• Bits & Bytes

    by Published on 07-28-2016 12:49 PM
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    While the prices of many HiFi goods continue to go up, the prices of high tech goods continue to go down. In addition to prices going down, high tech goods almost always increase performance and features while decreasing in size for this reduced price. I wish the HiFi world was like the high tech world in this respect, but I completely understand the nature of building something by hand at the highest quality in low quantity versus building something for the lowest price at incredibly high volume in parts of the world where labor is extremely inexpensive. That may be a discussion for a different day because today is about the convergence of HiFi and high tech.

    I've always recommended that people start by purchasing the least expensive products and move up the ladder until they are satisfied. It simply makes sense. Some people know they will only be satisfied with the best and possibly most expensive options while others feel rewarded by finding a the best value. Neither way is right, it's all about choice.

    Before we get started with this cool new product, I want to address a misconception that some people have with CA covering items like a $7.99 audio endpoint. I've been told by some manufacturers that I shouldn't write about this stuff, it's too DIY and DIY'ers don't spend money, and that it isn't HiFi enough and that they don't like the direction of CA. I believe that type of small-minded thinking is what old-school HiFi is all about and it's something that old-school HiFi must get over if it wants to succeed in the future. CA isn't a DIY site, but we feature cool products when we seen them. Plus, these articles do wonders for bringing in a new audience to the CA community and HiFi in general. CA has a huge contingent of readers in Silicon Valley (and Australia, G'day mates) who love music, are a bit geeky, have technical aptitude, have disposable income, and would likely never have heard of most of our favorite HiFi brands without content like this that bridges the gap. Furthermore, when people purchase $7.99 audio endpoints, they need DACs to make music. Purchase five of these inexpensive endpoints for different rooms, and one will need five DACs. The money saved on endpoints can also be spent on other items such as software, music, amps, cables, loudspeakers, etc... I could go on, but I don't want to derail an otherwise cool product introduction with my rant about why products like this are good for HiFi. Either one believes it or not. The world is changing. ...
    by Published on 07-12-2016 03:00 PM
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    I stumbled on a site named Polygraph a few months ago. Polygraph actually operates completely opposite from the way CA operates. I usually elect to use prose over graphics and photos, while Polygraph tells stories with data and code to produce fabulous visuals. Polygraph describes itself as, "a publication that incites water cooler discussion about complex topics. We avoid long-winded essays at all costs, using code, visuals, and animation to construct a different sort of story, one that's often reader-driven, embeddable, and open-source." What makes Polygraph so interesting to me and the CA Community is the use of technology to tell us something about our favorite music.

    A few of the topics covered by Polygraph include:
    The Evolution of Music Taste
    Wikipedia Pages On Which Miles Davis Is Mentioned
    Using Spotify To Measure The Popularity Of Older Music
    When Music Becomes Popular, Faster
    This Is What Hip Hop Sounded Like In 1995
    Using Playlists To Crowdsource The Definition Of Punk
    Hip Hop Labels Sorted By The Success Of Their Artists On Billboard
    Rappers Sorted By The Size Of Their Vocabulary ...
    by Published on 07-06-2016 02:59 PM
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    Last week the McIntosh Group hosted its first ever convention in Sardinia, Italy. The Group consists of six brands including McIntosh, Audio Research, Sonus Faber, Wadia, Pryma, and Sumiko. Thus, there was quite a bit of audio being discussed at the event, from analog to digital to all-in-one speaker systems to large flagship loudspeakers. It was a great opportunity to dig deep into the product lines, talk to product designers, and get a glimpse into the future of each brand. For some brands like Sonus Faber the future is now, with the introduction of the Sf16, while other brands like Wadia are undergoing a makeover for an upcoming transformation. Here are my highlights of the McIntosh Group convention 2016. ...
    by Published on 06-29-2016 08:59 AM
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    Hello Everyone, I'm currently out of town at an audio event in Italy, but still want to let the CA Community know about a new podcast in which I participated in a show about high resolution audio. The podcast is called The Next Track, and it's hosted by Kirk McElhern and Doug Adams. Mac users will likely be familiar with both of these guys. Kirk is a Senior Contributor to Macworld, where he writes the Ask the iTunes Guy column. He has also written more than twenty books. Kirk has been kind enough to mention CA in both print and digital editions of Macworld and on his site Kirkville. Doug Adams is the guy behind Doug's Scripts, a site dedicated to AppleScripts since 2001. If you're an iTunes user on CA and haven't used at least one of Doug's scripts, I'd be very surprised. Doug is also a media / voice-over producer.

    The Next Track is billed as, "a podcast about how people listen to music today... We discuss music and how it’s consumed, whether it be analog or digital, downloaded or streamed, audio or video. We also look at some of the hardware we use to listen to music: speakers, headphones, portable players, and home audio equipment." ...
    by Published on 03-30-2016 10:51 PM
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    In 2006 Peachtree Audio started bringing its first product, the Decco integrated amplifier with USB input, around to dealers in the US. Most of the dealers initially told the Peachtree Audio team that the product would never sell and that nobody was going to connect a computer to piece of HiFi equipment via USB. Dealer Stereo Exchange in New York City completely understood the impact computer audio would have in the high end sector and jumped onboard right away. Not too long after, 300+ dealers took on the Peachtree Audio products and the company was off to a blistering start. After 10 years, and a learning experience or two later, Peachtree Audio was back at Stereo Exchange to launch version 2.0 of the company and kick things into high gear with some major changes to the product line and the way its products are made. ...
    by Published on 02-29-2016 09:54 PM
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    Got a USB DAC that you'd like to put on your network? Been looking for a network DAC that supports a plethora of sample rates and protocols? Want to remove a Mac or traditional PC form your listening room? The Sonicorbiter SE may help you with these first-world problems. The Sonicorbiter SE isn't a DAC but it can breath new life and capabilities into almost any DAC available.

    The Sonicorbiter SE is an Ethernet to USB (or TosLink) converter. It uses software developed by Andrew Gillis of Small Green Computer / Vortexbox fame, that runs on unmodified Cubox hardware. Sure the tiny ( 2" x 2" x 2") Cubox is a neat piece of hardware, but the Sonicorbiter SE is all about software. This is where the real value lies. It's possible to duplicate much of the Sonicorbiter SE's functionality on one's own by purchasing a Cubox or Raspberry Pi based solution, but let's get real. Nothing is more expensive than our time. If people want to spend countless hours trying to duplicate what's already available, then more power to them. I however, highly recommend outsourcing this work to Sonore by purchasing the Sonicorbiter SE (likely sold out as we speak). Plus, as of right now Joe Sixpack or Joe Bloggs can't create their own RoonReady device without working with the Roon Labs team to get the license and to get the product certified. Sonore had those boxes checked before any other company in the world.

    I've been using a Sonicorbiter SE for a few weeks and totally love this little device. What's not to love about a $300 network endpoint? Well, there are a few items but I don't believe they are show stoppers. Again, this thing is $300! In this hobby that same $300 won't buy you one meter of cable. ...
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