T.H.E. Show Newport 2015 Wrap-Up

This year's Newport show was easily the best yet, in great part because of the new Hotel Irvine venue—a much larger and more "user friendly" hotel than the previous dual-hotel location. The attendance was way up, too.

Having everything in one hotel added to a festive, inclusive environment and was a time-saver for harried journalists and consumer attendees alike. The main floor's restaurant and bar area can accommodate large crowds and includes an adjacent open space for live entertainment. At the old venue the music was outdoors and not nearly as inviting and casual, especially in the sometimes windy and chilly So. Cal. evenings.

As expected, not much new was introduced at this show, after the Munich debuts of so many products. However, there were some significant launches including Dan D'Agostino's $28,000 phono preamplifier shown in the previously posted story.

On a Higher Note's Philip O'Hanlon demoed the brand new tube-based Luxman EQ-500 phono preamp (appx. $7500-$7900), which includes multiple inputs and a wide range of front panel settings.

T.H.E. Show Newport was the American debut of the new Swedish Analog Technologies tone arm (reviewed in the next issue of Stereophile).

There was not much else new in the analog domain (unless I missed something) but the show was packed with great vinyl for sale in the ballroom and turntables were all over the show.

I participated in three seminars: two turntable set-ups and one "Meet the Editors" panel moderated by The Absolute Sound's Editor-in-Chief Robert Harley. The other panelists were David Robinson, Positive Feedback online, DigitalAudioReview.net's John Darko and Chris Connaker, editor of Computer Audiophile.

Mr. Connaker must have been having his "time of the month" because the mere mention of the word "vinyl" had his lips curled and him lashing out dismissively. In fact, I'd say of the dozens of panels I've sat on—many of which were contentious—Connaker's demeanor was easily the most unpleasant.

He's having none of "the vinyl resurgence", which he claimed was (in my words) the equivalent of a pimple on the ass of the great, new digital world.

Connaker mocked my claim that vinyl was "huge" except that I never made such a claim. "Rewind the tape" he retorted, which surprised me. Tape??? From a digital guy?

He went on to say vinyl is but a few percent of total sales and I agreed! It's gone from 1% to 2% to now 6% of the physical software market and tens of millions of records sold—and who knows where it will be next year— but Connaker wasn't buying.

"It's still tiny" he insisted. "So is gourmet food compared to fast food and in fact," I went on and not at all cordially you can be sure, "you might as well dismiss the entire high end audio industry and this show too, because it's tiny compared to Bose and what the average person listens to, but so what? What does that have to do with quality?"

Believe me, I got the better of the snarky, unpleasant Mr. Connaker. He's one of those guys who just can't stand the fact that some of us get pleasure from analog and vinyl, whereas even Mr. Darko who writes for a digital site, enjoys vinyl as does David Robinson who was there extolling the virtues of Quad DSD.

Connacker could have said he's not into vinyl and left it at that but he was there to pick a fight and he got one from me, no holds barred.

Robert Harley graciously credited me for being among vinyl's staunchest supporters even during the dark days of "perfect sound forever." The dyspeptic Mr. Connaker, not so much!

If you go to the computer audiophile website and read his show coverage you'll read a reference to the "huge" vinyl statement I never made and please read the vinyl comments from his clueless, equally bitter and uninformed readers (unless you too believe that the "vinyl resurgence" is a couple of mustachioed hipsters).

As I aways say when reading such "stuff", why are these people so bitter about how others get pleasure? Maybe they're not having as much fun listening to digital as they think they are, which is why I think they are always "on the rag" about vinyl.

Because there was so little new to cover, I had a chance for a change to sit down in many rooms and listen to music for extended periods.

There was good sound in many rooms but the stand-outs for me were (in no particular order):

The D'Agostino Audio room where Dan's electronics drove a pair of Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha II speakers

The Kyron room, where the complete system (100K+ for electronics, DAC, room correction and baffle-less Kronos speakers) sounded as impressive as it did in Australia when I reported from the Melbourne show. The company had not such good sound in a bad room at Munich. I was glad they got good sound here since they had a quote from me prominently displayed by the door!

Also outstanding was the sound in the Perfect 8/Ypsilon/Bergmann turntable room. I played "Mood Indigo" from Ellington Masterpieces and the presentation was holographic and tonally right on the sonic money, which was fortunate since the speakers alone cost around $150,000.

Also worth mentioning for good sound was the GTT Audio room featuring YG Acoustics speakers, Kronos turntable, Kubala-Sosna cables and I forget the electronics brand. Many other rooms had great sound too, including the one pictured at top of the page (KR Audio amps, Hanss turntable, Marten Coltrane speakers, Pranawire cables) so that's just a small sampling.

A special shout-out to Andrew Jones's new speakers for ELAC. Mr. Jones, formerly of TAD designed those amazing Pioneer budget speakers reviewed here a few years ago. Jones has done it again (even more so), with the new ELAC two-way book shelf speakers he demoed at the show that cost $229 a pair. They go down to circa 40Hz and sounded sweet, yet well-detailed, while producing an expansive soundstage and well-focused images. A larger bookshelf and a floor stander and center channel are in the works too. Based on those speakers, you could assemble a genuine high-performance system for as little as $1500.

So congratulations to T.H.E. Show Newport's president Richard Beers and to the L.A. and Orange County Audiophile Society's President Bob Levi for a great show! It lived up to the hype!

