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What is Jitter In Audio?

by Stuart Charles Black
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What is Jitter In Audio?

Jitter is a term used to describe a deviation from a periodic signal’s expected timing or regularity.

In the context of audio, jitter refers to variations in the timing of digital audio signals.

Digital audio is represented as a series of 1s and 0s, and these bits are transmitted as a stream of pulses.

In an ideal world, these pulses would be transmitted at perfectly regular intervals and the digital audio
signal would be reconstructed perfectly on the receiving end.

However, in the real world, various factors can cause variations in the timing of these pulses, leading to jitter.

Jitter in digital audio can cause a variety of problems, including distortion, loss of detail, and even audible
artifacts.

For example, suppose the timing of the pulses in a digital audio signal is not consistent.

In that case, it can result in distortion or noise in the resulting audio.

Jitter can also cause the Soundstage to shift or become less defined, reducing the overall clarity and coherence of the audio.

Causes of Jitter

Jitter can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Clock jitter

A clock jitter occurs when the clock used to transmit or receive the digital audio signal is not perfectly
stable, resulting in variations in the timing of the pulses.

Transmission jitter

A transmission jitter occurs when the digital audio signal is transmitted over a medium that is not perfectly
stable, such as a noisy or congested network connection.

Sampling jitter

A sampling jitter occurs when the timing of the sampling process used to convert an analog audio signal
into a digital signal is not consistent.

Ways to deal with Jitter

Jitter can be minimized or eliminated through a variety of techniques, including:

Highquality clock sources

Using highquality clocks with low jitter can help to reduce clock jitter.

Buffering

Buffering the digital audio signal can help to reduce the effects of transmission jitter by temporarily storing
the data before it is processed.

Error correction

Error correction techniques can help to reduce the effects of transmission jitter by detecting and correcting
errors in the data stream.

Oversampling

Oversampling can help to reduce the effects of sampling jitter by increasing the number of samples taken
per second, reducing the impact of timing variations.

Pros of addressing jitter in audio

Improved audio quality

Addressing jitter can lead to improved audio quality, with more transparent, more detailed sound and a more defined soundstage.

Reduced distortion

Jitter can cause distortion in the audio signal, so reducing jitter can help to eliminate this distortion, resulting in cleaner, more accurate sound.

Greater reliability

Addressing jitter can increase the reliability of digital audio systems, reducing the risk of dropouts, glitches, or other problems.

Cons of addressing jitter in audio

Cost

Some techniques for addressing jitters, such as using highquality clocks or oversampling, can be expensive and may require specialized equipment.

Complexity

Addressing jitter can be complex, requiring knowledge of digital signal processing, error correction techniques, and other technical concepts.

Diminishing returns

While addressing jitter can lead to improved audio quality, the improvements
may be minor and may not justify the cost and effort required to implement them.

Final Words

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DragonFly Red pictured here with the Cobalt.

To sum up, jitter in digital audio can cause a variety of problems.

Minimizing or eliminating it can lead to improved audio quality, reduced distortion, and greater reliability.

Techniques for addressing jitter include using highquality clocks, buffering, error correction, and oversampling. 

Purchasing DACS that utilize Asynchronous USB may also help, but that too is up for debate.

While addressing jitter can be expensive and complex, the benefits of improved audio quality may justify the effort for audiophiles and professionals in the audio industry.

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on What is Jitter in Audio? and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

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Any experience with Jitter? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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