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Lynx LT-TB Thunderbolt Expansion for Aurora Converters

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Quick Overview

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The LT-TB is an LSlot expansion card for the Aurora8, Aurora 16, Aurora 16-VT and Hilo converters thatallows daisy-chaining of up to six devices using theThunderbolt port on Mac and PC Computers.

Lynx Studio Technology announces the LT-TB Thunderbolt LSlot interface for its Aurora and Hilo converters. The LT-TB is a two-port Thunderbolt expansion card that supports daisy-chaining Aurora and Hilo converters and other certified Thunderbolt devices on Apple and Windows computers. The LT-TB and accompanying Aurora and Hilo models are the first Thunderbolt audio devices certified for Windows as well as Mac. The LT-TB LSlot card can be installed into any existing Hilo or Aurora with an easy and free firmware update. In addition, Lynx is making Thunderbolt equipped Aurora and Hilo models available at the same time. These models are:

• Hilo-TB in Black and Silver

• Aurora 16-TB

• Aurora 16-VTTB (variable trim model)

• Aurora 8-TB

The LT-TB, in development for over a year, uses Intel’s Cactus Ridge second-generation Thunderbolt controller. This device allows for a more robust design electrically. Similar to other Lynx products, LT-TB incorporates an FPGA for audio mixing and control functions that can be easily updated in the field. Months of in-house testing along with support from Apple and Intel insure that LT-TB works well with any other certified Thunderbolt product on the market. Whereas some earlier Thunderbolt equipped converters are limited to two units and 32 analog channels, the LT-TB can be used in a chain of up to 6 Aurora converters for up to 96 analog channels, plus 96 digital channels on one Thunderbolt port. So theoretically, the upcoming 6 port Mac Pro could deliver up to 1,152 channels.

The Thunderbolt protocol allows up to six devices and one display to be connected to the computer on a single Thunderbolt port. So in addition to Lynx converters, you can have external drives, displays, expansion chassis and soon. The LT-TB has two Thunderbolt ports, which allows this daisy chaining of devices.Thunderbolt technology is very robust and user-friendly. The LT-TB and other Thunderbolt devices can be hot-plugged and unplugged, allowing Aurora, Hilo or other Thunderbolt device to be added without needing to reinstall drivers or resetting anything. It is all automatic. According to Intel, the developer of Thunderbolt, “Thunderbolt delivers unparalleled performance, flexibility and simplicity to personal computing.” said Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt Marketing, “Products like the Lynx LT-TB LSlot interface help highlight what Thunderbolt makes possible.”
Thunderbolt technology is the fastest connection to your PC at 10Gbps – in each direction, and at the same time. This is twice the speed of USB 3.0.
Thunderbolt provides flexibility and simplicity by connecting up to six data and display devices in a daisy-chain.
• Thunderbolt expansion card for Aurora and Hilo converters
• Thunderbolt certified for Windows and Mac
• Extremely low latency
• Up to 16 total analog and 16 digital I/O channels per LT-TB equipped Aurora 16 or Aurora 16 VT
• Up to 8 total analog and 8 digital I/O channels per LT-TB equipped Aurora 8
• User upgradable FPGA adds enhanced 64 x 32 mixing when installed in Aurora
• Up to 32 I/O channels per LT-TB equipped Hilo
• Supports full channel count at sample rates up to 192 kHz
• Supports hot unplug and plug
• Uses standard Thunderbolt cabling, including optical (not included)
• Optional power supply available for connecting bus-powered Thunderbolt devices
• Allows daisy-chaining of multiple Aurora and Hilo converters and other authorized Thunderbolt devices
• ROHS compliant
• Designed and manufactured in the USA by Lynx Studio Technology

1. Up to Six Aurora 16 TB units can be daisy-chained off of a single Thunderbolt port for up to 192 channels.

Seems hardly enough. Six Auroras give you 96 analog I/O channels and 96 digital I/O channels, all working at sample rates up to 192 kHz with very low latency. The Thunderbolt interface provides a 10 gigabits per second data stream and when you do the math, these 192 channels only use about 12% of the available bandwidth. This is the future.

