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ChrisFromDublin

USB (or Ethernet) to AES/EBU converter?

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Thanks again, everybody! Lots of input to digest!

 

It seems that the product I’m looking for is called a Digital Monitor Controller.

 

Here is a selection of monitor controllers with digital outputs

Monitor Management | Sweetwater.com

 

Most of them are for studios with a number of monitor sets, channels and inputs, but this little thing is more like what I had in mind

TC Electronics BMC2 - Thomann UK

Tons of positive user reviews on the web. It has a lot of dedicated fans out there in the home audio studio mixing world, but it’s close to ten years old and a newer model really ought to be on its way.

 

Also, I’m a fan of compact, simple living, and my audio system was supposed to reflect this. No need for power amps, expensive cables, DACs etc. I wanted to go the active monitor way partly to keep the many “boxes” and wires out of my clutter free apartment.

 

Now, it seems my “simple and compact digital monitor solution” is growing increasingly complex. I will need a USB to S/PDIF converter, then a digital monitor controller, then an S/PDIF to AES/EBU converter. Not to mention the Genelec Loudspeaker Manager box and, if I choose, one of the solutions mentioned above for a wireless connection.

 

Yes, maybe I should use a Thunderbolt solution as DigiPete suggests. But that would require me to get an all new computer with Thunderbolt output. A huge effort to swap my entire digital work life and personal life to another computer exclusively because of my audio needs. And then, of course, there’s the option to move all my audio out of my work laptop to a dedicated media computer. But I travel a lot and like to bring my music with me.

 

Thanks again, everybody. This is a great site with some great users.

 

For the moment I will stick to feeding my monitors an analog input and keep everything compact, simple … and the way it is. But at some point, after I’ve catched my breath a few times, I’ll move on and conquer new digital continents.

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Has anyone seen a Raspberry Pi board that enables sending audio to an AES/EBU in? If not, any recommendations on how to achieve this most efficiently? Thanks!

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Has anyone seen a Raspberry Pi board that enables sending audio to an AES/EBU in? If not, any recommendations on how to achieve this most efficiently? Thanks!

You could use a USB to AES converter to go between the Pi and your audio device. There are many of these devices available. You could also use the HiFi Berry Digi+ to output S/PDIF from the Pi, then use an S/PDIF to AES converter to your audio device. I suppose you cold also contact HiFi Berry to see if they can make you an AES output board.


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You could use a USB to AES converter to go between the Pi and your audio device. There are many of these devices available. You could also use the HiFi Berry Digi+ to output S/PDIF from the Pi, then use an S/PDIF to AES converter to your audio device. I suppose you cold also contact HiFi Berry to see if they can make you an AES output board.

 

Thanks for the suggestion! Would I lose much with USB or S/PDIF --> AES? I2S via a dedicated board to AES would be preferable, no?

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Thanks for the suggestion! Would I lose much with USB or S/PDIF --> AES? I2S via a dedicated board to AES would be preferable, no?

I think if all things are equal the I2S to AES would be the best route, but all things are not equal. There isn't a current I2S board for the Pi unfortunately. plus, if there was such a board, it may not be built to the same standards as a true high end USB to AES converter.


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I think if all things are equal the I2S to AES would be the best route, but all things are not equal. There isn't a current I2S board for the Pi unfortunately. plus, if there was such a board, it may not be built to the same standards as a true high end USB to AES converter.

 

That sounds indeed quite plausible. In which case I might be in the market for a high end USB --> AES. Has anything hit the market more recently than the latest items mentioned in this thread that warrants investigation?

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That sounds indeed quite plausible. In which case I might be in the market for a high end USB --> AES. Has anything hit the market more recently than the latest items mentioned in this thread that warrants investigation?

There are all kinds of them on the market, both new and old. The Berkeley Aufio Design unit is the best I've heard but there are plenty more.


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There are all kinds of them on the market, both new and old. The Berkeley Aufio Design unit is the best I've heard but there are plenty more.

 

Sorry to keep pestering you with this, but is there a HDMI --> AES interface available? Would that be a better connection than USB?

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Sorry to keep pestering you with this, but is there a HDMI --> AES interface available? Would that be a better connection than USB?

I've never seen one but that doesn't mean they aren't available. I believe USB (asynchronous) would be much better though.


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I've never seen one but that doesn't mean they aren't available. I believe USB (asynchronous) would be much better though.

 

Great, thank you, that's what I need to knopw! I've done my homework and it seems the Berkeley Audio and Weiss stuff are well regarded USB --> AES solutions.

 

But they are also an assault on my wallet. I guess I can live with something like the Mutec MC-1.2 really, a comparative steal at $449. Set-up would be Raspberry Pi --> Mutec MC-1.2 --> PMC twotwo 6 monitors. The monitors are active, with AES3 input and in-built DAC. Sounds good?

 

I can keep the RPi & Mutec box close to the master speaker. Should I keep the USB or the AES cables the shortest? The PMC twotwo 6 master speaker will feed a slave with an RJ45 cable - how sensitive is that RJ45 link to distance?

