There's one born every minute; the sound quality of different storage medium

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: monster, idiots, audiophile

Believe it or not there is a review out on the interwebs claiming that "'bit-identical' computer audio may well be just as inexplicably inconsistent as analogue."  In other words some hard drives and SSDs will produce better quality audio than others using the exact same audio file.  Two different QNAP NAS devices apparently produced differing audio signals which the writer claims to be able to discern.  Not only that but apparently different HDDs or SSDs inside the NAS also has an effect on the audio flavinoids and topology.  If that is not enough for you then keep reading the link from The Register as they also propose the theory that different types of RAID will change the cromulence of the audio signal as well and while they stop short of describing the audio cables which were used they did stoop so low as to use Belkin CAT6 instead of a product from Monster.  If you believe this and own a mains conditioner for your audio you should definitely let The Register know you are interested in their proposed AudioNAS kickstarter.

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"Is it April already? I really cannot tell from this post, which poses the question: "Is it really possible that the sound quality of bit-identical audio files is influenced by their storage medium before being delivered to the hi-fi system's DAC?"

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Source: The Register

CES 2015: Calyx Audio PaT USB DAC and Headphone Amp for PC and Mobile

Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio

For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.

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Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)

The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).

The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.

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The tiny prototype PaT in action

The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.

In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!

The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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Source: Calyx

When you want to hear all of your music and nothing else

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2013 - 07:05 PM |
Tagged: audio, audiophile, v-moda, CrossFade M-100, noise cancellation

V-MODA's CrossFade M-100 is more than just a stereo noise isolating headphones,  these are for the serious audiophile that owns a headphone amp and knows what OP-AMPs are.  They will should just fine on your mobile device or plugged into a PC but to really hear the dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers at their best you need a powerful source.  Even the cabling is impressive with a built in mic and the ability to share your audio by splitting the signal into another set of headphones.  If you are looking for high end audio and are willing to pay the price you should check out the article at Benchmark Reviews.

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"To get the most out of the CrossFade M-100 Headphones you will be wise to also invest in a headphone amplifier. The sound output from today’s smartphones might be enough to crap out your average best buy $10 headphones, but it just isn’t enough to get a truly satisfactory experience on a higher quality set of headphones let alone the CrossFade M100's. A lot of attention has quite rightly been given to sound quality and performance with equal attention also given to build quality and style. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is not disappointing by any means, I just need to point out that the dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers inside the CrossFade M-100 Headphones are so much more capable than you may think."

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Don't assume the price dictates the audio quality; try real studio quality headsets from Audio-Technica

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: audiophile, headset, audio, audio-technica, ATH-A900

At an MSRP of $250, the Audio-Techinca ATH-A900 headphones are not intended for the casual gamer and as you can tell by the 1/4" connector they are designed for someone who owns a high end microphone amp.  On the other hand if you need studio quality audio and will be wearing the headsets for hours at a time then the high end features built into these headphones are worth the investment.  The 53mm drivers are in an enclosed earcup which helps bring the bass up close and personal and are designed with much sturdier materials than other popular headsets.  To contrast the difference [H]ard|OCP tried Beats by Dre Studio headphones which cost more than the ATH-A900s and in every case they felt the ATH-A900s were vastly superior.  As far as [H] is concerned the two headsets aren't even in the same class.

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"Audio-Technica's open headphones are known to gamers for the wearing comfort and huge soundstage that these provide, but the open back models simply lack bass and isolation. Today, we will see if a pricey pair of the company's closed back audiophile headphones can offer the compromise many of you are looking for in PC audio."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

A little something for the audiophile; M-Audio Studiophile Reference Monitor

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: audio, studio quality, audiophile

There are speakers and then there are studio monitors, with the difference being quality.  For most gamers and movie watchers there is no point in picking up a pair of studio quality monitors, not only because of the lack of a discerning ear but also because the audio source is unable to provide the quality these monitors need to perform.  Much as Scotches or wines taste similar to the untrained palate, studio quality speakers are for professionals with professional level needs.  If you are one, or simply want the best possible sound reproduction and are willing to spend $300+ for a pair of monitors then you should check out the M-Audio Studiophile CX5 Active Studio Reference Monitor review at ModSynergy.  With a proper audio card and file as a source these monitors will equal a $1000 pair of monitors and are a great deal for those with the ears to enjoy them.

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"Today I will be providing a long-term review on a different beast. Today you will be reading the review of one of M-Audio’s latest offerings on the market within their Studiophile lineup, the CX5 High-Resolution Active Studio Reference Monitor. Read on to see how this 90-watt near-field studio monitor performs and holds up. Will this be your next investment?"

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Source: ModSynergy