• Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2009 Computer Audio Seminar

    Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2009 is less than one month away. I hope many of you have plans to attend this fun weekend of listening to great music on great audio systems from around the world. If you haven't made plans yet it's not too late to join all of us in Denver. RMAF is actually a funner show than CES as the atmosphere is much more relaxed and it's open to the public unlike CES. Last year I met several Computer Audiophile readers and this year I look forward to meeting even more of you. In addition I will be speaking at the Computer Audio seminar moderated by Stereophile's John Atkinson. Read more for the time, date, and list of panelists for this seminar.



     

     



    Computer Audio

    Date:

    Saturday, October 03, 2009
    Aspen Amphitheater
    2:00 p.m.
    60 min

    Moderated By:

    John Atkinson, Stereophile

    Panelists:

    Chris Connaker, computeraudiophile.com; Roy Gregory, Nordost; Charles Hansen, Ayre Acoustics, Inc.; J. Gordon Rankin, Wavelength Audio; Gus Skinas, SACD; John Stronczer, Bel Canto Design;

    Description: N/A




     

    Here is a link to the RMAF 2009 site where the list of seminars is available and a host of other information about the upcoming event. I hope to see you at the show.

    http://audiofest.net

     

     
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      If you bring the tomatoes I'll bring a Sledge-O-Matic courtesy of Gallagher :~)
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      What does Nordost have to do with computer audio?
    1. redscouser's Avatar
      redscouser -
      Roy Gregory use to be the editor fof HiFi+ magazine but stepped down to become a reviewer for the mag and to go on to Nordost payroll.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Mark
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      I looked at the back issues of HiFi+ magazine, and see nothing to qualify Roy Gregory as a member of this panel.<br />
      <br />
      I guess he'll be telling the attendees how important it is to use hiend digital cables.
    1. XP9433's Avatar
      XP9433 -
      I ask, because I missed seeing your report on good things from the Symposium.<br />
      <br />
      Cheers<br />
      Frank
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Frank - I certainly will be reporting from RMAF. Plus, I should have my Symposium article published this evening :~)
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -
      Gang,<br />
      <br />
      Also stop in our suite at 9007 for some cool news.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      Gordon
    1. machinehead's Avatar
      machinehead -
      Gordon, I look forward to meeting you.<br />
      <br />
      Jeff
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      If the "cool news" is a USB to SPDIF converter, will it output on RCA, BNC or AES/EBU?<br />
      <br />
      Found the answer over on the RMAF Site:<br />
      <br />
      Manufacturer: Wavelength Audio <br />
      The WaveLink is an Asynchronous USB to SPDIF Converter. To keep noise and jitter low it uses a rechargeable Lithium ION battery to power these devices. Capable of 24/96 shipped with a Nirvana Audio T0 BNC-BNC cable and a BNC to RCA converter. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. Alan Sircom's Avatar
      Alan Sircom -
      ...is rather more aware of the state of the computer audio art than you give him credit. Unfortunately, as editor (and now as contributor) to Hi-Fi+, he is bound by the tastes and demands of the readership. As am I.<br />
      <br />
      I took over the editorship earlier this year with clear designs to further the understanding of computer audio in Hi-Fi+'s readership. To that end, my first issue featured reviews of the Benchmark DAC1 Pre and the HRT Streamer and Streamer+ (great products, lousy name... what's next, the Hot Flush power supply?). The second issue I edited discussed Spotify in an editorial and there was a review of the Naim HDX. After that – nothing. Why?<br />
      <br />
      Because I think the only way I could get a worse reaction from a crowd would be to lay on a bull-fight as entertainment at a Hindu wedding. A subsequent reader survey has shown interest in computer audio in the readership is currently way below multichannel music – and that in a country where living space is at such a premium that even multichannel home theater struggles to justify its existence, where multichannel music is a subset of a minority interest and where multichannel SACD players are functionally non-existent.<br />
      <br />
