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    by Published on 07-02-2015 01:44 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes

    Hi Guys, just a quick update from my travels this week. Iím currently flying over northern California on my way home to Minneapolis. Iíve been in the Bay Area for four days working on a couple music servers. My task was to install Windows Server 2012 R2 and Audiophile Optimizer to squeeze every ounce of sound quality from a computer. The end result surprised me very much. I had some reservations about the install and the efficacy of going to such great lengths tweaking a PC. I figured the sound would improve, but I didnít figure it would improve by so much. This week I heard the best digital playback Iíve ever heard. Period.


    Iím not at liberty to divulge the entire hardware formula used this week, but I will talk about the software and the final outcome. What I found was similar to what many computer audiophiles have been saying for quit a while, the combination of Windows Server 2012 R2 and Audiophile Optimizer is fantastic.



    I started the project by getting a copy of Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2 and downloading Audiophile Optimizer. I prepared the hardware with a new SSD for the operating system and a couple 1TB SSDs for music storage. Installing 2012 R2 was pretty simple and nearly identical to installing any new Windows OS. On the other hand, installing and configuring Audiophile Optimizer is a different story. This software isnít for those who canít or wonít read the 52 page setup guide. Fortunately the setup guide is thorough and provides enough information for users to at least get their systems up and running.
    ...
    by Published on 06-25-2015 03:31 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers,
    3. Network Audio,
    4. USB Interface
    Article Preview



    I've been using Aurender music servers for several years. In 2011 I reviewed the Aurender S10 and in 2014 I reviewed the flagship W20 model. I've watched the company closely over the years, including traveling to its headquarters in Seoul, Korea in 2013. During this time Aurender has made substantial improvements to both its hardware and software. Features that used to be unique have become commonplace and no longer set Aurender apart from the crowd. Continuing to evolve and lead has meant integrating features like the TIDAL streaming services at a very high level and releasing the free product update to its customers quickly. I will not be surprised if Aurender updates its products to support Roon as an audio endpoint (RoonSpeakers) soon after Roon Labs releases its software development kit (SDK). In addition the company has recently expanded its line of server products to include the X series, globally launched in 2014, and N series. Prices for Aurender's entire line range from the entry level N100 at $2,499 to the piŤce de rťsistance W20 at over $17,000. No matter what Aurender hardware one uses, the software is the same. Customers who buy into Aurender at the entry level receive the same software as those using the top-of-the-line. With very few exceptions for items requiring AES or S/PDIF output the software functionality is identical. Over the last few weeks I've been using the Aurender N100H with my current reference system. The sound quality from this system has been stellar as has the entire experience. The new Aurender Media Manager (AMM) application, updated iOS app, and the N100H hardware itself combine to make a very solid solution that touches all the bases for many music aficionados and audiophiles alike. ...
    by Published on 06-18-2015 11:16 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. The Music In Me
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    Yeah, you could look it up; it never happened. But I was there.

    This is my third post for CA, and at first I thought Iíd write them all from memory, but those other two needed some fill-in work via telephone, email, Wikipedia et al, and I really liked that. Today, however, I sit down to write entirely from memory, and itís one of my favorites.

    In September, 1997, the Rolling Stones began their Bridges to Babylon Tour in Toronto and ended in September, 1998 in Istanbul. The band played over a hundred shows before almost five million people. I know the word ďmillionĒ doesnít have the same impact it used to, but still, thatís a lot of people. And a lot of tickets, T-shirts, hats, programs, etc. They played in stadiums (stadia?) in front of up to a hundred thousand people. And the band played big to all of them. They always did. Please remember that when we get to the crux of the story. ...
    by Published on 06-13-2015 10:54 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes
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    Invariably, whenever I meet fellow computer audiophiles at audio shows or dealer events we always ask each other what the other is using. Depending on the context and location, asking someone what they are using might have illegal undertones or lead to a nice conversation about audio systems. I enjoy hearing what everyone is using for both hardware and software. For the most part people seem to have a good grasp of the hardware options available. When the conversation turns to software I am usually a little surprised by how many people have never heard of some very popular applications. It's like some people selected iTunes or MediaMonkey back in 2007 and have never wondered or cared about anything else available. There's nothing wrong with that approach and it's an approach I often suggest for hardware. If one is happy with his system, there is no need to make a change. Software just seems different though. Maybe it's the comparatively low price or rate of change and feature enhancements that leads me to think people should frequently snoop around for ways to enhance their listening experience through software.

    On the other hand, I run into many computer audiophiles who either own or have tried more applications than I knew were available. That's the fun part for me, learning what people are doing and picking up a link to a new application. What follows is my attempt to introduce you to a new application ...
    by Published on 06-01-2015 01:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. 2015 The Show Newport
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    Today was the final day of the Newport show and I heard some great sound. I didnít make it to nearly as many rooms today as I did on previous days because I got caught up talking to people about industry trends and neat products that are forthcoming. I also ran into CA reader joelha with his good friend and radio personality Dennis Prager. Dennis and I briefly reminisced about the time he came over to my house to hear my audio system. The whole thing is a story for another time, but I will say Dennis arrived at 11:00 PM, my wife and daughter were upstairs sleeping, and as Dennis puts it, ďTurn up the volume because [he] likes to bath in it.Ē Needless to say there was a mini symphony gong on in my basement at ~100 db and Dennis was conducting from my listening chair (he used to be a conductor). Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I saw many rooms today using Aurender music servers, so I asked Aurenderís John-Paul Lizars for the details. He said there was a mix of N100H, N10, X100, and W20 servers throughout the show in use by both dealers and manufacturers. Sunny Components of Covina, CA featured Aurender in three rooms, Alma Music and Audio of La Jolla, CA used Aurender in two rooms, and Sweet Spot High End Audio featured an Aurender music server in its room. Manufacturers using Aurender included Goldmund, Dan DíAgostino Master Audio Systems, and Dynaudio. If thatís not enough Aurender for you, I also had a couple manufacturers ask me about my experience with the servers because they wanted to start using them in their own systems and at audio shows. Iíd say Aurender has come a long way since I first saw the company and its single product, the S10, at the California Audio Show in 2011. ...
    by Published on 05-31-2015 12:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. 2015 The Show Newport
    Article Preview



    The second official day of the Newport show was an interesting one for me. I heard a bunch of bad sound, a couple people wax on poetically about the ďhugeĒ vinyl resurgence, and absolutely awesome sound in the Meridian MQA room.

    Gavin Fish had the LH Labs room sounding very good using the new Vi DAC, Pass Labs components and Magico loudspeakers. Gavin brought in an interesting choice of flooring to counter some of the acoustical issues during setup and it worked very well. I was able to hear some real music in the LH Labs room, rather than sticks breaking or seals snoring in high resolution, and I really enjoyed the system. It was a system I could have spent quite a while listening to, but I had to move on.

    The best demo of the day, and most likely the entire show, goes to Meridian. Ken Forsythe put on the demonstration while talking everyone through the merits of MQA. I still have some questions and minor reservations about MQA, but when the rubber met the road and the play button was pressed, the sound quality was truly astounding. Listening to Frank Sinatra was totally awesome. Meridian also demonstrated streaming MQA from TIDAL through its Sooloos music system and the tracks sounded just as good. There were no issues streaming the content even though the hotel network was less than robust. ...

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