MDX-400

Easy Optical out from your PC...

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I just thought I'd post this to answer the question of how to get optical (Toslink) output from your PC to record on to MD.

While there are several sound cards (and adapters for those sound cards) that can supply optical and sometimes also coaxial I/O the easiest method is usually to use a USB sound device that provides such features for your PC. You just plug it in and go...

There have been one or two models in the past but recently there have been some new additions to these USB sound ports so I'd like to make a short list of the more popular and relatively inexpensive ones... (All prices are indicated in US dollars.)

Xitel DG2 (aka Digital Hi-Fi Link) $35-40 on eBay--provides optical out and "discrete mode" that puts in digital track markers automatically.

Link: www.xitel.com

USB SoundBox ~$30 on eBay (used to be cheaper)--provides both optical digital out as well as analog output in the form of a minijack. Sampling rate is fixed at 48kHz and there are no track marks (you have to use "spacer files" and your MD has to put in the track marks by itself).

Xitel PRO Hi-Fi Link $99 MSRP--this is a new unit from Xitel and provides a bunch of new features. It has analog level output in the form of L/R RCA jacks, as well as coaxial digital output and optical digital output. Retail version comes with plenty of LONG cabling: good quality optical, stereo RCA and (75 Ohm?) coaxial RCAs are provided. Additionally (unlike the two above units) this model features Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 pass-through so you can hook up a compatible receiver/decoder to get surround from DVDs, etc.

Link: www.xitel.com

M-Audio/MidiMan Sonica MSRP $69.95--this is another relatively new unit that features both analog out (in the form of a stereo minijack) and optical digital output in a small little unit that connects to your PCs USB port. This unit, like the PRO Hi-Fi Link, features pass-through of 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS signals via the optical output. Supports many different sampling rates (up to 96kHz) and up to 24-bit PCM (16-bit for AC-3 and DTS).

Link: http://www.m-audio.com/products/consumer/s...onica_page1.php

M-Audio/MidiMan Sonica Theatre--Coming soon. Upgraded version of the Sonica. Will support digital input(?) as well as Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES (upto 7.1 channel output supported). No additional info yet.

Link: http://www.m-audio.com/products/consumer/index.php#

There is also the Creative Labs Solution of the Extigy. However this is more of a sound "card" solution rather than just an optical out solution. MSRP on the Audigy is $150 I believe. It also connects to the USB port of a compatible PC and provides several I/O features. It supports up to 24/96 on the digital outputs. It also features stand-alone DD decoding (helped via Ceative Labs' Software) but DTS is not decoded to 5.1 analog outputs. However both DTS and DD are supported through the digital outs for external decoders/receivers. I features 5.1 channel analog output and many PC standards for audio. It also features optical in and out as well as coaxial input and analog line level input. It features a remote as well. The Extigy is said to "strip" SCMS. Details are at: http://www.soundblaster.com/products/extig...igy/welcome.asp

Well that's my list for now. If anyone has any comments on these or additions to the list, please feel free to add them!

Hope that helps people out those that are looking for easy solutions for optical output (and input in some cases) on their PCs.

Edit: Okay I've decided to make this a "Sticky" to keep people informed about ways to get digital output from a PC... I've also been informed of the cost-effective Yamaha Cavit DP-U50 unit (thanks to Watchdog on the T-Station forums!) which I will add to the list...

Yamaha Cavit DP-U50 MSRP $99 CDN!--"External Audio Soundboard Processor". It also connects to the PC using USB and costs less than the Xitel PRO Hi-Fi Link and offers some different features (though it was reported the US MSRP was $250 US on the DP-U50 it appears there has been a price drop...). Dolby Pro Logic Decoding. Virtual Dolby Digital and DTS (2-speaker output only). However note that Yamaha makes no mention on ANY of the 3 different Cavit units' ability to "pass-through" AC-3/DTS digital bitstreams so I currently can't comment on whether it can do this or not. (The Sonica, PRO Hi-Fi Link and Extigy can do this). Edit: It appears that while the DP-U50 (and other Cavit units) can pass through an AC-3/DTS digital stream if it is on one of its digital inputs (opt. or coax.), it cannot send a 5.1 digital stream that it gets from the PC sad.gif

