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Letters to the editor – Weeks #1-3, 2022

  • Mike writes…

    re. Thank you

    I am writing to thank you for your excellent videos. I really enjoy your perspective and knowledge, all of which comes through in your videos.

    I am an old guy. I built a system in the late 80s that was my pride and joy. It wasn’t high-end audio by any means but it provided years of loyal service. Over the years other priorities pushed music further to the back of the line.

    Now the kids are a little older. Then came the pandemic and the potential collapse of American democracy. I turned off cable news and immediately felt better. I saved up some money and bought a NAD integrated amplifier, a pair of Klipsch RP600M and a turntable and was off to the races. Not sure if it is ideal or well sound matched but right now Bueno Vista Social Club sounds incredible. Each piece was well-reviewed and I bought them because of you and Audiophiliac Steverecommendation of the actual product or comments about the company.

    Remember the system from the 80s. Well, my 18-year-old showed interest. So I dusted off the Denon receiver, had my Boston Acoustics re-coned, added a family heirloom turntable and he was off. We have a record store in our town and spend time sifting through the used vinyl. But I wanted to make sure that he had access to streaming as well. Based on your mention I bought him the Nanomesher Raspberry Pi-based streamer that was discussed in your website. It took a little fiddling but it works and sounds excellent. I would never have bought it without your discussion of what it does and that it’s a good product. So now in addition to his modest vinyl collection he can play anything. These are great days for hi-fi.

    Thank you for your work. I really enjoy it and in an era where stores no longer exist, I appreciate your sensible approach to high-end audio. We are headed to the record store tomorrow. He wants to find a couple of Beatles records. I’ll be hunting for Husker Du.

    Rene writes…

    Hi John Thanks for doing such a great job of simplifying the audiophile world. I was looking for a way to connect my old-school Nad 7120 with PSB Century 3001 speakers to play on Spotify. With your help, I purchased a Schiit Modi 3. Works great sounds so much better. Keep up the good work.

    Mikolaj writes…

    re. DTS Play-Fi – some thoughts

    I just wanted to say hello, and compliment you on your YouTube channel and podcast. I really appreciate your insight into hi-fi gear.

    I also quite enjoy our slightly similar life journeys – I also grew up in Australia (Adelaide and Melbourne) and for the last ten years have called London, UK. my home. Whilst my music tastes have changed somewhat, you often bring up artists which have played a part in my musical journey, be it Aphex Twin, Autechre or Talking Heads etc, some of which I still listen to, others, I’m sent down memory lane when you mention them, and inevitably I’ll have a listen to the albums and artist at the next available opportunity.

    Your piece on Future-Fi and Kallax-Fi echoes my thoughts exactly, I really wish there were more options available, especially under £1000.

    When I was recently upgrading my integrated streamer/amplifier, Pioneer HM86D, I settled on the Quad Vena II Play (a sister product to the Audiolab 6000A play?), though I had reservations around DTS Play-Fi.

    But quickly to the Pioneer, whilst its sound quality was nothing special, as a compact all in one (Kallax happy) unit it was pretty damn good for its price, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Airplay 2 DLNA along with support for many other streaming services. A shame that Pioneer hasn’t released a newer version – drop the CD player (or not), upgrade the processor, amp and screen, and bam it could be more affordable competition to units like the Cambridge Audio Evo 75.

    But back to the Quad Vena II Play and DTS. So when it came to upgrading the Pioneer, I settled on the Vena II Play, as after a trial period with the amp I realised I could live with its streaming limitations and I adored the sound. I did consider the Vena II, and a Bluesound Node 2, but that would cost significantly more. The Vena II Play just ticked the most boxes i.e. Kallax-fi, aesthetics, and a simple one-box solution.. That’s not to say I won’t consider a Node, or Argon Solo or similar in the future

    But I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts on DTS

    *** Update. I wrote this email before you released your update video on DTS a few days ago, great video and insight btw. I’m aware I’m echoing some of the things you covered, but hope you find it interesting nonetheless

    So, If I’m streaming I just use Spotify Connect – streaming for me is not for critical listening – so I’m content with the quality. Initially, I used Deezer – with its (noticeably) superior sound quality over Spotify, but the DTS implementation of Deezer is basic and looks ugly, so reluctantly, back to Spotify. I wish Deezer would offer a Connect service, but sadly this doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. And I don’t want to use Tidal, as I refuse to have any association with MQA, primarily because I don’t like how the MQA thing seems to be taking audio reproduction back to the days of copy-protected CDs, proprietary charging sockets etc.

    If I’m listening critically, I just stream FLAC or WAV files from my Synology NAS, again the DTS implementation of this isn’t pretty or particularly user friendly, but as I only listen to albums from start to finish, it’s serviceable, and as far as I can tell, the gaps are comparable to the CD version….unless it’s a gapless album of course….sigh.

