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    by Published on 07-28-2014 03:06 PM

    My job as an audio journalist requires that I attend trade shows and report back to the Computer Audiophile readers what Iíve seen and heard. Despite the luxury of listening to the best audio systems and making friends all over the world, audio trade shows can be grueling. Thus, on the last day of every show I have a free / fun day where I stroll the halls without any appointments or meetings. On my fun days I look for diamonds in the rough, new products that need and deserve attention, and products that are unique and new to me or the CA readers. This year at the Munich High End show I was strolling one of the main areas on my fun day and the Norma Audio booth caught my eye. Iíd never seen nor heard of the brand even though it wasnít a new company. The main reason the booth caught my eye is the impeccable internal product design. The board layout and look reminded me one of my favorite brands, Spectral Audio. The two reasons I spent five minutes talking to the Norma Audio team are its high speed, wide bandwidth designs (2 MHz range), and the company offers a very versatile Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). The similarities to Spectral with clean design and wide bandwidth impressed me without hearing a note. Fortunately Norma Audio offers a standalone DAC, unlike Spectral, and there was no way I would leave Germany without making plans to review such a product. I set in motion a review of the Norma Audio HS-DA1 (Pre), a DAC with built-in preamplifier and headphone amplifier. At the time I wasnít sure if I had found a diamond or cubic zirconia. Without the ability to listen to the product at the show, Iíd have to wait until I returned home to Minneapolis. ...
    by Published on 07-21-2014 03:12 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. CA TV
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    In Episode Five of CATV I talk to Dynaudio North America's Mike Manousselis about the new Xeo 4 and Xeo 6 wireless HiFi system. We spent some time listening to the first pair of these speakers in North America and really enjoyed the sound and ease of use. These are a definite improvement over the previous Xeo series. The new system supports high resolution up to 24 bit / 96 kHz and features great DSP (Digital Signal Processing) for use in corners and along walls. I currently have the Xeo 6 loudspeakers against a wall (left channel) and in a corner (right channel). The DSP does wonders for clearing up the sound. The new Xeo Hub also has no issues sending audio from my basement to the main level of our house without a hiccup. If I experience problems I have the new Xeo Extender, but thus far I have no need for an extensions. Here's Episode Five, enjoy. ...
    by Published on 07-18-2014 04:59 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Announcements
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    Ready. Aim. Click! Get your credit cards ready because Peachtree Audio is about to launch Deepblue2 on Indiegogo! I reviewed the first edition last year (LINK) and totally loved what I heard. The new versions looks to be even better. CA readers may also be interested in hearing the entire story behind the disappearance of Deepblue version 1.0. In the Indiegogo video Peachtree Audio's Jon Derda (A.K.A. Ambassador of Awesome) describes what happened and why Deepblue2 is replacing version 1.0. Get them while they last (Video appears to be missing now). I have a feeling Deepblue2 is going to sell out fast. The campaign launches Monday 07/21/2014. ...
    by Published on 07-07-2014 09:32 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Editorial

    I've been thinking quite a bit, over the last few months, about the future of high quality audio playback. In fact, I'm obsessed with this topic. I was born a music loving audiophile and I worked in enterprise information technology for a decade before starting CA. My passions for both music and technology are converging quickly to provide a better high quality experience. There has never been a better time to be a music aficionado who loves great sound quality and technology. I absolutely love the possibilities and can't wait for some of them to come to fruition. We are no longer limited by technology. The only limiting factor is our imaginations. If we can think it, we can do it.

    In the not to distant future we will be streaming lossless audio, in all relevant sample rates, directly to our main audio components from a Cloud music service provider such as WiMP or Qobuz. Music, playlists, ratings, and favorites will all be stored in the Cloud. Listeners will control playback with iOS and Android apps provided by their streaming service providers. Similar to a UPnP / DLNA control point, the apps will serve as a remote control and library curation and browsing tool. In the same fashion as Google's Cast functionality, no audio will be routed through the iOS or Android device. Music will stream directly to an audio component such as a music server, digital to digital interface converter, or digital to analog converter from the Cloud. Content not available from the streaming service providers can be uploaded, purchased elsewhere, and made available for streaming with simple in app authentication, or located on one's local network attached storage device. There are a couple products capable of very similar functionality right now, namely Sonos, Spotify Connect, and the Auralic Aries / Lightning platform, but there are major differences between where we are now and where we are headed. Only lossless CD quality streaming audio will be available in the short term. During this time, high resolution content will still be purchased through traditional outlets such as HDtracks, Acoustic Sounds, and the PonoMusic store. ...
    by Published on 06-30-2014 10:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. Preamp,
    8. Headphones
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    The Oppo HA-1 is a harvester of many tricks, so many in fact that it is almost unfair to label it strictly a headphone amplifier as the acronym in the name suggests. It really stretches the boundaries of inputs, outputs and digital conversion all within a reasonable amount of desktop real estate.

    As with all things Oppo, attention to detail appears to be a top priority, even down to the packaging. In a market where the focus on sound quality can allow manufacturers to slip by with off-the-shelf interfaces and external design, the Oppo ship is watertight. In rare form for most HiFi equipment, the head amp includes a fully interactive graphical interface, complete with pretty icons for source selection. Connectivity is king with the HA-1. Nearly every single base is covered. In the rear you can find super DSD-friendly USB, single ended ins and outs, balanced XLR ins and outs, and one of each type of available digital input (including optical, coaxial and AES/EBU). To top it all off Oppo included both an in and out trigger and Bluetooth connectivity with aptX. An external remote is included, but in case you donít want another one lying around the house, Oppo even has a remote app for your perusing pleasure that connects via Bluetooth. ...
    by Published on 06-24-2014 12:33 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes
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    Earlier this month I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to visit the Linn factory. I've been to many manufacturers, dealers, and audio events around the world, but this was my first time in Scotland. I had no expectations before the trip and didn't even know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the incredibly nice Scottish people and with, what I'm told is very rare, the wonderful weather. Everyone I came in contact with during this trip was eager to help me, eager to sit and chat, and eager to share interesting tidbits of information about Glasgow. I'd love to go back to Scotland with my family and spend much more than two days in this beautiful country.

    Visiting the Linn factory was both informative and intriguing. Learning about the company's history, its avant-garde founder Ivor Tiefenbrun, its new products, and its vision for the future was well worth the time spent getting to and from Scotland. Most people think of Linn, and other manufacturers, as a company with a range of products. My visit to the factory enabled me to see behind the products. I talked to the acutely smart people who develop and support Linn products and who lead the company into the future. ...

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