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Old 29th October 2011, 08:05 PM   #11
sfasf is offline sfasf  United Kingdom
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^I2S outputs would be very interesting, i wouldn't rule it out, i'm not specifically restricted to x86 (although it would ultimately come down to price/availability which i'd have to look into). I guess this would mean i could just use pretty much any DAC chip 'bare'??
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Old 29th October 2011, 08:36 PM   #12
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Generally, ARM boards are cheaper than x86 ones

Of course the long awaited Raspberry Pi would be an interesting contender RaspberryPiBoard - eLinux.org

But a less powerful board should do too.

BUT. Just as most of the USB DACs, your I2S clock will be PLL-generated on all these boards. They do not have dedicated crystals for audio. In fact, only very few USB asynchronous DACs above your stated price level do.

That is the beauty of the PCI cards I am talking about E.g. Mikrotik RB230 has one regular PCI slot http://www.luxus.cz/obchod_pic/rb230.jpg
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Old 29th October 2011, 09:15 PM   #13
jcx is online now jcx  United States
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nothing in alt processor SBC land will be cheaper than windows PC compatible soundcards - the economies of 10k-1M quantity mass produciton can't be had with nonstandard interfaces, a USB Audio Class DAC is probably the next best option

do the cheap Arm/Linux boards have USB Audio Class drivers?
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Old 29th October 2011, 09:39 PM   #14
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post
do the cheap Arm/Linux boards have USB Audio Class drivers?
USB drivers consist of the actual USB controller driver, common USB core and the specific class driver. Of these only the USB controller is board-specific (or better SoC specific). Since the USB controller for these boards is supported in linux kernel, usb audio is just a matter of compilation of the appropriate kernel module for the target CPU architecture. In many embedded linux distributions (e.g. OpenWRT, DD WRT) the usb audio is just a question of a single installation command - downloading and installing appropriate pre-compiled packages holding kernel modules and user-space software. Some of the more powerful embedded boards run regular ARM port of debian linux.

You can find numerous reports of converting the Asus WL500 (MIPS) into a music player (OpenWRT, MPD, USB audio). A few years ago I played with it and it was no frills for a moderately advanced linux user.
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Old 29th October 2011, 09:45 PM   #15
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For USB you need a program to read music files from the disc.
Then the files need decoding and sending to the USB device including 16/32 bit format and speed to be sent to DAC.

That would be quite a task even for an experienced programmer.
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Old 29th October 2011, 10:07 PM   #16
Francec is offline Francec  Australia
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I use a Turtle Beach USB soundcard on a MacBook. It plugs in, works straight away and sounds good. Not expensive either, about $35 AU on eBay.

Frank
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Old 29th October 2011, 10:08 PM   #17
Francec is offline Francec  Australia
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Forgot to say, small too.
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Old 29th October 2011, 10:08 PM   #18
sfasf is offline sfasf  United Kingdom
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With a PLL generated clock, would I2S offer any advantage over USB? Am i right that you could take this output and feed it directly to a DAC chip, allowing a much broader selection of DACs?

What is the advantage of PCI re: clocks. Are you suggesting changing the PCI clock to minimize jitter? or??

Nigel, AFAICT you seem to be describing stuff that linux / music player already does.
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Old 29th October 2011, 10:38 PM   #19
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfasf View Post
With a PLL generated clock, would I2S offer any advantage over USB?
Well, the adaptive USB recovers the clock embedded in the usb stream, using PLL. That is in my opinion worse than just generating the clock via PLL from a stable crystal. BTW, the often acclaimed Asus Xonar cards generate their 44.1kHz clock via PLL too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfasf View Post
Am i right that you could take this output and feed it directly to a DAC chip, allowing a much broader selection of DACs?
Basically yes. That is how sound cards operate - the PCI or USB chip generates I2S, fed into DAC chips. Plus usually a control of the DAC chip is needed (initialization, samplerate switching, digital volume control, etc.). For that I2C bus is usually used, available by the USB/PCI chips and on the embedded boards too.

The "soundcards" on the embedded boards have often the same functionality as PCI controllers of regular sound cards, just integrated into the SoC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfasf View Post
What is the advantage of PCI re: clocks. Are you suggesting changing the PCI clock to minimize jitter? or??
Not really, I am just saying there are easily available inexpensive PCI cards with technically optimal clock circuits - two separate crystals, no PLL. The advantage of such configuration is subjective to everyone, just as sound quality
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Old 29th October 2011, 10:44 PM   #20
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Take a look at the link I posted. You will get the benefit of an independent, instrumented comparative review.

DON'T buy the Turtle Beach.

Last edited by counter culture; 29th October 2011 at 10:50 PM.
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