In Designing Audio Equipment

About artificial sound & musical tone

In the design of electronic devices, we often use the latest technology as much as possible to achieve the required functionality and performance. However, the design of audio equipments differs in some way from the approach of electronic devices. In the case of audio equipment, the emphasis is on the freshness of the sound rather than the complexity and functionality of the technology. More important for audio equipment are lively natural sound spaces as close as possible to live performances, without subtle electric and unpleasant side sounds, less coloration and exaggeration, capable of reproducing subtle “musical tone” and dynamics. It must be for this reason, in the design of audio equipment, we often leave the position of electronic equipment and need the same five (or seven) senses as making an instrument. In the case of an instrument, it always produces an ideal image for its musical tone, and it is finished as a work by removing noise and unpleasant sounds.
Certainly, many of today’s audio products may pursue “sound”, but they do not embody “musical tone” in them. That alone is an artificial playback device, and someday listeners get bored with listening. The acoustically and musically sought after audio not only uses the electric vibration and the mere physical “sound” but also evokes strong feelings that the listeners have over the medium, and the musician that the composer and performer wants to convey. It can make you feel the lingering sounds that appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. It can heal the heart, sometimes even a message that sticks in the heart.

Power to wake music

Audio equipment requires only one thing to serve as a medium for listening to music. It is not to lose the ability to “call up music” to the world of human inner consciousness. Detracting, falsifying, twisting or exaggerating the musical thing deviates from its role. To that end, the audio equipment should be as simple as possible and a fresh air that creates a sound space. Because there is no device or parts with perfect performance, the more complex it becomes, the more it will be repeated as many times as copying will become blurry and unreliable. So, the most important technology for audio equipment is to keep the music fresh and deliver it to the listener in a minimal way, that is all. As far as audio equipment is concerned, there is a good reason to move towards minimalism. No matter how good the technology, you can not recover the once-lost musical tone. From a musical standpoint, I think we should always be cautious about introducing complex technology with the risk of side effects.

Technical Topics

Complete in house development & handmade

Mini power amplifier prototype

Our products are handmade in-house in all hardware (except chassis) and software, and we do not consign external design, development and manufacture on an outsourced basis. We know the details of the products we handle and then commercialize it, always aim to create products that make use of the latest technology and experience, and strive for daily improvement. We make a line from the horrible economic system of efficient market supply and recovery of profit by mass production, and try to carefully finish each one as a “work” by careful production unique to handmade.

Ultra-low jitter reclock oscillator

Fully discrete clock oscillator

Sparkler Audio has one clear view of transforming digital audio. Recently, a new format of high bit, high sampling digital audio so called “high resolution” is becoming popular, but we can not deny that in itself. However, 16-bit audio data such as CD format should not be processed by up-sampling etc., and it should be converted to analog with 16-bits as it is called non-oversampling.
There is a solid basis for this claim. High sampling always requires a very high clock frequency, such as 256 times, which increases the jitter (temporal fluctuations of the clock signal) and is the source of creating a de-focused, unsharp sound. As you might expect, the clock signal is analog itself in our real world. When the clock changes, the pitch of the sound changes as it is. As a result, the oversampled sound will have unclear scales and harmony of chords will be lost. In addition, jitter is also increased by the peculiarities of the transport itself and the noise of the transmission path. The solution is a fully discrete clock oscillator with very low noise transistors. By reclocking the digital signal by this, the original performance of digital audio is exhibited. Our digital audio products fully adopt their ultra-low jitter clock oscillators.

Non-oversampling is still a good freshness!

Nothing in addition, do not catch anything, no digital filter non-oversampling is still a good freshness. There is no rise in blurring or bleeding at all of the sound. On the other hand, non-oversampling DAC requires a cleaner power supply. By replacing standard IC power regulator to discrete circuit, more clean (about -20dB, 1/10) the power supply, also accurately reproduce fine sound. The power supplied to the built-in DAC, you can switch the internal power supply and the external power supply. As a result, by an external battery-operated, you will enjoy in a more quiet sound quality.

Noise Protection

We, audio listeners live in an increasingly crowded technological environment. As our lives become filled with technology, every lamp (LED, fluorescent, etc.), cell phone, computer or other technical gear contributes to the electrical noise around us. Also there are many kind and wide bandwidth noise source around audio instruments. However, interconnect cables and chassis is one of effective RF (radio frequency) antenna! Then the audio circuit also becomes “noise radio”, because these RF noise raise inter-modulation distortion and make sound signal dirty. If there is no noise, the audio circuit will work more completely (ideal). So we have studied how to reduce noise from external environment, common impedance and internal RF pulsive devices. On this viewpoint, we develop our products.

Dealing emphasis CD

There is old CD, that has been emphasis processing (high-frequency enhancement) as analog records, some of them are on the market today. Playback of such emphasis CD is still, is where you want to listen to return the correct flat response to the original. In S503/S507 of the built-in DAC, automatically recognizes the track that has been pre-emphasis processing, and de-emphasis it by analog filter.

All Stainless Steel ― Good quality music dwells in a sturdy structure

Including the chassis, spacers, bolts and nuts, all have adopted the stainless steel. Among the metal, stainless steel rigid vibration transmission speed (about 5740m / sec.) is comparatively faster. Not accumulate the vibrational energy to the chassis, the mechanical ground of the vibration that quickly performed, was to further improve the expressive power of a fine sound. In addition, the electrical resistance (internal loss) of stainless steel is larger than that of the copper and aluminum (about 429 times that of copper), to absorb the electromagnetic noise from the internal circuit and external environment, there is also the advantage of easily consumed as heat. In this way, we are contributing significantly to the low noise of the material of the chassis.

A new approach to audio system design ― Current-mode signaling

Contemporary audio component design relies heavily upon complex component and microprocessor technology to obtain broad multi-functional capabilities. These, often complex designs derive however from the fundamental physics of digital and analog signal processing and years of refinement in design of circuits to preserve the integrity of audio content in dac and adc conversions. In addition, handling analog and digital signals, the process of converting them to each other is based on many years of research results of transmission and communication technology and information engineering. This document examines our most fundamental assumptions regarding digital/analog signal conversation and the possibility of creating a more efficient and loss free technology obtaining a new level of excellence in signal quality. In the design of high precision communication and test instruments more precise signal integrity has been obtained by employ modulated “current” rather than modulated “voltage”. This same current-mode signaling (alias current transmission, current modulation, current-mode interconnection) approach has recently been applied in audio system design to obtain remarkable results in signal quality and efficiency. Compared with traditional “voltage-mode” technology, “current-mode” of an audio signal provides a wide spectrum of advantages deriving from the underlying principles of circuit design.

Analog Output Stage ― Available voltage-mode & current-mode signaling

As for the current-mode signaling type, the output stage amplifies the current from the DAC chip by current mirror (in principle no nonlinear distortion occurs), obtains the analog output current directly, and it has a completely new constitution, and it is characterized by sound quality with highly pure musical power. Once you listen to the sound quality of current-mode that has reached the area where you are awake, you will not forget. In the case of voltage-mode, since the current amplification is converted to a voltage-mode signal with one low resistor, the sending impedance is very low and your amplifier is firmly driven.