Have a "walk around" the show yourself!:

Dpoggenburg's picture

Though a vinyl fanatic, I listen to the digits for a variety of reasons, and often have a musically satisfactory experience (how's that for damning with faint praise?). When the Beatles catalogue got released at 44/24 on USB, I started pursuing hi-rez playback options, which led me to the Computer Audiophile site. Which led me to having a dedicated PC built according to their specifications, by a vendor referred by the site. Which led me to shipping it back because it didn't work. Twice. After finally getting the unit to work, I came to learn just how unstable and glitchy J River software is (also recommended by the web site), resulting in NUMEROUS experiences in which I spent my listening time trying to get either the computer or the J River Media software to work. Which ultimately led me AWAY from the Computer Audiophile and towards purchasing a Mac laptop (I'm a lifelong PC user, so there was NO bias there), Audirvana software, and a Bricasti DAC. The end result: NO problems, glitches, headaches, frustrations, or time wasting. Needless to say, I'm no fan of the Computer Audiophile site, and it comes as no surprise that he sounds like a supercilious prick.

Jon's picture

I just would have called him and the regulars on his site a bunch of up-themselves wankers, but your summation is so much more cultured.

Journeyman's picture

one shouldn't generalize all users of a forum because that's pretty unfair. CA as good and bad users just like every community has. Most of them just want to have fun with the hobby and help other people.
I think some of them just need to be more modest, CA after all is recent near other online communities that paved the way for it.
The editor needs a reality check and he is not the only one.
Just because you have site with some user base doesn't mean you are now a professional journalist or reputable opinion maker.
I saw the rise and fall of headwize, was there when minidisc.org was THE thing and I'll be around to watch other projects rise and fall, the community is a changing micro cosmos and some communities are incubators of amazing new projects. NwAVguy came from Head-Fi just like lachlanlikesathing,so some users in these communities can do a lot of good if the wind blows in the correct direction.

Journeyman's picture

That was also one of the things that made me lose interest in CA.
For them everyone needs a dedicated PC build to enjoy audio, thats bullshit in my book!
Any decent laptop and external DAC will do the trick and for a player you can use foobar2000. There is no voodoo in hardware or software at least for me, CA feeds a bit on naive audiophiles.

teachscience's picture

My experience with both JRiver 18 (at work, and 19, at home, is anything but glitchy. It is very stable running on a Toshiba laptop and the sound is usually enjoyable enough. Still prefer vinyl to any digital resolution format but the convenience of digits is hard to beat while cleaning or entertaining.

Michael Fremer's picture
I use it too. I kind of understand it now. In fact at AXPONA I was in a room and wanted to play a USB stick from vinyl but they said the "software" wasn't working. It was JRiver. I went in and got it working. They were shocked since I was "the analog guy"!
akovo's picture

I do happen do see many a good mustache, usually paired up with a funny hat, when shopping the local Bay Area record haunts. I also happen to see lots of average Joes and a fair number of ladies too. Takes all types, and that's a beautiful thing in my mind.

Speaking of all types, my 14 year old brother just got a hand me down Marantz 6300 'table from our uncle (and a tub of LPs that I'll no doubt be cherry picking a few from), and he couldn't be more stoked to build a system around it. He's on a "weekend chores" kind of budget, but everybody has to start somewhere. I'm just as excited as he is to see what we can throw together.

Toptip's picture

Only tangentially related to what is on this page but there is this new Pepsi commercial...

Michael Fremer's picture
It was funny and if you can't laugh at that, well....you've got a problem....(I don't mean "you" personally)...
Mark UK's picture

Personally I think Connaker's comments on the panel were totally reasonable and did NOT 'knock' or belittle vinyl and its enthusiasts.

Reality -
Both high quality computer audio and ALL vinyl account for a microscopic percentage of music listened to. Both are a vanishingly small amount of the total. To think otherwise is merely wishful thinking.

However -
Connaker and his site have a problem. He likes to think it is 'influential and maybe it is. It should NOT be. It claims to have 100,000 plus 'membership'. BUT - the regularly posting membership (which is the group that matters) consists of around 100 people. And I am possibly being generous with my '100' figure.
They spend most of their time endlessly arguing about whether it is possible to hear differences between various 'resolutions' and discussing various nonsensical computer 'tweaks' or equally nonsensical special computer builds. These two, tweaks and special builds have caused many professional computer people who actually KNOW how computers work to leave the site, mostly voluntarily but sometimes pushed.

Me? I have a Linn turntable, a $500 totally unmodified Samsung laptop running W7 and JRiver, an expensive DAC feeding a mid-price Naim pre and power amp driving $10,000 Tannoy speakers.

On 'objective quality' the Samsung/JRiver setup leaves the Linn far behind. But remember, 99.99999% of the worlds music enthusiasts, even in the 'developed west' do not have or want such a system, with or without a turntable.

firedog55's picture

I think it is safe to say the CA site is quite influential among people interested in computer audio. Lots of professionals read and comment on the site, but like most forums, it has a small number of regular posters and lots of "lurkers".

