Category Archives: HD Music

SOtM SMS-100 and SMS-1000

sotmsms100

These products have strangely eluded me for some reason despite having been available for a good two years now. They more or less duplicate Logitech’s now long buried Transporter in terms of features and specs. The SMS-1000 even has balanced XLR output like the Transporter. Only thing missing are the goofy VU meters. We can live without them.

What you get is a 24bit/384KHz streamer capable of connecting to Logitech Media Server, Apple Airplay [natively – you hear that Sonos?], DLNA and Signalyst HQ Player. The SMS-1000 adds to this a Vortexbox media server with a built-in 2TB harddrive and automated and iTunes compatible CD ripping. Oh, and the SMS-100 can of course connect to the Vortexbox as well.

Using Sonos as a reference, this system corresponds to the Sonos Connect, feeding an external amplifier. DAC and preamp, you can get from SOtM as well. A power stage; alas no.

Both SMS-100 and SMS-1000 can be fitted with a assortment of upgrades for even better fidelity and esoteric noise reduction, as well as battery buffered power supplies.

Norwegian Bits Are Just Purer

ECM-2-header2

Norwegian high-end dominatrices Electrocompaniet, have entered the stage and now offer digital purity for the discriminating audiophile. The ECM2 is a no-frills streamer that plays from a multitude of sources, from low-fi internet services to hi-res digital masters on your network. What stands this device apart in the world of inch-thick aluminium fronts, is the EMC2’s ability to stream video in HD. And not just that; it does it in 24bit/192KHz! Take a bite at that!

Digital attenuation allows you to stick it straight into the power amp and lets you sit in the couch and do you business straight from a phone of your choice [if it runs iOS or Android, that is] or from a DLNA controller.

Allman Bros must-have gone HD

Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East One of [if not just] the finest live recordings of all time has been released in 24-bit/96KHz Flac. In 1971 Allman Brothers shook the Fillmore East church of rock ’n’ roll good and presented the world with a massive energy outburst combined with one of those moments where everything seems to just collide into super natural wonderfulness dwarfing even the CERN LHC… I’m getting carried away here. The fact of the matter is that this mandatory piece of music history has been released in high definition. Do go and get it.

Rolling Stones goes hi-def

HD Tracks are now offering a couple of Rolling Stones albums in HD. Their self named first LP and a number of compilation albums. The original master tapes have been digitised using a combination of original Ampex equipment and modern ADC. It appears that the originals have been left unmodified, which is good, thus the digitalisation has become a matter of eliminating sub par sound equipment between the raw material and the humble speakers of yours truly. Tracks will be available in Flac at 24-bit resolution in both 176KHz and 88.2KHz sample rates.

One might argue that the selection is a bit meagre, but hey! They have to start somewhere.

Apple to release 24-bit tracks in iTunes?

Apple iTunesAudio blogs and magasines around the world are flowing over today with rumors that Apple may be offering 24-bit audio in iTunes in some yet to be specified future. Note the question mark in the title. We are talking rumors. This doesn’t make it less interesting, though, for many device vendors are dismissing the need for 24-bit audio referring to lack of material (are you listening Sonos?).

Whether you like iTunes or not, it is indisputably one of the major music platforms and when they do something, the others will have to follow to keep their place in the market. That is why I am tickled silly here; if Apple jumps on the wagon and their users can get HD content from iTunes this will force a change upon some of the more conservative hardware vendors. Not only that. It will force a change of their own hardware.

Truth be told, it is not Apple that spawned the rumor but record label chairman Jimmy Iovine who said this to CNN…

“We’ve gone back now at Universal, and we’re changing our pipes to 24 bit. And Apple has been great,” Iovine said. “We’re working with them and other digital services — download services — to change to 24 bit. And some of their electronic devices are going to be changed as well. So we have a long road ahead of us.”

So not directly from the horse’s mouth but a bell ringing for – oooh, the future – the future.

