1. Things you need to know about the new ‘Conversations’ PM system:

    a) DO NOT REPLY TO THE NOTIFICATION EMAIL! I get them, not the intended recipient. I get a lot of them and I do not want them! It is just a notification, log into the site and reply from there.

    b) To delete old conversations use the ‘Leave conversation’ option. This is just delete by another name.
    Dismiss Notice

End Game Digital (2023)

Discussion in 'audio' started by Alex S, Mar 15, 2023.

  1. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    With respect to the Audial, I’m not really qualified to explain what these two really mean in tandem, I’m sure someone can:

    ● Non-oversampling, real multibit TDA1541A DAC

    ● Master USB device (“asynchronous USB”), operating up to 384 kHz
    cb01 likes this.
  2. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    To be honest I view the audiophile market as highly dysfunctional in many ways and I’ve all but abandoned it myself (I exist in a very different vintage kit/retro-tech area). I certainly try to avoid creating landfill. I get far more enjoyment be doing the reverse and restoring nice desirable old things in the hope they will survive for many decades longer. That really is satisfying. Some areas of consumerism are unavoidable though, e.g. I’m typing this on a Chinese-made iPad Pro from about 3 years ago that I’ll likely replace this year whilst this one still has a good resale value. I certainly view audio as mature technology. Most of my main system is well over 50 years old!
    G T Audio, FLORIAN35, cb01 and 2 others like this.
  3. MattSPL

    MattSPL pfm Member

    So far, support and longevity seem to be good as the Cantata was released around 2011 and has been upgradable to the 2.0 and 3.0. You can get a 2.0 for around 2k now and then upgrade whenever you’re ready.
    cb01 likes this.
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    Yes, perhaps the only issue for an end-game DAC purchase could be long-term support for its digital interface.

    If the digital hardware parts of streaming systems are changing fast and the market moves away from supporting today's digital interfaces, then a great DAC may eventually remain functional but not usable if hardware has to be changed. However, I think this is not likely to be a short-term problem when compared to changes in streaming protocols, applications and services.
    G T Audio and cb01 like this.
  5. gustav_errata

    gustav_errata pfm Member

    The NJC Audio Referenc DAC appeals to me precisely because he designed it with long term support in mind. A functional downside of that is that it doesn't contain an XMOS USB controller because of the chip obsolescence problem, so it doesn't support asynchronous USB audio.
    cb01 likes this.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I suspect it will be an exceptionally slow process. The fundamentals of digital recording and replay are firmly in the ‘mature technology’ category now which is why to my mind it always makes sense to split the DAC aspect from everything to do with streaming. The basic digital formats are studio standards, e.g. 16/44, 16/92, 24/192 etc, and are all well locked down.

    It is thankfully exceptionally rare something like MQA comes along, and as the endless threads on the subject suggest it is arguably of debatable integrity and can possibly be viewed as merely a monetisation or DRM mechanism. Everything else that changes can almost certainly be decoded as part of the streaming interface, e.g. a Raspberry Pi and appropriate ‘hat’ should get my 15 year old DPA DAC happily playing future high-res from Spotify, Tidal or whatever as it does (IIRC) support the underlying digital resolutions. A lot of this stuff has been around since the days of ADATs, DA88s and other early studio recording technology and is now so baked-into stuff like ProTools, Logic and all manner of studio hardware I can’t see it changing fundamentally. I’d certainly be happy to see closed-source proprietary stuff like MQA fail if it hasn’t already.

    To be honest I find the whole area remarkably uninteresting. It just works and there isn’t a lot worth fiddling with at this stage in the game. Digital audio is fit for purpose and has been for a very, very long time IMHO. I’m amazed just how good say a 20 year old ECM red book CD can sound. Anything that is ‘wrong’ with digital technology subjectively can almost always be parked at the door of poor mastering decisions.
  7. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I am not an expert on the latest codecs but my current set up seems to be ok with all of that & Innuos have started to support MQA as I understand it. Roon, not a clue so others will need to comment. The market for hi-res is probably quite small but I seem to recall this being discussed 20 plus years ago so I would expect a lot of elderly equipment to cope ok.

    Not many keep gear for 20 years or even 5 years so it’s all moot really.
  8. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    Probably the wrong question but Linn have certainly been offering software updates for many years on their DSM type gear. How long has the Bluesound Node been out? My Sonos 3 still does what I want it to. I don’t think obsolescence is as big a thing anymore.
    cb01 and Tony L like this.
  9. Dowser

    Dowser Learning to bodge again..

