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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 28, 2013 41 comments
64x DSD, 128x DSD, and DXD for under a Grand
The DSD wars are heating up. When I started my list of DSD-ready DACs back in November of 2011, there were a grand total of four DACs and two of them were from the same company. The big news back then was the Mytek DAC coming in at $1,695 but if you look at that list today, you'll see more for less (and more). The Teac UD-501 is currently the least expensive DAC on that list but that doesn't mean you're necessarily getting less. As a matter of fact, the Teac offers up to double rate DSD (5.6MHz) and 384kHz PCM playback out of the box which certainly looks like a lot on paper. But what really matters isn't to be found on paper, and it isn't even necessarily only about how it sounds, it is all about how it makes us feel.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 27, 2013 10 comments
In a paper titled "Human Time-Frequency Acuity Beats the Fourier Uncertainty Principle" published in Physical Review Letters in January 2013, Jacob N. Oppenheim and Marcelo O. Magnasco present a case for why MP3s suck (that's my capsule summary but it's really much more interesting). From the abstract of their paper:
The time-frequency uncertainty principle states that the product of the temporal and frequency extents of a signal cannot be smaller than 1/(4π). We study human ability to simultaneously judge the frequency and the timing of a sound. Our subjects often exceeded the uncertainty limit, sometimes by more than tenfold, mostly through remarkable timing acuity. Our results establish a lower bound for the nonlinearity and complexity of the algorithms employed by our brains in parsing transient sounds, rule out simple “linear filter” models of early auditory processing, and highlight timing acuity as a central feature in auditory object processing.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Feb 26, 2013 29 comments
Flamenco guitarist Jason McGuire

If ever an audio event were in living color, it was the Bay Area Audiophile Society’s (BAAS) February 23 live / DSD event at Blue Coast Studios in Belmont, CA. Jointly hosted by Blue Coast Records founder Cookie Marenco, a long-time proponent of DSD who has engineered or produced five Grammy nominated records, and the dedicated president of BAAS, Bob Walters, the two-session event prefaced comparisons of four DSD-capable DACs at three different price points with intimate, live-to-DSD recording sessions with Flamenco guitarist Jason McGuire.

Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 23, 2013 26 comments
Alpha Release
JRiver, Inc. has released an OSX version of their well-known media player JRiver Media Center. The Windows software has been considered by many to be one of the best audio players available. When I began my computer audio journey in 2006, I turned to JRiver as a superior alternative to the Windows Media Player. The JRiver Media Center 18 for Mac is presently in an Alpha version. This means that many of the features of the program do not function. But the program does play music successfully, so I thought that a report on this new release would be of interest to our AudioStream readers.
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 22, 2013 24 comments
Wide Open
Here's what I've learned after thirty odd years in the audio business as a high-end audio salesman, and later on as a reviewer: The problem with speakers, including a lot of really good ones, is they sound like speakers. You're always aware the sound is coming out of a box or panel. Most of my favorites minimize that effect and have an "open" quality that lets the sound float free of the speakers. KEF's new X300A speakers are among the most open sounding speakers I have ever used with my computer. They're good, really good.
Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 22, 2013 3 comments
You saw that one coming, didn't ya. There are a few bands that I get excited over every new release and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds is one of 'em. Push the Sky Away is their fifteenth and newest studio album (their first, From Her to Eternity, dates back to 1984) and its a slow-moving, strolling through life's quieter back alleys with a swagger and a song kinda record. I recently had a mini-Birthday Party LP party and while I certainly miss those badder-ass'd days, much as I miss miss Polly Jean Harvey's harder side, I can get into Push the Sky Away and its quieter more sullen songs largely because that makes sense with time. After all, we can't all be Mick and Keith still filled with jump and flash, can we.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 21, 2013 0 comments
Tune in to at 8:45pm PST to hear Nick and the boys (no longer next door) perform their new album Push the Sky Away. If I could stay up until 11:45pm EST I would.
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Steven Plaskin Posted: Feb 19, 2013 4 comments
Playback Designs MPS-3 CD Player/DAC
The MPS-3 CD Player, while offering a CD transport, is really a full featured DAC with Asynchronous USB input that supports high resolution files of up to 384/24 kHz PCM and 6.1 MHz DSD through USB with either a PC or MAC. A better name for this product is the Music Playback System 3. Playback Designs offers the same product without the CD transport for $6500 that is called the MPD-3.

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 18, 2013 11 comments
Vol. 08 Winter 2012 of Net Audio included an entire section devoted to DSD

There are a few lists that I maintain for AudioStream including the ever-popular HD Download Sites and what began life on November 2, 2011 as "DSD-Ready DACs (A Short List)". At that time, there were four DACs from three companies including Playback Designs, EMM Labs, and the then lowest-priced contender the Mytek Digital Stereo 192-DSD DAC ($1,695). Today this list has grown to include some twenty eight companies.

Michael Lavorgna Posted: Feb 15, 2013 1 comments
Elizabeth Harris is Grouper and Hold/Sick was originally released as a 7" tour single in 2010. I'm really using this download as a good excuse to introduce Liz Harris/Grouper and would recommend diving into her full length LPs, if you can find them.


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