• ted_b

    by Published on 10-05-2016 11:15 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 11-25-2015 10:49 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Wireless,
    4. USB Interface,
    5. UPnP / DLNA
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    The exaSound Playpoint Stereo/Multichannel Streamer (Jack of All Trades, Master of at Least Four!)

    When the computer audiophile world began to embrace the onset of ethernet-based music streamers, it was slowly becoming clear that not all DACs could seamlessly take part in this (general use) computer-less setup. As DAC manufacturers pushed for better and better integration with computers, some of them went as far as creating specific drivers to take advantage of direct handshaking with such higher resolution formats as raw DSD (as opposed to getting one's DSD packed in a PCM carrier, aka DoP). This integration often had sonic payoffs, but made plug-n-play Linux UPnP streamers, looking for common drivers in the USB Audio Class 2 category (aka UAC2) too pedestrian to be able to talk to these DACs. And although some of this has changed over the past couple of years (Linux code lines now embrace some native DAC drivers of various manufacturers, above and beyond UAC2) some DACs still would rather interface more closely with proprietary drivers. One such DAC manufacturer that has espoused this direct driver philosophy is exaSound. ...
    by Published on 05-14-2015 12:39 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface

    The exaSound e12: The little engine that could...change how we think of sub $2k DACs

    George Klissarov of exaSound had an idea that he could take his award-winning e22 stereo DSD DAC and create a lighter smaller (read: less expensive) version that lost none of the sound quality....none! The savings would be in case size, inputs and output parts, removal of the display and an ever so slightly less refined power filter. He told me about it over a year ago and I jumped at the opportunity to hear it. ...
    by Published on 04-16-2015 01:18 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Downloads / Streaming
    Article Preview

    I was asked by the folks at NativeDSD.com to see if readers at ComputerAudiophile.com would be the right audience for testing the results of two different DSD AD converters, a unique experiment in recording music. My answer was a resounding yes; the DSD (and overall DA and AD converter) technology is nothing new to us here, and this would be a great and fun way to find out what our DSD-capable equipment (and our ears) are telling us about things like sweet spots within DACs, the importance of DSD bit rates, etc.

    The Question

    In the brave new world of High Resolution Music Downloads many music fans have asked a big question. Is there a difference in sound quality that comes from recordings made at different resolution levels and different Analog to Digital Converters (ADCs)? ...
    by Published on 12-23-2014 11:16 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. AES/EBU Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview

    PS Audio DirectStream DAC, a chameleon in the high foothills, by Ted Brady

    This has been the hardest review ...
    by Published on 09-29-2014 03:23 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

    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.

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