Audiopraise VanityPRO HDMI Extractor

Audiopraise VanityPRO HDMI Extractor

You might say that the third age of multichannel music is upon us. The first, in fact, was the Quadraphonic period that started its run within the late Sixties and witnessed the supply of four-channel records and tapes. But the expertise was flawed and, to the common client, appeared overly advanced and costly. It was gone inside a decade. In the mid-70s, Dolby Laboratories launched analog surround-sound methods to theaters. When motion pictures lastly turned accessible to observe at house, each visible and sonic high quality superior with a sequence of codecs together with Betamax (1975) and VHS (1977) tape, Laserdisc (1982), DVD (1995), and, lastly, Blu-ray (2006). SACD (1999) and DVD-Audio (2000), driving the home-theater wave, initiated a second age of multichannel music, which additionally failed to realize a lot traction with an audiophile constituency. A extra common flight from bodily media had an influence, as properly. In 2012, the primary Dolby Atmos-encoded film was launched (Pixar’s Brave), and, for no matter purpose, audiophiles appear to be far more all for what’s known as immersive audio. In addition to music-only Blu-ray discs providing “object based mostly” spatiality, 1000’s of Dolby Atmos tracks are presently accessible for streaming from Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music.

So, nice, proper? Multichannel music is as soon as once more in its ascendency and maybe this time with extra audiophiles —apart from one technical disadvantage that many really feel considerably compromises audio high quality. That’s the High-Definition Multimedia Interface, higher generally known as HDMI, a proprietary transmitter/receiver protocol that transmits audio and video information from a supply to DACs. Consumers have been instructed that HDMI is nice for video, which is true, and that it’s additionally the “finest” interface to hold music, which isn’t. There are two major issues with HDMI, on the subject of audio. The first is the poor high quality of the clock recovered from the info stream that’s accountable for a considerable quantity of part noise; the second is that HDMI could be very delicate to elements like electromagnetic interference, cabling, and floor loops. There’s a consensus amongst digital engineers that different “digital audio transport strategies”—SPDIF, AES/EBU, and USB—sound higher. But alternate options for shoppers, particularly when multichannel is concerned, aren’t broadly accessible. HDMI is ubiquitous.

The Czech firm Audiopraise was launched in 2014; earlier than that, this small group of audiophile engineers labored as for-hire designer/consultants. An early effort was the Vanity93 module, a circuit board offered to shoppers to be put in into the then wildly widespread Oppo BDP-93 disc participant to enhance digital efficiency, particularly DSD-to-PCM conversion. (I reviewed the Vanity93 greater than a decade in the past, in TAS 228.) The first Audiopraise product marketed beneath the corporate’s identify was the CZAP DAC. Pavel Valousek, one of many Audiopraise principals and the corporate’s de facto spokesman, described the CZAP to me as “a group of all our IP, design strategies, algorithms, and circuits, that are nonetheless being utilized in varied mixtures in our different merchandise and in our consultancy enterprise.”

Valousek and his colleagues have taken the problems with HDMI critically and, not surprisingly, have recognized the audible issues as regarding jitter. Basically, the HDMI geometry consists of a number of conductors that embody an elaborate TMDS (transition-minimized differential signaling) clock channel, in addition to separate paths for audio, video, and auxiliary information. In customary functions, the audio clock on the HDMI receiver finish is derived from the TMDS clock. The means of producing the audio clocks (figuring out the audio pattern fee and producing the mandatory clocks from the TMDS clock) should be very exact to keep away from introducing timing errors. Audiopraise throws out the TMDS clock and as a substitute use the incoming information fee to generate a brand new and very steady audio clock with the assistance of a pair of custom-made audio oscillators plus “a intelligent management algorithm.” Measured jitter is decreased to extraordinarily low ranges. (I like to recommend studying a extremely comprehensible “white paper” authored by Valousek and his associates that particulars the experiments finished and measurements taken to develop the VanityPRO’s tech: audiopraise.com/tasks/inside/vanitypro/hdmi-audio-jitter/.)

