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About sdolezalek

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    Intellectually Curious Member

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    Bay Area, CA

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  1. If you are using actively powered speakers are you certain that whatever you feed them post DAC isn't just being run through another internal DAC in the speaker that may make irrelevant everything that comes before them?
  2. Having just added the Modius to my headphone system I agree on the value provided by Schiit on these pieces! Overall I still prefer the more nuanced use of DSD 512 through HQ Player and a Dellta Sigma DAC in my main system, but I wasn't going to match that at Modius pricing for my desktop system.
  3. Given how much colorful language and little though goes into many reviews, I much prefer mine with time, care and thought put into them. That is what both @austinpop and @ray-dude consistently put into theirs. That doesn't make them per se right, but I can far more easily see how they came to their conclusions, what other equipment they tested, what their thought process was, what music they listened to, than virtually any other audio reviews I see. I may then choose to agree or disagree, but I come away much better informed than I was before reading the review. I also don't agree that the systems they review are either "overly" expensive or "ridiculous." They are attempts at building what the producer views as his/her attempt at "best." When dCS, Meitner, T+A, Berkeley Systems, and others produce these, they know their R&D work has to be amortized over a very small number of purchasers (high development cost/few purchasers=high product cost, relatively speaking). But, if some engineers didn't choose that path, we would be without many of the electronic and software joys in our lives today. The buyers of those expensive systems pave the way for others to build more affordable variants. At the same time, we have other engineers, and Sonore is one great example, iFi perhaps another, that seek to get us to 99% of the state of the art, but in affordable packages. In this second group, there is also a greater likelihood that big expensive single box solutions get broken down into smaller, cheaper sub-components that can be individually purchased and upgraded. In an area where the state of the art is still rapidly evolving, I, for one, tend to prefer these smaller bite-sized solutions because if there is sudden progress in a particular area, I only need to replace that box, not an expensive single box solution. As progress slows, integrated single box components typically become more affordable and less likely to be outdated. Importantly, there is one other factor at work in audio and that is that we all hear differently, so your perfect and my perfect aren't likely to be identical. That makes me prefer solutions that allow me to make the decision when compromise is involved. My favorite example of that is the filtering used in the D/A conversion process and the trade-off between frequency response accuracy, cu-off steepness and pre- and post-ringing. Someone extremely sensitive to pitch is likely to prefer a different filter than someone whose ears are much more sensitive to timing. That is what I have liked about solutions like HQ Player and Audirvana. Theoretically, over time, designs may reach qualities where the trade-offs get really small, but I find it interesting that T+A's latest, top of the line, direct to Ethernet, DSD1024 DAC was built to allow me to make my filter choices in HQ Player. Having said all of that, YES, I would love to see your recommendation here of "an affordable system that equals the" system(s) that @ray-dude recently reviewed. If that solution is 95% of the sound quality for 50% of the cost, many readers here will love it. On the other hand, some will pay a lot for that last 5% and I'm glad they do, because it tends to progress the state-of-the-art. 😉
  4. As depressing as that sounds, you may not be that far off. On the other hand, the more dependent we become on streaming as our only source of entertainment, the more likely people will find a way to make us pay for it. Just not clear who will keep those profits...
  5. As OP, might I request that we focus this discussion away from "affordability," "extravagance" or other aspects of money or value? What has been great to hear in the discussion is that even in these tough times people like to dream and be aspirational and that reviews of extreme products (particularly those with later trickle-down possibilities) are actually a positive distraction rather than a downer for those that might not be able to afford them. So, I'd rather hear more about what people's audio systems mean to them in these times and how you are balancing a) working from home/keeping your own head above water with b) caring for others now and realizing there will be a many year price to pay (e.g. higher taxes) in recovering from this, and with c) using these reviews and other articles as a way to dream about future possibilities that are necessary to allow us to look forward positively? I'd also love to hear speculation about what these times will do for music in general. In the past, hard times have often led to creativity blossoming and some of our best music seems to come from the darkest times. Are we about to repeat that pattern?
  6. Rajiv: The thoughtfulness, detail and lack of seeming bias you give to your reviews most certainly bring value and joy. Between your work, that of @raydude, @mitchco and of course Chris himself, there is no question that AS has raised the bar on reviews. More importantly though, what has come through loud and clear to me, in both your response and @raydude's response to my question, is the journey, the "hard won gains," the "exquisite appreciation" and ultimately the human being behind that work. I feel absolutely no guilt in continuing to strive for excellence in the middle of this crisis, and so I can also feel very comfortable appreciating that journey in other people's work. In that regard, this thread has been far more rewarding than I expected, because it has revealed the strength of character in the folks that Chris has chosen to work closely with. By PM, I may take you up on the offer to delight me in recommending a change in my own system (which has been its own 20+ year journey) . Thanks!
