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SGB's Music Server Project

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Alright guys, I created a forum thread dedicated to SGB's Mac Mini project. I was trying to find some information related to this whole adventure and I couldn't think of the exact words to search for. So, a dedicated topic should take care of that and keep everything together. This topic is for anyone to ask and answer questions or give suggestions related to SGB's project.



SGB - Got a status update for us?


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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markr has been kind enough to do a little encouraging here and there, but without a visit from him to actually witness what goes on with this first hand, I'm afraid he can only guess at the frustration I have with getting these CDs loaded onto the hard drive. He and I both agree that the G4 Mini (despite Apple's claims) is not appropriate for running Leopard and the latest version of the iTunes application. I'd characterize Leopard on a G4 Mini something like trying to pull an Airstream trailer with a motorcycle. I find myself between a rock and a hard place here, because my alternatives will either set me back in the archiving process or end up costing me more money. To date I've loaded just under 100GB of music; today marks the 14th day of this endeavor.


I've just finished loading the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's My Feet Can't Fail Me Now, and this one has been especially exasperating: since iTunes will no longer tag the CD's title (on the desktop icon for the CD), it took me four different insertions of the disc before the CDDB search routine brought me back to the screen where you can click on the import button. Once there I have no problems with loading the CD, but this is such a waste of time.


I had been thinking about replacing the G4 with a current Mini, but this just wasn't in my budget. True, a friend has given me a brand new iPod Touch as a gift so I could rationalize that 3/5 of the expense for another Mini has been defrayed. The point, though, is that this just puts the DAC acquisition off by another $200.


I have since been thinking that perhaps it's time to think about these alternatives...


I would like to start by removing preferences out of the system folder for both iTunes and CDDB to see if this might help. Nestled in the preference panes are 3 iTunes, a CDDB and Audio Midi preference files that, if deleted, might set me straight again. The problem here is that I am not that familiar with the underpinnings of OSX. If this were OS 9, I'd have no qualms about trashing these files and restarting the computer. Back then, fresh new files would automatically install as soon as you opened the application. What I don't know (until I try it) is whether I'll be able to restore the Library contents.


I am also thinking about backing up the complete music file that contains the library contents and album artwork then erasing the new drive and doing a clean install. I would do a Tiger install instead of Leopard, but the disc is lost. Once the OS is installed, I could put the old Music folder where it belongs and go from there. I think this is a bit drastic, though, as the Leopard install on the Mini is, for all intents, pristine. Nothing else has been added.


I just need a little guidance to make certain that I won't be removing the wrong files, or if I'm missing something that should be tossed.


One other question: how do I put a screen shot up?


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It just dawned on me that of earlier versions of iTunes may not work properly with the selected iPod Touch remote, although this is not a major concern, just another hindrance along the way. I had decided to revert to Tiger on the old Mini, but then realized that I couldn't remember where the upgrade install disk was, so I bought a used one off ebay. The plan is to load all of the CDs into iTunes BEFORE I allow the upgrades to flow from Apple — assuming that markr is right that this old G4 is going to find it more and more difficult to deal with the increased bloatedness of software as fewer and fewer PPCs reman in use.


Apparently iTunes 7.6 will work with either Leopard or Tiger, so, assuming that Cover Flow is a recent addition to the program, I'll have to put off setting up the iPod unless this much-needed feature will work with whatever version comes on that 2+ year-old installer. Still apprehensive about newer data files working with an older version too, but we will know all of this in good time.


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I would really like to dig-in to what is going on with SGB's G4 mini. What is going on is odd with a capital 'Oh Dee Dee' There are a few different things that I would like to try, but they would take quite some time. I WOULD just run over to his place, but it is at least a 14.5 hour round trip. SGB wants this OVER WITH soon. I don't blame him. SO, I have to just give it a partially educated guess.


