Wow, where to begin? At the beginning of course.
I started Computer Audiophile ten years ago today on November 20, 2007. There were two visitors to the site that day, my wife and I. A bit later I gained another visitor, my father-in-law. He's an over the road trucker who would visit the site as frequently as possible, not to read anything but to click refresh on the page over and over to bump up my traffic statistics. By the end of that year, the site had around one hundred visitors. Ten years later, Computer Audiophile will have two million visitors in the twelve months of 2017 alone.
Before jumping into anything, I want to say that this is all possible because of you, the readers and contributors to Computer Audiophile. The site wouldn't exist without your support and contributions. Period. Over the last ten years, I've been amazed at the quality of contributions people from all over the globe have given to CA. The level of knowledge shared by the community continuously blows me away. I often ask myself, "Who are these people?" In a 100% positive and amazed tone of voice.
When the site first launched, I had to research topics myself and hope I could find an answer. Now, I do research until I'm stuck, followed by questions to the CA community. The community always has the answer. We have experts and inventors from all areas of high tech and HiFi who contribute so much to this community. In addition, we have people who know nothing about high tech and everything about Hifi, but still want to get involved. It's the questions from all of you that tease out answers from everyone else. Most people in the community are somewhere in the middle, with specific areas of knowledge and contribute when possible. Every contribution from the casual reader to the newbie with a seemingly dumb question to the expert who has forgotten more than most of us will ever know, is valuable and much appreciated.
I can't say it enough, thanks to the CA community for a terrific first 10 years. I'm here for you guys, you're not here for me. This is about you and the community, not about me.
We've Come A Long Way
Today we have USB interfaces that support DSD512 and PCM up through 32 bit / 384 kHz. We have Ethernet interfaces that support equally high sample rates. Heck, even wireless interfaces in some HiFi products can handle these sample rates, given a high quality network infrastructure. We have a plethora of high resolution audio download sites and streaming music services that offer us a century's worth of recorded music in lossless quality.
What's more, we now have 64 bit computers with touchscreens in our pockets or in the form of an ultra sharp 12.9 inch iPad Pro, with which we can browse mountains of music and send it straight to our HiFi systems or headphones. Those mountains of music are stored on 10TB drives in our homes, streamed from servers all over the world, and even backed up automatically to the cloud.
The aforementioned items are just a taste of what members of the Computer Audiophile community all over the world are doing with their digital audio systems. Much of this was just a dream when the community started coming together ten years ago. Let's take a stroll down memory lane to see how far we've come in a decade. Here are some of the items we've covered since November 20, 2007.
- November 20, 2007 - CA is launched
- December 01, 2007 - According to Bel Canto, the company is working on a 24/96 capable USB DAC3 that should be available in late 2007.
- December 02, 2007 - The Bentley of music servers, Sooloos offers industry's best music server starting around $12,500 for a 2TB system.
- December 03, 2007 - The beautiful Lacie Golden Disk is now available for $190 (500GB) and $500 (1TB).
- December 18, 2007 - Lossless iTunes Store? CNET's Nate Lanxon published a piece today predicting Apple will offer lossless music downloads from the iTunes store within twelve months.
- December 19, 2007 - iTunes (Poor) Performance Explained - iTunes must be restarted if the sample rate is changed.
- December 20, 2007 - Winamp 5.51 released
- December 27, 2007 - MusicGiants & Olive - Olive Media Products will be announcing a new product at CES in January with a larger hard drive and 24 bit / 96 KHz playback capability. In addition Olive owners will be able to purchase music directly from MusicGiants using their Olive music server starting in the first quarter of 2008.
- January 04, 2008 - Wadia announced what could be the best audiophile iPod product to date. Wadia's new iTransport, debuting at CES 2008 in a few days, delivers bit-perfect digital audio from every single iPod currently available. Audiophiles can finally bypass the internal DAC of the iPod and use it as a high end music server.
- January 07, 2008 - hard drive playback is the future of audio according to Reference Recordings, which announced 24/176.4 HRx releases. They are bit perfect copies of the actual masters.
- January 07, 2008 - Bryston announces BDA-1 DAC with 16 bit / 48 KHz USB input.
- January 10, 2008 - Linn Records Celebrates 1 Year of Hi-Res Downloads
- January 10, 2008 - Digital Watermarking to replace DRM
- January 14, 2008 - THIEL Teams with BICOM to Introduce THIELnet™ A Plug-and-Play Pure Digital Multi-zone Audio System
- January 18, 2008 - My current favorite products [from CES] are ones from Resolution Audio and Hovland. At the high end is the Hovland unit. This unit was still a prototype, but after talking to Alex Crespi, Vice President at Hovland, they are closer to a release date. As I said previously, Hovland will get everything correct before releasing the product. Currently the Hovland unit is on track to be one of the top items in this category. It will pull content from your computer running iTunes. This of course leaves the computing choices up to you. Hovland is not a computer manufacturer or software firm. They made the smart choice to leave that stuff up to Apple and others. This unit will also have a very nice DAC that has been refined meticulously. If I remember correctly Hovland also has quite a bit of memory in the unit and plans to offer upgrades via the Internet. Of course the unit will support some form of meta data, album art etc... from the Internet. Along with a bunch of other features the unit looks marvelous and has rock solid build quality. I can't wait for the final product to be released.
