Here is an interview with Igor Levin published by Audio Times in 2012. Igor answers questions about some critical aspects of A/D and D/A converters and master clocks design.
Irrespective of the sampling rate, what are the really important elements within successful A/D and D/A converters designs?
About 20 years ago when I built my first D/A converter I had also to build a clock for it. At that time, clocks were not something that you just go out and buy. So I built my first clock for my first D/A converter. People liked the converter, but what they really appreciated was the clock. This was when I realized the importance of the stable clocking reference for digital audio.
I still believe the accurate clock is the basis for successful conversion. In fact as the chips get better and the circuit artifacts we struggled to overcome fall away, the significance of good clocking has come to the fore as never before. Today I would say it amounts to at least 75% of the overall sound. Of course there is a list of other important factors such as proper layout, stable power supply, the analog-based volume control etc.
On the 29th and 30th of September Antelope Audio was present at the X-FI show in the Netherlands. The event was held in the picturesque country side of Veldhoven, South East Netherlands. The event was soon set upon by the thousand’s of dedicated audiophiles from the Netherlands and surrounding countries. The event was attended by a wide range of vintage, vinyl and digital audio purist’s making for a great range of interesting devices to take a look at.
The Antelope room was of a nice size, and the team managed to create a great listening space for the visitors of the show. The Zodiac Gold and its Voltikus Power Supply Unit were representing themselves alongside a music server and the PMC Fact 8 Loudspeakers.
Earlier this year, during the High End Show in Munich we were given the chance to organize a lecture about high resolution audio and the benefits it brings to listeners. In order to get several different perspectives we got together four different experts and supporters of high resolution audio, from four different fields of the audio industry.
The lecturers were Daniela Manger from Manger Audio, Morten Lindberg from 2L , Lothar Kerestedjian from HighResAudio and Igor Levin, CEO and Founder of Antelope Audio.
The title of the lecture, High Resolution – The Future of Digital Audio attracted a significant audience in front of the Technology Stage at the High End Show. Here you can watch the whole lecture divided into several short videos.
by Robert Dugan, Sound Engineer
I‘ve personally used Antelope Audio in the Live Sound domain. At first, I was skeptical of how much clocking could really change the sound, especially since I was using a digital console. But after the unpacking and setting up, it was all ready to go within five minutes and, if I would have known how I was going to react, I would have prepared a little better.
Upon hearing Deftones “Digital Bath,” it seemed like the PA had come alive after sleeping for years. The drums were lifelike and it sounded like I was listening to the Deftones right in the rehearsal room. Immediately, I thought that the clock couldn’t be doing all of this, so I unplugged the BNC from console to Trinity. The sound seemed to escape and it reminded me of listening to the song through iPod headphones – thin and one road.
by Robert Dugan, Sound Engineer
The Importance of Clocking
Like it or not, the digital age is coming in full force, making every audiophile worried about quality being lost. This is why it’s best to educate audiophiles and consumers about the importance of clocking. I’ll try and make this easy to understand and straight to the point. When an analog signal is about to be converted to a digital signal, it is represented by bits that are representations of the analog waveform. When two points that are represented are slightly off, they create jitter – which is digital distortion.
Clocking can play a very important role during this process. With all these signals digitized, it’s important that the timing and space between every ‘bit’ are exactly the same (in sync), so the audio source has no jitter. This is where Clocking comes into play by synching all the audio signals.
May 18-20, 2012 – Tokyo, JAPAN: Many hundreds of dedicated audiophiles attended the highly-respected HI-END SHOW over the weekend.
This 3-Day event showcases some of the most prestigious brands in the audio-marketplace. Antelope Audio was supported by the leading audio-magazine publisher « Ongen Shuppan ». They recently featured our Zodiac/Voltikus on both the cover and within their magazine « Net Audio ».
The Zodiac’s many merits were presented by Mr Shin Ishihara, a noted audio-consultant, during a 90-minute lecture to a very receptive audience. In addition, the well-known Osaka-based dealer « Ippinkan Inc » showcased our OCX within their own 3-days of presentations. Special thanks to Phile-web, Mr Ishihara and Ippinkan KK for your great support.
Thousands attended the one-day Spring show in central Tokyo. Antelope Audio, together with Hook Up Inc., displayed both the Zodiac Silver and Silver Voltikus (a popular combination in Japan) along with the Zodiac Gold and Gold Voltikus.
A continuous stream of visitors tested our units throughout the day. Their reaction was excellent. Our recent appearance on the front-cover of the influential NET AUDIO magazine last month brought a lot of attendees to our booth.
Fujiya-AVIC, the host of the show and an Antelope dealer, produced a remarkably successful event.
May 03-06, 2012 – Munich, Germany: The entire range of high-tech products could be found under a single roof including warmly glowing tubes, stylish turntables and multichannel audio streaming. With over 360 exibitors, 14.600,00 visitors and more than 480 journalists, the HIGH END Munich was a remarkable proof for the enhanced interest in audiophile technologies. Among all those hifi gear, our innovative Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamp attracted a high amount of visitors and international journalists at our booth. While on the one side the outstanding design was vividly discussed, on the other side the integrated Rubidium Atomic Clock led to many talks about AD/DA conversion and high resolution audio content with our staff, including mastermind Igor Levin.
No wonder, why he was the first of four speakers at the HIGH END lecture « High-resolution: The future of digital audio ». Followed by mastering engineer Morten Lindberg, highres audio distribution CEO Lothar Kerestedjan and CEO Daniela Manger from Manger Audio, the lecture made clear, that 384 kHz audiofile content is not a theoretical marketing issue, but a huge benefit to experience music.
Btw: Special thanks to the munich people, that allowed our staff to taste the wonderful german bear and food variations and led them listen to original bavarian tunes.
Musikmesse in Frankfurt is the biggest event of its kind in the music industry and one of the most exciting. It was especially exciting for our new Antelope Audio team members about to visit it for the first time.
The city welcomed us on Monday with a pleasant, mild climate and clear skies. We took it as a positive sign for a successful show in the upcoming week. Having checked into the hotel, we headed for the van rental company, then straight on to Ikea to buy the furniture for our stand. (Looking around the Messe in the next few days proved that we weren’t the only ones that had this idea.)
This is the next of the series of video-posts in which Igor Levin talks about Antelope Audio technologies.
It is time to discuss Antelope’s D/A converters (DACs) and in particular the design of the volume control.
In this post Igor talks about the specifics of the volume control within Zodiac DACs and explains why Antelope implements it in the analog part and not in the digital. The result is a much more accurate stereo placement of the audio especially in the lower listening volumes.