• UPnP / DLNA

    by Published on 06-06-2014 10:31 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. USB Interface,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
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    Have a good USB DAC? Check. Want to turn it into a networked device without changing one item on the DAC? Check.

    Over the last couple years I increasingly wanted a specific product that didn't exist. I wanted an ultra simple device with Ethernet input and USB audio output. This seems like such an obvious product that should have been available since the day the first USB DACs hit the market. Especially because so many of the network addressable DACs have big problems with file types, compression schemes, gapless playback, etc… Plus, if the sound of a specific USB DAC is what the listeners want, but they also want the functionality of a networked DAC, they should be able to bridge the gap. This isn't rocket science and this isn't the 1980s. Tiny ARM based Linux compatible single board computers are everywhere. It's time for the Internet of Things and running on this IoT are millions of tiny devices that can be used to create a simple Ethernet in and USB audio out device. As The O'Jays, The Kinks, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings said, Give the People What They Want. Thus, the SOtM sMS-100 Mini Server was created. We finally have a physically simple device that converts network audio streams into USB audio streams for playback on nearly any popular USB DAC. ...
    by Published on 02-20-2014 06:40 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    5. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    6. UPnP / DLNA

    T+A Elektroakustik is a company for which some Americans have yet to acquire a taste. Yet, T+A's product styling, build quality, and sound quality have won numerous awards throughout Europe. It took me awhile to really get what this company was doing and to acquire a taste for these German designs. At CEDIA 2013 I told the Dynaudio North America team, importers of T+A, that the styling of the T+A components was less than pleasing. Then I was shown a "custom integration" rack full of T+A components and things started to click. The look of this tall rack with several uniform looking components was quite nice. Since the CEDIA convention T+A components have entered my mind several times, especially when considering Ethernet streaming devices. T+A isn't new to the streaming audio market. The company's engineers have been perfecting its streaming platform for years and know quite a bit more about this technology than many companies. One of the first questions I ask before reviewing a streamer is, does the product support gapless playback at all sample rates? The response I received from T+A at RMAF was priceless. The answer, "Of course." I felt like gapless high resolution playback was an issue T+A conquered last century and the company was on to solving more complex issues. After acquiring a taste for T+A's styling and hearing about the company's impressive product engineering surrounding audio streamers, it was time for me to get the Music Player Balanced into my system and start listening. ...
    by Published on 08-22-2013 01:48 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
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    Pixel Magic's Lumin network music player is really something special. The Lumin simply works great, sounds great, and looks great. Every audio component should at least fall into the "it works" category. Unfortunately when network audio is involved most players have issues. Some network players can't handle gapless playback, others can't handle DSD playback, yet others can't handle files with larger than average embedded album art. The list of issues or deficiencies of network audio players could literally go on for several pages. A search of the Computer Audiophile forum, Linn forum, PS Audio forum, or even Google should give readers an idea of the headaches many users go through with network based audio solutions. Contrary to popular belief the network and player setup part is relatively easy. The hard part is running into issues such as lack of gapless playback and being powerless to fix the issue. Sometimes it's a hardware issue that no amount of firmware updating can fix. Other times firmware can resolve the issue but may cause an unforeseen issue with another aspect of playback. Network audio users know exactly what I'm writing about, whether they want to admit it is another story altogether. The Lumin suffers from none of the common network audio player ills. I streamed high res, low res, medium res, sky-high res, you-name-it res to the Lumin over my network and it simply worked. Gapless DSD? Check. Gapless 24 bit / 192 kHz? Check. No hiccups? Check. Lumin is without a doubt the most polished DLNA network player I've used to date. ...
    by Published on 06-13-2013 11:44 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. UPnP / DLNA,
    4. Preamp
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    At times things get a little complex here at Computer Audiophile. Maybe that’s the nature of both computer enthusiasts and audiophiles. The mentality that version 2.0 must be better than version 1.0 and the more work it takes the better the payoff can be seen throughout this wonderful hobby. There’s nothing wrong with exploring computer audio and taking it to the extreme in an effort to improve one’s music listening experience. In fact I encourage this every day as a way to take computer audio as a whole to the next level. However, complexity can take the fun out of almost anything. Countless times I’ve run into a computer issue and spent thirty minutes tracking down the cause. Meanwhile my friends listening to vinyl have already flipped the record over to Side B and started thinking about their next album to play. In the spirit of simplicity and enthusiasm for just listening to music I set out to use the Linn Akurate DSM network audio player as if I was brand new to this hobby. I wanted to forget about my enterprise Cisco based network with several UPnP / DLNA servers, control points, and renderers. Thus, I installed the Synology Media Server software on my Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive, used my iPad to control playback with Linn’s Kinsky app, and streamed music directly to the Akurate DSM. The experience left me pleasantly satisfied and wondering if I still needed my unusually complicated network audio configuration. This simple setup enabled me to listen to more music through the Akurate DSM and forget about how each packet was speeding through my switches and Ethernet cables. While listening I thoroughly enjoyed the very good sound quality put out by the Akurate DSM. A NAS, iPad, and Linn Akurate DSM is a very compelling package for those seeking high quality sound and simple network based audio. ...
    by Published on 04-30-2013 09:19 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview

