REVIEW
Lynx Studio Technology Aurora 8/16
While we’ve looked at the Aurora in the past (Resolution V5.4), the list of interface options has increased to the point where it warrants a
slight return. ROB JAMES flips off the lid.
I
n an audio world where increasingly the
lowest common denominator prevails it is
heartening to see at least a flicker of interest
in high fidelity. I seriously doubt we will ever
see a return to the heady days when a lot of people
had some understanding of and aspiration towards
true hifi. MP3 and the idiot phones have seen to
that. However, it is interesting to note that, just as
in the heyday of hifi, there is a noticeable overlap
in high-end equipment between the producers and
consumers.
If the nascent HD home audio market takes off in
any meaningful way then high quality convertors
with some street cred in professional circles are
going to be in demand. Once bit-for-bit accuracy
Loudness summit Half page advert.indd 1
26
is established in the digital domain and jitter is
reduced to a minimum, the D-A convertor is the only
remaining step on the path to audio nirvana before
you get into the analogue reproduction chain. One
highly credible contender to bridge the divide between
‘professional’ and ‘hifi’ convertors is the Lynx Aurora.
In the five years since it became available the
Aurora has established a good reputation as a studio
convertor. One of the attractions is the number of
resolution digital interface options that have been added during
this time. Although there are no Thunderbolt, AVB or
Dante options, AES-EBU, USB2, FireWire 400, MADI,
Pro Tools HD and ADAT are all possible. I believe that
we are moving inexorably towards standard digital
audio connections over Cat5/6 cabling using Ethernet
and IP protocols but this is still in its infancy. No
doubt, when the mists clear, Aurora interface boards
will be developed to support the popular options.
09/10/2011 09:56:45
October 2011
REVIEW
The Lynx Aurora is available in two basic versions which, as
the names imply, differ only in channel count. The Aurora 8 has
8 channels of A-D and D-A conversion plus 8 digital I-Os and the
Aurora 16 unsurprisingly
has 16 of each. Further
variants have been added;
the Aurora 16 VT which
has variable trims on
all analogue inputs and
outputs, Aurora 8 and
16 HD, which have the
LT-HD Pro Tools option
card preinstalled, and the
Aurora 8/FW which is the 8-channel version with the LT-FW option
card preinstalled.
Fitting or changing an option card is a small engineering exercise,
not just plug and play. First the lid has to come off the unit, something
we are not usually encouraged to do. This requires the removal of
eight screws, one of which is small and delicate. Once exposed, a
screw must be removed from the Aurora main board and a stand-off
substituted. Antistatic precautions are required to avoid damaging
components. Depending on the type of card, connection is either
made directly via pins on the bottom plugged into a jumper block or
by a small jumper cable between a jumper block and the board. The
screw removed previously is then used to secure the board along with
the screws from the blanking plate.
All analogue and AES-EBU digital connections are on 25-pin
Sub-D sockets. Word clock I-O uses BNCs and MIDI in and out are
on the usual DINs. Analogue I-O is electronically balanced with
selectable +4dBU and –10dBV nominal levels. The AES-EBU digital
I-O is transformer coupled. A blanking plate covers the LSLOT
expansion port unless or until it is populated.
Sync can be internal or derived from Word clock input, Word clock
at half sample rate, AES A or B or the LSlot. Lynx uses a concept
it calls SynchroLock to filter noisy and jittery external references to
provide a stable lock and a low-jitter clock output. The claimed levels
of stability are very good. Without the kit to measure digital audio
performance with precision any judgement is necessarily subjective,
however I could not detect any jitter artefacts by ear even on critical
material. The SynchroLock process takes a while to get its act
together but, once the LED is lit, the lock is solid. SynchroLock can
be disabled using the external control software but, except for those
with the attention span of a mayfly, I cannot see any good reason
for so doing.
Front panel control is via six orange buttons and plenty of
indicator LEDs and multiple key presses cycle through the available
options. However, the control application for Mac, PC or Pocket
PC, which can be downloaded from the Lynx website, is a much
better option. Aurora
also has an infrared
transceiver
that
enables control from
suitably
equipped
PDAs and I’m sure
smart phones and
tablets in the fullness
of time.