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Great, thank you, that's what I need to knopw! I've done my homework and it seems the Berkeley Audio and Weiss stuff are well regarded USB --> AES solutions.

 

But they are also an assault on my wallet. I guess I can live with something like the Mutec MC-1.2 really, a comparative steal at $449. Set-up would be Raspberry Pi --> Mutec MC-1.2 --> PMC twotwo 6 monitors. The monitors are active, with AES3 input and in-built DAC. Sounds good?

 

I can keep the RPi & Mutec box close to the master speaker. Should I keep the USB or the AES cables the shortest? The PMC twotwo 6 master speaker will feed a slave with an RJ45 cable - how sensitive is that RJ45 link to distance?

I hear you about assaulting your wallet :~)

 

That Mutec devices seems pretty good based on a cursory look.

 

Your setup should work good, with the following caveat: Make sure you optimize the USB output from within the Linux distribution you will use. If you use a distro like Volumio it's already optimized. Otherwise you can problems using both Ethernet and USB because they are on the same physical chip in the Pi.

 

If you go by the specs, the AES cable can be much much longer than the USB cable. I use 1.5 (no shorter, no longer) meter AES cables because people in the high end industry who have forgotten more than I'll ever know about this stuff recommend this length for technical reasons.

 

The RJ45 terminated cable "shouldn't" be sensitive to distance less than a few hundred feet, but I'm making many assumptions. I don't know how PMC is outputting audio/data over that link. If they use Ethernet you'll be fine at any length for a stereo pair of speakers. I wouldn't be too worried about it.


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I hear you about assaulting your wallet :~)

 

That Mutec devices seems pretty good based on a cursory look.

 

Your setup should work good, with the following caveat: Make sure you optimize the USB output from within the Linux distribution you will use. If you use a distro like Volumio it's already optimized. Otherwise you can problems using both Ethernet and USB because they are on the same physical chip in the Pi.

 

If you go by the specs, the AES cable can be much much longer than the USB cable. I use 1.5 (no shorter, no longer) meter AES cables because people in the high end industry who have forgotten more than I'll ever know about this stuff recommend this length for technical reasons.

 

The RJ45 terminated cable "shouldn't" be sensitive to distance less than a few hundred feet, but I'm making many assumptions. I don't know how PMC is outputting audio/data over that link. If they use Ethernet you'll be fine at any length for a stereo pair of speakers. I wouldn't be too worried about it.

 

Fantastic! So now it boils down to testing a couple of monitors which I'm planning to do next week. This is straddling a fair bit off topic so I will just say that the demo will include the PMC twotwo.6's will have stiff competition from Amphion One18 +Amp100, Neumann KH310A, Event Opal, and Focal Twins.

 

This is far too exciting :)

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I hope this is not too far off topic, but I thought I would ask here since Chris has already chimed in, and there are alot of knowledgeable folks commenting on this thread.

 

I have been using USB -> SPDIF for awhile now, and the more I learn, the more one needs to invest to get optimal sound quality. We're talking better and better converters, costing upwards of $1,500+ if you go for the Empirical Audio Off Ramp 5 with any upgrades. Even with a lower cost, but high quality solution, like the Bel Canto uLink, which still retails for $675, one may want to add a separate power supply, like one from Teddy or the like, which can add ~$300. Even the Audiophilleo 2 with pure power is at least $550 on used market.

 

And what you end up is a wired connection, that is directly hooked up to your computer, so no matter what I do there is 'some' level of computer generated noise, as the connection is coming out of my PC's (most probably a laptop low quality) USB port. Granted, you could use a wireless controller, such as the one for Foobar to control Foobar on your PC, etc., with Mac. Back in the day (2000-2012), I ran an digital optical output from my Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum in my PC, which had an outboard slot in the case. This has great SQ.

 

Now, what about Ethernet in todays players?

 

Something like the Sonore Rendu, or the Aries Auralic (which I see advertised on the header above this forum!). You can get one of these for $600-900 on the used market - granted that doesn't include the NAS. Say we spend $250 on an entry level NAS.

 

No we get a way to wirelessly control this source, without using a USB, without needing a battery pack/external power supply, without needing a USB cable. You only need to hook the Sonore to the SPDIF of your DAC, and to the ethernet cable.

 

Last option, as I see it, is something like the Bryston BDP-1. "The BDP-1USB can comfortably manage large music libraries of up to 30,000 tracks from MP3 to high resolution files stored on external USB or on NAS drives". The Bryston offerso both S/PDIF and AES/EBU output formats. Sonore, only BNC. Features the ESI [email protected] sound card.

 

My Question is This:

 

For anyone who has listen to both the high end USB/SPDIF converters, and either the Sonore Rendu or Bryston BDP-1 - in your opinion, which source had the best sound quality?

 

Thank you, and if I should move this post to a different thread, please let me know.

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I have a Berkeley Alpha USB-SPDIF converter for sale if interrested.

 

That statement tells you a bit about my thought on USB. It is evil for audio and the Berkeley made it doable.

