In the previous topic, we talked about analog cable connectors, now we go over digital cable connector. This type of connector has many interesting features and used in many digital recording studio from small to big.
1. MIDI connector
The first digital cable connector we need to talk about is MIDI connector. This connector helps digital devices exchange digital data. MIDI port is usually seen on electronic musical devices such as keyboard, sound module, drum machine, even on electric guitar ( some electric guitar brands like Parker, they put MIDI port on some of their guitars).
MIDI connector has 5 heads, the convex is called male and connected to female head on devices, musical instruments. Some Audio Interface such as Digi 002, Impact Twin of TC Electronic has available MIDI input but some others not.
In case of your device doesn’t have MIDI port to connect to other external devices, you can use USB MIDI cable converter or midi interface.
2. S/PDIF connector
S/PDIF is short word for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format, this is common standard digital cable connector of Sony and Philip, designed especially for transmitting high quality, accurate, clean, no reducing audio signal.
S/PDIF is balance coaxial cable. This connector permit transmit two digital channel at the same time, you can find it in many common digital devices as well as pro audio devices. New computer mainboard and laptop are almost equipped with this port.
3. ADAT connector
Is 8 channels of signal transmitting digital cable connector. This connector is very popular in middle to high grade digital devices. It brings expansion and flexibility in case of you want to expand your studio.
For example, your audio interface have ADAT port and you want to expand 8 more digital channel signal, you just need to buy one more converter integrated Preamp, for example Focusrite OctoPre MkII, you connect your OctoPre to audio interface via ADAT port, your audio interface is immediately expanded to more 8 channels.
If you want to change that Focusrite OctoPre MkII into another 8 channels a/d converter, you do just like above and no need of changing configuration of software or computer. It’s one hell of benefit from ADAT.
4. AES/EBU connector
AES/ABU is digital audio standard, used for transmitting digital audio signal between different devices. This is balance cable, usually seen in high-grade audio devices.
This connector is similar with s/pdif, it transmits two channels at the same time but its XLR jack designed like microphone’s.
5. World Clock/BNC connector
World Clock is synchronous standard between different audio devices. Its jack is usually BNC connector. World clock is to connect and keep the synchonization between one master device and one or more adding devices (slave). If your studio system needs connectors and uses one or more digital audio devices, they’ll need to be connected through World Clock/BNC connector.
What happens if you transmit signal with 44100hz bit rate to a working digital devices with 48000hz? If you’re lucky, they’ll stop working, if not, you’ll hear a big pop and that’s what happen when you use two devices with different digital audio data.
If your two devices use one digital audio data like 24bit – 44100hz but not sure they can work together because of the clock speed of those two just can run nearly together, no synchronization.
In this case, we’ll meet serious “jitter” (distorted sound) just like when you apply ring modulator effect. If you have big jitter, you’ll hear several pops mixed in the audio, if smaller, you’ll hear dripping sound in your audio repeating in 5 – 10 or 20 seconds.
Meeting those situations, use your digital audio devices if they’re available with BNC port. This connector helps digital audio devices recognize which is master device and which is sleeve. Master device’s clock speed will be the only clock speed for all your connected digital audio system.
Sleeves automatically ignore their clock speed and use clock speed of the master. Eventually, all of your digital audio devices will be synchronized and worked to perfection.
And that’s it
Understanding features of digital cable connector is essential for you to be the master of your home recording studio.