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AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

talex, modified 5 Years ago.

AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
Hi,

I'm a home user running a 2.1 setup - 2 Genelec 8330 monitors and a Genelec 7350 subwoofer.
I've just got a taste of studio grade equipment and I'm loving it, this sounds better than anything I've tried and the monitor calibration works wonders.
I want to extend my setup to include a better audio interface and after reading for a few days it's obvious that i need a bit of help :-)

I'm getting 2.0 audio out of my Windows PC via the OPTICAL SPDIF OUT from the motherboard sound card.
OPTICAL SPDIF gets transformed to digital AES/EBU via a HOSA ODL312 and digital signal is sent to the Genelecs that perform bass management themselves.
I used to run a Lindy OPTICAL SPDIF SWITCH before the HOSA ODL312 to allow to easily switch OPTICAL SPIFS inputs to the Genelecs, but fearing that it might degrade the signal or introduce jitter I've removed it and (placebo?) things seem to sound a bit better. Need to test that further.
Software on the PC handles all downmixing required (5.1 or 7.1 tracks to 2.0 with LFE channel mixed in). I've had good results with Media Player Home Cinema and now I'm looking into JRiver. Getting the LFE channel to be downmixed in the 2.0 mix was actually quite a challange - most of the playback software will just drop the LFE channel no questions asked (to my dispair :).
I'm using this for music/games/movies.

I would like to power the Genelecs directly via AES/EBU and prepare for extending the setup with a new 5.1 setup.
I'm hoping that moving to something that can output AES/EBU directly might improve the quality of the digital signal; for example I've seen PCI-Express cards that output AES/EBU directly and thus avoid the onboard sound card and optical to AES conversion. Not sure what impact clocks and jitter and format transformation can have on what I'm hearing now but i'm thinking that things should get better fed directly from PCIE with no format conversion along the way. I've seen there are also USB solutions but from what I'm reading PCI-E provides the best performance?
I plan to get a new 5.1 setup and ideally the same PC that powers the 2.1 setup would also be able to power the 2.1 setup or 5.1 setup with some easy way to switch between the two.

I've narrowed things down to two interfaces:
-> Lynx AES16e PCI Express AES/EBU - 16 output channels of AES/EBU, optional sample rate conversion
-> RME HDSPe AES - 16 output channels of AES/EBU, world clock support

My question is:
- these things are rather expensive for a home user :-) wanted to make sure i'm looking in the right direction and there isn't other better option available
- any experience with any of these cars? any recommendation on what should i go for?
- is there actually potential to improve sound quality?
- can these interfaces power two setups (2.1 and 5.1) in the same time with some easy way to switch between them? Can GLM manage such scenario?
- if i want secondary sources that output TOSLINK digital to the monitors, can i connect them to the PCIE interface AES/EBU inputs (after transformation) and route them trough the mixing software to the genelecs? this would allow for some "input switching" to allow other sources that just the main PC source
- do clocks play a role in this setup (feeding monitors via AES/EBU)? is the world clock support on the RME provide some benefit for my setup
- does signal rate conversion on the Lynx something that would be useful?

Thanks!!!
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
I have no answers, I just want to say that what you wrote is EXACTLY what I'm also wondering about right now, so you saved me the trouble of writing a long message :-)
I wish someone here can give a reply.
I'm also reaching out to Soitin Laine about this. If I hear back anything useful, I will write it here too.
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
I have no answers, I just want to say that what you wrote is EXACTLY what I'm also wondering about right now, so you saved me the trouble of writing a long message :-)
I wish someone here can give a reply.
I'm also reaching out to Soitin Laine about this. If I hear back anything useful, I will write it here too.


Hi, glad my post helped :-)

In the mean time, after a lot of research i went for the RME HDSPe AES that is 16 output channels of AES/EBU over PCI Express. I have a PC as my main workstation so i like the PCI-E part as it is all inside the chasis. If i later go to a macbook i can put the card in a thunderbolt enclosure and protect my investment.
Looking at external solution i couldnt find much that resembles this number of channels without paying for a whole lot more i wouldnt be using.

I went for the RME vs the Lynx as apparently the driver and software is better but i wasn't able to do a comparison so i cannot say anything on that except that the RME software is pretty nice.

I am using the card to drive my 2.1 setup and it's nice as JRiver Media Center (movies) and Tidal desktop app (lossless CD music) both support direct hardware access so i'm getting low latency "bit perfect" transfer to the Genelecs that later do their thing.
From how this card works there wouldn't be a problem connecting a separate 5.1 setup to it, you can configure the card to send the same or different output to the 5.1 setup, things are pretty flexible.
I can even imagine routing external sources trough this, as converting optical SPDIF to AES trough something like the HOSA would enable me to connect these signals as inputs to the RME card and than further route them to outputs. The routing is very flexible.

If you need any help or have questions related to this setup i'm more than happy to help.
If you're just looking for a very very simple solution to output clean AES/EBU from a PC to a 2.1 setup, there is also this: http://www.matrix-digi.com/en/products/10/index.html . It's a nice clean interface ASIO capable that takes USB and outputs AES/EBU.

