Tag Archives: Digital

Qobuz, UMe and Zappa Records to Offer Iconic Frank Zappa Albums in Hi-Res for the First Time

Qobuz, the music lovers’ Hi-Res streaming and download provider, has partnered with UMe and Zappa Records to provide dozens of Frank Zappa albums for the first time in Hi-Res Audio.

UMe, the global catalog company of Universal Music Group, and Zappa Records are launching today a Hi-Res reissue campaign on Qobuz totaling 29 albums spanning all phases of Zappa’s groundbreaking career. The five-week campaign will span a series of drops between now and May 7th, with classic and influential albums released for download and streaming in Hi-Res audio quality for the first time.

Ahmet Zappa, representing Zappa Records, said, “Qobuz’s awesome combo platter of Hi-Res Audio and the ability for fans to immerse themselves into the album art of their favorite musicians is an incredible listening experience and a perfect fit for Zappa Records. As far as I’m concerned, the ‘z’ in Qobuz stands for Zappa and we know fans of the ‘World’s Finest Optional Entertainment’ are going to love the Zappa Qobuz experience. As FZ said: ‘Music is the Best!’”

“Frank Zappa was passionate about making his music sound as good as possible and we are excited to continue that legacy by releasing several of his albums in Hi-Res Audio with Qobuz,” said Bruce Resnikoff, President & CEO of UMe. “Fans on Qobuz canexperience Frank’s genius in the way he would have wanted his music to sound.”

Beginning April 2, fans will be able to stream and download nine albums exclusively on Qobuz. The albums will be available in native 24-bit Hi-Res FLAC format. Each will include an extensive PDF digital booklet, a feature only available on Qobuz’s streaming apps. The assortment includes the second album from the original Mothers of Invention, Absolutely Free, first released in 1967, and Halloween 81, documenting Zappa’s famed holiday residency at New York City’s Palladium, in both full box set and edited ‘highlights’ versions. 

On April 1, Ahmet Zappa and Joe Travers, the Zappa “Vaultmeister,” will join Qobuz Chief Hi-Res Evangelist, David Solomon, and the Qobuz team for a livestream discussion. This upcoming event is part of Qobuz’s weekly Qobuz Live series that features hot topics, brands and personalities in the music-lover and audiophile worlds. The livestream will cover the story of Zappa Hi-Res archives, the importance of audio quality, and the upcoming Zappa Hi-Res catalog releases. Additionally, Travers is curating an exclusive annotated Zappa playlist for Qobuz, which will be released later in April.

According to Qobuz USA Managing Director Dan Mackta, “Presenting the work of iconic artists in the best possible quality is our reason for existence. Frank Zappa’s music continues to inspire listeners all over the world and Qobuz is honored to be able to promote his artistic vision.” 

See the list of Hi-Res Frank Zappa albums to be released exclusively on Qobuz April 2, and listen to Frank Zappa on Qobuz HERE.

Absolutely Free 

Burnt Weeny Sandwich  

Bongo Fury  

Chicago ’78

Zappa In New York (40th Anniversary Deluxe)

Orchestral Favorites (40th Anniversary)

Halloween 81

Halloween 81 Highlights

The Mothers 1970 Box Set

About Qobuz

Founded in Paris in 2007, Qobuz is the world’s first Hi-Res music streaming service and a pioneer in high-quality sound. Launched in the US market in 2019, and available in 11 other countries worldwide, Qobuz is designed to meet the needs of music connoisseurs and audiophiles. Offering an exceptional range of exclusive editorial content written by a team of experts, in addition to liner notes and a catalog of more than 70 million titles, Qobuz is the undisputed choice for the most discerning music lovers. For more information: qobuz.com

The post Qobuz, UMe and Zappa Records to Offer Iconic Frank Zappa Albums in Hi-Res for the First Time appeared first on Headphone Guru.

Original Resource is Headphone Guru

Exogal Pulsar IR Unit Review

Exogal was formed by several principals of the former Wadia who felt that the company’s PowerDAC idea still had potential. These seasoned audio and business veterans proceeded to make what has been a well-received DAC featuring its own algorithm that converts all incoming signals. I reviewed the Comet DAC in 2015, followed by another product from Exogal, the IonPowerDAC, in 2019. The PowerDAC is a second unit to be used solely with the Comet, and it provides two more banks of processing for the DAC as well as a super-clean integrated amp at 100wpc with a voltage-regulated volume control. I have found the Exogal products to provide consistently good sound with a variety of ancillary equipment and have been happy to use them in systems for reviewing since they arrived.

