AKM Proposes Two-Chip D/A Solution for High-End Audio Product Development

March 11 2020, 00:20
Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation (AKM) has expanded its lineup of premium audio Digital-to-Analog converters (DACs) with the development of a two-chip solution that separates the digital aspect from the analog. While conventional DACs use a single chip to convert signals from digital to analog, the new AKM approach splits the conversion process between the AK4191 delta-sigma modulator and the AK4498 DAC. This results in an improvement in sound quality that is easily perceptible while listening to music, the company states.

AKM's two-chip DAC solution that separates the digital aspect from the analog was announced following a period of extensive tests promoted by the Japanese company using controlled listening tests. The results, as the company notes, validated the combination of the AK4191 premium delta-sigma modulator with multi-bit output chip for enhanced digital signal processing capability, when combined with with the AK4498 premium D/A converter with multi-bit modulator data interface, resulting in superior dynamic with vast playback resolution, as well as improved noise immunity and increased low-frequency noise performance.

AKM is now offering this solution for the audio industry, recommending the two-chip solution for high-end audio designs, active speakers, network audio and USB DAC applications. "By using two ICs, AKM has minimized the effects of digital noise within the analog output, resulting in a perceived improvement of the ratio of signal to noise. This improvement, while not easily quantifiable via traditional measurement techniques, is easily experienced during controlled listening tests," the company states.
Daishin Kashimoto, 1st Concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic and AKM Velvet Sound brand ambassador.

The AKM AK4191EQ is a premium delta-sigma modulator with multi-bit output employing the company's Velvet Sound technology, and  has increased the oversampling rate of digital processing to 256x from the previous 8x. This allows for aliasing artifacts due to sampling to be driven even further into the upper frequency range. Additionally, the AK4191’s digital filters can reduce noise by 50 dB more than previous devices. The solution supports up to 1.536MHz PCM and DSD1024 music playback.
The AKM AK4498 is another product of the company's Velvet Sound Premium Audio manufacturing process, also used for the flagship AK4499 DAC and the preceding AK4497. This process, AKM says, results in much-improved noise immunity in general, and increased low-frequency noise performance in particular. This new premium D/A converter with multi-bit modulator data interface offers -116dB of THD+N and a superior signal to noise ratio of 128dB.

The AK4498 is available now. The AK4191 will be sampling in Q2 2020.
www.akm.com | www.velvetsound.akm.com
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