Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!

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jrebman

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #20 on: 1 Jun 2017, 06:21 pm »
I have a question about the ground switch settings...

I used a balanced power supply (Equitech) and all devices that require power, are plugged into it, so there is no mix and match going on here (really the only way to use balanced power) and the whole thing is fed from a high quality outlet and power cable (no possibility for a dedicated line) and since the ground is the reference point for both halves of the AC voltage, where would the optimum switch setting be for this situation? You need the ground and all devices use it and there is no ground loop problem, especially if your cables have a shield that is connected at both ends -- a disaster waiting to happen with "normal" line power, so quite a bit different and I wonder if this possibility was considered by the iFi engineers. And no, I'm not giving up my balanced power -- no way! :-)

-- Jim

MonteCarlo64

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #21 on: 13 Aug 2017, 10:31 pm »
The iGalvanic3.0 premiere is on the 25th of August. Just wanted to let you guys know.

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #22 on: 18 Aug 2017, 07:52 pm »
Coming with a BIG Package


We were as dismayed as our customers that the iGalvanic3.0 launch was delayed. But the AMR/iFi way is to not launch a product unless we are COMPLETELY satisfied it is the very best it can be. If that meant missing out sales from pushing the launch date back, so be it.
 
Good things come to those who wait. And our Skunkworks has delivered. The iGalvanic3.0 (US$349-ex tax) is now on the launch pad. We have a special ‘thank you’ for our customers.
 
The pre-launch bundle will be priced at US$368 (ex-tax) as this includes the iDefender3.0 and iPOWER (5v). This means the iDefender3.0 + iPOWER worth $94 come for $19.
 
iGalvanic3.0 & iDefender & iPower.




This offer is available to those who pre-ordered and any further pre-orders up to the global launch date on 25 August 2017.
Note: this special package is for the first tranche ONLY. Afterwards, the iGalvanic3.0 will revert to the STANDALONE product of $349 (ex-tax).
 
With great performance comes great flexibility

     Q - Why package the iDefender3.0 & iPOWER (5v) with the iGalavanic3.0?
     A - Because our customers asked!
 
From the queries fielded, we saw the diverse combinations of computer audio systems and given the VERY broad range of setups, we decided to let you optimise YOUR system, YOUR way.
The following are four different combinations to maximize each and every system:
 
Configuration 1. DAC is self-powered.

Place iDefender3.0 & iPower at the PC side, disconnect the PC power completely. This reduces software jitter at the PC for better PC playback.
 


 
Configuration 2. DAC is USB-powered (with HIGH power headphone output).

Place iDefender3.0 & iPower downstream of iGalvanic3.0 provides higher current than normal USB and lowers noise even further. Eg: DAC with 500mW+ headphone output
 


 
Configuration 3. DAC is USB-powered (with normal headphone output).

Place iDefender3.0 upstream and cut-off PC power. Supply clean power for upstream side of iGalvanic3.0 & DAC. eg. iDAC2. (Try both sides of iGalvanic3.0 and stick to the side that sounds best).
 


 
Configuration 4. Use elsewhere, on external HDD

Lastly, use iDefender3.0 & iPower elsewhere (eg external HDD) as iGalvanic3.0 delivers essentially similar noise performance. Removes load from hard drive placed upon the computer.
 


 
That's it... for now.
 
P.S. Here it is for the taking: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074TWFHNL

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #23 on: 19 Aug 2017, 09:59 pm »
Folks, in the upcoming days we will introduce iGalvanic3.0 to you in as much details as possible. Some of these writings were posted a while ago, yet several things have changed. We'll talk about iUSB3.0 interaction and we'll reveal why you had to wait for iGalvanic3.0 longer than we initially assumed. Stay tuned!
 
Part 1/3: The Holy Grail of Computer Audio

In the cavern full of cups scene (“The Last Crusade”), Indiana Jones had to choose the Holy Chalice used in the last supper.
 

 
In USB audio, similar propositions abound when selecting the best device to improve USB computer audio. The array of choices is mind boggling.
 
It is widely regarded that one of the most effective USB solutions is galvanic isolation. However, its scarcity reflects the technological hurdles that are not without issues of their own.
 
Having spent the best part of two years researching, (hence why we did not bring it out earlier!), we wholeheartedly agree. The iGalvanic3.0 has been one of our more ‘technologically challenging’ projects.
 
