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Streaming Audio Devices: review and information thread (Updated 4/23 with JF Digital review) - Page 5

post #61 of 142
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure I can move it - I suppose I could ask a Mod to do it for me?

 

To be honest, when I first came up with the idea for this thread I saw a bit of a hole in terms of what type of info was readily available. Audiostream.com was less than two months old and I wasn't sure what to expect from Michael Lavorgna. Turns out he is doing a great job covering similar stuff, therefore taking away some of the passion I had for this thread. 

 

I do think this thread is still very HeadFi specific since it is focused on devices that fit well in a headphone rig - usable display and front panel controls required. But I also realize that more and more people use the iPad so my requirements are becoming less relevant. 

 

 

 

 

The Stream Magic 6 makes sense to me - take the NP30, beef up the analog section and DAC section with what is likely amounts to a DacMagic+ (or very similar), and sell it for the appropriate price. The press release specifically mentions building on the lessons learned from the NP30 (which had some nearly fatal quirks from what I've read). If they really did manage to fix all the bugs and such then the Stream Magic 6 could be pretty nice. The NP30 and the DM+ were/are $599 each so the $999 price of the Stream Magic seems about right. 

 

I'm finding myself highly tempted by the Consonance Reference 7:

 

 

 

2gsfqja.jpg

 

2mg5sg4.jpg

 

R7_black.jpg

 

This was apparently announced last year some time but I missed it until recently. It obviously uses the processing module from JF Digital, but goes in a completely new direction for the DAC and analog stage. 6H30 tube output? Yes please! I don't really need it at all, but I'm tempted.


Edited by project86 - 5/19/12 at 3:27pm
post #62 of 142

Great pickup P86 - Consonance seems to be steadily winning over some of the snobs who wouldnt previously have considered 'China' and 'high end' in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. It seems that once you start charging serious money for your product, people sit up and  take notice - hmmm .....  wink.gif

 

Aaah, so much kit, so little in the bank - I look forward to your reviews like a drowning man reaches for a life jacket.  biggrin.gif

post #63 of 142

Naim ND5 XS

 

~2k GBP. 3500 USD

 

naim_nd5_xs_diag.jpg

 

 

Specifications
Type: Network Audio Device
Digital Inputs: Ethernet, USB, S/PDIF via BNC and RCA and TosLink optical.
Digital Outputs: S/PDIF via BNC

Antenna Inputs: DAB/FM, Wi-Fi (802.11 g or n at 2.4GHz)
Tuning Range: DAB (Band lll and L Band), FM 87.5-108MHz (FM/DAB version only)
Outputs: DIN and RCA, 2.1V rms at 1kHz at full level (Fixed)
Output Impedance: 32 Ohms maximum
Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 20 kHz (+0.1/-0.5dB)
THD+N: <0.02%, 10Hz to 20kHz at full level
Audio Formats Supported: WAV, AIFF and FLAC (up to 24bit/192kHz )
    ALAC (up to 24bit/96kHz) Ogg Vorbis (up to 320bit/s)
    Windows Media-formatted content-9 (up to 320kbit/s)

    Playlists (M3U, PLS) MP3, M4a (up to 320kbit/s)

iRadio Service Provider: vTuner 5* full service Internet radio (Windows Media-formatted content, MP3 streams, MMS, Ogg Vorbis)
Power Supply Options: XPS and 555 PS
Dimensions: 70 x 432 x 301 (HxWxD in mm)
Price: £1925 in the UK, $3495 in the United States

 

Reviews:

 

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/superioraudio/equipment/1211/naim_audio_nd5_xs.htm      

 

http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/news/article.asp?a=8865   

 

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/editorial/naim-nd5-xs-%E2%80%93-almost-but-not-quite-naim%E2%80%99s-best-network-audio-device-unless%E2%80%A6

 

By my count, Naim now have no less than 5 'network ready' sources - the uber-pricey NDX, the ND5 XS, SuperUniti, Uniti and UnitiQute. Mind-blowing. Sadly, so are there prices - one of the few Naim dealers in Oz prepared to publish his pricing seems quite ecstatic that his customers can now own the SuperUniti / SuperNAIT combination for a mere 10,500 AUD.  Little wonder the 2K GBP price on this seems to have been greeted with wild enthusiasm. 

post #64 of 142

I've been using Squeezebox players for a long time.  Their DAC and audio stage is not terrible right out of the box, but typically I use an outboard DAC off the SPDIF.

