The Dell Inspiron 6400 SPDIF Experiment

So now that we have this vehicle, a 2006 Toyota Sienna, with an MP3 player, the need increases for MP3 versions of iTunes music. For the greatest control (but least convenience), the move is to play the iTunes songs through SPDIF and record them as WAV. These WAV files are encoded into MP3s in Sony SoundForge.

I really can’t blame this on disinformation gangsters, but for some reason my assumption was that the Apple iTunes format was lossless and had a ‘huge’ sample rate. No, in fact the sample rate at 99¢ is only 128kbps—and the audio format “protected” AAC, a lossy format. Meanwhile, in SoundForge my ongoing habit (from ripping CDs) is to encode at 256kbps. So my SPDIF recordings of iTunes went blindly into the same workflow.

VGA Out with SPDIF for Dell 8100 and 6400

But before these MP3 encoding issues were addressed, there was the preoccupation of getting SPDIF recording to work with my new Dell Inspiron 6400. The old 8100 shipped with a “VGA out” connector that had an SPDIF connection. The new 6400 did not. So we can be generous in the face of Dell’s cost-cutting lack of generosity and ‘assume’ that most customers did not use this VGA out connector and therefore it is a ‘waste of money’ to ship it by default. It follows that I had to throw down 20 bucks for this connector with no real guarantee that it would work with my system. There was no guarantee because:

  • The “S-Video to TV-Composite Cable and SPDIF Adapter for Dell Precision M90 Mobile WorkStation” is listed as being “for Dell Precision M90 Mobile WorkStation.”
  • As of this writing, there is no documentation on the Dell website stating how SPDIF output works in Inspiron 6400 notebooks. A third-party site, svideo.com, says “Some Dells, such as the Inspiron 1100 or Inspiron 5100 have a 7-pin jack but may not output S/PDIF.”
  • My old adapter for the Inspiron 8100 did not work with my Inspiron 6400. However, as the picture above suggests, the adapters look exactly the same!I can only hope that the old adapter did not work for an authentic technical reason—and not for a greedy financial reason. But the world’s hope is not heavily invested in rich folks in Texas. The temptation is overwhelming to assume that Dell is not going out of its way to educate its Inspiron 6400 customers about playing pure digital audio. Such knowledge surely threatens the concept of private property “protected” by DRM for the robber-baron entertainment industrialists.

Comments

Jack, 2007-05-16 03:33:43

Hello, I too have a dell inspiron 6400, and I saw that the manual mentions this cable; however, the cable that dell sells is for another model (http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=310-8272). Did the cable you purchased work for your inspiron? Thanks, Jack

rasx(), 2007-05-16 04:08:33

Yes! The cable worked fine.

Samarth Joshi, 2007-09-11 23:58:34

Can you write the serial no. or whatever is written on the adapter of the one that worked fine with the 6400. I have ordered one so can you tell the code i can match it with the photo so that i get to know whether it works or not

rasx(), 2007-09-20 18:07:43

Having a serial number is not going to help because my "bitter" assumption (based on experience) is that the "customer representatives" can't use it. Your best bet is to take the link mentioned above:

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19&sku=310-7837

rasx(), 2007-09-20 18:10:28

This is what's written on the adapter:

DS/N CN-0RJ089-48404-65C-0805 DP/N 0RJ089|C/O CN|Rev A00

Matt, 2007-10-29 17:42:40

So, the adapter is actually for an XPS M1710 laptop, but it gives an S-PDIF output to the Inspiron 6400? I've been looking for something to give me SPDIF on my 6400, which Dell support deny all knowledge of existing on this system - even though theres multiple references to an SPDIF port in the Control Panel and the manual.

Basically, did this give you digital audio SPDIF output on the 6400, and was it optical (uses a fibre-optic cable) or coaxial (uses a regular electrical cable with yellow plugs) type SPDIF?

Cheers for your help, Matt

Gabrijel, 2008-01-08 16:57:33

I've bought a similar cable some time ago, but have never got it working... Not in Windows, not in Linux; it doesn't seem to be a software problem. Perhaps I got the cable that you previously owned (or the 8100), that also did not work?

DP/N of my cable: 044CTV|C/O CN|Rev A00

Thnx!

Diego, 2008-03-13 23:40:51

thanks it help me a lot to get with the adapter. Also to Gabrijel.

custard, 2008-03-30 12:26:07

any1 looking for a cable that is available in europe for the 6400 should order this one:

http://accessories.euro.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=uk&l=en&s=dhs&cs=ukdhs1&sku=506-10012#Overview

i bought this from dell uk. it is an spdif adapter to component + coaxial digital audio out. the digital audio definitely works for me on 6400. i have not tested component.

tintoverano, 2008-07-02 09:19:42

dear custard,

you're saying that "the digital audio definitely works for me on 6400". did you check perhaps the nature of audio you're getting with the cable: 2.0, 5.1, 7.1? Dell tells me that with our laptop model this cable only outputs a "virtual" 5.1 sound or something like that.

thanks!

tintoverano

BlogBasti, 2008-08-23 18:18:33

The Dongle from s-video.com doesn't work for Dell Inspiron 1520. :(

Admiral Michael, 2009-03-19 17:41:18

So after reading this site, wanting to have SPDIF on my 6400 and not wanting to spend money I found the pinout for the SPDIF on the port so you can make your own adapter.

Here's the pinout:

http://www.michaelsoft.info/6400spdif.asp

rasx()