• The Computer Audiophile

    by Published on 02-05-2016 02:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Bits & Bytes
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    It all started with an email on December 4, 2014. ďHi Chris, It is my great pleasure to provide details on Meridianís breakthrough technology, MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). The press release is pasted below. And attached is a white paper ÖĒ That seems like forever ago. In the ensuing months MQA has been growing like a snowball rolling downhill. More manufacturers getting on board, more content partners signing up, and more chatter within Computer Audiophile community (among others). Based on objective site analytics, I can easily say that since CES 2016 the interest in MQA has grown immensely here on CA. Much of the talk since MQAís first introduction has been speculative because only a relatively small number of people have actually heard MQA music. Even those whoíve heard it, have likely not heard it in their own audio systems. That was until Meridian officially released the MQA enabling firmware for its Explorer2, Prime, and select components (818v3,*808v6 and Special Edition Loudspeakers) Thursday February 4, 2016. I downloaded the firmware and updated my Explorer2 to v1717. Itís now MQA enabled and I have a DAC that decode and render this content through my own audio system in my own listening room. Iíve been waiting for this forever. Iíve heard MQA at shows plenty of times, but never in my own familiar environment. Now that the hardware was enabled for MQA playback, I needed some MQA music to play. Late afternoon I received an email with a link to download ten MQA FLAC files. Click, save, unzip, play, listen Ö MQA rules, itís the best thing since sliced bread. If only it was that cut and dry. ...
    by Published on 01-29-2016 11:42 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,
    8. UPnP / DLNA
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    My last experience with a Hegel component in my system was when I reviewed the HD12 DAC in February 2015. It was a nice DAC that has likely made many listeners very happy for $1,400. After the review I received an email from Hegel hinting that the company was working on something much better. Toward the end of 2015 Hegel Music Systems completed the design of what it considered a masterpiece. The company went all-in creating a new flagship DAC named the HD30. The improvement from the HD12 to the HD30 is both objectively and subjectively glorious. Designing its master clocks from the ground up and using such low noise components that the noise floor is near -150 dB, has paid off in spades. Hegel really nailed it with the HD30. ...
    by Published on 01-14-2016 02:45 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. 2016 Consumer Electronics Show
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    CES 2016 is in the can. I spent much of the four days at the high-end exhibits in the Venetian and a bit of time with manufacturer's electing to display at the Mirage. I didn't get over to the main convention center this year because I had too many people to meet with on the last day of the show. I always enjoy going to the convention center to see the computer side of Computer Audiophile, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. Note to self: don't schedule meetings all day every day of the show. ...
    by Published on 12-30-2015 01:32 PM
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    2. Bits & Bytes
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    At the end of September Google released its Chromecast Audio device. The device is simply a WiFi connected digital to analog or digital to digital converter that supports Google's Cast protocol and streaming music directly from Spotify and other cast-enabled apps/services. The Chromecast Audio is distinguished from the original Chromecast and generation two Chromecast by its lack of HDMI output and lack of video support. I ordered a Chromecast Audio as soon as Google announced it, and of course opted for the fastest shipping method available at nearly the same price as the device itself. For $35 I was excited, as was the Computer Audiophile Community. I set my expectations low and hoped for the best. When the unit arrived I plugged it into my system for some straight forward testing. I wanted to know if the device passed the digital audio unaltered. After about three seconds I concluded the Chromecast Audio, in its current state, was a failure. All audio was converted to 48 kHz no matter what sample rate was sent to the device. I put the Chromecast Audio on the shelf and waited to see if Google cared to make firmware changes enabling audio to pass through unaltered. To my surprise, in December Google released a firmware update that not only enabled audio to pass through the Chromecast Audio unaltered, but also enabled support for sample rates up through 24 bit / 96 kHz. It was time to retest and hopefully write a little about the successes or failures. ...
    by Published on 12-10-2015 05:35 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Editorial
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    Itís time for the Best of 2015 Awards here at CA. To be considered for the awards, a product must have been used by me over the last year. The product doesnít need to be released in 2015, only used in 2015. The number of products in the Best of 2015 Awards is short compared to some lists. This is because there are no participation trophies here at CA. The products below earned their places on this list. Adding a position for every component Iíve used this year would only serve to dilute the list and take away from those products truly deserving of the Best of 2015 award. There are only winners on this list. No ties, co-winners or runners-up.

    I'm excited to read what the members of the CA Community list as their products of the year. Please light up the comment section with your Best of 2015 selections. ...
    by Published on 12-04-2015 09:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Wireless,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
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    Imagine this: You place an audio playback system in your living room and enjoy the hell out of your favorite music with your family and friends. This is something I could only imagine, but for many people this is something they remember. Back in the day people placed a stereo console in their living rooms and partook in all the fun that goes along with listening to music with others. Sadly, over the years these ďbeautifulĒ pieces of audio furniture were replaced by separate components and soon relegated to man caves. The wonderful hobby of listening to music moved from a shared experience to a companionless commitment. Even worse than a room in the basement, where thereís a chance the guys could hang out for a while and listen to a couple tracks before being summoned upstairs to join the rest of the party, is the solitary loneliness of listening to music through headphones. The shared experience of listening to music has been obliterated by keep-it-to-yourself audio and the antisocial pseudo-communal experience of sharing yourself with others online, but only from the comfort of your empty house. I am way over on the introvert side on the introvert / extrovert continuum, but I still enjoy sharing the things I love with friends and family Ö while the friends and family are physically in the room, not simply reachable via Internet Protocol from an iPad in an isolated nook of my living room. In addition to sharing the music I love with others, the ability to share high quality sound with others is also important. Without an easily accessible and conveniently placed high end audio system in a common living space, this sharing of good sound just isnít going to happen. Sure, my three year old daughter comes down to my listening room now and then, but imagine if I could bring all the music and all the quality to her on a daily basis. That would be priceless. While the dream of doing this is priceless, the reality of doing this here and itís made possible my Englandís Naim Audio. Having the Naim Mu-so in my house has enabled me to bring my favorite (and my daughterís favorite) music, in high quality, to her and has enabled me to share the fine qualities of a high end component with friends who had no idea such a product exists. I donít know how many times Iíve told friends that a Bose iPod dock isnít the height of living, but now I can casually let them experience the joys of high quality music and fine craftsmanship while getting together to create new shared experiences weíll remember for a lifetime. ...
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