 

You can listen to tracks from your own server, or to Internet Radio streams, as well as Pandora, LastFM, etc.

 

I like the server, there are a lot of good plug-ins to do various things.  I currently run the server on Windows 7, but I've run it on XP and Linux, it's all good.  Pretty mature technology, been around for something like 5 years.

 

When I am doing serious listening, I control the player from my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android tablet, it's a great interface device for a music system.  I have 60,000 FLAC tracks stored in a 3 TB RAID 5 array. It's great to "surf" my music collection on the tablet, and listen on my Magneplanar 3.6's.  I can see info about the track, and click on parts of the track info which then take me to more tracks by, for example, the bass player in a given track.  Or I can read a bio of the artist. And of course I can see the cover art.

 

I can also use my Windows Phone 7 to control the player (there's an app for that,) and there's also a pretty useful remote that is intended to work with the Squeezebox Duo- but which can be used with any Squeezebox.  I use both WiFi and ethernet-connected Squeezeboxes in my various systems.  

 

You can also use things like Winamp or VLC to listen to files from the server on a computer, etc.  I can also stream my entire collection to my phone, either as full FLAC files or compressed to the MP3 bitrate of my liking.  (Full FLAC requires something like 750k~1 mb of bandwidth, and  carrier promises notwithstanding, you don't always get that from 4g or 3g phones, so I usually use a 256k MP3 to stream to my phone.  It was pretty cool to listen to my music stored in Chicago sitting in a park in Paris.)

 

Much less costly than Sonos.


Edited by milosz - 5/20/12 at 4:01am
post #65 of 142
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Great pickup P86 - Consonance seems to be steadily winning over some of the snobs who wouldnt previously have considered 'China' and 'high end' in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence. It seems that once you start charging serious money for your product, people sit up and  take notice - hmmm .....  wink.gif

 

Aaah, so much kit, so little in the bank - I look forward to your reviews like a drowning man reaches for a life jacket.  biggrin.gif

 

Yeah the whole issue of "Chi-Fi" acceptance here in the west is very interesting to me. There's probably some interesting psychology involved. Personally I don't care where my gear comes from, nor do I care one bit about the prestige of the brand name. If it works, it works. 

 

The only problem is that I don't really need to upgrade... my JF Digital server has the same functionality, and the only thing I'd gain by getting the Consonance is a great analog output.... but I've already got more hi-end DACs than I can handle. Still, I want to upgrade. I guess that's how it goes. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Naim ND5 XS

 

~2k GBP. 3500 USD

 

naim_nd5_xs_diag.jpg

 

 

Specifications
Type: Network Audio Device
Digital Inputs: Ethernet, USB, S/PDIF via BNC and RCA and TosLink optical.
Digital Outputs: S/PDIF via BNC

Antenna Inputs: DAB/FM, Wi-Fi (802.11 g or n at 2.4GHz)
Tuning Range: DAB (Band lll and L Band), FM 87.5-108MHz (FM/DAB version only)
Outputs: DIN and RCA, 2.1V rms at 1kHz at full level (Fixed)
Output Impedance: 32 Ohms maximum
Frequency Response: 10 Hz to 20 kHz (+0.1/-0.5dB)
THD+N: <0.02%, 10Hz to 20kHz at full level
Audio Formats Supported: WAV, AIFF and FLAC (up to 24bit/192kHz )
    ALAC (up to 24bit/96kHz) Ogg Vorbis (up to 320bit/s)
    Windows Media-formatted content-9 (up to 320kbit/s)

    Playlists (M3U, PLS) MP3, M4a (up to 320kbit/s)

iRadio Service Provider: vTuner 5* full service Internet radio (Windows Media-formatted content, MP3 streams, MMS, Ogg Vorbis)
Power Supply Options: XPS and 555 PS
Dimensions: 70 x 432 x 301 (HxWxD in mm)
Price: £1925 in the UK, $3495 in the United States

