Archive for November, 2008
PC World has a very nice article on their site that details how to get a perfect CD rip on Windows using the free program EAC.
I good primer, even for Mac folks, or users of other software programs.
As reported in today’s NY Times, a major record label – Atlantic Records – now makes more money from digital downloads than CD or record sales.
Big milestone. The labels had better get used to it. This is the future, and it’s happening now.
The article goes on to document how the labels plan to make up for the lost margins on (cheap) download sales. Excuse me, how about the artists? Well, the internet has begun to set them free.
This’ll be fascinating to watch over the next few years. It’s a bigger fundamental shift than the last one – LP to CD.
The most common question that I get asked – other than “Am I confirmed for the event?” – is: “How should I implement a good music server?”
Well, here’s a way to implement a great-sounding music server for about $1K. The key strategy in play here is to house a stellar Lynx sound card in a (very) cheap Dell box.
However, while this system has the capability of delivering great sound, I do not recommend it for most audiophiles.
Specifically, the system has the following weaknesses:
- It’s too geeky – both to build and to maintain;
- It’s noisy;
- It’s incomplete; and
- (As described, it lacks keyboard, mouse, monitor, decent CPU, and ample storage, which would collectively add $500 or more to the price)
- There are better ways to go (IMO), which would sacrifice little sonically.
What are these better solutions?
When I get some free time, I’ll outline my current recommendations for all to see (and hear)!
We just completed another great BAAS event. When we succeed, we combine listening pleasure and camaraderie with a “wisdom of the crowds” learning experience. We seem to have hit the right note(s) yesterday in Jason’s superb listening environment.
First, here are the DAC’s that we had on hand:
- Weiss Medea – $16K MSRP (thanks Clive)
- Theta Gen VIII Series II – $11K (thanks Jason)
- Berkeley Audio Design Alpha – $5K (thanks Tim & Michael)
- Bel Canto DAC-III – $2.5K (thanks Dan)
We used a variety of music to audition each DAC, including:
- Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra)
- Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances (Ref Recordings)
- Jane Selkye & Chris Kee: Slow Day (Blue Coast Collection)
- Dave Matthews Band: All Along the Watchtower (Live at Red Rocks)
- Patricia Barber: Alphie (Unpublished, but older version here)
- Jun Fukamachi: Chopin Nocturne in E Flat Major (At Steinway, direct from 45-RPM vinyl – a groovy disk!)
So – after a man-week or more of preparation (much of it by the esteemed digital consultant, Tim Marutani), five hours of listening, and much discussion – what did we learn?
I’ll save my specific conclusions for a later post, but here are some general comments:
- Sonic quality was not generally proportional to price or packaging
- No DAC was best on all material, for example:
- The Bel Canto was superb on simple acoustic material, but stumbled on “big,” complex pieces
- Digital interface type (SPIDF vs AES/BU) and analog out type (RCA vs XLR) can matter
- The quality of the digital clock and the manner in which it’s implemented matter greatly; and
- In this event, the Berleley Audio Design Alpha (BADA) DAC was a stunning performer, and – dare I say it – I want one ( even at its $5,000 price point). It sounded that good to me.
So that’s the story of this successful BAAS event. Special thanks to Jason Victor Serinus and Tim Marutani for their many contributions.
OK, attendees, the world wants to know what you heard. Post your comments now!
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