The Comet features a small display with a small IR remote control for basic functions such as ON/OFF and VOLUME +/-. The company expected customers would download the ExoRemote app onto their smartphone or tablet for a full experience. When the behemoth smartphone companies decided to change the purpose of certain Bluetooth features upon which the ExoRemote relied to supply Bluetooth connectivity, the app was rendered incompatible. Consequently, the Comet’s smallish window has become the only indicator available to owners to verify basic functions.

Exogal had two options, only one viable for the company: (1) recall all units and rebuild them, which, because there are thousands of units in the field, would likely result in the company being bankrupted; or (2) develop an independently designed remote control to allow access via the small window. Neither of these are ideal, and only one is practical for the company. An owner might say the company is required to re-establish all the conditions upon which the unit was sold. Were that to cause mortal financial damage to a company, I would agree that it is not a viable option.

Remedying the situation, Exogal introduced the Pulsar, a small USB-powered IR to Bluetooth receiver that will restore remote functionality to all Comet units, and complete with new features, enhanced capabilities, such as the capacity to operate multiple units and allowing for use with a learning remote, as well as more concealed placement than traditional IR receivers. The handheld remote for the Pulsar is physically identical to the old remote, although the lens of the transmitter on the front is clear.

According to the Owner’s Manual, the new Pulsar was equipped with “laser etched micro-lenses” which capture the IR signal from diffused IR signals. I tested this by placing the Pulsar off to the side of the Comet and behind a blocking object that completely hid the Pulsar, and yet it captured all signals without fail. Various red and green lights indicate status in setup, and the remaining blue, pulsing light, which shows once a link is established, can be turned off.

The particulars of setup are covered in the Manual. My unit arrived prior to the hard copy of the Manual’s dissemination, so at one point in my attempts to pair the unit with the Comet, the Puslar lost power even though connected via the Comet’s USB Charger port. Jeff Haagenstad, Exogal’s CEO, explained to me that this was not a malfunction, but instead a characteristic of contemporary very low-powered devices that when given inappropriate commands to sometimes need to sit unconnected for a few minutes to reset themselves. After about a three-minute wait for the unit to reset, plugging the Pulsar back into the USB Charger port brought it back up. Do not panic if you mess up commands in setup and the unit goes dark. It will recover and allow for the pairing process to be completed. This should not be an issue for anyone with access to the instructions.

Pulsar IR Unit in Exogal CEO Jeff Haagenstad’s office system

Operationally, the Pulsar has been perfect. Volume control through the Pulsar is uninterrupted and is faster than the previous Bluetooth remote.

I realize it is a frustration for a person to pay for a fix for a component that has lost functionality, but Exogal was blindsided by an industry-wide hardware change away from supporting their Bluetooth software remote.

My conclusion in regard to the Pulsar is that it does as advertised, and is a well thought out solution to an intractable problem.

I hope that Exogal navigates this choppy period with continued support from the users community to a future in which it can release more products. The company has shown creativity in product development, which is more impressive than companies that mindlessly clone and drone on with well-worn designs. I have not been apprised of future developments, but I would not be surprised if the company continues to be forward looking in term of its PowerDAC technology, while reducing the chance of being blindsided by something as seemingly innocuous as a Bluetooth connection.


Copy editor: Dan Rubin


The post Exogal Pulsar IR Unit Review appeared first on Dagogo.

