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Is the AES/EBU/SPDIF Digital Audio Interface Flawed?

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It is a requirement of high quality digital audio systems that all digital interfaces in the signal path exhibit signal transparency. The widely adopted AES/EBU/SPDIF interface has received criticism from some quarters for a lack of signal transparency; this paper addresses possible problems with such interfaces and presents methods for improving the interface standard.

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Scott Dorsey
Scott Dorsey

Comment posted May 14, 2020 @ 19:39:30 UTC (Comment permalink)

The premise behind this paper is that jitter on the incoming clock is directly translated into jitter on the clock operating a D/A converter, and it shows where many of the jitter problems on the S-PDIF and AES/EBU interface come from.  Namely, the recovery of the embedded clock is a real problem.

What this paper doesn't do is provide the simple and easy answer of buffering and derived clocks which has become universal today.  But it was one of the first to show that there was a need for such a thing.

This paper may seem less than clear to young people who have grown up in a world where computer memory is cheap and buffering is easy and very few things are built entirely with blocks of combinational logic, but it is a view into a different world where clocks were more tightly coupled.

Unfortunately some people in the high end audio community cite this paper as an indication that these problems still exist in modern systems.  We have come a long way since 1992 and Dr. Hawksford helped carry us there.

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