Sound improvement i-link ?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray & DVD Players & Recorders' started by Barend, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. Barend

    Barend
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    Anyone using i-link for SACD/DVDA care to comment?
    Just bought the Marantz DV-9500 (no i-link) so I'm curious what I might be missing here...
    Thanks guys
    Barend
     
  2. bizzibee

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    I'm running iLink between my Pioneer DV-S969AVi (DV868AVi) and Sony TA-DA9000ES and yes there is a sound improvement using iLink. However you have a excellent unit (sound wise) so I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  3. Barend

    Barend
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    Hi Bizzibee, I'm a perfectionist and the eternal tweaker, so I wonder in what respect i link is sounding better than analog?
    Barend
     
  4. bizzibee

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    Hi Barend,

    I should have stated the following with regard to my comments.

    The difference will depends largely on the quality of the DAC's in each device being used. That is if the DAC's in the AVR are better, then using Denonlink or iLink will be the right thing to use. If the DAC's in the universal player are better then using the analog outputs on the universal player would be best. This is way over simplified but will do. However it doesn't take into account the fact that some universal players convert DSD to PCM for Bass Management etc. I'm talking SACD here O.K. not DVD-Audio. So it's not just a simple case of deciding which unit has the best DAC's but also what happens to DSD as it's processed by either the AVR or universal player.

    Now just to confuse you a little. I'm maintaining a "Pure Digital" system all the way from the SACD until just before the speaker terminals on my TA-DA9000ES using iLink. That is it's DSD all the way until it reaches the Low Pass Filters. The signal only becomes analog after it passes through the Low Pass Filter. You can read about it here if you want:

    http://www.docs.sony.com/release/STRDA9000ES_TWP.pdf

    The same goes for any "digital" input to the TA-DA9000ES. PCM etc are converted to DSD.

    Some people might not even be able to tell the difference. It's up to each person to decide what works best for them with their system.

    The analog outputs on your Marantz are excellent, hence my comment about not worrying about iLink. You could always upgrade to the Marantz 9600 when it comes out which has iLink.
     
  5. Barend

    Barend
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    Thanks Bizzibee, for your quick answer!

    Yes, I'm aware of the dsd/pcm issue - my DV-9500 is set to dsd, and no bass management is applied in the player nor in the SR-8500 receiver.
    Between that and the Rotel RMB-1095 final I placed the Outlaw bass manager "ICBM-1" which operates in the analog domain and with which I am very pleased, because it lets me direct and cross over the bass just how I want to my 2 REL subwoofers; as it also supports stereo subs my cd music is really improved.
    So it appears from your reply that in itself i-link, denonlink or hdmi transport does not sound better or worse, am I correct?
    Still, I would welcome to get rid of the bulky clump of 6 analog cables...
    But as I've been reading hdmi does not support sacd so I'm stuck here...
     
  6. bizzibee

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    Yes you are correct! iLink in itself doesn't improve sound quality. It's just a transport medium.
     
  7. gandley

    gandley
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    although I-Link will further reduce jitter, and so can improve audio quality but as said it does realy depend on the Dacs
     
  8. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Ilink doesn't reduce jitter, infact it is generally worse than SPDIF carrying similar stuff (new stuff). HDMI is worse again. SPDIF has improved no end in recent years using the latest chipsets, only Denonlink I would call a decent improvement over existing stuff but that is down to how it works... best think Denon have done in ages. I link will do DSD and if there ae better down stream engineering then things might improve but as you guys have said already, it is just a transport link, all it can do is screw it all up:) Denonlink is smarter....but few talk about it's capabilities here other than can it do DSD?.....It does much more.
     
  9. gandley

    gandley
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    disagree. Pioneers take on i-link indeed has very low jitter, not as low as the denon link which is superior but close.
    There was a huge thread on AVS a while back with some guy who does all the dvd player mods etc who took the readings.
    the conclusion was spdif didnt quite compete. and i-link was the better option as long as the dacs in the amp were superior.(in pioneers case)
    (might of been somthing to do with quartz locking or somthing like that)

    But its not quite as clear cut as you make out. and i mean that from both viewpoints as it depends on how the manfacturer implements the givin tech.
    (ie denon i-link dosent quite work with pio i-link etc)

    Cant comment on HDMI but i guess that would add some compression if not coded properly.
     
