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. We have made it our mission to develop superior-quality, boutique audio equipment but at very "un-boutique," affordable prices.
Black Lion Audio proudly introduces our brand new, completely redesigned 2-channel analog-to-digital converter, the Sparrow mk2 ADC--fully modular design that can be upgraded as technology changes.
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 syncronized 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.
As we began to research and test approaches to converter design, we discovered a unique way to reduce these unwanted artifacts, one that's not only inexpensive to implement but also works better than traditional approaches. We 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.
Our 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 whose sonic performance is as good or better than the top A/D's currently available; once you use the Sparrow mk2 A/D converter, your standards will be forever changed!
The Sparrow mk2 BLACK
Designed to perform in the range of $2,000+ two-channel A/D converters, the Sparrow mk2 BLACK is much more advanced than its predecessor, (the original BLA Sparrow ADC, now discontinued). Its conversion circuitry utilizes our 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 our Digi 002R/003R Signature Series modification, and is just $999.
The Sparrow mk2 RED
The Sparrow mk2 RED (red faceplate) is also a two-channel ADC but is based on the circuitry used in our FM192: converters used on major label recordings by Maroon 5, Lady GaGa, Alison Krauss, Beyonce, and others. With a slightly different design and components than the Black Sparrow, it is in a class of its own, yet priced at only $1399. It features a low-noise, low-ripple converter circuit design and the same novel 220/270SP master clock that's found in our FM192. Rich, euphonic frequency response, shimmering top end, and fat low-end extension are all elements of this uniquely musical converter. Once you track with it, you'll find other converters sound hard, processed, or lifeless. Use it for mastering, two-track classical or jazz recordings, final mixes, or whatever application your studio needs.
The Sparrow mk2 WHITE
Okay, sometimes it's fun to show what your design team is capable of creating. The White version of the Sparrow mk2 (white faceplate) represents a portion of our research into delta sigma conversion and clocking architecture. What sets it apart from the rest of the pack? For one thing, instead of using one converter for stereo conversion, it employs two converters in a parallel-balanced circuit to increase converter dynamic range. Add to this our unique approach to converter configuration, our 220/270SP master clock with wide Q third harmonic crystal oscillators, advanced PLL recovery, and a low noise analog path, and all of these elements together will yield the richest, clearest and fattest sounding A/D converter to ever have set foot in your recording studio. The Sparrow mk2 WHITE is $1999 and outperforms the FM192, making it among the best two-channel A/D converters available in the pro audio market today, period.
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. 122dB for the White Sparrow Unweighted. (124dB A-Weighted)
- Max analog input before digital clipping: >+24dBu
- Inputs: Balanced Analog = TRS and XLR
- Clock = 75 Ohm BNC
- Outputs: 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)
Black Lion Audio Red Sparrow MKII
Black Lion Audio White Sparrow DAC