  7. Ray: Thank you for the Mary Oliver piece -- very fitting in these times. The particular line that stuck out to me was: "Still, life has some possibility left." Perhaps that is also what Chris was getting at in terms of not wanting to be a downer in these times. Those glimpses of a better future; of goodness we have not yet experienced, are an important part of what keeps us going in these times. I must now go back and re-read your review with that frame of mind. 😉 Thanks
  8. Thanks Chris. I wasn't looking for agreement as much as I was looking to explore my own surprise at the changed emotions I was having in reading some of these great reviews now, as compared to even a month ago. I'm not sure that I was even looking for a ValueWeek publication as much as maybe looking for a "big surprise in a little package." Much of what we discuss here is what I would refer to as an "all-out-assault-on-the-state-of-the-art" and by having these discussions I believe that Audiophile Style has contributed to meaningfully improving the state of our art. To use an imperfect analogy: As we all switched to home cooking, at first it was just about getting an edible meal to the table. In the second month of this, that became boring, so we started experimenting much more, trying new dishes and wines we would never have tried a year ago. It wasn't so much about expensive or better as it was about change and ideally an unexpected pleasure. I'd be pretty willing to bet that if Rajiv took a look at my system, he might suggest the equivalent of trying a new spice, something downright affordable but at the same time making me smile hugely at how much better my system sounded and with zero guilt about what I had spent to get there. Ultimately, i think we need both: a continued assault on the state of the art PLUS some benefits of trickle down economics that offer the rest of us affordable smiles...
  9. Thanks lving! You have correctly captured the spirit of my question. More specifically when I started reading some of Rajiv's (austinpop's) wonderfully detailed reviews and looking at how carefully he has assembled and upgraded his system over time, it really fueled my ambition to do the same with my system. I'm fortunate enough to have the resources to do that, so he was clearly stoking my dreams... But, yesterday, when I was reading the latest installment of raydude's equally detailed and mouthwatering reviews, I suddenly realized that something didn't feel right. That if I went out and spent $10k or $20k to add that last little element of clarity and then sat down on my couch to listen; that something would feel amiss. I think I might feel very much the same about going out today and buying the latest McLaren and then driving that past the foodline (actually that would clearly feel worse) 😉 That, in turn, led naturally to the question of just how good could an "affordable" solution be during a time where music can take on a greater importance for many of us and that was the question I was asking here.
  10. Although I immensely appreciate the amount of thought and work that ray-dude and austinpop put into their all of their exquisite reviews, I have to admit to an odd feeling after reading this week's installment after seeing the title "Extreme Week." On the one hand I can't help lusting for the quality of sound that the equipment they are reviewing can deliver, but on the other hand I would today feel very guilty spending to buy that equipment in the face of what is going on in the world around us. In a WFH time, the ability to escape for a few minutes or hours and just listen to some great music may be more important than at any other time in our lives. But, for many the cost of the kinds of equipment we lust after on Audiophile Style may have permanently moved out of the range of what is affordable. I'd love to see us equally dedicate a week to reviewing some systems that really deliver the best available listening at an affordable level. I think if I spent half as much on my next purchase and donated the 50% I didn't spend, that sitting back and listening to those sounds might be a much more satisfying experience... This is not intended as throwing water on the fire of great reviews or great equipment. Think of it more as challenge to what kind of components (hardware/software) we might suggest for those who may have a lot more listening time on their hands (but not by choice) or who come home from a long day as a first responder and could really use the escape.
  11. I have the exact same setup and found that when I connected the Desktop to the NAA via IPv6 I got less interference/stutter than I did using IPv4. As to why that would be the case, the rest of this discussion is mostly over my head... 😉
  12. I'm somewhat reluctant to test this example, but what about the work done by the father/son team of George and Giles Martin on the Beatles Love album? I'm in no way trying to suggest that the Beatles are a bad artist these two have made good, but Love is clearly an album that is a mashup produced in the mixing studio and, as such, struck me as an interesting example of the engineer acting as the artist and producing a very listenable result.
  13. Chris: You are correct that I started with the assumption that it can never get better than the artist. The legitimate question is whether a great recording engineer can make a bad artist sound good. It sounds as though you are suggesting that just as much "magic" can happen behind the glass in the studio as in front of it. I also know that we are seeing re-mixes of old recordings that sound better than the prior releases, but are those "less-bad" or "better-than" the original? Having grown up in a household full of musicians, I'll still take the real thing standing/sitting next to me over a recording, but then many recordings are layers upon layers of separate musical events...so there never was a real thing.
  14. Updated version to account for Tom & Kal's feedback 😉
  15. The following graphic helps me mentally think about both what is possible and how much can degrade between the performance and what we hear. Obviously I'm missing lots of items of importance like the cables (;-) ) the power supplies, the network, the computer, etc.
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