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Summer of Software Stress


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After I completed my 45-day review of the Buchardt Audio A500s, I mentioned that I would draft an overview of the software issues that have plagued me over the summer. These are in no order just a log getting them down on the digital page.

 

This log is not a rant; this is my journey over the last six months. I call this information overload and comment on the complexity of software and systems around us.

 

Roon

 

Roon has grown up quite a bit and has fractured the industry a bit. I typically run Roon on dedicated Linux systems as I do not want to maintain Windows or macOS in my music systems. Over the summer, Roon has been unstable for me. Mostly it has been the metadata improver module that keeps crashing. I finally had to re-image my machines to a different OS to work around the problem. Roon also seems to insist on not letting me use my meta data the way I want to. It keeps over-riding it. Yes, this appears to be by design. I have found both the performance and the Audio Quality seeming to suffer recently. The "last straw" is that my Hansong Stereo Hub is not Roon Certified, and I cannot use it with Roon. I know that this is hard; give us a bone, folks. Status updates, something. Oh, and the same goes for the Dutch and Dutch 8Cs. I will get back to Roon when things work with it.

 

Elac Discovery Connect.

 

It would not connect, it would not update, and it sounded relatively weak after taking two days to figure out the problems. I do not know if it was the app or the device. The Navis ARB-51 speakers were not bad, but I was disappointed overall.  

 

Microsoft Windows

 

I tend not to use Windows unless I have to. This summer of updates and reboots has been annoying. Their internal forced advertising and almost threatening behavior around their new web browser have been all but the last straw. I have no idea what metrics they are taking in the OS or what data is being sent to them. It is time to stop Microsoft. The changes in Microsoft Office have been driving some of my customers and my wife batty. They are almost as bad as Google. Here today, Gone Tomorrow.

 

All the Apple software

 

These problems are mostly my fault! I am a bit of an Apple fan-boy, and I am developing a couple of applications for the new, more universal OS and ARM Macs. So I have been running beta software and re-learning how to program using Swift. I may have overfilled my cup a bit!  

 

And it continues -- Just the other day, the HomePods decided to stop taking commands. After fussing around, I had to remove them all from my home and re-add.

 

 

UPnP, Servers, Control Points, and renderers

 

I know this stuff is open, but could it just work. For some reason, Tidal and Qobuz will play to some renderers but not others. I have had to force quit or reboot control point software over and over. Why does Mconnect not work and Bubble work with the same renderer?  

 

AURLiC "OS" and Lightning DS 

 

My Altair G1 is one of the best overall devices I have used. It sounds great, looks good, and has a lot of the features I need.

 

I have crashed the OS by unplugging an un-mounted drive by copying data from my computer to a drive connected to the G1. I have not been able to get an IR remote to store more than one or two functions, and then the G1 seems to forget or change the buttons over time. The OS does not hold on to the WiFi password when you switch between wired and wireless networking.  

 

The Lightning DS app crashes a lot. I think it is sensitive to other network or memory-intensive apps. The transition from iOS 13 to 14 has been a bit bumpy, or maybe jaw rattling. It is mostly stable now. I keep getting surprises like no shared playlists or no import of M3U or use of M3U. There seems to be something weird with Tidal where the login was getting lost over and over. The UI goes weird between light and dark mode stuff. I am still VERY HAPPY to use this every day!

 

Ham Radio Software and the Raspberry Pi

 

One of the other things I enjoy is Amateur Radio Digital modes. I am not going to list the issues here! Let me say that this was 10x worse than anything else. Three Pis sitting in a box for later use.

 

Dutch and Dutch 8C

 

I love the sound of the speakers. The LanSpeaker browser app, not so much. Software is hard; I know I write it! The software does work; its performance is terrible. The volume controls are weird. I have seen steady progress over the summer. The way they work with REW is pretty cool. Both need some polish to be useable by folks.  Waiting for Roon.

 

Hansong Stereo Hub

 

Packaged with the Buchardt Audio A500 speakers, the software needs some polish. Roon has not been certified. I have had several issues with Chromecast and losing control of the device. Audirvana has trouble with the UPnP volume control and track changes. The Qobuz app on the iPad hangs when you try to skip tracks.  I have been told a software update will arrive "next week?'  I have not really started to play with HDMI ARC.  So I am not totally negative, Airplay, Spotify Connect ,and Tidal work fine.  

 

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You paint a bleak future for audio software's future.  Just kidding.  Software updates are a necessary/unnecessary evil.  So many options and no clear winners.  I doubt their will ever be a swiss army knife of software for us audiophiles.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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My thoughts go a bit deeper.  Sometime around 2006 the folks at Slim Devices released their Slim Server.  Which is still under development as Logitech Media Server.  Around that same timeframe UPnP AV and DLNA evolved to try and solve some other issues that "the industry" saw.

