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.
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.
Apple recently released an update for Mountain Lion 10.83 that included Boot Camp support for Windows 8. I have a copy of Windows 8 Pro 64 bit that I thought would work well with my Early 2011 MacBook Pro. This MacBook Pro is a 2.3 GHz Quad Core i7 with 16 GB RAM and a Samsung 840 Pro SSD 256GB. My music library is on a Promise Pegasus 8TB drive and an exact copy on a G-RAID 8TB Thunderbolt drive.
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.
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.
Aaron Neville’s latest release, My True Story, is available as a hi res download from HDtracks (96/24, 192/24). Aaron is returning to his “roots” performing doo-wop rock ballads in this album. The recording also features Keith Richards on guitar with a great band. There are no lush strings behind Aaron’s smooth vocals; just a tight band with excellent backup singers including Eugene Pitt, Booby Jay, Dickie Harmon, and Joel Katz.
Over the years, I have found Patricia Barber to be an acquired taste. Her latest recording Smash, is for me, my favorite Patricia Barber recording. Her original songs are quite good and somewhat more melodic sounding than some of those found in her previous works. Smash was recorded and mixed by Jim Anderson who has done previous recordings for Patricia Barber including Companion, Modern Cool, and Café Blue. Unlike some of the recent Concord Jazz hi-res downloads I have purchased, this recoding is not dynamically compressed and comes in at a DR 11. The overall sound quality is excellent with the 192/24 version presenting an upfront sound to the vocal that is natural with a bit of warmth.
The Da Vinci DAC has been garnering praise from both reviewers and audiophiles alike after first being exhibited at audiophile shows in 2011. Light Harmonic, a new Sacramento California based company, was launched in 2010 by Larry Ho. The Da Vinci resulted from Larry Ho’s desire to create a DAC that fulfilled his notion of what good digital audio reproduction should sound like. Larry is a dedicated audiophile that, among other things, enjoys vinyl reproduction with a tube-SET amp. After the Da Vinci was created, friends encouraged him to offer this product for sale. The result was Light Harmonic and their first product Da Vinci.
In March 2010, Channel D released their music server software Pure Music for OSX. Since then, Pure Music has been one of the reference programs I have used to evaluate music, computer hardware, and audio components due to its neutrality and excellent reliable functionality. Version 1.86 had reached a high degree of reliability with a wealth of functions. Gapless track playback and memory play, CoreAudio Device HOG Mode Exclusive Access support, native device nonmixable integer mode for OSX Snow Leopard, automatic sample rate switching, and native DSD streaming for DACs that support DoP are just a very few of the many features available with this program. All of these features beautifully integrate with the iTunes interface for access to one’s music library while using the Pure Music audio playback engine.
Sessions From The 17th Ward is Amber Rubarth’s latest release on Chesky Records. While HDtracks refers to her music as folk, there is a wide variety of music on this download with songs written by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Amber’s own songs accompanied by her guitar. Along with Amber, is Dave Eggar:cello, Chuck Palmer: percussion, and Tim Snider: violin.