Original Resource is Dagogo

Denafrips Pontus II DAC | REVIEW

I’ve been on a hot streak lately with getting components to review that have sounded excellent despite the current difficulties in hearing something beforehand. For a reviewer, it’s one of the many great things about hi-fi shows. So when our fearless PTA leader Scot Hull put out the word amongst the troops for who wanted to take a shot and review an affordably-priced DAC from the Chinese electronics firm Denafrips (website), I thought sure! Why not? And then something strange happened during my time with the most excellent Denafrips Pontus II DAC.  I started listening to a lot of music in digital form, not because I had to turn in a review on the DAC, no. I WANTED to listen to digital. Whuuut?To my way of thinking, DACs are the most stealthy of source components. There are no knobs to turn, no stylus to clean or arm to drop on a record, and a dearth of switches or buttons to press. Certainly no choice of regular bias or chrome tape–remember those? You might get a selection of anti-aliasing filters if you’re lucky. There is not much romance in Ye Olde DACs. They sit there quietly waiting to be asked out [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Remixes & Remasters Vs. Originals: No Easy Answers (Part 1)

Recently somebody suggested an idea to me which I thought was pretty cool: do a little “analysis” — in the loosest sense — of whether certain re-mixes and re-masters are better or worse than the original mixes. As I dove into writing this I seem to have opened a bit of a Pandora’s Box of thinking, while not having a conclusive answer to the question.  But it is still worth discussing since the topic is obviously on some of your minds as well, Dear Readers. 

This is a touchy subject which I’ve seen divide scores of collectors and even friends… Really, this is surprisingly a quite personal topic which objectively has no “correct” answer, at least as far as the listener is concerned. My tastes and desires are unique from yours, both equally valid.  

That said, I swing both ways when it comes to the argument of originals vs. remasters and even remixed versions of favorite recordings. There are so many variables to consider — from how the remaster or remix was created to simply relative availability of an original copy. 

As I pointed out in my review of the recent Blue Note Tone Poet reissue of Kenny Burrell’s 1956 debut (click here to read that) finding an original in any condition is very difficult and the new version actually presents more of the music that was originally captured on tape.  That isn’t to say I wouldn’t want to own an original pressing for some of these albums — I’m holding onto my Kenny Burrell album even though it is beat up! — but having the new edition is a great close second, this side of finding a pristine original. 

Many people who are fans of a particular beloved recording feel it should remain untouched. Others get very upset somehow thinking that when an album gets remixed it immediately means that the original is no longer in existence (I’m not kidding folks, I’ve encountered this perspective from people many times over the years!). Some people get upset when they learn that what they’ve been listening to actually is a remix and not the original.

I’ve even gone to some extremes on social media (if you will) talking some people down from the ledge to calm them down, particularly when The Beatles’ albums were being remastered.  Forget about talking to some of those folks about the remixes, but do remember that you can always still play your original vinyl pressings of those albums, of which there are millions of copies around the world to choose from. No one is taking them away from you. 

The impetus for this article believe it or not came about as a result of a Facebook post I made about The Grateful Dead’s third studio album, Aoxomoxoa.  Discussions arose about the remix of that record which the band made in the early 1970s  (as well as to Anthem of the Sun) as to whether one was better or worse than the other? And of course, the answer to that is, inconclusively: it depends on your perspective

If you are a purist and want to hear the specific vibe the band crafted in the 60s, then the original mixes are the way to go. If you are looking to just hear the music in as clean a presentation as possible, the remixes might well be better for you.  The remix definitely sounds more like a 1970s mix than even one from a just a couple of years earlier.

In some instances a remix can be justified. For example, on the digital Stereo remix of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, you can now hear much more detail as the many tracks of music that went into making that album are now mixed in first generation quality. The resulting drums and bass in particular sound fuller and more dynamic than before. Interestingly, the overall vibe is closer to that of the original Mono mix — the mix the Beatles themselves put their energies behind at the time.  But… to get that one pays the price of listening to music from a digital source which ruffles the feathers of many an analog purist.  You can click here to read my review of that mix if you are interested.

Those Grateful Dead albums which Phil Lesh remixed in the early 1970s are generally fine but most serious fans of the band seem to prefer the original mix.  You can read about them on the Wiki (click the titles following):  Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa

When it comes to Aoxomoxoa — one of my favorite Dead albums — I lean toward the original, if only to hear the choir on “Mountains Of The Moon” (which neatly pre-echos the end of side one of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells!). I haven’t spent enough time with the Anthem of the Sun remix to make a definitive choice. And you know what? There is no reason to. If you like a particular album a lot you will probably want both versions!

