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Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 31, 2013
A classical music lover's dream come true? From OraStream comes this new streaming app for iOS and Android devices that delivers CD-quality streaming of classical music. From OraStream:
  • The finest selection of orchestral, chamber and ensemble music works covering voice, piano, strings, brass, woodwind and more
  • Music moments delivering delicate sonic details and majestic overtures are captured in more than 500 new classical recordings every week
  • - Staple classics from the masters: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Handel, Haydn, Vivaldi and Rachmaninov, among many others
  • 16-bit/44.1 kHz lossless CD quality
  • Enjoy music playback even when offline
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 17, 2013
I think its fair to say that Charlie Hansen, Ayre's Founder and Designer, is not exactly a fan of DSD. Thankfully, that didn't stop him from offering DSD-capable versions of Ayre's QB-9, DX-5-DSD, and now the QA-9 thanks to AlpineSoft's VinylStudio DoP vinyl ripping software. What the guys at Ayre have gone and done is ripped parts of three tracks to single-rate DSD and 24/192 using the QA-9 so we can compare DSD to PCM. But there's more...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 04, 2013
Thanks to Charles Hansen for the heads up on this news—AlpineSoft has added DoP (DSD over PCM) functionality to their VinylStudio vinyl ripping software (v8.6). Now you can rip your records to DSD (or PCM up to 32/384 if you prefer) on the cheap as long as you have a DSD-capable analog-to-digital converter (the Ayre QA-9 and the PS Audio NuWave Phono Converter happen to be two such ADCs).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 22, 2013
The new single "Perfume" from Britney Spears forthcoming album Britney Jean on RCA Records is available from Quboz in Qualité Studio Masters (24 bits). Is HD going mainstream?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 18, 2013
The first DSD titles from the Sony vaults just hit the Acoustic Sounds HiRez store. While the first batch consists of four albums, Santana Abraxas, Luther Vandross Never Too Much, Wynton Marsalis Hot House Flowers, and Herbie Hancock Head Hunters, this is obviously just the tip of the Sony iceberg.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 18, 2013
photo credit: Bruce Brown

DSD was the word on many lips at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (see my Show Report). DSD also appears to be the thorn is some audiophile's sides but exactly why that's the case is beyond me since adding DSD to your playback chain is simply that—an addition. In any event, for DSDers, Bruce Brown (see our Q&A) has posted a DSD Battle Royale! consisting of master tape transfers from a modified Studer A80RC MkII through a Doshi tape preamp converted to DSD using five different A/D converters.

For the first time anywhere, I have assembled the best of the best. For the Wilson Audiophile downloads, we did tape transfers though 5 different converters and let the Wilsons listen blindly to the files. Like Daryl said, the differences are not subtle. Now you, the consumer, can decide for yourself.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 04, 2013
The HDtracks website is sporting a new design and while past visitors will recognize the overall layout, there are a few changes that should make browsing more pleasant. First off, you can now scroll through more releases right on the home page and there's a Wishlist feature to save yourself the trouble of remembering. While there were hyperlinks associated with releases on the old site including Artist, Genre, and Label, these are featured on more pages of the new site and releases now get a single page with the different sample rates available from a drop-down menu where the old site split these into multiple pages. For those shoppers looking for more information like DR Values and detailed provenance information for each release, the wait continues.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 29, 2013
The folks over at Light Harmonic are at it again, this time crowdfunding their latest desktop DAC and headphone amplifier the Geek Pulse over on Indiegogo. If you followed their last Kickstarter campaign, you'll recall that they raised a whopping $303,000 and change for the little Geek. The Pulse is the desktop version and offers a host of inputs including 2x Coax S/PDIF, 1x Toslink, and 1x USB capable of handling up to 32/384, DXD, DSD64 and DSD128 (natively). Outputs include a pair of RCAs and a 1/4" headphone jack.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 24, 2013
Onkyo has come out with an app for the iOS devices that allows playback of PCM files at rates up to 24/192 and DSD (DSD files are converted to PCM prior to playback or sent as DoP):
Users seeking the ultimate in high-resolution audio performance can make an in-app HF Player Pack purchase (US$9.99) to enable FLAC, DSD, WAV, and AIFF playback of up to 192 kHz with 24-bit sampling (these files are loaded via a simple drag-and-drop operation on an iTunes-equipped PC prior to synchronization). This in-app purchase also enables selectable upsampling from 44.1 kHz to a possible 192 kHz, and an HD phase-linear equalizer with an incredible 20,000 bands of adjustment in 64-bit mode.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 18, 2013
the VAULT. Photo credit: Bluesound

Newcomer Bluesound held a press event yesterday at 60 Thompson Hotel in Soho (nice!). Along with other members of the press, John Banks, Bluesound's Chief Brand Officer, and Tony Williamson, Product Support Manager, introduced us to the Bluesound brand and products. For some sense of their place within the world of hi-fi, Bluesound is owned by the same parent company, Lenbrook Industries Limited, that owns NAD and PSB and they've leveraged this family of businesses in the design of their products.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 03, 2013
One week from today I fly out to Denver, CO for the 10th annual Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I've already received a number of emails announcing new products that will make their debut in Denver and RMAF always promises to deliver tons of hi-fi fun. If there's anything special you'd like me to check out, just let me know.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 16, 2013
Yours truly penned a four-page intro to computer audio that appears in this month's Sound & Vision. This marks the first edition of the new merged titans Home Theater + Sound & Vision and it's chock full of sights and sounds to explore.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 12, 2013
The Light Harmonic Geek Kickstarter campaign ends today. You can still get the Geek USB DAC/Headphone amp that can handle up to 24/192, DSD (64x and 128x), and DXD playback for $159 (regular retail price will be $299). There are also two additional options that have been added and include "Super GEEK - At this level, you will get a suped-up GEEK. This GEEK's amplifier is 1.6 times more powerful than GEEK's original amp— 720 mW!" ($189), and "Super-Duper GEEK - At this level, you'll get a seriously radded-out GEEK. This GEEK's amplifier is 2.2 times more powerful than GEEK's original amp— 1000 mW!" ($219).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Sep 11, 2013
After reading Getting Started With Computer Audio Part 3: Music, a very kind reader pointed me to the website and their presentation and related video feature Lost In Translation: An Exploration of Lossy vs. Lossless Audio Formats. Presented by Grammy-award winning engineer Andrew Scheps, this is actually a two-part presentation wherein Part 2 lets people listen to different music delivery formats.