- March 12, 2008 - Remote Buddy From IOSpirit is a feature rich application.
- March 17, 2008 - Airport Express w/ 802.11n Officially Released
- March 24, 2008 - HDtracks launches uncompressed downloads
- April 08, 2008 - Olive OPUS Nº4 and MELODY Nº2, the OPUS Nº4 which is a considerable upgrade from the Nº3. Audiophiles will like the upgraded DAC for even better sound quality. The silent hard drive is equally as important to those of us with quiet listening areas.
- April 11, 2008 - A USB Port is Not a USB Port - So, what is the deal? Apple's design of the USB architecture in MacBook/Pro models is flawed in my opinion. Apple routed the keyboard and mouse through the rear USB port/Bus (see photo). The keyboard and mouse are designed to go into sleep mode after short periods of nonuse. When activated again the keyboard and mouse draw too much power from the USB Bus and cause audio dropouts.
- April 12, 2008 - Devilsound DAC - The DAC by Devilsound is a one of a kind product. It's a USB cable, digital / analog converter, and an analog RCA cable all in one piece. Excellent sound quality, reasonable price, and absolutely simple to use.
- March 04, 2008 - USB v. S/PDIF - My conclusion is, people that boldly answer "USB is better" or "S/PDIF is superior" are 100% incorrect. Neither one sounds better than the other in all systems, in every room, with all music.
- July 09, 2008 - iTunes 7.7 is finally here! The highly anticipated remote control feature is officially part of this release. However we'll have to wait for the iPod/iPhone 2.0 software release on Friday July 11th to take advantage of this feature. Will this be the end of Remote Buddy and Signal software?
- July 10, 2008 - Audiophiles can now let their compressed music stretch out a little because Seagate just announced a 1.5 terabyte consumer desktop hard drive.
- September 22, 2008 - Mac Pro Quad Boot Reference Music Server - My Mac Pro now runs OS X Leopard, Windows XP Professional 32-bit, Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit, and openSUSE 11 (Linux). Whether or not this is the best of four worlds remains to be seen. However there is no better way to test applications and sound quality across operating systems than using the identical hardware.[
- October 14, 2008 - Apple Drops FireWire 400 On MacBook & MacBook Pro
- October 14, 2008 - Sonic Studio Unveils Amarra
- November 23, 2008 - Audiophile Reference Music Server For A Song - The time has come to reveal the music server that's capable of reference quality sound for less than $1,040. Dell Inspiron 530 $279, Lynx AES16 card $700, Lynx HD26 cable $60, MediaMonkey $0 = Total $1,039
- December 03, 2008 - Songbird 1.0 Released For Windows, OS X, and Linux
- April 10, 2009 - Blue Coast Records - High Resolution Downloads Three Hours After Performance
- April 16, 2009 - CA Podcast Episode 1
- June 27th & 28th, 2009 - Computer Audiophile Symposium at Fantasy Studios
- July 30, 2009 - Asynchronicity: A USB Audio Primer
- October 2009 - RMAF panel with Gus Skinas, John Stronczer, Gordon Rankin, Charley Hansen, Joe Harley, and moderator John Atkinson. I told the audience that Linux was the future of HiFi. People on the panel looked at me like I had an eye in the middle of my forehead. (image)
- October 23, 2009 - Windows 7 Music Server - The First 48 Hours
- October 29, 2009 - Computer Audiophile CD Ripping Strategy and Methodology
- November 19, 2009 - Media Monkey v3.2 Update Now Available
February 08, 2010 - Computer Audiophile Pocket Server - C.A.P.S.
- Over the last several months I've researched different combinations of motherboards, computer cases, audio cards, and accessories that go along with these components. The goal of all this research was to put together a hardware and software music server solution that I would actually use and the Computer Audiophile readers could actually use. I would do the leg work, test & listen to everything, and provide the information for CA readers to put together the exact same music server. This sounds somewhat simple until one considers all the requirements that go into such an audiophile solution. Great sound, great looking, no moving parts, silent, fairly inexpensive, and 100% of the components must be available today. Along the way this server was named the Pocket Server by a colleague who was very surprise at its small size when I pulled it out of my carry-on luggage. The server is a bit larger today than it was at that time but the name hasn't changed. What follows is the story of the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server and all the information required to recreate the $1,500 C.A.P.S solution.
