• Magico, Merging Technologies, and Matan

    I'm on Flight 310 to Minneapolis on New Year's Eve as the clock ticks toward 2010. A pair of Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro earphones are sealing my ears from the overbearing ambient noise of the airplane and a little Thelonious Monk coursing through the cables. I spent the last couple days in the San Francisco Bay Area at loudspeaker manufacturer Magico's and CA Symposium sponsor Tim Marutani's facilities. I have so much exciting information to share from this trip that I must begin telling the story from seat 17F aboard a Boeing 737-800 at 30,000 feet. At the Magico facility in Berkeley, less than a block from legendary Fantasy Studios, I spent many hours listening to the new Q5 loudspeakers. There is honestly nothing like the Q available today. At the Marutani Consulting facility I delivered a freshly built Zalman TNN300 highly tweaked silent music server. The server will house what I consider the best digital interface available right now. A Merging Technologies Mykerinos audio card with AES and word clock in and out. In addition to hearing the Q5 and Mykerinos card I visited with Matan Arazi. Matan showed me his finished music server. It's an all-out-assault on state of the art computer based playback that's been in the making for over one year. All three of these products raise the bar to new heights. They contribute to what I consider a new sonic reference.



     

    Magico Q5 Loudspeakers

    q5 01There is a new paradigm in loudspeaker design and performance. Magico just raised the bar to a completely new level. The Magico Q5 loudspeaker is the best loudspeaker I've ever heard anywhere. There isn't a single product on the market today that's capable of this level of performance. The design and engineering that went into creating the Q5 are second to none and the results are sonically extraordinary. The Magico Q5 is absolutely over the top. No hesitation or qualifying statements are needed with this opinion. Think of all the superlatives in the book and they'll work wonderfully in a sentence with the Q5 loudspeakers. There are good reasons the Q5 loudspeakers are the best I've ever heard. There is no MDF or any other "traditional" material in the speaker cabinet. The Q5 consists of an all aluminum enclosure that weights nearly 400 pounds per channel. Sure the weight of the speaker doesn't mean anything in and of itself, but it's one indication that Magico has something special in the Q5. Magico's Alon Wolf brought me to the production floor where he has a Q5 without a side and rear panel. This allows a view into how much engineering and build quality are in the Q5. I've seen cross sections and the inside of many loudspeakers over the years, but nothing compares to the Q5. The all metal internals make all speakers built with wood instantly obsolete. This new design nearly removes all sympathetic resonances from the cabinet. I use the term "nearly" because it's impossible to remove all cabinet noise just like it's impossible to remove all jitter from digital components. But, the resonances coming from the Q5 cabinet have no effect on the sound because they are reduced to miniscule levels and are only present in the inaudible frequency ranges. Listening to hours of great music it was even better than listening to Alon Wolf backup all his design decisions with objective measurements. The measurements are 100% necessary, but not nearly as fun as listening. We started the listening session with some Reference Recordings 24/176.4 HRx files from the Dallas Wind Symphony. Never before have I heard anything like this. Top to bottom the highest highs and lowest lows had tremendous separation and were clear as can be on every track. At low volumes one can hear the crash of a cymbal, the bang of a drum, and the tap of a xylophone all at once. On many systems all these sounds get bunched up into a loud boom with no delineation of instruments or at least nothing close to the clarity and separation of the Q5. The Q5s start and stop quicker than anything I've ever heard before. They don't memorialize an event or transient with a slow decay that's not present in the recording.

     

    q5 02While there are other aluminum loudspeakers on the market none of them come close to the sound quality of the Q5. One major reason is the Q5 is not a re-hashed old speaker design and it does not contain inexpensive off the shelf drivers like many other loudspeakers. It contains all new Magico designed drivers. A single six inch Magico Nanotech cone used in the Q5 costs more than all the drivers put together in many loudspeakers. New to the Magico lineup is a Beryllium tweeter. After listening to the Q5 for hours on end I must say this tweeter is one for the ages. I didn't feel one ounce of listening fatigue the whole time. Frequently Beryllium tweeters get a bad name for being far too bright. The Q5s didn't have a scintilla of brightness during any recording. The mid-bass and woofers are also stellar and what I've come to expect from Magico. All new designs must not only be better than the competition, but better than previous versions of Magico designs. In addition to the visible aspects of the Q5 I was fortunate enough to see the new Q5 cross-over. This is one very impressive cross-over that has components sourced from the best manufacturers on the globe. Spending hundreds of dollars on a single piece of the cross-over network is standard fare for Magico and the Q5. After seeing all that goes into its speakers and Magico the company one can begin to separate the wheat from the chaff in high end audio. Perpetual improvement and investing heavily in research & development is what Magico is all about. The success of Magico's M5, announced at last year's CES, has allowed Magico to reinvest in the company and bring all cabinet fabrication in-house. This has allowed Magico to price the Q5 at $54,000 instead of well over $100k. This isn't an inexpensive loudspeaker but I am willing to bet my reputation that the Q5 is the best of show at CES next week. I predict it will beat all loudspeakers at the show including those costing double and triple the price of the Q5.

