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Why no inexpensive multi-input digital interface?

mdsimon2

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My sources are very simple: computer music server, and CD/disc transport. For the output I'd love AES EBU, but I'm fine with coax SPDIF instead since my run is only a few feet and I've experienced no problems with my current setup, which goes SPDIF-to-AES.

I think the market for such a device is small because most DACs already provide this functionality and have USB and SPDIF input.

I can see how active monitors may not have USB input and only have SPDIF or AES, in those cases such a device would help. But as you alluded to already it is very easy to replicate that functionality with a USB to AES/SPDIF device and some sort of AES/SPDIF switch.

The more specialized device the less of a market for it. For example I need to get HDMI from an AppleTV into an AES input in my Okto. I use an HDMI extractor + TOSLINK to coaxial converter (could eliminate this with an extractor that had coaxial output) + SPDIF to AES transformer. Would I like an HDMI to AES device? Sure, but I understand the use case is pretty niche.

Michael
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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I think the market for such a device is small because most DACs already provide this functionality and have USB and SPDIF input.

I can see how active monitors may not have USB input and only have SPDIF or AES, in those cases such a device would help. But as you alluded to already it is very easy to replicate that functionality with a USB to AES/SPDIF device and some sort of AES/SPDIF switch.

The more specialized device the less of a market for it. For example I need to get HDMI from an AppleTV into an AES input in my Okto. I use an HDMI extractor + TOSLINK to coaxial converter (could eliminate this with an extractor that had coaxial output) + SPDIF to AES transformer. Would I like an HDMI to AES device? Sure, but I understand the use case is pretty niche.

Michael

I hear what you are saying, but what I don't understand is, why is an inexpensive digital converter with only one input, or a digital converter with multiple non-USB inputs not too niché - but a digital converter with multiple digital inputs that includes a USB input is too niché?

Or to put it another way, if the Topping DS10 can have a digital output and still be an inexpensive DAC, and the SMSL PS100 can have multiple digital inputs and still be an inexpensive DAC ($30!), and both devices are considered mainstream enough that the companies brought them to market, then why is it so much more niché to make essentially the same product except with multiple digital inputs and a digital output?

I guess what I'm saying is that there seems to be a strange divide when it comes to digital inputs, and IMHO it doesn't follow any logical division between niché and not-niché: you can have USB input, or you can have multiple digital inputs, but you can't have both for less than $500 (and if we exclude the MiniDSP Flex Digital Edition, you can't have both for less than $1000).
 
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Rednaxela

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And per the Beni Skate digital switcher linked above (and which I own), if he were willing and able to add a USB input to that unit, and he charged an extra $50-$75 for that version, I'd be thrilled.
Discontinued (I believe), but this really comes close:

 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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Discontinued (I believe), but this really comes close:


I think that more than comes close - that's exactly it! But a quick online search suggests it is indeed long-discontinued and nearly impossible to find on the used market.

I'm guessing it was discontinued because it was marketed as a reclocker/jitter reducer.
 

Rednaxela

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There’s also this:

 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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There’s also this:


Wow, another unit that was current in 2012-2013. So interesting that these were available then but no similarly priced equivalents now.
 

Sokel

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I agree. I have been looking for a "digital preamp" / digital source switcher for a while. It needs to accept multiple digital inputs including HDMI. Alas, no such thing exists. I can cobble together something that will do the job, but it requires multiple hardware purchases and more complexity.
NAD M12?

(with optional DD HDM-1 HDMI Module with 3 inputs and 1 output (3D video passthrough) and/or the network audio module, DD BluOS, with music management software that is controlled with an iOS or Android device)
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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NAD M12?

(with optional DD HDM-1 HDMI Module with 3 inputs and 1 output (3D video passthrough) and/or the network audio module, DD BluOS, with music management software that is controlled with an iOS or Android device)

If you're willing to spend $2000 - or even $1500 - pretty much any permutation being discussed in this thread is available from one manufacturer or another.
 

Sokel

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If you're willing to spend $2000 - or even $1000 - pretty much any permutation being discussed in this thread is available from one manufacturer or another.
Oh,I thought @Keith_W was talking in general about such a product not existing.
If price is a given,then...
Nevertheless,devices like the ones the thread is about is pro ones and cost in pro devices is usually by the channel and abilities,eg.high sample rates,DSD,various I/O,etc.
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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Oh,I thought @Keith_W was talking in general about such a product not existing.
If price is a given,then...
Nevertheless,devices like the ones the thread is about is pro ones and cost in pro devices is usually by the channel and abilities,eg.high sample rates,DSD,various I/O,etc.

