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About Ajax

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  1. Hi Chris, I had the same problem with a BMW X3, and no doubt so will everyone else purchasing a new car, where the head unit is deeply ingrained into the car's electronics, just too hard to remove. In my case I installed four new AVI speakers, these are Canadian made and very efficient so you don't need to add a power amp, which makes things much easier from an installation point of view. I also installed a 10" rockford active sub in the boot, with an adjustable cross over and volume control under the steering wheel in easy reach. http://www.avisound.com I play my iPhone via the AUX input so as to by-pass the internal DAC in the head unit.... significant improvement in sound quality. From memory Jud does something similar using his Pono player. Result is a surprisingly good sound, but you obviously loose some of the head units functions, but the volume control still works. Just need to "install" the iPhone on a bracket where it is safe to use and in easy reach. I tend to make specific playlists for the car using either Tidal or Spotify and download them to avoid fiddling with the phone while driving, which is obviously dangerous. You can always add a power AMP later if you feel it is warranted but I did not need too. All the best, Ajax
  2. Hi Bill, I don't remember Fred Flintstone having problems with his radio? Only thing I can think of is that 480-510 THz is the frequency range of orange, so if you can hear things that some here claim they can, then that could well be your source of interference. Reupholster the couch and you should be fine.
  3. Hi Chris, Thanks for your thoughts. I agree 100% that the Auralic Mini is most probably the best $ for $ product produced in the last few years. For some explicable reason they went on sale he in Aus and were selling for the equivalent of only US$300. Such a versatile piece of kit and absolutely ideal for a second system. The G1 is looking very attractive to me but is selling for over A$5k in Aus while it is available for only A$3.5k in the US. Allowing for 0.7 exchange rate we (as always) are getting taken to the cleaners and I'll source my from the US or UK. Thanks again for your comments and insightful review. All the best, Ajax
  4. Hi Chris, I have the Auralic Mini, in fact I have 3 of them, all with 500G SSD drives installed. I get immense pleasure using the lightning DS software (after a shaky start) and would jump at the G1, if I could install an SSD Drive. Reason being you can't always have an internet connection and its good fun to browse your favourites in hi res. It would be silly to ask your thoughts on the sonic improvement of the G1 over the Mini as the price divergence is about 8 times. I am very happy with the convenience and sound quality of my minis, as I have local files on the SSD, plus Tidal and Spotify Connect, and I enjoy controlling them from my phone and iPad. I am tempted to upgrade to the G1 for my main system but have two reservations, the lack of SSD and lack of galvanic isolation. In my research CA contributors such as Barrows stress the importance of having the streamer and DAC in separate boxes. The alternative to me is a separate streamer and a second hand Benchmark DAC 2 or equivalent. Anyone care to comment - am I on the wrong track?
  5. I thought this recent article by Mark Waldrep (Dr. AIX) was very much on the money. During the recent "Do we need a Moderator" thread the main focus was on how best to manage abuse. While abuse is obviously childish, unpleasant and unnecessary my major concern has always been the amount of misinformation, portrayed as fact, that gets dished out here and in other forums. That's what I would like to see moderated if for no other reason than to encourage newbies to our hobby by providing useful and correct information. Otherwise you can forget attracting millenniums. If it was not for the likes of Mansr, Esldude, Archimago et all, we would all be swimming in snake oil. Who Can You Trust? Dr. AIX Recently, I wrote about the immense amount of misinformation in high-end audio. Some of the information is deliberately misleading — the cable companies and audiophile magazines and websites are the worst offenders — while other "experts" are factually incorrect because they have a vested interest in convincing you of their position. And the explosion of Facebook pages, blogs, podcasts, and videos presenting subjective opinions as hard facts are at a minimum disconcerting and at most fraudulent. I think we all recognize that a lot of the online information is nonsense and doesn't benefit newbie or experienced audio enthusiasts. In the recent blog, I focused on a single high-end audio FB page, a single manufacturer of "exotic" accessories and overpriced cables, and a fellow entrepreneur trying to convince readers that gold CD-R are somehow superior to regular CDs but they're not the only ones guilty of hyperbole in audio. But the responses I received from readers (both public and private) shed additional light on other "more professional" sources of information and "expertise". The first resource was included in a post by a long time reader, Kit Kimes, and came as somewhat of a surprise. It's been several years since I was booted out of the CEA — now CTA. The executive team of high-end audio board didn't think my private and public refusal to endorse their hi-res audio marketing campaign was the sign of a team player. I was "uninvited" from the group after 6 years of service. Stream The Studio The new site dedicated to the myth of hi-res audio and hi-res music But the consortium of organizations promoting the "hi-res audio" hoax hasn't thrown in the towel yet. They've put together a new web site called StreamTheStudio.news. The site is slick and contains lots of information, graphics, logos, testimonials, and professionally-produced — and expensive — videos. You can check it out for yourself, but it reminded me of the "buyer's guides" that audiophile magazines issue from time to time. You know the ones — TAS's "Buyer's Guide to Cables, Power Products, Accessories, and Music" is a great example. These publications are