     

     

    Merging Technologies Mykerinos Audio Card

    In addition to spending time at Magico I spent a considerable amount of time at Marutani Consulting. Readers may remember Tim Marutani was a co-sponsor and major part of the Computer Audiophile Symposium held last summer at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. Tim is a very unique audio dealer. He invests a considerable amount of time and money every year in research that elevates the level of playback he is able to provide his customers. Over the last several months Tim has been a beta test site for Reiff Audio and the Merging Technologies Mykerinos audio cards. Readers may be familiar with Merging and Mykerinos as part of a Pyramix digital workstation used in many top mastering facilities around the world. However, the solution Tim has been testing is an extremely customized version of the Pyramix software and hardware. In fact one could not purchase this solution today with any amount of money. It's simply not available ... YET. In addition to Marutani Consulting, The Audio Salon has become a beta test site for the Merging/Mykerinos solution. These two dealers will be testing hardware and software for Reiff Audio and Merging Technologies and hope to have a retail product in the near future. Reiff Audio is working directly with Merging Technologies, based in Switzerland, to refine its products for the high end home market. Reiff awarded Marutani Consulting and The Audio Salon the first two dealerships in the country. At the time of this writing the software and hardware solution should be around $12,000.

     

    merging 01Over the last couple days in the Bay Area I listened to the Mykerinos cards with Pyramix software extensively. I've concluded without a doubt this solution is part of a new reference level of playback in computer based audio. The music server I listened to most was a Zalman TNN300 with Windows XP and a Mykerinos card with Pyramix software. I can't stress enough that this solution is not an off-the-shelf Pyramix workstation like the ones in used at mastering facilities all over the world. It has the same lineage but is vastly different. Readers chomping at the bit to pick up one of these solutions will only be disappointed if they purchase a Pyramix workstation as configured for the pro audio market. Back to the sound. The sound I heard the last couple days was extremely detailed and lacked any obvious digital noise. The sound coming from the Zalman server was the music only without extraneous digital hash. Before hearing the Mykerinos Pyramix solution I had no idea that my current Lynx based solutions had so much noise mixed in with the audio. I still think the Lynx AES16 cards are the best available in the sub $1,000 category, but they don't hold a candle to the Mykerinos solution I heard this week in the Bay Area. Merging Technologies not only manufactures the Mykerinios cards but also develops the software used with the cards. This total control over playback is likely a big factor in the sound quality. The software solution is designed to work specifically with the hardware and vice-versa. Neither one works without the other. In a way it's like an active loudspeaker designed to work perfectly with the amplifier onboard. One can achieve an incredible synergy between the components.

     

    I hope to have one of the Mykerinos cards and Pyramix software in about one week. I will keep the Computer Audiophile readers abreast of what I consider the best card available for computer based playback. Readers interested in hearing one of these systems sooner rather than later will have this opportunity at CES next week. The TAD suite and Magico suite will each feature a music server with a Mykerinos card running Pyramix software.




     

     

    The Matan Server

    In the Bay Area I was also able meet up with Matan Arazi. Matan has been working on an incredible music server that I believe has no equal in terms of sound quality and build quality. Attendees of the CA Symposium were able to hear a somewhat early version of the server and see an unfinished chassis. After many man hours that number well into the four digits Matan has finally finished the server. I examined the over forty lbs. chassis and was in awe. It's a solid aluminum airtight enclosure that's second to none. The server is even pressurized and has different chambers housing the components. There is copper shielding for the audio card and a second chassis is available for disk storage. I was not able to hear the final version of the Matan server. I've heard it several times in the past and each time was amazed at what I heard. I can only imagine how well this final product sounds. Matan did not have the final price of the unit worked out. I'm sure the unit will not be inexpensive, but when was the last time the best of anything was affordable by all? I know I can't afford a Matan server, but I look forward to reviewing one in the not to distant future.