At AES we used a MacBook Pro with two Thunderbolt ports. This doubles the capacity. With the new Mac Pro, 6 ports are available.


2.    The LT-TB utilizes second-generation Thunderbolt technology.

Why is this important? First, some early-to-market Thunderbolt audio devices do not offer true Thunderbolt, but FireWire over Thunderbolt operation. Second, these early units were limited to just two devices, while Lynx offers up to six, the maximum on the Thunderbolt specification.

The second generation Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controller is highly integrated which allows a more reliable and robust circuit board layout.


3.    Lynx is the first Pro Audio company to be certified for both Mac and Windows Thunderbolt.

While Apple was first to market with Thunderbolt equipped computers, PCs from ADK, Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Asus, Acer and many others have been introduced and many are shipping. Thunderbolt is co-marketed by Apple and Intel, so you know Intel is going to get this on as many motherboards as they can.

Early-to-market Thunderbolt interfaces were for Mac only.


4.    The LT-TB has been extensively tested to assure it will  work with any Thunderbolt device on the market.

The development process, including months of rigorous testing, was overseen by Apple and Intel to assure that once a new Thunderbolt product comes to market, that it is robust, compatible, up to date and ready to use. Lynx has gone through this process.


5.    The LT-TB provides PCI Express Technology via Thunderbolt connectivity.

Simply put, PCI Express is tunneled over Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt acts like a high-speed electrical conduit for PCI express.

Why is this important? First, for Lynx, PCI Express is a mature technology. The AES16e PCI Express card has been in our line for 5 years. We have mature drivers and a long, successful track record with this format. The audio section of the LT-TB card adopts what has already been working on the AES16e, with minor modifications. Some early-to-market Thunderbolt devices were actually FireWire over Thunderbolt, which does not allow for optimum performance or throughput.

Second, PCI Express offers a very fast, stable, low latency and robust audio interface. When customers have asked us what is the best interface for Aurora and Hilo, we have always told them the AES16 family of cards. We can now include the LT-TB in that list.


6.    Low latency software monitoring

 This PCI Express technology is a much more efficient computer I/O technology compared to USB and Firewire. The end result is less strain on the CPU, which allows the use of smaller software buffers with lower input to output latency. Hardware direct monitoring, for zero latency, is available in Aurora TB and Hilo TB converters. The LT-TB also allows low latency software monitoring, due to the PCI Express implementation.


7.    The LT-TB is compatible with any existing Aurora or Hilo converter

We build Aurora and Hilo converters to be future proof. This LSlot interface adds to our extensive list of devices for ADAT, Pro Tools HD, MADI, USB and legacy FireWire. So an investment in Aurora or Hilo is not buying “this year’s model” – it is in investment in long-term usage.

Older Aurora and Hilo units will just need a simple firmware update to start using the LT-TB.


8.  LT-TB enhances the mixing capabilities of Aurora

When installed in an Aurora, the LT-TB’s on-board 64 X 32 mixer takes over and allows complex mixing and routing functions. The mixer is controlled with a new Windows and Mac application that provides extensive visual routing of all Play, Record and Digital output channels. New level indicators and faders, added channels, and additional features such as panning and link are included.


9.    Thunderbolt features Hot Swap capabilities

Thunderbolt devices can be plugged, unplugged and hot-plugged at any time without rebooting or crashing. For instance, you could unplug a Hilo TB and insert a Thunderbolt hard drive in the chain. The host computer then automatically reestablished the daisy chain in a matter of seconds and you’re still up and running. Blue screens are a thing of the past.


10.  Aurora and Hilo Thunderbolt models will be available in late November.


The first production is currently at the factory being built. And, like the rest of the Lynx product line, the LT-TB is manufactured right here in California, for high quality and timely delivery.