The VanityPRO takes in digital audio on HDMI and outputs as much as 4 two-channel digital information streams within the SPDIF or AES/EBU codecs. The HDMI sign that comes into the VanityPRO is scrupulously remoted from the audio areas of the element by a “dielectric barrier” that limits the quantity of electromagnetic noise that may pollute the audio and newly created clock circuits. Included are two Jameco energy provides, one for the HDMI a part of the extractor and one for the audio area. By the time you learn this, Audiopraise guarantees to have launched a linear energy provide for the VanityPRO that matches the product in look.

The VanityPRO HDMI extractor is a compact element weighing about two kilos; its black (or silver) metallic case measures 10.5″ x 2.6″ x 7.2″. In entrance is a single rotary/push-button knob that gives full operability of the system, in addition to an LED standing indicator gentle and a 57mm x 43mm LCD display screen. Around again, the looks differs in accordance with which output board has been ordered. Multichannel listeners will discover 4 digital connectors for a complete of eight channels through both AES/EBU (XLR) or SPDIF (RCA or BNC). There’s additionally a stereo model that has one in every of every of these digital outputs, plus TosLink. To the far proper and left of the rear panel are ports for the 2 equipped exterior energy provides, the HDMI enter, an HDMI output (for video pass-through) and two word-clock outputs (44.1kHz to 192kHz and 22.5792MHz/24.576MHz) that permit for clock synchronization with downstream gadgets equivalent to a DAC.

Navigation across the ten pages of menus shortly turns into intuitive. The Home web page reveals what the VanityPRO is receiving through its HDMI enter—PCM vs. DSD, sampling fee, bit decision, whether or not the incoming sign is lively (Run or Stop), and the variety of channels coming in. It additionally permits for adjusting quantity on an arbitrary scale from zero to 100. An Audio Setup web page lets one set up parameters for DSD-to-PCM conversion with Audiopraise’s personal proprietary algorithm; DoP might be enabled if that’s what your DAC desires. The person has a alternative of 4 conversion filters and DSD/PCM level-matching might be chosen. There are additionally menus for speaker setup and setting channel ranges in 0.5dB increments (most attenuation is -7.5dB). Additional pages embody HDMI setup (a “repeater” choice lets the unique incoming HDMI stream move by means of as is), EDID setup (video parameters and speaker format), system setup (display screen brightness, clock performance, manufacturing facility reset), HDMI AV info, and a display screen with eight audio-level meters for fast affirmation of sign enter. Finally, there’s a really busy system standing display screen that requires better-than-average imaginative and prescient or a magnifying glass to be of a lot use. (I went with the second various.)

For this assessment, I requested the multichannel AES/EBU model of the VanityPRO. To get a deal with on the element’s influence on an incoming TDMS information stream, I first used a two-channel supply to ship sign to my growing old however reliable Anthem D2v preamp/processor, since far fewer variables could be concerned when making comparisons. The Anthem has a single AES/EBU stereo digital enter plus loads of HDMI inputs. I used an identical AudioQuest Chocolate HDMI cables from a Sony X1100ES disc participant to both the VanityPRO or on to the Anthem; a Wireworld Platinum Starlight AES/EBU cable linked the Audiopraise to the Anthem. Comparing “native” HDMI to the info stream leaving the VanityPRO was as straightforward as switching the AQ HDMI cable of the Sony participant and altering the enter on the Anthem. The Anthem linked with Siltech Classic Legend 880i balanced interconnects to Tidal Ferios amplifiers driving Magico M2s through Siltech 880L speaker cables.

