• High Res, Blu-ray, SSD Enclosure, and an Incredible Laptop Sleeve

    In the last week I've downloaded a great 24/192 album, ripped another great Blu-ray concert, found the best external USB 3.0 SSD enclosure yet, and picked up an incredible laptop sleeve for my 15" MacBook Pro Retina. Without further ado here are some items every computer audiophile is likely interested in downloading or picking up.

    Download of the Week

    I'll start with my download of the week. I purchased Green Day's American Idiot from HDtracks at 24 bit / 192 kHz. I really like this album but the highly compressed dynamic range heard on the CD release is a shining example of the sonic horror that is the Loudness Wars. When I saw the high resolution releases newly available from HDtracks I was optimistic about the sound quality because of the following statement.

    "American Idiot was a multi-track digital session mixed through an analog desk with analog EQ and analog effects to an analog tape deck. It was delivered to Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound in NYC as an analog 1/2” 2-track master and converted to 192/24 digital."

    Unsure what, if anything, Ted Jensen did while transferring the tapes to high resolution digital I figured anything would be better than the original CD version. This I downloaded the album and gave it a listen. I immediately noticed the sound of the album improved. More air around the purposely distorted instruments and a general impression that this version made an already great album much better.

    After listening I ran the tracks through Adobe Audition CS6 and the DR Offline Dynamic Range Meter to see if I was inventing better sound quality in my head. Fortunately the analysis backed up my listening impressions. The dynamic range of the 24/192 album as a whole nearly doubled from DR5 to DR9 with a few tracks showing more than double dynamic range improvements. Here are the dynamic range analyses and some Adobe Audition screenshots.

    Title: American Idiot
    Artist: Green Day
    Label: Reprise
    Release Date: 2012
    HDtracks Product Page

    Original CD Release of American Idiot

    Analyzed folder: /American Idiot
    DR Peak RMS Filename

    DR5 -0.29 dB -5.93 dB 01-American Idiot.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -6.09 dB 02-Jesus Of Suburbia.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -6.00 dB 03-Holiday.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -6.45 dB 04-Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.wav
    DR6 -0.30 dB -6.88 dB 05-Are We The Waiting.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -5.76 dB 06-St. Jimmy.wav
    DR5 -0.30 dB -7.30 dB 07-Give Me Novacaine.wav
    DR5 -0.30 dB -5.91 dB 08-She's A Rebel.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -7.33 dB 09-Extraordinary Girl.wav
    DR4 -0.30 dB -6.37 dB 10-Letterbomb.wav
    DR5 -0.29 dB -7.99 dB 11-Wake Me Up When September Ends.wav
    DR4 -0.29 dB -6.06 dB 12-Homecoming.wav
    DR5 -0.30 dB -9.13 dB 13-Whatsername.wav

    Number of files: 13
    Official DR value: DR5


    2012 HDtracks 24/192 Release of American Idiot

    Analyzed folder: /American Idiot (24 bit - 192 kHz)
    DR Peak RMS Filename

    DR9 -0.00 dB -10.34 dB 01-American Idiot.wav
    DR9 -0.01 dB -10.51 dB 02-Jesus Of Suburbia.wav
    DR9 -0.00 dB -10.33 dB 03-Holiday.wav
    DR10 -0.02 dB -10.96 dB 04-Boulevard Of Broken Dreams.wav
    DR10 -0.03 dB -11.45 dB 05-Are We The Waiting.wav
    DR9 -0.00 dB -9.77 dB 06-St Jimmy.wav
    DR9 -0.02 dB -11.30 dB 07-Give Me Novacaine.wav
    DR9 -0.00 dB -9.68 dB 08-Shes A Rebel.wav
    DR10 -0.00 dB -11.44 dB 09-Extraordinary Girl.wav
    DR8 -0.01 dB -10.23 dB 10-Letterbomb.wav
    DR9 -0.12 dB -12.05 dB 11-Wake Me Up When September E.wav
    DR8 -0.00 dB -10.05 dB 12-Homecoming.wav
    DR9 -0.00 dB -12.52 dB 13-Whatsername.wav

    Number of files: 13
    Official DR value: DR9


    Track 1 @ 192, Track 1 @ 44.1, Track 2 @ 192
    Click to enlarge

    Track 2 @ 44.1, Track 11 @ 192, Track 11 @ 44.1
    Click to enlarge

    Kings Of Leon: Live At The O2 London, England Blu-ray Rip

    CA readers interested in ripping Blu-ray concerts should first checkout how easy this process has become over the last couple years LINK . Researching Blu-ray concerts for those containing PCM versions of the tracks in high resolution I found the Kings Of Leon's Live At The O2 London, England Blu-ray with an uncompressed PCM version at 24 bit / 96 kHz. Being a huge fan of the "Kings" I picked up the Blu-ray and promptly ripped the 24/96 version without any issues. The sound is good but the concert as a whole is great. CA readers who aren't fans of the "Kings" may want to check out this Blu-ray as it contains many of their best songs from all albums up to 2009 when the disc was released.