 

Reviews:

 

http://www.enjoythemusic.com/superioraudio/equipment/1211/naim_audio_nd5_xs.htm      

 

http://www.hifichoice.co.uk/news/article.asp?a=8865   

 

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/editorial/naim-nd5-xs-%E2%80%93-almost-but-not-quite-naim%E2%80%99s-best-network-audio-device-unless%E2%80%A6

 

By my count, Naim now have no less than 5 'network ready' sources - the uber-pricey NDX, the ND5 XS, SuperUniti, Uniti and UnitiQute. Mind-blowing. Sadly, so are there prices - one of the few Naim dealers in Oz prepared to publish his pricing seems quite ecstatic that his customers can now own the SuperUniti / SuperNAIT combination for a mere 10,500 AUD.  Little wonder the 2K GBP price on this seems to have been greeted with wild enthusiasm. 

 

 Naim and Linn can both be called "pioneers" or "early adopters" in the streaming game. I have no direct experience with their streamers but they look impressive.

 

Problems: 1) The prices, even for the entry level units, are very much on the high side. 2) It's hard to differentiate one model from the next. The Linn Akurate DS is nearly double the price of the Linn Majik DS, and there's very little information as to what exactly the extra money gets you. It's safe to assume that they are based on the architectures of the Majik CD and Akurate CD, meaning one is a step up from the other, but I'd like to know exactly what I was getting for my extra $3k - keeping in mind the plethora of eexceptional quality external DACs available for that amount or even for less. 

 

The Consonance Reference 7 appears to go for about $3k. Based on specs alone it has a lot more going for it than the Naim or Linn models. But that's usually the case when you compare Chinese firms with well-established western brands. 

post #66 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by project86 View Post

 

Yeah the whole issue of "Chi-Fi" acceptance here in the west is very interesting to me. There's probably some interesting psychology involved. Personally I don't care where my gear comes from, nor do I care one bit about the prestige of the brand name. If it works, it works.  

 

The Consonance Reference 7 appears to go for about $3k. Based on specs alone it has a lot more going for it than the Naim or Linn models. But that's usually the case when you compare Chinese firms with well-established western brands. 

 

Agree that the Chinese pack a lot into a given casing, even with skilled workers demanding higher wages. I'm old enough to remember when 'Made In Japan' was synonymous with crap electronics. then they embraced an American preaching quality control and the rest is history. China's time will come and the same snobs will beat a path to their door. 

 

Big news here in Oz today according to one of our morning programs - Spotify is finally being offered locally (!). Only took 3 years, but thats the price we pay for being an outpost on the edge of the known world. Amusingly, the reporter chose to highlight Sonos integration as one of the attractions when signing up to Spotify - would be amusing to see the looks on various mum-and-dad faces when they get a look at the sticker price on Sonos' gear. Its a long way from being a household name here.  

post #67 of 142

P86, apologies for taking this slightly OT, but I really hope at least one of these devices proves to be the 'one-box solution' I'm looking for. I spent this evening going over various musings on the issues around jitter emanating from mass-produced (read 'cheap') USB sockets. Its interesting to see how many people assume that their asynch USB DAC is the silver bullet that fixes all of those issues, and equally interesting to see the arguments put up by Audiophilleo and M2Tech.  John Darko claims that DAC makers need to do a USB-to-SPDIF conversion before they can address jitter - he is a complete Audiophilleo fanboy - and it just frustrates the hell out of me. Throw in the noise generated by most computers and I'm over it - superior player interfaces notwithstanding. 

 

All of this brings me to I2S:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%C2%B2S

 

I would hope that the companies named in this thread got this right, but I found this snippet kinda interesting:

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In audio equipment the I²S is sometimes used as an external link between the CD transport and a separate box DAC, as opposed to purely internal connection within one box player. This is considered, by some audiophiles, to be a higher quality connection than the commonly used AES/EBU or Toslink or S/PDIF standards. There is no standard interconnecting cable for I²S. Some manufacturers provide simply three BNC connectors, an 8P8C ("RJ45") socket or a DE-9 connector. Others like Audio Alchemy (now defunct) used DIN connectors.

