News: Digital Car Audio - Audison Voce Amplifiers
- Saturday 23rd July, 2011
After decades of relying on the archaic and noise prone analog standard for signal transfer through our cars, Italian prestige brand Audison has finally provided us a full digital signal chain. What’s more, with their new 2011 range this groundbreaking new technology has become much more affordable.
Audison’s ‘Full DA’ all-digital signal transfer system debuted in 2010 with their bitOne signal processor and ultra-exotic Thesis series amplifiers, but at a cost of many thousands of dollars this system remained an unattainable dream for the vast majority of us. Now Audison have released a more affordably priced range of amplifiers under the voce banner, each of which can be upgraded via a plug in module to switch their traditional analog signal inputs to full digital mode. Called the AV DM ‘AD Link’, this retails for $179 as an optional component, and when installed into any voce amplifier allows daisy-chaining of the input/output signal across multiple amplifiers.
Added to this, Audison have also just released the more affordable bitTen D signal processor that houses most of the advanced signal processing even hard core enthusiasts will ever require. With the bitTen D priced at $849RRP, and the voce amplifiers priced from $1199RRP, all of a sudden true digital signal transfer is within reach of most of us.
Audison totes many benefits to an all digital signal path, but the obvious benefits are hugely increased resistance to induced noise, absolutely silent noise floor, and the ability to apply signal processing without fear of signal chain based clipping distortion. Final digital-to-analog conversion is now done at the input stage of each voce amplifier, with high grade 24Bit/96kHz sampling rate D/A converters employed throughout. You also get to do away with RCA cables altogether, with up to 8 channels of digital audio signal transferred by one single CAT5 style cable between the bitTen D/One and the amplifiers.
The new voce amplifiers span 2-channel, 4-channel and mono models, yet it is the astounding new 5-channel AV 5.1K that impresses us the most. For $1599RRP you get 2x75WRMS front channels and 2x140WRMS rear channels into 4ohm loads, while the fifth subwoofer channel rockets out 600WRMS at 4ohms or a genuine 1,000WRMS into 2ohms. Considering what five equivalently powerful channels will cost you via other means, the voce AV 5.1K makes a very compelling choice and is certainly great value for money.
Audison have endowed the AV 5.1K with fully variable crossover filtering that allows you to drive an ‘active’ speaker array of HP tweeter/BP midrange/LP subwoofer directly. The filter ranges are also highly flexible, and are ideal if you plan on combining an active/passive filtered front stage comprised of the matching voce series component speakers.
What Audison have yet to solve, however, is the origin of the digital signal itself. Each bit series signal processor can accept both toslink and coaxial style input connections, which leads us to the obvious question – what sources are available right now that currently offer a digital output?
For this we predominantly need to look at the current range of DVD-based source units on the market since these are often designed to connect to outboard 5.1-ch processors on some markets. Of those I found, I can confirm that the following models either feature a digital output connection or can be adapted to be so equipped:
IVA-D800E $2299RRP (with KWE-610E digital converter cable)
HX-D2 $1999RRP (with optional DCA-005 cable modified to suit toslink)
Of these options Pioneer’s single DIN DVH-435UB looks very promising as it comes with niceties such as steering wheel control input and iPhone/iTouch/iPad connection via USB with App Mode control. The digital outputs on all Pioneer sources are designed to work with an outboard 5.1 channel DSP processor for overseas markets via a converter known as the CD-DD25, so there's no guarantee you'll be able to make this work.
Clarion's HX-D2 can successfuly be converted to offer digital output by using the optional DCA-005 optical cable and cutting off the black end, which needs to be replaced with a toslink terminal for connection to the Bit One or Bit Ten D. The only place we've found clip-on toslink ends in this website in the USA: toslink connectors
Aside from these routes it seems like we need to wait for Audison to come up with a solution, and thanks to their ‘close relationship’ with Clarion it looks increasingly likely that a solution may arrive next year. Rumour has it that the replacement for Clarion’s HX-D2 is being developed with Audison’s ‘Full DA’ in mind, with the new high-end CD transport offering a dedicated digital output along with USB connection for your iPod device. If they can also endow it with additional mod-cons like Bluetooth and steering wheel interface then we really have something to be excited about! Clarion and Audison share a very close relationship these days, so fingers crossed we’ll know more about this soon.