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Darko's Future-Fi


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Terrific read from John today:

 

Future-Fi Now! | DAR__KO

 

Thanks for the link. Thoroughly enjoyed his piece.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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The problem, according to the middle aged white dudes of the high end audio world, young people, with their MP3s and portable speakers, just aren’t interested in better sound quality.

Future-Fi Now! | DAR__KO

 

If talk about audio, I suppose, young people more like loudness competition for their cars than mp3 :)

 

Nowadays, any laptop or smartphone will do; it just won’t do it very well.

 

Laptops and smartphones are suitable for instant pre-check music. Of course, builtin speakers really hide many details, that absolutelly clearly listened in big system.

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Pretty much agree with everything he wrote.

The HD-6 and the Kef wireless LS50 are in the type and price category he's talking about, even though the HD6 is passive and not active.

I also heard the Kii Three, which is in a totally different price category, but conceptually is in the same realm.

 

It is the future of audio, IMO.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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I liked the piece, and it certainly squares with my contemporary audio experiences. One nit: Why is "mp3" always the placeholder for "lossy"? Isn't AAC more ubiquitous now? It's the native format of Bluetooth audio, for example.

 

'Cause even iDevice users know what you mean by "mp3," while "AAC"...? Also, aren't they pretty well the same sort of thing in different packages anyway?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Goodness no. AAC is substantially superior.

 

I read there:

 

 

Blind tests in the late 1990s showed that AAC demonstrated greater sound quality and transparency than MP3 for files coded at the same bit rate, but since that time numerous codec listening tests have shown that the best encoders in each format are often of similar quality (statistically tied)[citation needed] and that the quality is often dependent on the encoder used even within the same format. As an approximation, when using the best encoders, AAC's advantage over MP3 tends to be evident below around 100 kbit/s, but certain AAC encoders are not as good as the best MP3 encoder as they do not take optimal advantage of the additional encoding tools that AAC makes available.

 

 

And really, when I want substantially superior sound to mp3, AAC isn't the first thing I think about. :)

 

 

But I think this is exactly what Darko is talking about, getting "lost in the sauce" of a debate about small sonic differences that are utterly unimportant to the great majority of folks, and losing the ultimate goal of showing people a great time listening to music without a lot of fuss and bother.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I read there:

 

 

 

 

 

And really, when I want substantially superior sound to mp3, AAC isn't the first thing I think about. :)

 

 

But I think this is exactly what Darko is talking about, getting "lost in the sauce" of a debate about small sonic differences that are utterly unimportant to the great majority of folks, and losing the ultimate goal of showing people a great time listening to music without a lot of fuss and bother.

 

Ok. Let's be clear that some of what Darko is talking about is how clueless middle aged white guys are about what the young people are listening to and why. So I'm hoping "lost in the sauce" is not a cryptic reference to that being applied to me. :)

 

Here's a practical application for AAC: Depending on the environment, an AAC file can be streamed unmolested to a Bluetooth audio device. With mp3, there is at least a decode/encode step. So the computational footprint for streaming AAC to Bluetooth could be near nil. A win, I think you'd agree (especially on mobile platforms). To my knowledge, no mainstream streaming services use mp3 as the underlying format. So to most of the "up and comers", it's an invisible issue. Even file downloads is a "grandpa" thing now...

 

But I get that "mp3" is like, "Jello", and "Kleenex".

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But I think this is exactly what Darko is talking about, getting "lost in the sauce" of a debate about small sonic differences that are utterly unimportant to the great majority of folks, and losing the ultimate goal of showing people a great time listening to music without a lot of fuss and bother.

Darko writes as much nonsense as the next man. Why isn't hifi attracting a diverse young audience? Because it's dull old, largely perfected technology. It hasn't really been cutting edge in 30 years either as a technology generally or as a technology which is demonstrably improving. The masses are not fools in this respect, they are spot on.The kids do like their headphones and some of them do, for the time being, rather like vinyl for its old skool feel.

You are not a sound quality measurement device

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I liked the piece, and it certainly squares with my contemporary audio experiences. One nit: Why is "mp3" always the placeholder for "lossy"? Isn't AAC more ubiquitous now? It's the native format of Bluetooth audio, for example.

