This is Q&A 1 of 10 with Media Player/Music Server Software companies. Each Q&A will be presented as its own post, one-a-day (think of it as your daily dose of vitamin geek) so we can digest and discuss one topic at a time. The participants are Damien Plisson of Audirvana, Tim Murison of BitPerfect Sound Inc. (BitPerfect), Dr. Rob Robinson of Channel D (Pure Music/Pure Vinyl), Josef Piri & Marcin Ostapowicz of JPlay, Jim Hillegass of JRiver, (JRiver Media Center), Jussi Laako of Signalyst (HQ Player), Stephen F. Booth of sbooth.org (Decibel), and Jon Reichbach of Sonic Studio, (Amarra).
I'm feeling sentimental, so here's a blast from our recent past—Burial's self-titled album released on Hyperdub in 2006 made a whole host of "Best of..." lists and it continues to...crackle. When I first heard it six years ago I wrote, Beautiful, transcendental, hypnotic music from anonymous Burial. Lee Perry’s Black Ark moves to Blade Runner’s LA and they have a baby called dubstep. Primate pirate drum dub crackled. i.e., I liked it even though it sounds so forlorn.
Catching the DSD Buzz
The Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC was unveiled at last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest right around the time of AudioStream's public launch. As we both approach our first birthday, it seems somehow appropriate that I'm finally taking a closer look and listen. Direct Stream Digital (DSD). There I said it. Most of the buzz at RMAF 2011 was the Mytek's ability to play back DSD natively and while this is truly buzz-worthy for a number of reasons, I'd say that's only about half the story.
Tusk, tusk, tusk, rumors and more rumors. There was a time back in the '70s where it felt like Fleetwood Mac had taken up camp inside my head. Their music was played so frequently on the radio and at parties, it became a kind of de facto soundtrack to many lives. And I kinda hated that. Out!, damn spot! I do not own any Fleetwood Mac albums, and I have not listened to their music in years which means nostalgia may have begun to work its magic, polishing these once-painful memories of repetition ad nauseam into something golden and oldie.
There have been a number of comments here on AudioStream of late asking about things like comparative reviews, value, accuracy, and other common-enough audiophile topics. While some people appear to assume that their way of doing things is the only way of doing things, I have always held that in hi-fi, enjoyment rules. Ideally this enjoyment is concerned with music but practically speaking it is most certainly a personal matter.
So I figured I'd share another "As We See It" I wrote for Stereophile (originally published October 2010) which touches on this topic. You can read the original here which includes a few pages of Letters to the Editor. Enjoy!
Thanks to John Marks of Stereophile for the heads up on this tiny app-O-controversy. The Cardas Clarifier has been sold in CD-form through Ayre Acoustics as the "Irrational But Efficacious" CD ($20) and from Cardas in LP-form as the "Cardas Frequency Sweep Record" ($28) for years. Decades even. Now computer audiophiles can delight in the Cardas Clarifier App for iOS devices for just $0.99. That's right for under a buck you can purportedly degauss your gear and listen while you do it to what my ears sounds exactly like the sound my spaceship makes when it takes off.
Here’s an indispensable entry for every Audiophile library—Daniel J. Levitin’s This Is Your Brain On Music (Dutton, 2006) which explains, among many other things, why being a musician, even a poor one, is much more important than having an expensive car:
A Crimson Introduction
Back in 2006, I remember J. Gordon Rankin posting a thread in one of the audio forums announcing his plans for a new USB DAC called the Crimson. Over the next six months, I exchanged weekly e-mails with Gordon that described the designing and building challenges he faced when trying to come up with a final design of the Crimson. I realized at that time that Gordon Rankin was one obsessed audiophile when it came to a design that would carry the Wavelength Audio name. He would not release the Crimson until he was satisfied that it was the best he could build.
Coming to a Mac near you - JRiver has announced that an Audio-only version of their popular media player software is coming for OS X users by the end of the year. No word yet on when the Video portion, which an important part of the player's appeal for videophiles, will follow. The Windows-version of JRiver is currently $49.98 so I'd expect the OS X version to come in around that neighborhood. Choice is good, more choices are more better.