DAP’s, Portable Rig And Driveline Specs Updated For Reviews, Going Forward

DAP’s, Portable Rig And Driveline Specs Updated For Reviews, Going Forward…

The Updated Specs are in Bold below.

AK120 Portable Digital Audio Player and Amplifier Stack ©Christmachine 2017

 

VinylTransfer(Needledrop) / Reel To Reel Transfer/ HD TRAcks/ CD to FLAC/ALAC/ WAV/.mp3(320kbps) -> AK120 (No Mods) 24/192 Capable Portable Audio Reference Server (2 X Stock Wolfson WM8740 DAC’s [One For Each Channel]) w/ 3-ohm output impedance (64GB Onboard FLASH + 2 x 200GB San Disk Micro SDXC-10 Cards) -> ALO Audio SXC 22 mini to mini 3 Wire Silver Plated Copper -> ALO Audio International Headphone Amp w/ 24bit96kHz DAC w/ Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC Chip -> ALO Audio Green Line (balanced universal mini XLR) w/classic copper sends and silver-plated copper returns -> ALO Audio Green Line RSA 4 pin Balanced XLR -> Audeze LCD2 Bamboo rev. 2G w/mini XLR Metal Reinforced Male Input Connects.

Additional DAP Source Players: Fiio X5 & The Pono Player (For Cross Reference Listening).

Additional Headphones Used: Sennheiser HD700, Audio Technica ATH M50 (OLD Model w/ Coil Chord), Sony MDRV6 (Studio Monitor w/ Coil Chord).

Note #1…I do not use IEM’s (In Ear Monitors) so one has to know whether or not their particular IEM’s match with the 3 Ohm Output Impedance of the AK120.

Note #2…You will notice that the AK120 was not modified (for lower output impedance) as I did with the AK100.  The reason I chose not to modify is because I wanted to use a stock AK120 player…so others could hear what I was hearing if they so choose.

 

Here Is a link to the Spec Sheet for the AK120 (PDF Opens New Tab).

http://www.soundfidelity.co.uk/media/downloads/products/AstellKern_AK120_Manual_English.pdf

 

Disclaimer:  As you know this site is not here to sell anyone anything, so I must disclose that the Pono Player was given to me, as I was an early stage beta tester.  I did not know I was going to be asked to be a beta tester nor did I know that we would be able to keep the player after testing was completed.  More on that another time…I will say that whatever you have read, the people behind Pono are well intentioned.  They created a damn good DAP…all criticisms aside, they really were and are (in the end) just trying to move Hirez forward.  This is a win for all.  The Pono Player will not be a main feature in reviews…I just wanted to let people know my source DAP’s for info.

 

As Far as the other DAP’s:

Some quick thoughts that might be helpful.  I never use the bundled software with the DAP units.  You want headaches…then use the software.  I simply use the DAP’s as default external drives, when plugged into the computer, just drag and drop my music files / folders into the onboard flash or memory cards.  I fill the memory cards by using the adaptor that comes with the cards and do the heavy transferring of music files via the memory card slot on the computer.

Another helpful hint, with the exception of the Pono Player which automatically scans my it’s memory at startup, I never ever ever scan my AK120 DAP…there is no need for me to do so.  I turn automatic scanning off on the AK120 and just remember where I put the files.  I just organize the folders in a way that makes it pretty simple to navigate.  On occasion it will take a minute or two to find something but it’s not a burden.

I don’t listen the way most people do…I do not use playlists, I tag my own files with mp3 Tag freeware, I listen to full albums (except for maybe electronic).  Every time I listen to an album I try to listen for something I never heard before, and every time…no matter how many listens, it presents itself.  I’m not trying to tell anyone how to listen to their music but I see people giving excellent DAP’s a bad review because the software was buggy, or they fill their memory cards with hundreds of GB of music while in the DAPs’ expansion slots.  Sometimes the GUI in the player itself is a little glitchy, but never miserable unless you’re expecting iPhone fast.

I Have had the AK120 for 2 years now and I use it daily with no battery issues…recharge is  slow, just plug in at night and it’s ready to go the next morning.  I do not use the DAP’s continuously all day, I switch between the phone to DAP’s throughout the day and they just work.  A little clunky but sounds damn good enough to make up for any shortfalls.

