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Connecting two sources (Macbook+PC) to Genelec's AES/EBU input

niloiv

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Hi ASR. I need some knowledge sharing about how to connect my system to my incoming Genelec monitors. Thanks in advance!

Background: I have two work stations on my desktop. First one is a Macbook with thunderbolts and second one a PC with toslink and USB outputs. My currently setup has a DAC with both USB and optical inputs, so the system goes like 1) Mac->thunderbolt to USB converter->USB input 2) PC->toslink to optical input, and I can easily switch between sources

Situation: I'm now moving to Genelec speakers, which take AES inputs or analog inputs. From what I read analog inputs goes through the ADC->DAC route inside the speakers (Is that true?), so it might be easier to just feed in digital signals through the AES input. However I couldn't figure out a good config that fills my needs. I imagine it would be something like my current DAC, which takes USB+optical (or multiple USB) signals, can easily switch inputs, but outputs through an AES output port. But surprisingly, I couldn't find anything that does this.

Closest thing I found is Topping U90 https://apos.audio/products/topping-u90 and a digital interface from China https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256801151906919.html.gatewayAdapt=glo2usa4itemAdapt&_randl_shipto=US. Each has USB input, AES outputs and optical outputs I'm a bit confused by why the optical port here is an output instead of input as on my current DAC? Also for the Toppping, there're two AES outputs, are these together for 2 channels, or each sends a stereo signal and it just supports two outputs simultaneously?

Please share if you have a similar setup. Or maybe there's no single dedicated product for my need, so I need to run one for my Macbook and one for my PC? Or maybe I should just keep using my DAC and use the Analog inputs on the Genelecs?
 
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JamesYeomans

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JamesYeomans

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With a short AES/EBU cable length (mine is 3M), I don’t even need an impedence converter.
 

JamesYeomans

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linuxfan

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From what I read analog inputs goes through the ADC->DAC route inside the speakers (Is that true?)
Yes, like many studio monitors these days, the Genelecs have a DSP unit at their input. So yes, optimal input will be digital - and the only digital input which Genelect provides is AES3. In your particular situation, technically, you need 3 devices:
i) USB to AES3 converter for your Macbook (since you already have Thunderbolt to USB converter)
ii) optical s/pdif to AES 3 converter for your PC
iii) 2 input / 1 output AES3 switcher - or simply XLR switcher.

For i) the Topping U90 would work ... but it's not cheap. 2 cheaper options -
https://www.ebay.com/itm/393399213417
or
https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/digi...es-spdif-i2s-32bit-192khz-dop128-p-14869.html

For ii)
http://www.murraypro.com/spdif-tos~aes.htm

For iii)
https://www.amazon.com/Balanced-Audio-Switcher-Passive-Splitter/dp/B07THV5JNS?th=1
 
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niloiv

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Thanks for the replies. Those are really helpful. I'm thinking about having a setup like:

USB out from Mac & PC -> USB switch -> USB to AES interface -> speakers.

I use a Douk U2: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...-usb-to-s-pdif-interfaces.29765/#post-1148956

Plus a USB switch like this, works great: Cable Matters USB 2.0 Switch Hub USB Sharing Switch for 2 Computers and 4 USB Peripherals - Button or Wireless Remote Control Swapping https://amzn.eu/d/fse7QgC
Dou U2 only has a SPDIF Coax output. Is there any difference of using a SPDIF out to AES input vs AES output to AES input?

Yes, like many studio monitors these days, the Genelecs have a DSP unit at their input. So yes, optimal input will be digital - and the only digital input which Genelect provides is AES3. In your particular situation, technically, you need 3 devices:
i) USB to AES3 converter for your Macbook (since you already have Thunderbolt to USB converter)
ii) optical s/pdif to AES 3 converter for your PC
iii) 2 input / 1 output AES3 switcher - or simply XLR switcher.

For i) the Topping U90 would work ... but it's not cheap. 2 cheaper options -
https://www.ebay.com/itm/393399213417
or
https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/digi...es-spdif-i2s-32bit-192khz-dop128-p-14869.html

For ii)
http://www.murraypro.com/spdif-tos~aes.htm

For iii)
https://www.amazon.com/Balanced-Audio-Switcher-Passive-Splitter/dp/B07THV5JNS?th=1
Yeah Topping U90 seems a bit costly for just a digital to digital switch. Is there any scientific measure that justifies the price of the more expensive ones?

I'm now considering using USB output from both Mac and PC, with a USB switch into a USB to AES converter. This setup saves me a SPDIF to AES converter. From what I read though, SPDIF is something very similar to AES. Does that mean there is any benefit of using the optical output from my PC instead of the USB in this case (even though I doubt I can hear any difference, but just for the peace of mind lol)
 

linuxfan

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I'm now considering using USB output from both Mac and PC, with a USB switch into a USB to AES converter.
Yes, that's a good idea, and one which I was almost going to propose to you earlier.
However there is still some merit in having a s/pdif-to-AES3 adapter, as you may come across a device in the future which only has s/pdif outputs. And this leads to your next question -

Is there any difference of using a SPDIF out to AES input vs AES output to AES input?
Yes, with s/pdif-to-AES3 there is a small risk that the AES3 input will not tolerate the lower voltage level of the s/pdif signal, and might suffer occasional data and audio dropouts as a result. It's a hit and miss affair - you might not have any problems until you change to a different source device.
So it's a good idea, and correct technical practice, to use an adapter. That s/pdif-to-AES3 adapter I mentioned in my previous post is an active device - and performs the signal adaptation comprehensively. Even if you don't wish to go to that trouble/expense, an alternative is to use a passive adapter, such as this -
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/367655-REG/Canare_BCJXPTRB_BCJ_XP_TRB_75_Ohm_to.html
Although this will only marginally raise the voltage of the s/pdif signal, it correctly isolates the AES3 pins 2 and 3 from GND, whilch will avoid any hum issues, and correctly matches the signal impedance to 110 ohms, such that the AES3 input device has a good chance of locking onto the digital data.

