This article originally appeared in the October issue of our sister publication Sound & Vision
If you haven’t taken the dive into computer audio, you may be asking yourself a very simple question—Why should I? The very simple answer is accessibility and sound quality. Computer-based audio allows you to store all of your music in one central location on a computer network, making it accessible from virtually any network-attached device. And when your network is connected to the Internet, you have access to the largest source of free (and legal) and paid music on the planet. Unlike disc-based music, computer-based audio is not restricted to any particular format. You can have CD quality, DVD-Audio quality, SACD quality, and even music in greater resolutions than disc-based formats allow. With computer-based audio, you can have your cakes and eat them, too, in as many rooms as you’d like.
I'll say up front that I loved this record before I heard it. That's right, Archie Shepp, saxophone player extraordinaire and one of our greatest living artists, has a new record. No, not a reissue, a new record on his own Archieball label recorded live in France on Sept 9 2012 at the Jazz à La Villette Festival, June 14 2013 at CNCDC de Châteauvallon, and on June 17 2013 at Les Nuits de Fourvière Festival with his Attica Blues Orchestra. I Hear the Sound swings like Duke, romps like Mingus, and sings the blues like, well, Archie Shepp. I Hear a Sound is a re-telling of Shepp's 1972 Attica Blues LP originally released on Impulse! as a tribute to the rebellion that took place within the walls of Attica State Prison. Let's let Archie Shepp tell us about it (from the excellent liner notes):
With all of the attention DSD has garnered of late, it seemed like a good time to go to one of SACD's creators for answers to some common questions. Andreas Koch was involved in developing the standards and equipment for SACD production, recording, and playback, his company Playback Designs was one of the first to offer DSD capability in a consumer product, and he was also an integral player in the development of the DSD over PCM (DoP) specification. Andreas was kind enough to answer some questions concerning DSD which will hopefully clarify some aspects of how DSD actually works.
American Masters: Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’ airs tonight at 9:00PM (EST) on PBS (check local listings). Contains previously unseen live footage...Hendrix fans don't really need to read anything more.
I encourage anyone interested in this discussion to head on over to InnerFidelity and read Tyll's response to my piece The Trouble with Listening. I think he does a wonderful job of unraveling this potentially complex and contentious subject. Bravo Tyll!
The SOtM tX-USBexp Audiophile PCIe to USB Audio Card
The SOtM PCIe to USB 3.0 Card is compatible with Windows 7/8 and Linux. You can power the SOtM card in three ways; through the 4-pin IDE connector that uses your computer's dirty power, externally using a 9V power supply (like the one that came with your cell phone), or with a high quality linear battery-power supply like the SOtM mBPS-d2s Intelligent Battery Power Supply which I'll also be talking about in this review.
The HDtracks website is sporting a new design and while past visitors will recognize the overall layout, there are a few changes that should make browsing more pleasant. First off, you can now scroll through more releases right on the home page and there's a Wishlist feature to save yourself the trouble of remembering. While there were hyperlinks associated with releases on the old site including Artist, Genre, and Label, these are featured on more pages of the new site and releases now get a single page with the different sample rates available from a drop-down menu where the old site split these into multiple pages. For those shoppers looking for more information like DR Values and detailed provenance information for each release, the wait continues.
Rarely has one week sounded so good. A quintet of releases of stunning sonic proportions! Here we have music to fit many moods from quiet introspection to percolating Argentinian pop, to brooding noir-colored chanson, electronic dreams, and dreamy tales. I don't have a favorite among these five wonderful releases unless you talk to me while I'm listening to one in which case it will be it.
The folks over at Light Harmonic are at it again, this time crowdfunding their latest desktop DAC and headphone amplifier the Geek Pulse over on Indiegogo. If you followed their last Kickstarter campaign, you'll recall that they raised a whopping $303,000 and change for the little Geek. The Pulse is the desktop version and offers a host of inputs including 2x Coax S/PDIF, 1x Toslink, and 1x USB capable of handling up to 32/384, DXD, DSD64 and DSD128 (natively). Outputs include a pair of RCAs and a 1/4" headphone jack.