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    by Published on 10-19-2016 09:21 AM
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    Way down south, Memphis, Tennessee
    Jug band music sounds so sweet to me
    ‘Cause it sounds so sweet
    Ahhh, and it’s hard to beat
    Jug band music certainly was a treat to me

    There are two direct influences on my life from Jim Kweskin: to this day I have a moustache, and I first grew it in 1964 because Jim Kweskin had one. Also, I found jug band music in my freshman year at a New England university, joined a jug band, stopped attending some of my classes (I was… a business major?) and promptly flunked out of left that college. So yeah, Jim Kweskin had some influence in my life.

    When I wrote that second sentence up there, I capitalized the J, B and M, but it’s too funky, too down-home for that, as of course one generally eschews frivolous aggrandizement. How funky was jug band music? Brother or sister, you do not know funky until you’ve heard bass notes made by huffing air across the top of a clay jug. If you were any good at it, you could get anywhere from one to two notes out of that jug. Did I mention bass? It was a stick stuck on an upside-down old-fashioned washtub with a string going from the top of the stick to a bolt screwed into the center of the tub. You get the notes by holding onto the string at the top of the stick and either sliding your hand up and down the stick, or moving the stick back and forth to create different tensions on the string. And you put a brick under the washtub to allow the notes out, and if a brick is part of your kit, friend, you’re playing in a funky outfit. ...
    by Published on 10-14-2016 12:36 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. 2016 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest
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    Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016 is in the can. It was one of the best audio shows I've attended in recent memory. I'm sure some people have found reasons why the show wasn't their favorite, but I tried my best not to get caught up in the minutiae. Sure, half the building was under construction, but who cares (from a show attendee's perspective). There was no audio being played in the under construction portion of the venue anyway. Moving on, I didn't get to all the rooms. I go for quality over quantity. This means I will spend 30 minutes or more in a single room if I think there's something good happening. The downside to this is that I miss other rooms or I only have time to stop in and say hello. It's just how life goes as one person covering an entire audio show. In other words, first world problems. In addition to covering the show, I spent a lot of time talking with people in the industry to get information that's not typically shared with the public. I say this in a cool way, not in a way to make me look special or important. I think it's cool so many people will share inside details with me, because it helps me help the CA Community, even without revealing sources or information. I also participated in three seminars and attended a couple others covering interesting topics. Of course the best part of RMAF, like other consumer shows, was meeting readers and contributors to Computer Audiophile. One guy stopped me to let me know the Android version of the CA app sucked, but it was still great to meet him and I am very grateful for his other kind words and patronage of CA. ...
    by Published on 10-05-2016 10:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    6. AES/EBU Interface,
    7. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
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    Best Of Both Worlds? Best of Neither?

    The Holo Audio Spring Level 3 Kitsune Tuned Edition R2R PCM/DSD DAC

    The world of digital audio is often a confusing one to the prospective buyer. How does one differentiate between technical jargon and marketing terminology, especially within an industry segment that is changing rapidly and offering supposedly the same sample and bit rate playback from $199 to $99k? Does one need to buy a PCM dac and convert any good DSD-based music to it? Conversely, buy a DSD-rich system and then upsample to that system's DSD sweetspot? Which upsampler? Own two dacs?? Yikes.

    Nowadays there is a sub-sub segment of this confusing DAC market that seems to be offering two dacs in one, a PCM side and a DSD side. Keeps cold things cold and hot things hot...how does it know?