    High end audio can be a polarizing hobby. Audiophiles like to select a product or technology and support it vigorously as if they have a large financial interest in its success. I was born an audiophile. I completely understand the desire for one's selection to be validated by the audiophile community. I also completely understand how unhealthy that desire for validation is and the neurosis it can cause. Audiophiles, myself included, must realize the products we select today will sound just as good in five years regardless of competing products, newer technologies, and others' opinions. One polarizing topic in computer audio is digital interfaces. Two digital interfaces that have strong vocal support from users are USB and Ethernet. Users of one technology frequently turn a blind eye to the merits of the other technology and won't even consider its use. Many users selected one technology a few years ago based on the information available at that time and refuse to update their own knowledge for any number of reasons. This leads to armchair engineer arguments based on half truths and old information. These discussions are a disservice to all readers. Based on my experience with both USB and Ethernet interfaces it's clear to me that both can sound excellent and both will have a strong presence in high end audio for the foreseeable future. One Ethernet interface that caught my attention a couple months ago is the UPnP AV 2.0 / DLNA compliant Simple Design Rendu Ethernet to S/PDIF Converter. Admittedly I was drawn in by the features and specs, notably its ability to play DSD, 24/192 PCM, and gapless audio streamed over Ethernet. I've since listened through the Rendu for countless hours and put it through a number of network audio tests. At first the Rendu was a bit picky and had some playback issues. Today using the newest firmware I'm happy to report the Rendu works very well and continues to sound very good. The Simple Design Rendu Ethernet to S/PDIF Converter is a product to watch in both two channel and whole house network audio. ...
    by Published on 05-12-2011 01:50 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Wireless,
    3. UPnP / DLNA

    The numbers don't lie. Many music lovers can't afford a separate two channel system for audio and a multi-channel system for movies. Those of us knuckle dragging card carrying audiophiles have opted for the two channel system only while most civilians went the other way with a music and movie system in one. The system one selects is insignificant. Whatever enables one to enjoy this wonderful hobby of ours is just fine with me and should be just fine with all rational audiophiles. High quality music reproduction in the home can be accomplished with any well executed system. There are definitely less than stellar separates-based systems that sound vastly inferior to a well executed preamp processor or receiver. That said a well designed system of separate components is pretty tough to beat in my experience. Shortly after CES 2011 in January I started looking at preamp processors and receivers as an option for the computer audiophile without a dedicated system of separate components. I wasn't searching for a processor that could sonically better an equivalent separate component. Rather I was simply looking for a processor with several options for interfacing with a music server. I found the product I was looking for in the Marantz AV7005 Preamp Processor ($1,500 USD).
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