• Wireless

    by Published on 09-30-2016 09:18 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. Disk Storage,
    5. Music Servers,
    6. Software,
    7. Wireless,
    8. USB Interface,
    9. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    10. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    11. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview


    Not that long ago, when I visited audio dealers around the world, many of them told me they were selling Sonos systems in more volume than any other product. In fact the numbers weren't even close, Sonos was flying out the door. The same dealers also told me they wished they had a product that was better than Sonos. A product that supported high resolution audio and was built for customers with a discerning ear for sound quality. AURALiC's first product to fill this void was the original ARIES. Priced at $1,599, the ARIES was definitely a product much better than anything Sonos had released, but it was a bit too expensive for many music aficionados. In an effort to bring more people into this wonderful HiFi hobby and to fill the gap between the mass market Sonos system and the class market ARIES, AURALiC released its ARIES MINI. Rather than pricing the MINI somewhere in between Sonos and the original ARIES, AURALiC managed to deliver a very high quality product for right around $500 (depending on included streaming service bundles). In addition to releasing the ARIES MINI, AURALiC accelerated development of its Lightning DS iOS application and has continued to release feature enhancing firmware upgrades to all AIRES series hardware devices. Looking at ARIES, ARIES LE, ARIES MINI, and Lightning DS all together, there's no question AURALiC has created a terrific ecosystem capable of replacing or improving any Sonos system.

    I've used the ARIES MINI since the first pre-production unit was sent here about a year ago. Sure, I really like to use products thoroughly before reviewing them, but an entire year would be overkill. The reason I haven't published a review of the MINI, like seemingly every other publication on the planet, is that I kept hearing about new features, enhancements, and app upgrades. All of these sounded fantastic and I wanted to write about something more than the other guys. I waited, and waited, and waited until finally firmware version 4.0 was released to the public. This week, it was time to put the newly upgraded MINI through the wringer and to write up the review. ...
    by Published on 09-14-2016 03:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Music Servers,
    4. Wireless,
    5. Music Hub / Controller,
    6. USB Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA,
    8. RoonReady
    Article Preview



    O Canada ... Computer Audiophile readers have heard plenty about Canada lately. Starting with the terrific Peachtree Audio nova150, made in Canada, followed by the wonderful Bryston BDA-3, made in Canada, and now the exaSound PlayPoint, also designed and manufactured in Canada. As my mom used to say, while I was playing hockey against great Canadian teams as a kid, "There must be something in the water up there." Anyway, Canada's exaSound Audio Design is a company that's dedicated to solid engineering and leading edge technology. exaSound has lead the pack with many "world's first" implementations, such as a multi-channel asynchronous USB to I2S interface capable of supporting multichannel DXD at 352.8kHz/32bit, a USB to I2S interface supporting 2-channel DSD64, DSD128, DSD256, DSD512 and PCM 384kHz/32bit, an 8-channel DXD 384kHz/32bit consumer-oriented DAC, a high-end DACs (both two-channel and multi-channel) capable of achieving DSD256 playback at sampling rate of 11.2896 MHz and 12.288 MHz. Keep in mind that a few of these innovations date back to 2011, when many manufacturers were still trying to support 24 bit / 192 kHz audio, and thought DSD was only something obtainable from a physical SACD disc. The exaSound PlayPoint doesn't feature any world's first features, but it's still way ahead of much of the competition. In fact, I'm willing to bet that the exaSound team would have been the first to offer a RoonReady product if only they had access to the software. I remember talking to George from exaSound, who was extremely eager to get going on a Roon implementation, long before most companies had even heard of Roon. Needless to say, the PlayPoint supports the latest and greatest features and is an excellent companion to the current lineup of exaSound DACs. ...
    by Published on 12-04-2015 09:20 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Speakers,
    3. Wireless,
    4. UPnP / DLNA
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    Imagine this: You place an audio playback system in your living room and enjoy the hell out of your favorite music with your family and friends. This is something I could only imagine, but for many people this is something they remember. Back in the day people placed a stereo console in their living rooms and partook in all the fun that goes along with listening to music with others. Sadly, over the years these “beautiful” pieces of audio furniture were replaced by separate components and soon relegated to man caves. The wonderful hobby of listening to music moved from a shared experience to a companionless commitment. Even worse than a room in the basement, where there’s a chance the guys could hang out for a while and listen to a couple tracks before being summoned upstairs to join the rest of the party, is the solitary loneliness of listening to music through headphones. The shared experience of listening to music has been obliterated by keep-it-to-yourself audio and the antisocial pseudo-communal experience of sharing yourself with others online, but only from the comfort of your empty house. I am way over on the introvert side on the introvert / extrovert continuum, but I still enjoy sharing the things I love with friends and family … while the friends and family are physically in the room, not simply reachable via Internet Protocol from an iPad in an isolated nook of my living room. In addition to sharing the music I love with others, the ability to share high quality sound with others is also important. Without an easily accessible and conveniently placed high end audio system in a common living space, this sharing of good sound just isn’t going to happen. Sure, my three year old daughter comes down to my listening room now and then, but imagine if I could bring all the music and all the quality to her on a daily basis. That would be priceless. While the dream of doing this is priceless, the reality of doing this here and it’s made possible my England’s Naim Audio. Having the Naim Mu-so in my house has enabled me to bring my favorite (and my daughter’s favorite) music, in high quality, to her and has enabled me to share the fine qualities of a high end component with friends who had no idea such a product exists. I don’t know how many times I’ve told friends that a Bose iPod dock isn’t the height of living, but now I can casually let them experience the joys of high quality music and fine craftsmanship while getting together to create new shared experiences we’ll remember for a lifetime. ...
    by Published on 11-25-2015 10:49 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Wireless,
    4. USB Interface,
    5. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview



    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 09-28-2015 11:32 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital to Analog Converter,
    3. Speakers,
    4. Wireless,
    5. USB Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    7. UPnP / DLNA
    Article Preview



    When audiophiles or those in the pro music industry think of Yamaha loudspeakers, the first thing that comes to mind is, arguably the most important speaker of all time, the Yamaha NS10. A little known fact about the NS10 is that it started as a consumer HiFi product before moving to the pro market exclusively. The NS10 was involved in so many of our favorite recordings that it's nearly impossible to mention them all. It's probably easier for someone to create a list of recordings in which the NS10 was not involved in some fashion. Love them or hate them, the Yamaha NS10 has played a significant role in everyone's music listening experience for decades. Fast forward almost fifteen years after the NS10 was discontinued (2001) and Yamaha continues to manufacture a wide range of consumer and professional audio components. Over the years the company has changed and improved performance through its massive global R&D organization, but one thing remains constant, Yamaha's iconic bright white bass/mid driver cone in its loudspeakers. The Yamaha NX-N500 active loudspeakers that I've had connected to my 27" iMac 5K for the last month can't be mistaken for anything but a Yamaha product. In fact these speakers exude a sense of music history, a confidence, a je ne sais quoi all their own. These speakers aren't the highest of HiFi or the flashiest of audio jewelry, but they are distinctly Yamaha. The NX-N500 delivers exactly what Yamaha customers have come to expect over the company's 120 year history. Solid products with good sound and commensurate build quality. In addition, the NX-N500 delivers features commonly associated with niche high-end components such as XMOS asynchronous USB, PCM and DSD support up through the highest sample rates, and gapless DLNA playback at 24/192 via wired Ethernet or WiFi. This is just the beginning of all the supported features of the Yamaha NX-N500. These all-in-one active loudspeakers should easily satisfy 99.9% of music enthusiasts. ...
    by Published on 08-26-2015 12:41 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Digital Interface Converter,
    3. Digital to Analog Converter,
    4. Wireless,
    5. USB Interface,
    6. S/PDIF (BNC) Interface,
    7. S/PDIF (RCA) Interface,
    8. AES/EBU Interface,
    9. S/PDIF (TosLink) Interface,
    10. UPnP / DLNA,
    11. Preamp
    Article Preview



    The last couple audio events I attended I talked to consumers who were hesitant to purchase a new Digital to Analog Converter (DAC). The most common reason for this hesitation was that they weren't certain a DAC purchased today would satisfy their needs tomorrow, especially when they didn't even know their own needs today. What if I want to play this or play that or stream this or stream that? Those were common concerns at the events, but they have likely been on peoples' minds since high end digital audio began changing faster than is comfortable for most peoples' pocket books. I completely get it and I would likely be very frustrated if I were in the position of Joe Sixpack the average but dedicated audiophile.

    Based in Boucherville, a suburb of Montreal, on the South shore of the Saint Lawrence River, Simaudio understands consumer desire for a product that won't be obsolete as soon as it's setup on one's home. Not only that but, the people at Simaudio are incredibly down to Earth and manufacturer products that they would want to spend their hard earned money on as well. This equates to products that have terrific flexibility, upgradeability, and great sound quality and products that the hesitant audiophile should definitely consider. ...
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