One thing that is not clear for me is how would volume control work if i would connect a 2.1 setup and a 5.1 setup to the same AES/EBU card. Would i need 2 GLM kits?
Maybe @Ilka or someone with experience in such a setup could help us out on this one?


Cheers!
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Sounds great! Where did you buy the RME? I think I'll go for it too.
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
Trinnov altitude 32. ;) youll get everything you need and much more.
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
Sounds great! Where did you buy the RME? I think I'll go for it too.


Hi, I've got it from thomann.de.
This is the board: https://www.thomann.de/gb/rme_hdspe_aes32.htm
These are the cables to enable 16 AES/EBU output channels: 2 x https://www.thomann.de/gb/alva_aes25_4f4m1.htm .
You only need one of these cables for 8 channels - more than enough for a 2.1 or 5.1 setup.
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
Trinnov altitude 32. ;) youll get everything you need and much more.


WOW, that is the longest spec sheet i've seen.
It's the only box i've seen so far to decode advanced codecs like atmos and output digital aes ebu.
But the price is eye watering : ))) 15-25.000 pounds. I might need to save a bit more :D
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Thanks on the trip on Trinnov but unfortunately it's a bit out of my budget.
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
sry for asking but why do you need over a 2.1 setup without any audio formats like DTS, Dolby or Auro3d.
It would only be for multi channel stereo use?
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
Trinnov altitude 32. ;) youll get everything you need and much more.


WOW, that is the longest spec sheet i've seen.
It's the only box i've seen so far to decode advanced codecs like atmos and output digital aes ebu.
But the price is eye watering : ))) 15-25.000 pounds. I might need to save a bit more :D


A dream kit, I assure you :) No need to update for a looong time. If theres any updates you can send it to trinnov and they upgrade it.
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
sry for asking but why do you need over a 2.1 setup without any audio formats like DTS, Dolby or Auro3d.
It would only be for multi channel stereo use?


Hi,

I have a 2.1 Genelec setup that I use on the desk.
I am planning for a 5.1 setup that will work together with my projector in the living room for movies, fed by the same pc that is feeding the 2.1 setup.

A "problem" with my setup is that I need to decode all the audio codecs in software, as of course Genelec only takes PCM as input. Luckily, I've found JRiver Media Centre that has an outstanding audio engine and now performs down mixing for the 2.1 setup and will perform down mixing if required for the 5.1 setup. So for me the need for a A/V Receiver or a dedicated box is quite minimal. I've also cut down on the number of sources I have, the PC is used for audio/games/movies so no need for multiplexing also. It's a decent compromise setup that allows for quality sound bit data to reach the Genelecs which was the design goal for me.

JRiver does not support ATMOS or other new fancy codecs, but I don't think I'll ever have money to invest into a proper 7.2.4 / 5.2.4 dolby setup.
I'm actually wondering if I need even 5.1 or if I should use the money wiser and get a 2.0 setup for the projector with a pair of Genelec 8260 or 8351 and call it a day :-)

Not sure if I answered your question :-)
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
talex, how sure are you that the RME is capable of 5.1 with various movies?
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
well, what is does is the following: you map and configure it's outputs to appear like a number of 2.0 or 7.1 virtual sound cards in windows (you can have 1 to 8 x 2.0 sound cards or 1 to 2 x 7.1 sound cards)
than you set your windows playback software to use one of those soundcards and voila! you get sound out the outputs mapped to these sound cards; this is why i'm saying that the software does all the decoding and donwmixing if required
so basically if the software is capable of sending PCM data to the virtual sound card, the AES EBU ports linked to that will output PCM
the RME is basically a hardware mixer that presents itself as virtual soundcards to windows or directly to software that knows ASIO or WASPI

does this make sense?

take a look here starting with page 5: https://www.rme-audio.de/download/windo ... er_4_e.pdf
also the full manual (minus the updates from the new driver included in the pdf above): https://www.rme-audio.de/download/hdspeaes_e.pdf
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Kinda :-) This stuff is a little out of my knowledge area, so I'm trying to learn too.

But to be clear, you have not been able to test a 5.1 setup yet - all you are saying is theoretical? Just wondering if I should wait until you have actually tested the setup before spending a thousand euros :-) I'd like whatever I buy to be future-proof for at least while I'm satisfied with 7.1. (All this 9.1.4 craziness is a bit too much for me right now... but I guess I'll warm up to it eventually).

And another thing. When I connect the PC to the Genelecs (that all have the AES connections), do I connect the PC only to the subwoofer (and connect the rest of the Genelecs into the subwoofer with some AES chain cabling(?)) or do I connect each speaker to the PC separately?
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
talex, now I get it. Pretty nice in theory anyways, would like to know how it compares to a preamp :) Please let us know if you deside to go this way.

Hard to say what you should do but all I can say is that the 8351's are superior to the 8260's in stereo use.

