Thursday, December 30, 2010

hiFace: the details

I've seen some interest in my previous article on the hiFace, so I thought the technically minded readers might like some more details. The company that builds it is M2Tech. They have exclusive agreements with distributors around the world. In the US the unit is only available through the website starting at $150.

The hiFace is a USB device that outputs S/PDIF on a coaxial connector (either RCA or BNC). It is designed to produce a signal with low jitter and low phase noise. It can produce a data stream signal with sampling as high as 192 Kbps and 24 bit resolution. It does this by using a proprietary device driver, which you load from the provided CD the first time you plug the unit in to your computer. There are drivers for Windows XP, Vista and 7 as well as MacOS 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6. Not all receivers or DACs are able to process S/PDIF at 192 Kbps even if the hiFace can send it that fast. Consult your owner's manual for the specifications of your particular system.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

M2Tech hiFace

M2Tech and disc My latest electronic toy arrived last month and was immediately put to use in the theater. The unit is called a "hiFace" and it is made by an interesting Italian company named "M2Tech". The hiFace plugs in to a computer's USB port and provides digital audio output that you can feed to a digital-analog converter (DAC) or a receiver equipped with one. Rather than connecting the computer to the receiver with the usual two red and white cables, this allows me to connect the computer to the receiver using digital audio, much in the same way that a DVD player can be connected to a home theater receiver (one equipped to handle Dolby Digital and other surround-sound inputs). By using this device I can completely bypass the computer's sound card and output all digital audio directly to my receiver. This means the task of producing the sound is in the hands of the equipment that can do the best job.