     

     

    Please visit the following sites for much more information about the aforementioned products and many others each manufacturer has to offer.


     
    http://www.magico.net

     


     



     


    http://www.merging.com



     


     



     


     
    Comments 122 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Matias - I like ribbon speakers. Magnepan is actually located 20 minutes from my house and I've had lots of exposure to them. I've heard every model currently available. I like them, but to be honest they are no Q5. There is a new Magnepan 1.7 being introduced at the Show in Vegas this week.
    1. VT Skier's Avatar
      VT Skier -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      Any "must see" products at CES that you'll be hunting down? Based on this, I'll be heading to the Magico room at the Venetian. <br />
      <br />
      Thanks<br />
      <br />
      Jon
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Jon - Check out the TAD room as well. Andrew Jones will be using a Zalman TNN300 with Mykerinos card. TAD is also presenting its new amplifiers and DAC/SACD player. dCS has a new DAC that'll be on display at the show as well.
    1. VT Skier's Avatar
      VT Skier -
      Thanks Chris,<br />
      <br />
      I wouldn't have gone to the TAD room, but definitely will now. I love their speakers, but so expensive. dCS was already on my list, but, ditto.<br />
      <br />
      And check out Wadia (30 234 at the Venetian) -- they're supposed to have the new 121 on display.<br />
      <br />
      And I'm sure you saw Stereophile's cover this month. It's all happening.<br />
      <br />
      Jon
    1. Part-Time Audiophile's Avatar
      Part-Time Audiophile -
      I'm not sure I read that right: the new PC audio card (with software) is going to cost ... $12k?<br />
      <br />
      Sheesh. <br />
      <br />
      You know, I have to be honest here. If this isn't actually a typo, then the fact that the card performs well is ... well ... boring. I mean, really. It's great? Wow. Shocker. And?<br />
      <br />
      Let me explain: <br />
      <br />
      /Begin Rant<br />
      <br />
      The fact that a wine maker can make a $5000-a-bottle wine that will score well in Robert Parker's <i>Wine Advocate</i> is about as revelatory as the sun coming up in the East. It's great? Wow. Shocker. When we hit these price points, the real story is how a wine maker <i>failed</i> to make ambrosia (as in actual "Food of the Gods", not just "very tasty") for that kind of cash. What? It doesn't raise the dead, too? Fail! As my wife is so fond of saying, "at that price point, there's no magic" -- <i>of course</i> it's going to be good, so what? By contrast, and following the analogy a bit more, a $10 bottle that scores just as well as it's $5k sibling ... well ... now <i>that<i/> is the true miracle and something to be sought after, celebrated and shared. More importantly/relevantly, given the sheer volume naturally occurring at that lower, more accessible price point, this is precisely where an independent and trusted reviewer is at their best and most useful -- helping to sort noise from signal -- and why and more importantly, when, <i>Wine Advocate</i> is such an awesome resource.<br />
      <br />
      Back to audio:<br />
      <br />
      Look, I'm not intending to disrespect the designers and researchers that poured their time and attention into creating wonderful product, especially product that can produce wonderful emotion and enjoyment. But honestly, who cares? Wish I could afford it! Oh well. Next!<br />
      <br />
      It's like buying <i>Automobile</i> and finding an article about the latest shootout between an offering from Ferrari and Lamborghini. Yes, there are readers that really love that stuff. But since no one (statistically, anyway) is ever going to be buying either, what the article amounts to is the magazine equivalent of highway rubbernecking at a traffic accident -- not helpful, constructive, or useful behavior, but certainly entertaining. In a prurient kind of way.<br />
      <br />
      I think this is what bugs me about <i>Stereophile</i> Magazine (or any of their peers, for that matter). There's very little attempt to review great product as it relates to a cost/performance curve (ironic, perhaps, given my example earlier, but this is precisely where <i>Automobile</> and it's peers tend to shine). <br />
      <br />
      Given that increases in performance do not keep pace with cost, and that in all likelihood the relationship is asymptotic, what you have at the top of the bar is teeny-tiny increments in performance, all of which cost exponentially larger sums of money. <br />
      <br />
      The question that is begged by all these uber products: is it <i>necessary </i>to spend all that to get great performance? I submit that the answer is "no". But it's increasingly hard to find evidence for it in audio reviews.<br />
      <br />
      Is it the case that the Magico/Merging Technologies solution is in fact the bar that others ought to be measured against? Or perhaps a dCS stack? If so, fine. But the magic is happening elsewhere. <br />
      <br />
      /End Rant
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Scot - Thanks for your honest opinion but I disagree with much of what you said. No worries though :~)<br />
