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Digital format converters with multiple inputs - am I missing anything on the market?

tmtomh

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I know there are lots of discussions about devices like USB to AES converters, but I'm wondering about something slightly more complex:

I have two digital sources, one coaxial and one USB. And I'm looking for the simplest, most economical way of feeding both to active speakers with AES EBU digital inputs.

So I'm looking for two inputs - coax and USB - and one output - AES EBU, but honestly I would settle for a coax output since my cable run from that output to the AES input of the actives is only 6 feet and I've been using an RCA-XLR cable (75 ohm, not even 110 ohm) with zero problems.

I know MiniDSP makes devices that can do this: the SHD does it, and the SHD Studio is even better because it provides that AES output. But these devices are $1200 and $1000, respectively, and they are overkill if one doesn't need DAC functionality (SHD) or streaming and Dirac (SHD and SHD Studio).

There's also the Mutec MC-1.2, but it's long discontinued and the odd one that pops up on eBay seems to go for $500 and up.

There appear to be a decent number of converters available for $250 or less (Gustard U12, Xing F200 and clones, Hosa devices, etc), but they all have only a USB input - they have no additional input and therefore no switching capability.

I've also looked into basic digital switches, but they all appear to be toslink and coax only, so one would have to feed one of the inputs with a USB to toslink or USB to coax adapter, which means you'd have to insert something like a Topping D10 ahead of the switcher, and in my case for that signal path you'd end up with USB to D10 to Toslink to switcher to coax to AES, which just seems stupid (and a recipe for trouble in terms of jitter, signal syncing, or other glitches).

So - aside from $1800 RME DACs that might happen to have the right inputs and outputs on them - is there anything on the market that I've missed or haven't found?

Thanks!
 

Joachim Herbert

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Don't forget you also want volume control. I gave up on my wish for a digital preamp.
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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Don't forget you also want volume control. I gave up on my wish for a digital preamp.

Ideally, yes - but the speakers have volume-control capability so I could do without that.

However, that said, your preamp comment is on the mark: part of the problem here, I assume, is that if a company is going to make a format converter with multiple inputs and multiple types of inputs, they are probably going to figure that buyers will want volume control in addition to the input-switching. And then at that point you are looking at a full-on digital preamp. And then you're looking at a more involved component, which means more money - which means the MiniDSP SHD Studio at $1000 starts to look like the ideal unit, especially since many customers might want Dirac and Volumio/streaming built in, even though I personally don't need that.
 

mdsimon2

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Digital output version of the miniDSP Flex is a lot cheaper ($500) than the SHD Studio and doesn’t come with a streamer / Dirac. However it only has coaxial SPDIF outputs but it sounds like that will still work for you.

Michael
 

Matias

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Yes, I also see a growing market for a multiple digital inputs/outputs interface with volume control and DSP to integrate to digital input monitors.

Like an RME DDI-2? (digital to digital interface, 2 channel). Chassis size of ADI-2. Inputs: USB, Toslink, SPDIF RCA, AES-EBU. Outputs: 2 x AES-EBU, 2 x SPDIF RCA (L/R, or possibly subout). @MC_RME

Edit:
RME DDI-2 + Neumann KH 120 II / KH 150 = heaven
 

unpluggged

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BDWoody

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So - aside from $1800 RME DACs that might happen to have the right inputs and outputs on them - is there anything on the market that I've missed or haven't found?

I have a Motu 896 mk3 hybrid (can use both FireWire and USB), and it has the capability you are looking for, plus a lot more you might not need.

 

Sokel

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Good thing is that stuff like this are coming out every day,maybe not what the OP asks but low cost,multiple inputs are on demand,so example.

DESC SCHEMA ok.jpg


Inputs1x USB-B
1x AES/EBU
2x Optical Toslink
2x Coaxial
4x RCA
Outputs1x RCA
1x Balanced XLR

We don't know how it measures or the reputation of the company,reliability,etc but it's good to see at that low price range.

 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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Digital output version of the miniDSP Flex is a lot cheaper ($500) than the SHD Studio and doesn’t come with a streamer / Dirac. However it only has coaxial SPDIF outputs but it sounds like that will still work for you.

Michael

Thanks so much for these great suggestions - this forum is always so incredibly helpful!

mdsimon2 - nice! Somehow I didn't notice the digital output version of that model. For my purposes it's basically an SHD Studio, without AES output, for half the price. That might be a winner!

@Matias - very interesting! I can't seem to find an RME DDI model line anywhere, including on their web site. I see their ADI line, but that doesn't quite do the trick. What does seem to provide the functionality is their Digiface AES unit, but that's overkill for me and seems to go for $2k.

@unpluggged - I've been aware of the Yamaha WXC-50 for years but never thought of it in this context - interesting! Looking at the rear panel, though, I don't think it would quite meet my needs: it appears to have optical in but no coax in; and more significantly, the USB port is a Type A rather than a Type B. Anything is possible, but that suggests its USB input is for USB sticks and such, rather than for audio control aka feeding it with an external streaming device. Still, a fantastic bargain given that it's also a wireless streamer and an amp!

@BDWoody - that MOTU unit definitely provides the functionality, plus a lot more! At $1k it seems like a very good value for someone who needs all those inputs and outputs plus the analogue outputs and so on.

@Sokel - I'd never heard of that brand or unit, looks very interesting as well. But unless I'm not looking at the images and specs incorrectly, I think it has only analogue outputs.

Thanks again all!
 

Matias

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@Matias - very interesting! I can't seem to find an RME DDI model line anywhere, including on their web site. I see their ADI line, but that doesn't quite do the trick. What does seem to provide the functionality is their Digiface AES unit, but that's overkill for me and seems to go for $2k.
It does not exist! I just invented it, suggestion to RME to create one.
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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It does not exist! I just invented it, suggestion to RME to create one.

Ah, I see - well, that would definitely explain it! :)

I don't think they'll do so, since it seems like the DDI basically already exists in the form of their Digiface series. And while the AES version that would meet my needs is $2k, they have a USB version that takes one USB input and spits out multiple optical and coax outputs, and that runs about $600 - not cheap, but very cheap for RME gear.
 

voodooless

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If you can do a bit of electronics you could make something yourself:


Eval kit:


Not cheap though.

You could also build something with receivers, switches and transmitters:

I2S Switch:


Or this as a basis:


or this one:


Another one:


Others things can also be found on AliExpress.
 
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unpluggged

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Looking at the rear panel, though, I don't think it would quite meet my needs: it appears to have optical in but no coax in; and more significantly, the USB port is a Type A rather than a Type B
You are right, my bad. Turns out I did not remember its I/O features correctly.
 

Joachim Herbert

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There used to be a product from Lakepeople. Seems out of production. As far as I remember it topped 1400 Euros if you took all options (usb, femtoclock and remote control). Unfortunately it provided just one input of each type, so the usefulness was limited.

Funk Studiotechnik in Berlin does switches für digital audio, but they are either spdif or aes/ebu. No USB, no (digital) volume control.
 

flor

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I sometimes google for a digital preamp and come across this post on the Matrix forum… which I wrote ‍

I think there’s an underserved market segment of “digital preamp” or “digital source”. A device with streaming, digital ins, analog ins (with adc) and a usb out. With top notch Matrix build quality and usability. You could put that in front of your Kii Threes or your MiniDSP system or whatever.
 

Nutul

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I know there are lots of discussions about devices like USB to AES converters, but I'm wondering about something slightly more complex:
Why would you look at complexity, when there are USB => AES converters that suit your need. The other coax you have already covered, as I understand. And it's 30 bucks...
 
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