      This poses the same problem for me as Roy faced. Sales of CDs and CD players are in decline. People are turning to their computers as music servers and to download music. And mentioning this in the pages of Hi-Fi+ has, until recently, ended up with the writer being likened to Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling and William 'Lord Haw-Haw' Joyce. As it stands, the seemingly typical response to suggestions of music servers replacing CD in the rank-and-file Hi-Fi+ readership is to say "time to dust off the record player, then". Remarkably, that's a major improvement – a year ago, such suggestions would be met with "when you cross the road, don't bother looking!"<br />
      <br />
      Right now, I have to consider computer audio as an occasional feature in the magazine, then a regular one. This is slow progress, but it is progress. And it was also progress begun under Roy's tenure as editor.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Edit: I forgot to mention, I will be attending this seminar (as well as the show itself), but as a photographer/journalist for RMAF and AVGuide. That's different from a photo-journalist by a factor of about five bullet holes. I'll try not to heckle. See you there!
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Alan - Thanks for the post. Some interesting information. See you at RMAF :~)
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Alan - Thanks for the post. Some interesting information. See you at RMAF :~)
    1. nottlv's Avatar
      nottlv -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      I hope someone asks Mr. Skinas about what he envisions as the future of SACD and DSD in an increasingly "computer audiophile" world of music servers and high res downloads, which are pretty much entirely PCM. As far as I can tell, SACD and DSD unfortunately have no role in a computer based audio system.
    1. kana813's Avatar
      kana813 -
      Based on the RMAF forum schedule, it seems that Mr. Gregory's main focus will be promoting Nordost cables.<br />
      <br />
      If he's so more aware of the state of the computer audio art than I give him credit, please direct me to any reviews he's done of PC audio<br />
      or any digital playback equipment.<br />
      <br />
      Having a paid Nordost cable employee on your reviewing staff is a joke. <br />
      <br />
      Are Roy and J.Valin rooming together at RMAF? Will there be some<br />
      "special price" Nordost cable deals in the parking lot after the show?<br />
      <br />
      You've taken over the helm of a sinking ship. <br />
    1. Alan Sircom's Avatar
      Alan Sircom -
      AFAIK, Roy has not published any reviews on PC audio. Aside from a couple of DAC reviews and a feature or two, neither have I. The same applies pretty much across the board among UK reviewers, including those who haven't used physical CDs in years. <br />
      <br />
      Sadly, it seems, many of the readers of audio magazines in the UK are in a comfort zone that predates the computer audiophile revolution. Even a gentle nudge in that direction promoted a strong antagonistic reaction from readers. As I mentioned earlier, that is slowly moving to 'resigned acceptance' and then just 'acceptance'. The problem I face (as Roy did before me and I suspect many other UK editors and writers also face) is that if you announce you dropped CD or SACD as a medium too early, all your credibility is effectively shot by people who will not follow your lead for dogmatic reasons, and nothing more.<br />
      <br />
      This is why when I wrote a DAC group test (for a rival magazine) about 18 months ago, the introduction was filled with discussions about how the computer revolution was changing the market and how because of that DACs were fashionable again and featured USB ports... but the reviews themselves treated the computer side of the product performance as perfunctory. <br />
      <br />
      I suspect there's a big coming out party in 2010.<br />
      <br />
      As to Roy's position within Nordost affecting his position as reviewer, I have laid my cards on the table about this. Roy's Hi-Fi+ writing is effectively now a Nordost-Free-Zone. He can still write about products, but he cannot write about anything Nordost-related, or anything that is a rival to a Nordost product. Such accommodations are not without precedent in the UK reviewing community, but I prefer these things to be out in the open where possible. <br />
      <br />
      Personally, I don't think I've taken over the helm of a sinking ship. But it would be more fun if I had! I've taken over the helm of a sinking ship that's on fire and being chased by torpedo boats filled with machine gun toting evil-looking henchmen before. Several times. I only had to jump clear once or twice, and usually with my knife between my teeth and revenge on my mind.
    1. vortecjr's Avatar
      vortecjr -
      Im writing to you as a member and not a business and thinking of attending the show as such! Have you thought of some kind of event for all the CA members to get together and hang out as a group?<br />
      <br />
      Jesus R
    1. DSD_mastering's Avatar