    Upon analyzing the 24/96 ripped files it appears the concert was recorded at 48 kHz or during post production the sample rate was set to 48 kHz before the disc was authored at 96 kHz. Either way it doesn't appear to be a true 24/96 release. However, it's a great concert with good sound.

    Title: Kings Of Leon: Live At The O2 London, England
    Artist: Kings Of Leon
    Label: RCA
    Release Date: 2009
    Running Time: 100 Minutes
    Audio: PCM Uncompressed Stereo Q 24 bit / 96 kHz
    Amazon Product Page (unaffiliated link)

    Analyzed folder: /Live At The O2 London, England (24 bit - 96 kHz) (Blu-ray)
    DR Peak RMS Filename

    DR10 -0.96 dB -16.33 dB Track 01.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -10.83 dB Track 02.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -10.53 dB Track 03.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.26 dB Track 04.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.13 dB Track 05.wav
    DR9 -0.20 dB -11.26 dB Track 06.wav
    DR9 -0.20 dB -10.46 dB Track 07.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.26 dB Track 08.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -10.97 dB Track 09.wav
    DR11 -0.20 dB -14.23 dB Track 10.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.01 dB Track 11.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.38 dB Track 12.wav
    DR11 -0.20 dB -12.04 dB Track 13.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.26 dB Track 14.wav
    DR9 -0.20 dB -11.24 dB Track 15.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -11.49 dB Track 16.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.45 dB Track 17.wav
    DR11 -0.20 dB -14.18 dB Track 18.wav
    DR10 -0.20 dB -12.08 dB Track 19.wav
    DR9 -0.20 dB -10.96 dB Track 20.wav
    DR11 -0.20 dB -12.38 dB Track 21.wav
    DR11 -0.20 dB -13.12 dB Track 22.wav
    DR9 -0.20 dB -10.30 dB Track 23.wav
    DR9 -1.39 dB -15.57 dB Track 24.wav

    Number of files: 24
    Official DR value: DR10


    Track 2 Notion, Track 3 Be Somebody, Track 19 Use Somebody
    Click to enlarge

    Best External USB 3.0 SSD Enclosure Yet

    I'm always looking for good hard drive enclosures. I prefer to purchase the enclosure separate from the hard drive. The greater flexibility in selecting each component a la carte allows me to upgrade either component at any time and select the exact drive and enclosure with appropriate interface that suits my immediate need. Some of the separate enclosures are a bear to piece together with way too many screws and more interfaces than I'd ever need. Last week I was looking for a USB 3.0 enclosure for an SSD. My requirements were a bit more specific than that however. I wanted a USB bus powered drive so I didn't need an external power supply and SATA III support to really maximize the performance of my Samsung 830 Series SSDs. I stumbled on the Silverstone RAVEN Series Screwless Design USB 3.0 2.5-Inch External Hard Drive Enclosure (RVS02). This drive meets all my needs and then some. The screwless design is awesome. To install the drive simply pop the back cover off the enclosure and slide the drive in place. Most drive enclosures like this require eight tiny screws. Four for the drive and four for the enclosure itself. Of course this drive is dead silent without a moving part in sight. The enclosure is plastic. I wasn't sure I'd like this as I usually pick up metal enclosures. Fortunately I love the light weight plastic and it doesn't scratch my laptop when I place the enclosure on top of the easily scratched MacBook Pro Retina. The only feature I don't care for is the USB 3.0 Y Cable as it has a micro type connector and a long second USB connector if more power is needed from the USB bus. I'm thinking about clipping off the extra part of the Y Cable as it's not needed for use with the MacBook Pro Retina, or any other laptop I've used in the last ten years. Other than that minor issue the Silverstone RAVEN RVS02 is the best USB 3.0 external SSD enclosure I've used to date. Plus, it's only $25.99.

    Product: Silverstone RAVEN RVS02 screwless USB 3.0 external drive enclosure
    Support 2.?" Drives SATA I/SATA II / SATA III hard drive and SSD
    Plug and play with hot-swappable connection
    Maximum 5Gbit/s data transfer speed via USB 3.0 interface
    Maximum compatibility with USB2.0 (480Mbits)
    User Manual: PDF 2.9MB
    Amazon Product Page (unaffiliated link)

    Saddleback Leather Laptop Sleeve

    Searching for a new laptop bag and or sleeve I visited the Saddleback Leather company's website . This is one cool company with even cooler products. The Saddleback Leather Company is really unique in that its products, "are fully warranted against all defects in materials and workmanship for 100 years. If you or one of your descendants should have a problem, send it back to me or one of my descendants and we’ll repair or replace it for free or we'll give you a credit on the website (be sure to mention the warranty in your will)." Saddelback even places links to fourteen competitors on its website. That's how confident this company is in its products. A quick look around the website and readers can see the interesting Saddelback story and a very neat post about Blue the dog who passed away in 2008.

    This is Computer Audiophile why am I talking about a leather company? Because I love small companies who pay attention to the details, build products as good or better than anyone else, and have a great sense of character. Plus, Saddleback sells laptop sleeves and bags for all the computer audiophiles in need of something built as good as their audio components. Us audiophiles are a picky bunch.

