The Black Lion Audio Sparrow MKII A/D Converter is a new, completely redesigned 2-channel ADC from BLA.
There is an obvious need for affordable, yet good-quality converters within the professional and project studio world. Certainly there are great two-channel systems available, but they are prohibitively expensive. Those that are within reach of the project studio's budget usually suffer from the poor sonic qualities that plague mass-produced studio equipment. Black Lion Audio had made it their mission to develop superior-quality, boutique audio equipment but at very "un-boutique," affordable prices.
The Sparrow mk2 is housed in a 1U 1/2 rack chassis, featuring XLR and ¼" balanced inputs, LED metering, BNC word clock I/O, AES output, coax & optical S/PDIF output, and user selectable signal calibration accommodating nominal input signal levels from +11dBu down to -10dBV. It features sampling rates from 44.1kHz -192kHz, with a clocking architecture that features low jitter and wide Q third harmonic crystal oscillators, and because of the quality of the clock multiplier and PLL recovery stages, performance will not degrade should the converter be synched to a lower quality word clock reference.
The A/D conversion process is a tricky beast to tame. Because conversion requires so much current movement, there are plenty of places for unwanted noise to be created, both within the signal chain and in the power supply. This unwanted noise manifests itself within the audio signal as a grainy distortion, and often resides in the upper frequencies.
As Black Lion Audio began to research and test approaches to converter design, they discovered a unique way to reduce this unwanted noise and distortion, one that's not only inexpensive to implement but also works better than traditional approaches. Black Lion Audio coupled this proprietary converter circuit to a high-speed, high-headroom analog stage that can capture the smallest nuances and micro-dynamics. The result is unparalleled: an inexpensive two-channel A/D converter that not only has an enormous sound with pinpoint imaging, but also has the smooth, wide open sonic quality of expensive high end systems and a wonderfully rich midrange.
The Sparrow mk2 (named as an homage to French singer Edith Piaf) features 4 input stage trim presets and a single ultra-low distortion amplifier before the converter for simplicity and purity of signal path. Power supply filtration is designed around latest-generation organic semiconductor capacitance instead of a traditional electrolytic-based method, ensuring low power supply noise. This is an A/D that can easily go head to head with the big boys; once you use the Sparrow Micro Series A/D converter, your standards will be forever changed!
Designed to perform in the range of $2,000+ two-channel A/D converters, the Sparrow mk2 BLACK is much more advanced than its esteemed predecessor, (the original BLA Sparrow ADC, now discontinued). Its conversion circuitry utilizes Black Lion Audio's proprietary approach to noise reduction; a feature yielding audio that sounds less compressed and processed than traditional methods of converter design. The clocking circuitry features low-jitter, wide Q third harmonic crystal oscillators with advanced PLL recovery. This provides low-jitter master clocking regardless of whether the unit is locked to its internal clock or an external word source. The Sparrow mk2 BLACK (with the black faceplate) is comparable to the conversion quality and sonic characteristics of Black Lion Audio's Digi 002R/003R Signature Series modification.
In addition to its incredible cost-performance ratio, what makes the Sparrow mk2 so unique is that the design is modular and completely upgradable. The converter circuitry and the analog circuitry are housed on separate, fully interchangeable cards. This means both the analog and converter path can be altered or upgraded by simply changing out circuit boards. So, if you wish to upgrade from the basic Sparrow mk2 BLACK to the Sparrow mk2 RED, or from the red version to the white Sparrow, this can be accommodated very easily & affordably!
- Balanced inputs (XLR or ¼")
- Selectable user calibration
- Word clock input and output
- Sampling rates from 44.1kHz -192kHz
- AES, coax S/PDIF, and optical S/PDIF
- LED metering
- Accommodates nominal input signal levels from +11dBu down to -10dBV
- 1U high, ½ space rack mount chassis
- User selectable 110/220 voltage input
- Dynamic range: 120dB Black and Red Sparrow Unweighted. 124dB A-Weighted
- Max analog input before digital clipping: >+24dBu
- Balanced Analog = TRS and XLR
- Clock = 75 Ohm BNC
- SPDIF = Coaxial (75 Ohm) and Optical, AES-EBU (110 Ohm)
- Word Clock = 75 Ohm BNC
- Word Clock Lock = indicator LED
- Sampling rates: 44.1kHz - 192kHz
- Bit rate: 24 bit
- Latency: ≤ 65/Fs
- Digital Audio Output Level Indicator: Bi-Color LED (Green/Amber/Red)
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