Your point about computer professionals is nonsense. Lots of people who are "computer experts" know nothing about digital audio - even to the point of not understanding why copying a data file is not the same process as transmitting digital audio (note: I didn't say digital data). In addition, despite your contention, there just happen to be "professional computer people who actually KNOW how computers work" who participate at the site and haven't left, voluntarily or otherwise. BTW, Chris himself is one of them. He had an IT career before starting the website.

cpp's picture

I think Chris and Micheal both did more harm than good in their little banter. Mike represented the "snobs" of audiophiles with his immature remarks. I thought Chris took the higher road with his comments. I personally think Micheal must have been off his meds.

Michael Fremer's picture
You weren't there. There was nothing whatsoever "snobby" about what I said on the panel. Connaker's point was to dismiss the vinyl revival and, I should add, misstate what I had said before he spoke. He tried to make the point that vinyl is but a small percentage of overall software sales, which is something no one disputes. However, it was gone from 1% to 4% to 6% and will be larger next year. His dismissal of the significance of this was "snobby" not what I said. I pointed out that on the basis of his analysis, all of high performance audio is then irrelevant because compared to what the average person listens to, what we listen to represents but a tiny percentage of the total market. That is hardly "snobby". What was "snobby" was Connaker's dismissive, sneering demeanor, not to mention has mistaken claim that I'd said the vinyl resurgence was "huge" (though seen in proper context it is!).
Mark UK's picture

I will be as brief as possible as I don't think this is really an appropriate place.

"Deeper bass when I changed to USB cable X". No. The USB signal is a representation of digital values. While the cable may or may not alter noise levels, unlike an 'analog' connection where the cable is carrying the ACTUAL signal, the digital representation cannot favour a specific part of the audio signal as it is NOT carrying an audio signal.

"The slope of the leading edge". But USB is a NRZI signal. Statistically about HALF of the 'pulses' won't HAVE a leading edge. The 'pulse' is detected in the middle (nominally) so slopes of leading edges simply don't matter.

Etc. Etc. Etc. It's all nonsense, including much from well-known audio industry figures. They have obviously not done even a simple basic computer course and seem to be clueless how computers actually work.

My expertise? 40 years in the computer industry, designing computer5s, both hardware and operating system software. We did, and do, it all, from growing the silicon crystals from which we then design and make the ICs to writing the transaction processors that allow VISA (250,000 transactions per second 24/7), supermarket tills, airline tickets, etc. to run. Going to the moon. GPS, pictures of Jupiter from Voyager. I do have a clue. Also 40 years plus as a 'HiFi' enthusiast.

Influential? Maybe CA is. Undeservedly so. Far too much myth and magic (though not from Chris himself - you know who some of the most vociferous mythmakers are). And we forget how small the high quality end of digital audio actually is. At least Michael, though a vinyl 'buff' covers all aspects of high fidelity. CA offers nothing new other than the source components.

firedog55's picture

No again. Lots of engineering papers about how digital cables of all types can carry noise, and the noise can have an effect on the non-digital results the other end. In fact there was a recent summation of this issue here: http://www.audiostream.com/content/digital-cables-and-noise

Journeyman's picture

CA was never influential for me mostly because Hydrogenaudio was and still is far better. As for "computer experts" maybe you are talking about coders who crush code and don't really enjoy working with hardware, I know a few who don't give a damm about audio, they are computer experts in their area but that doesn't mean all coders don't understand audio. In fact most computer experts understand audio quite well, they just don't believe in a lot of the audiophile bullshit around computer hardware and software..You know foobar2000? I'm sure every audiophile does but some still use Jriver, because you know the bits do sound so much better...
CA is not the holy grail of computer audio, its a just a site and the editor needs modesty ASAP. Some of us were around when lossless was a thing for collectors so the CA editor needs more modesty if it wants to represent computer audio enthusiasts. Btw I don't own any vinyl, this means I actually read this site because it does have quality even if sometimes Mr.Fremer loses is temper with people who do not respect his passion. I still believe Vinyl is a bit of a fad but it's a good fad if people enjoy more music.

Mark UK's picture

It's just a 'regular' data file and is no way different from any other file. It does not need to be 'understood' at all by computer experts, be they hardware, software, or both.

This is what the mythmakers refuse to accept. Only when it reaches the input socket of the DAC does it need to be 'understood'. Similarly on a network player, it only has to be 'undrstood' when it has got PAST the ethernet section and arrived at the DAC section.

As for JRiver, I think you have it wrong. JRiver themselves strongly insist that all bit perfect player sound the same.

Journeyman's picture

Mark UK saying audio data files don't need to be understood by experts is a strange one coming from you. You do know audio file codecs are made by computer experts and that hardware is more than meets the eye.
Computers might look like kitchen appliances these days but under the hood they still need some work specially if don't use Microsoft Windows.
Raw audio files need to be routed by the operating system and that's why you got stuff like ASIO drivers and the audio server in Linux.
Anyone can use a computer, my 4 year old daughter is starting to understand the concept behind the mouse even before she's starting to write her name. Computers these days are that easy to use but under the layers there is a lot going on. As for myth-makers most of them are too worried about audiophile digital cables and audiophile SD cards....Next will be the audiophile SSD drives.
As for JRiver I'm glad they say that, sadly many audiophiles think bit perfect players sound different. I could and probably will write something about this on my site but out of respect I won't go there in this comment area.

