When You Just Can’t Get Enough Music…

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 Audiophile, Bob, Video Comments Off

Alex Peychev on Vinyl-like Qualities of DSD

Alex Peychev, digital / electronics guru and founder of APL Hi-fi, had this to say about DSD vs PCM (and vinyl):cd lp

After dealing with PCM and PCM converted DSD for so many years, I am now also convinced in the DSD superiority. We are not talking about amazing measurements and specifications, but sound quality that is comparable to analog. Vinyl, for example, has horrible specs, but how it sounds? Yes, DSD has more noise and somewhat compromised dynamic range, but it is the closest to vinyl I’ve heard. :-)

Private correspondence, reprinted by permission with thanks.

My purpose in the last two posts has not been to sell you on DSD. Just to point out that the DSD debate, like the high-resolution PCM debate that preceeded it, is most easily resolved by audition not cognition.



Sunday, January 19th, 2014 Audiophile, Bob 1 Comment

Why I embraced DSD


Mr. Hansen

Charles Hansen at Ayre has published a lengthy article about the evolution of high resolution digital playback. As is often the case, DSD is criticized heavily based on scientific analysis and lack of mixing/mastering toolsets.

Several members have asked me why I, a self-proclaimed mad scientist and inveterate tinkerer with an engineering degree, have embraced DSD playback.

I’ll share my answer with you:

For me it’s simple. There are amazing recordings on DSD that I want in my collection. They are not available at the same quality in PCM. With one or two exceptions, the best DACs in the world play DSD “for free.” I own such a DAC. Done.

The fact that I can (and do) rip SACDs to DSD is gravy.

Most of us read a lot about our hobby. Analyze and over-analyze. Sweat minutiae. That’s cool – it’s what men (and some women) do. But ultimately I just let it rest and listen. Then decide.

Shouldn’t you too?


Friday, January 17th, 2014 Audiophile, Bob, News 4 Comments

Can We, Should We – Save the Stereo?

It’s early days for this fledgeling project, so plans are understandably vague.

But the future of the high end is an important topic, and I urge you to visit the site and determine whether it aligns with your beliefs.



Sunday, January 5th, 2014 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

The Biggest News in High-End Audio?

I believe that this is a really big deal. Nouveau business model meets “old World” market. LH is also canny to be riding the headphones wave. The title of the CES presentation is bold – How Indiegogo Will Help Save an Old Dying Industry – is a stretch for me (but not insanely so).



LH Labs’ 2014 CES Panel Discussion Takes Place on Heels of $1.1 Million Dollar Indiegogo Campaign

Indiegogo Director of Design and Technology along with High-Performance Audio Experts will Discuss How Crowdfunding Can Help The Dying Audio Industry

December 30, 2014-Sacramento, CA – LH Labs will be holding a press conference at the 2014 International CES discussing how non-traditional marketing, using crowdfunding and crowd- designing, has helped the high-performance audio manufacturer raise nearly 1.5 million dollars in five months.

LH Labs’ second crowd-funding campaign, running since October 28 on Indiegogo, raised $1,174,075 from 6,340 backers of Geek Pulse, a desktop digital-to-analog converter (DAC)/ headphone amplifier. The campaign was the 6th most-funded campaign in Indiegogo’s history.

Light Harmonic, known for industry-leading audio products such as the $31,000 Da Vinci Dual DAC, established LH Labs to offer mainstream-market audio products of exceptional performance and value. LH Labs’ first offering was Geek Out, a $299 portable USB

DAC/headphone amp introduced on crowd-funding site Kickstarter, where it raised over $303,000 from 2146 backers. LH Labs will debut Geek Out at the 2014 International CES in the iLounge Pavilion.             <snip>


Monday, December 30th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, News 1 Comment

Beat-up Loudspeakers

smashed spkrs

Speaks for itself. Funny ad here.

[Thanks, Vince!]


Friday, December 20th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Humor Comments Off

How to Listen to Music

sagee artAt this point in my audiophile career, it’s rare to come across a document of this type that moves me – causes me to reevaluate “how I listen.”

This particular exemplar came to me via a somewhat circuitous chain:

  1. Jim Smith podcast email
  2. Positive Feedback article
  3. Realization that “hey, he’s a BAAS member” (Alón Sagee)
  4. Download scanned wisdom (link at end of article)

Read it & enjoy.


Wednesday, November 20th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob 2 Comments

String vibration at high frame rate

Thanks, Vince!

Thursday, November 14th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Video Comments Off

Do we judge classical music performances by sight or by sound?

The ever-entertaining Priconomics web site has followed up their report on subjectivism in wine tasting with a piece on classical music performances.closedeyes

The conclusions are surprising, and the author ties them in to the Gladwell book Blink.

Yet another reason to close your eyes for any critical audio analysis. I do, and I have come to believe that it’s an essential practice.



Tuesday, September 10th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

The Young Shops Vinyl


On the Jersey Shore last week


Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 Analog, Audiophile, Bob Comments Off

Two-speaker Surround Sound – The future?

spkr cloudAs some of you  may know, I went to grad school at Princeton. Professor Edgar Choueiri, one of the prof’s in my old department is an audiophile and doing very-cool research (funded mostly by Sony). He’s also partnered with David Chesky.