SGB's DiskUtility logs are showing that virtually every app and related file on the Leopard system drive has had permissions changes. (BAD. Sometimes VERY BAD) -- I couldn't look at all of the logs. THE FILES WERE TOO BIG to send (ouch)!!!! When the DU routines start up, it takes HOURS to show progress and then the progress seems to gradually speed up, until the final file repairs are quite in the normal range in terms of execution speed. Additionally, some permissions cannot be repaired at all to this point, or at least were not repairable up until about 2 days ago. I am quite perplexed, because this particular issue is not only happening on his G4 mini, but also on a new C2D iMac. Without being able to compare the totality of the contents of the two computers, I am at a loss to say what the root cause might be. I am further hampered by the fact that the only Mac I have to experiment with (mine) has the Tiger OS on it, and will continue to for some time, for some completely unrelated reasons. **is anyone else here seeing anything like this when they run 'verify' and 'repair' in DiskUtility under Leopard?** I certainly do not see it under Tiger.


As for the G4 not being up to snuff - I wouldn't quite put it the way SGB did, but the net effect is the same. The G4's are going to be fine under Tiger for quite some time to come. For lots of programs, they are going to be good under Leopard too. The higher the version of the OS goes though, the less backward-compatible it will be with previous hardware configurations. After all the OS is currently coded to run on both a Motorola/IBM/Apple 64 bit RISC CPU AND an Intel Cored 2 Duo family CISC CPU. Two very different animals. That is a tough coding chore for the OS writers and the writers of the apps that are run on those differing hardware platforms. ...But only if you want everything to work properly....... ? My guess, then.



HEY SGB: Cover Flow originated in iTunes several revisions back. It is not that recent. I'm not sure what version it appeared in..... OH! ....wiki again: CoverFlow was purchased by Apple Inc. in 2006, and its technology was integrated into its flagship jukebox application, iTunes 7.0, which was released September 12, 2006. .. Hopefully the version on the install disc you purchased will be at least 7.0. I will look around to see if I can find some early 7.x versions of iTunes and QuickTime (don't forget that that is integral to iTunes). A thought now occurs to me: most of the recent updates I've seen for QuickTime have been "SECURITY" updates. QT is being targeted by the script kiddies and cyberpunks as a (remember: "hackers" are GOOD though) means of exploiting systems. I'm not sure you would really WANT to run an older version of iTunes, unless you kept that computer off of the web. Note to markr: Insert monkey wrench HERE .... just my opinion.......



Sometimes the only thing you ever know is that you NEVER know....


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markr: "**is anyone else here seeing anything like this when they run 'verify' and 'repair' in DiskUtility under Leopard?**"



No problems at all here. SGB must have the magic touch :-)


If you guys need a place to share files too large for email I can certainly host them for download here on CA.


Also, I'll do some poking around for older versions of iTunes and try to start a little archive for people looking for older versions. If you guys find some sites with legit versions, or even better an Apple ftp site, let me know.




Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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Yes. Another possible root 'cause': I've got some folks at work like that: they always seem to find the statistical 'one-offs' in groups of thousands. SG*B* ...... hmmm.... that doesn't stand for Btfsplk does it Steven? ?



I may be wrong, but I'm not wrong long.





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  • 2 weeks later...

This has been a trying week, but some headway has been made, along with a startling discovery.


No, the new C2D Mini hasn't arrived, & I don't expect it to ship until Monday, but I have discovered (as markr knew all along) that the culprit in all of the software problems I've been having with the G4 Mini is Leopard alone, and not a combination of Leopard with the newest version of iTunes. I know this from having performed a few experiments that brought me to appreciate something that I had already suspected (more later on this), but, one thing leading to another, I started playing around with the music files on another external hard drive with an eye toward bringing selections from it into the master music library on my big Iomega Ultramax. These files on the older, smaller (160 GB) drive were all loaded onto the that drive using versions 4, 5, 6 & 7 of Toast over a span of many years dating back to the G3 iMac. I wanted to maximize my time with this project while waiting for one fix or another to show up in my mailbox, and I was surprised to see exactly how much stuff I had collected on that drive. In all, I think there were about 20 fully complete albums among the thousands of individual music files on that drive.