Michael Fremer's picture
Do you really think there's no sonic difference between JRiver, or Amarra or Pure Music and running the signal though iTunes and Apple's software?
Journeyman's picture

and all players are indeed bit perfect there should not be an audible difference. For this to happen the player and operating system should not "touch" the raw data. There are many ways to do this but the final result is usually bit-perfect.
As for iTunes from what I remember that player needs configuration to be bit-perfect, not sure if it's really possible because Apple didn't make it for audiophiles but then again I'm saying this from memory and lot has changed since I actually tried iTunes.

Michael Fremer's picture
Need a 21st century turntable!
firedog55's picture

First, you shouldn't use misogynist comments in your writing - just no place for those "time of the month" comments.

Second, your characterization of the CA participants as "bitter" is clearly not correct. I just reread the thread there on this incident, and the responses are certainly not bitter. Many of the participants agree with Chris' basic point, but many of them also own and use turntables in addition to computer audio. BTW, if you actually knew anything about Chris, you'd know that he also listens to vinyl and has nothing "against" it. Just because someone has a site that promotes good sounding digital audio doesn't mean he's your enemy.

In general all the digital vs. vinyl discussions get us nowhere and are pointless. For everyone who likes vinyl- great. But you don't have to act like you have a religious truth that needs to be propagated to the ignorant. Believe it or not, some people have heard both good vinyl setups and good digital setups and prefer digital. It doesn't mean they're "wrong", just like it doesn't mean a vinyl lover is "wrong". People have different tastes. Why can't we just leave it a that?

As far as the other comments about the computer audiophile site - also sort of not accurate. Like most forums, it has a lot of passive participants and a relatively small number of active regular participants. I personally have found both the people and the information there helpful in improving my digital setup to a very high level - one that I probably wouldn't have achieved otherwise. The esoteric discussions there are no different in character than the ones vinyl lovers have about different cartridges, different record pressings, different cables, and different phono preamps.

For me JRiver works wonderfully. AFAIK, it's the leading "audiophile" oriented playback software for digital audio - at least on Windows. In my setup I'm presently using it to upsample all audio playback to 2X DSD before it is sent to the DAC, and the results are really good sounding. Like all software and all setups in audio, YMMV.

arrozcomfeijao's picture

You might want to check your dictionary to find out what misogynistic is...

firedog55's picture

I know exactly what it is, and that's why I used the term.

Michael Fremer's picture
Look, I have no problem with someone saying they don't like vinyl and listen to digital. But your characterization of Connaker does not comport with his attitude on that panel. I did not pick a 'fight' with him or attempt a "vinyl conversion" conversation. Instead Connaker took it upon himself to curl and lip and spew dismissively about 1) my "claim" (never made) that vinyl was "huge". He then went into the line about how small vinyl is as a percentage of software sales. It was as much his dismissive tone as the content of what he said that ticked me off. Yes, vinyl is but 6% but it was once 1%, then 2%, then 4% and now 6% and it's going to be bigger next year. I made the point that our entire industry is but a tiny percent of how people listen to music so then what's his point? My point was that the 6% today represents 10s of millions of new records sold and by any metric that's a good number! I heard that the Pro-Ject factory now employs 400 people, runs 3 hour hour shifts a day and occupies the entire factory that once manufactured many products for the "iron curtain" countries. And they are expanding. By any metric, vinyl has become a worldwide phenomenon and a multi-million dollar business.....so what was the point of Connaker's derision? There was none and he needn't have gone down that road but he did and I wasn't having any of it...
Jon's picture

I think the fact that Mr. C apparently continues to recommend / endorse JRiver when there are demonstrably higher fidelity computer-as-source players out there such as XXHighEnd and JPlay, whilst also doing his utmost to supress posts by people who can hear differences between audio cables whilst not discouraging posts made by people who can't, really says all you need to know about the worth of any of his audio-related opinions.

Further to that, his website has a underlying culture of belittling vinyl and vinylphiles. Vinyl jokes appear to be the flavour of the month over there at the moment and only in the last two days a thread was started by someone requesting advise relating to a turntable front-end, only for that question to apparently be nothing more than yet another joke at the expense of the vinyl aficionado.

So given there are two sides to the story as to what happened, I think it is an incredibly safe bet as to what really transpired.

Some people get into the audio industry by merit. Some people such as Mr. C appear to get there through the circus back door. The latter just need to aware that if they chose a position of purported influence through the latter means, then they will always be regarded as nothing but a clown.

azmoon's picture


azmoon's picture

…Mr. Conhacker protests too much…..

Philipjohnwright's picture

Some people like vinyl, some digital, some both, some neither (shock horror, some people don't actually like music). Live with it. Don't revert to 6 year old 'gang' mentality.

Comments aimed at those in both camps. Come on folks, there are things we should be getting worked up about (IS, Iran's nuclear ambition, racism, to name but a few). Sure, debate the points. But let's get some perspective. Or maybe a life :-)


Michael Fremer's picture
But the argument was not vinyl vs. digital or anyone's attempt to convert anyone. It was Connaker's attempt to say that the vinyl resurgence is a "bubble", is meaningless, is "tiny" etc......simply not true...
volvic's picture

Mr. Fremer you were one of the few voices in the 90's I referenced when I was labelled a fool for not having jumping ship to CD's. It was dark times then trying to find vinyl as the renaissance hadn't occurred, yet your commitment to the format kept us zealots going. I believe you have earned the right to defend the format from others who criticize it and devalue its worth to us music lovers even if you sometimes might have to use strong language. The rest as the great late Herbert von Karajan said is "just gaslight"

OldschoolE's picture

I'm glad I did not have to witness the argument because arguing never does any good, especially regarding subjectiveness and in functions such as the one discussed here. I would have really dampened my mood too which would have made the whole show unenjoyable for me. Miserable people are miserable people and love company, but I think it's the responsibility of the rest of us to rise above and continue to enjoy what we enjoy, whatever it may be as long as it does not harm or belittle others. You can lead a horse to water, but...you know. This is not directed at any particular person by the way.

