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Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2013
InnerFidelity's head honcho, Tyll Hertsens, has reported on a very interesting development related to the Meridian Explorer DAC/Headphone Amp. It's that last bit, the headphone amp, that has come under scrutiny and Meridian has recently modified the headphone output of their popular Explorer DAC.

I'll let Tyll explain since he does it so well and I very much encourage anyone who already owns an Explorer, is interested in one, or if you'd like to read about the importance of things like output impedance, frequency response, and damping factor, to head on over to InnerFidelity.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 27, 2013
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.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Feb 26, 2013
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.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Feb 21, 2013
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.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 20, 2012
There are three main approaches to room treatment—treat the room, treat the music, treat yourself (i.e. do nothing). The main problem with room treatments is they usually look like room treatments and most people prefer that their home look more like a home than a recording studio. I have found that everyday items like books and LPs can help and unlike traditional room treatment slabs and cylinders, the more books and LPs you have the better off you, your home and your decor are. But what about treating the signal to fit your room?
Dirac Live® is a state-of-the-art digital room correction technology which optimizes the sound system both in terms of the impulse response as well as the magnitude frequency response. The result is a substantially improved musical staging, clarity, voice intelligibility, and a deeper and tighter bass, not just in a small sweet spot but in the entire listening volume.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 19, 2012
While we're waiting for 2013 and Neil Young to reveal all of the facts about his Pono player/service that appears to be based on a proprietary file format, Korea's Iriver has come to market with a portable player that supports good old-fashioned 24/192 files. The Astell&Kern AK100 MQS Portable System ($699) features a Wolfsen WM8740 24-bit DAC and 32GB of internal memory and can accommodate two 32GB MicroSDHC cards for total storage capacity of 96GB. The MQS Player supports WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG and APE formats (no AAC or Apple Lossless support) and sports a 2.4″ LCD IPS color screen and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP/HFP and is about the size of a deck of cards (3.11 by 2.33 by 0.57 inches and weighs 4.30 ounces). There are optical audio outputs to connect to your DAC of choice, a micro USB port for charging and syncing media, a 5-band equalizer, and of course a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Dec 12, 2012
Schiit Modi $99 USB DAC pictured with the Schiit Magni $99 1.2W Discrete Amp

Hot off the press release:

Modi is the most advanced USB DAC in its price class, featuring an asynchronous USB interface with plug-and-play, driverless operation on both PCs and Macs, a 32-bit AKM4396 D/A converter, and an active filter stage built around the AD8616 operational amplifier to drive long cables. It supports all bit depths and sampling rates from 16/44 to 24/96. Like Magni, it’s made in the USA and features a warranty 2X longer than most of the products in its price class.
And the amazing part is its $99. As in less than 100. And its available now from Schiit.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 21, 2012
Michael Green of Swansea, UK has had enough. Instead of griping about dynamic compression and the loudness wars, he's decided to send record labels and retailers a message:
As music lovers we are fed up [with] the compressed albums available today and would like to see uncompressed albums released, along with High Definition (24 Bit) music downloads. We believe that this is the way forward to reintroduce people to music the way it’s meant to sound.
You can join in the campaign by going here and signing Michael's petition.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 21, 2012
In an article for Pitchfork, musician and songwriter Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi talks about the business model behind streaming services including Pandora and Spotify. And its not a pretty picture.
To put this into perspective: Since we own our own recordings, by my calculation it would take songwriting royalties for roughly 312,000 plays on Pandora to earn us the profit of one-- one-- LP sale. (On Spotify, one LP is equivalent to 47,680 plays.)
Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 09, 2012
Here's some news! from Meridian and HP:
Meridian Audio, experts in audio technology for 35 years, bring you HP Connected Music powered by Meridian.

Meridian's award-winning team has developed HP Connected Music powered by Meridian,the preferred music management application for select HP consumer PCs. Meridian's audio research consultancy team has already won acclaim for its work, providing high quality audio solutions for clients including Dolby Laboratories, McLaren Automotive and Jaguar Land Rover.

This custom-built application, to be offered on select HP products, provides elements of the rich user experience from our Meridian Digital Media Systems, allowing consumers to experience music downloads, streaming services and internet radio all in one convenient place.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Nov 07, 2012
From the Resonessence Labs website:
Software Updates for INVICTA

INVICTA has the ability to accept feature updates from Resonessence. For example, since initial release of INVICTA we have added many new capabilities, including SDXC Card reading, FLAC file types, advanced up sampling filters, and in a future release we will add DSD over USB and DSD from the SD Card.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 31, 2012
We'll continue posting when the power comes back.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 27, 2012
Ray Avery/Courtesy of the artist

Head on over to NPR's First Listen pages and among many others you can stream nearly 2 hours of music from Charles Mingus:

The music heard in this First Listen comes from May 1965, almost a year after Dolphy's death. It's a full concert given by a Charles Mingus quintet in Minneapolis; the first half was once issued as the LP My Favorite Quintet, while the latter half remained unreleased until now. Solo fireworks come from Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), Charles McPherson (alto sax) and Jaki Byard (piano); Mingus' long-time drummer, Dannie Richmond, holds down the fort.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Oct 25, 2012
Remember OraStream? Well here's a (nearly) ass-kicking real-world implementation of their streaming technology for ya. I'm (nearly) listening to Neil Young & Crazy Horse's Psychedelic Pill right now streaming at ....kbps! For free! One week before the official on sale date!