      <br />
      On this trip I was out to hear the best sound possible. I wasn't looking for price/performance ratio or anything else. The fact that this solution performs wonderfully is not boring to me. In fact it's incredibly exciting. Products that have nothing to do with hocus pocus and snake oil and are based on solid engineering principles are exactly what this industry needs. I'm happy to have introduced the Computer Audiophile readers to the products mentioned in the article. <br />
      <br />
      As you well know it's impossible to please everyone all the time. I know several people who will purchase this solution the day it's available. These same people would have no interest in the ASUS card that is featured on the cover of Stereophile this month. That card is under $200 and it performs terribly. Outputting a bit perfect signal with that card is virtually impossible. Other cards I am considering at this time are from ESi. The Juli@ and the Maya44 are great values and I hope to bring attention to them here on CA.
    1. cfmsp's Avatar
      cfmsp -
      Sooo many questions...<br />
      <br />
      Chris, what hardware is provided by the Mykerinos 'solution'? Seems like it's simply a card.<br />
      <br />
      I also didn't see what (or even if) DACs were used in your listening tests. Do they also provide the digital-to-analog conversion? Or would ultimate sound quality still be limited by the available DACs with AES inputs?<br />
      <br />
      Given the Pyramix angle, are we talking about sample rates above normal ( which I consider to be up to 192 kHz) as an aspect of their solution?<br />
      <br />
      thanks<br />
      clay<br />
    1. earflappin's Avatar
      earflappin -
      Chris, have you tried a device like the Antelope DA which isolates noise from the AES output device (e.g. Lynx AES16) before going into the DAC and, if so, how would you rate the sound quality of that configuration vs the customized Mykerinos set-up you heard at Tim's place? Have you tried a device like the Weiss firewire-to-AES converter?<br />
      <br />
      I have a Zalman TNN-300 with Lynx AES16 and a Berkeley Alpha DAC. I've tried the Antelope DA and the Grimm Audio CC1. The CC1, unlike the DA, actually reclocks the AES pass through AND can provide a high quality master word clock output. <br />
      <br />
      In my testing I found the DA provided an immediate and notable SQ improvement. When I used the CC1 I found no significant incremental improvement over the DA, even when I used it to provide word clock into the AES16.<br />
      <br />
      This says to me that the primary weakness of the AES16 is one of less than optimal noise isolation versus clocking errors. I believe Berkeley Audio shares that view.<br />
      <br />
      I raise this point in this thread as I believe the Mykerinos PCI card (at a cost of over $3500) likely has much better noise isolation than the Lynx AES16 and this could be a large part of the SQ you heard.<br />
      <br />
      What's your take? Also, I was curious if you had plans of ever reviewing the ULN-8/Model 4 so your readers could see where you slotted its performance versus the rest of the field?<br />
      <br />
      Thanks.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Clay - The solution consists of a Merging Technologies Mykerinos audio card and Merging Technologies software. The software in use right now is the Pyramix software from Merging but I think there will be a more user friendly version available in the future. The Mykerinos cards used over the last few days provided AES and world clock in/out. No digital to analog conversion. The card works with any AES capable DAC. Based on my experience I don't think this solution can be beat by any USB or FireWire interface or DAC available today.<br />
      <br />
      Sample rates supported will likely be all the way to DXD. I can guarantee up to 24/192 works as I listened to several 24/192 tracks.
    1. xenophilic's Avatar
      xenophilic -
      The posts in the forum on this site reflect the overwhelming interest of the community here to set up high fidelity systems with computer audio components (DACs, software, storage media, and computer systems) that range in individual costs from $500 to $3000 (with few outliers). There is not a large population of threads on the topic of "I have $60K to spend on some loudspeakers--what do you recommend?"<br />
      <br />
      Furthermore, what happens forward of the DAC is much more comprehensively and competently covered in other parts of the Internet and even print media. Statements such as "There isn't a single product on the market today that's capable of this level of performance." are at face value absurd. Speaker performance is inherently a subjective matter, so in the absence of objective measurements (which don't yet exist to capture the full scope of what people perceive as qualitative differences among loudspeakers), it would be much more plausible to say that these speakers are, in his personal opinion, the best that he has heard.<br />
      <br />
      The majority of the home page stories here since the end of November that were not simply press releases from vendors have been for products that are irrelevant to the community here. A DAC system for >$30K, a robot for ripping CDs, a $12K sound card, and something entirely beyond the scope of value on this sight, some speakers for Kuwaiti royals.<br />
