See this Wired article for a demo and an explanation by the engineer.
OK, so sound quality is about that achieved by Edison. But I predict that it’ll improve – a lot.
Is this the ultimate audiophile DAC?
In my piece, I was just a bit dismissive that capturing ultrasonic content could actually do harm. I’ve since eased my stance a bit.
You see, I actually downloaded Xiph’s test files and played them on my system. And low-level distortion products appeared. These were manifest as an occasional tic or pop. No wonder folks say that hires digital sounds analog! LOL.
Granted, my Goldmund amps have a rather large bandwidth (3 Mhz). But still.
Try the test yourself and let us know via the comments what you hear. The files are about a third of the way down in a section labeled “Intermod Tests.”
[Note that these occasional tics were down more than 40dB, and would likely be benign in a typical listening session.]
Quora, a popular and high-quality opinions site, has this to say on the matter.
Something for everyone – or not.
Sample: “…audiophiles tend to prefer vinyl over compact discs for pretty much every genre of music except classical.”
The illustration below (source unknown) provides some pointers on how to be more exact with your audiophile jargon.
As a very course mnemonic, you can use the three decades of the audio spectrum to define bass/midrange/treble:
- Bass: 20-200 hz
- Mids: 200-2K hz
- Treble: 2K-20K hz
For the vinyl person who has every thing – an LP consisting of one note.
That’s right, the whole record is a single pitch. 33.33 hz of course. But wait…you can play it at 45 RPM and get 45hz!
The price? 33.33 GBP of course.
Also referenced is a framework that I had almost forgotten about: The Gizmodo Audiophile Sound Quality Index. (Site currently down due to the storm.)
“Vinylmania” is coming to San Fran – details here.
Also, you may want to check out this charity record sale on Nov 10th (same day as the movie), proceeds to Palo Alto Library.
BAAS members enjoyed a pleasant Saturday at the Oakland HQ of Linn Audio.
David Linn, founder and CEO, played host to an enthusiastic crowd of listeners. Thanks, David!
Comments were heard throughout the day about how dynamic the speakers were and the “honesty” of their tone. They were also capable of sound levels that would fill a stadium.
When asked about the name of the firm and possible confusion with the Scots, Dr. Linn replied that “…Linn is my last name, not theirs….”
Way back in 1983, Mr. Zappa – a genius IMO – described the rudiments of an HDtracks-like service.
First, he succinctly described the problem:
Ordinary phonograph record merchandising as it exists today is a stupid process which concerns itself essentially with pieces of plastic, wrapped in pieces of cardboard. These objects, in quantity, are heavy and expensive to ship. The manufacturing process is complicated and crude. Quality control for the stamping of the discs is an exercise in futility. The system is subject to pilferage…Dissatisfied customers routinely return records because they are warped and will not play…Large numbers of people are employed in the field of ‘record promotion.’…these salaries are, for the most part, a waste of money.
Then, his proposed solution:
We propose to acquire the rights to digitally duplicate and store THE BEST of every record company’s difficult-to-move Quality Catalog Items (QCI), store them in a central processing location, and have them accessible by…direct digital-to-digital transfer…All accounting for royalty payments, billing to the customer, etc. would be automatic, built into the initial software for the system.
Of course, FZ described the details of the system in terms of then-current tech (e.g., Betamax). But the core underpinnings of today’s reality were there – even the piece about high-resolution digital transfers of archival analog media.
One sharp cookie…
Can rock legend Neil Young accelerate adoption of high-resolution digital (“the sound of analog”)?
Let’s hope that Mr. Young (and his Pono player and service) follows Mr. Chesky (HDtracks) in widening the options for music lovers.
You’ll “get it” by halfway mark…feel free to skip ahead if you must!
Leave a comment if you can explain….
Hint: Think Newton’s 3rd Law, and how it may play here.
BAAS members were treated to a great program at last Saturday’s listen & learn session at Century Stereo in San Jose.
