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  • LYNX AURORA 8 (A/D AND D/A CONVERTER) - NOW WITH CONCLUSIONS!

    Well it's time for another Pro Review, and as always, it seems each Pro Review has its own gestalt. This one was actually scheduled for late last summer, but an illness got in the way and I missed the "window." Luckily, the guys at Lynx were pretty cool about it, and were just as happy that a Pro Review would be happening now. The Lynx had been selling well, and they figured that a little post-NAMM attention might be a nice "second wind."

    But then I had to figure out how to approach the Lynx. Frankly, there isn't a lot of controversy around it to make for a juicy Pro Review. Ask just about anyone, and they'll tell you that the Aurora sounds great and costs a lot less than expected. As just one example, I was talking with Steve Thomas from Cakewalk at NAMM about the new Sonar 6.2 update. The subject turned to high-resolution audio, and sort of out of nowhere, he started talking about how great Lynx converters are. Martin Walker of Sound on Sound is a big Lynx fan, and he's another guy with technical chops and ears. And to paraphrase a post that Mike Rivers made somewhere in my SSS forum, "Then there are companies that really know what they're doing, like Lynx."

    This parallels my own experience with Lynx. I used to recommend that people never buy an analog audio interface card that sits inside a computer; I always said get one with a breakout box, or use a digital interface. But then I was sent a LynxTWO card to review for EQ magazine. I of course figured it couldn't really be any good, because it sat inside the computer. So I was pretty shocked that the audio quality was equal, or superior, to outboard converters of pretty much any price. From that point on, I had to make an exception about analog audio interface cards.

    So what was I going to do for the Aurora 8? Say "Wow, it sounds really good...well, that's just about wraps it up!"? Nah, that wouldn't work. So I decided to take a two-step approach:

    * Explain some of the more esoteric features...just what is "double wire AES/EBU," anyway? And what about those expansion cards?
    * Get interviews with the engineers at Lynx about what kind of mojo they put into the Aurora, so we could all learn something about what's involved in the design of A/D and D/A converters. As luck would have it, they were very forthcoming; I've captured about a half hour's worth of interesting stuff, ranging from whether master clocks really do improve sound quality (the answer might surprise you) to why PC board layout affects digital circuitry.

    Ready? Let's go. As usual, I'll start with some pix to give an idea of what's happening on the outside and "under the hood."

  • La Casa Studio
    replied
    Hi there , I am a new member here and I signed up basically because I have to sort out very soon an Aarora 16 power supply issue.
    I am about to buy an Aurora 16 in the States but I will mainly use it in Europe.
    For that reason I need a voltage converter ( switching power supply) to run my 110 v Aurora in a 220v electric field.
    By reading the post of Bob Bauman up here I found out that this may cause issues with Aurora's anti aliasing filter.
    Do anyone know how much (at which frequencies) and how dramatically a switching power supply (the kind of 110v to 220v) may affect the conversion of a gear such the Aurora Lynx and if is there any way to minimize it like, for instance, buying a specific type of power supply that can reduce "noise pollution"?


    Thanx

    Hi Evilio

    I'm a new member too ... in fact this is my first message 'cause looking around I'm in the same situation as you .. I bought an Aurora 16 with LT-FW in States and now I want to use it in Europe so ... I'm having the same doubt as you ... have you found any information about it ??

    Thanks

    Leave a comment:


  • La Casa Studio
    replied
    Hi there , I am a new member here and I signed up basically because I have to sort out very soon an Aarora 16 power supply issue.
    I am about to buy an Aurora 16 in the States but I will mainly use it in Europe.
    For that reason I need a voltage converter ( switching power supply) to run my 110 v Aurora in a 220v electric field.
    By reading the post of Bob Bauman up here I found out that this may cause issues with Aurora's anti aliasing filter.
    Do anyone know how much (at which frequencies) and how dramatically a switching power supply (the kind of 110v to 220v) may affect the conversion of a gear such the Aurora Lynx and if is there any way to minimize it like, for instance, buying a specific type of power supply that can reduce "noise pollution"?


    Thanx

    Hi Evilio

    I'm a new member too ... in fact this is my first message 'cause looking around I'm in the same situation as you .. I bought an Aurora 16 with LT-FW in States and now I want to use it in Europe so ... I'm having the same doubt as you ... have you found any information about it ??