While it is perfectly
possible to operate the Aurora from the front panel, the control
application makes everything clearer and offers extensive metering,
individual channel patching and level controls.
The Lynx Aurora is undoubtedly in the audiophile class -- the
quality of conversion is such that it sounds just fine in any normal
context. Adequate and objective analysis beyond this would require
extensive blind listening tests against other contenders in optimum
conditions.
This is a highly versatile studio interface thanks to the variety
of interface card options, the mixing and routing capabilities, and
because it can be used ‘standalone’ as a digital format convertor.
At the price point it also has considerable promise as a domestic
HD audio convertor for a media server for stereo or multichannel
reproduction. n
PROS
Audio conversion quality; versatile interfacing; the
control application.
CONS
No audio over IP options — yet; control via front panel
is a bit fiddly; option card fitting is not trivial.
EXTRAS
The Hilo Reference
A-D/D-A
convertor
system
provides two
channels of
mastering
quality
analogue to digital conversion, up to eight channels of
digital to analogue conversion, a secondary monitor
output, and an independent headphone amplifier in a
half-rack size. Hilo’s 480 x 272 touchscreen interface
adapts to applications and can be upgraded with
enhancements and new features. Initial front panel
controls support signal routing and mixing, sample rate
selection, clock source options, levels, metering and
diagnostic features.
Options
LT-ADAT— This features two Toslink optical
ADAT inputs and outputs for a maximum
of 16 SD channels in and out. SMUX is also
supported for higher sample rates with the
usual concomitant reduction in channels —
i.e. 8 channels each way at 96kHz and 4 at 192kHz.
LT-MADI — Includes optical and coaxial ports for up to 64 channels
of I-O at conventional sampling rates or 32 at 96kHz, 16 at 192kHz.
Up to four Aurora 16s can be daisy-chained to give access to the
full 64 channels.
LT-USB — USB 2 interface adds 16 channels
at 48kHz and 96kHz; 8 channels at 192kHz.
Connects via a USB B socket.
LynxTwo kit — The kit adds a 6-foot cable
connecting a LynxTwo or L22 PCI card to a
DB connector on an Lslot mounting plate.
An internal ribbon cable is connected to
the Aurora. This arrangement adds up to
8 channels of input and output at 96kHz, 4
channels at 192kHz (Aurora 8) and 16 channels of I-O (using Aurora
16) at 48kHz.
LT-HD -— Provides Pro Tools HD expansion
ports. Pro Tools recognises Aurora as an
Avid 192 I-O and controls it directly. Most
of the front panel controls are locked out
until the Pro Tools application is closed.
October 2011
The digital or analogue inputs can be routed to three
separate outputs, Line Output (with eight trim settings),
Monitor Output, and Headphone Output. The Monitor
and Headphone Outputs have volume controls,
accessible via faders on the touchscreen or the single
knob on the front (offering control in 0.5dB increments).
The Headphone section has its own dedicated D-AC
and this supports the creation of 32-channel headphone
mixes independent of the main and monitor outputs.
The digital section offers a wide range of inputs.
AES-EBU I-Os have transformer isolated balanced
XLR connectors. SPDIF input and output are available
via transformer-coupled coax or optical (Toslink)
connections. The Optical ports can also be used for up
to eight ADAT channels. The ADAT input and output
channels are completely independent from the AES-EBU
or SPDIF coax channels. The Lynx LT-USB LSlot accessory
is also included, for computer connectivity. Lynx’s
SynchroLock Word clock is also included, with Word
clock in and out connections. In total, Hilo has 12 inputs,
16 outputs plus 32 channels possible via its LSlot port.
Connect
AVB
Intercom goes
Real-Time IP
Connecting intercom panels
over
an
IP-based
LAN
environment has been the
dream of many system planers.
Riedel’s AVB product line
provides a communication
solution fulfilling the demands
of professional intercom users.
Based on official IEEE next
generation Ethernet standards
AVB makes it possible to utilize
facility and enterprise LAN
data infrastructures for realtime intercom applications.
This allows for new approaches
in system and facility design
providing significant savings in
infrastructure investments.
Contact
Lynx Studio Technology, US
Web: www.lynxstudio.com
UK, Source Distribution: +44 208 962 5080
resolution
www.riedel.net