Next Up Reviews…

 

 

If there’s anything I forgot I will add to the update section below this sentence.

Update: 

As of today 02/23/17 No Updates At This Time.
Thanks For Reading & All Your Endless Support!

Love You Lots! Stay Well, Be Kind & Bless.

Tak Tak, Bless!

Grazie, Ciao!

Obrigadx, Tchau! Adeus!

Gracias, Adios!

Danke, Tchuss!

Merci, Au revoir!

Dank je…Bedankt, Alstublieft!

Merci Vilmal, Adeau!

Gracies, Adieu!

Gracies, Adeu!

 

CM ☕

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the (nutty) author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

Copyright © 2017 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine ☕

Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server – Social Media Icons Explained

Christmachine Audio Reference Music Server – Social Media Icons Explained ~

Photo Courtesy Of Doc Keyaza!

 

Christmachine social media Icons Simplified…It is necessary to do two posts in quick succession before I start unloading all of the Christmachine Audio Reference Server Quality Standards Catalog recommended as best sources to seek out for your listening pleasure.

I will start with an explanation of the second post which will follow soon after (above) this one, just so you know why, as well as my reasoning for this approach.  The following post will be a rundown of the gear / rig(s) that I have been using for the last two years.  It is somewhat similar to an earlier post a few years back (which I will link to below) except for the different Digital Audio Players (DAP’s – More than one) and there updated specs, that have improved the sound quality without my taking a major hit in price to upgrade.  It’s not super cheap to be fair, but I would say within the price range for anyone who already spends money on gear and music already.

You could do with what gear you already have on hand, even go a whole different route and purchase gear within your price range as well as what sounds good to your ears.  You just have to know that your gear supports the formats you get (Easy: see your device specs), and that if you are going to listen to high bitrates that the doc / dacs (Digital To Analog Converter(s)) have to also be able to support and output the quality (# Bit Depth / kHz Sample Rate) of the audio files.

If the file formats are not supported then a little research is needed to convert and preserve the integrity of the files.  If the internal dac / dacs downsample the audio, it will still sound Very Good at say (16/44) but you will not be making use of the full range of sound afforded by the recordings.

If 16/44 is enough for you then you will have the highest quality 16/44 around, he heh!  Make it fun anyway and compare to your CD versions as well as any digital files such as .mp3’s or .mp4’s, notice any differences. Remember that listening tastes change over time,  according to your current perspective (mood/biases), and is greatly affected by ambient noise in your surroundings.  It does not have to be maniacal, whatever floats the boat, right–yeah!

So the next post will show you my reference / listening gear, so that you can get a general idea as to how I listen and made the decisions for this standardized “Christmachine: Audio Reference Server Catalog“.  The three key words to remember are “Reference”, “Standard”, and “catalog”.  These reviews are from “my” personal “reference catalog”.  Therefore it is my subjective opinion as to the “standard”.  It’s not rocket science.

The fun again, is comparing and contrasting different audio sources and training your ears and brain through a critical listening process that will mature over time.  You can learn this on your own, i.e. by say focusing on the individual instruments and differeing sound signatures, etc. inside and between various recordings of the same piece of music mastered for each specific medium and format.

Keep in mind that the recordings must be of the same sessions or you will then be getting into a whole other realm, known as artist interpretations.  These are quite common in Classical Music, for example, for different musicians, conductors, or composers interpreting a standard legacy piece (Say Mozart’s “Requiem” or Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” or Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) differently or according to how they believe it should be represented or played.  That’s another realm of exploration, but I digress.

You already own…right now, “your own” personal reference catalog and may not think of it that way.  These are just meant to be my personal recommendations, if you want to attempt to take the music to another level.  If you listen to one or two or three and disagree, happy where your at, then great.  You can always use this site (or not 😉  ) as a reference, and be solid in your opinion….”knowing” where you think I am wrong.

Here is the link I referred to above for reference to my previous rig…

http://www.christmachine.com/christmachine/show-off-the-portable-rig-and-driveline-specs/

 

Photo Courtesy Of Doc Keyaza!

