah, got it, in fact, we may have gotten it before you got it... as MG says, we've been talking about this for years. Nonetheless, happy to see someone finally do it. I don't see why the box has to cost $1700 though, but that's your decision.

I would DIY with an HTPC and one of those high end audio cards that takes in a master clock, but the concept of fan noise from the HTPC power supply pretty much kills that solution.

Your comments on pricing are always funny. If it's a high-end tweaky audiophile player 20K is OK. But if it's a well engineered piece of equipment that is more mainstream, $1700 is high .
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post #54 of 298 Old 07-25-2006, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Jetlag View Post

I disagree completely. I use an Infrant NAS which streams the bit-perfect audio via ethernet to both of my Squeezeboxes. I use the PC interface to build playlists, etc, but most of the time (particularily at night or when guests are over) my PC is not even turned on. My NAS has over 1000 CDs on it in FLAC format. I even listen to FLAC files on my portable player at the gym.

None of my music files are accessed on my PC by Slimserver, but they are backed up on it's big HDDs.

Could you elaborate on this. How are you able to access your media with the PC off? What "enables" that feature? Is it the fact that your Infrant is acting as a web server and the Slimbox can access your music that way?

Edit: I looked at the web site and see that Infrant is preloading the NAS with Slimbox software to enable this.
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post #55 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 06:33 AM
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These jitter readings are in ps, I thought that jitter is traditionally measured in BERTs? (Bit Error Rates).

This VIDEO demonstrates an applications procedure for testing BER.

National Instruments
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post #56 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by CINERAMAX View Post

These jitter readings are in ps, I thought that jitter is traditionally measured in BERTs? (Bit Error Rates).

...

Jitter is usually expressed in seconds, radians or degrees... Can even sometimes be in Hz..

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post #57 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by QQQ View Post

Your comments on pricing are always funny. If it's a high-end tweaky audiophile player 20K is OK. But if it's a well engineered piece of equipment that is more mainstream, $1700 is high .

I wouldn't spend $20k on anything for the media room except speakers. Not even $10K for any single item. Indeed, my DCS 'player' or transport cost like $4k. And that was only to match with the DAC, where I believe there is much differentiation in quality of results.

However, all this box does for me is convert ethernet packets into SPDIF stream clocked externally. As such, this can be taken care of in like two chips and a power supply. For me, all their work on the analog section and DACs is of no use.
I readily recognize that I am in a tiny minority. And volumes being small, price needs to climb.

For me a box like this is kind of like the whole video server debate... for me, the value difference between DIY and the fancy sw of the K'scape is not worth $15-20K.

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post #58 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, but at least people have actually built DIY equivalents of the Kscape. (By equivalent of course I don't mean equivalent quality, just on key functionality.)

Has anyone built a DIY audiophile-quality streaming music server, one which specifically feeds to an external DAC supplying a master clock? I mean, I know you and I have looked at various sound cards, etc., but I know I've not bothered to actually build one.

I don't think anyone else has, either. And that points to a rather large difference here. In the ways that matter (to you in particular), the Transporter is truly unprecedented.

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post #59 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 11:52 AM
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Well, Michael, I was about to build one when I had my HTPC/Media server thing going on, but once I got the kaleidescape I figured my HTPC's days were numbered. Even using my system for music only didn't make much sense once I played with the interface on the K'Scape and knew music would be coming eventually. I had priced out everything except for the master clock input back then. Still glad I didn't get that far.

The large difference is not in ability, but in demand. Most people do not demand external master clocking.

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I wouldn't spend $20k on anything for the media room except speakers. Not even $10K for any single item. Indeed, my DCS 'player' or transport cost like $4k. And that was only to match with the DAC, where I believe there is much differentiation in quality of results.

T, you do realize the $20K component membership requirement isn't for a lifetime? It has to be renewed every 3 years with another component or you get kicked out of the club. We'll all miss you dearly.
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post #60 of 298 Old 07-26-2006, 12:28 PM
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here is the question though... Has anybody compared a "non" externally clocked network audio player to one that is?

Do we really need that when we have a clean TCP/IP stream coming in? I mean if a Video player with both digital surround and the video does not need it, why does the audio playback?

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