But the team at iFi audio are now over the moon to announce its arrival (albeit a tad later than expected).
 
The iGalvanic3.0 is one of a kind - able to deliver galvanic isolation on USB3.0 Super Speed. In a sea of USB audio improvement devices, the iGalvanic3.0 really is the ‘holy grail’.
 
We could have stopped work there and just brought the product to market. Yet, this is not in the AMR/iFi DNA. From this starting point, we spent more time developing additional features that truly make this product the ultimate solution for USB computer audio.
 

 
We believe the iGalvanic3.0 will elevate the quality of audio playback by an extreme magnitude.

What is the iGalvanic3.0?
 


The iGalavnic3.0 is the one-stop USB audio enhancement solution for every computer audiophile. It offers the USB Trinity of:


 
I. REclock2/ REgenerate2/ REbalance2
+
II. Audiophile-grade USB3.0/2.0 Galvanic Isolation
+
III. Super-low noise USB power*
 
*Measured noise is 0.5uV (0.0000005V) @ 500mA load. Outperforms non-iFi USB devices. Bettered only by the micro iUSB3.0.
It is a ground-up, dedicated, stand-alone solution that elevates computer audio.

Who benefits from the iGalvanic3.0?
 
Everyone who uses USB for computer audio but more specifically, the iGalvanic3.0 is the ideal solution to:
Break ground loops

Avoid noise-coupling in applications that require hi-speed USB transfers.

Thus, the iGalvanic3.0 is the perfect solution for computer audiophiles through to recording studios seeking maximum sound quality from their USB digital audio system.

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #24 on: 22 Aug 2017, 08:42 pm »
Part 2/3: Some are created Extra-Ordinary


There are three special aspects of the iGalvanic3.0 that in our opinion are unsurpassed:

I.            ‘Double’ REgenerate2/REclock2/REbalance2 before & after galvanic isolation.
II.           USB3.0 and USB2.0 Galvanic Isolation on the iFi USB platform.
III.          Power Station° Stealth Converter super-low noise audiophile USB power with Panasonic OsCons.
 
These are the three standout features of the iGalvanic3.0 but there are more which are covered in detail in this section.


I. ‘Double’ REclock2/REgenerate2/REbalance2



From the development of the iUSB3.0 devices, we have the leading in-house know-how to improve the USB signal (and power). This is reflected in the iGalvanic3.0. Every data flow is regenerated subject to the iGalvanic3.0’s own precision master clock system.
 
We did not stop there. Internal and external auditions - with ONE and TWO stage REgeneration versions of the iGalvanic3.0 – saw listeners unanimously prefer TWO sets of REgeneration.
 
Not being able to settle for one stage, the iGalvanic3.0 has TWO stages (before & after galvanic isolation) hence ‘REgenerate2/REclock2/REbalance2’ which goes ‘above and beyond’ other commercial projects.
 
This is clearly more expensive to implement and to the best of our knowledge, the iGalavanic3.0 is the only galvanic isolation product that has DOUBLE REgenerate2/REclock2/REbalance2 because this was the ONLY way in our book.
 
II. All-new USB3.0 galvanic isolation AND USB2.0 galvanic isolation



 
The iGalvanic3.0 is the only product in the world to offer USB3.0 galvanic isolation. With separate transmitting AND receiving lines, it is superior to USB2.0 at handling high data volumes and is future-proofed.
 
The iGalvanic3.0 is the only galvanic isolation product suitable for Pro audio use where multichannel recording systems sees bandwidth ‘hit the buffers’ on USB2.0.
 
The iGalvanic3.0 is fully USB3.0 (and 2.0) standard compliant, with support for all speeds (from 1.5Mbps to 5Gbps) and all transfer modes (including isochronous audio streaming).
 

 
The iGalvanic3.0 features two distinctly separate galvanic isolation stages - one for USB3.0 and the other for USB2.0. They CANNOT be the same because the fundamental architecture is different:
 
-          USB3.0 has separate transmitting AND receiving lines.
-          USB2.0 is bi-directional on one SHARED line.
 
Both USB3.0 and USB2.0 galvanic isolation stages are ground-up, new platforms dedicated for computer audiophile systems and available to no-one else.
 
USB2.0 Galvanic isolation technology (1st Gen) vs USB2.0 (AMR/iFi implementation)

 


The 1st generation is based upon SerDes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SerDes). This de-construction and re-construction of the USB signal is far from ideal. Latency (timing), amongst other things, suffers.