Keith might very well have been talking independent of cost/price. My intent with the thread was to factor in price - not because I'm cheap, but rather because the technology, components, form factor, and so on already seem to be plentiful on the market in inexpensive devices, just not quite in the particular combination I (and apparently some other folks) am looking for.

But yes, the M12 might very well fill the gap Keith is talking about, feature-wise.
 

Sokel

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Keith might very well have been talking independent of cost/price. My intent with the thread was to factor in price - not because I'm cheap, but rather because the technology, components, form factor, and so on already seem to be plentiful on the market in inexpensive devices, just not quite in the particular combination I (and apparently some other folks) am looking for.

But yes, the M12 might very well fill the gap Keith is talking about, feature-wise.
About price in such devices.I think a good chunk of it is support and after sales as this is crucial in pro market and the need of employing a team able to assist on the fly is no cheap.
Seems fair though.
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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@SMSL-Mandy - I don't know if you can comment on this, or perhaps make an inquiry at your company, but I figured there would be no harm in tagging you with this question:

Right now SMSL already makes an inexpensive device with multiple digital inputs, including USB: The PS100 DAC. But the PS100 only has analogue output - it does not have the ability to output a digital signal.

And right now SMSL also makes an inexpensive, high-quality device that converts one digital input to a different digital output: the PO100 Pro. But the PO100 Pro only has one digital input (USB). It does not have the ability to take multiple digital inputs.

Would SMSL consider a new device that combines the PS100's multiple digital inputs (for example USB, SPDIF, TOSLINK) with the PO100 Pro's digital output capability? It seems SMSL has already done the R&D, engineering, and component sourcing for both of these capabilities - SMSL just has not yet combined these features into a single unit.

Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide.
 

Keith_W

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NAD M12?

(with optional DD HDM-1 HDMI Module with 3 inputs and 1 output (3D video passthrough) and/or the network audio module, DD BluOS, with music management software that is controlled with an iOS or Android device)

I was not aware that the M12 existed. I had a look at it ... AUD$6300! I think I will stick with a cobbled together solution. I already own an RME Fireface UC audio interface which I use for source switching, all it lacks is HDMI capability. I should be able to get a HDMI audio extractor to send audio to the Fireface, and I would have a solution that does what I need for far less cost (albeit less elegance).
 
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tmtomh

tmtomh

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It's something I do not understand either. As a result of absence of multiport digital only interface I have the mentioned switch, PO100 Pro and S2 Digi to cover different usage scenarios.

Wow, that S2 Digi is nice - USB and optical input, to optical output. Won't work for my particular use case, but if they made one where that optical in and out were coax SPDIF instead, my problem would be solved.

One question: how does the S2 Digi switch between the two inputs? Does it have both active all the time and depends on the user not to accidentally play through both inputs at once? Or does it set one input as the priority and automatically switches depending on what signal is being sent to which input?
 

Roland68

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I assume the answer here is "market reasons," but given the near-endless variety of digital interfaces and DACs out there, I have a hard time believing that.

What I'm talking about is an inexpensive device that is a sort of merger of an SMSL PO100 (or PO100 Pro, doesn't matter in this situation), and an SMSL PS100:

PO100 Pro: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/detail/id/808.html
PS100: https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/product/detail/id/842.html

The PO100 provides digital-to-digital conversion, but has only one input: USB. It costs about $70.

The PS100 provides multiple digital inputs, but has only analogue outputs. It costs about $30.

There is at least one multi-input, multi-output digital switcher out there - https://www.tindie.com/products/beni_skate/automatic-spdif-opticalrca-audio-switch/ - but it doesn't offer USB among its input choices.

It seems to me that given the above, SMSL (or one of many other companies) could easily make a device with multiple digital inputs, including USB, like the PS100, and digital outputs like the PO100 Pro. And they could sell it for $100 or less and still make money, judging by the retail prices of the PO100 Pro and PS100.

They could save even more by making this device a pure digital interface - basically a PO100 Pro but with additional digital inputs and the switching functionality of the PS100, but without the PS100's built-in DAC. (And they could save even a little more money by omitting the HDMI input if they wanted, I suppose.)

In the absence of this as-yet nonexistent product, the only options for a multiple-input digital interface with USB are $500-$2000 devices from MiniDSP, RME, MOTU, and so on, whose features are massive overkill for just digital interface/switching functionality.

It just seems like a strange gap in the market.

Thoughts?
Exactly this discussion was already there.

It is an absolute niche area.
- Most DACs already have 3-5 switchable inputs, do you need more?
- You can connect everything to the digital inputs via switches or converters and via HDMI/i2s without any restrictions, i.e. what the DAC chip can provide.
- Even 10 interfaces are no problem.
- Several USB interfaces in one DAC are also nonsense, because the DAC can only connect one USB interface at a time.
- External USB switches are mature and absolutely cheap.

