Derived from their highly successful Horus and Hapi family of RAVENNA-enabled networked audio interfaces, Merging Technologies has taken their expertise into the consumer market with the launch of their revolutionary high-end audiophile D/A converter, NADAC.
NADAC, the first ever Network Attached Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), is set to be a game-changer. Available in two versions – stereo or 8-channel – NADAC is the first device to bring the power of RAVENNA networking into the home, thus removing traditional limitations to boost performance to levels never yet experienced in a consumer setting.
So why a networked DAC, and why use RAVENNA? Merging’s Chris Hollebone explains: “The modern world has become increasingly dependent on networks, both at home and in our professional environments. As network capacities have increased, more and more people are turning to IT networks for carrying both audio and video. Gigabit Ethernet clearly had sufficient capacity for high quality audio, but still was far from ideal without an additional protocol to add the required precision and management. We looked at alternatives that could offer sufficient accuracy and reliability with high channel counts and Hi-Res Audio data-rates. The only choice that made sense to us was RAVENNA.”
Initially developed to meet the exacting requirements of national broadcasters, RAVENNA (which is an open technology standard with no proprietary licencing) focused on providing extremely accurate clocking, high resistance to packet loss and extremely low latency. Thanks to close collaboration with Merging it is now the first and only Layer 3-based IP audio protocol to offer full support for high channel-count DXD and DSD signals. It is also fully AES67-compatible. According to Merging, RAVENNA “remains the only logical choice for the professional and the audiophile,” and is now available in NADAC. The added benefit of using an advanced networking solution such as RAVENNA is being able to send and receive control information as well as audio data. This has already opened up exciting possibilities in the studio which can now be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
So what does all of this mean in real terms? Chris Hollebone takes up the story once more: “Because Merging developed standard drivers for RAVENNAfor any computer operating system, you can connect your NADAC to any music server, player or streamer supporting ASIO on Windows, CoreAudio/DoP on MacOSX. All you need is a CAT5e or CAT6 cable.In short, any connected device in the home can be routed to NADAC, and multiple NADACs can listen to any device, zone or playlist. A built-in web browser means that you can control NADAC remotely from any mobile device, giving you handy control of listening level and source selection. You can even control multiple NADACs remotely from the same mobile device.”
Andreas Hildebrand, Senior Product Manager at ALC NetworX, the company behind the RAVENNA technology, is delighted to see RAVENNA spreading out into the high-end consumer market. “While originally targeted at the most demanding applications in the professional broadcast environment, we also designed RAVENNA with utmost flexibility in mind. With RAVENNA now being able to support even the most precise formats in the commercial audio market, we see this as a proof of concept for our open, standards-based solution approach.”
“Finally, audiophiles can look forward to hearing the same quality in their own home and home cinemas as the engineers and musicians heard at the recording session” concluded Hollebone. “The combination of our expertise inconverter technology and analog circuitry matched with the power and accuracy of RAVENNA audio transport is simply an unbeatable combination. We’re proud to offer sound quality of this level to a new market in the form of NADAC.”