24bit/96kHz max. resolution, also offers input facilities via one Coax, one Toslink and one analog input. This provides the ability to get sound into the PC via digital or analog connection and record to the HDD, something that the Xitel and M-Audio USB units do not. Offers multiple DSP modes via the on-board Yamaha DSP processor and also provides a 7-band EQ. All in all a very nice unit with the exception of the lack of ability to pass a 5.1 stream from the PC through its digital outputs. The Extigy lacks some of the sound processing ability of the Cavit and may also have worse sound quality but I have to say the Extigy has the edge as it can output 5.1 digital streams from the PC. The U50 Cavit is cheaper though.

There are 3 different Cavit units but the DP-U50 is far cheaper than the other two units--the other two are ridiculously costly in comparison. See them at: http://www.yamaha.ca/computer/cavit/index.htm .

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Or if u have a Sony hi-fi that can take PC-Link Kits i.e PC-MN10 and MN 20 then its really easy then smile.gif

USB and there u go smile.gif i hook my laptop to my DHC-MD595 via the PC-Link PC-MN10 and can transfer anything from it in digital.

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I just discovered that in the States, there is a $50 rebate available on the SoundBlaster Extigy, which takes the price to "only" $99.95.

It seems to me from what I've read that this unit would allow uploading, after a fashion, albeit in real-time.

Anyway, the rebate offer only runs until 12/14, so I've got to make up my mind quickly. I'd appreciate any comments about the Extigy, good or bad.

[edit, 12/13]: I should have mentioned that I have an "ancient" MZ-R<something> that actually has digital out. And an MDS-PC1. And an MZ-R37, but that one is reserved for trips to the gym.

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I just discovered that in the States, there is a $50 rebate available on the SoundBlaster Extigy, which takes the price to "only" $99.95.

It seems to me from what I've read that this unit would allow uploading, after a fashion, albeit in real-time.

Anyway, the rebate offer only runs until 12/14, so I've got to make up my mind quickly.  I'd appreciate any comments about the Extigy, good or bad.

[edit, 12/13]:  I should have mentioned that I have an "ancient" MZ-R<something> that actually has digital out.  And an MDS-PC1.  And an MZ-R37, but that one is reserved for trips to the gym.

Hmm, well most places in the US that sell the Extigy have it for around $110 or so (plus shipping if you aren't buying it locally). I wonder if you could get that $50 rebate to apply to those sales because that would be a pretty good deal for an Extigy at only $60 or so.

The MD portable with the optical out is actually the first consumer MD unit ever, the MZ-1 (no R as it was the first one and I guess they didn't need the R as there were no players yet or any other MD devices).

Edit actually the $110 prices for the Exitgy are the OEM box prices the retail is about $125, but where are you seeing this rebate? I went to Creative Labs' website but I can only see rebates for the sound CARDS and nothing for the Extigy.

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Don't got the Extigy - the drivers are absolute crud and all the peripheral software that comes with it really screws with your system. Also Creative admitted their claims of 24-bit 96kHz is the "theoretical" capability of their chip. Had to return it after 3 days. Now running a Pro HiFi-Link from Xitel. Excellent audio quality and a huge bunch of cables. Have optical to MD deck and coaxial to surrond sound amp.

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Or if u have a Sony hi-fi that can take PC-Link Kits i.e PC-MN10 and MN 20 then its really easy then smile.gif

USB and there u go smile.gif i hook my laptop to my DHC-MD595 via the PC-Link PC-MN10 and can transfer anything from it in digital.

i checked the sony site about that... about 1 year ago...

and it was about $300...

hopefully the price will have gone down...

