|The New Frontier: High End Computer Audio, and USB DACs|
|Home Theater Feature Articles Audio Related Articles|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Wednesday, 02 March 2011|
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Besides having your entire music library at your finger tips, those who strongly recommend this set up also claims that it out performs optical disc playback, even on top flight disc players and by a large margin. Technically, hard drive play back is said to reduce jitter and other anomalies introduced by the demands of a spinning disc and laser. Add to that the convenience of being able to customize playback, download music, and to set up multi room systems and you have many reasons to explore this set up. As noted, being able to, use an Apple iPod Touch or iPad as your remote control, with all library information in the palm of your hand is indeed amazing.
At many recent high end audio trade shows, computer based playback systems were very much in vogue. Many were using customized PCs or Mac computers, modified for the singular task of high quality audio. There are companies, including Mach2Muisc, that are modifying Mac Mini's. Some of the mods include removing the hard drive and putting in an external enclosure for music storage, and installing a solid state drive to run the operating system and software. They also put in at least 8GB of RAM, and load up Pure Music, or Amarra. Another relatively new development is the proliferation of USB cables produced by high end audiophile cable companies that can run as much as a hundred time the cost of generic USB cable. They claim to be made with the same exacting standards as high end analog cables. High quality connectors and conductors, and careful attention to jitter reduction seem to be the major selling points. On the lower end, Belkin Gold cables seem to have gotten a thumbs up from the price to performance ratio camp.
FOOTNOTE 1: Per Gordon Rankin, Wavelength Audio.