-------------------------------------------- end snip ---------------------------------------------------------

 

There IS another company that favours the DIN connector, and that company is Naim. When you think about, its just a simple, secure connnector, but they seem to cop plenty from those who think they should have gone to RCA years ago. If it aint broke, why exactly should Naim try to fix it ?  All I have to do now is get a decent price on the Uniti and leave my PC for ripping and Youtube duties - massive amounts of win there.  biggrin.gif

 

PS  Mr Darko, if you honestly expect me to buy a USB-to-SPDIF converter, an SPDIF-to-SPDIF 'dejitterer' and a DAC that takes SPDIF input, you are out of your freakin gourd. I want less boxes on my desk, not MORE !!!. I understand where you are going, but when I have to pay 4K AUD (the local distributor's outrageous markup) for the PerfectWave DAC simply to avoid that ridiculous 3-box setup, I will look elsewhere, I'll buy a vinyl rig if thats what it takes - this whole jitter debate is really wearing thin with me. Next you'll be telling us we need to wear a special bracelet to de-ionise the air particles ..... mad.gif

post #68 of 142
Thread Starter 

I don't mind a little off-topic-ness! It's all related info anyway, and I appreciate the discussion.

 

Async USB is interesting. For a moment there, the "magic bullet" mentality was wide spread. Probably still is with plenty of folks. But I go HERE and look at the measurements.... M2Tech hiFace and EVO both have relatively high jitter measurements compared to units from Anedio, Audiophilleo, and others, and also higher than some transports I've seen (including my JF Digital server). So just because it uses an asynchronous connection doesn't mean it is necessarily better than good old fashioned SPDIF. 

 

I my view, it's a combination of things that add up to the total performance. This assumes of course that you intend to use a transport/seperate DAC type of setup.

 

First, the transport must deliver a low jitter signal. In transport terms, this could be anywhere in the sub-100 picosecond range. This type of performance would have been considered word class until fairly recently, and was only achieved by high-level (expensive) transports. It's still pretty hard to find relatively speaking. 

 

Next, the DAC must have good jitter rejection capabilities. Something that can take a decent quality digital signal and spit out a very accurate, very low jitter analog signal. At this point jitter should be down to the sub-20 ps range, maybe even in the low single digits for the best DACs out there.

 

That's really what we are looking for here. At any point if you have a weakness in that chain, it could certainly be supplemented with additional hardware. So if you don't have a great transport, a USB to SPDIF converter like the Audiophilleo could fill that gap. Same thing if your DAC doesn't have the best jitter reduction capabilities. 

 

Personally, I don't buy the idea that one necessarily needs to have a USB to SPDIF converter in the chain. Nor have I ever had much luck with the "de-jitter" type devices I've tried (I've owned the Perpetual Technologies and Monarchy gear, so I can't speak for all of them out there). I respect Mr. Darko and I don't question that he hears what he hears, or prefers what he prefers.... I just don't have the same experience. 

 

Part of the issue is that different DACs have different abilities with regards to jitter, and the resulting sound doesn't always go the way you'd think. Take the Audio GD Reference 7 for example - it supposedly uses a DSP unit to reclock all incoming signals to 50 ps. So you'd think that transport quality wouldn't matter much. Yet I (and others) found that feeding it a low jitter signal was extremely important for getting the best sound out of it. Somehow the process for stripping jitter also had some other deleterious affect on the sound, or held it back from the full potential. So you're back to needing a high quality transport. With other DACs like my Violectric V800, it doesn't much care how bad the signal is. Once you reach a certain threshold where you aren't feeding it from a crappy Walmart brand DVD player (for example), it all sounds the same. So whatever their ASRC process is doing when it reclocks and de-jitters, it ends up sounding the same no matter how good or mediocre it was when it started. I suppose you could think of this in a negative way, like the V800 is holding back the potential of the better transports (while the Reference 7 isn't)... it's a matter of perspective I guess. 

