Archive for December, 2016

Are 32-bit audio DACs any good?

Saturday, December 31st, 2016

I took a closer look at the latest 32-bit DACs and wondered how much better they can be over other state of the art 24-bit DACs, so let’s take a quick look:

ESS9012: DNR: 133db, THD: 120dB - 32 bit
AK4497EQ: SNR: 128dB, THD: 116dB - 32 bit

compared to classic vendor’s 24-bit reference DACs:
CS5381: SNR: 120dB, THD: 110dB - 24 bit
WM8741: SNR: 125dB, THD: 100dB - 24 bit
PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: 128dB - 24 bit

and some more reference points:
vintage 1996 CS4328: SNR: 120db, THD: 93dB - 18 bit
PCM5102 (as in TEAC HA-P50): SNR: 112dB, 93dB - w/ 32-bit interf.?!

So they are not really much better than other state of the art reference DACs, e.g. the Cirrus Logic Crystal DAC, and the TI Burr Brown DAC has even mostly better spec? Hmm, …

And in case of the PCM5102 as used in the Teac HA-P50 portable headphone amp I am actually quite disappointed that it’s technical specs are not really better than a vintage, 1996 Cirrus Logic CS4328. Back in the day their state of the art reference DAC.

And what are the theoretically limits for 24 bit (simplified):

20*log10(2)*24 == 144dB

and for 32 bit:

20*log10(2)*32 == 192dB

So which theoretical limit are those DACs approaching?, …

I rather have an honest 24-bit DAC than a 32-bit marketing wanna be. And even the 1996 CS4328 already accepts surplus bits on the serial bus. So you could already call those “with 32-bit interface”, ..:-)

Update: Even more curious are the newer TI, Burr Brown chips:

PCM1792: SNR: 129db, THD: THD+N: 0.0004% - 24 bit
PCM1795: SNR: 123db, THD: THD+N: 0.0005% - 32 bit

Huh? Why has the Advanced Segment 2009 DAC worse spec than the 2004 one (beside consuming less power, …)?

Real world, live, Signal-to-Noise Ratio

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Yesterday we were at Denis Matsuev, piano, live in Berlin.

#Berlin #denismatsuev #gendarmenmarkt

A photo posted by René Rebe (@renerebe) on

Given all the recent hi-fi testing I realized the Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) in real life is actually not that great, …

…, with all the people moving, breathing, clothes fabric scratching and aircon ventilation, making some background hiss, …

…, plus in the Berlin winter all the coughing, …

and we talk here about some digital 24, or 32 bit 130dB+

[self note:@”u-boot”];

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

ah, this bare to the bits uboot CLI, sigh:

mmcinit
ext2ls mmc 0
ext2load mmc 0:1 0×10400000 /uImage; bootm

fsload 0×10400000 boot/uImage
set bootargs ‘console=ttyS0 root=/dev/mtdblock1 rootfstype=jffs2′
bootm

saveenv

Synthesizing audio with sox on Linux

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Recently I spent some time finally finishing my DIY DAC and needed some signal generator for digital AES/EBU, coax / spdif audio to test and evaluate it. Turns out sox is pretty handy for that:

sox -r 48000 -n -t alsa spdif synth sine 1000 # square, triangle, sawtooth

Bluetooth audio

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

I am a longstanding fan of analog audio connectors, such as the headphone jack. During the iPhone7 rumors I long pointed out the many drawbacks of wireless audio: very lossy SBC -few combination support the also lossy aptX-, charging, connectivity issues etc.

While I still boycott the iPhones without headphone jack I run into the issue myself testing a Sennheiser Momemtum M2 Wireless the other weekend. Turns out on iOS Garageband does not use bluetooth by default, if you select it anyway, the App even warns about latency, and then if you actually use it iOS is such a degenerated crap, that it Garageband not allow you to use a Lightning connected audio input with Bluetooth audio out, … !!! What the heck?!?!

And when you do the Joe-user task of watching video? It is not even lip-sync anymore - the audio is seeable lagging like half a second or so, … !!!

Sad new wireless world :-/