 

Next I just want to take a moment to explain the social media icons, located in the upper right hand corner wedge on all the pages of this website.  There is a reason the icons visual logos do not correspond to the correct link and take you to another of my social media graveyards…heh.  For example the first icon that represents “Linked In” will take you to my twitter page…the reason being that I do not put those icons there to redirect you somewhere else to mess with you.  I do it because, having the right icon for each link just means more traffic and I am not doing this for clicks.  This is a archive website, no frills, not trying to break the net.

So below this paragraph I will post all the links in the order that they are represented in the corresponding icons.  If you want to click on these links to check them out, then you can just ignore the social media icons.  Most of the links are graveyards (save for a few), as I said earlier, but they will be used heavily once I get this website really full of fresh content and reviews.

Another thing there are some other links that readers have been going to via search engines thinking that they are mine. A few are not, and that is why I am explaining and posting all the links here.  For example…there is more than one Christmachine Youtube account…so now you will be able to see the right one, same for FB, and a few others.

Also there are a few links that I use daily, so I added them to the icons and are not my pages, but use them for reference for say Discogs and Wiki Languages and Omniglot.  Some of them like Discogs are there because I reference then a lot in regards to this website, and obviously you can use them too, for cross reference and search.  The Dynamic Range Database is in there as well…again, pertinent to this website.  So here they are for our reference.  All the links below are hot but open in a new tab, so be aware of that if you are on mobile. Stay well!

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/christ_machine

 

Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealChristMachine

 

Scoop.IT:

http://www.scoop.it/u/christmachineandicelandicgurlagenda

 

Omniglot:

http://www.omniglot.com

 

DR – Dynamic Range Database:

http://dr.loudness-war.info

 

Tumblr:

http://christmachine.tumblr.com

 

Christmachine Google Image Search:

https://www.google.com/search?q=christmachine&hl=en&biw=1221&bih=680&site=webhp&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiU3-KV–PRAhWTdSYKHW-uCFwQsAQIIA#imgrc=_

 

Mixcloud:

https://www.mixcloud.com/ChristMachine/favorites/

 

Christmachine WordPress.com:

https://christmachine.wordpress.com

 

Christmachine RSS Feed:

(You must have a RSS Reader Installed / Or Shared Links On Mac)

feed://www.christmachine.com/feed/

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/public/Lincoln-Dottir-Christmachine

 

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/christ_machine/

 

Discogs:

https://www.discogs.com

 

Soundcloud:

https://soundcloud.com/christmachine/following

 

Wikipedia Languages:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Wikipedias

 

Google+:

https://plus.google.com/116278604902632351342

 

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.com/christmachine/

 

There you have it…Current Rig post up next! And then…  😉 🙂 😉

 

Photo Courtesy Of Doc Keyaza!

 

 

Thanks For Reading & All Your Endless Support!

Love You Lots! Stay Well, Be Kind & Bless.

 

Tak Tak, Bless!

Grazie, Ciao!

Obrigadx, Tchau! Adeus!

Gracias, Adios!

Danke, Tchuss!

Merci, Au revoir!

Dank je…Bedankt, Alstublieft!

Merci Vilmal, Adeau!

Gracies, Adieu!

Gracies, Adeu!

 

CM ☕

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the (nutty) author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

Copyright © 2017 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

 

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine ☕

Now With That Out Of The Way, Back To Christmachine – Audio Reference Server

Now With That Out Of The Way, Back To Christmachine – Audio Reference Server

Ahhh… Where Do You Keep The Vinyl Rips and Hi Resolution Digital Files ? ——————————–>Photo Courtesy Of Doc KEYAZA!!!

 

So there has been enough (So much!) time passed, it’s blatantly obvious to me that no one else will create an Audio Reference Quality Standards Catalogue for individual album releases.  The powers that be have showed us time and time again that they feel that we should be left in the dark about the music we have purchased and continue to purchase.  It’s loud and clear, they do not have to, there is no other option.