High Resolution Blu-ray The Easy Way

Computer AudiophileChris Connaker of Computer Audiophile just published an extremely interesting article on ripping Blue-ray audio discs for streaming on HD capable players. Mildly put the task of ripping HD audio has hitherto been a daunting one and rarely successful. German MSM Studios have conjured up a method that involves special software on the disc allowing networked Blue-ray players or computer based drives to copy the tracks off the disc in HD. But ‘nuff paraphrasing. Get yourself over to Computer Audiophile and have the best read so far this year…

24-bit Christmas present from Bravura Records

bravurarecordsStudio owner and audiophile Bill Schnee has issued 5 tasters from his record company Bravura Records, showcasing 5 artists and their caroling aptitudes in each their recording. But these tasters definitely aren’t tasters as tasters come most. They are full length 24-bit/44.1KHz audiophile candy floss pointing at what to expect from the 24-bit/192KHz records that are scheduled to come. Oh, what joy!

The 5 artists are singer/songwriter and pianist Bill Cantos, guitar player George Krikes, pianist Jamieson Trotter (right) with dad Terry, jazz quartet Open Hands and master of intricate timing, drummer Simon Phillips with friends wrapping Carol of The Bells in ultra cool. Yup; this is real nice. Real nice, indeed.

Naim UnitiServe

UnitiServeWith the UnitiServe, British Naim completes their Unity system. The UnitiServe is a Windows XP Embedded based media server with a built in Red Book CD drive. The server supports a multitude of audio formats, including Flac at a resolution of up to 24bit/192KHz. The innards include parts from equally cool British lads, Digital Fidelity.

The main idea, of course, is for the UnitiServe to act as a server for multitude of NaimUniti and UnitiQute clients already casually spread across your house. It supports streaming unique content to 6 simultaneous receivers. But being a full fledged DLNA server, it will do the biddings of any compliant device on your home network.

The UnitiServe comes with 1TB of disk space or, if you so prefer, with only a 16GB SSD disk, requiring a NAS for its data.

UnitiSystem

PS Audio PerfectWave Transport Memory Player

psaudio PS Audio are the people who gave us internet attached power conditioning so it is no surprise that they are the first to unveil a HRx capable player [almost like being a fax machine pioneer]. As so many other things on this blog it really doesn’t belong here, but it has one redeeming feature making it somehow fit in rather snuggly: It rips, stores and plays, and it connects to the internet.

First the old stuff. The perfectWave Transport rips the CD using the venerable Exact Audio Copy and stores it internally. Then the data is read back and played. This should eliminate timing related jitter by ways of simple buffering. While this idea itself is pretty obvious it wasn’t until Genesis released their Digital Lens in the mid-nineties it started to cost money acquired its flock of followers. Add to this a vendor driven service for downloading album artwork and song lyrics, more or less aptly buzzing it as cloud computing, you have a quite interesting CD transport.

Now the new stuff. The new player now supports the HRx formatted media. Not in itself an audio standard but simply a DVD with WAV files on it at a resolution of 24bit at 176.4KHz.

This bird is flying

Hans Peter L'Orange and Morten Lindberg of Lindberg Lyd Norwegian recording and music production company Lindberg Lyd AS has expanded their online music store 2L to include 24bit Flac downloads as well – for the time being limited to a few selected albums. Their recording catalogue includes some rather impressive works and I simply cannot wait for them to be available in high resolution format for download. Albums can be downloaded in both stereo or 5.1 multi channel, either way in full 24bit/96KHz.

In their HiRes Download Test Bench, you can download individual tracks in several formats to judge recording quality, format performance or simply enjoy some wonderful music. Either way, expect some rather hefty file sizes that are just waiting to be thrown at a nice media streamer. Bon appetit!

By the way! 2L were responsible for releasing the world’s first Blu-ray music disc in May of this year featuring TrondheimSolistene playing 4 works at a blistering 24bit/192KHz resolution in stereo and in 5.1 surround. Slightly off topic but interesting nonetheless.

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