Saturday, November 21, 2009

The PC will revive high end audio

The progression of PC based audio is destined to rekindle the public's interest in good sound, and revive the audio industry. Digital audio is maturing, we are discovering why it wasn't "perfect sound forever", and are quickly closing the gap in sonic performance between digital and analog (vinyl, reel to reel, etc.). As it stands right now, the PC as a high end audio source is in its infancy. We are only beginning to realize it's potential. But in the near future this appliance will revive the public's interest in high fidelity music reproduction. Here's why.

Point 1
As bandwidth (internet download and upload speed) becomes more plentiful, faster, and cheaper; as storage (hard disk space) becomes more compact and less expensive, the MP3 will die off as it will no longer be necessary to compress music files at all. In the near future, an iPod that holds 2 Terabytes worth of music will not be uncommon, negating the need for compression. Downloading the uncompressed .wav files will be a breeze as well, with Ultra-high bandwidth rates.

Companies like Apple will have a strong motivation to improve upon their designs to keep sales going. This will not be difficult or require serious innovation, you won't need more apps or games, just offer better sound and video.

Point 2
Like the 70's and 80's when everyone had a hi-fi system in their home, today everyone has a PC in their home. The PC replaced the hi-fi system in the late 90's as a major source of family entertainment. It will still remain as such, but will now be able to stream high quality music files throughout the home. With the emergence of products like the M2Tech hiFace USB to Digital audio interface, the problems of USB based audio have been addressed, and the benefit of high resolution digital music is being realized only now.

Uncompressed (16 bit 44 kHz sampling rate) and high resolution digital music files (24 bit 96 or 192 kHz sampling rate) will be as common as MP3 downloads are today, and with that higher fidelity music will once again be the mainstream. For many, it will be like hearing hi-fi for the first time, and with that, the re-emergence of high quality music reproduction electronics will take place.

Think of it, the younger generation will experience what we experienced in hearing high quality sound for the first time. Some will care less, some will acknowledge the improvement and move on. But there will be a handful of tech savvy youth that will be moved enough by the experience that they will want it for themselves. Just as we did.

Can you dig it?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mulder Audio Snuffers: The Truth IS Out There.

So here I am, all of my power conditioners on loan, and a new pair of Nuforce V3 amps just in, and in severe need of break in. I actually couldn't listen to them. Mind you they were brand new, with lots of new capacitors, and NO power conditioning. It was awful. I inserted them into the system, plugged my Logitech Duet directly into the amps with the Nuforce Focused Field interconnects and speaker cables, and let 'er rip overnight while I left the room. The next day Gary Mulder of Mulder Audio comes over to talk to me about his new company and products. I should include a bit of history about Gary here. Gary worked for Ayre Acoustics for 11 years. He also worked at Avalon for several years as well. He has a good set of ears, and actually assisted in designing the Ayre power conditioner. He now has designed his own line of power conditioning and filtering devices that are spinoff's of what he learned at Ayre, as well as his own original designs.

He arrives the next day, and we go into the showroom. He hands me a small box which contained 3 of his Snuffers. I had seen similar devices before from other rather popular manufacturers and looked upon them with extreme skepticism. He proceeded to tell me that they needed to be plugged into empty AC receptacles surrounding my system. I plugged one into an outlet that was upstream from where my system was plugged in, one downstream, and one directly into the power conditioner that all of my components were plugged into.

I sat down in my listening chair, and listened. I knew immediately because the new amps actually sounded, okay. These were unlistenable before the Snuffers were plugged in. I was impressed. But this has also happened before. Initially one is impressed with a product, but then after living with it a few days, the ugly flaws in the product become more apparent. Not so with the Snuffers. I now have 150 hours on the amps and the Snuffers and can say with confidence that the Snuffers add a richness, warmth, 3 diminsionality to the sound that just sounds like music. They don't have any drawbacks that I can hear, and what I really like is that they are passively conditioning the power without limiting current delivery to your components. This is something you normally have to spend thousands of dollars for. The price of the Snuffers? $99 for 3. Highly recommended.

More to come on the Nuforce V3 amps, the Nuforce Focused Field interconnects and loudspeaker cables...