      <br />
      There seems to be some money flowing into Chris's hands from somewhere to fund his airfare, lodging, and per diem to do all the traveling that he tweets about, so why not put some of those resources into adding solid information to the topics that dominate the commuity's interests.<br />
      <br />
      This has been done, for example, in promulgating guidelines on ripping CDs, configuring some music servers, and setting up wireless music distribution networks. But there are major gaps in knowledge that remain and could be addressed by the effort that seems to go into rhapsodizing about esoteric components that only a handful of people will ever afford or own (lot's of wealthy people are actually frugal with their money, after all).<br />
      <br />
      The following features would be of infinitely greater service to the community here than organizing trade exhibitions or more reviews of things like the dCS front end:<br />
      <br />
      1. A series of DAC shootouts at various price points judged by a panel of 8-10 listeners in a double blind setting. A well organized shootout that highlights the particular strengths of the DACs (in addition to picking an overall winner based on the stated criteria) would be infinitely more valuable to everyone here than another opinion about a $20,000 anything.<br />
      <br />
      2. A series of USB cable shootouts modeled on the above.<br />
      <br />
      3. An objective analysis (perhaps via interviews with audio engineers who are innovators in the industry and know something about the topic) of all of the variables that go into the quality of sound produced by a computer source. There's a lot of assumption that control of jitter is the main issue and maybe RF interference in the system. There's a lot of skepticism about the possibility that there is a physical explanation for benefit from different hard drives or cables or playback software. It would be a real service if the front page stories sought out expert insight into these matters to help raise the level of discussion and put misconceptions to rest.<br />
      <br />
      Those things, if done effectively, could constitute a full program for CA in 2010, and perhaps get the site back on track after having lost the plot.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi earflappin - I haven't tried the Antelope DA or the Grimm devices yet. I've heard the Model 4 more times than I can remember. I personally like the Alpha DAC much better.
    1. manisandher's Avatar
      manisandher -
      Thanks for sharing your experiences with us Chris. I for one like to keep abreast of leading-edge developments in a field of real interest to me... whether they're of practical relevance to me or not.<br />
      <br />
      I'd also like an answer to Clay's earlier question - which DAC were you using?<br />
      <br />
      Mani.
    1. earflappin's Avatar
      earflappin -
      Thanks for the response Chris. What DAC's did you listen to at Tim's place? Berekeley, Model Two, ? <br />
      <br />
      Those of us who have interacted with Tim and know how the extent of his experimentation with all things digital and his passion to find the best possible sound quality, will know that for him to be this excited about the Merging technology is significant. What's hard to judge of course at this point is how much of that performance can be had at a much lower price. <br />
      <br />
      As I posted, I suspect a big chunk of this performance improvement can be had via a device like the DA which does AES noise isolation and other such devices, but probably not all of it looking at how well the Mykerinos has been designed and the fact that the software player and PCI card has been carefully optimized as a single solution by one company. Only though A/B testing will we know for sure. Hopefully, that can be done down the road.<br />
      <br />
      In response to the other two posts bemoaning your reviews of expensive gear (dCS, Magico, Merging, etc.) I think all of us who frequent this forum need to understand this site is now your full-time job and you need to run it as a business and not a hobby. I'd like to believe that through mutual information sharing each of us can find what we're looking for on this forum and use it to zero in on where we want to be on the price/performance curve.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi xenophilic - Thanks for the honesty and well meaning comments. I always encourage discussion like this on the site. I disagree with almost everything, OK everything you said but I'm totally fine with your opinion. It didn't make me mad or anything and I like the fact that you offer your own ideas to make the site better. It's much easier to attack someone or something without offering a better method. For offerring ideas I commend you, although I don't agree with them (see below).<br />
      <br />