There are enough ready-made devices and modules from which you can put together everything you need at a reasonable price.
I used a 4x i2s switch board for € 10 for this.

The development effort is not worthwhile for the manufacturer, since this can quickly cost a 5-digit amount with all the expenses and tests (it should also work with every device).
And one thing is for sure, if a manufacturer releases a device like this, it definitely will...
- be too expensive
- have the wrong DAC chip
- have the wrong interfaces
- the wrong number of interfaces (whether too many or too few)
- be too small or too big
- have the wrong color
- and be from the wrong manufacturer
 

MCH

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Exactly this discussion was already there.

It is an absolute niche area.
- Most DACs already have 3-5 switchable inputs, do you need more?
- You can connect everything to the digital inputs via switches or converters and via HDMI/i2s without any restrictions, i.e. what the DAC chip can provide.
- Even 10 interfaces are no problem.
- Several USB interfaces in one DAC are also nonsense, because the DAC can only connect one USB interface at a time.
- External USB switches are mature and absolutely cheap.

There are enough ready-made devices and modules from which you can put together everything you need at a reasonable price.
I used a 4x i2s switch board for € 10 for this.

The development effort is not worthwhile for the manufacturer, since this can quickly cost a 5-digit amount with all the expenses and tests (it should also work with every device).
And one thing is for sure, if a manufacturer releases a device like this, it definitely will...
- be too expensive
- have the wrong DAC chip
- have the wrong interfaces
- the wrong number of interfaces (whether too many or too few)
- be too small or too big
- have the wrong color
- and be from the wrong manufacturer

What OP misses is a product with several digital inputs and both analog and digital outputs.

I agree this is an ultra niche use case and probably not interesting for any company no matter how small they are, but I have a hard time thinking this is something difficult or expensive to achieve. I am not and expert but think about these two cases:
  • Topping D10s: looking at the internals it seems that they take the spdif output directly from the xmos chip. The device costs like 100 euros.
  • There are current inexpensive DAC chips (i.e. ES9080q, 7 euros/unit in low quantities) that provide not one but even 2 spdif outputs directly out of the chip, they only need activate them via firmware and hook them, it must not be so difficult.
 

onlyoneme

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Wow, that S2 Digi is nice - USB and optical input, to optical output. Won't work for my particular use case, but if they made one where that optical in and out were coax SPDIF instead, my problem would be solved.

One question: how does the S2 Digi switch between the two inputs? Does it have both active all the time and depends on the user not to accidentally play through both inputs at once? Or does it set one input as the priority and automatically switches depending on what signal is being sent to which input?
Both are working as these are separate routes, spdif to usb and usb to spdif. There is no direct route from spdif in to spdif out.
 

Roland68

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What OP misses is a product with several digital inputs and both analog and digital outputs.

I agree this is an ultra niche use case and probably not interesting for any company no matter how small they are, but I have a hard time thinking this is something difficult or expensive to achieve. I am not and expert but think about these two cases:
  • Topping D10s: looking at the internals it seems that they take the spdif output directly from the xmos chip. The device costs like 100 euros.
  • There are current inexpensive DAC chips (i.e. ES9080q, 7 euros/unit in low quantities) that provide not one but even 2 spdif outputs directly out of the chip, they only need activate them via firmware and hook them, it must not be so difficult.
And that's exactly the problem.
You have 5 users who want something like this, but each of them has special requests like the configuration.
Just intercepting and testing all dependencies and possible connections is a hassle.
There are enough solutions for this in the pro audio sector, but they are neither cheap nor small.

Aliexpress has all the modules to configure something like this yourself. Boards with AK4118 and AK4137 are also available again.
This means that you can really put together any conceivable configuration and remain independent of the DAC.

The D10 is also a great product. The SPDIF interface is fed from the i2s signal generated by the XMOS chip, either via the sample rate converter or the DAC chip.
 

zeropoint

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I use an CYP AU-D820S (end-of-life now) and SMSL PO100Pro if this is of any interest: USB+4/3xCoax+4/3xOptical in by 10xCoax+10xOptical out. Switches 8 in to 20(!) simultaneous outs. Would like to see it measured. The CYP cost £205 (in 2017) and SMSL £46.

Edit: Supports sampling rates up to 192kHz and audio signals up to 5.1CH, and comes complete with CR-137 remote control. Also, supports full coax/optical cross-conversion, LPCM 2-Channel Audio signals, Dolby & DTS audio bypass.

hq720.jpg
 
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