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Impressions of the London AV/hifi show


Gordon R

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Well jsut woke up after a hard drive back to Germany. On the whole the show was still very much vinyl/cd focussed. However at least three demonstrators were using computers to play music- one was playing hi res 192khz files.

 

Stand out products:

 

Servers: Bitperfect Systems music/av pc.

This is the first audiophile bespoke pc ht/music system I've seen. According to the designer, he's sold 3000 of them to Universal Studios, make of that what you will. Tidily built , quiet with high waf factor. Plays blue ray, games and outputs the high def codecs via hdmi. Cost £1500 ($2746) fully loaded.

 

http://www.hiaudio.co.uk/BPS_prod.htm

 

Dacs:

1. MSB Technologies. Platinum III Dac was on Dem using an I pod and doc modified by themselves. The sound was crystaline clear but did not float my boat. Popped round the rear and unfortunately has no direct usb/firewire connection, Spidif and AES were suported. At approx £5000 I thought it was overpriced. Spoke to the reps, who said it handles hi res and they're developing some sort of add on box with usb. Details are a bit sketchy.

There were other dacs on static display from Firestone, small with usb inputs.

 

http://www.abc-audio.co.uk/

 

2. Bitperfect systems. DAC2 was on dem playing music from a laptop using cheap £1.99 cable. Very very impressive inded. USB with voume contol for £600 ($1100). Don't know if it outputs hi res, and can't confirm as only litterature i've got from Bitperfect refers to their server. The unit is very new. The dealer said he's only heard a better dac at over £5000 (Wadia).

 

3. Chord Electroncs. QBD 76 DAC. This was on dem streimng via bluetooth from a pc. Sound was infectiously good. Its got USB inputs and toshlink/ spidif. It can handle hi res files as well. Talked to the Chord rep there. He assured me that the blutooth is not the standard chip you'd get but a proprietary chipset designed by themselves. It can stream 24 bit data up to and including 192khz via this connection. You can even control the volume via the bluetooth pc which was cool. Personally I reckon this is the most revolutionary product i've seen at the show. Priced at £3000 ($5490)

 

http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products_detail.asp?id=52

 

Chordette Gem. This was on static display. A much smaller device, with usb and bluetooth capability. Does 24 bit up to 96 khz. Considering what I heard with its Bigger brother, these could sell like hotcakes. Priced at £400. ($733)

 

http://www.chordelectronics.co.uk/products_detail.asp?id=53

 

 

The ARC DAC 7 was on display. Its a lot bigger than I expected but annoyingly I didn't get to hear what it could do.

 

A special mention goes to Audiosmile. They displayed a modified Behringer Dac, which had decent sound with a pair of tiny mini monitors, cyrus electronics and el cheapo wire from maplins. Bravo lads!!

 

http://www.audiosmile.co.uk/

 

To sum up some dealers/manufacturers are making progress (slowly) to pc audio however I was disappointed with the focus on big cd players big amps, big speakers and big prices too. The hifi world really needs to wake up. There are millions of people who are at this moment downloading and playing music via phone or pc. My friends have done this for years as I have and to us the hi end is increasingly irrelevant.

 

Gordon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanx Gordon!!!

 

Great post!!!

You`re right, but you know, it`s the same everywhere. As long as they can rip off consumers, they`ll do it.

That`s why I appreciate what Chris has done in creating this Forum. He`s future oriented.

 

 

 

White Macbook - Apple Airport Express - AVI ADM 9.1[br]AVI ADM 9 Owners Club

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Hi Gordon - Thank you very much for the detailed post!

 

I think your closing statements echo those of many people in and out of the industry. There certainly are many big amps, speakers and cd players all at big prices, that do sound absolutely wonderful. But, many customers and potential customers want the manufacturers to build products the customers themselves want. Not the "Build it and they will come" approach. The American auto industry has done this for so long. They build cars they want to build and expect people to buy them.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Thanks for the roundup/

 

I checked out that PC ... looks interesting if very expensive. I wonder how they are achieving bit perfect output. The only thing preventing me from taking the PC route is that very issue; so many ways of getting around XPs problems but I'm not sure they all work.

 

Any thoughts ?

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Gordon,

 

Thanks for the info, would have loved to be at the show...

 

I am a little confused with the Chord thingy... bluetooth... from bluetooth.com:

 

The gross air data rate is 1 Mbps for Basic Rate, 2 Mbps for Enhanced Data Rate using ?/4-DQPSK and 3 Mbps for Enhanced Data Rate using 8DPSK.

 

I don't see how you could get better than what...3Mbps/48 (stereo 24 bits)=125k

 

The problem is you can do anything you want on the dac side but the computer is going to be compliant Bluetooth.

 

I was really wishing the 2.1 spec would gather more speed. Since even WIFI at 2.4Ghz carried at least the 10MBPS output rate.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Hi Sorry I've taken so long in replyiing but I was waiting for a response from Chord with respect to the bluetooth issues you raised. Here is what they said:

 

" The extraction and conversion process generates either a 44.1 or 48KHz raw data stream which is then upsampled in the DAC circuit. The whole process is very efficient and generates a very high quality result.

So your friend is correct that there is a limit on the bandwidth of bluetooth but our system makes full use of what is available and with some clever extraction, conversion and clock circuitry you end up with a very high quality result."

 

All I'll say is thanks Gordon, You were right the bandwidth is limited and i would not have realised this given the info at the show.

 

Gordon R

 

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I'm not sure about pc's either, throw in the kernel issue with the multitude of playback software available and its fair to say confusion reigns. I'm awaiting Chriss's article vis a vis operating systems, playback software and sound quality with great interest. The results will determine my next computer purchase.

 

Regards

 

Gordon R

 

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Gordon,

 

Even if they could sustain 3MBPS and let's say that is limited to 16 bits... then you could barely sustain 44.1 maybe 48. But the thing is I don't think the Audio Spec for Bluetooth does anything more than MP3 grade at 125kbps. So unless they are writing drivers for the PC and MAC it's no better than MP3 quality and I don't see why anyone would spend money for that. They would have been better of setting up a little linux WIFI server and then at least get some realistic rates.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Wifi setup. But I think they are really after tempting mobile phone users. The mobile phone market in the UK is huge. Most of my friends have music, podcasts and funny's stored on their phones. The whole bluetooth design aspect has generated interest enough for the Dac to be profiled in one of the national papers, which is pretty good for a niche audiophile product.

Reference quality, they are using a subset of bluetooth- Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP). Now I'm no engineer however what i heard at the show was very high quality indeed. I'd be shocked if that was MP3.

 

Regards

 

Gordon R

 

 

 

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