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Simple solution for a simple problem
on 18 December 2012
There appear to be basically only two plain S/PDIF to analogue converters available, which is a little surprising: this one, listed (based on the identical product pictures) tens of different time on Amazon by different suppliers, and one other type at four times the price. I went for this one.
It mostly does the job. Sound quality is good and stable as expected. The provided leaflet gives power consumption as max 0.5W, so should cost at most 70p per year if left permanently turned on. Small and unobtrusive (except I guess possibly for the red power LED which could be taped over if desired).
A slight irritation is that when the S/PDIF source is turned off or unplugged (but the analogue output left connected and the device left turned on), it suddenly starts emitting a noticeable amount of noise - not too loud but loud enough to be annoying. So the device itself or the amp must be turned off too when the input is turned off, or the amp muted.
(It also takes an extra power socket of course. Ideally my amp would have S/PDIF in, or the source would have analogue out, but since they don't this is my only choice and it does work.)
Edit: the sound is a bit quiet though - the amp has to be kept turned up almost to maximum, whereas half way is loud enough for any other source.