 

There are multiple companies that I've seen using some version of an I2S connection - Ayon, Northstar, Audio Alchemy, PS Audio, Muse, Stello, Empirical.... I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting. I2S (aka Inter IC Sound) was originally developed as an internal interface - so there is no specification for the type of connection used. That's why you see all types of cables used among the various brands. SPDIF is basically the equivalent but was designed for external (box to box) transmission. The key difference is the SPDIF encoding done on the "sending" end, and then the decoding done at the "receiving" end. If both of those are done well then the difference is small to non-existent. Also, I2S is certainly not a free lunch, and has many inherent difficulties of its own. People who hold up I2S as some type of magic bullet are likely confused or else trying to sell you something....

 

Trying Naim could be the way to go. Especially if you can find a local dealer who will let you try it out for a while in your own home. With all the considerations regarding technology, features, and of course sound quality, I find that the user experience is still one of the key aspects in either liking or hating these devices. So it would be great to "live with it" for a few weeks and see what you think. 

post #69 of 142

Thanks for that, P86 - incredibly detailed response and it should be a sticky IMO. 

 

The issue, as I see it, is that JD feels that the USB ports on most consumer-grade mobos are as cheaply implemented as the manufacturers could possibly make them, and I agree - having had to repair PCs in an office environment at one stage in my (ha!) career. What I find interesting is that many of the recent DAC releases that feature both USB and SPDIF connections seem to have reviewers reaching for the $2 USB cable after 20 or so minutes listening via SPDIF. I also recall some, ahem. lively discussions at Computer Audiophile with designers like Gordon from Wavelength posting extremely technical responses to the time-honoured 'SPDIF is better !' mantra. I dont hear any of that anymore - dont even hear anything about Firewire DACs - whether this is 'Beta vs VHS Mark II', I cant say, but those with the expensive adaptive DACs seem to be sticking with them while new buyers flock to the Asynch brigade. Like the Sabre chip, manufacturers climbed over the top of one another to be buzzword compliant.  rolleyes.gif

 

My little rant aside - insomnia the culprit - I still want less boxes not more. It occurred to me seconds after posting that a DIN connector is no better than XLR, and there are several streaming devices in the Naim bracket with XLR-out. JD alluded to Squeezebox pouring development dollars into their own jitter management, and he claims that the next version of the Touch will be a significantly better transport - interesting times, and I'm in no hurry to throw my hat into the ring with things like that happening behind closed doors. Linn were right - its all about the source. wink.gif

post #70 of 142
Thread Starter 

I guess I can see the point there - cheap USB out on the average laptop or desktop unit is probably not optimal. That's why I've historically built my own, using the SOtM tX-USB card. I admit though that I've never sat down and done a direct A/B comparison. It would be interesting to see how the SOtM USB connection fares against standard USB out from a decent quality motherboard, and then also against a basic Dell/HP/Compaq type integrated USB. 

 

The more I look, the more there are interesting streaming options to be found. Which is cool, but also means I can't hope to possibly keep this thread up to date in terms of keeping track of the significant choices. Oh well. Here are a few that capture my interest, though none of them meet my arbitrary "headphone system" requirements of having a display and usable front panel controls:

 

pk90_3quarterfront_cropped.jpg

 

Auraliti PK90

$749

Uses SOtM tX-USB card for USB out, very simple and compact form factor. Strictly plays files off a connected hard drive rather than doing the UPnP/DLNA thing.

 

 

Sonore Signature Mini1.jpg

Sonore Signature music server

$2499 and up 

Also uses the SOtM USB card, or else available with a Firewire output, this unit has a built in HD, runs VortexBox Engine so it will automatically rip and tag your discs for you. 

 

 

147.png

SalkStream Player

$1295

USB output only, I believe it runs VortexBox but is somehow not "officially" on board with the VortexBox people. I could be wrong.

 

 

I can see how people have a hard time with this stuff. For example, the Salk and the Auraliti units both seem nearly identical - what sets them apart, other than price? Why choose one over the other? The Sonore is way more expensive but also does way more stuff, so I guess that would be a matter of considering how valuable that extra "stuff" is to you. 