      The Computer Audiophile community is similar to general public. The higher the price the fewer people can afford the component. Conversations on the Forum are only one part of the site. Less than 1% of the CA readers post on the forum. Again, the forum is one indicator of the interests of CA readers.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <i>"Statements such as "There isn't a single product on the market today that's capable of this level of performance." are at face value absurd. Speaker performance is inherently a subjective matter, so in the absence of objective measurements (which don't yet exist to capture the full scope of what people perceive as qualitative differences among loudspeakers), it would be much more plausible to say that these speakers are, in his personal opinion, the best that he has heard."</i><br />
      <br />
      Magico creates its speakers using more measurements than anything else. There are many objective measurements of the Q5 that support my opinion. Stating something on my site that I write is my own personal opinion would be as redundant as one can be. <br />
      <br />
      <i>"Furthermore, what happens forward of the DAC is much more comprehensively and competently covered in other parts of the Internet and even print media."</i><br />
      <br />
      Multiple sources of information are always a good thing. Sony created a Compact Disc Player back in the 80s. Was there a need for other manufacturers to build CD players? I don't think anyone would say no to that question. Each audio writer has a different perspective and skill set. Many people like to read the opinions of a lot of writers on all kinds of topics. <br />
      <br />
      <i>"The majority of the home page stories here since the end of November that were not simply press releases from vendors have been for products that are irrelevant to the community here. A DAC system for >$30K, a robot for ripping CDs, a $12K sound card, and something entirely beyond the scope of value on this sight, some speakers for Kuwaiti royals."</i><br />
      <br />
      I don't publish press releases on Computer Audiophile. Based on the site traffic statistics the articles published recently have been very popular. Site traffic has never been higher thanks to readers such as yourself. None of my statements are to be taken as a shot at you xenophilic, they are just counterpoints to your post.<br />
      <br />
      The shootouts you would like to see may sound like a great service at first blush but would only serve to mislead readers. I've listened to many components in locations all around the country and the same component sounds different in every system. A shootout would be valuable only to people who live with the shootout system on which everything was tested. Also, most components take very different configurations to sound the best. It is very misleading to connect two DACs to the exact same system and call one better than the other. The results are really only valid for the complete system setup used in the test. A more realistic test would configure a system for each DAC that really makes it shine. Yet, this too would be a disservice as nobody would have the same system with the same power feed etc...<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <i>"An objective analysis (perhaps via interviews with audio engineers who are innovators in the industry and know something about the topic) of all of the variables that go into the quality of sound produced by a computer source."</i><br />
      <br />
      This is a very valid topic and one everyone could gain from. In fact this whole site is dedicated to the variables that go into computer based audio. But, if I asked 5 engineers questions surrounding this I would get 10 different answers. I believe Positive Feedback asked 10 audio engineers these very questions and none of them totally agreed. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Mani & Earflappin - Much of the listening was done via a PM Model Two. I did spend a little time with the new TAD DAC. In the future I will spend many more hours listening via an Alpha DAC in my home system.<br />
      <br />
      Thanks for your comments.
    1. bigjppop's Avatar
      bigjppop -
      I think I started reading this site shortly after it went up (referred here from another forum) and I must admit that recently I've read less and less. This is mostly because it seems that many of the products mentioned/covered/reviewed are really pushing into high 4, low 5-figure territory which is pretty rough for me. After reading some of the above comments (as well as the reviews in this post) I was ready to say "Amen brother, this place is Stereophile by another name." Now, I still read Stereophile online but I think I read it for the same reason that my wife reads things like People/Cosmo... I have chosen to cancel my subscription to Stereophile as of a couple of years ago because I felt it didn't cover any of the gear I was interested in.<br />
      <br />
      So, after thinking that, I want back through the last few "pages" of CA and I must say, I still think there is a pretty good balance here on simple/cost effective solutions to getting the most out of a music server vs. reviews of multi-kilobuck products that "statistically speaking, no one is ever going to buy" (I love that line by the way!). I was shocked by 54K speakers, but absolutely blown away by a 12K sound card! Anyway...<br />
      <br />
      I still think CA is a great site and worth visiting from time to time, I just hope Chris is able to maintain a balance between information/products that are available to the majority of us vs. covering the state of the art. I think there's room for both here on CA; I just hope things don't go "off the rails" in pursuit of SOTA. I think there's still a lot of us out there looking for "the best $10 bottle of wine you've ever had!"
