In addition to the mass MP3 music market, there is a substantial niche of consumers demanding the highest standards of music. In cooperation with Ancient Audio company, a Hi-End music player was developed. The solution used Secure Digital flash memory card as the media carrier and advanced audio circuits to deliver top quality audio output from digital uncompressed music format. The dedicated SD card host controller built in an FPGA Xilinx Spartan-3 device supported high speed SD transfer mode and allowed listening to stereo music at sampling frequency up to 192 kSps with 24-bit precision.
Objectives of the design were:
- no compromise to sound quality - the designed player supports only uncompressed audio format sampled at 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 172.4 kHz, and 192 kHz frequencies, with resolution up to 24 bits
- SD card as the medium
- audiophile output vacuum tube preamplifier
- FPGA-based hardware SD host controller with the pure synchronous data transfer
- InfraRed and BlueTooth remote control
- convenient user interface with the high readable dot matrix LED display ensuring easy navigation and work mode, track and album information
- RT clock
- open standard for uncompressed music storage with additional content (pictures, movies, lyrics, etc.)
- last but not least - top quality granite case design.
The appliance comprises of several boards:
- main processing and control board, with Xilinx Spartan-3 FPGA and Atmel ATmega microcontroller
- LED dot matrix display module
- low noise DAC and buffer board
- vacuum tube based preamplifier
- low noise power supply.