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Audio DAC Brings Recording-Studio Quality to Mobile, Pro Audio Devices

02 March 2017

Smartphones and mobile devices are doing much more than handling voice, data, texting and apps-centric applications: they are now centers of audio playback through speakers and headphones. This is placing demands on their designers to incorporate highest-quality audio performance, a task that often challenges the unit's designer due to the unique attributes of high-quality audio signals.

Most smartphones and mobile devices today have greatly increased their storage capacity, allowing consumers to move beyond standard compressed audio sources, such as MP3, and adopt higher resolution audio (aka “lossless”) formats. These formats, such as FLAC, PONO, LDAC and others, require more storage space on the device, but can deliver a higher-quality audio experience. Premium audio content is also increasingly being offered to consumers via streaming services, such as Spotify®, Google Play MusicTM and Tidal®.

Addressing the associated design issues, the CS43130 MasterHIFI™ digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with headphone amplifier from Cirrus Logic uses an innovative approach. Its unique non-oversampling (NOS) emulation mode—believed by many audiophiles to contribute to the emotion of audio by providing a similar feeling as valve amplifiers or vinyl records—offers listeners a natural, euphonic sound that some listeners feel is missing from modern consumer products. It provides high-resolution support for formats from Direct Stream Digital® (DSD), to DSD DoP (DSD over PCM), up to DSD128, Figure 1.

The Cirrus Logic CS43130 DAC plus headphone amplifier IC provides audio quality that far surpasses sound and performance of standard mobile-device audio channels, and with far lower power requirements. (Source: Cirrus Logic) The Cirrus Logic CS43130 DAC plus headphone amplifier IC provides audio quality that far surpasses sound and performance of standard mobile-device audio channels, and with far lower power requirements. (Source: Cirrus Logic)

This low-power IC, as well as the DAC-only CS4399 for professional audio installations, uses 512 individual DACs per channel in an analog/digital filter array to deliver the reproduction of high-bandwidth, high-resolution digital audio sources, Figure 2. This arrangement preserves the high-fidelity “pure” audio while helping to filter out the unwanted noise, and also provides high-jitter immunity for ultra-high-quality music playback. The result is music and audio as close to the original recorded source as possible.

Within the CS43130 DAC is a complex array of audio sub-functions, many of which are dedicated to implementing unique non-oversampling (NOS) emulation mode for extraordinary audio fidelity. (Source: Cirrus Logic) Within the CS43130 DAC is a complex array of audio sub-functions, many of which are dedicated to implementing unique non-oversampling (NOS) emulation mode for extraordinary audio fidelity. (Source: Cirrus Logic)

The CS43130 consumes just 23 milliwatts of power—less than one-fourth that of other mobile hi-fi DACs—which helps to maximize battery life. It supports up to 32-bit, 384 kHz sample rate audio playback, ensuring the best possible listening experience. Recognizing that smartphones are also used for voice calls, its analog bypass switch provides easy switching between hi-fi and voice call modes and includes a low power state for voice only; it also eases integration due to the switch’s ability to accept headphone output from a separate codec.

Both the Cirrus Logic CS43130 and CS4399 are available in a 42-ball WLCS or 40-pin QFN package and are currently sampling to customers. For more information, go to www.cirrus.com.



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