AAC is not a mandatory codec in Bluetooth. In addition to the required SBC, both mp3 and AAC can be optionally supported along with various others, probably most commonly Qualcomm's aptX.

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Darko writes as much nonsense as the next man.

 

 

 

Of course. Sometimes the nonsense is thought-provoking and/or interesting, which I thought his piece was.

 

 

 

Why isn't hifi attracting a diverse young audience? Because it's dull old, largely perfected technology. It hasn't really been cutting edge in 30 years either as a technology generally or as a technology which is demonstrably improving.

 

 

 

I'd respectfully disagree with the largely perfected and hasn't demonstrably improved parts. I'm old enough to've been into high end audio (more than) 30 years ago, and I do think my rig now sounds substantially better than my rig then. I also think demonstrable improvements can be shown in tech like proper digital filtering being available now versus that available in most CD players in 1987, something I do think provided a difference in sound quality. And certainly the utter convenience of having virtually any song in your collection available at a moment's notice is different.

 

Regarding dull and old - versus virtual worlds available relatively cheaply with a phone and goggles, yeah. Audio hasn't been able to deliver spectacle on the order of consumer video products for decades now.

 

 

 

The masses are not fools in this respect, they are spot on.The kids do like their headphones and some of them do, for the time being, rather like vinyl for its old skool feel.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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AAC is not a mandatory codec in Bluetooth. In addition to the required SBC, both mp3 and AAC can be optionally supported along with various others, probably most commonly Qualcomm's aptX.

 

Agreed. But because of licensing issues with mp3, A2DP/AAC is pretty ubiquitous in consumer gear. Especially Bluetooth speakers. aptX would be bigger if Apple would put it on their mobile handsets. But there are apparently licensing or hardware issues there that Apple doesn't like.

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Goodness no. AAC is substantially superior.

AAC is theoretically superior to mp3. However, actually creating a good encoder is notoriously difficult, and early efforts often sounded worse than contemporary mp3 encoders. The improvements are also most marked at low bit rates (up to 100 kbps) where neither achieves anything that would pass for hi-fi. At high rates (over 300 kbps) the differences are generally quite small.

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AAC is theoretically superior to mp3. However, actually creating a good encoder is notoriously difficult, and early efforts often sounded worse than contemporary mp3 encoders. The improvements are also most marked at low bit rates (up to 100 kbps) where neither achieves anything that would pass for hi-fi. At high rates (over 300 kbps) the differences are generally quite small.

 

My personal experiences have to do with using Apple's Mac OS native encoder, "afconvert" (this can also be accessed by the "XLD" application). With VBR at the highest quality level, I can typically get effective bit rates above 320kbps. I find these files to be a good trade off with lossless on mobile devices where space is at a premium. I just can't get as good of sound quality from 320kbps mp3 files. And I have done a good deal of ABX testing with this.

 

EDIT: I should point out that all the ABX testing was done with higher end home audio gear and not with the mobile gear I typically use to listen to AAC files.

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And I have done a good deal of ABX testing with this.

 

EDIT: I should point out that all the ABX testing was done with higher end home audio gear and not with the mobile gear I typically use to listen to AAC files.

 

How did you work your phone with a blindfold on? ;)

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I'll agree it's largely perfected when you can get equivalent performance of say an Aurender A10 feeding ATC SCM50 ASL speakers for less than 5 grand all in.

 

IME We're nowhere near that stage at the moment, but things are definitely improving... better performance is available for much less coin than yesteryear.

 

Some of it is dull, as are some of the people, but there's still plenty to look forward to if you look in the right places.

 

The industry basically needs to better address the masses instead of chasing wierdy beardy valve polishers.

 

;-)

 

 

Why isn't hifi attracting a diverse young audience? Because it's dull old, largely perfected technology.

