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May, 2009:

New Pages for Naim, Neat and Thorens

I’m away at the Munich show, it’s late and I’m knackered, so I’m waiting to add the niceties of all the internal links until next Tuesday but if you need them now check out the pages list on the bottom right for the links to new pages for Naim Ovator S-600, Neat Elite SX and the Thorens TD 309 Tri-Balance all launched today.

SuperShield – Chord’s new budget HDMI cable available now

Chord’s new and extremely pretty SuperShield HDMI is available now.

It’s targeted at the entry-level end of the specialist market where the performance:price ratio is absolutely critical.

But entry-level at Chord is just an expression that means a greater challenge

The SuperShield is HDMI 1.3b certified.

It uses 26awg oxygen free copper conductors for high conductivity, and low density gas filled polyethylene insulation for its excellent dielectric properties.

Each of the pairs of conductors are protected by a dual-foil shield, and the overall cable is additionally shielded by a foil and a high density braid, effective to high frequencies in traditional Chord fashion.

Gold-plated connectors, soldered with Chord’s chosen lead-free solder, help to achieve the best performance and complete the package of an extremely cost effective HDMI cable for the new world economy.

My sentiments entirely

Very interested to read on Amarra’s website and I paraphrase ‘it’s easy to make music sound good on a computer but hard to make it sound fabulous’.  I think they have been listening to my conversations.

Next week I’m in Munich for the High End show and by coincidence will be sharing a booth (or to be more exact one of my clients Thorens is sharing a booth) themed Sources of the Future – as it’s vinyl and streaming – with Higoto who are Germany’s streaming experts.

The demos will be of Thoren’s new Tri-Balance turntable, the Logitech Transporter and a Macbook running iTunes with the Amarra software into a Weiss DAC.

Should be very interesting.  It’ll bring out all the digits is digits posts again, especially as Amarra is around $1500.  That means the price of Mac Book Pro , Amarra and DAC will be around £5-6k.  Cheaper than my CD player. But will it deliver as much?

Will it be fabulous hi-fi or fabulous music?

Enthusiasm, Over Selling or Spam?

Mid April I bought a few downloaded tracks from Blue Coast Records. They were hi-res recordings and not too bad at all.
Since then the guys at Blue Coast have not left me alone. Every few days I get another email trying to flog me some more.
Am I alone in thinking that this is Spamming me? One email a month trying to sell me some new stuff would be absolutely fine and in fact I might do exactly that and buy some more. But all these emails are just a PITA and I’ve sent the please unsubscribe email.

No more business for them from me.

Don’t you just love iTunes not

For reasons mainly to do with a second interest after music/hi-fi, I’m often swapping computers and playing about. Nearly every application on this planet is easier to reinstall, without losing stuff, than iTunes.

I’ve just moved to the beta of Windows 7 because even in beta it’s more stable that Vista. To give it a fair chance I thought I should start with a clean install. Sorted everything out but bloody iTunes. Haven’t lost the apps for the iPhone but have lost all the music on the hard drive. Not the one I installed Win 7 on – I’m not that stupid yet, but a second drive used for miscellaneous data and iTunes.

Luckily the music is still on my iPhone but getting it back to my HD seems to be very difficult. I’ve done it before but that was when it seemed to be possible to tell the iPod it was a HD. Doesn’t seem possible with the iPhone.

I’m sure someone out there will tell me it’s easy. Hopefully.

ASIO v K Mixer v Kernel Streaming

Computer audio seems to generate emotions when discussing what products to use that really are odd. Why do people get  so wound up?  I’d be interested in your comments. Ideally one would take a computer, connect a good DAC and play one’s favourite music using one’s favourite app.

If only it were that simple to get a great sound from CA.  The more I experiment the more I realise that CA is absolutely similar to analog audio or indeed any audio when taken seriously.  Every change is audible. Assuming one has a good enough system.

Of course, just because a change is audible doesn’t mean it matters.

The expression bandied about on forums about Computer Audio is bit transparent.  The theory is simple: it’s getting the bits from the Hard Drive out of the computer without them being manipulated/changed in any way.

I’ve tried many music playing apps and they all seem to sound subtly different.  Even different releases of iTunes are reported to sort different.  Life is far to short to bother to try different releases.  As they say, I tried it once and didn’t like it.

For convenience for quick playback I tend to use VLC www.videolan.org.  It seems to play almost everything audio and video and can even stream stuff over  my network.  It works well for Radio Paradise too.

If I want to get serious say when I’m comparing DACs I tend to use Foobar.  It’s not my favourite user experience but it is easily configurable. For use under Win XP it’s possible to use the ASIO add in to bypass the K Mixer (assuming you have a suitable sound card). I use the M-Audio Transit. For Vista the WASAPI add in also bypasses the Windows (Kernel Mixer aka K Mixer) mixer.  With volumes set at 100% one should be achieving bit transparency and the sound should be just that little bit cleaner, less splashy and the space between notes will be greater somehow.

CA still never gets truly close to good CD playback.  Not yet for me anyway.  And it’s not ’cause I haven’t tried hard.

It’s a bit simpler with a Mac (the classic Mac and a DAC route) assuming you remember to set the right bit depth and bit rate in the Midi settings but I can’t say it sounds any better.