Michael Fremer's picture
The discussion was supportive and friendly overall and while different people had different agendas (other than just answering audience member questions)...Robinson quad DSD, me vinyl (because the questions were posed that way etc.)....but Connaker chose to challenge me for no reason other than to...whatever... I have no idea what motivated him to be so dismissive and derisive but challenged, I responded appropriately...not to him personally, but to his "points"..... I made it personal here, true, but well-deserved IMO....
OldschoolE's picture

I picture you all gathered to make a statement of expertise in each persons related field of knowledge and answer questions as the title of the session stated and at the first vinyl or analog question directed to you, Mr. Connaker probably (for reasons unknown by anyone), did a 80's Billy Idol impression with his lips, not to do a few bars of Rebel Yell, but instead just started hurling caustic comments at you looking for a fight.

Bcreeve's picture

I was in the audience and he did pick a fight with Michael right after the conversation turned to analog playback. He didn't curl his lip as much as Idol did in Rebel Yell though!

OldschoolE's picture

That is sad. My mention of a Billy Idol impression was dry humor of course.

Grant M's picture

That's right, vinyl is totally inferior, so no need to keep bidding against me on eBay for those pink rim Island records.... at least until i've got my collection sorted out.

Mark UK's picture

Of course. I agree fully. All cables can carry noise, and I briefly referred to it in my first post. But unlike when carrying an 'analog' signal, a 'digital' signal, such as the NRZI code of USB, cannot be made to be 'bright' or 'bass heavy' by the cable.

Regarding your comment about digital data vs digital audio, it is gibberish and typical of CA myths. ALL files are composed of bits (often represented as magnetic swirls on a disk or tiny voltages or capacitances in a memory). There is NO SUCH THING as an 'audio file' to a computer.

However, I am not going to discuss such stuff further. This is not the place for me to give a free course on how computers work. CA has a large number of people, who, with no knowledge of computer technology, refuse to accept that all this stuff was fully understood and implemented 70 years ago, and is unchanged in its essential principles even today. Like the wheel or a hammer. The 'ignoranti' do not tell their heart surgeon how to perform a bypass, but, oddly, they do (on CA) try to tell computer engineers how computers work.

Jon's picture

If you are trying to suggest that the same bits sound the same from a computer source than that is a fallacy. One can use different bit perfect software, record the results from the analogue output to high resolution 24 bit digital files then successfully double blind test those same output files against each other after editing to ensure they begin and end on the exact same sample. Jriver sounds different, for example, to XXHighEnd which sounds different to JPlay, even though all facilitate bit perfect playback.

To be perfectly blunt the "computer engineers" are even more annoying than those who continually tease vinylphiles, simply because it's been proven the timing of the arrival of those bits in real time changes the noise floor by manner of different jitter profiles - which in turn changes the actual sound one hears.

Humans are easily capable of hearing these effects and I myself have no problem, for example, of hearing the effects of different dither profiles at the 24 bit level, meaning the noise added to the music signal is below - 144 dBFS in level. Again through double blind testing as I do not consider any other method to be robust. And jitter is always much higher in level than that, hence the reason why noise at such small magnitudes can significantly effect sound in the digital domain, as opposed to the analogue domain where the effect is benign and complimentary rather than direct and destructive.

Mark UK's picture

ALL bit perfect players MUST sound the same. If they don't they must be making 'artificial' changes.

Clocking and jitter -
Nowadays, with so-called asynchronous DACs ALL the clocking is done by the DAC. The computer has nothing to do with it.

Noise -
Computers have been designed from day one (the 1940s) to deal with it. Up till a level where the entire computer system fails they are totally noise insensitive - they have to be. The detection of a zero or a one is so robust that noise (within reason) does not affect it in any way. And the timing is equally robust - leading edges, trailing edges, etc are not involved. BUT: this noise can, as you have said, be passed to the analog section of a poorly designed DAC.

However -
I have a 'difficulty' with noise levels. If I short the input of my preamp, turn the volume to max, I hear a very faint hiss (as expected) ONLY if I put my ear right up to a speaker. This noise level does NOT increase if I reconnect the DAC and play nothing or tell the player to 'play silence'. So under all circumstances the noise level is, in practice, inaudible. So I wonder what the 'noise suppressing mythmakers' with their linear power supplies, $300 SATA cables, etc. make of this?

Jon's picture

Sorry but double bind testing has proven otherwise. Bit perfect does not mean the sound is the same. XXHighEnd for example is far closer the original source material than JRiver. You should conduct your own double blind tests using the procedure I outlined or find an audiophile with good listening skills and have them take a double blind test. Hearing the differences between files with containing precisely the same bits is quite easy - much easier than a cable blind test which can be very challenging and fatiguing.

I'm no fan of Computer Audiophile, but if you don't go there any more because you believe computer as source all sounds the same with bit perfect playback then sorry, you are completely wrong and they are completely right. Use your ears, not the textbooks.

