Dr. AIX's POSTS — 09 February 2015


I’m still trying to figure out options for the system I want to set up in Chicago at the AXPONA Show 2015. Thanks to all of the contributions that I’ve received from readers and others…I’ve got some research to do and some call to make. The goal is to assemble components that will actually achieve the kind of fidelity that high-resolution audio promises…from recording to speaker delivery this means more than just exceeding the limits of CDs. My partners and I want to blow right past the limits of Redbook and provide a room that provides a state-of-the-art listening experience.

Whenever I get a chance to roam from room to room at an audio trade show in search of great fidelity, I’m usually disappointed. There are rooms playing vinyl LPs, CD-Audio discs, analog tape, file players, music servers, and Blu-ray discs. The turntables make sense if you’re a company that makes phono preamps, record cleaning systems, or cartridges/tone arms, but I don’t get why any amplifier or speaker company would limit the fidelity of their front end by using vinyl LPs as the source…not withstanding the insistence by Michael Fremer that vinyl LPs may have wider dynamic range than CDs in his post over at Analog Planet (click here to read his piece titled, “Does Vinyl Have Wider Dynamic Range Than CDs? Here’s Some Math”).

I read the linked PDF file written by Ron Bauman (who has an EE degree) in 1996. It’s interesting but lacks the fundamental understanding that vinyl LPs are virtually all made from analog tapes. And analog tapes have less fidelity (certainly less dynamic range and usually less frequency response) than CDs. If you take an analog tape and create a new master at 96 kHz/24-bits or 192 kHz/24-bits, you’re going to be capturing a whole lot of nothing. I’m fine with having a safe margin for the filters etc…but it only needs to go so far.

Anyone in any room at any trade show that is still playing CDs should have their head examined…unless they happen to be selling CD players. An inexpensive Blu-ray player or high-resolution capable audio file player will produce better sound at far less expense. There are reasons why a vendor would play vinyl LPs but there’s no reason to show off your new speakers using CDs. Download the demo files you want from HDtracks, you’ll get better fidelity. Better yet, play some real HD-Audio.

A reader pointed me to a mod company that offers a multichannel (via S/P DIF) output modification for the Oppo BDP-103, the model that doesn’t have the fancy ESS Sabre DACs. That sounded kind of interesting to me. Imagine being able to take three S/P DIF outputs (they make an AES model as well) and route them to your favorite DACs…perhaps the HA-1 from Oppo or my personal favorites the DAC2 HGC from Benchmark. Anytime you can make a connection using digital signals, you’ll be better off. The cost of the box is over $1000 but it might get me closer to my goal.

The alternative is to assemble a HTPC consisting of a PC, Lynx 16 AES card, Blu-ray ROM drive, JRiver etc. That option is still on the table but I’ve made some progress thanks to you.

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