All we asked for was lineage and provenance of recordings that we spend gobs of cash for, as well as the textual and numerical details as to how they mastered, remastered, and transferred the new releases. Once again we are left clueless as to what we are purchasing. We know it can be done, some releases have done just that, usually projects overseen by reputable audio engineers.

I do understand that in some cases they do not know some of these details as they have been lost to time, poor record keeping, lack of proper labeling, and a sad state of storage of the original master tapes.  In some cases they don’t even know whether they are the “original studio masters” or well travelled copies.  We saw that in the report on the sad state of historical music archiving, much has been lost or destroyed….as we know back just a few decades ago music industry analysts and label bosses went with the prevailing wisdom, why would we want to preserve all this music–who is going to want it?  What is the use?

This:

https://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub148/pub148.pdf

And ESPECIALLY This (Re-Post):

http://www.billholland.net/words/Labels%20Strive%20to%20Rectify%20Past%20Archival%20Problems.pdf

 

Now that they realize the marketing and money making potential, oh the irony there, eh?  All we have asked for is crumbs; forget about the old arguments (for a moment) on the loudness wars, whether high rez audio can be heard by the human ear (The Nyquist Theorem), Wheather vinyl has more warmth and soul, whether expensive cables give a +/- better listening experience, The law of diminishing returns, “Sources? / Laws of Science?, Do CD’s suck, the failure of SACD, .mp3’s are garbage, etc.  Noel Gallagher saying there will be no more vinyl niche as an industry in a few short years as a result of streaming (He thinks? I agree, he is probably right).

With that said, our niche is just that–our niche, and it will continue as long as the electric grids are up.  Even then some of us crazies will be powering phonographs with a stationary bike, using a carefully sharpened fishbone as a rudimentary needle, a significant other propping up a makeshift jimmy-rigged cardboard cone to telescope and carry those wondrous melodies to the flash mobs in our living rooms.  Vinyl wear and tear bad, but for a time the ears are very good.

Remember what is normal any way, and relative to what?  With those previous dire predictions of the future, keeping in mind that some of us have never had or witnessed an argument on the early Yahoo and Alta Vista message boards about the wonders of Hi Resolution Audio (It will always be Hi-rez to me, soz!), I will try to parse mixed nuts.  Threading the needle like a steaming locomotive on crazy good meds, diplomacy will avail for all, no matter what our differences.  Joy!

 

Why don’t we focus on the things that which we do agree.

