• The Computer Audiophile

    by Published on 05-12-2016 02:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. 2016 Munich high End
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    (Note: Part one of my Munich show coverage is all in words. Part two will be photos and videos.)

    The 2016 Munich High End show, or as I call it, the Super Bowl of HiFi, is in the books. It was the best audio show I've ever attended, by a long shot. The venue was fabulous, the number of exhibitors was enormous, the sound quality in a number of rooms was great, and the vibe at the show was delightful. I ran into people from all over the world and was so pleased by everyone's upbeat and enthusiastic demeanor. I even shared an Uber ride with a couple of vinyl / CD spinning folks with whom I pleasantly debated the pros and cons of physical formats versus computer based listening. Speaking of Uber, I had two other great experiences with the service in Munich. I was picked up at the airport by an Uber driver named Dmitri. In a scene that Hollywood couldn't have scripted better, he turned on the radio and I heard the DJ speaking in German. The only thing I understood was the name David Hasselhoff. Once the music started Demitri cranked the volume and we were off, my trip had started with a bang. On the way back to the airport after several days in Munich, I was picked up by an Uber driver named Serhat in his impeccably clean Mercedes. Once we hit the road, he said that the speed limit signs with a circle and slash through them indicated that there was no speed limit. He then hit the gas, driving me to Terminal 1B at 200 km/h. What a great city. What a great show. What a great time.
    by Published on 04-28-2016 07:27 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. UPnP / DLNA,
    5. RoonReady
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    In mid 2014 I received a call from Sonore's Jesus R. He wanted to discuss an idea. Jesus and his team had decided they needed to move the needle, in a huge way, with respect to computer audio playback. They had built, sold, and supported custom high end music servers for years, but were ready to innovate beyond this somewhat traditional approach. Jesus told me they wanted to design and build both the hardware and software for a tiny microcomputer the size of a credit card, that had a single purpose, to reproduce the best sound quality possible. Then he semi-jokingly asked me if I knew anyone with really deep pockets who'd like to bankroll the endeavor. At the end of our lengthy conversation I concluded that this was another great idea that would never come to fruition because it was simply cost prohibitive for a boutique manufacturer.

    Fast forward to summer 2015, when I received an email from Jesus with the subject, code name = Toaster. The first two sentences said, "For your eyes only. The small board goes on top of the larger board and it's to scale if you want to print it." Attached was the schematic for prototype units numbered 1, 2, and 3 that were already being made as I read the email. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Jesus and his team had successfully pulled off the initial hardware design phase of a project I never thought would see the light of day.

    Seeing a product brought to life from its infancy was pretty cool, at least for me. Readers putting two and two together are probably asking what happened from mid 2014 to mid 2015 to the end of April 2016. As anyone with knowledge of hardware design, prototyping, software development and testing, and sourcing components can tell you, there are more trials and tribulations involved in bringing a high precision product to market than Joe Sixpack could ever imagine. But, that's an interesting story for another time. Today, April 28, 2016 marks the launch of the highly anticipated custom designed Sonore microRendu, a purpose-built audiophile microcomputer designed to unprecedentedly process USB audio. ...
    by Published on 04-07-2016 08:16 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Q & A
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    Shortly after attending CES 2016, where MQA was a very hot topic, I realized that there was more speculation about MQA than available facts. Nonetheless, it seemed like everyone had an opinion about MQA. Most people had never heard the final output of the MQA process, an actual song or two, but they were still very eager to render an opinion. Some armchair engineers jumped at the chance to speculate what was going on, based on little to no information. In addition, other learned folks even rushed to judgement about MQA without fully understanding what they were "analyzing." Once I started to see this speculation controlling the narrative and leading interested CA readers down a path that wasn't necessary illuminated by facts, I figured it was a good idea to go right to the source. I talked to MQA's Bob Stuart about some of the questions people had and some of the speculation that was swirling around not only CA but the entire HiFi community. I proposed a question and answer "session" where the CA readers could ask anything they wanted, without censorship, and Bob would respond. Without hesitation Bob agreed. In order to accumulate a good number of questions and to give Bob a decent amount of time to formulate thorough answers, the questioning period was open for one week, after which Bob curated the questions and started writing his responses. Bob was the first to say, "All questions will be answered." As such, the time between the end of the questioning period and the publishing of the answers needed to be ample. I'm sure Bob could have whipped up some talking-point type answers in a day or so, but that's not what he wanted to do and that's not what those asking the questions wanted to receive. Fortunately good things come to those who wait. This week Bob sent me a thirty page document, including eighty-two questions, graphics, references, and a glossary. What follows is a word-for-word reproduction of this substantial document. ...
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