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Measuring AES/EBU Interfaces

The AES/EBU interface provides a means of sending two channels of digital audio data from one device to another. It additionally provisions for control bits to convey other information about the signal. In the years since its standardization it has been slow to gain market acceptance for various reasons. The primary reason has been the complexity of the interface and the attendant engineering design time required to implement it. A lack of commercially available IC's which implement the interface has forced designers to produce parts-intensive discrete implementations. Most of these are partial implementations in an effort to reduce cost and complexity. Many designers have chosen to implement a consumer style interface, which has similar but not identical characteristics, because of the availability of dedicated IC's. The differences between the AES/EBU and consumer interfaces, along with the wide variety of partial implementations has resulted in frequent incompatibilities in the field. Several ambiguities exist in the official specification which further serve to promote incompatible versions of the interface. This paper will describe some of the fundamental parameters of the interface and the problems they create. Methods of testing the integrity of the complete interface will be discussed. Simple checks of implementation completeness will also be presented.

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