There is also the question of whether remasters are “better” or worse than the originals? Many people are justifiably gun shy these days having endured a seemingly endless barrage of remasters of favorite albums over the years across a multitude of formats and music delivery platforms — from LP to cassette to CD, SACD, DVD-A, Blu-ray, HD Downloads, Streaming. If you are a regular purchaser of music, you have no doubt seen the buzz words whizz by you on hype stickers applied to the packaging and promotional materials for albums over the years: analog, digital, DMM, Half-Speed, Ultradisc One Step, DSD, PCM, Quiex, etc. It is confusing at times as these are diverse processes and technologies, some unique to the vinyl production process and others used in preparing the actual original final recordings for release. Some are used separately or simultaneously. Some are great. Some have delivered mixed results.

So, take a deep breath…. As I said earlier, there are no easy answers to this question…

Having done a fair amount of recording myself I understand the value of both re-mastering of older recordings and new mastering of new projects. There have been significant progressions in technology over the years with certain capabilities that can actually improve the final sound of a recording if handled properly.  Recent remasters of albums by Frank Zappa, XTC and others have been at times revelatory. 

Tune in tomorrow when we’ll explore more of that in Part 2 of this series…

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Innuos partners with Qobuz

To offer free subscription vouchers when buying one of their music servers

Portugal – Innuos, in partnership with Qobuz is delighted to announce the offer of a Qobuz Studio Premier – Individual Plan Subscription with the purchase of any Innuos Music Servers and Streamer from the 23rd of November to the 23rd of December 2020. With this new promotion, Innuos hopes to make the upcoming holiday season a little more special after an incredibly difficult year for so many families.

Qobuz is an online music platform offering streaming subscriptions and downloads. Innuos will offer the following Qobuz Studio Premier – Individual Plan vouchers with the purchase of one of the following music servers and streamers:

ZENmini Mk3 – 3-month Qobuz Subscription

ZEN or ZENith Mk3 – 6-month Qobuz Subscription

STATEMENT – 12-month Qobuz Subscription

Qualified customers just need to email Innuos at [email protected] to receive the designated Qobuz Studio Premier – Individual Plan subscription voucher.

The vouchers will be redeemable in countries where Qobuz is available. Qobuz is currently accessible in 12 countries worldwide – the US, where it opened in 2019, France, where the company began in 2007, as well as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. Qobuz is expected to extend their service to Australia, New Zealand and the Nordics in early 2021.

For more information on availability, please visit the qobuz website at www.qobuz.com

With restrictions being implemented once again in so many countries and thus the possibility of many family gatherings being cancelled over this holiday season, Innuos, in partnership with Qobuz hopes this gesture helps bring a little joy to your home as this year draws to a close.

For more information on the promotion, please visit the Innuos website at www.innuos.com


Innuos develops High-Fidelity Digital Music Players that are transforming the way we listen to music. Every nuance and detail is revealed, allowing you to experience your music like never before. Enjoy your own library of CDs and high resolutions files, and access all the content in the world through streaming services such as Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz and internet radio – all at your fingertips through an exceedingly simple user interface on your mobile device.


Founded in 2007, Qobuz is a Paris-based commercial online music streaming and downloading service that addresses the needs of curious and discerning music lovers across the globe. Qobuz offers subscriptions to streaming services with genuine CD quality audio of more than 50-million tracks and millions of Hi-Res tracks up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution from all genres. For more information: www.qobuz.com.

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Original Resource is Headphone Guru

Naim Now Streaming a World of HD Radio


New Naim Radio Stations Plus a Radio Upgrade for All Naim Streaming Systems

Salisbury, England – November 17, 2020 – Naim Audio, the British specialist with almost 50 years of hi-fi expertise, is delighted to announce new and higher-quality radio options for users of its streaming speakers, systems and separates – all freely available from today.

Dedicated Naim Jazz HD and Naim Classical HD stations will join a revamped Naim Radio HD stream; all three available in up to CD quality. They will join a dedicated HD Radio category to browse and enjoy from the Naim App. This curated collection of the highest-quality radio streams from around the world, including Radio X, Intense Radio, the full Radio Paradise network, Frequence 3 network, NRJ Paris, Rondo Classic and Sector Network.

