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Plug and Play? An Investigation into Problems and Solutions of Digital Audio Networks

It is a challenge to predict fault tolerance of the total system using point-to-point digital audio interfaces to build complex routing structures. In real life, digital interfacing is therefore still considered less robust than analog. This paper provides a systematic investigation of factors determining reliability in a number of widely used professional audio and synchronisation interfaces such as AES3, SPDIF, ADAT, TDIF and Word Clock. Electrical characteris-tics, phase-offset and tolerance to offset, intrinsic jitter and tolerance to jitter, and sample rate precision have been tested. Additionally, compliancy with standards has been evaluated. Finally, a discussion how these problems can be dealt with followed by specific thoughts about the next generation of interfaces will be presented with examples.

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