Both of these systems continue to be supported in various hardware systems.  

 

The impressive one-man-band of Minimserver Simon Nash has kept development humming for over 10 years!  

 

I would also like to recognize what Damien Plisson has done with Audirvana.  I use it on a daily basis on my workshop MacMini and Audioengine A2+ speakers!  I have to get Damien in touch with the folks at Hansong.  Great match for that hardware.

 

These systems along with some of their other siblings give us a cleaner way of getting the bits from the disk to the speaker!  It is getting harder to get the breadth of equipment manufacturers to recognize the value here.  Keeping these long standing core playback systems working is important to a lot of us.

 

I want to just mention Roon Labs.  What they have built in their Roon software is rather amazing.  They are a bit of the Elephant it the room, their market share seems to be growing and they have captured a lot of systems and users.  I think that there is some friction in the industry around their software and hardware.  When my listening hardware gets certified I will go back and figure out if Roon is still there for me.  There is a lot of noise about sound quality problems this year.  WHEW!

 

Streaming is a nightmare of over-abundance.  I kind of dare you to "pick one".     Everyone is developing their own "casting" service.  I do not envy hardware manufacturers today.  All of these apps have different interaction issues with todays array of hardware.

 

Finally will someone make it a law that requires all software and hardware systems to play Gapless.  Oh and the folks that master the music please do the same!  Really folks it has been working for 20 years in older systems!

 

Good night all!  

 

Hey Siri play my bedtime playlist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, bobfa said:

Elac Discovery Connect.

 

It would not connect, it would not update, and it sounded relatively weak after taking two days to figure out the problems. I do not know if it was the app or the device. The Navis ARB-51 speakers were not bad, but I was disappointed overall.  

 

Bob,

a year ago I had a long conference call with Elac's Andrew Jones about the DS-A101-G  Amplifier and Music Server under review where he explained his responsibility for the design process of the unit. Afterwards I decided with Chris to skip the review because it wouldn't have shed any good light on ELAC engineering, especially for the abysmal software design and Roon implementation.
Cheers, Tom
 

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12 hours ago, bobfa said:

The "last straw" is that my Hansong Stereo Hub is not Roon Certified, and I cannot use it with Roon. I know that this is hard; give us a bone, folks. Status updates, something. Oh, and the same goes for the Dutch and Dutch 8Cs.

Same for the NAD M33.

 

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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57 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

Same for the NAD M33.

 

Part of this is just the delays in companies getting together and making things work.  But I have the feeling that there are other dynamics in play.  Sometimes I get really frustrated and this thread is the result of some of that.    NAD being a part of the Bluesound "team" might be an indicator there.  While I do really like the flexibly of Bluesound there are some oddities there too!

 

 

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3 hours ago, DuckToller said:

Bob,

a year ago I had a long conference call with Elac's Andrew Jones about the DS-A101-G  Amplifier and Music Server under review where he explained his responsibility for the design process of the unit. Afterwards I decided with Chris to skip the review because it wouldn't have shed any good light on ELAC engineering, especially for the abysmal software design and Roon implementation.
Cheers, Tom
 

Very interesting... I do not understand how other reviewers really like this stuff..  Now the ARB-51 speakers are pretty darn good as long as you use their analog input.

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Bob, most reviewers have customers that pay them directly or indirectly
... here @ Audiophilestyle we got lucky that we have products & manufactures we like, which are worth a review and - perhaps - our support. You may re-read Chris' Elac Alchemy DDP-2 DAC Review, where you have both, the design idea and the DNLA desaster ( Chris wrote as a comment: "DLNA support is pretty much crippled until ELAC updates the firmware"), the HW and the SW worlds collide ...

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3 hours ago, bobfa said:

Part of this is just the delays in companies getting together and making things work.  But I have the feeling that there are other dynamics in play.  Sometimes I get really frustrated and this thread is the result of some of that.    NAD being a part of the Bluesound "team" might be an indicator there.  While I do really like the flexibly of Bluesound there are some oddities there too!

It is a problem when companies with different priorities promise to coordinate.  In this case, although BluOS and Roon can be seen as competitors, they are really addressing two different markets IMHO because the proprietary nature of BluOS and the price structure of Roon insure that.

 

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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  • 2 months later...
On 11/27/2020 at 7:46 AM, bobfa said:

The Navis ARB-51 speakers were not bad, but I was disappointed overall.  

I own Elac Navis ARB-51 Speakers and it sounds really good (Warmer midrange, excellent vocals, but slightly rolled-off highs).

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17 minutes ago, sathish_tom said:

I own Elac Navis ARB-51 Speakers and it sounds really good (Warmer midrange, excellent vocals, but slightly rolled-off highs).

They are very good, they did not fit my needs.  

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