    This review is not hugely technical (duh, mine never are) for many, many reasons, not the least of which is due to my brain stem and Catholic school math and science burnout. When I got to a Marianist university I discovered pot, sex and philosophy (mostly in that order). I realized that technical things need to be explained via the soul, not the brain, in order to make sense for me. It's really well-justified laziness, but I had finally found my comfortable skin.....if I don't need to know what ketones are used for, I don't need to know ketones! Period. B.S in English and Journalism, career in software sales/management. Dumb down tech jargon to make sense to a burned out elitist. Enough about me. ...
    by Published on 09-30-2016 08:18 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. Disk Storage,
    5. Music Servers,
    6. Software,
    7. Wireless,
    8. USB Interface,
    9. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    10. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    11. UPnP / DLNA
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    Not that long ago, when I visited audio dealers around the world, many of them told me they were selling Sonos systems in more volume than any other product. In fact the numbers weren't even close, Sonos was flying out the door. The same dealers also told me they wished they had a product that was better than Sonos. A product that supported high resolution audio and was built for customers with a discerning ear for sound quality. AURALiC's first product to fill this void was the original ARIES. Priced at $1,599, the ARIES was definitely a product much better than anything Sonos had released, but it was a bit too expensive for many music aficionados. In an effort to bring more people into this wonderful HiFi hobby and to fill the gap between the mass market Sonos system and the class market ARIES, AURALiC released its ARIES MINI. Rather than pricing the MINI somewhere in between Sonos and the original ARIES, AURALiC managed to deliver a very high quality product for right around $500 (depending on included streaming service bundles). In addition to releasing the ARIES MINI, AURALiC accelerated development of its Lightning DS iOS application and has continued to release feature enhancing firmware upgrades to all AIRES series hardware devices. Looking at ARIES, ARIES LE, ARIES MINI, and Lightning DS all together, there's no question AURALiC has created a terrific ecosystem capable of replacing or improving any Sonos system.

    I've used the ARIES MINI since the first pre-production unit was sent here about a year ago. Sure, I really like to use products thoroughly before reviewing them, but an entire year would be overkill. The reason I haven't published a review of the MINI, like seemingly every other publication on the planet, is that I kept hearing about new features, enhancements, and app upgrades. All of these sounded fantastic and I wanted to write about something more than the other guys. I waited, and waited, and waited until finally firmware version 4.0 was released to the public. This week, it was time to put the newly upgraded MINI through the wringer and to write up the review. ...
    by Published on 09-20-2016 10:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. The Music In Me
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    Songs get written, songs get recorded, songs get heard, songs get rerecorded and then heard again. Okay, so no one learned anything new from that, but you’ll enjoy some of the songs we’re covering today. Covering! Ha! That was mighty clever, as you’ll soon agree.

    When someone records a song, that’s a recording. But when someone else hears that recording and then plays it or records it, that’s a cover. Sometimes a cover recording is more famous than the original, and some of the songs you like might be covers and you might like the original better than the version you know. We’re going to visit three covers and you can decide which you like better. It’s not a contest, there are no prizes, it’s all for fun. There are scads of covers, and you could suggest your own, but we only have time for three, so with no reference whatsoever as to why I chose these three, here they are. Regular readers will know that I love the Stones, so let’s go there: ...
    by Published on 09-14-2016 02:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Music Servers,
    4. Wireless,
    5. Music Hub / Controller,
    6. USB Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA,
    8. RoonReady
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    O Canada ... Computer Audiophile readers have heard plenty about Canada lately. Starting with the terrific Peachtree Audio nova150, made in Canada, followed by the wonderful Bryston BDA-3, made in Canada, and now the exaSound PlayPoint, also designed and manufactured in Canada. As my mom used to say, while I was playing hockey against great Canadian teams as a kid, "There must be something in the water up there." Anyway, Canada's exaSound Audio Design is a company that's dedicated to solid engineering and leading edge technology. exaSound has lead the pack with many "world's first" implementations, such as a multi-channel asynchronous USB to I2S interface capable of supporting multichannel DXD at 352.8kHz/32bit, a USB to I2S interface supporting 2-channel DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512 and PCM 384kHz/32bit, an 8-channel DXD 384kHz/32bit consumer-oriented DAC, a high-end DACs (both two-channel and multi-channel) capable of achieving DSD256 playback at sampling rate of 11.2896 MHz and 12.288 MHz. Keep in mind that a few of these innovations date back to 2011, when many manufacturers were still trying to support 24 bit / 192 kHz audio, and thought DSD was only something obtainable from a physical SACD disc. The exaSound PlayPoint doesn't feature any world's first features, but it's still way ahead of much of the competition. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the exaSound team would have been the first to offer a RoonReady product if only they had access to the software. I remember talking to George from exaSound, who was extremely eager to get going on a Roon implementation, long before most companies had even heard of Roon. Needless to say, the PlayPoint supports the latest and greatest features and is an excellent companion to the current lineup of exaSound DACs. ...

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