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douglas882

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About douglas882

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  1. 19 November, 2011 Visiting the AXPONA show in Atlanta was the clincher for moving to a computer audio system. I heard the improvement over mid-price CD playback, saw the convenience of having my library of music instantly available for listening, and generally saw the trend that was coming. I was also able to hear several models of speakers and do some rough comparisons. The opportunity wasn't there to do extensive listening but it was possible to audition several speakers in my price range and, maybe, arrive at a short list of strong candidates. I also attended a couple of seminars at the show. Particularly helpful was Jim Smith's presentation on his "Get Better Sound" series of books and DVDs. During the seminar he mentioned a website where he had found lots of helpful info on computer audio. You're on that site now.
  2. 10 November, 2011 Having spent a good amount of time with the Vandersteen 2ce, I decided to compare it to other speakers in the same approximate price range. Again, my decision was to read as much literature as I could find on the speakers. The Absolute Sound and Stereophile were valuable resources of information as well as manufacturers' web sites. I found many links to reviews of all sorts and took my time making my own comparisons through them. There is, however, no comparison as effective as a live listening session with music that one knows well. I chose to compare the Vandersteen 2ce with the PSB Imagine T, similarly priced speakers with different technologies. A return trip to Audio Alternative was made and I took several favorite CDs. A partial list: Ravel - Piano Concertos, Boulez, Zimerman DG Faure'/Durufle' - Requiem, Shaw, Atlanta SO Telarc Mahler - Sym. No. 5, Thomas, San Francisco SO Bach - Goldberg Variations, Perahia, Sony Classical Acoustic Alchemy - Against the Grain Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band - Act Your Age Pat Metheny - Secret Story Lee Ritenour - Wes Bound Cheryl Bentyne - The Book of Love Again, I was given all the time I wished to compare the 2 speakers. Several days passed before I chose my favorite of the two. I will have to say that I did lots of homework before making the choice, and doing so required me to read the owner's manuals so that I might learn about the peculiar needs of setting up the speakers. While I leaned toward the Vandersteens, I quickly saw that their setup would be considerably more involved and demanding than the PSB Imagine T. I would also need to be seated in the Vandy's sweet spot to enjoy them at their best. I generally do not sit still for long while listening. Advantage PSB. I strongly suggest taking several kinds of music that you know extremely well when choosing speakers. Listen for the speaker to give you cues of the musical space - reverb tails other such cues are so important in the musical message. Can you evaluate the musical message through the sound? Do your test selections demand the speakers' best? ****** 17 November, 2011 At this point I owned a new integrated amp and eliminated the Vandersteen speaker on the basis of items described above. It was my good fortune to have received advance notice of the AXPONA audio show in downtown Atlanta. I made my reservations to the show, cleared my calendar for the weekend, and looked forward to being there. It was my first audio show and it was a tremendous introduction to the activity. A few of the showrooms featured computer-based systems and I investigated them all, asking the questions I could and trying to learn as much as possible. Not only was I learning about computer audio issues, I was also taking in all the different products and listening to speakers that I would not otherwise be able to hear. I was impressed with Nola, YG Acoustics, mbl, and budget speakers from Wharfedale. Obviously, the YG Acoustics and mbl models were WAY out of my league but I spent significant time listening to them because they were finally available to me! My experience at AXPONA was most valuable because of the info I gathered about Mac-based audio systems including the various software for high end audio, and the time I spent listening to many models of speakers. It's worth the time to enjoy an audio show.
