Sonic Boom

When it comes to dynamic range, it's the little things that count. As Texas Instruments explains, "Dynamic range is a parameter that expresses numerically how accurately sounds of small amplitude can be reproduced without distortion." In other words, the higher the dynamic range, the higher the quality of the sound, especially at low levels.

With this in mind, TI announced last week a new Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) which, it claims, offers the industry's highest dynamic range and which is intended for use in high-end audio equipment. TI says the new PCM1792 utilizes the company's proprietary "Advanced Segment" technology to achieve a maximum dynamic range of 132dB when in mono mode, "surpassing the standard 120–123dB performance provided by conventional Delta-Sigma DACs."

TI hopes the new DAC will be used in a wide range of high-end audio applications such as A/V amplifiers, universal format players (which play both DVD-Audio and SACD), and professional mixing consoles. TI emphasizes that the PCM1792 supports audio sources that comply with both the DVD-Audio (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and SACD formats, adding that it will also offer the DSD1792, a companion device equipped with a dedicated SACD signal input terminal.

According to the company, the DAC's dynamic range "significantly exceeds" SACD's specification, "making it possible to more accurately reproduce recorded program material. Prior to this device, there was no integrated circuit DAC available with a dynamic range exceeding 130dB."

TI explains that its proprietary Advanced Segment DAC architecture is characterized by a "constant-current, multi-level configuration that enables the DAC to achieve the industry's highest dynamic range and offer increased tolerance to clock jitter. This architecture also provides an analog Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filter, which the industry recommends as the filtering process to best utilize SACD's superior performance."

The new chips are scheduled to hit the market in March 2003 at a price of $13 per unit in 1000-piece quantities.