Lest you think all of my eggs have been carefully placed in one proverbial basket, you should know that John Siau of Benchmark offered up an alternative path to the modified OPPO BDP-103 that I’ve discussed over the past couple of days. We’ve been chatting about how to achieve high-resolution, multichannel playback at the AXPONA room for months…the challenge was great. And John met it.
We will have another playback system in the Lakeshore B room at the Westin O’hare Hotel this weekend. You can read John’s excellent article on “Creating a High-Resolution 5.1 Music Server” by visiting the Benchmark site. The system is comprised of a reasonably capable PC, an HP Pro3500 PC with an Intel Core i5-3470 CPU operating at 3.20 GHz. The first conversations that John and I had after he tested a different PC resulted in dropouts in the playback stream. Getting a Blu-ray disc to playback HD-Video and real high-resolution, multichannel audio is not trivial. You need a fast PC.
In order to get the multichannel digital streams out of the HPTC, John installed a Lynx AES16e PCI card. I use the same card in my HTPC here at the AIX Studios. It’s an inexpensive card and software that can output the high-resolution audio…no modification involved. And it seems the RIAA and labels are cool with high-res signals escaping a PC.
The PC is running a new copy of Windows 7 Professional, which is a current 64-bit operating system. And the music is being played back using JRiver.
I’ve finished and burned a few copies of the latest AIX Records 2015 Sampler, which boasts 70 tracks from the catalog. Each selection has three mixesL the “stage”, “audience”, and stereo. However, the “audience” mix is encoded using Dolby Digital (AC-3) because of space limitations on the disc. I will be able to switch between the lossless 96/24 “stage” mix and the Dolby Digital “audience” mix on the fly. They are different mixes but I think it will be interesting to have attendees hear how surprisingly close they sound…in terms of actual fidelity. Yes, a lossy algorithm can sound very good…if the source recording is also good.
The AIX Records, Benchmark, Oppo, JVC, Dolby Labs, and DH Labs demonstration room at AXPONA will be a first. I’ve tried to get this level of fidelity on previous occasions…and created some amazing demo systems (one of my favorite systems used Boulder amplification and B&W 800D)…but I think this current room will eclipse them all. If you’re in Chicago or anywhere near by, you should make sure and stop by the Lakeshore B ballroom this weekend.
In the evening on both Friday and Saturday, I will be presenting the High-Resolution Audio Demystified seminar and playing longer version of some of my favorite tracks. Besides the Blu-ray sampler discs, I have a hard drive full of other recordings…including the “tracks that shall not be talked about”. Hope to see you there.