  10. ancientgeek

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    There is a definite disadvantage for analogue if you need to do processing of the signal for room and speaker equalisation, because of the need to convert back to digital for processing, then re-convert to analogue to drive the speakers.

    So my opinion is that digital is in general a better choice for interconnect than analogue. For SACD spdif isn't available, so iLink is the only digital choice.

    My understanding is that iLink doesn't make much difference to jitter these days, spdif chips having gained extra buffering, allowing the receiving end to re-clock the data in both cases. So the receiving end makes its own jitter, instead of inheriting it from the upstream device and transceivers.

    Final conclusion: best of all worlds is digital into an AV amp with low jitter and excellent D/A conversion.

    Theory is all very well, but I'm afraid I gave up on SACD. It might sound a tiny bit better, but I really gained no extra enjoyment from the music, and I couldn't put it on a media server, so I decided not to bother. Hence any old upstream device spewing out CD data over spdif is fine by me. My amp makes a good job of de-jittering and interpolating (upsampling) the data, so I'm happy.
     
  11. bizzibee

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    Have you heard of HATS? See:

     
  12. ancientgeek

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    <apple rant>
    Just as iLink is just Sony's relabelling of Apple's Firewire (which was adopted as the IEEE1394 standard), HATS is Sony's branding of the way the firewire isochronous protocol works.

    i.e. everyone who supports iLink audio streams is doing HATS. But Sony makes you think it's an exclusive Sony benefit by branding it and explaining it.

    This is called marketing, and Sony are very good at it. Just as they are very good technically. Hence they chose firewire for digital media streaming.

    (It's just a shame that Intel forced USB onto the world when firewire alone would have been so much better. It's also a shame that Sony insisted on a different 4-pin connector, and that all the cheapskate PC laptop manufacturers didn't bother to include power out on their firewire/iLink/IEE1394 sockets. It's also a huge irony that USB was going nowhere until Apple made it the only local interface on the original iMac, forcing the market for USB devices into existence and conceding a huge market share to USB. Size matters more than being right, unfortunately, and Apple know it.)
    </apple rant>
     
  13. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Happy to disagree, this is not clear cut. Denonlink I believe does have an advantage over what we have, the others are just different and is down to how you engineer them. So far I am not too impressed on the scope. Hasn't Paul Miller done some testing here? I am sure somene mentioned something a while back. I think these interfaces need a timing signal.

    I can see the interest in DSD over I link but I feel it should be better, it certainly doesn't guarantee better performance as it stands :(
     
  14. bizzibee

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  15. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Not entirely convinced everyone knows what they are talking about there :rolleyes:

    The basics are covered in my Digital Interfaces thread although old should be technically accurate, though might need updating. Things to remember are audio only or audio and visual....

    I will see if I can find Paul Millers ramblings.....I think he did it on all Denon kit.
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    HDMI 1.1
    Initially described as &#8216;a combination of the other interfaces' with &#8216;a warmers and lumpier sounding bass', this extra weight and &#8216;flesh' also tripped-up our perception of the music's finer detail. &#8216;Rather like squeezing a size 12 woman into a size 10 dress suggested one listener, &#8216;it all fits but there's inevitably some overhang'. In the same fashion, the acoustic guitar sounded like it was strung with nylon rather than steel, such was the smoothing, fat fingered sound of the HDMI interface. Slick but lacking in snap and bite, it's the audio equivalent of &#8216;being gummed to death by Dracula'.

    IEEE1394 (FIREWIRE/I.LINK)
    This afforded a distinctly drier and somewhat leaner presentation that benefitted Sheryl Crow's vocals but also sucked some of the weight and rolling momentum from the bass line. &#8216;A very straight-down-the-line performance, arid sounding but hard or harsh', it was suggested. Switching from HDMI to IEE1394 with the acoustic jazz &#8216;stage mix', a far greater sense of urgency was realised in the attack of the strings (even as far as revealing a momentary &#8216;fluff' on the right surround channel). The hall acoustic was more voluminuous, harder passages perhaps but not unpleasantly so, but certainly lacking the rich tapestry depicted by the D-Link. Nevertheless, IEEE1394 was voted well ahead of the HDMI v1.1 for it's far more lively, energetic and plainly more engaging performance.