    While true, my Delius is the pre-FireWire version. If it had the FireWire interface, and with a suitable transport, you can upsample 16/44 to DSD to send to the DAC. Now you can argue why would I, and even dCS say they don’t know why, but also claim it sounds better. I’d love to try…well, just to try. I’m learning these custom DACs not using off the shelf DAC chips have loads of options, and even the ones 20-25 years old still have a great sound.
  10. John Phillips

    John Phillips pfm Member

    On the first, people have different preferences so I won't comment.

    However the second is consistent with any off-the-shelf asynchronous USB interface board from the last 5-10 years, such as from XMOS or Amanero, or with normal design practice if integrating an asynchronous USB interface onto the DAC board.

    "Master" probably refers to the DAC sample-rate clock. An asynchronous USB interface generates the DAC clock from two low-jitter crystals inside the DAC, instead of deriving the DAC clock from the incoming digital signal and suppressing its jitter. One crystal generates 384, 192, 96 and 48 kHz, the other generates 352.8, 176.4, 88.2 and 44.1 kHz. That's 48 kHz and 44.1 kHz times powers of 2.
    cb01 likes this.
  11. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    Thanks, I did more or less understand that, but for additional clarification what is such a dac doing with a hi-res Qobuz 24bit 96kHz file, for example?
  12. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    The 1541 is 44.1/16 bits and will stay there. Philips/Sony engineers thought that was plenty enough, perfection was achieved back then with and they weren’t far off the truth.
    Low level distortion was high though, we can do much better now.
  13. cb01

    cb01 AES Member, Retired A/V Forensic Professional

    I think it's gear and brand dependent. But, as you noted, there are many solid options that remain on the market.

    Another example: I'm using a Lumin A1 (debuted in 2012), and just received a raft of updates in the newest firmware that was released in January. The A1 was Lumin/Pixel Magic's first consumer product.

    To Tony's point that the actual file formats at the source are relatively static, I agree that there just isn't much evolutionary room for radical changes. PCM 24/192 is commonly available, MQA exists for those who care, & DSD is easier to transcode-to from PCM than ever before.
    Woodface likes this.
  14. Alex S

    Alex S carbon based lifeform

    Okay. So can you explain the relevance (primarily to the designer) of this: ‘Master USB device operating up to 384 kHz’? I’m a little confused as to why it matters with the 1541.
  15. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The thing that amazes me is just how good 16/44 Red Book CD is when placed in context of the computer technology of 1982 when it was released e.g. Apple II, BBC Micro, IBM 5150, Commodore PET, Tandy TRS80, ZX Spectrum etc. As stated upthread I’m a real fan, a genuinely well recorded and mastered CD can sound stunningly good. It is fit for purpose.
  16. chartz

    chartz If it’s broke fix it!

    I agree. With the technology they had it was a wonder. And remember that those expensive first Philips/Sony players still work today…
  17. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    My elderly Quad 67 CD player still works fine although it sounds pretty dire using its analogue out but is fine through its digital out. I do think that DACs have improved in that one can now get that detail and aliveness but also in a natural way.

    I popped a Benchmark DAC 1 back in my system, whilst having a play, the other day and whilst it does the job it was quite harsh and ultimately unlistenable to my ears. Admittedly I was listening to a Shostakovich string quartet which sound wise is mean’t to be a bit “on the edge”. Listening to my rock and jazz files it could well have been fine. It was a revelation to switch back to Chord where all the edginess of the original music was reproduced in a way that didn’t make me screw my face up, much like listening to a good really quartet in a concert.

    Much the same with my amps. The Quad 606 and 303 still work but the sound quality is no where near as good as my newer amps. Which is a shame as I do applaud the idea of using older equipment rather than sending it to landfill (not that i’m going to do that!). I hope that what I have bought recently will go on and remain serviceable for a long time, apart from, perhaps, the MiniDSP SHD although that is almost unique in terms of its facilities; mind you, whilst it has a good ADC on board the analogue out isn’t the best and I find it best to use digital out into a better “quality” DAC.
    cb01 likes this.
  18. S-Man

    S-Man Kinkless Tetrode Admirer

    I like the phrase "today's end game" somebody used earlier in the thread. :)
  19. Dave***t

    Dave***t Revolutionary relativist

    I’ll be curious to see if this is right, but AIUI it means that you can feed the DAC 384kHz, and the DAC won’t decide it doesn’t understand what it’s being fed and just produce distortion or silence or whatever else it might do when fed an out of spec signal. But the 384kHz signal will be processed as whatever multiple of 44.1 or 48kHz the chip maxes out at. I think this is 192kHz for the 1541 so it’d be kind of like a screen displaying every other frame of a 384fps video signal.
  20. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    Was it a Harmoni Mundi recording? They mic too close for my taste, and that also adds to the edginess.

Share This Page


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice