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Friday, April 18, 2014

Fly the Dragon

Last week I received the Audioquest Dragonfly version 1.2.
It's out in the market since around November 2013.  Gordon Rankin from Wavelength Audio sits behind the design of the interface. The version 1.0 lost quickly ground against the thumbDAC competition. Gordon put some more brain into the tiny device to make it sing. Beside that Audioquest
stepped on the price break.  They must have realized that high volume sales is a key success factor in that market.

I thought I give it a try. Most reviews I read were quite positive. Especially those comments saying that the 1.0 weaknesses were more or less successfully addressed with 1.2.
The new pricetag seemed to be in a nice range. The old 1.0 DF sells around 99$ nowadays btw.


Below you'll find my point of view and some Linux related hints in the annex of that article. (Note: There is no Linux documentation for the Dragonfly)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hirez - Treasure Island - Part II


Today we cover HiRes (that covers DSD as well) vs. Redbook.

In the first blog about Hirez I covered the base HiRez material.

My conclusion was.

Hirez material usually gets resampled and remastered from unkown raw masters (formats).
There is ususally nothing like a master for sale out there.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Bake me some Pi - perhaps a Raspberry Pi !?!?


Guess what!?!?

I finally bought a Revision 2 Raspberry Pi with 512MB Ram.

You can't avoid stepping over PI followers on every 2nd corner.

And these people usually talk about great SB Touch replacements, audiophile experiences
or similar.

I had to buy one too.

Initial post: 9/2/2013
Update: 9/9/2013


Friday, January 25, 2013

Squeeze Me Lite


Latest update: 10/08/2013 - Annex  added : Squeezelite on Ubuntu Server

 

I'd like to introduce you to a tiny squeezebox streaming client called Squeezelite.

Squeezelite is a highly efficient squeezebox emulator that runs on all PC platforms, micro PCs like a Raspberry Pi and even on routers and the Squeezebox Touch . 
It's opensource and free of charge.

Squeezelite is written and maintained by Adrian Smith also known as Triode.    
Adrian Smith, the person, who also provides the EDO plugin (USB support) fo
the Squeezebox Touch.


Squeezelite runs headless. Headless because it acts like a systemservice in the background of your OS and it doesn't require a Windows environment. 
You set it up once and then you forget about it.


Annex 1: Installation instructions Ubuntu Server
Annex 2: compiling instructions
Annex 3: a wrapper script you can use on a PC, Raspberry or SB Touch

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The silent death...

Hi folks.


Do you sometimes have the feeling, of not feeling comfortable the way you handle and administrate your valuable music ( and video and image) collection?

You don't really know -- if all the audio file integrity is still given  (after all those years of moving files here and there) !?!?



Loundess war - finally over ???

Hi folks.

Anybody heard about EBU R128??

To be honest. I didn't until recencly.

I accidently stepped  over EBU R128 (EBU=European Broadcasting Union, R128=Recommendation 128) while looking for a better ReplayGain solution.

R128 finally defines a standard how loudness should be measured and applied in an acceptable way.

The standard was based on  ITU BS.1770 ( International Telecommunications Union) released in 2006.
ITU BS.1770  has been widely applied in the broadcasting scene.
EBU R128  significantly enhanced that standard by a function called gating (You'll learn more about it later on.)  The original ITU BS.1770 has been updated to ITU BS.1770-3 by now and includes the gating function as proposed by EBU R128.

Not only us - audio geeks - have a huge problem with low quality music and messup of audio data due to "Loudness War" - NO - broadcasters face the same challenge on a daily basis.  They can not sit down and change the volume on every piece they are broadcasting.

They have to normalize audio of much more media sources, such as speach, film, commercials, podcasts, audio asf. And by doing so, they're compressing and messing with  the audio data even further.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ever heard about Full Digital Amps ??

(Sometimes they are also called PowerDACs or Direct Digital Amps or All Digital Amps btw.)


No !?!?


...the end of seperate  DAC + AMP decade might be near!!! ;)


For those of you who got tired to run after every new DAC and amp (I did), and
those who've read the 1000th review of another miracle  DAC (I did), or those
of you who got more confused then enlightened with the endless number
of DACs of choice out there (I did again), or those who look for a very small,
cost efficient and still great sounding system ... (Oh -- I'm talking about myself..)


Appendix 1: Market overview
Appendix 2: Patent
Appendix 3: DDX320 Modifications


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Touch Toolbox 3.0

I. Introduction


Probably you come by 'cause you're owning a little audio streaming device called Logitech Squeezebox Touch...

...and you're looking for a little gadget that'll make it "sing".

Yep. That's the place. You found it...

10 minutes of intensive reading and 20 minutes of work (max) will hopefully get you there.


I'm pretty sure it'll turn out to be worth the effort...

(Perhaps you'd like to read some motivating  testimonials  first. ;) ) 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Touch Toolbox 3.0 - HW and Network

This blog is Part II of the Touch Toolbox blog.


Over here  I'll touch upon HW modifications, the network and server environment from a HW perspective.

I consider all this an integral part of your streaming solution. All this will also make a difference.