    Thanks

    Leave a comment:


  • evilio
    replied
    Craig - The main reason we use a linear power supply in Aurora is to reduce the possibility of introducing additional noise typical of a switching power supply. Switching power supplies can generate lots of high frequency noise that can creep into sensitve analog circuitry and get through anti-aliasing filters in A/D converters. There are techniques for minimizing this, but we decided to play it safe with the big honkin' toroidal transformer. The downside is that a linear supply cannot be made "universal" and generates more heat.

    Bob Bauman
    Lynx Co-founder, Chief Hardware Engineer

    Hi there , I am a new member here and I signed up basically because I have to sort out very soon an Aarora 16 power supply issue.
    I am about to buy an Aurora 16 in the States but I will mainly use it in Europe.
    For that reason I need a voltage converter ( switching power supply) to run my 110 v Aurora in a 220v electric field.
    By reading the post of Bob Bauman up here I found out that this may cause issues with Aurora's anti aliasing filter.
    Do anyone know how much (at which frequencies) and how dramatically a switching power supply (the kind of 110v to 220v) may affect the conversion of a gear such the Aurora Lynx and if is there any way to minimize it like, for instance, buying a specific type of power supply that can reduce "noise pollution"?


    Thanx

    Leave a comment:


  • FM Acoustics
    replied
    Just found this review and have a question for the people at Lynx, it concerns the clock provided by the Aurora from its Word Clock output when it's set to internal sync.

    Since the Aurora is able to output through the Word Clock connector all the standard sample rates, could you guys tell me how is this realized? Do you use an independent oscillator for each sample rate (one for 44.1, one for 48, one for 88.2 etc) which is activated when you select the corresponding value or do you use one oscillator which provides the base sample rates in conjunction with 2x and 4x clock multipliers for the 2x and 4x sample rates?

    Leave a comment:


  • Vincent
    replied
    Craig...Thank You for all of the great info!

    You started to mention about clocking with outboard converters, whether ir not it was important to clock them.....did I miss it somewhere?

    I 'm currently using a Apogee Rosetta 200 with the Focusrite Liquid Channel going into the computer via a RME Hammerfall DSP Multiface II with the Breakout box.

    Is it absolutly necessary to use a Big Ben to clock these units?

    Thank You so much.

    Leave a comment:


  • Sound-Weavers.c
    replied
    I have a Lynx Aurora 16 and it is so good - it's difficult to tell it against my Rosetta 800. They now co-exist as AD/DA for my PT HD system. Clocked by a Big Ben. The Aurora 16 is fantastic bang for the buck.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Well, I'm boxing up the hardware to send it back home to Lynx, and I must say, I'm sorry to see it go...my Mac never sounded so good . Seriously, though, my overall conclusion is that this is a very "pro" setup and I can't imagine that anyone would be disappointed or feel it doesn't provide value for money. It sounds great, is relatively easy to hook up, and the mixer applet software - while a bit cryptic at first, because it gives you so many options - it totally solid.

    When I started this review, the question in my mind was whether an "upper class" device like the Lynx was obviously superior in terms of sonics to lower-priced converters. The answer is definitely yes. Furthermore, Lynx provided excellent support. Granted, they knew they were dealing with a very public platform, but the experience of other users I've talked to parallels mine...Lynx is a responsive company.

    So the bottom line is if you have the money, this gets a thumbs up in terms of sonic purity. Of course, it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of more mainstream gear (e.g., MIDI I/O, onboard effects, built-in mic pres, that sort of thing) but that's not the point...it's all about conversion, and it does that job really, really well. It was a pleasure to work with the Aurora.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    I wonder if they would have chosen the Aurora by itself over the Apogee by itself...the fact that you mentioned it was a blind test is indeed interesting, there's a distinct lack of "scientific method" testing going on in this industry!

    Did you download the MP3s earlier in the thread where Lynx's engineers talk about clocking? Interesting stuff.

    Leave a comment:


  • Projector
    replied
    I would have loved for you to hear this unit with The Apogee Big Ben external clock. Many good ears have said that it makes a world of difference and some even choose the Aurora/Big Ben combo (blindly) over the top end apogee setup.


    What would be cool is a converter/clock shoot out with the addition of downloadable wave files for people to hear.

