Category Archives: Lossless

Head-Direct HifiMan HM-602

HifiMan HM-602 Last year audiophile Fang Bian released a first shot at a true high-fidelity portable audio player (we can’t go around calling it an MP3 player now, can we – let alone a walkman!?) with a slightly bulky exterior boasting some really impressive specs. It even had a detachable amplifier section. Now he has gone and done it again, releasing a somewhat smaller but definitely not less impressively spec’d player. The HM-602 uses a Philips TDA-1543 dual DAC to support 24bit/96KHz Flac files as well as Ogg Vorbis. When you are not out there jogging in a crystal clear soundscape, the HM-602 can be used as a USB DAC feeding off of your computer stocked music.

It may not run Angry Birds or remote control your garden sprinkler, but at a price somewhat lower than your average iPod, this is quite an interesting piece of hi-fi equipment that does one thing and one thing only: Deliver sound.

Devialet D-Premier


Conditionnement DevialetThis Fritz Langian breathe-on-it-and-it-tranfers-your-brain digital amplifier and world-domination-in-a-chrome-box, is simply the most awe inspiring piece of hi-fi equipment I have seen in a long time. Inside a sleek chrome box, it harbors 240 watts of weird class A and D combinatrix, 24-bit/192KHz DAC, SD card reader, wifi connectivity and streaming over network. And that is not all… look at that remote. I know a remote has fairly little to do with soundstage and transparency; but look at it! Is that cool or what?!

Outputs include XLR and HDMI, and they are routable (!). On the input side it goes novel even more by including a programmable phono stage to satisfy most, if not all but the most pernickety, vinyl lovers. What can I say? I want one!

Marantz NA7004


NA7004Marantz for me always stood for good old conservative ways and champagne colored aluminium bezels. Never as a technology frontloader. Perhaps that is the reason why they had me on this one. I didn’t see it coming.

Last year Marantz released the NA7004, which by a quick glance looks like any other Marantz component. But it ain’t! Under the hood lurks a three piece DAC, audio streaming and that all too rare Flac support. The NA7004 will discover DLNA compatible servers and play your music as the audio gods intended. It interconnects with other Marantz components and boasts a well laid out front. And HD? Well, it goes aaaalll the way pal.

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.

Olive O6HD

o6hd_silver_front_angleOlive has been on the media streamer market for the better part of the market’s existence, yet hasn’t made much noise. Their latest initiative could be here to change that: The world’s first HD Audiophile Server. That is what they call it and looking at the specs, it’s definitely the world’s first something, even if others have touched on this before. The Linn DS is definitely up there (with a slightly more rabid price tag) and so is the NaimUniti Serve. The latter being a really attractive setup in its family configuration of server, players and mini players.

The device itself is cool if not exactly novel. The design is like other Olives, slightly unusual and definitely not very shelf-friendly.  The slanted cabinet has a touch screen on top and a handful of heavy duty connectors on the back. The front has a slot for ripping CDs. To get you going, the O6HD comes pre-installed with 12 HD tracks from Chesky records. Hand-built in America and all, it will look good on a serving table or something.

The power supply is split into two, to feed analog and digital circuits with each their own chill filtered juice. The DACs are 24-bit Burr-Brown PCM1792 supporting high resolution conversion of 24-bit/192KHz. It comes with 2TB of storage, letting you rip quite a bit of CDs, at least in 16-bit resolution. At full resolution it is not one byte too much. Unfortunately the CD transport is just that. A CD drive. It doesn’t support DVD or SACD so the only option for actually getting any HD content is to rip it elsewhere or download HD tracks.

A rather cool feature is genre specific tags. Only information pertaining to the specific type of music is shown in the genre navigation. That is really good news for classical music connoisseurs. Add to that a bit of color coding and a bloody nice glass touch screen, and you have a pretty nifty dashboard. The ever present iPhone / iPod Touch remote isn’t missing either.

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

Naim UnitiQute

NaimQute The people who gave us the NaimUnity last year have gone and done it again. This time with a cute little device aptly and cleverly named The UnitiQute. The main difference from the NaimUnity is the absence of a CD transport. In other words, the UnitiQute is for those who don’t care about perloid plastic discs or those who have a plenty of sound elsewhere and needs an extension.

The front is sleek and minimalistic and very Naim.  The back panel abundant with connectors for all things digital and a few analogue for good measure. The UnitiQute streams from internet radio stations and from network storage devices, be it a regular NAS or that equally sleek Naim HDX in the living room. In addition to networked music, the UnitiQute plays music from attached devices, such as iPods and USB harddrives.

Flac support of up to 24bit/96KHz puts it well in the clear with the competition. With a built-in amplifier yielding 30W of smooth niceness it is fairly self contained and should fit any small living area. Put an HDX in the study with your Focals, a Unity in the living room and a Qute in the bed room and your retirement is pretty much secured.

Lossless audio explained

My favourite company and defacto curators of good sound, Bower & Wilkins, just published an article on their Society of Sound web site, explaining lossless audio in general and Flac in particular in what can only be described as kid’s stuff. One can argue whether digital sound distribution is difficult material, but I find it indisputable that the topic is notoriously hard to convey. It is this last bit I think B&W did better than anyone before them.

If you don’t know Flac, read it to get a non-technical explanation. If you do know the technicalities, read it anyway… if for nothing else, then to get an example of how to explain it yourself.

Linn Majik DS-I

Linn Majik DS-I I may be pushing the icons above a bit on this one, since Linn has not yet disclosed anything specific on their new compact. Following in the footsteps of Naim and their Uniti, Linn has gone and committed a similar product. A complete unit, albeit sans the radio and the transport. Okay, so it isn’t a complete system. It does, however, appear that the Linn Majik DS-I has everything in the realm of in- and output. Even a phono input. All you need is a tuner for the BBC must-haves, a CD transport for the not-yet-ripped CDs and a pair of speakers that can receive the angel dust from the DS and sprinkle your abode with magic.

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.