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    by Published on 09-29-2014 02:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes


    As I sit here sideways at my keyboard, with my twice-daily ice wrap around my knee, elevated and precarious, I am reminded of my doctor's response when I asked him why this seemingly innocent outpatient knee 'scope is taking so damn long to heal (three and a half months of pt, etc). To paraphrase: "Even though we have been doing these for many years, hundreds of times each per year, the prognosis is always different. Everything matters! Age, location of tear/damage, predilection to fast healing, diet, exercise, etc etc. So, PLEASE, do not read about 3 week recoveries on the Internet and expect that to be the norm. It's not a new science, but it's full of variables. We took a lot of lateral meniscus out, for example."

    Well...this article is not about my knee pain. It's about my music pain! Not really, but it is about one aspect of our own science (hobby) that is filled with many variables, where "everything matters" (note: as much as I like that terse, succinct, accurate, frustrating mantra I have to give credit to our own CA contributor Barrows for truly inventing it as his own).

    So..what am I getting at? Computer audio is far enough along that many new hobbyists expect there to be some standards and feedback that can help reduce the almost infinite variables involved in making a good knowledgeable decision about a new music system based on computer playback. That would seem to be a fair expectation. So why aren't there more "fundamentals" or "dogmas" in computer audio after all this experiential data from many users. Why not? My opinion, alone, is this: few of us can experience removing enough of the largest variables in this hobby to discuss any semblance of "fundamentals", because those variables are

    1)
    our own room;
    2) our own hearing limitations;
    3) our own listening preferences;
    4) our system make-up as a whole (i.e cake recipe vs cake) and finally,
    5) the introduction of a new piece into those first four aspects.

    ...
    by Published on 09-18-2014 12:48 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes,
    3. Downloads / Streaming
    Article Preview


    I spent the last two days at the WiMP / Tidal headquarters here in Oslo, Norway. I am very impressed by the company, its lineup of partners integrating lossless streaming, and its vision for the future. The Tidal office buzzes with activity from the energetic staff. I was fortunate to talk to several employees in different departments from marketing to the editorial team to ultra technical guys working with massive amounts of data. Everyone felt a sense of pride for the product, not only because it's from Norway but also because each member of the staff has input into the product. Everyone I talked to appeared to be in love with their job at WiMP / Tidal. I walked away with a sense that it's a very hip and cool company for which to work. Speaking of work, HiFi industry veteran and Peachtree Audio co-founder David Solomon is now Tidal's Director of Sales and Marketing in the United States. Speaking of the United States, I predict Tidal will launch its lossless streaming service in the US at the Rocky Mountain Audiofest in October, given the company is listed as an exhibitor! Members of the CA Community attending the show are likely to see Tidal streaming in many rooms this year. Based on the number of partnerships Tidal has established with manufacturers seeking to embed the streaming product into components, RMAF and the months to follow will be exciting times for the CA Community. Given that WiMP / Tidal is a public company it's nearly impossible to squeeze information from the team. There are strict stock market rules about what information can be shared with non-employees. Fortunately, I attended the annual WiMP / Tidal company party Wednesday evening and talked to several hardware manufacturers who are currently working on embedding the lossless streaming product or who may embed it in the near future. Journalists, even in HiFi, have ways of getting the inside scoop. I lined up a review or two with some well known component manufacturers while at the event and I look forward to sharing all the information with the CA Community as soon as possible. Until such time, here are some photos of my trip to Tidal headquarters in Oslo, Norway.
    ...
    by Published on 09-09-2014 09:01 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    4. AES/EBU Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface
    Article Preview