“The new Naim Radio HD channels are home to the entire, updated Naim Records back catalogue – covering everything from some of the very first classic releases, right up to the electrifying debut tracks from latest signing, Fable ­- truly showcasing our eclectic and exciting roster,” said James Tailby, Naim Records manager.

Users of Naim Mu-so and Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation wireless speakers, Uniti Atom, Star and Nova systems, and ND 5 XS2, NDX 2, ND 555 players will be able to enjoy the three new Naim Radio stations as high-quality, 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC streams, and the HD Radio selection at their native resolutions – some as high as 24bit/192kHz.

Meanwhile, users of legacy Naim streaming products also get a quality upgrade, with AAC 320kbps streams now available, matching the highest-quality output from BBC Radio stations.

The higher-quality radio options will be available via the Naim App from today; no software upgrade required.

About Naim Audio
Founded in 1973, Naim is an award-winning music systems manufacturer based in Salisbury, UK. With a history rooted in engineering and design excellence, Naim has won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise on three occasions, most recently for its ground-breaking design of digital music systems.

Naim shares the same intense relationship with music as its customers, a passion that has driven them to design and engineer audio products including streaming players, amplifiers and wireless speaker systems that connect people with their music. For Naim, music always comes first. Every product is the subject of intense scrutiny from a team of engineers who spend months or years perfecting designs, never content until the music speaks to their hearts and souls as well as their heads.

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Original Resource is Headphone Guru

TIDAL Adds Millions of Master Quality Tracks, Offering Extensive Catalog of Highest Quality Streaming Audio

MQA Users have Doubled Since 2019 on TIDAL

TIDAL HiFi Users Now Stream 40% More Tracks in Master Quality than Last Year

November 12, 2020 (New York, NY) – Today, global music and entertainment streaming platform, TIDAL, added millions of tracks in MQA from Warner Music Group to its Masters catalog. TIDAL, in partnership with MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), provides guaranteed delivery of the original sound recording with TIDAL Masters. Now music fans can listen to an expanded Masters catalog, featuring iconic albums from artists such as The Notorious B.I.G., Missy Elliott, LCD Soundsystem, Madonna and more. 

MQA, led by Bob Stuart, who this year became the first audio engineer to receive the Prince Philip Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering, has pioneered an entirely new way of coding digital audio based on key insights into how humans hear. Key to the technology is MQA’s built-in authentication to confirm that the listener is getting the exact sound created in the studio. Additionally, MQA addresses the issue that when analogue sound is turned into digital, the process introduces time-smearing artefacts that blur sounds unnaturally. MQA solves these problems, and then the MQA decoder in the TIDAL app ensures the conversion back to analogue preserves the music’s pristine clarity.

Bob Stuart, MQA Founder, explained, “By paying great attention to the nature of sound and the way we hear, MQA opens a clear window and delivers all the detail and nuance of the original song. The music industry’s catalog contains millions of significant performances from the early days of CD where, sometimes, the recording was created in 44.1kHz 16bit and where no alternative existed. We are delighted that Warner Music Group is bringing this content to TIDAL.”

“TIDAL Masters offer the best sound available. As consumers’ expectations of high quality experiences increase, TIDAL’s audio innovation sets the bar for music listening,” said Lior Tibon, TIDAL COO. “Not only can members hear music exactly as their favorite artists recorded it, but with recent platform enhancements, the experience is as seamless as ever.” In response to listeners’ requests to make it easier to listen to and discover more Masters tracks, TIDAL has added ‘Master Edition’ Artist Radio and Track Radio. TIDAL members can listen to radio stations in the best quality available containing  Masters only songs, uninterrupted. In conjunction, TIDAL is adding the Master Edition of My New Arrivals, a personalized playlist of new music in full master quality audio for members based on their listening habits. Using less bandwidth, MQA technology packages and delivers master quality audio to music fans making MQA files accessible to listeners on-the-go, with any headphones. 
To further support a harmonious listening experience, TIDAL recently launched the “Connect” feature, which allows users to stream music from its HiFi tier directly to connected devices, including: Bluesound, Cambridge Audio, DALI, KEF, iFi audio, Lyngdorf, Monitor, NAD, and Naim Audio. Through TIDAL Connect, the platform’s unparalleled lossless audio quality can now be seamlessly experienced on members’ favorite devices with the touch of a button. For more information on how to connect, visit TIDAL.com/Connect
TIDAL offers the largest MQA catalog outside of China. In addition, TIDAL offers music lovers unlimited access to its extensive catalog of over 70 million tracks across all genres, thousands of expertly curated playlists by TIDAL’s seasoned editorial team, and endless artist radio stations. 
Learn more on tidal.com/sound-quality