Journeyman's picture

PSUs in audio do make a difference, if you ever built one you should know you need decent filtering or you'll get noise injected in the audio output. Computer have Switch mode PSUs and have filters to deal with the injected noise.

Mark UK's picture

Right from growing the silicon crystals to make the ICS. Even make our own wire. About all we don't do is mine the iron ore to make the cases :)

Proper big ones - the sort that STILL run the world. About 80% of the computing done in the world runs on them and on our operating systems - It's not all Windows/Apple little boxes you know.

Sure - power supplies make a difference. INSIDE the computer. And they inject noise into ALL the outputs. It doesn't make the letters on your email printer wrong ands it doesn't make the 'audio' bits wrong either.

And today switch mode power supplies are everywhere. There are about six in the room I am sat in. If DAC manufacturers can't cope with the noise they create they must be clueless and obviously, from the tests I have performed they are NOT as it all works pretty well..

Such noise SHOULD only affect the analog circuitry anyway. 'Digital' circuitry, right from day one, has been designed so that noise levels simply don't matter. They had to be, or they wouldn't work at all. These audio 'buffs' on CA and other places haven't discovered anything not known by computer professionals for 60 plus years, you know.

Journeyman's picture

After all I use ElementaryOS based on Ubuntu as my only OS, I don't use Windows at all, this means I don't use virtual machines, dual boot or have a little HDD with Windows laying around hidden in a drawer. Linux users understand the OS layers and I'm sure you know it because those servers run the same Kernel. Switch mode power supplies are hard and expensive to design for audio applications. Anyway digital is not affected like you said and I agree on that point, it would be really fun if switching noise affected emails! XD

firedog55's picture

Mark, you're arguing with yourself. I think all several of us are trying to say is that in computer audio noise of various kinds can be propagated to the DAC, and that can affect the sound of the analog output from the DAC. At least that's what I'm trying to say. Not trying to say that the bits are changed.

But some "computer professionals" insist that since the bits are unchanged, the analog output can't be affected. Those are the people I'm referring to who are clueless, IMO.

Mark UK's picture

But I have never seen any computer professionals (why the quotes? it is as real an occupation as anything else) claim the second part.

On CA I find it immensely irritating that all these surgeons, lawyers, senior executives, etc who comprise a large proportion of the active posters, seem to think their 'high position in working life' qualifies them to be competent in an occupation totally outside their own skill area.

Even Barry Diament, who I greatly respect generally, refers to "So-called lossless" with regard to FLAC, ALAC, etc, thus dismissing 2000 yeas plus of mathematics. And others, failing to understand it at all, dismiss Nyquist/Shannon. It's a theorem, not a theory, and they obviously don't know the difference. They had just as well dismiss Pythagoras' triangles.

jags79's picture

What's better, orange or green?

It's all personal preference and doesn't matter at all what other people say.

You like what you like. Good music is good music. Next.

Chris Connaker

Computer Audiophile

Michael Fremer's picture
Had you expressed that at the event, none of this would have occurred. In fact, had you thought that while I was speaking about the vinyl resurgence, the result when you spoke would have been much different! However, I'm well passed this and will see you at the next show.
Computer Audiophile's picture

The post above was not from me, however the words are mine. It was something I said in a conversation about PCM v DSD. User jags79 copied and pasted the text from my site to this one. That said, the same words apply in a digital / analog conversation.

I hope the recording of our panel is released soon. You will see I had zero disparaging remarks about your beloved vinyl. My only comments were about sales figures and the reasons for those figures. No harm was meant, nothing was personal, and I judged wanted to give the audience a different perspective.

Chris Connaker

Computer Audiophile

Michael Fremer's picture
For that recording to be released. Nothing was personal in your words, but your tone was dismissive and quite sour especially since what you said was not grounded in fact and given the venue---an audio show attended by a fringe compared to the mainstream---your perspective was ludicrous. If that's what you really believe, you shouldn't show up at an audio show. The FACT is the vinyl resurgence is quite genuine and why this obviously threatens you is something I don't understand. Pro-Ject is running three shifts daily and turning out 10,000 turntables a MONTH. That's quite real. Of course if you want to put that in perspective of grabbing free music from Spotify it's small but so is audiophilia but that doesn't mean it isn't a healthy, thriving business as anyone who attended the Munich show can attest. As for your recent comments, which prompted me to write I'm over the whole kerfuffle, you more recently tweeted this: "Looks like Michael Fremer at @analogplanet needs some attention (or more Twitter followers). So you are also two-faced..... I'll write one more thing: your site attracts some really ignorant people. My favorite comment was from someone who said he'd take vinyl more seriously when the "big players" like Pioneer get involved. Of course Pioneer, Onkyo and others ARE again "involved" in vinyl, but rather than get the facts, it's so much easier and more fun to be in denial and post nonsense....
Computer Audiophile's picture

Michael - You obviously read my post about the event where I researched the facts and wrote them for all to see. I was not dismissive of any facts. You claimed 33 million records were pressed last year when I was talking about record sales. Your number isn't even close to the 9.2 million records sold last year. To put this in perspective, Kendrick Lamar's new album To Pimp A Butterfly was streamed in its entirety 9.6 million times in the first 24 hours.

Please don't suggest I'm at all threatened by any resurgence in vinyl. If anything you are threatened by my facts and the fact that I chose to speak up in front of some of your biggest fans at a show. Your response in your writings (personal attack) speaks for itself.