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From maplin you can now get an SPDIF (coax digital) to toslink (optical) converter for £15, which is very cheap, maybe $20? they do overseas ordering from here

http://www.maplin.co.uk the catalogue number to search for is: QN17T

i'll let you know how it performs when it arrives, but i hear they're excellent

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nope... it hasn't gone down

still $299

Yeah this thing is still listed at $200 US which is ridiculous! Especially considering if you bought an MDS-JE470 or JE770 when they were "current" models in the US they had a mail-in offer to get the PC-Link for FREE! (It was either mail-in or packaged with I can remember which).

With that price, the only people that probably have those things are those that took advantage of that offer when it was available.

Roland M.

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What's that "discrete mode" that is mentioned with the DG2?

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What's that "discrete mode" that is mentioned with the DG2?

Discrete (separate) mode means that the DG2 automatically inserts track marks in the recording when you are recording more than one track to the MD unit.

As you might already know, simply transferring songs via optical output on most soundcards or by other devices such as the USB SoundBox does not transmit track marks like a CD player would. (CD players with optical out automatically pass track markers when changing tracks through the S/PDIF / Toslink stream so the MD recorder makes track marks as well).

So the result is that if you don't use "spacer files" (files of 2-3 seconds of digital silence) in between tracks on the PC the MD recorder may put one or more tracks together as one and you have to go back and divide them or mark them manually as the recording is going. So it is either do it manually, go back and divide or have some seconds of silence between songs.

The DG2 supposedly avoids all this hassle and inserts track marks in between songs for the MD recorder as a hardware feature. Though it has now been reported that the DG2 cannot make track marks when using Windows Media Player 9, most other versions of software including WMP 8 work fine.

Roland M.

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Reason I ask is that I own a dg2 and I don't get track marks when I try to record cd's...and it pisses me off to no end. Any way to get track marks without having to use a spacer?

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Reason I ask is that I own a dg2 and I don't get track marks when I try to record cd's...and it pisses me off to no end.  Any way to get track marks without having to use a spacer?

Hmm... Did you try using Windows Media Player (version 8 or lower) or Music Match Jukebox to play the CD tracks? Perhaps the DG2s discrete mode only works for files? Maybe if you interspaced a CD track then file, CD track then file or something it would work better.

You do get the track marks when recording files (as oppsed to CD Audio tracks), right? Another alternative is to rip each CD track you need to a .wav and then record it and delete the .wavs after. Though this is a bit inconvenient to say the least.

Barring that you can always use a CD player that has optical out as it will always play the track marks through the optical output. (I have no idea why this doesn't happen from a PC. I wonder if you'd get track marks if you were to directly take the S/PDIF from the CD-ROM drive's 2-pin digital connector and changed it to optical?) Anyhow the only downside to the audio CD player method is that you have to have a CD player with optical out and you get the SCMS bit set which isn't that big a deal.

Roland M.

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It does make tracks with anything but cd audio...and wav. I already tried that. I've tried windows media, winamp, the paid-for version of musicmatch, wincue (through winamp,) a number of different md recording programs, and so on...sonicstage, the cd player thing on my windows 98 computer, yada yada. I don't have a cd player with an optical out (DAMMIT), so I don't have that option. I guess I could convert stuff to 320 kbps audio first, and even though that is relatively good audio quality, you'll still end up with second gen compression and all that. wish there was a magic solution with this thing, a setting that could be altered or something. Any ideas? I really hate doing manual track marks/having spaces in between connected cd tracks cause I was too lazy to do the track mark myself.

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Yeah, I can't think of anything either...

Without spacer files (which are a pain and cause unwanted spaces most times) there isn't much you can do. At least you get spaces with non-CD track files...

It is too bad there aren't "files" that can be played by Media Player (and other sound software) that outputs the S/PDIF track mark code/signal out the digital output device. I don't understand why there can't be a program made with such an option or a file generated that does the same but right now I know of nothing that will do this sad.gif

Perhaps someone will write a PC-->MD program that puts the track marker code in between tracks on the player. Until then we're all stuck with spacer files or manual marking.