At an early stage, AMR/iFi considered, then discarded, the SerDes platform - and developed a brand new platform. In our opinion, this is technologically superior.
 
An Analogy: USB2.0 First Gen vs USB2.0 Next Gen
 
First generation implementation - SerDes

Imagine for a moment, selecting a route that has a bridge (galvanic isolation) that is too narrow for a lorry (USB audio signal) and cannot handle the weight of the lorry. At the bridge the lorry needs to be dismantled into pieces, the pieces need to be carried across and re-assembled on the other side.
 
The Next Generation - AMR/iFi implementation


The lorry takes a totally different route, one of a quiet, modern 4 lane bridge where the lorry just cruises across effortlessly.
 
The advantages over first generation USB2.0 are:
 
  • 100% transparent isolation - free from all the deconstructed and reconstructed, compatibility issues/challenges involved with the SerDes (USB2.0 bi-directional) approach.
    Just 3 stages of USB Upstream/Isolation/Downstream - instead of 7 compared to 1st Generation USB2.0 isolation.

III. Audiophile power supply section, onboard.



 
For ease of use and utility, the iGalvanic3.0 operates from USB Bus Power. A USB3.0 port is preferred as it is better constructed and supplies more power, 0.9mA (compared to 0.5A on USB2.0).
 
When operating from a USB3.0 or higher port, the iGalvanic3.0 can deliver up to 0.9A isolated low-noise power.
Measured noise is 0.5uV (0.0000005V) @ 500mA load. This is bettered only by the micro iUSB3.0 and comprehensively outclasses other non-iFi USB devices.
For the ultimate, we do not recommend an LPS as they are very costly yet offer little to no better noise performance. Instead, we recommend the iDefender & iPOWER (5v). Depending upon the type of system, it is possible to place the higher power supplied by the iDefender3.0/iPOWER combination BEFORE or AFTER the iGalvanic3.0 (see later for more details).
 
IV. GroundLink to Major Hum.



 
Computer audio systems are a diverse lot. Different grounding schemes require different configurations. Knowing this means the iGalvanic3.0 is dedicated for serious computer audio use – it is able to suit different Ground/Earth setups to remove hum/buzz issues. From start to end, it is a ‘ground-up design’ (pun intended).

Specifically, the Ground link switch* is to optimize isolation in systems where:
 
·         Full Isolation                                (default – centre position)
·         DC to RF soft ground-link              (avoid hum in systems without Ground/Earth – up position)
·         RF soft ground-link                       (avoid audio drop-outs in systems without RF Earth – down position)
 
*Earth/Ground loops are commonly found and this switch deals with NO or Multiple Earths.
It is best to start in the center position and then to try the other settings.

 
IV. Unobtanium component? Let AMR sort.

The iGalvanic3.0 launch was delayed by several months because we could not produce in volume one atypical but integral component; a High-Frequency Power ‘HFP’ Transformer.
 
This is the actual ‘HFP’ Transformer in the iGalvanic3.0:
 

 
It is no ordinary power transformer because:
 
I.            Operating at high frequencies, it offers the best capacitance-to-noise ratio. ie. Being 10x smaller, it filters 10x better.
II.           Its noise floor is second-to-none; negligible compared to regular-sized counterpart.
 
Our German supplier could not produce them to the tight tolerances required. We spent the past few months searching for a transformer that met our strict requirements but it seems it does not exist.
 
Given the AMR/iFi philosophy, we were undeterred. When the going gets tough, the tough gets…..making. So we purchased the materials, equipment and hand-wound them in-house.
 

             
It is very difficult to manufacture:
 
I. Pure 6N OFHC wire must be used.


II. The winding MUST be hand-wound to a special configuration. Machine winding is nigh on impossible (yup, we tried).


III. With the wire core complete, the shield is fitted and a special resin is injected.

 
IV. Then oven baked at 120° C for five mins. Here are some we made earlier.


With a width of 10mm only, it is tiny and therefore difficult to handle.
 
We had to call upon our considerable experience with audio transformers (starting way back with the AMR 77 transformers through to more recently, the Pro iESL) to make a power transformer that would work at the frequencies required for the Stealth Converter Technology.
 
The result is the AMR High-Frequency Power Transformer which measures very nicely indeed.


