• Bits & Bytes

    by Published on 10-20-2014 02:52 PM
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    I've been on the road, more often than not, since September 15, stopping in Oslo, Paris, London, Denver, and now Salina, Kansas. I'm not going to ask readers what these four cities have in common because it's absolutely nothing. Life doesn't get much different in the western world than the difference between London and Salina. However, when it comes to playing the Blues, none of the aforementioned cities can touch little Salina on this special weekend. This year marks the 17th annual Blues Masters at the Crossroads held at Blue Heaven Studios in Salina. The studio is an old church purchased many years ago by Acoustic Sounds. Touring BHS in this 100+ year old church was, by itself, worth the trip to Salina. Watching two evenings worth of great Blues music was over the top terrific. ...
    by Published on 09-29-2014 02:23 AM
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    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.

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    by Published on 09-18-2014 12:48 PM
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    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.
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    by Published on 08-14-2014 12:47 PM
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    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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    by Published on 06-24-2014 12:33 PM
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    Earlier this month I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to visit the Linn factory. I've been to many manufacturers, dealers, and audio events around the world, but this was my first time in Scotland. I had no expectations before the trip and didn't even know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the incredibly nice Scottish people and with, what I'm told is very rare, the wonderful weather. Everyone I came in contact with during this trip was eager to help me, eager to sit and chat, and eager to share interesting tidbits of information about Glasgow. I'd love to go back to Scotland with my family and spend much more than two days in this beautiful country.


    Visiting the Linn factory was both informative and intriguing. Learning about the company's history, its avant-garde founder Ivor Tiefenbrun, its new products, and its vision for the future was well worth the time spent getting to and from Scotland. Most people think of Linn, and other manufacturers, as a company with a range of products. My visit to the factory enabled me to see behind the products. I talked to the acutely smart people who develop and support Linn products and who lead the company into the future. ...
    by Published on 12-26-2013 08:43 AM
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    I've been following loudspeaker manufacturer Magico for nearly five years. I was first introduced to the company's founder Alon Wolf through mutual friends in California's bay area. Soon after meeting Alon I visited Magico's Berkeley factory where the company was designing its then flagship M5 loudspeaker. I spent quite awhile listening to the M5s during that visit. At that time the M5 was the best speaker I'd ever heard. In late December 2009 I re-visited Magico's Berkeley factory to listen to an unknown speaker that I was told was something special. The experience was a bit like déjà vu as I spent hours listening to the newly designed Q5 loudspeaker. This speaker was far above and beyond anything Magico had previously produced, but I left the factory proclaiming, "The Magico Q5 loudspeaker is the best loudspeaker I've ever heard anywhere. There isn't a single product on the market today that's capable of this level of performance." Much has changed since that last visit including a new flagship Q7 loudspeaker, the introduction of Magico's S Series, and a new home for the factory. Fast forward to December 2013. It was time to visit Magico once again. ...
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