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Any Interest In... (Audio Related)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Involved with a company that is contemplating producing the following:

USB Audio Bridge to Professional "Master Grade"

AES/EBU
BNC/SPDIF
TOSLink
Clock
I2S (MSB Standard)

Upgradeable Clock Chip (ships with sub-2 picosecond clock, upgradeable to a sub-1 picosecond clock)

Full 384kHz/32 bit Support

Fully independent PSU

Complete Ground Isolation from source components

Universal Support - Windows, OSX, Linux

This would allow extremely high-end 2-channel output to a 2-channel DAC. Perfect for the HTPC to provide multi-channel via HDMI, but also extreme audiophile quality via this digital output.

Looking at an MSRP of $3,000

If we decide to go forward, based on feedback on the net, will probably launch on Kickstarter (to raise manufacturing funds) for less.

What do you think?

(This will not be a consumer-grade piece, but a serious audiophile-level component. We are planning to show it next week with a major player at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. PM for more information)
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

Involved with a company that is contemplating producing the following:

USB Audio Bridge to Professional "Master Grade"

AES/EBU
BNC/SPDIF
TOSLink
Clock
I2S (MSB Standard)

Upgradeable Clock Chip (ships with sub-2 picosecond clock, upgradeable to a sub-1 picosecond clock)

Full 384kHz/32 bit Support

Fully independent PSU

Complete Ground Isolation from source components

Universal Support - Windows, OSX, Linux

This would allow extremely high-end 2-channel output to a 2-channel DAC. Perfect for the HTPC to provide multi-channel via HDMI, but also extreme audiophile quality via this digital output.

Looking at an MSRP of $3,000

If we decide to go forward, based on feedback on the net, will probably launch on Kickstarter (to raise manufacturing funds) for less.

What do you think?

(This will not be a consumer-grade piece, but a serious audiophile-level component. We are planning to show it next week with a major player at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver. PM for more information)

Two questions:

What is the point of a very good clock in the converter with the MSB I2S interface? I believe with I2S, the MSB architecture slaves the source/transport to the clock in the DAC ($5K Femto 140 standard or $10K Galaxy option), at least that is what happens with the MSB source components with I2S interface.

Where does HDMI come in? Will it have an HDM input? If so, the converter cannot legally output a non downsampled digital signal.
post #3 of 12
From an engineering perspective I really don't see the need coming from USB based audio sources.

But you got all the right buzz words to sell a lot of these to the audiophile crowd. I'm sure they will eat it up.
post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Two questions:

What is the point of a very good clock in the converter with the MSB I2S interface? I believe with I2S, the MSB architecture slaves the source/transport to the clock in the DAC

That is correct.

And just how is the I2S distributed outside the box? I hope it's not raw TTL.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
The clock will slave to other MSB DACs over the I2S.

The benefit of the clock is for non-MSB DACs over traditional digital interconnects. This will provide the same level of accuracy in the clocking to any digital input you are connected to.

As far as the I2S, we adopted the MSB network standard. It is not simply raw TTL. HDMI is handled by the HTPC in the example posted above. The HDMI from the HTPC would be one input into your Pre/Pro, the output of the device above would either be another, or go into a DAC and then analog into a pre-pro or straight to the amplifier, depending upon setup.

The reason for the above device is that while we can get complete digital data at 384/32 out of a dedicated audio server or computer-based audio server, the data is very poor. It is poorly clocked, has tons of jitter and simply sounds horrible when played back on a high-end system. This device provides that "bridge" if you will from the source to a high-quality output.
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

As far as the I2S, we adopted the MSB network standard. It is not simply raw TTL.

OK, so in looking at the MSB site it seems they are sending the I2S balanced over CAT5. That's good. The only caution I would have is the fact that different CAT5 cables, CAT5, CAT5E, CAT6 all have different pair twist ratios. This could induce timing skew over long lengths. But I see they post an 80 foot limit so this should not be an issue at the frequencies they are working with.
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

....The HDMI from the HTPC would be one input into your Pre/Pro, the output of the device above would either be another, or go into a DAC and then analog into a pre-pro or straight to the amplifier, depending upon setup.....

Still not clear to me where your converter would show up in the signal path with HDMI sources.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

The reason for the above device is that while we can get complete digital data at 384/32 out of a dedicated audio server or computer-based audio server, the data is very poor. It is poorly clocked, has tons of jitter and simply sounds horrible when played back on a high-end system. This device provides that "bridge" if you will from the source to a high-quality output.

The rational for a good USB converter is well know. The market is flooded with them. What makes you think you will / can build a better mousetrap for $3K? You're up against boutiques like Empirical Audio who have been doing this for a living for years, and say Berkeley, who have the benefit of a strong brand and some economies of scale.

Not being dismissive of your project, but just curious if you bring any technology innovation to the party that makes you believe you will build something better sounding than what is already available.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
It does not go in line with an HDMI source. It is only USB audio in to two-channel digital output.

The benefit is for someone using a computer (Windows, OSX or Linux) BOTH as a video server and music server. Given that the computer has HDMI output, and USB, the HDMI would be able to be used for multi-channel audio for video and the device above for quality two-channel output (as HDMI audio has extremely high jitter and is not very good for two-channel audiophile output).

I hope that clears it up.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

It does not go in line with an HDMI source. It is only USB audio in to two-channel digital output.

The benefit is for someone using a computer (Windows, OSX or Linux) BOTH as a video server and music server. Given that the computer has HDMI output, and USB, the HDMI would be able to be used for multi-channel audio for video and the device above for quality two-channel output (as HDMI audio has extremely high jitter and is not very good for two-channel audiophile output).

I hope that clears it up.

I see. I suspect the audience that is in the market for a $3K USB converter for their two channel audio would never consider running HDMI into a SSP for two channel in the first place, but I understand the thinking now.
post #10 of 12
My Theta Gen VIII Series 3 DAC doesn't have I2S. I already have the very top USB to digital converter in the Berkley Alpha USB Converter. So not of interest to me. And a price point of 3 grand will drive away all but the very most with money to kill audiophiles.wink.gif
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Steve,

Understand that your Gen VIII doesn't have I2S. However, I think you will find this product significantly outperforms the Berkley unit.

First, a MUCH better clock in the USB to 384/32 Digital Output gives you much better precision as well as new circuitry provides a much lower jitter spec. Additionally, you will be able to output much higher resolution files for even better quality (should you ever decide to upgrade your DAC).

We will be demonstrating the prototype at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest along with TAD. If you are planning to attend, stop by and take a listen (I may even be able to provide a side-by-side demo).

[There is also a pre-order special which will make it very competitive price-wise with the Berkeley.]
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterS View Post

Steve,

Understand that your Gen VIII doesn't have I2S. However, I think you will find this product significantly outperforms the Berkley unit.

First, a MUCH better clock in the USB to 384/32 Digital Output gives you much better precision as well as new circuitry provides a much lower jitter spec. Additionally, you will be able to output much higher resolution files for even better quality (should you ever decide to upgrade your DAC).

We will be demonstrating the prototype at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest along with TAD. If you are planning to attend, stop by and take a listen (I may even be able to provide a side-by-side demo).

[There is also a pre-order special which will make it very competitive price-wise with the Berkeley.]


You should post about this, with specs, over at the What's Best Forum, and lets see what Amir has to say from an objective technical standpoint of how he thinks your new USB converter will stack up to the Berkeley Alpha USB converter.
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AVS › AVS Forum › Display Devices › Ultra Hi-End HT Gear ($20,000+) › Any Interest In... (Audio Related)