Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

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Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by KJ6EO » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:04 pm

Hello and thanks for reading my post. I own an LPFM which has been on the air now for about a year. I'm driving my audio chain with a play out system. The Server has a M-Audio Delta 192 Professional Sound Card in it. The Delta 192 has TRS balanced outputs (TRS). Everything in the audio chain is XLR Balanced. I've been thinking about going AES (digital) all the way through. My question is, is going digital really really worth the effort? The Delta 192 has a coaxial S/PDIF out. I'd need to buy an S/PDIF to AES adapter in order to feed the audio chain. The Station sounds excellent on the air as it is. So, as I said before, would going digital all the way through really make a difference? Thank you in advance for your guidance and suggestions.

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Re: Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by NECRAT » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:26 pm

I've heard some excellent analog audio chains.

Personally, if it were me, I'd try not to fix what isn't broken. Save the money for more important future expenditures.
You may need AES down the road, but if it were me, I'd leave it be. Especially if it sounds good and is working fine.

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Re: Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by Shane » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:05 pm

I think the main gain is better signal-to-noise ratio but that is limited by receivers and receiving conditions anyway, so I agree with Mike on this one. Funds probably better spent elsewhere.
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Re: Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by KPJL FM » Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:41 am

My rule of thumb (and I gots FAT thumbs!):
If you have 6 or more audio DA's, it's time to go digital. Just for the S/N, power consumption and routing nightmares.
Otherwise, digital is OK for storage.
Remember, your speakers and your ears are analog. :wink:
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Re: Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by Ray » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:56 pm

I also just finished building out a new LPFM.

I used Digigram audio cards for all of the air and production computers. These cards have both analog and digital AES outputs

The audio cards are input into a Broadcast Tools ADMS 44.22 matrix switch that has both analog and AES inputs/outputs

The ADMS feeds our transmitter (Nautel VS300) has a AES input.

The audio cards and the ADMS were used from ebay and not that expensive.

I just like the idea of taking advantage of the AES input on the transmitter. I agree with the other posts that the analog pipeline also sounds great also.

With AES, hum (and possible RFI) is perhaps less of a worry.


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Re: Audio Chain > AES or Analog?

Post by TPT » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:16 pm

In theory, you can get 90 db S/N with digital. avoid distortion, you need to run at least 12-15 db below maximum level so voice peaks don't clip. So now your S/N is down to 75 db. Then, if you run contemporary music, you'll find it's been mastered with peaks driven to digital clipping...

I can remember getting 65 DB S/N off tape decks with good tape. So, again, the point is...what? Unless you have a complex, multi-studio plant, keep it analog until you don't have the choice. Usually into the audio processor. Hum shouldn't be a problem--if it is most likely culprit is some source with a failing power supply, or poor grounding practices.

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