 

Personally (and I know I'm probably in the minority here) I still like the concept of my JF Digital, or the Consonance D Linear 7/Reference 7 units - all in one, stand alone devices which can network but don't have to, and don't need a separate monitor for display. My listening area is on the far end of the house away from my router. WiFi works but isn't reliable for anything above 24/96 (and even that gets spotty sometimes). I'm too lazy to run Ethernet under the house, so I like the fact that I can still play a really high bitrate 24/192 file without issue - even if someone else in the house is streaming HD Netflix or otherwise burning up bandwidth. There aren't a ton of alternatives that can do the same - Bryston BDP-1 will do it but you're stuck with a tiny 2-line display. 

post #71 of 142
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by milosz View Post

I've been using Squeezebox players for a long time.  Their DAC and audio stage is not terrible right out of the box, but typically I use an outboard DAC off the SPDIF.

 

You can listen to tracks from your own server, or to Internet Radio streams, as well as Pandora, LastFM, etc.

 

I like the server, there are a lot of good plug-ins to do various things.  I currently run the server on Windows 7, but I've run it on XP and Linux, it's all good.  Pretty mature technology, been around for something like 5 years.

 

When I am doing serious listening, I control the player from my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Android tablet, it's a great interface device for a music system.  I have 60,000 FLAC tracks stored in a 3 TB RAID 5 array. It's great to "surf" my music collection on the tablet, and listen on my Magneplanar 3.6's.  I can see info about the track, and click on parts of the track info which then take me to more tracks by, for example, the bass player in a given track.  Or I can read a bio of the artist. And of course I can see the cover art.

 

I can also use my Windows Phone 7 to control the player (there's an app for that,) and there's also a pretty useful remote that is intended to work with the Squeezebox Duo- but which can be used with any Squeezebox.  I use both WiFi and ethernet-connected Squeezeboxes in my various systems.  

 

You can also use things like Winamp or VLC to listen to files from the server on a computer, etc.  I can also stream my entire collection to my phone, either as full FLAC files or compressed to the MP3 bitrate of my liking.  (Full FLAC requires something like 750k~1 mb of bandwidth, and  carrier promises notwithstanding, you don't always get that from 4g or 3g phones, so I usually use a 256k MP3 to stream to my phone.  It was pretty cool to listen to my music stored in Chicago sitting in a park in Paris.)

 

Much less costly than Sonos.

 

Somehow I missed this post - thanks for describing your setup. I'd say you are definitely a power user.

 

I still really enjoy the Squeezebox Touch - it's amazing for the price, and you can really play around with it to make it even better. I'm considering "maxing" mine out with an aftermarket PSU and hardware mods (possibly from Bolder), in addition to the Soundcheck tweaks and the Enhanced Digital Output. USB out to an Async DAC already sounds amazing, so I wonder what (if any) difference I will hear. 

post #72 of 142

I think I can see one of the reasons why the Sonore might be considerably more expensive - it uses a case I was very interested in until I specced one and realised I would be better off just buying a SuperUniti (!):

 

http://atechfabrication.com/products/HeatSync_2800HP_Mini-Client.htm

 

Fantastically configurable, but definitely not cheap. I just specced the base casing with a single-color logo and it came to ~800USD - I expect that Sonore can get a better deal, but its still an expensive start point. That said, aesthetically it leaves many of its competitors in the dust. 

 

If we go back to earlier incarnations, I've always considered the 'headless Mac Mini' a good option for basic 'jukebox' duties - once you get it set up to start iTunes automatically on boot and shuffle through your playlist, its rock solid in my experience. CEntrance might have overdone the 'me too' styling on the DACMini, but that would be an 'invisible' stack with a pair of Quad 9L Actives or similar. As a network streaming solution, its very basic and I expect that most of us would end up doing what I did - reconnecting the monitor and using it as a computer. 

 

As you said, there are so many options out there, and I expect them to come thick and fast from here. 

post #73 of 142
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the link - I configured a system and it came rather close to the price being charged for the Sonore setup. So while expensive, the Sonore seems like a rather good bargain. And the case does look very nice. That heatpipe cooling system looks great.