 
V. Panasonic OSCONs – if good enough for AMR…

For the iGalvanic3.0, we have pushed the sonic envelope just that ‘little bit’ further compared to the pre-production units that made the rounds.
 
At AMR starting from the CD-77 Compact Disk Processor in 2006, we have more than a decade of experience with components including the Panasonic Os-Con.
 
Digital Engine from the AMR CD-77



Trickling down from the AMR, the iGalvanic3.0 is the latest to receive a ‘sprinkling’ of Panasonic Os-Cons.
 
The original and best. Sanyo/Panasonic Os-Con.
 
Panasonic/Sanyo Os-Con (Organic Semi-Conductor) – are the original made by Sanyo (subsequently acquired by Panasonic in 2009) and are widely regarded as the ultimate capacitor for digital circuitry. We concur. Visibly, they have a distinctive purple marking and being the best (in our opinion) they are also the most expensive. Often costing many times the price of normal electrolytic capacitors, they are seldom found in +US$5,000 products, never mind the iGalvanic3.0 at <US$400.


 
Os-Cons have been around for a good while. Among the larger value capacitors useful in power supplies, they hold a special place.  In a ground-breaking series on capacitor performance published in the late Nineties and early Noughties in Wireless World, Cyril Bateman showed they persistently outperformed all alternatives at high frequencies and were second in low-distortion only to the Elna Silmic.
 
After the Panasonic takeover, supply chains were changed and they became difficult to obtain. Further, only more recently have Os-Cons become available in the small values/voltages/sizes needed for the relatively miniature equipment in the iFi range.

So despite their steep cost, (around 10x that of common electrolytic capacitors), the micro iDSD Black Label was the first to feature them.
 
There are Os-Cons and there are Os-CONS.

As a side note, a few years ago, when the ‘Organic Semi-Conductor’ patent expired, other manufacturers jumped on the ‘Organic Semi-Conductor’ bandwagon with their own attempts. We have tested these alternative ‘Os-CONS’ offered by other manufacturers. We were surprised to find they were little better then generic electrolytic capacitors and dramatically inferior to the original Sanyo product. It is reassuring to know that we have been tempted, but never switched and stayed true to Panasonic Os-Cons.
 
And here’s how they look like both inside and out. Purple = good, whereas anything else = mediocre at best.


A sprinkle of the purple magic

It is only logical that Panasonic/Sanyo with a 16-year start over their less costly imitations, is in our opinion still the best which is why the iGalvanic3.0 features the real Os-Con in certain areas:
 
2 x Power Supply for the downstream REgenerate2/REclock2/REbalance2 section.
1 x for the Output Power supply.



VI. Aircraft-grade aluminium for EMI/RFI shielding

The iGalvanic3.0 features the iFi trademark aluminum block. This enclosure acts as a shield against harmful electromagnetic interference (EMI/RFI) to further minimize noise. Blocking all the noise coming from a PC results in vast sound quality improvements. Non-aluminium designs offer little to no shielding from EMI/RFI.



iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #25 on: 25 Aug 2017, 05:32 pm »
Part 3/3 - How do the iGalvanic3.0 and iUSB3.0 fit together?

Most, who require the ‘holy grail’ of galvanic isolation, will use the iGalvanic3.0 stand-alone. Using the analogy of adding an external clock to a DAC, the micro iUSB3.0 compliments the iGalvanic3.0 in a similar vein.

Add the micro iUSB3.0 to the iGalvanic3.0 for those who wish for the last 5%-10% of sound improvement and additional enhancement options:

1)   The absolute quietest power supply AND
2)   Dual-headed outputs for audio + power transmission via Gemini USB cable AND
3)   Dual-ports: for dedicated SSD/HDD and DAC transmission lines.

For the perfectionist with a reference class, money-no-object system with a +US$10,000 DAC striving for the absolute zenith to add the drop of performance, we recommend to compliment with the micro iUSB3.0. Which adds additional benefits outside of the scope of the iGalvanic3.0 such as Dual-Ports and a noise floor of 0.1uV (0.0000001V).



The iGalvanic3.0 doesn’t really compare to others.

Other USB galvanic isolation devices are limited to Full Speed (12 Mbps) and Low Speed (1.5 Mbps) transmission.

By comparison the iGalvanic3.0 represents the next generation as it is capable of transmitting USB Hi-Speed (480 Mbps) and USB3.0 Super-speed (5Gbps) as well as the lower speeds while providing full galvanic isolation of both the data and the power/ground lines.