Just as a general curiosity (somewhat unrelated), I wonder if when playing MP3 encoded CDs through an MP3/CD player with optical out, if those types of CD players put out track marks when changing MP3 "tracks" on an MP3 encoded disc???

Roland M.

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I think they would if the cd player normally outputs tracks inbetween songs. It doesn't matter than much to me anymore because I went out and bought a converter so I can use my coaxial output on my cd player for recording, but I would still like to know why it is such a bitch but only with non-compressed files.

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sound cards based on the es1373 chip can output digital spdif from the line output jack. but you can only enable it in linux and although most low-end creative cards are based on it (sb16pci) there is a good chance you would not be able to enable it in windows. and i have no way of finding out because my sb16pci card is dead.

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I think the Hercules Fortissimo II uses that chipset, but the downside is that the output is always on, as it were, making trackmarking and synch recording difficult. On the drivers home page Hercules say

Pending bugs

These issues are known and will address in future releases.

- Minidisc mode is not functional for the Fortissimo II, under all Os.

We can but wait.

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hey, im in hk at the moment, and i wanna buy one of those usb optical out things but i havent seen one so far. closest thing i saw was a shop that used to have usb soundbox but doesnt any more in mong kok computer center. does anyone know where to get one of these things in hk??

ta

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i have a soundblaster live! with an spdif jack on it, and a sharp md-mt180 md-recorder, which has a jack labelled 'optical/line in'. if i buy an optical cable with 3.5mm jacks on both ends and try to record thru that, will it work? :?:

a friend of mine insists that i need a digital-to-optical converter, but im not convinced because the manual for the mt180 uses the words 'optical' and 'digital' interchangeably. :?

please help!!

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Shodan : I have a soundblaster live! and the spdif jack is a coaxial outpout, not an optical one. Youre friend is right, you would need a coax/optical converter tu record on your MD.

I also advise you to download Creative MiniDisc Center, this utility will make your recordings easier by automaticaly generating pause beteween tracks to "force trackmarking".

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I picked up an Audiotrak "Optoplay" USB digital/analog out device today that I could use with my laptop. http://www.audiotrak.de/eng/optoplay.html

$49 at CompUSA. Works really well -- the analog sound it puts out is really, really nice and very clean-sounding. The miniplug on the end doubles as both analog and toslink, chooses which one to use depending on what you plug into it.

It also lets you output 24-bit audio via toslink -- which my MZ-N505 takes without difficulty. (Does anyone know how MD units deal with 24-bit audio?)

Track marks are hit or miss with it. I used the "pause between tracks" plug-in for foobar2k and it gets all the track marks. Albums without discrete breaks between tracks (flaming lips, etc.) don't get them.

This one gets points for being really small. The unit at the end of the cable (about 3 1/2 feet long) is barely the size of a couple of AA batteries together.

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I know this thread has aged a bit, but I came here looking for something else when I came across all of you souls looking for optical out solutions. I ran into the same situation, and I found a solution (rather cheap too).

If you have an SBlive card, you can get digitial optical interfaces for around 30 bucks or so. The SB DB III from Hoontech does the trick. You just plug it into the spdif connector, and wham, there is your toslink connection for digital out. No need to update drivers, install additional software or any of that stuff. Just click the digital out option in your mixer to send the tunes over the digital interface.

Enjoy 8)

Ice

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I myself have a Yamaha DP-U50, it has optical in and out, I could possibly find out if it does the passthrough deal you're talking about. Just tell me what I should do and I'll put up the result -- If you're looking for somethign that'll strip SCMS like the Extigy, this thing won't do it. The box pimps "SCMS COMPATIBLE!!" right next to "Extensive digital connections!"

I had an Extigy too, I sold it to get the Yamaha CAVIT unit. It was pretty good with the MiniDisc Center utility, if anyone wants it I got it to install on non-Creative-device-runnign computers. It's better than winamp and does queing and xx-Second pause liek a charm. All I have to do is set the USB Xitel DG2 as default sound device and it works beautifully.

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