entirely sponsored by the companies featured inside and the TAS writers write glowing — and usually absurd — "reviews" about all of the products that paid to be included in the guides ("Power factor correction reportedly provides improved dynamics and soundstaging for your audio!") The StreamTheStudio.news site is all about "hi-res audio" and "hi-res music" (no, they are not the same!). On the opening page, they invite readers to "join the high-resolution revolution" and feature a parade of Grammy-winning or Grammy nominated engineers raving about the "mind blowing" fidelity of hi-res audio. The usual suspects are there: Gavin Lurrsen, Chuck Ainlay, Ed Cherney, and Frank Filipetti. I know all of these engineers. In fact, I ran into Ed Cherney just a couple of weeks ago at Canter's Deli (I was having lunch with Robert Margouleff of Stevie Wonder fame!) And they all strongly endorse hi-res audio and hi-res music. No big surprise. But none of them work on audiophile fidelity recordings! They churn out amazing productions but they have to meet the expectations of the labels that hire them. There was a time when I was included in these promotional opportunities. As a member of Producers and Engineers Wing of NARAS, I was invited to present some of my real high-resolution recordings at a NARAS/DEG sponsored Jungle Studios event a few years in NYC and I was regularly included on other "hi-res audio" panels. But as I no longer tow the line, I'm not invited and I'm not notified of the new promotional opportunities. Can you imagine giving equal time to someone that has an opposing point to view — and can back it up with objective facts? That won't happen. So are the professional audio engineers featured in the videos on the StreamTheStudio site "experts" or not? They certainly have a great deal of expertise and experience engineering and producing hit records. There's no doubt about that. But I don't believe any of them could pass the HD Audio Challenge that I offered some months ago. Really. They can wax poetically about the "transformational" power of hi-res audio in the videos but I doubt any of them could identify a CD downconversion of one of my 96 kHZ/24-bit originals. It's also curious to see the logos that are behind the StreamTheStudio site. None of the companies I saw actually deliver hi-res audio. In the section labeled "START LISTENING IN HI-RES AUDIO TODAY", they list six download/streaming services. Very few of the tracks offered on those sites were recorded using high-resolution equipment. I also found it funny that they use the term "hi-res audio", when it only applies to the hardware — not the content. Companies represented on the StreamTheStudio.news site Clearly, buying your way into a promotional publication or website doesn't guarantee you're an expert or to be trusted. I don't trust any of the companies listed above because I've found misinformation presented by each one. AudioQuest CEO Email I received an email from William Low, the CEO of AudioQuest, regarding the YouTube video posted by an AudioQuest retailer in Texas comparing various HDMI cables. That post holds the record — by far — as the most read blog post I've ever posted on this site (currently over 37,000 views - you can read it by clicking here ). Bill asked me to correct a couple of misstatements I made in the recent blog — and I did (it was a retailer that was responsible for the video not AQ). The basic premise presented in the video was that the more expensive the cable, the better the fidelity. The video was not produced by AudioQuest and Bill denies any knowledge of the fakery behind it but was aware that it had been posted on YouTube for many months. It's unlikely we'll ever know who directed or decided to increase the amplitude and lessen the high frequency roll off as each more expensive cable was demonstrated. But the critical question is why the local distributor or production house felt it was necessary to manipulate the results. Could it be that they compared all of the spec-compliant HDMI cables and couldn't detect any sonic differences? I did find it interesting that Bill told me, "AudioQuest has started posting digital difference files of some of the audible differences that are questioned in our community." I haven't looked for this information on the AQ community site but see it as a step towards validation of claims made by cable companies and others. It it impossible to imagine how a digital cable will do the appropriate DSP to "enhance" fidelity instead of producing a digital dropout but oh well. In general, you should be very suspicious of all high-end audio advertising (print, video or otherwise) — especially for cables, accessories, and power products. In my experience, they are willing to do or say anything to convince you to purchase their products. There are too many people/site spewing incorrect information to enumerate them all on this blog. I just looked at FB and saw a Forbes article extolling the move to "high-fidelity streaming". Yes, moving away from MP3, lossy compression is the right thing to do, but stating, "the higher you go with audio file resolution, the better it gets" is patently untrue. And then there's the battle going on between Ethan Winer, the author of "The Audio Expert" and Paul McGowan of PS Audio. As many of you know, Paul has written a lot about high-end audio and lately he's been producing a daily video where he talks about current topics in audio. I know Paul and regard him as a knowledgeable person in the audio world. I've visited him in Colorado and seen his operation AND I've owned some of his equipment over the years. But I have to agree with Ethan on this one. Paul says things that aren't true. I've written about some of his misinformation (and I've also chastised Ethan for his high-resolution test). Again, it comes down to trust. In general, you want to stay away from statements made by manufacturers, magazines, editors, reviewers, buyer's guides, and videos that benefit directly from the information they provide. If a company like SR gives a $20,000 power cord to a video reviewer, do you really expect the reviewer to tell his/her audience that it's snake oil? I'll write about who you can trust in a future post.