Please check the date on my Twitter post, it was well before much of this conversation began.

Lastly, I would never insult your readers based on a comment left by a single person without much context. Some of the comments in this thread surprise me, but again, I would never stoop so.

Michael Fremer's picture
A) 9.3 million records were sold IN AMERICA not the world-and that's according to Soundscan/Nielsen, which everyone who knows anything about the vinyl market knows grossly undercounts the numbers. My number (33 million) was records pressed WORLD WIDE.

Had you read my piece about the 33 million you'd know, for instance, that N/S claims "Lazaretto" sold 70,000 copies, yet Stoughton press sold 170,000 jackets to Jack White. Do you think he ordered an extra 100,000 jackets "just because"?

You are questioning my numbers, which are the result of contacting pressing plants worldwide and getting numbers. My number is factual.

B) You wrote something about Roxy Music's "Avalon" being played at a CES and being compressed. I don't know from where you got that, but my story is about hearing "Avalon" at an AES, not a CES and it wasn't "compressed". It just sounded crappy just as does the commercial CD compared to any vinyl pressing.

C) Why are you again bringing up how many streams Kendrick Lamar's new album had? In fact I'm in that statistic because I streamed it using Tidal, the only streaming service worth listening to. Why are you bringing that up???? On that basis you don't belong at an audio show.

Please don't ever again attend: the entire audio industry is a tiny, "insignificant" nothing in the face of mass music streaming. Yes, that's true but it's 100% irrelevant just as is your citing the number of streams of Lamar's new album. And as I said during the panel discussion, gourmet dining is irrelevant too, if fast food sales are the benchmark, but that too is a STUPID benchmark. It's irrelevant.

The vinyl resurgence is REAL so get over it. You started this whole thing by denying it citing fast food numbers.

I am not threatened by your facts. They are not relevant to the discussion. YOU are the one who chose to turn a panel discussion into a confrontation.

As for what actually was said on that panel, I am getting the recording and will stream it in its entirety so people can judge for themselves. I'd press it on vinyl and release it but due to the vinyl resurgence I can't get press time.

Bcreeve's picture

I am glad you are going to get the video transcript of the seminar Michael. I was in the audience and Chris really got my blood boiling! I felt like he was launching an attack on all vinyl lovers like me. Hopefully after all this he won't be asked back to participate in a panel!

Computer Audiophile's picture

Michael - You quoted Nielsen SoundScan indirectly by saying that vinyl is 6% of physical media sales. Now you want say that number doesn't count and use information that nobody can verify (jackets printed etc...). I guess that's OK because it still supports my points. The fact remains, as I have said since the beginning of this sophomoric episode, vinyl is not that big and we should put some perspective on it. By talking amongst ourselves we live in an echo chamber and can start to believe things are bigger and better than they really are. I've never said anything negative about vinyl, its fans / supporters, or about the fact that it has gained a a larger percentage of the physical media sales (helped by the fact that physical media sales of all other formats are dwindling in favor of streaming). Speaking of streaming, I believe it's critical to include this method of music consumption in all conversations when looking at perspective and because it's how many of us consume our music now. I certainly don't equate streaming to fast food. Suggesting that I don't belong at an audio show because I bring up streaming numbers and talk about streaming music maybe OK for you, but I believe it's preposterous. Contrary to what David Robinson said on the panel, our industry as a whole isn't growing. You can keep this trend flowing downward by dismissing streaming. In addition, suggesting that I don't attend a show because our industry is tiny and insignificant, is really taking my points and bending them to fit your narrative (which by the way has garnered you more article comments than any other topic in the recent past). Talking about perspective is far different than dismissing something because it is small. I have no problem saying that high end computer audio is tiny compared to audio as a whole. It's a topic that frequently comes up on my site. If you or anyone would have suggested similar facts on the panel I wouldn't have twisted it into something differently all together.Ii wouldn't have said you have a problem with computer audio and that you should dismiss the whole industry and fast food and never go to another show and it's your time of the month and that you came looking for a fight etc...

The way you went on a personal attack does suggest you are threatened by something here. Starting your attack with a misogynistic statement equating me to a woman and writing other untruths about me was really unnecessary unless one is looking for more readers through controversy or one feels threatened.

I'll give you the final words on this should you feel the need to continue.

Michael Fremer's picture
I don't "dismiss" Soundscan/Nielsen Chris.

I say that their numbers significantly downplay the actual numbers because they miss a great deal.

YOU can verify the jacket number by calling Stoughton Press. They can show you the order sheet if you need verification.

What does "vinyl is not that big" mean? Who said it was "that big"? What does that even mean? I cite numbers that are quite real. You can judge how "big" that is.

It's "big" enough for Pro-Ject to be running 3 shifts daily to build 100,000+ turntables a year. That's but one company. Is that small? Depends on your perspective. But for a format NARM said in 1989 would no longer be manufactured in America (vinyl records), the resurgence is healthy and growing.

I have always viewed vinyl and fine dining in perspective; compared to fast food and streaming it is small as is high performance audio.

There's a difference between including streaming in a conversation and using it to disparage the vinyl revival...for the reasons I cited on the panel.

However, streaming other than TIDAL is not high fidelity in my opinion and a comparison to fast food is absolutely appropriate. I realize how many people stream music and I realize how many people eat at McDonald's. What does that have to do with fine dining? NOTHING.