- February 25, 2010 - Windows 7 Audio & J River Media Center 14 Configuration
- August 13, 2010 - Joe Sixpack's Sooloos - Dell SX2210T Multi-touch Monitor & J River MC 15
- September 07, 2010 - Sonore Music Server Review
October 05, 2010 - Esoteric D-07 DAC Review
- I see the D-07 DAC as Esoteric's half-hearted attempt to enter the USB DAC market. Between the misleading manual, the mediocre USB implementation, and the unsatisfactory sound quality it appears as though computer audio was an afterthought to Esoteric. Like the USB portion of this DAC was a bolt-on feature added just before the DAC's release.
- November 02, 2010 - Grammy Winning Engineer Bill Schnee Talks To Computer Audiophile
- February 22, 2011 - 24 Bit iTunes Downloads Coming Soon?
- March 01, 2011 - The Rolling Stones Now Available From HDtracks at 24/88.2 and 24/176.4
- April 16, 2011 - MOG v. Spotify
- September 29, 2011 - dCS Does DSD over USB
- October 06, 2011 - Guide To Ripping DVD and Blu-ray Audio Using The Dark Side Of The Moon Immersion Box Set
- November 30, 2011 - Aurender S10 Music Server Review
- September 28, 2012 - JRemote - The iOS remote for JRiver Media Center Review
- January 02, 2013 - The 2012 Computer Audiophile Product of the Year is the AudioQuest DragonFly.
- February 04, 2013 - Mitchco's Guide to Converting Analog Vinyl to Digital Files
- March 07, 2013 - Congratulations to Audirvana Plus as the 2012 CA Readers Choice Product of the Year winner
- March 10, 2013 - The Complete Guide To HiFi UPnP / DLNA Network Audio
- June 20, 2013 - Mitchco's Acourate Digital Room and Loudspeaker Correction Software Walkthrough
- July 17, 2013 - Geek Speak: How To Build A BeagleBone Black MPD Music Server
- October 25, 2013 - CA TV Premiere Episode 1
- March 18, 2014 - Pono or Oh No - An Interview With Neil Young
- June 16, 2014 - High Resolution Audio Isn't Coming Soon From Apple
July 07, 2014 - The Future Of HiFi
- In the not to distant future we will be streaming lossless audio, in all relevant sample rates, directly to our main audio components from a Cloud music service provider such as WiMP or Qobuz. Music, playlists, ratings, and favorites will all be stored in the Cloud. Listeners will control playback with iOS and Android apps provided by their streaming service providers. Similar to a UPnP / DLNA control point, the apps will serve as a remote control and library curation and browsing tool. In the same fashion as Google's Cast functionality, no audio will be routed through the iOS or Android device. Music will stream directly to an audio component such as a music server, digital to digital interface converter, or digital to analog converter from the Cloud.
- October 30, 2014 - The TIDAL HIFI Revolution Starts Today
- November 13, 2014 - Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v4
- December 16, 2014 - Devialet Unleashes Phantom
- March 04, 2015 - The Computer Audiophile 100 Playlist
- March 11, 2015 - Geek Speak: How To Build A UPnP / DLNA / OpenHome Renderer For Less Than $100
- April 21, 2015 - Gilbert Klein's The Music In Me: The Last Track
- April 29, 2015 - Geek Speak: Raspberry Pi HiFi Is Here
- May 11, 2015 - Roon - A Video Run-through
- July 02, 2015 - Audiophile Optimizer Raises The Bar
December 10, 2015
- Overall Product of the Year: Roon
- DAC of the Year: Schiit Audio Yggdrasil
- Music of the Year:
- Fink Meets the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Peter, Paul and Mary - In The Wind (Audio Fidelity version)
- Most Enjoyable Product of the Year: Naim Mu-so
- Most Surprising Product of the Year: AudiophileOptimizer
- February 05, 2016 - My First 24 Hours With MQA
December 12, 2016
- Overall Product of the Year: Sonore microRendu
- DAC of the Year: AudioQuest DragonFly Red
- Software of the Year: SonoreUPnP Bridge
- Music of the year: The April Maze, Recycled Soul, Sonatas for Piano & Violin, Artur Grumiaux and Claudio Arrau
- Bargain of the Year: Nano Neo Pi
- Best Music / HiFi Related Book of the Year: The Revenge of Analog, Real Things and Why They Matter
- May 02, 2017 - This Just In: Microsoft Launches Native Class 2 USB Audio Support. Wait, What?
- November 20, 2017 - CA Turns 10!
That was just a small sample of the topics we've covered over the last ten years. I could go into detail about each one or why something was included and something else was excluded form the list, but that would take about 10,000 words. Items were excluded from this list because I wanted to have some length limit. There's no other reason.
I'd love to read some of the topics or products or items people in the CA Community would include on their own lists. What have you guys loved, hated, been surprised with, etc... over the last ten years in HiFi?
Thanks again to everyone who has helped make CA the leading high tech - HiFi site on the internet.
P.S. Look for a MAJOR announcement around January 1, 2018.