  6. Thanks Ralf, Excellent article, recommended to to those who have not yet read it.
  7. Hi Chris, A little off topic but the Auralic Mini has also been discontinued. I really like this piece of kit and purchased 3 of them, with a 500g SDD installed in 2. You can pick one up for around $US350 or Euro300 on the second hand market so a lot more expensive than the Cromecast Audio but still quite cheap in audiophile terms. You reviewed it in September 2016 and I can assume you that the Lighting DS software has come along way since then and is very stable and enjoyable to use. https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/reviews/auralic-aries-mini-and-lightning-ds-review/ I use it as streamer only in my main system feeding a Devialet Pro 200 via USB and in my second system feeding a Marantz Integrated PM 5005 via a coaxial input, but could just as easy use the internal DAC with an SBooster upgraded power supply. Really versatile and user friendly as it provides me with his res and Tidal and the family with Spotify connect. Sounds very good as well. Features: Streams Tidal and Spotify Connect High-resolution music over WiFi at virtually any sampling rate, including Quad-Rate DSD and DXD. Decodes a vast spectrum of audio formats, including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA. Built in DAC uses an ESS Sabre DAC chip: ES9018K2M plus digital out via USB, Optical & Coaxial for an external DAC Ethernet, 802.11ac dual-band WiFi, USB input and optional internal storage such as 2.5’ hard disk or solid-state drive
  8. Hi Donald, You are on the right track wanting your computer to produce a "bit perfect" PCM stream. There is actually a lot of info around, however, not much currently as the audio software manufacturers determined long ago how to by-pass Windows (and MAC OS) internal audio processing. All leading software manufacturers (Foodbar, Audirvana, J River, Roon etc) will do this for you. It is no longer an issue. You can also buy standalone self contained sources with their own proprietary software and built in hard drives and DACs. With regard to changing the digital file using Digital Signal Processing (DSP), what Abtr advised you above is correct. If you want to equalise your music in someway (to compensate for a poor mix or poor listening environment) the file is altered within the digital domain (or not at all) BEFORE being passed to the DAC for conversion to an electrical (analogue) signal that can be amplified and played back through your speakers. I'm about to start renovating my house and intend building a recording studio and mixing / mastering room for my son who is a budding musician. A father of one of his school mates is a distributor of recording equipment here in Sydney. He has already taught me a lot and will be my mentor on the project. We already have the following recording / mixing set up (apologies in advance if I sound patronising with my explanation). Rode NT-1 Microphone > pop filter > Apogee Duet Interface (ADC) > Digital Analogue Workstation (DAW) > Apogee Duet Interface (DAC) > Adam A7 Active Speakers So the process is to sing into the microphone, which is a transducer that creates a small electrIc signal (voltage & current), which is fed into the Apogee Duet, which converts the electrical signal into PCM by acting as an Analogue to Digital Converter (ADC). This creates a digitise sample of the electronic voltage represented by thousands of individual samples every 44.1kHz or 96 kHz etc with an amplitude of 16 bit or 24 bit etc, depending on the resolution you choose. The Apogee also has a "line in" for electric guitars. This signal is then fed to the DAW - which is specialised software (such as Pro tools, Logic or Ableton) residing on a computer (in our case a Mac Mini), and connected via a USB cable. The DAW software is incredibly versatile and provides many tracks of the digitised music that can then be mixed by altering the volume of the various instruments at different frequencies. It can also use plug ins to add pre recorded instruments such as drums and strings (or whatever) so that when my son records himself singing and playing guitar the final result sounds like he has a whole band behind him. In your case you will not need a DAW (that both records and plays back) but you will need audio software that plays only and that will allow DSP if you are that way inclined .... read Mitchco's book - refer to the bottom of the article on the home page. However, this is stage 2 of your journey. Stage 1 is trying to answer my questions, which look simple but are not. e.g. Your answer to 1 well maybe - I don't know. How much will I have to spend to get good sound. Where's the tipping point - $1k, $2k, $5k, $10k, $15k, $50k where there is minimal improvement above that cost. Maybe it would be easier for you should think of a range of say $2k - $5k. Generally you get better sound the more you spend, but not always, and there are many ways to skin the cat. e.g Home Office could be: e.g. computer - USB - wireless KEF LS50 with sub (s) for say US$3k, which would sound superb but would limit your upgrade path. e.g. computer - USB - Benchmark Media PRE / DAC2 (or Mytek Brooklyn) with Adam A7X active speakers (my office system) is now 5 years old