  1. We pay a lot of money re-purchasing music over and over.
  2. Music listening is a different subjective experience for each person.
  3. It “can” take a wee bit of trained ear (Not a B.S Degree), to hear improvements.
  4. The music is only as good as it’s source.
  5. ABX’ing can, not always, but “can” manifest as human listening fallibility & weakness.
  6. Placebo affect and bias are real “things”[sic].
  7. Provenance and Lineage of our recordings is Interesting and “nice” to have.
  8. There is such a thing as “brick walling”, “anti aliasing”, and de-noising”.
  9. There is more than one type of compression in music.
  10. Type A removes many of the tiny spaces to make music file formats smaller.
  11. Type B holds the fidelity of the performance together, Very Good!
  12. Good source players are available at many price ranges.
  13. There are good headphones and bad headphones at all price ranges.
  14. When in noisy public settings, audio nuances tend to decline.
  15. You Do NOT need to be an audiophile, to source good quality audio (If Available).
  16. Audiophiles can be nuts, same with Hi-Rez deniers. (In a good way 😉 )
  17. That said, Head-fi has it’s place, and deniers seem to hang around bigly.
  18. There are, subjectively to each of us, good mastering engineers and poor ones.
  19. We all have to listen to our source material and make our own judgements.
  20. I can have (IMO); my own vast archive of “self-proclaimed” Reference Quality Vinyl Rips, Hi-Rez digital lossless [FLAC 24/48, 24/96, 24/172, 24/192, 32 bit float, .WAV, even ALAC and DSD], quality sourced and mastered CD’s [16/44] etc., portable DAP’s/amps/DAC’s, and use .mp3’s and Youtube to preview and stream when need be.  It’s fine that you might consider this fodder, trendy, and hipsterish.  I often use apple ear buds while on the go with the mobile. I’m not a gobsmacked music snob…I listen to AC/DC cranked on the local radio in the car, beautifully overbearingly loud in all its overly-compressed glory.  I’d dance randomly in the street to an 80’s boombox with cassettes daily if these types of gatherings where more frequent.
  21. You can have 50,000 lossy .mp3’s on the go, with an excellent ear, sourcing quality CD’s and audio on your own volition (all without my schtick). You might even listen to vinyl for nostalgia purposes possibly.  Further you own low cost but excellent sounding source players as well as an expensive pair of headphones and/ or IEM’s. Even bluetooth love…it’s almost 5.0 (I too am sick of those frickin tangly chords). There’s nothing wrong with any of that.  What I’m getting at is it doesn’t matter.
  22. We can all site the Nyquist Theorem till we are blue in the face, and never get anywhere…agree to disagree perhaps.  If you’re happy, I am happy.
  23. Electronic music and Hip Hop does not and should not have to follow any of these rules.  Electronic music tends to sound great, almost always produced very well, unless it’s a very low bit rate or has been up sampled, but that is usually by design.  Hip Hop needs to be vicious or passive aggressive and Bassy…clean tight bassy…Superb dope! The only reservation I have is when either genre is too bright and shreds my ears. It’s rare, again unless by design.
  24. Classical music is on the other end of the spectrum…the rules DO very very very much apply. Soundstage and instrument separation are paramount.  Loud and soft, loud and soft just like The Pixies or Nirvana. A muddy midrange is a killer.  Attack, sustain, decay should be transparently punchy, grainy, and accurate.  The music has to breathe and pulse…ripping the heart right out your chest even with headphones on. Emotions, knocked about, tugged like a puppet to strings. It should convey an air of atmospheric space with perceivable parameters…and in a perfect world, pseudo-holophonic sound, as if you the listener can imagine you’re there live sitting center stage with the orchestra wrapped 180 degrees from ear to ear.  You’ll know something is wrong right off, a piano from each and every-little-single-ebony-to-ivory key is muddled together as one, or squashed in a constant spew of notes like an accordion. We should be able to perceive and hear milliseconds of spaciation[sic] and be acute to a differentiation between every single tapped key, no matter how fast the piece. I’ve said before piano is the hardest instrument to reproduce in recording with accuracy.  If that’s muddy then it’s all over.  I won’t get started on the pneumatic breath of the solo cello…you get my drift.
  25. Pop music…It depends on if it’s good! 😉 😉

So with all that said we arrive at the conclusion that we may not agree subjectively.  Please forgive me, as I was being purposefully presumptuous in some of the things I said above… but that is not the point.  I’m just generalizing for the sake of getting at the crux.  Most of the people reading this will not care one way or the other.  Some will be bored to tears as to, “what is the going on and on about”.  In the end we all just love music and are devilishly passionate about it–Pretty simple, no? 🙂

So, in the past I did some reviews….Beck, The Beatles Catalogue, Led Zeppelin Catalog, etc., they each get hundreds of hits daily as reference, awesome.  I also posted full album playlists (with some lineage)…it was quite subtle, again on purpose as to what I have deemed a Reference Quality Audio Recording.  I don’t know if I said it outright, I may have…If not my tongue in cheek went over people’s heads. A failed attempt by me.  Yes, you are left to taking me at my word, have to search for it yourself, and availability is spotty.  I know it’s somewhat authoritarian but let your ears be the judge.  There were many times I have searched for a single particular recording over weeks and months before finally getting a hold of it.  Time well spent!

If you search hard enough you will be able to get a hold of same source as I did, some searches will be easy, others will require patience and time.  Moderately I will recommend the High-Rez digital transfer available for everyone to purchase with a quick download and some cash.  I have no stake in this…no adverts, self funded hosting and servers.  I’m just passionate about music and everything else, and I know you are as well, or you would not be reading this.

Just a note **** again, the night site is under maintenance (The links from here the day page are static as of writing this)…It will be up again soon enough.  I’m going to do all those recordings here on the main page individually anyhow.  So there will probably be some updates as well.  When live, it will give you an idea of some of what I will cover, and it is only a small part of projected works.

