When I started Computer Audiophile in 2007 the site was a one man blog that educated audio enthusiasts about computer based playback and covered the slow industry uptake of high tech. From day one the user community was the most important part of the site, and still is to this day, because it was already onboard with high tech HiFi. In the early days I remember writing articles about the emergence of asynchronous USB and Apple keyboards that caused audible pops and ticks during music playback when connected to the "wrong" USB port. I also remember writing a script that closed iTunes, asked the user to set the correct sample rate, and reopened iTunes for bit perfect output of high resolution audio. Then came Amarra with its auto sample rate switching in iTunes and the world was a better place.
Those willing to tweak a Windows XP computer and bypass the KMixer could also be treated to high quality audio back in the day. As long as they didn't adjust any settings while music was playing. Friends of mine blew several pairs of beryllium tweeters after their XP machines went haywire and sent static noise through to their speakers. The wonderful Wild West of digital audio for those seeking a better experience than physical media based listening could provide.
High end music servers slowly started to trickle into the market over the years and have since become commonplace. Now we can do pretty much anything we can think of and we have the option of a traditional computer or component designed and delivered by a number of HiFi manufacturers. We also have incredibly powerful devices in our pockets that can stream a trillion lossless tracks nearly anywhere in the world.
In the past, present, and future everyone of these digital devices was, is, and will be a computer. That device in your pocket that can make telephone calls is a computer just the same as the most high end music servers and the MacBook Pro on which I type this announcement. A CPU, RAM, disk, operating system, inputs, outputs, etc... They're all there in one for one another, but somehow the word computer has become a four letter word.
Over the years I've met many people who have no idea what the words computer and audiophile have to do with each other. Sure there are the old school analog guys, but that's OK. The larger issue was all the people who thought this site was dedicated to computer speakers like those from Logitech, Creative, and of course Bose. I met someone who had been in the industry for decades and I blew his mind when I explained to him all that Computer Audiophile encompasses. This was two months ago. Seriously.
Combine the stigma of geeks in their mother's basements listening to Logitech 7.1 systems and the fact that the word computer is being used against us with a what I'm about to explain next and it's easy to see why Audiophile Style is the future of HiFi.
In January 2018 we launched the Superphonica marketplace as the first step in our long term plan. It's site that enables people to buy and sell HiFi gear, with the revenue generated going to produce more content for audiophiles right here on this site. Due in part to the success of Superphonica we put out a call for additional paid writers. The response was overwhelmingly positive.
With the foundation in place it was time to take the major step of re-branding Computer Audiophile. This has been on my mind for about five years, but I've always put it on the back burner. Until now. The time is perfect for something new, something fresh, and to shed the stigma that we are a bunch of Geek Squad technicians. Not only that, but re-branding puts us in a perfect position to pull in a wider audience and at the same time lay the groundwork to overtake the old guard of the HiFi industry.
When I was fresh out of college in 1998 I remember reading The Absolute Sound and dreaming about putting together a system like those reviewed in its pages. In the years since, I started CA and with the help of the best user community in HiFi we are now bigger than TAS. I have no ill will toward TAS or any of the old guard, but in the minds of many, it's time for a change.
This brings us to Audiophile Style and the questions, why the name Audiophile Style and will anything else around here change?
The name Audiophile Style was selected for several reasons, but one that reflects what this site is all about. Style is a manner or way of doing things. When I built my new office, I did it audiophile style and made it a listening room as well. When I put all-in-one speakers around my house, I did it audiophile style and selected the best sounding speakers I could afford.
Think of it in an educational sense, and ask yourself how would someone go about putting together the best music playback system, what's the best way to stream high resolution, how can someone get the most out of their favorite music no matter the source? The best way to find out is to ask someone who understands quality, someone who cares about music and music reproduction. An audiophile would go about this in a specific way or a certain manner. In other words, the audiophile would do this audiophile style.
I certainly shoot for obtaining that absolute sound or perfect reproduction of an unamplified signal, but I also know that getting less than perfect sources to sound as good as possible is equally important. In addition to my passion for perfection in my listening room, I have a passion for improving sound in less than ideal circumstances.
People in my extended family use Apple Music and Pandora. They've tried Tidal, but it lasted a week. Everyone they know uses Apple Music, so that's their single paid streaming service. Period. If they can't decide what to listen to, they use Pandora's free tier. The fun part for me in all of this is getting their lossy streaming services to sound spectacular and introducing them to HiFi on their own turf. When I first put Dynaudio Xeo loudspeakers in my brother's office, the sound quality was so much better than his Bose bluetooth speaker that the entire family noticed. Comments like, "hey what's this" or, "What changed" were common. Even my brother-in-law can't get over the sound of the Klipsch all-in-one called The Three. He is the last person I'd expect to call me and rave about sound quality, and ask me if he can connect his TV to the speaker.
The bottom line is that doing things in an audiophile style means doing them the best way possible. Audiophile style is a manner of doing things.
style | stīl |
- a manner of doing something: different styles of management.
- a way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc., characteristic of a particular period, place, person, or movement.
- a way of using language: he never wrote in a journalistic style | students should pay attention to style and idiom.
Sure the name has changed from Computer Audiophile to Audiophile Style, but things won't change much. We'll still bring you the best digital audio content available, and our core will always be digital. Digital is our foundation. It makes zero sense to stray from that foundation. It's the topic about which I'm most passionate. Fortunately, our new writers have additional passions and expertise. For example, Danny Kaey's review of the Boulder 1100 series amp and preamp was published simultaneously with this announcement, along side in-depth digital articles and even one from Josh reviewing the new Sennheiser closed back HD820 headphones. Expanded content won't equal less digital content.
Think of Audiophile Style as giving you what Computer Audiophile always did and more. In addition to more written reviews, today we're launching our new video series called Audiophile 5. Audiophile 5 is a series about you, not us, where we cover products and topics that interest you. And, we do it all in 5 minutes. We hate long videos as much as the next guy because time is the most valuable thing have. We don't like to waste it hearing about what the presenter had for breakfast and what he and his significant other did last night. If you like that kind of stuff, fine. It just isn't us. We much prefer the slogan, all killer no filler.
The first Audiophile 5 video covers the Aurender ACS10 content server. Look for a full written review later this month. We shot this video in early December and have since learned quite a bit and developed the concept much further. We can't wait for you to see what's next.
That's it for now. As we start 2019 right, I want to thank the community who makes this site what it is. Without contributions from all of you this site wouldn't exist. I'm consistently amazed at the breadth and depth of you knowledge and willingness to share it with complete strangers. The whole of this community is much greater than the sum of its parts.
Let's get 2019 going audiophile style.