    Rarely do I hear a component that's truly a game changer, a component that's so good I can't stop listening through it, and a component that's so good it renders much of the competition irrelevant. I can't remember, off the top of my head, the last time I heard such a component. That is, before the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series arrived. The Alpha DAC RS, every bit a true game changer, blew me away from the first listen in my system. Since its arrival I've listened to more complete albums and heard more new sounds from old albums than any time in my life. The Alpha DAC RS is so good and such a game changer it may force consumers to reconsider their desire for high resolution music. Sure the Alpha DAC RS can reproduce high resolution music better than any DAC I've heard in my system, but its absolute magic can be heard with standard CD quality 16 bit / 44.1 kHz material. The Alpha DAC RS is without question the best DAC I've heard anywhere when it comes to 16/44.1 playback. I've never heard detail, delicacy, and transparency with my favorite music like I have when listening through this DAC. The Alpha DAC RS is so outstanding that I equate its presence in my system to that of a new pair of loudspeakers. That's correct; the Alpha DAC RS had an impact on my system equivalent to a new pair of loudspeakers. In fact, the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series is the most remarkable sounding product I've ever reviewed. ...
    by Published on 08-31-2014 03:50 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Wireless,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA

    The Auralic Aries is perhaps the most talked about HiFi product in recent memory. The Computer Audiophile Community is probably more responsible for this chatter than most other outlets combined. It only makes sense that we would talk about, and hype, the Aries as the product is right up our alley. An Ethernet to digital audio interface, software driven and upgradeable, and an ambitious iOS application are items for which some computer audiophiles live. The Aries includes all three. I've had the Aries in my system since early July and it's time to deliver an update to the CA Community. In the early beta days I had my share of issues with the Aries and Lightning DS iOS application. I've used the Aries in combination with several UPnP servers, UPnP control points, and DACs since its arrival. Over the last few weeks the system has become increasingly stable and enjoyable to use for all my local and lossless streaming music needs. ...
    by Published on 08-20-2014 09:14 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Music Hub / Controller,
    4. UPnP / DLNA

    My first exposure to a new Linn technology named Exakt was at the 2013 CEDIA Show in Denver. I didn't have a chance to listen to the system on display because the show floor was very noisy, but I talked to Linn's Managing Director Gilad Tiefenbrun about Exakt. I walked away from the conversation enthusiastic about the capabilities of Exakt and about the possibilities for better sound reproduction in home environments. I'm a big supporter of using technology, but only when it's appropriate. Linn's use of Exakt technology to send lossless digital data via CAT5/6/7 cables into the loudspeakers and keep that data in the digital domain, through the crossover and volume control, until just before the final amplification stage within the loudspeakers is what I call great use of technology. Less than one year after that CEDIA show I have an Akurate level Linn Exakt system in my listening room. I had reservations about setting aside my large analog equipment, state of the art digital to analog converter, and TAD CR1 loudspeakers in order to put the Exact system in place. There is no going in to this system half-way as it's fully active with amplification attached to the loudspeakers, digital to analog converters attached to the loudspeakers, and RJ45 ports rather than binding posts for receiving the incoming signal. I couldn't even use an Aurender music server if I wanted to with the Exakt system. None of this is good or bad in and of itself. It's just a fact of using any Exakt system. There's no hodgepodge of components to select, interconnect, and hope for a good synergy. Exakt works within its own ecosystem, and it just works. After the initial setup and two weeks of extensive listening I am very impressed with the Linn Exakt technology. In fact, the Akurate Exakt DSM and Exakt Akubarik loudspeakers comprise the best Linn system I've ever heard. Period. ...
    by Published on 08-14-2014 12:47 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes
    Article Preview


    Just a quick post before heading off to the California Audio Show. I look forward to this show for many reasons, among them is meeting members of the Computer Audiophile community. I've met several readers at this show and events at local Bay Area dealers and I enjoy talking to them every year. A major plus for me at this show is that the highest density of Computer Audiophile readers is in Silicon Valley. There are tons of computer savvy audiophiles in the Bay Area in addition to the tons of traditional audiophiles looking to finally get on the computer audio bandwagon. At the show this year two rooms will feature the new Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS. I encourage all members of the Computer Audiophile community to spend some time with this DAC. There's nothing like it on the market today. In addition, those interested in hearing DSD files converted to high resolution PCM can do so in the MIT room through the Alpha DAC RS one main system or a headphone based system. The Bay Area is the place to be and I hope the California Audio Show, now in its fifth year, will prove to be a fun time for all attendees.
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