GORE_FC The AES connections are made in pairs, So from PC or preamp (Db25) to Left front and from there to Right Front. So youll get 2 speakers in a chain from the source. FL with FR, SR with SL, SBR with SBL, sub with center, sub with sub ...
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Thanks maNutal, this is very helpful information but how does the PC know which speaker is which? Do I set them up using GLM or do the speakers have some automagic system built-in?
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
Im not 100% sure, all i know is that you dont set them up via glm. Glm is only the room correction and for that youll use the rj-45 cables and the ethernet ports in the speaker, then you do then correction on a pc/mac with the glm 2.0 sofware. I guess you have to get a connector(db25?) for the soundcard and you do the setup via the RME card.
talex, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Padawan Posts: 41 Join Date: 8/27/15 Recent Posts
Kinda :-) This stuff is a little out of my knowledge area, so I'm trying to learn too.

But to be clear, you have not been able to test a 5.1 setup yet - all you are saying is theoretical? Just wondering if I should wait until you have actually tested the setup before spending a thousand euros :-) I'd like whatever I buy to be future-proof for at least while I'm satisfied with 7.1. (All this 9.1.4 craziness is a bit too much for me right now... but I guess I'll warm up to it eventually).

And another thing. When I connect the PC to the Genelecs (that all have the AES connections), do I connect the PC only to the subwoofer (and connect the rest of the Genelecs into the subwoofer with some AES chain cabling(?)) or do I connect each speaker to the PC separately?


i did not have the chance to test it, but i can make a pretty good educated guess
RME appears as a 7.1 sound card in windows; your playback software sends PCM to that and than the genelecs get fed PCM material
i have zero doubt that it works
what is important is that the software performs the required downmixing and outputs the correct number of channels that you need (for example downmix 7.1 -> 5.1 or -> 2.1).

related to the connections, you need to read a bit around how GLM works, the genelec docs are pretty good
for example (and there's more): http://www.genelec.com/sites/default/fi ... r_2015.pdf
http://www.genelec.com/sites/default/fi ... nual_0.pdf

btw, using a preamp with genelecs cannot sound better than the genelecs alone
the genelecs process sound in the digital domain, so if you feed them analogue signal, they will convert to digital, process, than use their internal amps to do to the analogue domain again (not valid for the trinnov i guess as that can output digital, but valid for all "normal" preamps that output analogue via balanced xlr)
so the quality of the analogue stage of the preamp at most cannot disrupt the signal, but for sure cannot improve it
where a preamp cand help of course is with the downmixing, multiplexing and switching multiple inputs, or other processing in the digital domain, if the software is not doing that ok
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Just a small update. I got and installed the HOSA ODL-312 adapter box into my Genelec setup (2 x 8340As + 7350A) and it works great! No need to use analog connections or my Marantz pre-amp anymore. The sound is clearer too, I think.

I could not easily find AES/EBU XLR cables so I'm using basic XLR cables. Is there any real downside to it?
I know there is an impedance difference but does that really matter?
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
The normal xlr cables are 75ohm and its just fine for short Aes connections.

Shouldnt you have a 7370(Great sub btw;) for those 8340's ? The 7350 is meant for the smaller dsp speakers, such as 8320 or 8330.
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
Yes, I should but not possible in my current budget, plus my neighbours might have a different opinion :-D
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
haha :) I get it^^
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
One question about the HOSA box. If I expanded my current 2.1 setup into 5.1, would it be able to handle it? Now that the speakers are digitally connected, I could just add more speakers into the chain digitally, right?
manutal, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Knight Posts: 180 Join Date: 4/25/14 Recent Posts
You can only chain 2 speakers in one chain, thats how it was explained to me.
What kind on connector does your HOSA box have? Are you using the stereo output or ? Is there different outputs for stereo and multichannel?
gore-fc, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 13 Join Date: 1/3/17 Recent Posts
The HOSA is super-simple. It has two inputs and two outputs for converting S/PDIF Optical into/from AES/EBU. I don't think it does anything more than enable me to connect my PC's motherboard sound card to the Genelecs via the digital connection. I have now connected the PC to the HOSA, the HOSA to the subwoofer, the subwoofer to the right speaker and the right speaker to the left one, where the chain currently ends. I could hook up more speakers to the left speaker's digital out/passthru, I guess. If no one knows what would happen, I think I could just borrow a couple more digital Genelecs from the store and hook them up.
1038, modified 5 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Jedi Master Posts: 340 Join Date: 4/6/09 Recent Posts
I don't know the HOSA product, but each AES/EBU cable only carries 2 sub frames (A & B) so for more channels you'd need to connect another cable into the sub, then as you have done, link 2 speakers, the default setup is you pair L & R, Ls Rs, LFE Centre.
nschofie, modified 4 Years ago.

Re: AES/EBU interface for a 2.1 + 5.1 home theater setup

Youngling Posts: 3 Join Date: 8/12/17 Recent Posts

would this work?

http://www.arvus.io/h2-udma.html