Do you think the people who operate the best restaurants care about or think about McDonald's sales figures? They don't.

You say our industry is not growing. That is not true. You need to attend the Munich Show and then tell me that.

I'll tell you one segment that's DEFINITELY growing and that is VINYL and TURNTABLES AND CARTRIDGES AND ACCESSORIES. That is a FACT.

Yet when I bring that up, your response is to mock me by citing how many people stream music. THAT IS NOT AN ANSWER! That is a different subject.

My point was that if you wish to disparage vinyl's GROWTH by comparing it to streaming, then why not compare what you saw at the Newport Show and dismiss it because IT IS TINY compared to what MOST people listen to, especially those that stream music. I did not say you shouldn't attend the show. I did say if you are going to dismiss and disparage the size of the vinyl market by comparing it to streaming, well then you'd better dismiss and disparage the size of the high performance audio market by comparing it to "mass market" Best Buy plastic stuff. And if you did, then why attend Newport?

But Chris I DID NOT DISMISS HIGH END COMPUTER AUDIO and that's the point! In fact I use it and I stream on TIDAL. Tidal is nothing compared to Spotify but who cares?

I did not equate you with a woman!

I compared your dyspeptic tone in dismissing the vinyl revival with a dismissive tone that was "familiar" to me....and if anyone goes back and watches the video, it's pretty accurate. You were not collegial on that panel. You were confrontational and dismissive of ME. You first made it "personal".That's my opinion and I think it's backed up on the video. I note you have not retracted your assertion that I said vinyl was "huge". When I said I never said that you said "rewind the tape". Now that the "tape" demonstrates I never said that, you ignore it. Oh well.....

Bcreeve's picture

I was in the audience at that seminar and I just felt that the way Chris expressed his views were very in your face and snarky. It angered some people in the audience. I can't be sure but it sounded like he said something to the effect that "I'm not going to listen to your crap LPs" and "vinyl is a fad" which caused a lady in the audience to raise her voice and say "it's not a fad!" in response. Just the way he belittled vinyl lovers in the seminar really got my blood boiling that's for sure!

Journeyman's picture

It would be really nice to see what really went down on that event.

OldschoolE's picture

That's really sad! One side of me thinks "too bad I wasn't there helping to support Mr. Fremer, not to mention those of us who love vinyl of course. The other side of me thinks, "Glad I wasn't there to witness this, I would have been offended and really down the rest of the day."

Jenn's picture

I enjoyed my one day (due to rehearsal/gig) at the show. I saw you in the ballroom looking at records and wanted to meet you, but didn't want to bother you/was too shy to say howdy for some reason. I regret that. Catch you next time!

RonResnick's picture

I attended T.H.E. Show seminar at which Michael and Chris were panelists. I heard every word of the discussion.

Michael is not exaggerating in any way about what Chris said, or about the tone of Chris' comments. Chris' comments were oddly, venomously, irrationally anti-vinyl.

hjc001's picture

i work. rarely post. but this Fremer/Connaker thing's got me thinking of ways to get some $$$ to find out who's right. KUDOS, to F and C!!! i do miss local record/music stores. in miami, we had yesterday and today records. they dissapeard. so we turned to Specs. they're gone. so i get my music from friends, never buy online. wat F/C have done, for me, is made me miss my youth and the joy of hanging out with like-minded kids in Y&T inthe 1980s. Thanks, you too. I hope next year we see a you tube video of F and C huggin, kissin, makin up. Sincerely hope for it. THAT's the best part of enjoying music. bottom line, those of us who read these websites are a minority. i work with the public and feel next to no one cares about sound quality, let alone analog vs digits. be nice.

pathaniaji5421's picture

ALL bit flawless players MUST sound the same. On the off chance that they don't they must be making "simulated" changes.

Timing and jitter -

These days, with supposed offbeat DACs ALL the timing is finished by the DAC. The PC has nothing to do with it.

Commotion -

PCs have been planned from the very beginning (the 1940s) to manage it. Up till a level where the whole PC framework comes up short they are absolutely commotion inhumane - they must be. The identification of a zero or an one is robust to the point that commotion (inside of reason) does not influence it at all. What's more, the timing is just as strong - driving edges, trailing edges, and so forth are not included. Be that as it may, this commotion can, as you have said, be gone to the simple segment of an ineffectively outlined DAC.

However -

I have a "trouble" with commotion levels. In the event that I short the information of my preamp, turn the volume to max, I hear an extremely black out murmur (not surprisingly) ONLY on the off chance that I put my ear straight up to a speaker. This commotion level does NOT increment on the off chance that I reconnect the DAC and play nothing or advise the player to 'play hush'. So under all circumstances the commotion level is, by and by, imperceptible. So I ponder what the 'commotion smothering mythmakers' with their straight power supplies, $300 SATA links, and so forth make of this?

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ronit's picture

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bwright's picture

I was in a Silicon Valley audio store when I ran into an engineer from HP Labs. We were looking at a number of audiophile components, and were discussing the path to the best sound quality. He said something simple but telling- "In this case, the hardware is important, but you need to begin with the best software."
I have heard hundreds of CDs that have that sterile, unreal, metallic effect. And more recently, I have heard digital rips of LPs that sound exactly like analog. I can't tell the difference.
But to me, and when done well, AAA represents the best software.