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Making the Conversion

Audio converters were a hot category at AES By Frank Moldstad

Converters are one of the most important elements in the digital audio chain, charged with creating natural-sounding digital audio from an analog input source, and then reversing the process for playback through an analog output. So it's no surprise that outboard converter boxes are one of the hottest areas for digital audio product development.

AES showgoers had an ample selection of new and recently released analog-to-digital (AD) and digital-to-analog (DA) units to peruse in San Francisco. Here's our roundup.

Crane Song's Egret 8, slated to ship in Spring 2005, is an eight-channel DA with a built-in stereo mixer. A prototype at AES had level cue sends, pan controls, solo, mute, TRS insert and direct balanced outputs on each of the eight channels. Other features of the Egret 8 include 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. www.cranesong.com



Benchmark Media Systems' ADC1 two-channel, 24-bit, 192-kHz A/D converter is the companion to Benchmark's previously released DAC1 D/A converter. The ADC1 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

ADC1


Lynx Studio Technology's Aurora 8 (MSRP $2,195, eight channels) and Aurora 16 (MSRP $3,295, 16 channels) AD/DA units mark the company's entrance into the converter market. These single-rack space units feature 192 kHz A/D and D/A conversion with front panel control of all routing and sample rate options. Extended functions are accessible via computer with the Lynx AES16 or by infrared using compatible laptops and handheld Pocket PCs. The rear panel has Clock and MIDI I/O connectors and an LSlot bay, for connecting ADAT, Firewire and other audio interfaces. http://www.lynxstudio.com/

Lynx's Aurora 16


Grimm Audio's AD1 modular two to eight channel A/D converter operates directly at 1 bit, 2.8224MHz, making it suitable for creating SACD masters from analog sources. The AD1 is also a good front end for DAWs that process DSD files. The companion to Grimm's DD1 D/A, the AD1 features converters made with discrete parts, and there are only two resistors in the input circuitry before the modulator for low noise and distortion -- resulting in data that can be directly pressed onto SACDs or processed in a DSD workstation. www.grimmaudio.com

Grimm Audio's AD1

Prism's ADA-8 XR features a revamped design with a new generation of converters and a FireWire interconnect expansion card for Windows XP and Mac OS X. The eight-channel AD/DA converter can be fit with a range of other expansion cards for ProTools|HD, AES, SPDIF, DSD and Supermac DSD that provide compatibility with Nuendo, Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer 4 and ProTools. The ADA-8 XR works with sample rates from 32-192K.  www.prismsound.com

Prism's ADA-8 XR

RME
announced that its Fireface 800 eight-channel AD/DA 24 bit /192 kHz FireWire audio interface has begun shipping, and OS X drivers for the unit are now downloadable from RME's web site (Windows drivers were previously released). The Fireface 800 is equipped with high-speed FireWire 800 (1394b) ports. It also includes eight balanced line I/O connections and four balanced mic inputs. MSRP $1,799. Digital connectivity is supplied through two ADAT optical I/O jacks, one coaxial SPDIF jack and one SPDIF optical jack provided through the second ADAT jack. www.rme-audio.com

RME's Fireface 800


Mytek Digital announced a range of new digital audio converters, which include the flagship 8X192 series AD/DA ($3,395), a 192k converter with built in analog summing buss, studio clock generator and monitoring section with precision stepped attenuator and headphone amp. It will ship in the second quarter of 2005. The new Stereo 192-DSD DAC ($1,995)converter is the highest performance Mytek DAC yet, aimed at mastering engineers working in both PCM and DSD/SACD world. The DAC includes 1dB mastering precision stepped attenuator, headphone amp and ability to playback DSD over standard AES/EBU hardware. It will also ship in the second quarter of 2005. Stereo 192 SRC ($1,395), is a new hi-performance hardware synchrounous/asynchronous Sample Rate Converter with -130 dB THD that is shipping now. The new StudioClock 192CX module ($995) is also shipping now, and includes multiple word clock outs at multiple frequency divisions, with Superclock and AES outs. Mytek said it has begun implementing a new Firewire interface card for the new multichannel AD/DA converters. The interface is based on a new DICE II Firewire chip developed by TC and Wavefront Semiconductor.

Mytek units on display

Mytek also announced it is collaborating with Sonic Studio LLC to supply the hardware front end for Sonic Studio systems. The Sonic Interface card works with Mytek multichannel AD and DA converters and offers AES/EBU interface for both HDSP and legacy USP systems. The new Mytek AD/DA bundle with Sonic interface will be offered by Sonic LLC together with new HDSP systems or as an upgrade for existing customers. www.mytekdigital.com

Lavry Engineering showed a two-channel LavryBlue Mic Pre module that can be installed in a LavryBlue chassis with the company's AD and DA converters. This allows a typical 2X2 configuration (two channels of AD and two channels of DA) to be expanded to include a Mic Pre. The mic pre module sells for $968. www.lavryengineering.com

LavryBlue

In addition to new introductions at the show, several companies exhibited audio converter products that were introduced earlier in the year.

Universal Audio showed its previously released  2192 Master Digital Audio Interface, a two-channel unit which combines Class-A analog circuitry with digital technology for sample rates up to 192K, realtime transcoding between AES/EBU, S/PDIF and ADAT, and support for single and dual wire AES modes. www.uaudio.com

Universal Audio's 2192

Apogee Digital showed its line of previously introduced converter units, including the AD-16X, DA-16X, Rosetta 800, Rosetta 200 and the X-Series Expansion cards for ProTools HD, FireWire and video connectivity. www.apogeedigital.com

Apogee's AD-16X and DA-16X

Weiss Engineering showed its two channel ADC2 that was introduced earlier this year, and announced that a FireWire interface is in development. The ADC2 supports sampling rates up to 192kHz and wordlengths up to 24 bits, and includes a mic preamp, a digital compressor/limiter, POW-R dithering. www.weiss.ch/adc2/adc2.html

Weiss ADC2

 


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Related Keywords:Converters, analog-to-digital, digital-to-analog, AD, DA, Crane Song, Egret 8, Benchmark Media Systems, ADC1, Lynx Studio Technology, Aurora 8, Aurora 16, Grimm Audio, AD1, Prism, ADA-8 XR, RME, Fireface 800, Mytek Digital, 8X192, Lavry Engineering, LavryBlue, Universal Audio, Apogee Digital, Weiss Engineering

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