From what I read though, SPDIF is something very similar to AES. Does that mean there is any benefit of using the optical output from my PC instead of the USB in this case
No. s/pdif/AES3 and USB-audio are simply two different protocols to carry the same audio data. Modern, well implemented USB receiver chips will beat s/pdif receiver chips for jitter figures, but with modern DAC's this doesn't seem to be an issue these days, anyway.
 

JamesYeomans

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“Dou U2 only has a SPDIF Coax output. Is there any difference of using a SPDIF out to AES input vs AES output to AES input?” Works fine going into my Genelec 8340s at distance of 3M. You’ll find other threads here that say the same/similar. They led to me trying. Works great. For much longer lengths you’ll likely need to go fully AES/EBU, or use an impedance converter
 

JamesYeomans

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“Dou U2 only has a SPDIF Coax output. Is there any difference of using a SPDIF out to AES input vs AES output to AES input?” Works fine going into my Genelec 8340s at distance of 3M. You’ll find other threads here that say the same/similar. They led to me trying. Works great. For much longer lengths you’ll likely need to go fully AES/EBU, or use an impedance converter
You will need cable like the one I linked to above, or get an adaptor
 

JamesYeomans

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linuxfan

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niloiv

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Thanks everyone for all the helpful info! I decided on a setup that goes like

MAC/PC->USB switch->Douk U2 Pro->110ohm SPDIF to AES cable->Speakers

After doing my dd, this setup seems to best 1) fit my need 2) relatively simple 3) cheap to build (under $200 for all connection stuff) 4) requires minimum international shipping (couldn't find a similar SPDIF to AES cable as @JamesYeomans posted, so I bought the same product from ebay UK)

My original hope was to get an all-in-one box that takes multiple USB or optical input and sends an AES output. The only thing I found that serves the need was SMSL SD-9, which mainly functions as a streamer that happens to have offer an AES output. I didn't go down the route but it's also worth looking for anyone who wants a neat solution with some additional functionalities.
 

linuxfan

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My original hope was to get an all-in-one box that takes multiple USB or optical input and sends an AES output. The only thing I found that serves the need was SMSL SD-9
Interesting that you should mention the SD-9. The SD-9 is more that just a "converter". It's a full music server/streamer, and (maybe long term) would be an ideal replacement as digital music source instead of your desktop computer and laptop.
Other possible candidates are Bluesound NODE or even WiiM Mini.
 

phile2

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hello niloiv,
what Genelec did you buy ?

A great interface ahead of monitors with AES input => Mutec MC3+
3 inputs : toslink / AES / coax
=> you select 1 input (manual, no remote, but no big deal) => the Mutec send the digital input signal to its 3 ouputs (aes / toslink / coax).
Then, you can use the aes to feed your Genelec. If you have a sub, you can simply use the coax ouput for instance (all output are sync).

2 other nice features of the MC3+ :
- master clock input (great to enhance SQ)
- word clock output (useless with Genelecs), pretty nice feature with Dynaudio Core monitors for instance (I have a pair of Core59, "another world" with these bookshelf speakers... :) )
Rgds
 
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niloiv

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hello niloiv,
what Genelec did you buy ?

A great interface ahead of monitors with AES input => Mutec MC3+
3 inputs : toslink / AES / coax
=> you select 1 input (manual, no remote, but no big deal) => the Mutec send the digital input signal to its 3 ouputs (aes / toslink / coax).
Then, you can use the aes to feed your Genelec. If you have a sub, you can simply use the coax ouput for instance (all output are sync).

2 other nice features of the MC3+ :
- master clock input (great to enhance SQ)
- word clock output (useless with Genelecs), pretty nice feature with Dynaudio Core monitors for instance (I have a pair of Core59, "another world" with these bookshelf speakers... :) )
Rgds

Hey Phile, thanks for the recommendation. The Mutec MC3+ looks like a very useful box for sure. I got the 8341s. Original plan was getting the 8331s, so I'm already busting my budget and saving a couple hundreds on connection helps a lot lol. But thanks a lot for the recommendation and everyone's information. Maybe I'll upgrade the connection setup when I have enough budget and ready to go for a sub for future
 

srrxr71

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I use cable matter usb RF remote switch into topping d10. You can switch your USB source as you please with the RF remote.
 

Matthias McCready

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For what it is worth:

I also have monitors with an AES input, I ended up just purchasing one of these $40 USB -> AES Devices on Ebay.

It does exactly what it is advertised to do. Also as it is AES so I can leave my monitors powered up while I swap devices, it does not pop the monitors/send signal when plugging or unplugging.

Note: It works with Mac, but it will need a driver to work with Windows. Fortunately Emotive uses the same chip for one of their products, and they have driver on their website.
 
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