TIDAL is an artist-owned global music and entertainment platform that brings artists and fans closer together through unique original content and exclusive events. Available in 56 countries, the streaming service has more than 70 million songs and 250,000 high quality videos in its catalog along with original video series, podcasts, thousands of expertly curated playlists and artist discovery via TIDAL Rising. With the commitment of its owners to create a more sustainable model for the music industry, TIDAL is available in premium and HiFi tiers—recordings which includes Master Quality Authenticated (MQA), Sony’s 360 Reality Audio recordings, and Dolby Atmos Music.
About MQA

Using pioneering scientific research into how people hear, MQA has created a technology that captures the sound of the original studio performance. The master MQA file is fully authenticated and is small enough to stream, while also being backward compatible, so you can play MQA music on any device. MQA’s award-winning technology is licensed by labels, music services and hardware manufacturers worldwide and is certified by the RIAA.

For more information visit www.mqa.co.uk

Follow MQA on: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn

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Original Resource is Headphone Guru

iFi NEO iDSD launches

The following is a press release from iFi.

An all-new design, state-of-the-art specifications and a sound that soars – iFi’s NEO iDSD hi-res DAC/headphone amp is every music lover’s perfect housemate

Southport, England – Since its inception in 2012, iFi has been at the forefront of DAC technology for home and portable use, delivering exemplary sound with digital music sources both online and offline. This autumn sees the launch of an all-new mains powered iFi DAC/headphone amp, sporting sophisticated circuits to supply scintillating sonics with every audio format in a home environment.

The NEO iDSD is designed for maximum flexibility, with sleek aluminium casework that can be positioned horizontally or vertically, the latter via a supplied stand. An informative OLED display flips automatically to suit the preferred orientation, while a smooth-acting multifunction rotary control ensures the NEO iDSD is simple to use, despite its sophistication and versatility.

Three operational modes ensure the NEO iDSD covers all bases with aplomb. It can be used as a pure DAC with a fixed-level analogue output to connect to a separate integrated amp or preamp in an audio system. Or, it can operate as a DAC/preamp with a variable output, ideal for connecting directly to a power amp or active speakers. And, of course, headphone users can make use of its excellent amp stage to create a fabulous ‘head-fi’ system.

Whether connected to source devices via cable or high-definition Bluetooth, the NEO iDSD’s next-level digital engine and fully balanced analogue circuits deliver captivating sound – brilliant with music, multimedia content or to enhance your next-generation gaming experience.


Custom-designed digital engine

The NEO iDSD’s ‘digital engine’ is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chipset that iFi uses extensively, selected for its natural-sounding ‘musicality’ and True Native architecture. iFi’s experience with this IC means it knows how to make the most of it; but whilst intrinsic to the resulting sound, the creation of an exemplary DAC stage involves much more than the selection of a particular DAC chip.

One such critical component is the XMOS chip that processes the audio data received via the USB and S/PDIF digital inputs. The NEO iDSD uses a new low-latency XMOS microcontroller with greatly enhanced processing power – compared to the current generation of eight-core chips, this new 16-core IC delivers double the clock speed (2000MIPS) and four times the memory (512KB), as well as the latest SuperSpeed USB standard. iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to optimise sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC.

Extensive jitter-eradication technologies are applied to the digital stage, including iFi’s GMT (Global Master Timing) femto-precision clock and intelligent memory buffer. The NEO iDSD also comes with iFi’s GTO (Gibbs Transient Optimised) digital filter installed; alternative digital filters can be loaded as firmware updates if preferred.


Every format at the highest quality

Hi-res audio support is state-of-the-art, handling PCM data to 32-bit/768kHz, all levels of DSD up to DSD512, and single- and double-speed DXD.

