Not a day goes by, when I don’t get an email asking me for equipment advice, clarification on a point made in a post or suggestions on how to get started in high-resolution audio. I’m happy to help audio enthusiasts with issues or questions of this type…but I prefer to do it with a post rather than individual responses. I’m sure you understand that I can’t answer everyone’s individual questions…but I will try to cover topics of general concern here on the site.
The nature, sequence and subject of my posts over the past year have been somewhat disconnected. As I sit down to write everyday, I write about whatever is relevant that day or in response to a recent post or article that I’ve read. The indexing of the site is less than ideal (I will look into deriving a meaningful index to the articles…I promise) and finding information on a specific topic is difficult.
So I’m going to start a series of basic informational posts that cover answer a few basic questions. And then, I’ll build on that information as a sort of primer on high-resolution audio. I think we’ve all pretty much figured out that HRA is only as good as the original recording, so let’s move on from there.
So you say you want a system capable of playing high-resolution audio? First, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions:
1. Do you want a dedicated music server or are you willing to deal with the world of multipurpose digital computers?
2. Are you going to be doing your listening in your home/apartment in a home theater or in an audio “man cave” or do you listen on the go or in your automobile (don’t laugh, there’s plenty of audiophiles that are experiencing great audio away from home and in the car).
3. Where are you going to source your high-resolution audio content? Are you interested in doing your own CD ripping (or even from vinyl LPs, analog tapes, DVD-Audio, SACD and Blu-ray) or are you planning on acquiring high-resolution tracks/albums from a commercial digital music download site?
4. What type of music do you listen to? The best sounding high-resolution audio is not going to come from older recordings that have been re-purposed for the new high-resolution players. They will sound as good as they sound on the original format…and no better. However, if you source new HRA recordings from 2L, Linn, MA, Sono Luminous and, of course, AIX Records…the increased dynamic range and frequencies will be dramatic and noticeable. But you might not like the repertoire.
5. What’s your budget? A really great system can be assembled for a lot less than you think. Do you have $1000-$1500…because that’s enough to get a major bump in quality over what you’ve been used to listening to. There are people spending more than that for a simple 6-foot interconnect or power cable…and getting no improvement in the fidelity of their system.
6. Where do you live? What sort of Internet speed do you have? These questions are important because getting large files down from the web can take a long time if you’re still using a dial up service. Using FEDEX to bring hundreds of gigabytes to your door might be a better idea.
So this will get us started. I promise to answer these questions and discuss why they are important. If you have additional questions, feel free to send them to me.