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Network to AES/EBU transport (aka Feeding The Ones)
Network to AES/EBU transport (aka Feeding The Ones)
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Old 12th July 2018, 09:24 AM   #1
nelis1984 is offline nelis1984
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Default Network to AES/EBU transport (aka Feeding The Ones)

My current setup is: streaming Spotify (but switching to a high res streaming service soon) from a noisy DELL laptop USB port > Yellowtec PUC2 Lite AES/EBU converter > Genelec 8351a "The Ones" active speakers (these only have AES/EBU in). I am looking to get rid of the noisy laptop and optimise sound quality along the way, with best value for money.

My ideal is a tiny board/device with a decent ethernet port, some memory to run Volumio, and a AES/EBU digital output - because in my view, the fewer ports, cables, and potential interferences in the system, the better. After a week or so of ploughing through the internet, despite the deluge of options and DIY projects available, it appears that *no such thing exists*.

From my research, it seems that the second best option then is the pi2design 502DAC HAT on a RPi board via I2S. This HAT has an AES/EBU output, although still contains a (for me) superfluous DAC chip. Also, it's a niche device with only sporadically some units becoming available. They are currently out of stock.

Third best option: a USB network transport, e.g. Allo USBridge or Volumio Mini86, or a OrangePi (with ethernet & USB on separate bus), that feeds the Yellowtec Puc. I don't think this is ideal, unless someone can convince me that the USBridge or Mini86 do something useful to the signal e.g. with improved clocks and isolated components.

My questions are: am I missing any options? Is my current hierarchy of options correct?

Many thanks for sharing thoughts

Last edited by nelis1984; 12th July 2018 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 13th July 2018, 07:09 AM   #2
CallMeMike is offline CallMeMike  United Kingdom
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Join Date: Jul 2016
You can tame the 'noisy' Dell USB stream with an iFi iDefender (or for double the price the all-around better iPurifier). For even better results you can add good linear power supply for feeding 5V to the iDefender...


Note: I have no link with the iFi... look for similar products designed for 'cleaning' the USB stream
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Old 13th July 2018, 07:35 AM   #3
nelis1984 is offline nelis1984
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Thanks, but actually it's the fan of the laptop that's noisy ( more literally!)
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Old 13th July 2018, 08:52 AM   #4
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Location: Pilsen
Just a thought - if the only problem was the noisy fan, it may be possible to replace the fan with a new silent one.

If you are OK with the existing software, how about replacing the noisy laptop with a fanless thin client PC and keeping all the other parts of your chain (OS, SW, USB/AES adapter, etc.)?
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Old 13th July 2018, 12:55 PM   #5
linuxfan is offline linuxfan  Australia
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At the outset let me say that your Genelec 8250A is certainly a serious piece of kit, and it deserves a good source device. I'm a little surprised you seem to be talking about personal music listening, rather than studio monitoring/engineering, but if this is how you like to enjoy your music, and can dedicate such an expensive amp/speaker to this task, great.

As I understand it, the Genelec 8250A has DSP input which, amongst other things, is used for the crossover. This limits your choice of external components - an external DAC becomes a not-so-good choice (regardless of its quality) because your analogue source must be converted back to digital once it gets to the Genelec. So your signal would endure D/A conversion TWICE.
So yes, in your situation the best option IMO would be S/PDIF output from a digital transport.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nelis1984 View Post
the second best option then is the pi2design 502DAC HAT on a RPi board via I2S. This HAT has an AES/EBU output
Yes, the 502DAC is the way to go. Actually the ALLO DigiOne is technically slightly better (full I2S isolation) but ALLO didn't include an AES output, so no good for you.
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Old 13th July 2018, 01:36 PM   #6
nelis1984 is offline nelis1984
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxfan View Post
At the outset let me say that your Genelec 8250A is certainly a serious piece of kit, and it deserves a good source device. I'm a little surprised you seem to be talking about personal music listening, rather than studio monitoring/engineering, but if this is how you like to enjoy your music, and can dedicate such an expensive amp/speaker to this task, great.

As I understand it, the Genelec 8250A has DSP input which, amongst other things, is used for the crossover. This limits your choice of external components - an external DAC becomes a not-so-good choice (regardless of its quality) because your analogue source must be converted back to digital once it gets to the Genelec. So your signal would endure D/A conversion TWICE.
So yes, in your situation the best option IMO would be S/PDIF output from a digital transport.

Yes, the 502DAC is the way to go. Actually the ALLO DigiOne is technically slightly better (full I2S isolation) but ALLO didn't include an AES output, so no good for you.
Hello, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I have the 8351a series - indeed a serious piece of kit and a few years ago when I purchased them they were intended for monitoring the productions I do on my DAW. However, we had a kid, time was scarce, and we ended up actually quite enjoying the monitors for listening to concerts in the lounge. But now the laptop we use as a transport is starting to die, hence my questions.

I have now looked at the Digione and looked up S/PDIF>AES transformation on Rane, via a simple RCA to XLR cable. It looks like this would actually work - is there a reason you say it doesn't? Might it be more lossy and therefore we should opt for the 502DAC instead?
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Old 13th July 2018, 11:52 PM   #7
linuxfan is offline linuxfan  Australia
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Yes, the S/PDIF to AES/EBU adaptor circuits from Rane might work OK, but it seems a shame to me that ALLO didn't provide the appropriate circuitry on the DigiOne in the first place.
Given the added complexity of such an undertaking, a better option might be to combine an I2S isolator/reclocker with an I2S-AES transmitter:

I2S isolator/reclocker -
Kali (i2s Reclocker)
I2S-AES transmitter
Digital Interface I2S to SPDIF AES EBU XLR 110 Ohm for Amanero WM8805 - Audiophonics
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Old 14th July 2018, 07:21 AM   #8
linuxfan is offline linuxfan  Australia
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Oh, if it's not already clear; a Kali + I2S-AES transmitter would be the direct equivalent of an ALLO DigiOne, except that the S/PDIF output is then AES/EBU, not consumer-level.

Upon reflection, I wonder if the technical "cleverness" of this approach is actually worthwhile, given that your nice low-jitter I2S signal from the Kali has to endure the jitter-inducing effects of a S/PDIF transmitter, then cops more jitter at the S/PDIF receiver, inside the Genelec.
S/PDIF, in all its variations, is a legacy technology from the 1980's with inherent technical flaws.

If you wanted to go all out, and get the very best digital signal transfer from transport-device to Genelec, I think you would want to investigate whether the Genelec's S/PDIF receiver could be bypassed and replaced with an LVDS receiver - such as the Twisted Pear Teleporter -
Teleporter Digital Transfer Module
But this is non-trivial!

Coming down to earth for a moment, I think the 502DAC would be just fine for your setup.
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Old 14th July 2018, 11:26 AM   #9
CallMeMike is offline CallMeMike  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linuxfan View Post
.....................
Coming down to earth for a moment, I think the 502DAC would be just fine for your setup.

It looks like the 502DAC is not readily available...
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Old 14th July 2018, 12:29 PM   #10
linuxfan is offline linuxfan  Australia
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Yes, it's a specialty product, but at this moment I see on the Pi2Design website -
Quote:
PRODUCT UPDATE: We are putting another 20 units of the 502DAC in the store for pre-order (7/13/18). The lead time is 3-4 weeks with delivery coming in mid-August. You can pre-order now if you want to secure a unit from the next batch.
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