 

I'm curious how much of a difference in sound quality is actually achieved by using something like that compared to the basic VortexBox appliance ($500) or the CAPS server ($1500). We assume (myself included) that care needs to be taken for the USB output, power supply, etc, but I admit that I haven't done specific comparisons to see how that all plays out. 

 

 

 

 

I would imagine that most high end companies who currently make CD or universal players are rapidly working on bringing a streaming device to market. If they aren't, they should be.

post #74 of 142

Spent some time yesterday exploring Chris Connaker's latest incarnation of Computer Audiophile - his organisational skills are exemplary and I really enjoy the amount of effort he puts into each review. Downsides, IMO, are but two:

 

- as the name suggests, its all about playing music from your computer - be it Windows, Linux or Mac - and he appears to have zero interest in the streaming devices discussed here, I think he does like  the  Auraliti and one or two other 'dedicated server' options, but none of the Marantz/NAD/Naim/CA crop. 

 

- when he rebuilt the site, he made no attempt to ensure that old links were forwarded to anything other than a '404' page - having been in a similar position in the past, I know its mongrel of a job but I felt Chris could have put a little more effort into ensuring that people clicking on a link were given something better than 'file not found'.

 

I joined CA a couple of years back, but many of the threads were so jam-packed with tech stuff on jitter and associated 'invisible but hotly debated' stuff that I lost interest. Time to rekindle the fire, methinks. 

post #75 of 142
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by estreeter View Post

Spent some time yesterday exploring Chris Connaker's latest incarnation of Computer Audiophile - his organisational skills are exemplary and I really enjoy the amount of effort he puts into each review. Downsides, IMO, are but two:

 

- as the name suggests, its all about playing music from your computer - be it Windows, Linux or Mac - and he appears to have zero interest in the streaming devices discussed here, I think he does like  the  Auraliti and one or two other 'dedicated server' options, but none of the Marantz/NAD/Naim/CA crop. 

 

- when he rebuilt the site, he made no attempt to ensure that old links were forwarded to anything other than a '404' page - having been in a similar position in the past, I know its mongrel of a job but I felt Chris could have put a little more effort into ensuring that people clicking on a link were given something better than 'file not found'.

 

I joined CA a couple of years back, but many of the threads were so jam-packed with tech stuff on jitter and associated 'invisible but hotly debated' stuff that I lost interest. Time to rekindle the fire, methinks. 

 

This is where I feel the need to put up a disclaimer - as a contributor to InnerFidelity, I'm sort of associated with Audiostream by logical extension. Audiostream of course is something like a direct competitor to Computer Audiophile. Not exactly, but maybe as close as it gets in the specialized world of HiFi websites. Everything I say here is my own view, not related to any of those associations, yadda yadda yadda. 

 

There's a lot to like about Computer Audiophile. I've lurked there off and on, and appreciate the community full of knowledgeable folks like Steve Nugent and Gordon Rankin. I don't always agree 100% with their philosophy on audio design, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy their posts anyway. 

 

I dig the format of CA - it kind of reminds me of this forum actually, where you have an initial review followed by lots of discussion, alternative experiences with other users, etc. At first it seemed kind of limited because Chris was the only "voice" there doing the reviews (though now they have a female reviewer as well), but once you get into the comments and forums, you find a lot more perspectives too. I think that's a good thing.

 

They seem to attract a certain type of demographic; I'd say the average CA poster has way more disposable income than the average HeadFi poster, and is probably older as well. That's why they are able to try a lot of this high end gear so easily. Also interesting about the demographic - from what I've seen, most folks there are big cable believers. It's interesting because at InnerFidelity, we seem to attract comments from readers who are very "objectivist" and don't find cable upgrades convincing. Over at CA you have some obviously well educated forum members, yet they mostly believe in cables making an audible difference. This includes Rankin and other industry guys. I'm not making a judgment on this either way, just stating that I find it interesting. 

 

Switching topics, I forgot to mention the new Wyred 4 Sound unit seems interesting. And then there's the Olive models, which appear well done yet somehow largely escape being taken seriously by most audiophiles. I wonder why that is. 

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