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Audio Converters and Interfaces at AES

A range of devices for even the most discriminating ears By Frank Moldstad

Some of the fastest advances in professional audio these days are being made with audio converter and interface designs. Each successive generation of these analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog devices delivers much better-sounding audio conversions. At this rate, we may even live to see the end of the analog-versus-digital debates. On second thought, we might not. Regardless, many golden-eared analog holdouts have finally switched to digital production.

Audio interfaces and A/D D/A converters ran the gamut at the 119th AES convention in New York, from affordable home studio-oriented units to high-end professional units capable of DSD recording. Heres our roundup.

Lavry Engineering introduced the LavryBlack DA10 stereo digital-to-analog converter, which features a digitally controlled attenuator, crystal-based jitter reduction and sample rate converter. It has a high-powered headphone amplifier and a stereo/mono switch. There are XLR, RCA, and optical digital audio inputs, with XLR outputs for balanced and unbalanced connections. The unit is scheduled to ship by early November at an MSRP of under $1,000. www.lavryengineering.com

LavryBlack DA10

Lynx Studio Technology announced the LT-ADAT option, which allows Lynx Aurora converters to add up to 16 channels of ADAT Lightpipe I/O. The interface cab be installed in an Aurora 8 or Aurora 16 converter box, providing two ADAT Lightpipe inputs and outputs that can operate at up to 192kHz. At 48 kHz, the LT-ADAT I/O channel capacity is 16. Using S/MUX technology, the unit delivers eight channels at 96 kHz and four channels at 192 kHz.  MSRP: $249 http://www.lynxstudio.com/

Lynx's Aurora16 gets 16-channel ADAT option

Benchmark Media Systems came to AES with a shipping version of its ADC1, a two-channel, 24-bit, 192-kHz A/D converter that is the opposite number to Benchmark's previously released DAC1 D/A converter. The ADC1 was announced two years ago, but was delayed til now by production issues. It supports sampling rates of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, and 192kHz, and outputs its signal simultaneously via AES, S/PDIF and ADAT formats, with XLR, BNC, and 192-kHz capable Toslink connectors. A secondary output designed for backup recordings provides 44.1 or 48 kHz output at 16- or 24-bit resolution. The ADC1 has an internal toroidal power supply. MSRP $1,750. http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/digital/adc1/default.asp

Benchmark's ADC1 is now shipping

Lexicon Pro debuted a USB recording interface called the Lambda Desktop Recording Studio. It includes the Lambda Studio USB I/O mixer, Steinberg's Cubase LE software and the Lexicon Pantheon reverb VST plug-in. The package will sell for an estimated street price of $199.99. www.lexiconpro.com.

Lexicon's Lambda is USB-powered 

Mackie introduced the Onyx 1200F FireWire audio/MIDI interface. It is a 30-by-34 channel, 24-bit/192kHz-capable unit with 12 of Mackie's Onyx preamps, on-board DSP matrix mixing, a monitoring/headphone control section with four user-assignable headphone outputs, two stereo control room outputs, a built-in talkback mic input, and remote switching capability. It comes included with Mackie's Tracktion 2 DAW application. The Onyx 1200F will be available in 2006 at $1,999 MSRP. http://www.mackie.com/products/400f/index.html

Mackie's Onyx 1200F

PreSonus Audio Electronics unveiled the new INSPIRE 1394 FireWire Recording Interface, which features four analog inputs and two analog outputs with 24-bit/96k conversion. Inputs on the INSPIRE 1394 include two mic preamps with +48V phantom power and two instrument Hi-Z inputs on the front panel. It also has dual mono or stereo selectable line level/phono (with RIAA filter) inputs are on the rear. Outputs include RCA unbalanced and mini TRS on the rear panel and a headphone output on the front panel. The INSPIRE 1394 comes with a  software mixer control panel (Mac/Windows) that controls input gain, phantom power, limiter (off/on), preamp boost (off/on), sample rate, headphone volume, main output volume and zero latency input mixing with playback mixing. MSRP $229.95 www.presonus.com

INSPIRE from PreSonus

Sonic Studio unveiled the slimline (1.73-in. tall) Model 302 FireWire interface, a Core Audio device with stereo analog and digital I/O, DSP-based effects, routing, real-time headphone and line-level monitoring. It features two balanced analog inputs, (1⁄4 TRS & XLR), two balanced analog outputs, (1⁄4 TRS, switchable -10 or +4 dBu) and two balanced analog monitor outputs, (1⁄4 TRS). It also has two mic preamp channels with switchable phantom power. MSRP: $3,495. The Model 302 is the first in a series of FireWireattached PCM I/O hardware from Sonic Studio. http://www.sonicstudio.com/products/hw/302.html

Sonic Studio's Model 302

Mytek showed its new 8X192 High Performance AD/DA Converter with DSD option, which is shipping now. The unit has AD and DA sections in a 1U package with an onboard CX797 clock  module offering multiple wordclock outputs. It comes standard with eight channels of AES I/O, with optional Firewire, Protools HD-Compatible, TDIF, ADAT, Sonic and DSD DIO Cards available. MSRP is $3,495. http://www.mytekdigital.com

Mytek's 8X192

Crane Song showed its Egret 8, an eight-channel DA with a built-in stereo mixer that has level cue sends, pan controls, solo, mute, TRS insert and direct balanced outputs on each of the eight channels. Theres also a master level control, master cue send control and headphone output with a dedicated level control. The Egret 8 has sample rate converters on every channel for input jitter reduction, with support for up to 192k sampling. Availability is slated for Spring 2006, while the MSRP is expected to be in the $4,000 to $4,500 range. www.cranesong.com

Crane Song's Egret

Grimm Audios CC1 is a master word clock unit not a converter or interface but we include it here anyway because it was built using the clock technology from Grimms AD1 DSD interface. It distributes a Word Clock, Super Clock and AES/EBU sync to all devices in a system, and can slave to incoming clock if need be. Design features include low power supply noise, oscillator control circuit noise and low-level crosstalk. The CC1 offers base rates of 44.1kHz and 48kHz and 1/2/4 multiples and two 256fs Super Clock outputs and AES/EBU. MSRP not available. http://www.grimmaudio.com/cc1grimm.html

Grimm's CC1

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Related Keywords:audio, converter, interface, A/D, D/A, analog to digital, AES convention, Lavry, Mytek, Crane Song, Benchmark, Lynx, Presonus, Mackie

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