    DENON-LINK
    With greater emotion in Crow's vocals and the harmonies now realised as distinct layers, we were provided with a far greater insight into the music. This improvement in space, tonal colours and inflections extended from her voice to the backing instruments, building momentum and drawing us into a powerful and emotional performance. The same held true for the acoustic jazz session that combined the snappy edge-detail of the IEE1394 input with the natural, fluidity of it's own. Before, we were on the edge of the stage, but the D-link interface placed us snap bang in the middle of the performance, the exquisite sound of guitar and mandolin appearing all around us. Described as a &#8216;technological bullseye', the performance via D-Link was very difficult to criticise, affording a performance that exceeded the sum of it's multichannel parts and as potent an advocate for multichannel audio as you are likely to encounter.

    AVTECH SAYS
    &#8230;&#8230;.Is there any chance of &#8216;HDMI v1.2' with a serial clock for audio?&#8230;.

    The above is from Paul Millers excellent review of the top spec Denon DVD &#8211; A1XV, May 2005 AVTECH (HiFi News).

    Denon to Denon via HDMI 4560psec jitter
    Denon to Denon via IEEE1394 275,600psec jitter
    Denon to Denon via D-Link 1260psec jitter
    Internal Jitter is typically, 200psec with CD, SACD and DVD A sources

    Arcam 29 and Pioneer 868 both showing significantly better results than the above, again down to how you engineer things.

    Out of interest, Tag I think wanted to use HDMIv1.1 with their Tag Sync link clock but that is history now&#8230;.
     
  17. Barend

    Barend
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    Thanks Nic, for this very informative contribution.
    Owning Marantz gear, I think I will stick to analog for the time being...
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Smart move I think, SPDIF has changed out of all recognition in recent years, I expect the same to happen with these other interfaces, at which I think they will be very good, now it is still work in progress, except Denon link which to a teccy like me looks tempting....
     
  19. bradavon78

    bradavon78
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    Is there any improvement with I-Link on compressed audio? (i.e - DTS/DD5.1)?

    And if there is how great is it?
     
  20. ancientgeek

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    My opinion of the extract from the Paul Miller review: (I am not an "expert", but I do believe it is possible to reason correctly; apologies for the slight rant)

    I am afraid I regard the terminology of this review as objectively meaningless, describing states of the reviewers mind that cannot credibly be generated by the equipment set-up being reviewed (as opposed to the marketing materials for it!). That doesn't mean there wasn't a difference between using the three interfaces in the test set-up, just that this review doesn't really tell you what its relevance is.

    All three interfaces are digital, and if the entire, exact, identical data wasn't getting through, they are basically broken, which I doubt. The only remaining interface variable is jitter, and nowadays the processor can, if properly designed, effectively eliminate source jitter (replacing it with its own internal jitter). The large variation in jitter with these three interfaces says more about Denon's design decisions forthe Amp than about the interfaces. They would certainly want D-link to have "better jitter" than the others.

    Although in principle flow control (such as is possible with i-Link) is required to totally decouple from the source clock over extended periods, I strongly doubt that this is actually a perceptible difference, when a good job of re-clocking is done with spdif or hdmi.

    I find it very hard to envision any mechanism whereby sub-nanosecond jitter could be audible, and I am sure it can be achieved on all three interfaces. Bear in mind that the shortest human-audible wavelength is about 50,000,000,000 picoseconds. Even jitter of 275,600 picoseconds corresponds to an error beyond the 18th bit in the amplitude domain, and in the case of any normal sound you might be listening to, a good few more bits. In other words, it is a tiny effect far beyond the resolution of, for example, CD source material.