  3. 6 November, 2011 If you have read my previous posts (there's only 2 so far) you know that I have upgraded my entire audio system in recent months. The "upgrade project" was prompted by my desire to hear and compare several loudspeakers of different types: dynamic, electrostatic, planar/magnetic. It had been a few years since I compared new technologies in speakers and I wanted simply to hear what the audio magazines had been describing. After choosing several speakers to compare I decided it would be wise to begin with only 2 models. I also wanted to hear speakers that sold for under $5k per pair. (Remember, I'm a musician and teacher... disposable income is hard to come by!) I decided to begin my comparisons with models from Magnepan and Vandersteen. It was my good fortune to find Audio Alternative in Lilburn, Georgia, a well-established audio/video dealer near Atlanta. AA has multiple Magnepan and Vandersteen models in their show rooms and were very happy to set them up with digital front ends so that I could listen at my leisure to familiar recordings. I was in the store for nearly 3 hours that day. The staff at AA answered questions and asked a few, too. They took the time to understand my needs and wanted me to take all the time I needed to enjoy my comparison of the two very different speakers. (more to come...) 7 November, 2011 I left the store with an understanding of the speakers that I did not have earlier: the Magnepan 1.7, as magnificent as they sounded, required an amplifier with much more heft than I could reasonably afford in my upgrade. I was also concerned over placement and set up which would be essential to getting the best sound possible from the 1.7s. I loved the sound. But the reality was that I could not possibly use them to their best advantage, so in that first visit to the dealer I leaned toward the Vandersteen 2ce. At this point my thinking was along the lines of, "I don't really have the amp to drive any of the speakers I want to own. I should focus on the power plant, then choose speakers around that." And that's what I did. My amp at the time, a Creek 4330 mk2, was clean and pristine as long as I did not demand too much of it. So, to sum up where I was at the time, I wanted new speakers but did not have the power to drive any of the potential models that were on my short(er) list... hence, it was time to get serious about amp shopping. To make the saga a bit shorter, I am a fan of integrated amps. While I considered a few preamp/power amp setups (Parasound, Odyssey) there were no dealers that were convenient for me to visit for a listen. I wanted the best sound for my scarce money, enough power to satisfy my as-yet-undecided choice of speakers, and generally a solid and dependable workhorse of an amp. NAD. I have had a long and prosperous run of owning NAD electronics and had read glowing reviews of the 150W C375BEE integrated. I had heard the smaller C355BEE and loved its sound and its authority on classical and jazz textures. I borrowed a friend's C375 for a weekend, then bought one within a week. One component upgraded. Next: back to the speaker search.
  4. Hello! I am a professional musician and educator and have been enjoying recorded music virtually all my life. The opportunity recently presented itself to improve my hi-fi system; after attending a high-end audio show for the first time (AXPONA in Atlanta, GA, in April 2011), I decided to include a computer as the basis of my system improvements. This blog (first time I've blogged on anything... this might as well be fun...) is a) the story of my decisions on equipment, b) what I've learned about computer audio and something of how I learned it, and c) comments on why I enjoy music and its reproduction as I do. Since I've never blogged on anything before, I will, out of necessity, be "making this up as I go." I'm going to enjoy this ongoing conversation and I hope you do, too. Thanks for reading. Cheers, douglas882 ***** 26 October, 2011 It might be appropriate to bring up my "why digital?" decision. At one point I was an analog fan and collected LPs. I owned hundreds of them at one time, maybe thousands. At the same time I was also building a library of CDs, many of them digital reissues of my treasured LPs. As time marched on, I saw that LPs fell out of favor with retailers and it was my opinion that turntable technology was becoming cost prohibitive to the average listener. Then Mother Nature stepped in and flooded my basement, ruining my LPs. I was left with an all-digital music library and decided that the best sound for the money - for the middle class listener on a family budget - was in CD technology, not in replacement of my LPs. I continued to build a library of CDs, mostly classical and jazz, with a few selected vintage rock titles. I've listened to CDs ever since and had intended to replace my aging NAD CD player with a much better unit, likely a Rega Apollo. My quest for the right CD player led to an introduction to computer audio at a fabulous audio/video retailer in the Atlanta area, Audio Alternative in Lilburn. A few visits to the audio store later, and with the Atlanta AXPONA show last April, I knew that a computer as music server was in my future. By profession I am a college professor of music and have used Macintosh computers for professional and personal reasons for over 20 years. My personal loyalty to Apple technology, combined with all that took place in my audio story, led to a decision to transfer my CDs to computer files and join the wave of computer audio fans. At this point I do not regret that decision at all and I see no reason that I might regret it in the future. Regards, douglas882 ***** 1 November, 2011 Current system Mac mini (mid 2011) 2.3GHz : 500GB *2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 * 8GB memory * 500GB hard drive * Intel HD Graphics 3000 * OS X Lion Apple wireless keyboard, Magic Mouse, external optical drive LaCie Minimus 2TB external hard drive Peachtree Audio iDac NAD C515BEE compact disc player NAD C375BEE integrated amplifier PSB Synchrony Two loudspeakers AudioQuest Type 4 speaker cable AudioQuest Black Mamba II interconnect AudioQuest Coffee USB cable (dbs) AudioQuest VDM-3 coaxial digital custom built cherry audio cabinet, designed and built by HG Designs, Tunnel Hill, Georgia Peace, douglas882 *****
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