Multiple well-appointed rooms were in play, staffed by knowledgeable experts from the vendors. Highlights included:
- All about room treatments (PMI). Why passive treatments still matter, even when EQ/signal processing are used.
- Power conditioning intro (Furman). Is there a difference? Is the conditioned sound truly better? At what price?
- McIntosh Line Array Loudspeakers and Lyngdorf technology. Ever heard a line array? Ever heard these? 110 drivers! Also, how digital signal processing (DSP) can auto-EQ and adjust/widen the “sweet spot.”
- Audio cable technology update from China (Tributaries/Clarus). Video conference with cable pioneer Jay Victor. Why geometry matters, and where Chinese (and Japanese) manufacturing fits in.
- High Resolution Video/Audio by Kaleidescape. What Bluray brings to digital audio, and how the Kaleidescape technology can make powerful video/music servers easy. amazing system.
A ton of great learning, pleasurable listening, and audiophile camaraderie.
Thanks to Melinda and Century Stereo (link at right)!
‘Tis not often that a publication like the New York Times conducts a DAC shootout. But they just did.
Further, they even use audiophile terminology: “[the HRT] sounded closest to the original CD versions” and switching from the Schiit “was like going from stereo to mono.” Whoa.
I’ll leave it to interested readers to delve deeper….
Long-time CNET writer Steve Guttenberg now claims that audiophiles – like most consumers – prefer colored
sound (article here).
IMO, the article is simply chock-full of unsubstantiated assertions. In fact, I think that a more reasonable thesis can be drawn from the evidence presented: manufacturers of audio gear make equipment that produces flawed sound.
In any case, decide for yourself….
BAAS just completed a well-attended (over 50 members) gig featuring the rich product line of Everything But The Box (EBTB) Loudspeakers.
Held at the impressive 1340 Mission building – home of Michael Romanowski Mastering, Coast Recorders, and the Tape Project – the event featured 3 demo systems, a nice lobby for extended member discussions, an open bar, great snacks (loved those brownies!), and an expresso bar. But for me, the highlight of the facility was the acoustic qualities of the main studio. It’s hard to find such a neutral sonic environment.
In addition to the facility itself, we were blessed by the participation of several audio experts, most notably Bob Hodas, Michael Romanowski, and Piper Payne. Holding it all together was our sponsor, Konnie May – North American rep for EBTB. And we all thank Parasound, MIT Cables, and VTL for their support via equipment loans.
The sounds were great, the atmosphere light and collegial, and our hosts gracious. A beautiful thing.
Here are some pics, courtesy member Kevin O, to document things….
Very cool music vid IMO.
Mac users: Download a free trial of “Hear” from Joesoft, and watch/listen with that. Amazing on my iMac.
This year’s CAS may have been moderate in size (three floors of rooms), but it was big on quality. The rooms generally sounded good, and the crowds were decent and enthusiastic. In fact, the enthusiasm was so great that BAAS increased in size by 17% in two days, and took in proceeds enough to sponsor a major event. Cool!
The BAAS Room. Many thanks to Constantine/Dagogo for providing space to BAAS for a hospitality suite. Our seemingly-conflicting plan was to provide: (1) a good listening experience on equipment that most audiophiles can afford (2) facilitate non-commercial conversation among enthusiasts; and (3) the means for BAAS to advance the cause by showing the flag and signing new members. I think that we did reasonably well on these.
The system in play for most of the show included:
- Custom speakers featuring the 15″ Audio Nirvana Neo drivers. I installed the 15″ full-range Neos in cabinets that I bought used, and tuned the boxes for the new drivers. The AN drivers are available on the web for $1000.
- Oppo Universal Player model BDP-83SE “Audiophile Edition.” Capable (and discontinued) player, sometimes available for about $500 used.
- Denon Integrated Amp Model PMA-A100 “Anniversity Edition.” A real gem. Research the Denon POA-4400 mono-blocks. The circuit in these is similar in design. Discontinued. Available used on eBay for $1400-$1700.