1. Power supply
2. Lan optimization
3. SPDIF data link
4. Onboard modifications
5. Server considerations

You really should have a look at it.  You'll also  find some easy to implement tweaks.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hires Audio - Treasure Island

Introduction
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Lets dig up some treasures. It's time to run another little study.
Writing and preparing all these articles gets you nicely into all kind of
subjects. Quite some work. But worth it.

A recent  post at Audio Asylum (by good old Dr. mercman)  referring to
an article about Hires-Audio  and the industry ethics behind it finally
inspired me to dig into another "blind side" on my side.
Usually I read all kind of stuff discussed in those forums and put it
aside with a little more than a slight touch of ignorance.
Probably it's not just me acting like that.

Since I spent quite an amount of money recently on  hirez audio-material
I thought why not spent a little time on the subject.
It shouldn't be that difficult to have a little closer look at my "HiRes treasure".

You never know, what's in your treasure box, if you keep it closed. Although sometimes it's better to keep it closed.



Saturday, May 14, 2011

CD Extraction

With this article I'd like to tackle an issue, which always makes me feel odd
when thinking about it.

"CD Extraction"...

... do I really have it 100% under control ...

... after hundreds of rips and years of active involvement in Computer based audio !?!?!


I just read two articles in the latest issue of the german audio magazine  "Stereo". Stereo is one of the biggest, if not the biggest of its kind over here in Germany.
I do think they got quite a good reputation in the market. 

This month (05/11) Stereo stuck their heads into Computer CD-drives and extraction software to compare the results generated by the tools and drives.

The real interesting thing about it was the result of it.
The soundquality ranking of extraction results on different drives and different software in particular - got my full attention.
As a matter of fact according to Stereo, drives make a difference and tools make a difference on soundquality too - and they are not talking about subtle differences if you look at the SQ-ranking. There are drives going as low as 88% (SonyOptiArc DRX-S 77 U) and extractions tools as low as 94% (EAC!!!!) on the SQ ranking.

Guess what. EAC - was the worst of all.

Do I have a reason to question that Stereo Article, assumimg somewhat professional test-cases and setups ( using Accurate Rip etc.) !?!?!

Hmmh.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Resampling - If you can't avoid it...

(Last update: Nov-08-2013)

Intro 


I've been playing around with resampling/upsampling again. I tried it in the past
and never really liked it.

Inspired by some ongoing and never ending discussions out there on the net
I wanted to figure out myself once more, if things can get better by running resampled material.

With this post I'm trying to cover certain aspects, related to

* Why resampling ?
* Application/Devices
* Quality factors
* Implementation on LogitechMediaServer
* Offline resampling
* Resampling proposals
* Sox installation/update and compilation (script)
* Conclusion


Let's get started.


Annex 1: Script to compile latest Sox for Debian/Ubuntu systems
Annex 2: Sox LMS upgrade on Debian/Ubuntu systems (a must!!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

soundcheck's TT Beta Blog

Hi folks..


This blog is addressing the rather ambitioned  fraction of SB Touch owners.

Within this blog I'd like to share some of my ongoing Touch Toolbox developments findings and ideas that I'd like to share with you.

Feel free to join the club...

...I do appreciate your feedback.



Friday, January 7, 2011

soundcheck's Squeezebox Touch Toolbox 2.0


The Touch Toolbox 2.0 is discontinued.


Since 11/2/11  my Touch Toolbox 3.0
will be your new reference. ;)


Thx for using TT2.0 I hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

soundcheck on Hifi-Music-World 2010 presenting a Touch based solution

Last weekend I had been invited to present a streaming solution based around
my fully tweaked Touch to the public on the biggest german DIY fair (Hifi-Music-World 2010) in Stuttgart.


Silvercore (a manufacturer of  real great sounding tube-amps, transformers, pre-amps and now  also a DAC  and Bastanis  , who produces my all-time f
avorite speakers, were teaming up for a gig.

Surprisingly I was invited to present my streaming solution based on a Squeezebox Touch, feeding their system.

Me on the "other" side!?!? Feeding such equipment on a show.  Brave guys!

Hmmh. I thought - why not I know what I'm doing. Lets give it a try.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Digital) Volume Control

Introduction

There are lots of discussions ongoing if one should go or not go for digital volume control.


This is the way I see it:

It'll depend how well it performs.

First of all it doesn't cost you anything, it is easy to handle, makes certain quite expensive audio HW obsolete, resolves quite some analog volume control associated problems and it can sound damn good.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Computerized Audio

Introduction

The "audiophile" audio world is heading towards computerized audio.

Though there'll be high hurdles to cross to evolve into the computerized audio world for the
wider "audiophile" community. 


To accomplish and maintain an audiophile setup using a PC, a network and an audio interface must be considered a pretty complex undertaking.

You need to have a pretty good understanding of computers and networks and associated audio devices and of course the software driving all that.

You need to continuously follow up on these. The entire setup  needs to be thoroughly planed,  selected and integrated to meet the high demands of the typically very demanding audiophile person.

Transferring your music data to the PC and maintaining your database
must be considered a major challenge too.

It is getting better nowadays, with automatic grabbing boxes and professional grabbing
services. Still getting a consistent database in place means a lot of extra manual extra work.


All this, just to replace a single CD player? Does all this effort makes sense?  

Honestly, I am really not sure.