From now on instead of taking a few months to do mega reviews, although I will someday do the Complete Pink Floyd Archives Posts (Damn there I go again, that’s one exception), from now on there will be single album releases (From past and present) which a single post can be done in one day.  I will do whatever I am listening to and I have in my wheelhouse as the best recordings and rips / digital to date.  The posts will vary widely in style, genre, and medium.  One day or two could be Thrash, the next Classical, Jazz, Electronic, Pop, wherever the music takes me.

In between I will continue to do my sordid stories, post mixes, photos, memorabilia, any type of art really.  I intend on making this site better by making it a reference site for individual albums.  In that vein It would make it possible for those who do not want to read my silly erotica, still be able to come here intentionally via direct link or search engine in order to just browse my reviews and recommendations on specific albums…quick and easy.

In conclusion, each album will have an easy to read, specific format that I have worked out, and tweak things as I go along.  If there is anything extra about a specific release that you would like to see, send me an email or message.  If I can get the info – I will post it or write you back.  Understand that I cannot council and/or recommend file sharing or piracy, so do not ask…messages from readers as to these types of questions will go unanswered.   No disrespect…just being clear.

 

Thanks For Reading & All Your Endless Support. My Readers Are Awesome!

Love You Lots! Stay Well, Be Kind & Bless.

 

Tak Tak, Bless!

Grazie, Ciao!

Obrigadx, Tchau! Adeus!

Gracias, Adios!

Danke, Tchuss!

Merci, Au revoir!

Dank je…Bedankt, Alstublieft!

Merci Vilmal, Adeau!

Gracies, Adieu!

Gracies, Adeu!

 

CM ☕

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

Copyright © 2017 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

 

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine ☕

Show off the Portable Rig and Driveline Specs…

IMG_5564

Astel And Kern AK100 -Self Mod., ALO Audio International HP Amp, ALO Audio Green line cable.

IMG_5566

Audeze LCD2 Bamboo rev. 2G [Balanced XLR] Headphones

VinylTransfer(Needledrop) / Reel To Reel Transfer/ HD TRAcks/ CD to FLAC/ALAC/ WAV/.mp3(320kbps) -> AK100 Self Mod 24/192 Capable Audio Reference Server (Stock WM8740 DAC) w/ 22Ohm Output Stage Bypass, hard-wired from output stage FET’sdirect to pins of HP output jack via Cardas copper litz solid core wire @ > 1-ohm of impedance (32GB Onboard FLASH + 2 x 128GB San Disk Micro SDXC-10 Cards) -> ALO Audio SXC 22 mini to mini 3 Wire Silver Plated Copper -> ALO Audio International Headphone Amp w/ 24bit96kHz DAC w/ Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC Chip  -> ALO Audio Green Line (balanced universal mini XLR) w/classic copper sends and silver-plated copper returns -> ALO Audio Green Line RSA 4 pin Balanced XLR -> Audeze LCD2 Bamboo rev. 2G w/mini XLR Metal Reinforced Male Input Connects.

17eriswly0lqvjpg

This is an Open Source Friendly Site

I’ve had this rig for more than a year now and I have not even had to use a “hard reset” even once…not one hiccup, just drag and drop files (Hi-rez or 16Bit/44.1kHz) on to the SD cards either directly via USB to player or put the Sandisk SDXC cards into the included adapter for computer card readers and dump many GB of data  very quickly. For a few months I even used manipulated code firmware for the AK100, which was hacked by this kind developer from Russia on one of the forums because it added a gapless feature, better GUI (General User Interface), and more volume via the internal amp (it even sounded clearer)…this guy did it months sooner than Astel & Kern.

Now the official AK100 firmware has all of these features. Again another glaring example where the “underground” / “open source” movement forces a large company to get there act together and put out the options for the player that they want. That is not a dig at Astel and Kern as it sounds, I think they were releasing updates slowly to make sure there were not major problems on a large scale with their code. Astel & Kern is a great DAP maker, expensive but great. With all that said I would not advise anyone to instal unofficial firmware if they do not know what they are doing because you could brick your unit. This actually happened to some AK100 users on Head-fi and they could have had their warranties voided by Astel and Kern but A & K were nice enough to fix the units for free…now that’s customer service.