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      <i>"So, after thinking that, I want back through the last few "pages" of CA and I must say, I still think there is a pretty good balance here on simple/cost effective solutions to getting the most out of a music server vs. reviews of multi-kilobuck products that "statistically speaking, no one is ever going to buy" (I love that line by the way!). I was shocked by 54K speakers, but absolutely blown away by a 12K sound card! Anyway..."</i><br />
      <br />
      Hi bigjppop - Thanks for looking through the site and using the facts to support your position. There really is a balance on CA. Soon I will post an article on building a music server that's incredibly inexpensive, small, and sounds wonderful. Looking only at the recently published articles is like watching the stock market and cheering or jeering every minute.
    1. manisandher's Avatar
      manisandher -
      I think it's important to write about the current SOTA in computer audio... on a site called Computer Audiophile.<br />
      <br />
      Hell, if Chris didn't, most readers would think that a certain $6K AD/DA converter is as good as it gets. It definitely isn't...<br />
      <br />
      It's good to know how high the bar really is.<br />
      <br />
      Mani.
    1. johnnyturbo's Avatar
      johnnyturbo -
      hi chris<br />
      i have been a 'loyal' reader for a couple of years. my comments come from the position of being a 'loyal' reader of CA, who takes a multi-daily dose of your posting.<br />
      - no doubt you must secure stable advertising revenue to make a 'go' of CA; even more so now that this site has graduated from hobby to 'job'<br />
      - no doubt you have an obligation to the CA community to report on the 'state' of the CA field, without limitations on cost of purchase.<br />
      -you have established, quite obviously, a reservoir of good faith and trust from your readership. <br />
      - i think it critical for maintaining your own legitimacy that you strive to keep an appropriate distance between your advertisers products and your editorship/writing. with all due respects and without casting any doubts on the intent of your latest postings, i think those posts tread perilously close to 'fan-boy'/cheering section status. this is not to say that the products are anything other than first-rate, rather i want to raise a warning that 'cheering-section' reports are, by their nature, prone to misunderstanding by your readers and could raise responses from readers that will not be easy to calm once raised and will lead to an unnecessary and acrimonious diversion from the purpose of this 'zine. in this regard, i direct your attention to the numerous threads on AA (critics). lord knows, we don't want to move in that direction.<br />
      -remember the old canard about being "...cleaner than caesar's wife".<br />
      <br />
      take care. <br />
      johnnyturbo<br />
      <br />
      the quality of CA is first rate <br />
    1. cfmsp's Avatar
      cfmsp -
      "I think it's important to write about the current SOTA in computer audio... on a site called Computer Audiophile."<br />
      <br />
      Totally agreed. <br />
      <br />
      I also happen to believe that the single most important characteristic Chris provides here is an environment where people can share their opinions (respectfully) - without fear of retribution due to disagreement with Chris' view, and/or without fear of being shouted down by those that take a different position.<br />
      <br />
      "Hell, if Chris didn't, most readers would think that a certain $6K AD/DA converter is as good as it gets. It definitely isn't..."<br />
      <br />
      My comments above are especially appropriate for the topic Mani points to here - i.e., the ULN-8/Model Four versus Berkeley Alpha 'debate', as it were.<br />
      <br />
      Chris clearly prefers the Alpha, but does little more than state the Alpha as 'his' preference 'in his system'.<br />
      <br />
      "It's good to know how high the bar really is."<br />
      <br />
      Well, I think perhaps dCS have the high bar staked out already!<br />
      <br />
      Re the certain $6k AD/DA, in my opinion, the issue is that some believe it is in another league than the Alpha and for nearly the exact same price (when you factor in the cost of the obligatory Lynx card for the Alpha). IOW, not necessarily that it's the best there is, but just the best value for those that are already in the game for $5k. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      Even for fans of the "certain $6k AD/DA" (who might believe it is another level up from the Alpha), I guess it's good to know that a $24K plus combo is required to bring digital sound up to a new level. I'm referring to the Mykerinos / PM Model Two combo, of course, and assuming, perhaps wrongly, that a Model Two would go for as little as $12k used.<br />
      <br />
      absolutely no disrespect intended,<br />
      clay<br />
      <br />
      PS, Mani, should you ever decide to, uhm,...oh, never mind, not gonna happen. <br />
      <br />
      <br />
      <br />