Where others have stopped at USB2.0 galvanic isolation, we started with USB3.0 galvanic isolation and absolutely turbocharged the device for the ultimate in USB audio:

1)   REgenerate2/REclock2/REbalance2 ‘double stages
2)   USB3.0 galvanic isolation and specified it for high-performance computer audio only
3)   Power Station: Stealth Converter –ultra low-noise, regulated USB power throughout

Summary

We hope you enjoyed reading through the technical notes on how the iGalavnic3.0 came to fruition. For any and every USB computer audio user, the sonic improvement is not subtle. With its dedicated USB3.0 isolation developed from the ground-up for computer audio and Grounding settings, it is ready to be perfectly dialed into any and every computer audio system with advancements that others just do not have.



It is not just an amalgamation of chips and capacitors from a parts catalogue. We really took our time and went to all the way with it. It really is the holy grail of USB audio.
 

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #26 on: 31 Aug 2017, 09:02 pm »
Folks, we have some news to share with you

We recently released 1000 iGalvanic3.0 units into the wild via our dealers and Amazon.com.



If you have purchased a unit with serial numbers ending in 111, 222, 333, 444, 555, 666, 777, 888 or 999, drop us a line via FB and we will enter you in a prize draw

for an exclusive iFi audio prize!

We know some of them have been purchased but not all! Stay tuned!

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #27 on: 5 Sep 2017, 08:02 pm »
Folks, here are some general tips in the iGalvanic3.0 case:

1) Use known good cables of correct specification. Generally speaking, those included with iFi products and / or good grade generics will be correct, but many audiophile cables are not correct in terms of specification.

2) Make all connections to iG3 and set the earth link switch as required. Make sure that the port chosen on the source is a fully USB standard compliant port.

3) Make the connection to the Source (PC, Mac etc.). Remember that USB negotiations and enabling/updating drivers etc. may take up 30+ seconds before a new device is operational after connection.

4) In most operating systems, the attached DAC will show up as a new device. So it may be necessary to re-set the audio configuration of the machine, of playback software etc.

5) Take your time, don't rush things and act systematically in tracing and correcting faults.

In addition, proper iGalvanic3.0 operation can't be guaranteed if this product is connected to a socket which isn't USB compliant (the post above is about one such example). The same story is when one or both sides of the system float without earth connection. Earth Link switch set correctly is there to ensure reliable (or any) connection.

iFi audio

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Re: Tech Notes: iGalvanic3.0 preview!
« Reply #28 on: 3 Oct 2017, 10:11 pm »
Most of you guys already know this, but this is our take on the galvanic isolation in a pill.

Galvanic isolation is a design technique that separates electrical circuits to eliminate stray currents. Signals can pass between galvanically isolated circuits, but stray currents, such as differences in ground potential or currents induced by AC power, RF noise etc. are blocked. In the literal interpretation galvanic isolation means that there is no connection for direct current, meaning a galvanically isolated circuit will measure theoretically infinite resistance, in practice it will be at least 10's of Gigaohm (1GOhm = 1 Million Kiloohm = 1,000,000,000 Ohm) to TeraOhm as even air conducts some electricity.



For USB audio this is a highly desirable feature, as with USB we have not just balanced signals, but also ground (even if the power is cut completely) and via this ground wire ground loops form, even if there is no audible hum. Also high frequency noise can travel along all wired in a USB cable and cause RF problems in downstream equipment, possibly not even the USB DAC itself but amplifiers following it. It is possible to address ground loops by other means. There have also been for many years first generation USB isolators offering galvanic isolation, at the cost of blocking most high resolution audio streams due to speed limitations and negatively impact sound quality due to very high level of jitter.



At least where audible hum is concerned and several of iFi's products offer "ground-loop breakers", ever since our first USB product, the iUSB Power introduced in 2012. However, only galvanic isolation can stop higher frequencies coupling between the computer source (and every streamer out there is also a computer) which is an excellent source of RF noise emissions and the audio system which is often less than excellent in separating such emissions from the signal, causing audible noise or if not directly audible noise, then subjective degradation of sound quality. So it has been a long time goal at iFi (since before 2012) to deliver full High-Rez audio compatible and low jitter galvanic isolation for USB.

Hopefully you'll find it usefull.