I had been reading the posts in Apple's iTunes forum, and stumbled upon an answer to a question that interested me from what seemed to be a very knowledgeable guy. His solution really made a lot of sense, but I wondered if it would work with non-iTunes files too. So, with what I had just read, I started iTunes on the Mini, chose the command, add to library then navigated over to the 160 drive that's connected to another computer on the network, picked a single album, and clicked the open button. To my surprise and amazement, the album was sent over the ethernet network in two shakes of a lamb's tail and deposited into my library fully intact! The songs were in the right order AND the cover art for was even downloaded from the iTunes store.


I tried another one, but this time, only the _artist name_ and _song title_ fields displayed when the album finished loading. Instead of appearing in its proper place in the cover flow window, I found the 12 tracks at the bottom of my library list with lots of empty spaces. On this one, I had to go back to the other computer and navigate to the particular folder where this album was placed, find the Toast document associated with the tracks then open it to view the proper order of the songs. It was an easy task to give each of the selections the proper track number then select them all to do an insert of the album title and genre once and click ok. Voila! there was the album right where it belonged; a simple click on _get album artwork_ and, as Emerill says, BAM.


Next, I moved the rest of the complete albums to a single folder, and added all of the remaining Toast files at a single time. Most of these ended up having album art and collected together in the proper order, a few didn't. I determined that the ones that needed the editing were the albums that had been loaded with the early versions of Toast. All of this elucidation led me to think about installing Toast on the Mini, and it was here that I discovered that Leopard is the cause of all my problems. Just as in iTunes, Toast misbehaves badly when it comes to accessing CDDB, but now I know that it's Leopard's fault.


The startling discovery is that whoever it was who first told me that Toast produces better sounding music files than iTunes does has made a believer out of me.


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Chris mused: OK SGB - Maybe I missed something but I have to disagree about Toast producing better sounding music files. It sounds like most of the topics above are related to administration of the library and not sound. Please fill me in on the sound aspect. I am a big skeptic :-)


So am I a skeptic, and I believe that there is always a rational explanation for anything that runs contrary to universal truth. For example: the fact that Cable A that sells for $1500 sounds better than Cable B that you bought at Wal-Mart for $3.99 has nothing to do with one being more accurate than the other, it's just that the makers of the $1500 (actually I know of a few cheap cables that sound better than expensive ones), being cognizant of the laws of physics AND the demands of the market niche they are targeting. The result is that the $1500 cable is engineered to produce a desirable sound where the cheap cable was merely put together to satisfy a general need.


This is not to say that what I've actually heard has anything to do with the algorithmic differences that enable iTunes and Toast to make a, quote, bit perfect transfer onto a hard drive, but, as in any laboratory experiment designed to produce an outcome, the measurements are based on the variables introduced. In this case, Toast vs iTunes. But I made one sin of omission in my earlier post: I forgot to mention that there was a second variable: Tiger. It was an unintended omission, but it suggests to me that the consequences of processing hundreds of CDs with a questionable Leopard install may have led to this. After I had discovered that the same effects that had plagued both iTunes and Toast on the HD with the Leopard install, I switched to the drive with Tiger where I made this discovery. It may not be that Toast makes a better sounding clone than iTunes, but it might show only that a misbehaving operating system has a negative effect on the files you are importing. In other words, my error in forgetting this crucial element.


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Alright, I got ya. Very good information SGB. With all these variables involved I sure hope Joe Sixpack doesn't get scared away from music servers. Hopefully we'll shed light on many of the issues here and allow others to learn from our experience.


At least there is the option of using canned music servers for those less willing to go this route.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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There's a guy at a very popular audiophile site who is willing to custom load your music onto a server hard drive. I thought about contacting him, as this service is secondary to his selling you on the idea of a ready-made computer music system. This, it seemed to me, would be a timely way to get hundreds, if not thousands, of common music CDs onto a drive, and from the amount of time it takes to load a CD onto a hard drive with a system that is NOT misbehaving as mine has been could still amount to saving weeks or even months.


