Kind Midas Sound's 2009 album Waiting For You... was a highlight of that year for me. Slow, sexy, and deeply rooted in the grime and grit of Kevin Martin's sound, Waiting For You... offered ominous brooding beats and roots-infused soul. I've been waiting for what's next ever since and the trio just released a two-track EP for Record Store Day in advance of a forthcoming album on Ninja Tune that more than hints at some some alt rock hard-core edginess creeping in to take over where their dub-infested sound of old left off. Or to put it another way, Aroo crushes.
General Description of The Analog DAC
The Analog DAC is MSB Technology’s newest DAC model that was designed to offer audiophiles a DAC that is analog-like in sound quality, but without the limitations of dynamics and distortion. As it just so happens, The Analog DAC is the least expensive of the DACs offered by MSB Technology, but offers a number of features found in their more expensive models.
In my quest to find a suitable replacement for the discontinued Logitech Squeezebox Touch, I came across the Rasberry Pi. Anyone on a similar quest has more than likely been tempted by the Pi and if you're anything like me, you found its $35 price tag coupled with the promise of streaming capabilities from network attached storage and USB audio output too good to pass up. So I ordered myself some Raspberry Pi, loaded up a few instances of music player software and got to playing. I will say up front that so far I have mine working with CD-quality files through an older USB 1.0 DAC.
The Focal CMS 40 powered speaker is referred to as a monitor on the company's website. A subtle distinction perhaps but a monitor is meant for monitoring records during production whereas a speaker is meant to be used when the production work is done. So a monitor is a tool for listening whereas a speaker is a tool for enjoyment. Some listeners, like audiophiles, for example, do both and a speaker like the Focal CMS 40 is practically made to order.
Can You Handle the Truth?
What the heck is a "monitor" speaker? The word was initially applied to actual studio monitors, but it quickly came to be associated with any small- or mid-size bookshelf speaker. The M-Audio BX5 D2 is a bona-fide active (self-powered) monitor that can be used as a reference in a home studio (or desktop system). Accuracy is de rigueur for monitors, so if you're searching for a speaker with a sweet sound that makes everything, including nasty MP3s sound good this little guy won't cut it, but well-recorded electronica, jazz, classical, or most types of acoustic music the BX5 D2 will be a treat for your ears. They list for $299 a pair, but I've seen them going for closer to $230 online, and for that kind of money it's hard to beat.
The topic of audiophile USB cables seems to elicit endless debate from computer audio enthusiasts. Many heated arguments have taken place at internet audio forums arguing the merits of these cables. There are those that feel that the improvements heard by using an upgraded USB cable versus a standard Belkin printer cable are purely imaginary.
Line The Clouds is filled with nursery-rhyme simple songs with spare instrumental accompaniment coupled with abstracted sounds that together weed their way into your thoughts like tiny Trojan Horses packed with emotions. Ashley Paul is a jazz and improv-trained multi-instrumentalist who seems more comfortable with dissonance than melody and she uses her squeaky sax, clarinet, flute, piano, percussion banged and bowed, plucked guitar, bells, and voice to tell small tales in a minimal manner. If you like the idea of something along the lines of Christina Carter meets Maher Shalal Hash Baz orchestrated by Harry Partch, you'll dig Line The Clouds .
A day after posting, "Now we need more content providers to step up to the plate giving us access to a wider selection of DSD downloads. I'd say it's only a matter of time.", this message greeted me in my Inbox:
We would like to welcome Fidelio Recordings to DSDFile.
First release is the classical master piece From The New World.
DSD via DoP and SDHC
Before going to press with this review, I figured I'd give it one last lap around the 'net to see if I could locate some information regarding when (or if) the Fostex HP-A8C would be able to play back DSD over PCM/USB. I stumbled on a post by 'AnakChan' on HeadFi that pointed to the Fostex Japan website and lo and behold there was firmware version 2.01B with DoP (you can get it here). Once I downloaded and updated, all I had to do was navigate to the USB over PCM menu option, enable it, and I was streaming DSD over USB in no time. Lovely. Why this firmware revision from November 2012 is not yet available on the Fostex International (English) website is anyone's guess. The latest version to be found there is 1.31 which does not include the DSD over USB option so you are stuck playing back only DSF formatted DSD files through the HP-A8C's SD (or SDHC) card reader. And that's kind of a drag.