 

That said, I have moved to ethernet connection which is in my opinion a much better way to go.

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That said, I have moved to ethernet connection which is in my opinion a much better way to go.

 

Thank you both for your valuable input.

 

Tranz - Is your opinion based on sound quality, i.e. listening tests and comparison, or a technical analysis?

 

Whether the listening test, or the technical side, would you be willing to elaborate a bit more?

 

I know the Berkeley is an expensive instrument. If I have $1k to invest in a new source - should I make it an ethernet source, or a USB source? That is my decision to make, now...

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Thank you both for your valuable input.

 

Tranz - Is your opinion based on sound quality, i.e. listening tests and comparison, or a technical analysis?

 

Whether the listening test, or the technical side, would you be willing to elaborate a bit more?

 

I know the Berkeley is an expensive instrument. If I have $1k to invest in a new source - should I make it an ethernet source, or a USB source? That is my decision to make, now...

 

You can check my journey with tweaking the shite out of a MacMini and trying to tame USB output to something listenable in the Mac CAPS thread. I did buy a Tek scope and did some amateurish tests on the scope which was to help confirm my curiosity as to why there were such differences with using USB cleaning solutions. From the first synchronous USB DAC solutions which made my ears bleed to later with even $10K+ async USB DACs I always had to use the Berkeley to make it less fatiguing to me. It most certainly is based more on my listening experiences than technical, and as always trust your own ears.

 

If you can find an option to go direct to I2S I would choose that. A renderer option might be the most cost effective, easy to use, way to get there at this point. Sonore, MSB, Aries might be different price points and options to look at with Aries the cheapest but a good option mind you. An Aries will in most cases beat a tweaked Mac with USB cleaning solutions!

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Thanks Tranz.

 

Also, thanks FakeM for the 6Moons link regarding the SotM. I haven't read that yet...doing so now.

 

Yes, it seems I will be moving away from USB as well. Nothing good there.

 

The way I've been designing my systems, they are built around the DAC. That said, my preference is for high end vintage DACs, like the Sonic Frontiers SFD-2, Theta DSPro V, Kora Kermes, etc.

 

Most of these have AT&T optical input, all coaxial, some BNC, some optical SPDIF Toslink, most AES. I don't have anything with the I2S and don't plan on moving in that direction, as these DAC's have the sound that most appeals to me.

 

Therefore, alot of my decisions are based around the DAC's input options. Hence, the Bel Canto uLink with AT&T connection will fit into the Theta DSPro DAC and also most Wadia models. That would be pretty dope. Can always add a USB Regn, or a power supply.

 

But I think the Sonore is sounding very appealing. As is the Bryston BPD-1. Jesus is very active on AudioCircle, and answers alot of questions about his products there. It seems that Sonore Rendu has a pretty great BNC connection. Apparently, some well known designer contributed to that. Also, most of the reviews I read about the Bryston consisted of plugging in HDD into the USB port, so essenially its an Audio Computer with BNC output as well, though I read it can be networked (something I ahve less experience with).

 

I know of a Sonore Rendu (non-Signature version) I could probably get right now for about $800....I wonder if that would be better than going for an Empirical Audio OR5....I think so! Do you?

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Empirical does good work, but between those 2 I would prefer Sonore. Nearly went that route myself but had already invested in a DAC. If you are able to audition one in your home that would be ideal.

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So, I am pretty much already married to the DAC I have for now. It is a great DAC - a Kora Hermes MKiii. Has Toslink, AES/EBU and RCA coaxial inputs, no BNC, no I2S.

 

I am looking at a Sonore Rendu, which has a nice BNC output. The Bryston BDP-1 has BNC ans AES output. I know the AES input of my DAC is supposed to be amazing. I also realize these are two very different devices which have different principles of operation and design, but both allegedly very good sound quality.

 

Perhaps for just playing alot of music files, the BDP-1 is a good option, as it uses the top of the line sound card and has an awesome power supply. Do you think I should do more research n the Sonore? Alas, I buy all my equipment second hand, and probably won't be able to try and equipment before I purchase it.

 

So is the consensus that one should stop buying "tweaks" for their USB, and save their moola and for an awesome digital player or renderer?

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For what it is worth I own the Audiobyte Hydra z with the Audiobyte linear power supply

I also own the audiophillio with out battery power and the Wyred4sound USB converter offering.... The Hydra z is obviously the most versatile with AES and i2s but also performs better sonically then the other two converters into my Primare DAC using the AES implementation....it's light years of difference in any sonic description you care to use...

I also had a Bada here for two weeks for comparison with the W4s and the Audiophillio and although it performed better than the Audiophillio (with no battery power) and using the AES implementation it actually didn't warrant the cost... In my opinion although I have no direct comparison between the BADA and the Hydra Z it is my findings that the Hydra Z likes my Primare Dac30 ( or vice versa) more than the BADA.....I simply am finding the music much more engaging than ever before, with absolutely no fatigue...

 

 

My 2 cents....


 

 

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