and can be found second hand for also around $3k e.g. Your answer to 3 maybe I actually need 2 or 3 systems. In my situation I have one for serious listening in my home studio, one for general listening in my living room for my family, that allows Spotify streaming and which can also perform home theatre duties. I also have an Apple Express (with an internal DAC) feeding an analogue signal to a $100 Chinese digital integrated amp hooked up to pair of all weather outside speakers (which I found for $200 in a pawn shop). These are located under the eaves for BBQs. Maybe $400 all up and sounds great! Instead of upgrading you just drink more beer. The big plus that has you ahead of the curve is a robust wifi system - absolutely critical for streaming (which you say you don't want - for now - but a great source of finding new music)and t also invaluable for distribution hi rez files around the house to various systems from a NAS. Take your time and enjoy the journey and keep thinking about where and how you want to listen and who will want to listen. All the best, Ajax You are
  9. Hi Ralf, I have had the Nord Hypex NCore 500 power amp (Stereo Version manufactured in the UK), for over a year now. I use it with Roon / MacBook Air / Benchmark DAC 1 HDR as the front end driving a pair of ATOHM G1 Speakers in my home office. Awesome sound. From an email I received last Christmas (2016) from the proprietor of Nord, Colin North, however, I would imagine he would be continually upgrading his modules. Very nice guy to deal with. "Nord One MP NC500 Stereo now live on the Website £849", being around US$1100 plus shipping and taxes etc. Web site: https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk email: [email protected]co.uk All the best, Ajax
  10. Hi Donald, Remember you are putting together a system and that all components (including their synergy) will have an impact on the sound quality, however, in varying degrees. I think you have jumped the gun talking about DACs and software, i.e. you have already assumed your front end will be a PC..... there are many other much more user friendly alternatives. This is not a straight forward process for someone without a lot of experience, otherwise there would be no "hobby" for us enthusiasts as it would be too simple and boring. Also we are all individuals, with our own biases and expectations and we are buying from literally thousands of manufacturers, so you should expect varying degrees of emphasis on what gear is, and is not, important. e.g. some here believe installing thousand dollar cables are critical, you don't and I don't. My best advice to you is to treat the purchase and installation of your system like any other project by starting with a concept stage, then design, purchasing components and finally implementation. Defining your budget, who (and how) is listening, the limitations of your listening environment and the time you are willing to devote to your new system will have the biggest impact. To get you started in the right direction please spend a few minutes providing some basic facts by answering the questions in my previous email as best you can so we can get the "concept" stage of what you wish to achieve clearly defined. It is IMO straight forward after that. 1. A total budget for the system, as well as a list of items you already own (in case they can be reused) 2. The dimensions of your room and its finishes 3. Who will be listening and how - is the system for critical listening solely by yourself in a designated room (e.g home office) or for use by others who may have less technical knowledge (e.g. living room). Reason being is that some front ends are more user friendly than others. Will you require multi room or would you like a second set of speakers on an outside Terrace? 4. How much time have you really got? Would you be interested in tinkering with DIY projects or searching through second hand web sites and pawn shops, which can provide 50% savings (and more) on high quality gear. This site's Market Place, Canuck, eBay, Audio Mart are sources of good gear, however, the usual caveats apply. Good Luck, Ajax
  11. Hi Richard, You are quite right. I just skimmed the thread and did not note your referral to "powered speakers", and I was thinking of the original LS50s that obviously need an amp. In any case I would imagine your solution would produce a very cost effective high quality performance. It depends on whether the OP is looking for the convenience of an "all in one" vs "upgradable". Hi Donald, One other thing to think of is whether or not you will want to stream from sources such as Spotify and Tidal, or will you just be playing local files. I would strongly suggest your system have the capacity to stream as it is a great way to find new music and IMO should form part of your system. I use both as I listen to Tidal for critical listening and my family use Spotify for the convenience and social aspect and are not so concerned with sound quality. All the best, Ajax
  12. Thanks for the correction Allan