20131107144659

The Famous Wolfson WM8740 DAC Chip.

One last thing these and other DAP units are known to not be noobie user friendly in the sense that you have to have a little technical know how to get everything up and running (for ex. different formatting of the memory cards and “Hard and Soft Resets”) and if you hit a snag go social to fix a hangup. This is what the “Pono Ecosystem” is trying to eliminate a more seamless user experience and a tight GUI. Further if your a coming from the Apple Ecosystem these units are not as playlist friendly as the Ipod / Iphone / android/ Windows and Itunes and this is a deal-breaker for many…just like “gapless” is essential to me if you listen to albums like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” or any album with no breaks between songs. Some of the other players that one can consider in this category that work well but all have their ups and downs are models like the X3/X5 from Fiio, the Ibasso DX series, and the HiFiMan HM-901. Finally be aware that if you have power hungry or high impedance “cans”  you may need to strap a small headphone amp to your portable player in order to fully power the headphones correctly. Happy listening!tagdits

Respect!

CM

 

Please do not reproduce this article either all or in part without the expressed written permission of the author who can be reached via the “Contact” section in the header menu. You may link to the article if you wish, all that we ask is that you give credit to the respective author…”Christmachine” wherever you post a link. Thank you.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Christmachine. All Rights Reserved.

©2014 – 2020 Christmachine

Concern for Neil Young’s Pono Music Audio Sources & “Eco-System” Put to Bed… [Update #2]

9adc2837c2c40c9a477f8e79a75975ea_largeCause for Concern ?

Quote Posted by Head Fi member: “miceblue”:”Here’s the core problem: Pono wants music for the masses, and they’re telling folks that hi-rez is better, and not talking about mastering quality. In my view, this amounts to a deception and a big chink in their armor. If Pono really wants better quality music for the masses, then a dialog about mastering quality in general and how it’s an order of magnitude more important than bit rates is in order, as is their specific practices in acquiring the best hi-rez files with reasonable dynamic range compression from labels. The appearance of Pono will (crosses fingers) stimulate more conversation about the evils of dynamic range compression in the mainstream press. The question is: Will Pono be a leader in this area of desperate need, or will they become just another marketing organization using “hi-rez files” as a buzzword for “a better quality listening experience?” I think if they stick with the latter without addressing the former they’re just opening themselves up to rantings on the web, which would hurt, or reverse, a grass roots, viral campaign on the web.

but what I want to know is if the masters of the music I’ll be listening to are similarly superior”

/End~

I have to admit when I heard about the coming Pono Music Store & it’s all encompassing   “Eco-System” I was equally concerned about it’s future sources of their Hi-res files, on the other hand if the Pono Download Store does quality control on their studio masters and they are superior I will want to buy them as well. I will be using my spectrograph analyzer like all the other geeks to find out, but I am inclined to take them at their word. At first they were silent on the issue understandably as there are a lot of “unknowns” when dealing with the music industry, but if anyone could sort that out it would be Neil Young. I am extremely hopeful that they do not fail where HD Tracks have, where their “Studio Masters” are hit and miss with no lineage or the original Hi-Rez Album Art. Some are excellent and as they should be, others are terrible. Example of good and bad in my experience from HD Tracks:

Excellent: Norah Jones – Come Away With Me (2002) 24Bit/192kHz HD Tracks RAW (Re-Mastered 2012 at Sterling Sound NYC from DSC00796_zps73e5b804) Lossless Flac [HI-RES]\ [STELLAR] Clear as the wind, you can hear the expressions of Norah’s mouth in the ether and alternating piano keys (which are one of the the hardest recorded audio sounds to replicate on analog tape) that don’t all sound mashed together, muddy, and congested.

 

Bad: Megadeth – Countdown to Extinction (1992) (2004 Digital Remaster) HD Tracks 24Bit/96kHz FLAC [HI-RES]\….[Horrible: Brickwalled and terribly loud, Dave Mustaine did bring the vocals more forward which is the only thing better than the original CD release. Don’t give me the excuse that it’s metal and it should be loud. Yes, but not clipping loud, it’s called peak limiting, dynamic range compression, and de-noising run wild .

