August 28, 2022 § Leave a comment
At first blush this system appears complicated. However, I’ve done all the legwork and know what works and what doesn’t. Most people can also use a single music server and an iPad for playback. I have to use everything because I have to understand how it all works and test it, so I can write about it.
The easiest route to Atmos music is to use something like an NVIDIA SHIELD with a hard drive full of MKV files, connected to a processor like a Lyngorf MP-40 or Trinnov Altitude16. For most people, this is all they’ll need and it can double as a home theater processor. I’ll write more about this option at a later date.
As an audiophile who loves music and understands technology, I had to implement the best system I could put together. This involved a mix of consumer and professional software, state of the art digital signal processing, and professional hardware. A system like this doesn’t exist as a package or from a traditional high end audio manufacturer. Perhaps soon we’ll see music servers and 12 channel DACs from our favorite companies, to play immersive audio.
July 24, 2022 § Leave a comment
So, why are you hearing sounds coming from all of the speakers in your 7.1-channel system when playing tracks from the Roku Amazon Music app? The likely answer is that the Dolby Surround Upmixer processing in your Sony A/V receiver is engaged for the HDMI input to which your Roku Ultra is connected. The Upmixer takes incoming stereo (or 5.1 or 7.1) signals and intelligently steers them to the full array of speakers in a Dolby Atmos home theater setup to enhance spaciousness. The processing is part of the Dolby Atmos technology bundle that’s integrated in your AVR, which is the likely reason why you’re seeing “Atmos” on the receiver’s front-panel display.
March 7, 2022 § Leave a comment
Regardless of the device used, subscribers can access a catalogue of over 90 million songs, which Deezer now assures us are all available in the CD-quality FLAC format. It’s an impressive figure, but with all music streaming services making similarly huge claims, the numbers game is rendered a little academic.
What matters is whether the tracks you’re looking for are available and, in our experience, Deezer produces the fewest blanks after Spotify. It’s rare to find a song in Spotify’s catalogue that isn’t also available in Deezer’s – and in that higher-quality format.
We find Deezer stocks pretty much every track of the diverse range we search for, and all in CD quality too. Just be aware that, unlike Apple Music and Tidal, Deezer doesn’t have artist or album window ‘exclusives’, although it does occasionally release its own live sessions with big artists.
February 13, 2022 § Leave a comment
Spotify’s intuitive interface looks much the same as before, although minor layout changes have been made to accommodate new features, and the desktop app has been brought in line with the mobile version.
The Search page is a well-maintained section that throws up playlists from various genres to suit various moods. It has constantly updated UK and global charts and a ‘New Release’ area for your attention. Don’t miss the ‘Concert’ section, which flags up gigs fitting with your music tastes and location. The same goes for the ‘Podcast’ tab, which opens up a rich zone of targeted podcast suggestions, genres and playlists to search through.
For more familiar listening, the Home page is where you’ll find your current favourites and most played, as well as assorted compilations along the same lines. You won’t find much new listening here, but it’s a handy welcome splash.
Music discovery through a series of personalised algorithmic playlists is at the forefront of Spotify’s innovation, though, and is essentially where the service leapfrogs its rivals. Head to the ‘Discover’ tab in the Search/Browse section for this.
October 18, 2021 § Leave a comment
So what can the Sirius do? It can upsample of course, and it can change formats between PCM and DSD or vice versa. It supports up to DSD 512 and PCM sample rates up to 384kHz. It is a re-clocker, because all of its digital inputs are cached, and then re-clocked using not one but three 72fps clocks. The Sirius can also perform speaker placement compensation, and supports full parametric EQ functionality. On top of all of this, it also provides digital volume control, and while not as good as an analog volume control, in my testing I found it to be a better then using a source device (such as a streamer or a computer) to control the volume digitally.
Now some of you may wonder why you need an up-sampler. Many DACs, after all, support many different sample rates, and many argue that you cannot “create or add detail” if it is not there. We will talk about the create/add detail part a little later but let’s focus on other DACs first.
October 10, 2021 § Leave a comment
A monthly subscription costs $12.99, but you can save a few bucks with a yearly subscription ($9,99/month). And if you want to show your dedication, or REALLY don’t like to subscribe, Roon also has a lifetime subscription, for an eye-watering $699, or approximately 6 years of monthly installment.
But, I’ve been using Plex for years now. Not because I find it better – head to head, Roon literally rolls over the competition when it’s about music – but because I own a big movie database. And, to this day, no other options gave me the same level of refinement when sorting my movies and series. Sure, Plex also sorts my music but as good as it is, the sort engine remains sub-optimal, compared to Roon.
Last but not least, Plex is MUCH cheaper than Roon. A monthly subscription costs $4.99, a yearly one $39.99, and a lifetime only $119.99. I took the yearly one and after more than 6 years, I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Plex.
September 1, 2021 § Leave a comment
August 13, 2021 § Leave a comment
There’s no getting around it, the DSS is a very expensive little box, and has mostly the same features as many cheaper streamers. However, once you get inside the chunky steel housing and peak under the hood, the price makes a little more sense. The power supply is handled by a toroidal transformer from Talema, and feeds multiple capacitor banks. File recognition and playback are handled by a Korean manufactured board made specifically for Métronome, and clock duties are given to an AKM AK4137 chip. The company has spared no expense in assembling a streamer with impeccable build quality, fed by a dedicated and massive power supply to a first rate set of parts. You will not find these things in your cheap and cheerful Bluesound streamers, and this is how Métronome has distinguished itself in the digital source domain.