    I received my medium Dark Coffee Brown MacBook Sleeve this week and I'm thrilled by the build quality. This thing fabulous. The unibody Mac products dent easily so I needed a product that would combat this in the event I dropped the laptop a little too hard on the airport security conveyor belt. The Saddleback Sleeve's edges are built just right to offer a certain level of protection and great looks. Also on the sleeve is a nice "handwritten" Saddleback logo and even better is a logo of Blue the dog. This logo has a cool story behind its creation .

    I plan on placing this sleeve into my more traditional laptop bag for now. The Saddleback larger bags are a bit spendy so I'll have to wait a bit on one of those. Based on the quality of the MacBook Sleeve I highly recommend The Saddelback Leather Company.

    Product: Saddleback Leather Company MacBook Sleeve
    Size: Medium
    Color: Dark Coffee Brown
    Price: $85
    Saddleback Product Page

    Click to enlarge

    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Rob McCance's Avatar
      Rob McCance -
      Good stuff, Chris, thanks.
    1. BattleScarze's Avatar
      BattleScarze -
      Hi Chris, thanks for the info...I would just like to add that I purchased 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day last week...I held off on American Idiot because I have the CD version and I remember all the backlash from Audiophiles as this is one of if not the loudest release at the time of the "Loudness Wars". Based on your review and DR rating I will purchase American Idiot in the near future, so again thanks for the detailed review! Any chance you could review and rate all the HD Tracks? Hehe...I have emailed HD Tracks customer support asking them to give DR ratings...this would provide a better preview on the music they sell. I have purchased music from HD Tracks that still suffer from the "Loudness Wars"...any chance you could review KISS Detroit Rock City (Resurrected) from them? I am very tempted to purchase this one but can't based on how bad it sounds in the preview...
      In case anyone is interested in 21st CB it does sound much better than the original CD release too. Sorry I do not have a detailed review like Chris
    1. Tobi_24bit's Avatar
      Tobi_24bit -
      Chris, thanks for sharing this with us!
      about: Kings Of Leon: Live At The O2 London, England Blu-ray Rip
      @ALL: Am I assuming right that the DVD contains the identical 2CH 24-96 audio material?
    1. Jud's Avatar
      Jud -
      That Saddleback website is alternately touching (Blue) and funny as hell (man, how did he know all those competitors' links would lead straight to pages showing effete male models and gear like "poet's hats"? (Turns you into the Bard instantly, I'm sure.)
    1. Wavelength's Avatar
      Wavelength -

      I swapped my 256SSD in my Retina for a 480G and while OWC did not have an envoy for that yet, I also swapped my MacBook Air drive for a larger one and that came with a USB 3 Envoy. Freaken speed demon!!!!!!

      For some real leather deals for MacStuff is Copper River Trading company or check out Etsy.com for cool hand made one of a kind stuff. I got a slick back pack for my Air for $100, which the other companies wanted 2x that. Just came in this morning and is really nice. They build to order so 2 weeks wait but who cares. Doing the download for Green Day as we speak.

    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Gordon - I spent hours on end browsing Etsy for laptop cases and sleeves. That's a great site. I love the one of a kind items. I'll check out Copper River.

      The Retina laptops are over the top great. I didn't see that OWC had an upgrade for the MBP Retina. Nice!
    1. firedog's Avatar
      firedog -
      Based on your recommendation and the DR results, I bought the download. Sounds really good. I think you can hear that they made the 96k transcription from analog - it doesn't sound "digital" at all to me. Thanks for the heads up.
    1. blueixus's Avatar
      blueixus -
      Chris -

      Strangely, based on your recommendation of Saddleback I bought a belt from them. Fantastic product, even better customer service and ultra fast shipping to the UK. I expect to buy more things from them in the future.......
    1. mikemercer's Avatar
      mikemercer -
      Chris - you ROCK!
      Just got a new 15" MacBook Pro Retina w/ SSD and was looking for something like this!!
    1. BattleScarze's Avatar
      BattleScarze -
      Hi y'all, I purchased Green Day UNO and American Idiot while they were on sale with a 15% off coupon...very impressed with UNO.

      UNO has good overall depth and the overall dynamic range is decent, better than American Idiot IMO...I find American Idiot still sounds HOT compared to UNO or 21st Century Breakdown lacking in punch...I purchased the 24/192 tracks based on Chris's review.

      While AA does sound better than the CD version its still not great IMO, my guess is the tracks were already maximized when handed over for mastering this was the case for many LOUD recordings...moving on UNO and 21stCB are much better and I highly recommend those...I don't have any data to back up my statements I just don't have the time to cut and paste and do not have FOOBAR BUT I have spent a good deal of time listening on/off and find myself listening to UNO over and over with the occasional move back to 21stCDB...pretty much avoiding AA.

      So, if you are a Green Day fan and want to buy AA wait for a sale...if your are not a GD junky then I suggest to skip it.