Bit depth (also known as word length) indicates how many bits are used to represent each sample in a digital sampling system. Each sample is a snapshot of a signal or voltage at an instant in time. The CD uses 16 bits to represent the voltage of an audio waveform at each instant in time. Other digital audio systems use different bit depths ranging from 1 to 64 bits. It is important to understand the relationship between bit depth and audio quality. The bit depth sets ...
Two or more Benchmark DAC1 or DAC2 converters can be used together in phase-coherent multichannel audio systems even though their internal clocks are not synchronized. This seems to defy logic, but an examination of the system details reveals why this is possible.
The music industry is struggling to define High-Resolution Audio or "HRA". In doing so, most have focused on the delivery formats - analog vs. digital, 24-bits vs. 16-bits, 1X vs. 2X and 4X sample rates, PCM vs. DSD, uncompressed vs. compressed.
But, High-Resolution Audio is much more than the delivery format ...
"High-Resolution Audio Requires High-Resolution Performance at all Stages of the Recording and Playback Chain"
"Analog audio has infinite amplitude resolution."
"Digital audio is limited to a finite number of steps."
"24-bit audio has more resolution than 16-bit audio."
While it is true that digital systems quantize the amplitude of the audio signal to the nearest step in the digital encoding system, this does not necessarily mean that digital systems cannot have infinite resolution. Contrary to popular belief, digital systems can provide infinite amplitude resolution if they are properly dithered.
The performance of the AHB2 would not have been achievable without taking a radical approach to power amplification. In many ways, the AHB2 is a complete 180 degree departure from traditional high-end amplifier designs. There is nothing ordinary about the Benchmark AHB2!
Take a look inside this unique audio power amplifier!
It is easy to build a headphone amplifier that produces sound. It is an entirely different matter to produce an amplifier that is clear, clean, and enjoyable.
Headphone amplifiers need to provide enough voltage and current to achieve a suitable listening level. They must also be able to cleanly deliver the required output. Furthermore, they need to be able to control the transducers.
If these goals are not achieved, a good set of headphones can sound bad.
Mastering and Recording Engineer, Mark Waldrep (A.K.A. Dr. AIX) recently published an excellent application note titled "My First Server". This is a step-by-step guide for setting up a High-Resolution Audio (HRA) server. He chose a Mac Mini, a Benchmark DAC2 HGC, and the highly-acclaimed Amarra playback software to bring studio-quality playback to his own living room.
With his simple guide, you can join Mark, and enjoy mastering-quality High-Resolution Audio in your room.
Most people have seen the CE mark on electronic equipment, but few have had the opportunity to witness the tests that are required to conform to the CE specifications. This post takes the reader on a behind-the-scenes photo-tour of the CE tests of Benchmark's new AHB2 power amplifier.
This application note addresses these common questions and presents some guidelines for selecting headphones with the proper impedance and sensitivity.
In my last post, "Audio that Goes to 11", I made the bold assertion that most of our audio recordings contain peaks that exceed the limits of our digital hardware. In this post I will show how this happens, and explain why this is a problem in PCM audio systems.
Do we throw out PCM and move to DSD?
It's on your iPhone, your Android and your computer. It's even on those CDs you put on a shelf somewhere. Audio that goes to 11. If 10 is the clip point of digital audio, you actually have digital recordings that go to 11. Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap was on to something in 1984 when he explained that his Marshal amps "go to 11".
But, it's not just Spinal Tap recordings that go to 11, every recording you own may also go to 11! How is this possible? If 10 is the clip point of digital audio, how can there possibly be an 11? And, if we use Nigel's logic; if 10 is good, why isn't 11 better?
High-Resolution Audio systems offer the promise of an extended high-frequency range. High-Resolution digital systems now operate at 2 to 4 times the sample rate of the standard CD. This means that these systems have the capability of extending the playback frequency range well above the 22 kHz limit of the standard CD. Does this added high-frequency range improve our listening experience? How high is high enough? Do we really need anything over 20 kHz?
There is a raging debate over the definition of "High-Resolution Audio". The focus of this debate has been misdirected by a lot of marketing hype. High-Resolution Audio will only truly arrive when the sum total of all defects in the audio chain become inaudible. We are not there yet, but we are getting close. The final chapter will not be higher sample rates and more bits. The final chapter will be achieving the necessary improvements to critical components in the signal chain.
If your playback system can't resolve anything better than CD quality, then "High-Resolution Audio" will remain an illusion.
The movement of headphone transducers must be well controlled in order to produce high-quality audio. It is easy to build a headphone amplifier that produces sound. It is an entirely different matter to produce an amplifier that is clear, clean, and enjoyable.
Headphone amplifiers need power and accuracy to achieve control. They also need to be protected from short circuits and overload conditions. The cheap, dirty, and common way to protect the amplifier is to add a series resistor between the amplifier and the headphone jack. This simple solution protects the amplifier from short circuits and overloads. Unfortunately, the resistor isolates the headphones from the amplifier, causing a loss of control. This ...
Recording Engineers and Audiophiles often distrust audio measurements and specifications. It is not uncommon to hear claims that a product measures poorly but sounds good. Occasionally we also hear claims that a product measures well but sounds bad.
This whitepaper documents significant differences between three headphone amplifiers that have nearly identical published specifications.
A simple USB adapter made by Apple can enable the iPad to connect directly to a Benchmark DAC1.
Using this adapter, the iPad can transparently stream high-resolution digital audio to the USB input of Benchmark converters. Once this connection is established, it is also possible to wirelessly stream a 96-kHz, 24-bit audio to the iPad and out to the DAC without losing sonic quality.
This application note explains the simple set-up and shows proof of performance.
The ADC16 is equipped with Benchmark’s new UltraLockDDS™ clock system. This system utilizes the latest low-jitter clock technology developed for high-frequency RF communications systems.
The master oscillator is a low phase-noise, temperature-compensated, fixed-frequency crystal oscillator with a +/- 2 PPM frequency accuracy. This oscillator drives a 500 MHz Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) system.
Jitter attenuation is achieved with digital filters in a custom FPGA that controls the DDS system. All jitter-induced distortion artifacts are well below audibility under all operating conditions.