And Universal Players For All

For many audiophiles, the reasonably priced "universal" DVD-Audio/SACD/CD player is the magic combination that will trigger a jump into the new high-resolution audio formats. As an answer to those universal player prayers, Wolfson Microelectronics, UK–based developer of audio ICs for multimedia and communications applications, announced the introduction of two new six-channel audio DAC chips last week—one of which brings the contentious formats together in one box.

Wolfson claims that the WM8746 and the WM8756 audio DACs provide the same high-performance audio traditionally found in higher-cost, format-specific chips. The company says that both chips support six channels and up to 192kHz playback for DVD-Audio, with the WM8756 also supporting six-channel SACD playback.

Wolfson's David Milne explains, "Companies like Mark Levinson and Harman/Kardon have long used our audio components in their high-end stereo systems. With these new audio DACs, we are trying to bring that same audio quality to the home audio and theater systems." The company adds that the WM8756 is the first device in their family of audio DACs to offer SACD support.

According to Wolfson, the DVD-A/SACD WM8756 is a high-performance six-channel DAC with separate input pins for 64x DSD bitstream data and PCM data at sample rates up to 192kHz. The company reports that PCM data can be received in a number of common digital audio formats, including DSP, I2S, and left- or right-justified modes, with word lengths ranging from 16–32 bits. Wolfson says that their proprietary multi-bit sigma-delta DAC architecture achieves topnotch linearity specs with total harmonic distortion (THD) at -97dB.

The WM8746, on the other hand, is a PCM-only version that the company says is targeted at high-end surround-sound applications that do not require SACD compatibility, such as digital broadcast receivers and DVD-Audio only players.