  13. Hi Donald, Good advice so far. If you are looking for suggestions on actual components then we will need 1. a total budget for the system, as well as a list of items you already own (in case they can be reused) 2. the dimensions of your room and its finishes. 3. who will be listening - is the system for critical listening solely by yourself in a designated room, or for use by others who may have less technical knowledge. Reason being is that some front ends are more user friendly than others. Will you require multi room? 4. How much time have you really got? Do you think that you would be interested in tinkering with DIY projects, which can be very cost effective. Would you be happy to prow second hand sites and pawn shops, which can provide 50% savings (and more) on high quality gear. This site's Market Place, Canuck, eBay, Audio Mart are sources of good gear, however, the usual caveats apply. As with everything the more information we have the better we can advise you. e..g. the KEF LS50 speakers nominated above are an excellent choice but require a good quality power amp of at least 100 watts to really shine and may require a sub (s) if they are to be located in a large room (and two subs are better than one as the room nodes etc are reduced).The subs will require proper implementation, which can be done either by ear connecting the KEFs via the sub's internal crossover, however, better results can be obtained using DSP and an active crossover. Have a look at the article on the home page of this site by Mitchco for more information. Not trying to complicate things, it's just good to have this information so we can put you on the right track and help you get the best bang for your. We have all heard excellent inexpensive systems that easily out shine those costing many times more. All the best, Ajax
  14. Hi Chris, Some ideas for you to consider. Firstly it is you, not us, who should decide whether you need a moderator or not. Kind of you to ask for our opinion but it is really none of our business and you are in the best position to judge the effect moderating the site it is having on your family and your business aspirations Life is short - so how do you want to spend your time - standing between 2 bickering grey haired duffers or improving and growing your business while providing a better experience for your loyal and no doubt valued customers - you know, the ones that add value to your forum and cause you no grief. If the answer is YES then delegate the responsibility (with the authority) to a moderator like all good CEOs would do. Someone who has recently retired looking for a few extra $s a week for say two half days work a week would be ideal. This way complaints could be turned around twice a week, which should be OK. It would also be cost effective as it is not a full time job. To ensure the change in moderator goes smoothly I would look around for a like minded individual, who hopefully also had an interest in audio but does not have to be an expert, and TOGETHER draft a simple moderator's role / policy statement. I would then lodge that policy on the site together with the moderator's PM address, so we all know the new rules, and at the same time ask members and OPs to report any issues to him. Initially meet twice a week for say an hour to discuss and "moderate" the complaints together until you are comfortable that you are on the same page. I'd guess with the right person it would take 2 months max. Authorise the moderator to discipline / send warning PMs etc to disruptive and abusive members but ask him to refer to you before banning or suspending anyone. If you want to provide better content for the good guys you must delegate managing and discipling the jerks to someone else so you end up only spending a couple hours a week into it. This way you don't take your eye off the ball. Sometimes we think that we are the only ones who really understand how to manage a particular task but you would be surprised how much of running a business can be (must be) delegated. If you really want to do the interesting stuff it is an absolute must to delegate the BS. I understand the Forum is critical to your business model so take your time finding the right person, and educating him to your "standards" for the Forum, and then move on to better and more interesting exploits. Good Luck, Ajax
  15. Hi Chris, Like you I was also late to Queen. In the day I preferred Blues-Rock to Glam-Rock, until I went on a golf trip about 10 years ago with 12 blokes staying in my beach house (check out Bawley Point, about 3 1/2 hours south of Sydney). We were all 50+ and some bugger bought out the silly grass and we were soon singing and dancing like school kids, Very very funny night. If you are short on time check out the You Tube version of "Queen Live Aid", where he played in front of 70,000 at Wembley Stadium, England another 1.7 Billion on TV. https://www.google.com.au/search?source=hp&ei=lwQvXMzFGsiS8wWHrpaADA&q=queen+live+aid&oq=queen+live+aid&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0l10.1124.4154..5687...0.0..0.362.3272.0j5j7j2......0....1..gws-wiz.....0..0i131.y_ZfP-5pW-E In particular note at 1.30, where he blows a kiss to his mother, and 5.50, where he effortlessly engages the crowd to clap their hands in total unison - he has them eating out of his hands. Freddy was one of the great voices and entertainers of all time. All the best, Ajax
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