I think that there's a level of satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment that comes with a DIY project, though, and I wouldn't trade my experiences for any system put together for me. My dad used to say that if you want something done right, do it yourself. That may not always be true, but if you do it yourself, you'll have it just the way you want it, and your experiences will make you all the richer for your efforts.


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I think that's how you spell Gomer Pyle's exclamation of amazement and mostly joy.


Today's mail brought the Tiger system disks for the G4 Mini all the way from North Dakota, and I was ready. Early this morning I downloaded 10.5.2 and soon found out that my problem was still there, so I reformatted the internal drive and left it blank in anticipation of the delivery.


I didn't bother installing all that other stuff on the second disk, just the Tiger OS, and whatever else was on disk 1. That took about 20 minutes to load, and when it restarted, I ran the software updates that take the machine to 1.4.11. That took another 40 minutes; then I made certain that I brought iTunes 7.6 over, thinking that I might run into a problem with an earlier version trying to read the files created by a later version.


I had saved the entire iTunes folder that had been residing on the Mini prior to reformatting (all the support things, not the tunes themselves — they're on the 750 external) then I put it where Tiger was supposed to find it before I started iTunes. Well GOLLLLLLL-LEE, it worked. From the very start all of the data that I had spent weeks to create was there and intact; no need to fix anything. Just to make sure that I wasn't dreaming, I pinched myself, then grabbed a few CDs to test. All of them worked like a charm.


I may have a brand new Mini that hasn't even arrived yet to sell.



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Well, I am pleased to say that with the arrival of the original Tiger-Mini System Disks, and the time spent to go through a series of hardware tests with the belated arrival of TechTool Pro (thanks for the recommendation, Mark) that I am full steam ahead into the CD archiving process. In just the last 4 days I have been able to load more than 3 times the number of CDs onto the hard drive than I had in the several weeks before I threw in the towel with Leopard. I am at over 400 CDs loaded now, and at this rate, I should be able to finish the loading segment of this project sooner than originally planned. If I can keep up the pace of loading about 50 per day, I calculate that I should be finished in 24 days, God willin' and the crick don't rise.


So here's my question (after a brief set-up). The Mini server is connected to the local network via Airport, with the Music hard drive directly connected to it via Firewire for the time being. When finished loading and cloned, it (the music hard drive) will then be connected to the Airport Extreme Base Station. Thus the Mini will be connecting to the iTunes music library wirelessly. For the time being, I have been connecting to the Mini's Music Library via the iMac, and I am finding that whenever I do so that the actual connection time is getting longer as the number of albums in the library increases. Right now, the connections are taking almost 30 seconds; I am assuming that when I have another 1100 albums in the library that this number might increase to, say, as much as 90 to 120 seconds. Am I right about this?


Will this also mean that the Mini server when in the living room connecting to the Music Hard Drive on the AEBS will be taking this long?


I have also experienced an infrequent disconnect from the server, some lasting just an instant, others show me a progress bar on the iMac screen that last as much as 30 seconds. Is this typical, and can I expect this in the final product?


Good listening and thanks.


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SGB - This sounds pretty cool now. it is good to see your finally cruising with this project.


The time it takes to connect to another Mac's music library can be annoying when that library is large. I have the same issue and it exists whether my music folder is local or connected to the AEBS. However, When you move your music folder to the AEBS location you might as well change your iMac music folder to the same location and share the same music that way instead of connecting through the Mini. There are some other minor adjustments to be made when going this route, but I think it is the best way to accomplish this.


Your Mini server will not take long to load the library when you move the music folder to the drive connected to the AEBS. I think we should probably make it clear what exactly we're talking about. I am guessing you'll have your actual library on the Mini's local drive and the music folder/files on the drive connected to the AEBS. This way the library loads in the same amount of time as it does when the music folder is directly connected because iTunes doesn't check the individual files upon startup. Is this kind of what you were wondering?


