• The Computer Audiophile

    by Published on 04-17-2014 11:33 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Downloads / Streaming

    Streaming audio is all the rage. Millions of albums at our fingertips from any Internet connected location on the planet. I'm a paid subscriber of Spotify, Beats, and Pandora. The convenience these services offer while I'm in my car or traveling to an audio show is well worth $10 per month. I also admit to frequently using Beats at home on my iPhone even though the MP3 sound quality is far less than my lossless collection of nearly 57,000 standard and high resolution tracks. When I want hear my lossless collection I pull the music from a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit through JRiver Media Center and on to a USB DAC. Or, I listen through the Aurender W20 with my lossless collection stored on its local hard drives. I've long thought it would be interesting to leverage cloud storage and stream my entire collection from the Internet rather than a NAS or local hard drives. I'm not talking about streaming this collection to a portable device or to another location when I'm away from home. I'm talking about storing all my music in the cloud. I want an app such as JRiver Media Center to pull the music from the cloud rather than a NAS. An oversimplification of the concept could be seen as JRMC pulling ...
    by Published on 04-01-2014 04:10 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Music Servers
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    Aurender music servers have been part of my digital playback arsenal since 2011. I was so impressed by the Aurender S10 that I placed it on my CASH List and named it the 2011 Product of the Year. The S10 was the first music server I'd seen that was built like a high end audio component with solid engineering on the inside and stellar attention to detail on the outside. The S10 was IT. However, a couple colleagues of mine thought the S10 was a good start, but there was much room for improvement. It turns out my colleagues were correct. Not long after the S10 hit dealer showrooms the Aurender team completed a state of the art listening room and went to work on something better than the S10. The product that emerged from this work was the flagship Aurender W20. The W20 is not an upgraded S10. The only critical component shared by the two models are the oven-controlled crystal oscillators (OCXO). Based on several months of listening, testing, and comparing the W20 to all other servers I've used, I conclude the Aurender W20 is unequivocally the pièce de résistance of high end music servers.
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    by Published on 03-18-2014 12:10 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Downloads / Streaming
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    Sitting in an oversized bulbous chair outside the interview room waiting for my turn to speak with Neil Young was surreal. I didn't grow up a big fan of Neil. I was introduced to his music through my favorite band Pearl Jam. PJ frequently plays Rockin' In The Free World as an encore at its shows. In addition, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam refers to Mr. Young as Uncle Neil. According to Eddie, Neil has provided much needed guidance to the band from the mid-nineties monstrous successes to the suicide of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and the band's decision to take a step back from the limelight. As I sat in the nice Austin breeze, several thoughts went through my head. I was expecting Neil to be tired of answering questions and possibly annoyed that a guy from Computer Audiophile was about to interview this vinyl loving rockstar. Let's face it, I'm no Ben Fong-Torres. Was I going to turn into Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney on Saturday Night Live? What if I said, "Remember when you were with Buffalo Springfield, that was awesome." My mind was spiraling out of control with endless possibilities. Fortunately my questions for Neil were on my iPhone and my Nagra ARES-MII recorder was in hand. All I had to do was ask the questions and listen to the answers. Then, Rick from Warner Brothers said, "Chris, you're up." ...
    by Published on 03-05-2014 05:24 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. CA TV
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    In episode 4 of CA TV - A mini review of the ACER T272HUL touchscreen 27" monitor. My new Pass Labs XA160.5 amplifiers. The Beck debacle. Neil Young interview preview. A glimpse at the new Computer Audiophile sweatshirts :~)

    Thanks to Notebook Check for the useful info on getting better resolution from an HDMI port.
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    by Published on 02-28-2014 01:29 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Downloads / Streaming
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    Friday, February 21, 2014 Beck's new album Morning Phase was released. Similar to many other artists and albums, Beck offered the album in three formats via his website, vinyl, CD, and MP3. In addition to Beck's site Apple offered the Mastered for iTunes AAC version and HDtracks offered the high resolution 24 bit / 96 kHz version. I downloaded the high resolution version from HDtracks. I really like the music. Beck is a great artist and it shows on Morning Phase. The sound quality of the high resolution 24/96 release is just OK. Considering the quality of the musical performance I can live with the underwhelming sound quality. I'd rather listen to this album on an old AM radio than listen to Scottish nose whistle recorded at 24/192 and played on the world's best audio system. I'll take content over quality any day, but as an audiophile I'd much rather have both good content and good quality. Thursday, February 27, 2014 I noticed the forum discussion heating up about a rumored better sounding MP3 version bundled with vinyl version of the album. Thus began my quest to find the best sounding version. In total I purchased Morning Phase six times and discovered five different digital versions of the album. Computer audiophiles may be surprised to read which version I prefer and highly recommend. ...
    by Published on 02-20-2014 06:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    6. UPnP / DLNA

    T+A Elektroakustik is a company for which some Americans have yet to acquire a taste. Yet, T+A's product styling, build quality, and sound quality have won numerous awards throughout Europe. It took me awhile to really get what this company was doing and to acquire a taste for these German designs. At CEDIA 2013 I told the Dynaudio North America team, importers of T+A, that the styling of the T+A components was less than pleasing. Then I was shown a "custom integration" rack full of T+A components and things started to click. The look of this tall rack with several uniform looking components was quite nice. Since the CEDIA convention T+A components have entered my mind several times, especially when considering Ethernet streaming devices. T+A isn't new to the streaming audio market. The company's engineers have been perfecting its streaming platform for years and know quite a bit more about this technology than many companies. One of the first questions I ask before reviewing a streamer is, does the product support gapless playback at all sample rates? The response I received from T+A at RMAF was priceless. The answer, "Of course." I felt like gapless high resolution playback was an issue T+A conquered last century and the company was on to solving more complex issues. After acquiring a taste for T+A's styling and hearing about the company's impressive product engineering surrounding audio streamers, it was time for me to get the Music Player Balanced into my system and start listening. ...
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