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Thanks for the extra info Craig. Much appreciated!

    I know it's been a few weeks but did you manage to get a chance to compare the Lynx Aurora with the other products in the Lynx line. I'd be really interested to know if there is a noticeable difference between say the Lynx Two and the Aurora, both in the A/D stage and the D/A stage?


    I do not have any other Lynx gear here for comparison. But I did review their PCI quite some time ago and was floored at how quiet is was compared to the competition at the time.

    My basic take is that Lynx designs to a certain level of performance and then figures out the price, and pretty much you get what you pay for, if not more.

    Anyway, I'm back from the Frankfurt Messe and doing the Pro Reviews again...I think this one is pretty much wrapped up, but if there are any remaining questions, let me know! The unit is still set up for testing.

    Leave a comment:


  • ny152
    replied
    Thanks for the extra info Craig. Much appreciated!

    I know it's been a few weeks but did you manage to get a chance to compare the Lynx Aurora with the other products in the Lynx line. I'd be really interested to know if there is a noticeable difference between say the Lynx Two and the Aurora, both in the A/D stage and the D/A stage?

    Leave a comment:


  • Anderton
    replied
    Glad to hear it! This has actually been a rather difficult product to review, because a lot of what I've said is subjective...terms like "more defined" aren't the same as, say, a frequency response measurement. And, there's no way that I can demonstrate the differences with an MP3 example file. Just the act of recording what I'm hearing into something else is problematic.

    What I can say for sure is that the Lynx sounds just plain wonderful. Whether it's "0.01 audiophile units" better or worse than other high end converters is beyond the scope of this review, and frankly, I don't know how relevant that is because if you get ten engineeers in a room with impeccable credentials, they'll still disagree about audio But it's clearly better than even "upper middle class" converters.

    I did find it interesting that it sounded obviously different and more "hi-fi" compared to, say, the converters in the DA7 but I was equally surprised that the DA7 converters held their own as well as they did. I guess Panasonic was telling me the truth that their converters really were hot stuff at the time.

    But ultimately, the most surprising element of the whole review -- one that I did not expect -- was the effect of listening to the converters in the Lynx over time compared to other converters. There is no doubt in my mind that the amount of listener fatigue -- an even harder to quantify concept than "transparent sound" -- was far less with the Lynx than anything else in my studio. I could really see some rich audiophile buying a Lynx just to listen to CDs, because they really do sound that much better going through good converters.

    I'd also like to thank the people at Lynx for being so accommodating and available during the course of this review. This is a good group of people IMHO, and and maybe that has something to do with the quality of the unit.

    Leave a comment:


  • ny152
    replied
    Thank you Craig for your in-depth review and for the time taken.

    I for one have been following this review for several weeks, and it has helped me in the ever-evolving quest for new converters.

    All the best,

    Leave a comment:


  • PaulTec
    replied
    To have the same level difference, I temporarily inverted the phase of one of the channels and adjusted levels for nulling. However, this also required delaying the signal coming from the Lynx somewhat. I don't really understand why this should be so; I would think that it takes a finite amount of time to convert analog into digital, with the only real variable being sample rate. Yet it seems the Lynx converts audio faster than the DA7; or maybe there are other delays caused by going into an analog input instead of a digital input of which I'm not aware. Perhaps someone at Lynx could explain what's happening in my setup that makes the Lynx seem "speedier."


    Conversion speed definitely varies, and is the sum of the intrinisic delay of the converter chips used (which can vary by sample rate), and any housekeeping tasks like time in and out of an FPGA/DSP. The DA conversion on the Aurora is extremely speedy:
    9.4 samples @ 1X rates (44.1k, 48k)
    4.6 samples @ 2X rates (88.2k/96k)
    4.7 samples @ 4X rates (176.4k/192k)
    Plus - 3 samples for the FPGA at any rate.

    As a point of comparison, the LynxTWO DA stage (which uses previous generation chips) is between 12-38 samples. With the LT-HD, our Aurora expansion card for users of ProTools|HD, we had to add buffers to slow it (way) down so that the delay compensation within ProTools was accurate. So the Aurora is very fast compared to most converters on the market.

    Paul Erlandson
    Lynx Studio Technology
    Director of Product Support

    Leave a comment:

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