Listening to acquainted reference recordings, from CD and SACD, demonstrated extra substantial variations than anticipated between the native HDMI enter and the extracted one. With the beautiful readings of the 2 Brahms clarinet sonatas by Anthony McGill and Gloria Chien on the Cedille label, I heard a extra seamless becoming a member of of the chalumeau (low), clarion (center) and altissimo (excessive) registers of the clarinet. The sound was perceived as emanating from a single object, somewhat than three. Subtle inflections of the clarinet’s dynamic degree and tone shade had been extra simply appreciated, and Brahms’ characteristically dense left-hand piano writing was clearer. On the Haitink/Concertgebouw model of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15, a recording I return to for just about each assessment I write, the opening glockenspiel notes had been properly differentiated when it comes to precisely how arduous the percussionist was placing the bells. The lively bass half on “This Town,” the opening monitor on Patricia Barber’s Clique, was extra evenly reproduced in my room than is usually the case, and the singer’s voice was richly characterised. It was arduous to think about the title monitor on The Big Phat Band’s Act Your Age album having extra coherence at enthusiastic playback ranges. “Too Proud,” from Joe Harley’s BluesQuest SACD sampler, which headlines vocalist “Mighty” Sam McClain, had startling dynamics and the singer’s anguished vocal was as gripping as I’ve ever heard it—and I’ve heard it 100 occasions.

With the advantages of the HDMI extraction course of obvious, I picked out favourite multichannel picks to listen to in {surround}. This time, the tracks had been performed off my NAS with a Baetis Reference 3 server. For a multichannel DAC, I borrowed an Okto Research dac8PRO, which has 4 two-channel AES/EBU digital inputs (I wanted solely three) and eight XLR analog outputs (I required six, in fact, for five.1 playback). Amplification for the middle and {surround} channels was supplied by three Pass XA 60.8s. The further audio system had been Magicos—an S3 Mk2 for the middle channel, a pair of S1 Mk2s for the surrounds, and an S Sub.

I’ve by no means loved a multichannel presentation in my room greater than I did with the Audiopraise/Okto mixture. Paavo Järvi’s PentaTone recording of Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat comfortably distanced the 9 gamers from each other on the big stage of a German broadcast corridor. Each participant clearly occupied his or her distinctive location but gave the impression to be respiration the identical air because the others. Scaling of the disparate devices was perfect. On “LTMBBQ” from jazz pianist Wayne Horvitz’s Sweeter Than the Day, it’s not all the time straightforward to listen to that the guitar doubles keyboard for the “head” performed initially and finish of the tune; it was by no means extra evident than with the VanityPRO within the audio path.

There is one fly within the ointment. At least for now, the VanityPRO can’t be used with Dolby Atmos or sure different immersive codecs equivalent to DTS:X. Pavel Valousek says: “The VanityPRO can move by means of uncooked Atmos information (packed in Dolby Digital Plus or TrueHD), however there isn’t a system equivalent to a DAC or processor that may be capable to take that digital audio, reassemble the compressed information, and decode Atmos. Handling the compressed multichannel codecs is a totally completely different ballgame, and we could look into this sooner or later. That would imply moving into the AV receiver area.”

The rise of object-based multichannel audio has been spectacular however the primacy of this strategy for multichannel music is much from sure at this level. If you’ve been into {surround} sound in an enormous approach and have a big library of discrete multichannel music, the Audiopraise product successfully addresses the shortcomings of the HDMI interface—an element that has restricted the final word high quality of DSD and high-rate PCM playback for vital listeners, and the fee is cheap. If you have got an acceptable multichannel DAC (or would contemplate getting one), it’s best to give the VanityPRO sturdy consideration. It delivers on its promise.

Specs & Pricing

Product kind: 8-channel HDMI extractor
Inputs: HDMI x2 (one is video pass-through)
Outputs: Choice of 4 two-channel AES (XLR), SPDIF (RCA), or SPDIF (BNC)
Supported sampling charges: 44.1kHz/88.2kHz/96kHz/ 176.4kHz/192kHz
Dimensions: 10.5″ x 2.6″ x 7.2″
Weight: 1 kg (2.2 lbs.)
Price: $1899

665 01 Rosice u Brna
Czech Republic

JVB DIGITAL (North American/Australian Distributor)

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