RMAF Addendum: Chapter Audio Notepad, AirPlay Anyone?

The Chapter Audio Notepad ($2,500 available in December) was on mostly silent display in the On A Higher Note Room at RMAF (you can read about the main event here). The Notepad is a Class D amplifier that puts out 150W into 8 ohms and includes Chapter's Stream DAC, a USB input, an ethernet port and wireless connectivity using Apple's Airport wireless protocol. The Notepad will stream music from your wireless source of choice and reportedly supports streaming up to 24/192 via Ethernet and a reported 24/96 wirelessly.

I'd imagine most people will get most excited about the wireless ability of the Chapter Audio Notepad combined with a promise of amplifier know-how pedigree from Chapter Audio's 10+ years building hi-end Class-D amplifiers. By incorporating Apple's Airplay, Chapter has made connecting, controlling and playing your music library a seamless integration with your iTunes and iDevice-based world. Of course those who have yet to take a bite from this low hanging fruit may not be tempted but plug and play wireless streaming at 24/96 is sexy.

The first time I visited the On A Higher Note room we were listening to the big rig so I made a note to come back. Just to fill in all the details the soundtrack from the film The Hot Spot was spinning on vinyl which features Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker (yes, together) and if you haven't heard it you'd love to (I'm guessing). Philip described the film as being "absolutely awful" or something to that effect and I disagreed mainly in two words—Jennifer Connelly. But I digress.

At the very end of the last day of RMAF, I found myself walking by Philip's room so I peeked in and since it was just after the official closing I was the only one there. Phillip quickly fired up that small system on the table, we reversed a few chairs and listened. And it sounded good. OK really. "Let's try the Chapter on the B-1s. What do you think?" By this point in the show I was nearly pre-verbal so I may have grunted while shaking my head "yes". A few minutes later we were listening to the Notepad through the Vivid B-1s and Phillip treated me to a tour of his musical treasures; scrolling, tapping, talking and listening our way through track after streaming track. And it sounded better than good.

The 150W Notepad will soon be joined by a less-powerful and less-expensive version (80W/ch for about $895).

COMMENTS
deckeda's picture

I could have designed this. In fact, I have, in my mind.

1) Ethernet up to 192
2) WiFi up to 96
3) One knob
4) An amp

It's as if they read my mind.

Moar

Like

This.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

deckeda's picture

I'd mumbled something in the Stereophile forums here and here about why the magazine didn't take me all the way there, so to speak, regarding at least attempting to send 24-bit music outta iTunes to an AirPlay-supported DAC/receiver/micro system?

Simple question but jeez, messy in the details. Luckily, this is where AudioStream.com comes in! (Lucky you.)

1) Gotta prolly convert your 24-bit FLAC to iTunes-friendly 24-bit AIFF or Apple Lossless. "Easy once you know how."

2) Do the AirPlay thing and* ... and somehow confirm the computer OR the AirPlay-supported DAC/receiver/micro system didn't downsample it on the fly---like an AirPort Express does, and must.

3) There is no Step 3.

 

*and then you're screwed if you use a 3rd party software player, which when playing ignores iTunes' AirPlay location setting and continues to instead output through the computer (or external DAC as the case may be) because of course, iTunes isn't playing the file.

My extended wager (and trick knee) says Rob over at Channel D will figure out a way to have Pure Music recognize LAN-connected DACs, making Cat5 a reality there. AirPlay ability won't happen unless he can license it from Apple.

Michael Lavorgna's picture

We're talking about one specific implementation of Apple's Airplay wireless protocol by Chapter Audio and they are claiming 24/96 wireless transmission.

a) Since iTunes does not support FLAC, sure you have to convert FLAC to AIFF but that holds regardless of the connectivity method.
b) Chapter Audio has claimed they transmit up to 24/96 via AirPlay.

My bet is most people who are interested in an amplifier with AirPlay are mostly interested in it because of the Apple-centric convenience factor – seamless iTunes integration. Plug and play.

I’m not so sure I can think of any reason why someone would be interested in an AirPlay-based wireless solution if they do not use iTunes. There are plenty of wireless solutions out there that do not come with Apple’s baggage.
 

ChapterAudio's picture

To clarify regarding the NotePads capabilities...

The NotePad does itself support 24-bit 192 kHz sample rates.

96kHz wirelessly via any UPnP streaming method. (we are

looking at DLNA licensing currently). 

Apples AirPlay system is a closed protocol stream that supports

16-bit 44.1kHz only. That is a restriction made by Apple not the

underlying hardware. To playback higher resolution tracks, simply

use a 3rd party media player such as PlugPlayer.

The beauty of the AirPlay system however is that if there is an App 

for it then we can play it. i.e. Spotify, LastFM etc

Duncan

Chapter

X