      DSD_mastering -
      We will be playing DSD and DXD material from a Pyramix workstation utilizing DAD AX24, EMM Labs and Playback Designs converters. We'll be in the Atrium Rm 433 featuring FIM and HDtracks hi-rez transfers and remastering. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Regards,
    1. nottlv's Avatar
      nottlv -
      Bruce,<br />
      <br />
      I guess my point is that SACD/DSD has been essentially unusable in the context of consumer computer audio, and from what I recall (I was a very early adopter of SACD with a SCD-1--still have it and use it, and have several hundred SACDs) was marketed to the record labels in the beginning of it's introduction as such as a way to combat Internet piracy (you can't rip it if you can't read it). I'm sure playing DXD master files from a professional workstation sounds wonderful, but that's not really a consumer level option either. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this accurately states the current situation with regards to SACD/DSD (note that I'm referring to the DSD layer; obviously with the Redbook layer of a hybrid you can essentially treat it that the same as a regular CD).<br />
      <br />
      1. There are no computer drives that play the DSD layer of a SACD, and apparently Sony has previously stated there never will be.<br />
      <br />
      2. There are no DSD downloads except for a smattering of files from an obscure Norwegian label with even more obscure artists, and very limited options to play these on a computer (some WMP plugin the converts to PCM, which makes DSD purists gasp and leaves Mac users--though I'm mostly a PC/Linux guy--out in the cold, plus I think some very specific Sony VAIO desktops).<br />
      <br />
      3 Aside from very few--and generally proprietary--options, there are virtually no audiophile transports that output, and no audiophile DACs that accept, DSD. It seems like this could potentially be solved with HDMI, as that is being used in mass market multidisc players and receivers to transmit DSD in some cases, but from what I hear the HDMI licensing costs are simply too high for most audiophile companies, hence I don't believe there are any audiophile DACs that support HDMI at this time (excepting PS Audio's proprietary I2S connection, which doesn't use any of the HDMI encryption licenses and therefore doesn't have the stiff licensing payments).<br />
      <br />
      So I guess my question to Mr. Skinas would be, given the above (and again, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), what future role will SACD and/or DSD play in the context of an audiophile computer audio system? Unless something dramatically changes, I don't really see if playing any role unfortunately.
    1. DSD_mastering's Avatar
      DSD_mastering -
      You are right... SACD is not a viable format. But... you are incorrect in your assumption that DSD is in the same boat. <br />
      <br />
      1. There are several audiophile units that will pass a direct DSD signal. These are by EMM labs, Playback Designs and dCS. We use these units to "rip" the DSD layer off of SACD. We are contacted by labels around the world to retrieve the DSD layer from their SACD's and use these units. We will be showing the procedure for this at RMAF.<br />
      <br />
      2. We get DSD files to master 2-3 times a week from studios that have dumped their 2-channel mixdowns to the Korg MR1000/2000s and Tascam DV-RA1000 units. There are also a number of audiophiles doing needle drops with these recorders. You can also load DSD files onto these players and listen in their native format. The Korg units come with AudioGate software that will burn a DSD disc that is playable on several SACD players.<br />
      <br />
      3. We have thousands of DSD files that are available to the labels just as soon as internet bandwidth becomes available and that they want to offer them. <br />
      <br />
      4. Stay tuned for an announcement that DSD and DXD files will be available for download from a label that I'm working with now.<br />
      <br />
      Hopefully I've shed some light on DSD and it will become more available to the masses as time goes on. <br />
      <br />
      Regards,
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -
      Gang,<br />
      <br />
      DSD was a marketing move by Sony and Philips to make money. The CD had run it's course and they both needed some new income. They just did not look at the maketplace well enough before coming up with it.<br />
      <br />
      All the Sony tools for DSD mastering use PCM as their basis.<br />
      <br />
      The problem for computer audiophiles is not if they could get the DSD files but merely what to do with them ounce they have them???<br />
      <br />
      In the end anyone could write a DSD->PCM converter and this would fix the problem.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      Gordon