- ASC tube traps. Four of them. Thanks, ASC!
- Various DIY cables, $100 medical power conditioner, DIY room treatments (703 rigid fiberglass), etc.
Other delights. I quite frankly had my hands full in the BAAS room, and didn’t spend much time in the others. I therefore think it’d be a diservice to readers to comment on room specifics. I can generalize and say that maybe 25% of rooms had great sound, 20% had obviously-flawed sonics, and the rest sounded OK. I think that this quality mix is above-average. As always, Cookie and the Blue Coast room were a boon. The show organization and hotel staff were great, the elevators worked, AC power was fine, and food (I had burgers) was tasty (if very slooooow in coming).
Our volunteers. I can’t say enough about the great job that our volunteers did in our room. Bravo! Our folks embraced their jobs with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. It was catchy. And I was astounded when some of our most laid-back members started pitching BAAS membership to prospects. Wow. No wonder we gained so many new members. To hone their games, I started espousing the “Always Be Closing (ABC)” method that I used to teach software salespeople! LOL.
Beautiful 3-song set, huh? The sheer power and authenticity of “live” is tough to beat. Masterful artists combining in real time in ways that machines never will.
For more of the same, I would urge you to explore all of NPR’s “Tiny Desk” videos – they are as cool as they are diverse. (Thanks to my brother Dave for pointing them out to me)
Contrast this with the world described in this NYT feature detailing the efforts of Kuk Harrell and the “vocal producers” of today’s major pop acts. Oh my, what a difference.
I’m not writing this to suggest which is better. And I’d guess that Adele has used vocal producers. I’m just contrasting (for the n-th time) the differences in approach and feel.
Wanted to introduce myself. Dennis Davis and I started BAAS circa 1995 after we met at a audio show (Stereophile?) in San Francisco. We hit it off immediately and thought it would be cool to start up an audiophile society. As you know Dennis was active in the Northern CA Audiophile group that eventually faded away for lack of participation (no one wanted to organize events). We published a want-ad in the SF Chronicle and at rec.audio.com (I wrote that piece you published in a recent BAAS note I think). There were really no officers (sort of just Dennis and myself).
Anyway the first meeting was at my house in SF and we had about 30-40 people if I recall there, including some of the current members such as Jason Serinus, Herb Cygan, Manny LaCarrubba (inventor of the cool B+O 360 degree speaker) and Manuel. Anyway, the first few years was a lot of fun and we had some excellent meetings including ones at Mobile Fidelity at their vinyl pressing plant in Petaluma, presentations of various audio products at a now-defunct high end dealer in Sausalito (Music by Design) as well as discussions about vinyl vs. digitial. A number of our get-togethers were at the Josephine Randall Museum Theater in the City. My participation waned after a few years because of personal issues. Dennis was left pretty much on his own to run the ship. Mea culpa.
Part of the difficulty at that time was lack of volunteers to organize meetings and events. System hopping was just getting started. Organizing and producing get-togethers was a lot of work and usually only a small number of people (2-3) were willing to put in the time to develop these. I believe that is why Dennis eventually also dropped out.
Fortunately people like yourself and Jason have kept BAAS alive and thriving. My hat’s off to both of you. The BAAS web site is wonderful, promotes ongoing interest and provides a way of sharing ideas and news without publishing a hard copy newsletter. I thought the High Note in its day was great but was pretty labor-intensive. I still remember stuffing envelopes! The title was “borrowed” from the name of an audio salon we found in one of the audiophile magazines. We also had a cool looking membership card that we distributed to members – I thought I still had a stack of these but couldn’t find them – maybe I gave them to Dennis.
We have covered the battle to regain dynamic range in recordings before.
Now, several champions of the cause are claiming significant progress, with maybe an end in sight. They even cite a new “standard” measure – the LU – for loudness.
I don’t listen to a lot of pop, but the little that I hear gives me less cause for enthusiasm.
What do you think?
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