So we have no way of knowing how the tracks are until bought and analyzed….We at the major forums will be hyper-vigilant. I don’t mean to sound skeptical as you can see by my posts I love the movement (I’m already there) but the Pono team should know this is more of a concern than bit-depth. ~ Then we got the updated word from the Pono Music team via KFrench’s Question & Answer thread at ponopeople.org. They heard our rallying cry, and loud. (see below)

*****UPDATE #1****

The word from the pono music team about the sourcing Quality of the Studio Masters in the Coming Pono Music Store ….

http://www.ponomusic.com/#home&nbsp

Pono people are not related to Pono Music but they have a friendly dialog continuing with them, obviously a refreshing aspect in this movement. Here is the question posed to the music team and their response.

Question to the Pono Music Team: “@creator”

“3) Are there standards set for music released on here in terms of compression and quality? There are many terrible modern remasters of old releases that originally were amazingly mastered and full sounding. I could imagine them putting up the high res files of the brick walled Nirvana Nevermind, compressed Michael Jackson Off The Wall/Thriller/Bad, and many more instead of the original masters. Would they offer high rez downloads of terrible compressed music or would they tell the labels to go back to the archives?”

Pono Music Response:

“3). Yes. Our promise to provide the highest resolution unadulterated music based on the highest quality master available from the labels. We obtain our masters directly from the labels with no middlemen. We will absolutely have quality standards. In cases where no hi-quality digital master exists, based on community demand we will go back to the analog master and create a hi-res master ourselves.”

*****UPDATE #2****

Question:

Erast_cover_crop.small

Erast Fandorin about 1 hour ago

“@ Creator

I also feel it will be vital that The PonoMusic Store is upfront about the provenance of its recordings, giving year of mastering & mastering engineers, etc., as well as the bit depth / sampling rate. It appears from previous Creator comments that the team are thinking along those lines.

HD Tracks and other sites provide files ‘as supplied to them by the record companies’. Comments on other forums appear to suggest that some of the files that the record companies supply are upsampled and the company have not been clear about their original specifications. Some customers of these sites do their own spectral analysis/dynamic range checks and are not satisfied with the sound of certain albums because of what can appear to be an attempt at pulling the wool over customers’ eyes. No point paying premium prices for 24/96 files if all you’re getting is actually 16/44.1 upsampled.

Pono has to work with the record companies and cannot dictate to them. I hope PonoMusic will be able to offer sufficient persuasion to the record companies to ensure that files true to the source are what is offered for sale.”

 

Answer:

Final_logo_jpeg.small

Creatorthe PonoMusic Team about 1 hour ago

“@Erast Fandorin:

Erast we are indeed putting in safeguards against upsampled music in our content ingestion process. We know well about the complaints about other hi-res stores and have learned from their mistakes.

We may not be able to dictate the labels but we will be able to filter out garbage. Also there are two sides to labels: the business side and the technical side. We know them both and know that the technical side especially are unhappy with some of the decisions made by the business side (such as upsampling) and will be our allies in correcting this trend. They in fact need a movement like ours to give them ammunition to win the internal battle with the business side of labels.”

So there you have it straight from the horses mouth. [Shit Eating Grin!]

1liX-AHu

To learn more about the project visit the kickstarter.com pono music campaign page and you can head over to the forums which is busy and slow off and on but it’s nice to have, thanks to KFrench, a place for pono people to learn and discuss issues both positive and areas of concern.

 

http://ponopeople.org/index.php

Enjoy @Pono_People !

 

****UPDATE #4**** July 22, 2015

The Pono People web board is now just used for archiving. The new address is for the Pono Music Website. You have to sign up and log in, but it’s a great resource for all things Pono! New Link Below

Store:

https://www.ponomusic.com

Community:

https://www.ponomusic.com/login?ec=302&inst=15&startURL=%2F_ui%2Fcore%2Fchatter%2Fui%2FChatterPage

 

Thanks & Enjoy.

CM

 

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