    To put it another way, you will experience jitter of 275,600 picoseconds if you move your head by quarter of a millimetre while listening to your music. You do listen with a head clamp don't you?

    Like inkjet cartridges and razorblades, Denon link is a way to improve margins and follow-on sales in a competitive market. I have not seen a single credible reason what it could possibly enable that isn't possible with other interfaces. But since (unlike HDMI or firewire) it was primarily designed for audio interconnect, it's presumably well designed for the purpose. I'm just quite comfortable living without it.

    Does anyone know what the denon-link patent actually is? Is it US patent application 20030223409? (the only one I can find that is plausible).
     
  21. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    For full technical details look to Pauls website, it all there in massive detail for people to make their own conclusions.

    Processors have a very mixed set of results re dealing with jitter and reclocking, some are really good, others are not ;) Just like bass management, everyone just assumes it is correct, it often isn't. Note often, not rarely.

    Re HDMI we are looking at the first generation of chips now on the market, two years ago we were talking about the benefits of adding an audio clock link as it was obvious that this would be the achillees heal of the interface. There is still much development that can happen, just as happened with SPDIF. I suspect the current situation will improve as engineers get more experience with them. At the moment we judge on what we have and not on what we think they should be capable of.

    Personally find the Arcam and Pioneer solutions (HDMI and IEEE) to be better engineered versions that sound better. Similarly I prefer the sound of Denon Link on Denon players. It seems to be the one favoured by Denon owners on SQ terms.

    who has sat down and tried to listen to these interfaces? These are the people we need to post experiences here to see if they agree with what has been published.
     
  22. bradavon78

    bradavon78
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    Technically which is better I-Link or coaxial/optical?

    It's such a pity HDMI doesn't play SACD or copy protected DVD-A discs and therefore making it worthless. So this leaves I-Link.
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    They are different. I would use coax SPDIF for DD / DTS / PCM etc and I Link for DSD.
     
  24. bradavon78

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    Why?

    I-Link supports all of them. That seems a bit OTT having to use a different connection just for SACD.
     
  25. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Because I think it works better that way, not the most convenient I grant you but potentially better sounding.
     
  26. bradavon78

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    Thanks but please be more specific?

    Is I-Link inferior to SPDIF for DD / DTS / PCM?

    Besides DVD-A uses PCM and that wouldn't work through SPDIF.
     
  27. Jase

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    Out of interest. How are these Jitter measurements taken? Are they just measured from the outputs of the DVD player? As I understand it, the signal is then reclocked in the Amp, so that would give a different reading altogether (if it's possible to even measure).
     
  28. Barend

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    Just read a long story by Sony about their top digital receiver, which reminded be of my current setup:

    Topfield satbox (component video out)
    Marantz DV-9500 (hdmi out and 5.1 analog out)
    Marantz SR-8500 (not used for video)
    Iscan HD+ scaler (dvi out)
    Outlaw Bass Manager (analog) between SR8500 preouts and the 5ch final amp

    So if I follow the audio lineup there's only the DA converter inside the DV9500 (bass management switched off), the rest stays in the analog domain?
    I feel this is quite OK, right?
    If I should use i link there has to be a DA converter SOMEWHERE or am I thinking wrong?
     
  29. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    If you use I link then the DA stage is delayed until last minute, ie all in the receiver.

    Jase point on the measurements is accurate, I 'suspect' these are the outputs that are measured but please don't assume both re clocking will solve all the issues with digital signal (I Link in particular). Reclocking in these receivers isn't bad in SPDIF chipset nowdays but these new interfaces are a whole new ball game. You only havce to look at the difference in sound from different players (Denon vs Pioneer) to see a difference. Of more interest is the difference between I Link and Denon link. This is no real difference from the excellent SPDIF signal from a Tag DVD player into everything but an even better performance again into Tag processors when the sync link is also engaged (separate clock signal). This is the 'old style' analogy to Denon Link.

    Most modern receivers have only limited ability in reconstructing the digital signal, even the good ones. I suspect we will see significant developments in this area over the next few years.

    Certainly I expect to see more players using a clock signal. I wonder if anyone will take on the pro solution of WordClock?
     

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