    (* just a few days ago I read on AV forums – a response to a customer inquiry regarding gapless playback, DTS said they will be launching gapless playback in the first half of 2022) – I’m not getting my hopes up though.

    From my understanding this is not unique to DTS, but one of my biggest irks with DTS is the need for it to stream via the control device (usually my phone) … yes there is the option to transfer playback off the device, but this is so poorly implemented – flaky and limiting it’s just not worth the effort. I don’t understand, especially if you are streaming via ethernet from a home server, why the phone needs to be involved beyond acting as a remote control. Doubly annoying as I have an oldish phone with a tired battery that can drain quickly (i.e. when using DTS) and it’s especially frustrating if I forget and find the battery practically flat as I’m about to head out.

    But anyway, your review of the Audiolab 6000A Play, and DTS was spot on.. and I think for many users, DTS is just too flawed to be an enjoyable experience, but for my listening needs and preferences, I don’t find the issues as annoying and infuriating as I expected, ok ok.. perhaps DTS is more frustrating than I care to admit, but it’s also a case of what other options have I got?.. and so I shrug my shoulders .. and ignore the “quirks”. Would the Bluesound Powernode have been a better solution for me? probably, but I spent my youth leafing through hi-fi magazines, I lusted over brands like Roksan, Quad, NAD, Linn etc. Now with the disposable income to afford those, there was a certain romantic association with owning a Quad (or similar brand) product.

    Anyway, when/if things ever return to normal I can’t wait to travel – hopefully visit Berlin again.

    Once again thank you for your great YouTube channel and website, I really appreciate the hard work you put into it.

    Bruce writes…

    re. Where is Spotify Hifi

    Spotify is frozen dead in its tracks trying to figure out how to survive Apple’s decision to offer CD-quality sound at no additional charge. They won’t survive it, and neither will Tidal or Qobuz. Doesn’t matter that Apple’s own hardware is not ready yet – that’s coming – the goal of the announcement was to stop Spotify and retain the “quality” market, and it has succeeded already!

    (Another) Bruce writes…

    Fun discussion [re. Podcast #30]…you might want to put the distributed bass array on your list to understand…extensively studied by Dr. Earl Geddes (U Michigan) and Dr. Floyd Toole (Harmon)…Audio Kinesis has something called the swarm based on Geddes’s work, but Dr. Geddes also contends that three subs with DSP can smooth in-room bass response…

    Also, MiniDSP has a variety of preamp substitutes…I recently started experimenting with the MinidspSHD with a lot of success….you can get lost in all the options though…but you can do the Geddes/Toole approach (its also being incorporated into Dirac bass mgt as an option)

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to follow your subwoofer experience….BTY I’ve got the Raidho XT-1’s and will be looking for the right match, so your reviews are helpful, thanks.

    Russel writes…

    Just a quick thank you for your latest podcast on subs etc – very informative and it has helped me decide to go with A Bluesound Powernode plus a sub (matched with my Elac uni-fi reference UBR 62).

    Love your site and thanks for expanding my electronica music library and appreciation.

    David writes…

    I found your podcast titled Bass for Beginners (and Beyond) with Srajan Ebaen to be extremely informative. I do have a component that does much of what you described in your podcast. It isn’t a new release, but your readers might find it to be of some interest. If you are interested, please see Anthem STR Preamplifier. It performs some “room correction”, but it also does what most home theater receivers do (automatically sets speaker and subwoofer distances, phase, cross-over frequencies, amplitude). Just about everything can be tweaked in the ARC Genesis app. I find this software to be easier to use than Dirac and more tweak-able than RoomPerfect. To my ears what it does is helpful. This component does lack streaming capabilities but has a large number of inputs.

    Tony writes…

    That was a great podcast on subwoofer integration with Srajan Ebaen. Although I’m guessing that you didn’t want to extend an already meaty topic I think it would have been worth mentioning that there is software like Juice Hifi’s Audiolense room correction software that does correct the time domain as well. It can integrate multiple subwoofers seamlessly but is not plug and play like Dirac.

    For those like me who don’t have the time/knowledge to create the convolution filters, there is Mitch Barnett at Accurate Sound which is full of useful DSP information. I emailed him my room measurements using REW, a few photos of speaker location and room dimensions. He did the rest and created the filters I use in Roon or Audiovarna. What a difference and although that was for my main system with the Kii Threes I will be asking Mitch to help again with my office system.

    Neil writes…

    Love the work you do, but I have to say your last podcast on bass management was probably one of the most educational pieces I have ever experienced with relation to audio. I have been using subs with my stand mounts for years and there are some big takeaways that I will try to incorporate into my rig. Keep up the excellent work.

    Alex writes…

    Dear Darko, I liked your Podcast with Srajan a lot! Thanks! I believe you might be interested to have a look at legendary studio monitors from ME Geithain established in former GDR and still producing near Leipzig. They do have a patented cardioid bass radiation by pure analog means! Happy discovery.

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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