Source:

*Aurender N100 (no internal disk : LAN optically isolated via FMC with *LPS) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch - split for *LPS) > Intona Industrial (injected *LPS / internally shielded with copper tape) > DIY 5cm USB link (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > W4S Recovery (*LPS) > DIY 2cm USB adaptor (5v rail removed / ground lift switch) > *Auralic VEGA (EXACT : balanced)

 

Control:

*Jeff Rowland CAPRI S2 (balanced)

 

Playback:

2 x Revel B15a subs (balanced) > ATC SCM 50 ASL (balanced - 80Hz HPF from subs)

 

Misc:

*Via Power Inspired AG1500 AC Regenerator

LPS: 3 x Swagman Lab Audiophile Signature Edition (W4S, Intona & FMC)

Storage: QNAP TS-253Pro 2x 3Tb, 8Gb RAM

Cables: DIY heavy gauge solid silver (balanced)

Mains: dedicated distribution board with 5 x 2 socket ring mains, all mains cables: Mark Grant Black Series DSP 2.5 Dual Screen

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He nailed it. I would definitely go to that show! I just hope I wouldn't scare off the young crowd!

 

I would too. And as for the young crowd, selfishly I wouldn't care. :)

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I'd respectfully disagree with the largely perfected and hasn't demonstrably improved parts. I'm old enough to've been into high end audio (more than) 30 years ago, and I do think my rig now sounds substantially better than my rig then. I also think demonstrable improvements can be shown in tech like proper digital filtering being available now versus that available in most CD players in 1987, something I do think provided a difference in sound quality. And certainly the utter convenience of having virtually any song in your collection available at a moment's notice is different.

 

Regarding dull and old - versus virtual worlds available relatively cheaply with a phone and goggles, yeah. Audio hasn't been able to deliver spectacle on the order of consumer video products for decades now.

I used the word "largely" and "demonstrably" for a reason. Of course digital filters are better (technically) than what was available in 1987. You might even be able to abx a 1987 CD player from a level matched modern dac, but compared with the difference between a 1987 tv and a modern led flatscreen?

 

And how do we account for the fact that lots of people seem to think that a PS1 sounds great?

 

Perhaps if some form of ambisonics etc ever caught on.... but largely with stereo nothing very exciting has happened in the cosmic scheme of things; because by 1987 we already had something like flat FR to 20 kHz and 90 dB of SNR. Many digital recodings from that era (e.g. Decca classical) still sound great. [Frankly many analog stereo recordings from the 50s sound great too.]

Incidentally many audiophiles think that the quad esl and bbc ls3/5A are about as good as it has ever got- anybody say that about 60s/70s TVs?

From the non perfectionist point of view we got to "good enough" a long time ago.

You are not a sound quality measurement device

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My personal experiences have to do with using Apple's Mac OS native encoder, "afconvert" (this can also be accessed by the "XLD" application). With VBR at the highest quality level, I can typically get effective bit rates above 320kbps. I find these files to be a good trade off with lossless on mobile devices where space is at a premium. I just can't get as good of sound quality from 320kbps mp3 files. And I have done a good deal of ABX testing with this.

 

EDIT: I should point out that all the ABX testing was done with higher end home audio gear and not with the mobile gear I typically use to listen to AAC files.

I can believe that. Apple's AAC encoder is quite good and ought to outperform mp3, especially with VBR. Did you compare against VBR mp3? While not officially permitted by the standard, most decoders handle it just fine.

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From the non perfectionist point of view we got to "good enough" a long time ago.

 

Many folks think the old cars are the best (including me in some respects), but I love F1, so I guess regarding at least some things I tend toward an appreciation of perfectionism.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Many folks think the old cars are the best (including me in some respects)

 

For me old cars are best. Now almost all cars are similar each other for me. It is main issue.

 

Contrary, for modern audio we can view wide diversity of design forms.

AuI ConverteR 48x44 - HD audio converter/optimizer for DAC of high resolution files

ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

Seamless Album Conversion, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSF metadata editor, Mac & Windows
Offline conversion save energy and nature

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I can believe that. Apple's AAC encoder is quite good and ought to outperform mp3, especially with VBR. Did you compare against VBR mp3? While not officially permitted by the standard, most decoders handle it just fine.

 

Yes. With a decent DAC, headphone amp, and headphones, and of course, best ABX practices (convert both examples to lossless WAV files), the differences were apparent. Not huge, but I could hit 10/10 once I got used to what to listen for. I don't think mp3 VBR will go above 320kbps, but I could be wrong.

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