I haven't lost my connection once with my disk connected through the AEBS. You should expect the same results baring any weird interference or other issues not seen in my environment.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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OK, so confident that everything was copasetic with the G4 Mini, I pulled my BRAND NEW 2.0GHz C2D Mini that arrived last Saturday out of the box and set it up; went through all the software update routines on it, then set up sharing, giving share read and write permissions to my other Macs. Next I set up The Audio/Midi file to 24/96 as everyone reccommends, copied over the established master iTunes file to the new computer, opened iTunes, clicked on the license agreement you see with every new version, opened preferences and set them as they should be — AIFF, get names from CDDB etc. — then inserted the first CD. The machine made some horrible noises then went through a series of about 10 dialogs telling me it couldn't do this or that, and then when that stuff was finished.... there was NO CD ON THE DESKTOP! Sound familiar? Wait, it gets better.


Opening Disk Utilities, I select the audio CD icon and tell DU to mount it. Up comes a dialog saying that I do not have access levels high enough to mount that music CD so I eject it. So I've got DU active so I ask it to verify permissions. A second later another dialog comes up telling me that there are serious problems in permissions and to go repair them. I click on that button, and another dialog tells me that the errors are so serious that they cannot be repaired. Meanwhile, the external drive starts rattling and vibrating like nothing you've seen. As soon as I close DU, this stops..... BUT SUDDENLY THERE IS A PADLOCK ON MY MUSIC HARD DRIVE. Yep, I confirmed that what the computer was telling was true, I cannot write to the disk; suddenly it's Read Only.


I go back to DU and select the drive to verify it. It tells me that the disk needs a minor directory repair, so I click on repair and get the message, "this disk cannot be modified."


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I'm running late for work, but try this:


If DU won't repair or give you access to your computer's HD (permissions), you must start the computer using the "Install Mac OS" DVD. NOT the HD. This should give you access. Here is how: Insert the DVD and then restart the computer. When the boot starts, hold down the "C" key on the keyboard until it asks for the Language you would like to use (meanwhile, you should detect that the optical drive is spinning continually.)


After selecting the language, it should come up to a desktop that will be wanting you to install the system again. Ignore that & go to the pulldown menus, specifically the one that will let you run HD diagnostics. This will take longer to do, because the OS is now running from the optical drive too, BUT your permission level should be at administrator (root) level in this mode. That will allow you to repair anything other than bad hardware.


good luck, Joe!


Try passing the time by reading some 'Fearless Fosdick' adventures in the meantime!


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Wow SGB - I'm speechless (again).


I get the feeling that we are all over-thinking this one. Similar things have happened to me in the past where I was positive the solution was some obscure combination of code and pixie duct. But in the end the solution has been something very simple.


SGB - We should figure out what you are doing that most others are not.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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What I described yesterday was what happened in the first 20 minutes or so after the system updates had been completed. Later work with this brought me to several conclusions.


1. I initially tried starting with the system DVD (as Mark suggested) when Disk Utilities tells me that the problems are so severe that the disk cannot be repaired. (As an aside, when the C2D Mini was first started, Software Updater told me that 44 files would be downloaded and installed — at least 2GB worth. I presume this to be a very early factory install of Leopard from this.) From the DVD, I get the same message: Serious disk problems that can't be repaired; serious permissions problems that also can't be repaired. I immediately suspect the 44 file system update download, so, what the hell, I reformat the drive and reinstall the system disks.


2. After the reformat, the System Updater tells me there are only 11 files to be downloaded (compared to 44). This tells me that the system disks that came with the computer were actually manufactured some time after the machine was. At this point everything is running smoothly on the new Mini: permissions and disk verifications turned up no problems; iTunes started and ran perfectly.


3. Although the Music HD cannot be modified by any user (including the admin, Mark), iTunes is still allowed to load music into the library. What CANNOT BE DONE is, no other type of files can be copied to the drive, and no files on the drive can be dragged to the trash. As you might remember, each day at the end of a loading session it is my practice to copy the ancillary iTunes files inside my music folder to the music HD as an additional backup.


