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Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 25, 2014
The Listing Room, Rene Magritte (1952)

If you frequent some of the hi-fi forums, you may have noticed a dust up over some measurements. No, not the endles Objective versus Subjective debate over the idea of measurements, rather there's some controversy surrounding some measurements generated by LH Labs, makers of the Geek Out DAC, comparing their DAC to a number of competitors. I've received numerous emails relating to these measurements since I reviewed two of the DACs represented in the LH Labs comparisons; the AudioQuest Dragonfly and the Meridian Explorer. "How can something that measures that poorly, sound so good?" being the standard question. "It doesn't." being my standard answer. Let me explain.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 28, 2013
Reader Rich Davis asked in reference to the Meridian Explorer:
Is it possible to post measurement test results? I'm interested in knowing the dynamic range, jitter, etc. etc. for each bit rate. Just so I can compare [with] other DACs?

16 bit sounds great, but I have [downloaded] some 24/96 and 24/192 of the same recordings (only they were mastered at later dates and most likely with different equipment) and the 24 bit recordings sound incredible. I HIGHLY suggest going to places like [HDtracks] and obtaining later remastered versions of any recordings you already have.

Some of the recordings are just wonderful sounding on this DAC at 24 bit.

We are currently not equipped to provide measurements at AudioStream but this is something we may consider in the future. Part of the reason for this decision is budgetary, part logistic, and part pragmatic. It seemed to make sense to start with subjective reviews since its through listening that we determine the real value of a piece of hi-hi gear. But let me try to flesh out this position in more detail since this question of measurements and subjective reviews has come up before.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Apr 04, 2013
Reader Warren P. offered:
Dear Michael,

I recently found your site, and just in time too. I just started getting interested in computer audio. A nice feature idea that I do not see would be computer audio for the complete beginner like me - including simple definitions of key and common terms and what they mean in real world terms. (For the record I currently have the most recent iteration of the Mac Mini with the Core i5 and 8 GB of memory.)...

And I responded in part, "...What would you say are the top 3 things you find most confusing or would like an answer to (or have since found an answer to)?"

Here's Warren's response which I thought worth sharing in its entirety:

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 05, 2013
Reader "ironsienna" asked an interesting question in the PCM v DSD Comparison: 16/44.1, 24/96, 24/192, 64x DSD, 128x DSD comments:
...I have a question. It seems that you compare PCM and DSD played from the same DAC. But what about PCM playback from really expensive DACs? Is the difference of sound between 192 PCM played from an ultra high-end DAC, to the DSD played from a mid priced DAC that great? I am asking because I recently acquired a Weiss MEDEA+ DAC. The quality of playing high rez PCM from this DAC is stunning and I really cant think of what more can be done for digital sound to sound better than that, so real and analogue like...But it does not play DSD and personally haven't heard DSD played from a native DSD DAC. So is it worth buying a cheaper DAC to play DSD files natively on it, or my DAC plays PCM so fine that there is not noticeable difference.. Can you please comment on that?
My short answer is—Kierkegaard.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 23, 2012
Canned Unicorn Meat from Think Geek

A more general plea to ML and those readers on the front lines: For people like me, after describing the sonic character of a component, it is vitally important to explain in layman's terms how one might integrate this into a networked system. (For example, I have only recently realized that most USB DACs can't be plugged into Ethernet at all, and so are not networked DACs.) Please make clear how difficult or simple it is to do so, as that will be a MAJOR purchase criterion. Thanks for the dialogue--it is helpful. [my emphasis]

This has come up a number of times so its worth a quick post—(you may want to prevent your children from reading this next part):

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 19, 2012
Hi again, been reading your article "Getting Along With Streamers 101" and I would like to know whether you have a short list of music download sights available to Canadians such as myself. It seems every time I starting looking for music to download (HD or CD quality) the site seems to tell me when its time to close the transaction that the service is not available to Canadians... Example: HD, Napster (on demand) bought by Rhapsody. All the info etc. you share on your site has been great but it would take me a considerable amount of time to go through all the music sites you have mentioned only to be told that it is not available to Canadians.

So if you could maybe give me some direction to make the task a little less frustrating it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again,

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 11, 2012
I had a fairly lengthy and pleasant exchange (30 some emails back 'n forth) with reader Tom D. that began with Tom asking how he could get iTunes-based music to play through his recently purchased Marantz AV7005 AV Preamp/Processor. But that was only the beginning. While we came to a workable solution for Tom's specific situation (which I believe is rather unique so not worth getting into the details here), I found his comments in one of our most recent emails well worth sharing:
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 07, 2012
I ask because of a number of recent incidences where I relied on a User Manual only to find it out of date. Most recently in an ongoing email exchange with reader Tom D. who has some questions about the best way to get what he wants from his Marantz AV7005 Preamplifier/Processor. And one of the things he wants is iTunes to control his music library. A seemingly simple request.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 17, 2012
Reader Chris P. sent me an email worth sharing:
I've been scouring the web to see if anyone is reporting new audio features on the latest apple tv. Apple is very light on their audio spec page and I've been secretly hoping Apple would quietly enable higher res streaming to the updated device (to go with the higher res video).

Guessing this wouldn't be a public announcement until Apple itself offered higher res music via iTunes. Probably just wishful thinking but would appreciate any news or thoughts if there are in fact any new features or benefits.


Following on the heels of rumors suggesting that Apple may offer 24/96 streaming from iCloud or downloads from iTunes or perhaps endow the latest version of Apple TV with the same higher resolution-ness, Apple's recent events and new product releases have come and gone not with a bang but a whimper.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 02, 2012
In the film The Days of Wine And Roses, Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are a couple (and a couple of alcoholics but that's another story) who live in a roach-infested apartment. At some point Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) is fed up so he sprays the roaches in his apartment and his neighbors are not happy. They explain that all he's done is move the roaches from his apartment to theirs and there's an unwritten apartment-dweller's law that you should just leave roaches alone, "You get them all stirred up, and what's the good? You made a mess. You've gotta think about other people, you know." And finally, "You've undermined the whole base of metabolism of the building."

I received this email from "Joe":

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 26, 2011
Hello Michael,

I'm very enthusiastic to see a site dedicated to computer audio. One thing would help immensely is to see an article clearly explaining what happens when file bit rate doesn't match either USB or Dac bitrate.

Take a file at 24/192hz, via USB 1.0 into a 96hz Dac? What happens? When are files upsampled? When are files downsampled? What is the file bitrate? What is the USB bitrate? What is the coming Dac bitrate? And what is the Dac output bitrate?

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 11, 2011
Hello Ask Audiostream,

I am presently using a Logitech Duet and accompany reciever to get my music to my Stereo System that is a room away from the computer. It seems to work realy good, but I have some questions about the operation of this hardware and software. Does the computer use the sound card to process the bit stream? Would a external DAC help and how wuold I hook into the Logitech system.

Thank you.


Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 07, 2011
I recently bought a Wyred 4 Sound DAC1. I also have a Musical Fidelity V-Link.

Would you expect better performance with 16/44.1 files using the USB input or the coaxial RCA S/PDIF input (through the V-Link) on the DAC1?

Also, what are the relative merits of the coaxial RCA vs. TosLink S/PDIF inputs, assuming grounding is not a problem with RCA?