Let's start off with Sonic Studio's Amarra and the Model 304 FireWire interface. This hardware & software solution is still in beta and does not have the look of the final production version, but I want to give everyone a tiny glimpse into this application and the associated hardware. This solution was used by VRS Audio Solutions at RMAF and has been used by a beta test site in Northern California. Computer Audiophile can now be added to that short list and the Computer Audiophile readers have a view at what's to come from Sonic Studio. Here are some photos of this solution.
Friday, November 14th I took a trip over to Bel Canto Design and had lunch with John Stronczer the Founder and Chief of Design for Bel Canto. I saw plenty of very nice Bel Canto components being built in this somewhat small facility. There is a pretty neat atmosphere at Bel Canto. It's definitely not one of those large production line facilities. The components are built by a small group of talented people that obviously take pride in their work. The facility is in an old building in Minneapolis with a great loft look to it. The floors are all wood, even in the production area, and the ceilings are very tall. In a way it reminded me of the movie Big with Tom Hanks. Anyway, very cool place and people. I spent some time listening to components in various states of design. My lips are sealed for now, but I will say you can expect big things from Bel Canto in the future. Before I left I picked up the new USB Link from Bel Canto. For those unfamiliar with this component it's a full 24/96 USB to S/PDIF (coax) converter. The unit handles native 24/96 via USB without drivers and works with Windows and Mac OS X. I haven't tested the device on my Linux computer just yet. So far so good in terms of sound quality. The USB Link passes the data bit perfect to your DAC of choice. Of course Bel Canto would prefer everyone use its DAC3 or other integrated amps with built in DAC, but the USB Link works equally as well with any DAC. This component is a really great way to get into the high resolution game via USB output. As usual many more details of the USB Link will follow and a full review should be cued up fairly soon. For now here are some photos of a pre-production version of the USB Link. I believe the product will be 99% the same as this with minor changes to the screws so they are more aesthetically pleasing.
Other quick notes:
Thursday, November 20th 2008 will be Computer Audiophile's first birthday! More to come on this one.
Apple's Remote application for the iPhone and iPod Touch has been updated to version 1.1.1. This update is supposed to clear up the problems displaying album art while playing music from an Apple TV. I know some CA readers have written about this issue in the forums. Please let us know if this update resolves the problem.
Some equipment currently at Computer Audiophile at one stage or another in the review process: April Music Aura Note, Cambridge Audio DacMagic, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC, Focal Electra 1007 Be speakers, T+A Music Player and Power Plant (currently en route), Bel Canto 300 series integrated amp (coming soon), and quite a few others in the works. Let me know what you guys would like to see reviewed here at Computer Audiophile.
That's it for tonight. Back to listening to the new Tracy Chapman through the Sonic Studio Model 304 / Amarra solution.