Anyway, he came over to my lab (AKA house) last week and set up his gear as a source to my system. Oh my, the sound was truly incredible – a 200-or-so degree soundfield with only two speakers – and no change in tone, transients, or level.

Then he did the same thing with my AKG 701 headphones. That was even better. in fact, if I had it I’d seldom tum on my power amps.

He later embedded the loudspeaker transform into a plugin (VST and AU) before he left. So I can still approximate the effect in my home.

There are caveats: (1) binaural recordings are required  to get the wrap-around effect; (2) the transform is valid for one speaker/room configuration only; and (3) the effect is only good for one listening position. But IME only the last constraint is hard & fast. Most well-recorded stereo recordings benefit as well. Demonstrably so. And I switched speakers and still prefer to keep the plugin active.prin

I also prefer the this technology’s sonic presentation to most “surround sound” that I have heard. It sounds more natural.

At some point, I may run a BAAS open house so that folks can hear this tech. It’d be tough given the narrow sweet spot though. In fact, the tighter the dispersion of the speakers, the better the effect. (Based on my recommendation, Edgar now uses electrostats from Sanders Sound as his references.)

- Bob

Saturday, July 27th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, General, News 1 Comment

Elite Audio Brings Spiral Groove, Zesto, Kharma and more to BAAS Members

Over 50 BAAS members braved a rare San Francisco heat wave and Elite’s store renovations yesterday to hear some of the best that vinyl and tubes have to offer.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Michael Woods (our host) and Peter Truce (or Analog Czar and organizer), the event was a great success. Thanks also to Allen Perkins (Spiral) and George and Carolyn Counnas (Zesto) for sharing their knowledge and expertise. (As a special treat, Zesto played the prototype of their much-anticipated tube power amp.)

Well done!



Baas_6-29-13_1 Baas_6-29-13_2 Baas_6-29-13_4 Baas_6-29-13_6 Baas_6-29-13_9

Sunday, June 30th, 2013 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events Comments Off

Free Byrne / St. Vincent EP Download

Brass Tactics

Brass Tactics. Get the 5-track EP here. Cool tunes. Well engineered (if a bit compressed). In 320K MP3 (I didn’t notice).

Live concerts in Saratoga and Oakland – July 20-21.


Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Downloads, Music Comments Off

Video: Modern mastering made easy

In addition to being humorous, teaches a bit about overload distortion…    – Bob

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Humor, Video Comments Off

The Absolute Sound (TAS) Issue #1 Download

Celebrating their 40th anniversary, TAS is offering their first issue as a free download (PDF).tas1

Printed in 1973, this was the all-analog age. LPs and tapes ruled, as did the Phase Linear 700 amp. And no advertising (Stereophile had just started accepting dealer ads).




Thursday, May 30th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, News Comments Off

Memorial – Frank Zappa

I came late to the genius of Frank Zappa. this video provides another look at his art and his modus operandi. As a small bonus, there’s some cool footage of Dweezel at a mixing board, analyzing and enjoying his father’s master tapes. (Frank owned all of his masters.)



Monday, May 27th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, General, Video Comments Off

Sound from Sight

The recordings are analog, but the medium is ink on paper.

This article describes the process used by Indiana University, and contains recordings from the nineteenth century.


Friday, April 5th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, General, News, Technical Comments Off

Audiophile Porn – 27,000 Pictures of Gear

xoverThe HiFi Shock website fills a unique niche, specializing in showing what’s inside audiophile gear.

Some very interesting images.

New startup idea: do video.




Thursday, March 28th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, General Comments Off

Subjectivism isn’t just an audiophile thing

wineWe all lament how difficult our hobby is. How can we capture, remember, and describe an ephemeral audio event? How can we reconcile the results of objective vs subjective testing? Of sighted vs blind testing?

When I’m asked what it’s like to be an audiophile, I usually point to wine-tasting as the closest analog. Both involve fleeting, personal experiences. Both have myths and sciences. And, when in doubt, both favor the subjective view over the objective.

And both suffer from the bugaboo of expectation bias. Take, for example, the following passage from this article in The Atlantic:

An expert’s own expectation can act like Kryptonite on their superpowers. Expectation, as it turns out, is just as important as raw sensation. The build up to an experience can completely change how you interpret the information reaching your brain from your otherwise objective senses. In psychology, true objectivity is pretty much considered to be impossible. Memories, emotions, conditioning, and all sorts of other mental flotsam taint every new experience you gain. In addition to all this, your expectations powerfully influence the final vote in your head over what you believe to be reality.

Sound familiar? Read the article for an interesting and humorous account of enological blind testing.


Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob Comments Off

Is DSD more accurate than hires PCM?

dsd v 192Not really, especially 24bit/192kHz PCM.

It’s a shame that good articles like this 11-year-old piece have fallen into the Wayback-machine crypt. But they have.

A key conclusion reached is that not only does DSD suffer imperfections in accuracy, but also in precision. Ergo, it’s unlikely to produce the same waveform twice (due to intense noise modulation).

Of course, these technical imperfections may yield superior sound – especially when compared to 24/96.

I, for one, enjoy the DSD sound qualities (as do most folks that try them).



Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 Audiophile, Bob, Technical Comments Off