I had not planned to purchase the first of two backup drives (one for off-premises safety), but since I can copy files FROM the drive, I decided to buy another Iomega drive and have it overnighted to me. The drive is supposed to be delivered today, but my order status as of 4:45 AM today doesn't show that it has shipped. When it does arrive, I'll merely copy the music folder to it, reformat the older one then clone the new one. (It irritates me that my order was made at 12:38 CST, I paid for overnight shipping, but it doesn't look like I'll be getting it overnight.)


Chris, I'm not doing anything I shouldn't be doing, or anything different; I've just got a case that proves I'm unlucky. BTW in streaming shared music from the server to the iMac, those intermittent but rare disconnects on the G4 do not happen at all with the C2D.


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I figure that I will be completely finished with the CD loading in another week or so — if I can keep up the pace, that is. In just the past few days since I switched to the C2D Mini, I've loaded some 500 CDs onto the drive, making the current total close to 800. I'm just about ready to start into the Ts in the pop/rock segment of my collection. When that's finished I'll have about 200 or so more classical to add. I also have 563 CDs of Oldies music, but I may decide to omit this. As it stands, when the loading is complete, the hard drive should contain about 1250 CDs; based on the current load I anticipate this will total about 600 GB. Cloning the backups should take about 6 hours each via Firewire 800.


I'll be setting up the AEBS and the iPod Touch just as soon as the backups are completed, and moving the Mini to the living room to connect to the audio system.

As Chris already knows, I'm going to be buying a new, cheap USB DAC called the KingRex UD-01. The unit retails for a mere $190, and is a 16/48 device. You can see it here:


I chose it not for its price, but for the fact that the unit comes with no volume control or headphone amp section, it's just a minimalist USB DAC. My rationale is based in experience. Volume controls and extra circuitry are often/usually deleterious to the sound, so I wanted to avoid getting something like that. Once I have it, a friend and I will take a look at the innards to see what can be upgraded cheaply and easily.


With all of this taking place, I should be up and running within the next month.


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Looking great SGB! I hope you can keep up the pace with the upcoming classical CD loads. The tags for those can be horrendous as you well know.


Note: If you haven't purchased the Signal application yet you may want to hold off (hint) until March 1st. There (cough) just might (cough) be something in the works around here.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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I cannot believe it, but it is true. I have (selectively) finished loading the Classical, Jazz, Easy Listening, Holiday, Pop, Rock, Blues, Comedy, Folk, New Age, Soundtrack, World, Alternative and Latin CDs onto the hard drive. There are STILL 583 CDs of Oldies music that I must go through, and this will probably be the hardest part of the archiving. In fact, I may decide to load only a very few of these... The Beach Boys, Elvis, Fats, Dion, and maybe some of the Girl Groups, but for all intents, The 794 albums out of roughly 1000 that I knew I wanted to load are loaded. I may wait a while to load the portions of the Oldies CDs I want, but for now, I am itching to get to the DAC evaluation stage.


I have all of the parts here (one is on the way & one crucial CDR is on the way from my pal, Kevin) to semi complete the project, so within the next few days, I'll set up the Airport Extreme Base Station, download the software that Chris is currently recommending, clone the 2 backup hard drives from the original and connect the USB DAC. SINCE I CAME IN WELL UNDER BUDGET, I THINK I WILL TRY A FANCY, AUDIOPHILE PIXIE-DUST-TREATED USB CABLE. IIRC Chris has mentioned the Kimber, so that's as good a place to start as any. There is also a Belkin cable that gets a lot of nods, so I will throw that into the mix too.


I am still awaiting a reply from Scott Nixon regarding his UFO DAC. This is a tube unit that has been scoffed at by a few of the big boys, so, iconoclast that I like to think I am, it will probably be the next DAC I will try, probably within the month.


And, no, Chris, I haven't moved on "Signal" yet, so I am, with bated breath, awaiting your March 1 announcement.


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