Thanks to the Burr-Brown DAC chip’s four-channel True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables DSD, as well as PCM, to remain ‘bit-perfect’ in its native form right through to analogue conversion. This is often not the case with DAC devices from other brands – even if DSD compatibility is stated, many such DACs convert DSD signals to PCM.

MQA ­– the hi-res streaming codec, as used by Tidal’s ‘Masters’ tier – is also supported through the USB and S/PDIF inputs, with full decoding of MQA files up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip. This means that the full ‘three unfold’ decoding process is performed internally, as opposed to only the final unfold in the manner of an MQA ‘renderer’. Globally, MQA has become an important consideration for any comprehensively equipped DAC; for Tidal Masters subscribers, the NEO iDSD is a brilliant way to make the most of the superior sound of which this streaming service is capable.


Bluetooth as you’ve never heard it before

As well as digital cable inputs, the NEO iDSD offers the convenience of wireless Bluetooth reception. But this isn’t Bluetooth as you’ve heard it before – not unless you’ve heard iFi’s ‘ZEN Blue’ Bluetooth receiver or ‘Aurora’ wireless music system, at any rate.

iFi was the first audio brand to deliver products using Qualcomm’s new QCC5100 Bluetooth processing IC when it launched the ZEN Blue and Aurora, combining this chip with proprietary circuits to develop an audibly superior ‘Bluetooth engine’ now also built into the NEO iDSD. While Bluetooth’s convenience and wide device compatibility is well recognised, many people don’t realise how good Bluetooth can sound because they’ve only experienced it at base-level quality using basic and outdated implementations.

All the current high-definition Bluetooth audio formats are supported, including Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive and aptX HD, Sony’s LDAC and HWA’s LHDC. Other codecs covered include regular aptX and aptX Low Latency, AAC (the favoured format of Apple iOS devices) and SBC (the ‘plain vanilla’ Bluetooth codec). This means that every possible source device is covered at the highest audio resolution its Bluetooth specification allows. iFi’s ‘Bluetooth engine’ can also be updated over-the air, so future codecs may be added to the NEO iDSD’s specification.

The NEO iDSD ‘remembers’ up to seven paired Bluetooth source devices, making it easy to switch from one device to another, with impressive reception range thanks to the latest Bluetooth 5 specification. The DAC stage handles sampling rates well in excess of the maximum delivered by current hi-res Bluetooth formats – of the 24-bit-capable codecs, aptX Adaptive and aptX HD support up to 48kHz, while LDAC and LHDC reach 96kHz.

PureWave circuit design – the balance of power

The digital stage is only half the story in any DAC/headphone amp; when it come to the crucial analogue circuitry, many such devices fall short. Balanced, differential analogue circuit design has long been championed for its ability to reduce noise and cross-talk within the signal path by fully separating the left and right channels. However, this is more complex and costly than single-ended circuitry, and so has traditionally remained the preserve of high-end hi-fi components.

iFi has gradually introduced fully balanced circuit design across its range – first in the flagship Pro Series components, then in the entry-level ZEN Series devices. The NEO iDSD, which sits between the two in terms of price, features a new, balanced, symmetrical dual-mono topology with short, direct signal paths, developed specifically for this model – iFi calls this circuit design ‘PureWave’, referring to the sonic purity it achieves thanks to exceptional linearity and infinitesimally low levels of noise and distortion.

Renowned high-end audio electronics engineer John Curl, best known for his pioneering balanced circuit designs and now a technical consultant for iFi, has worked closely with iFi’s in-house technical team, headed by Thorsten Loesch, to perfect this design. High-quality components are used throughout, including custom ultra-low-distortion op-amps, multilayer ceramic TDK C0G capacitors, MELF thin-film resistors and inductors from Murata and Taiyo Yuden. These are more costly than commonly used equivalents, but class-leading qualities such as low ESR (Equivalent Series Resistance), high linearity and low noise pay great dividends in terms of sound quality.

The headphone amp stage maintains an engaging balance between sonic power and poise, no matter what it is tasked to drive – from high-sensitivity in-ear monitors to current-hungry planar headphones – with a continuous power output of more than 1000mW into 32ohms available through the balanced headphone socket. To retain maximum resolution, volume is adjusted in the analogue domain via a resistor ladder, under precise microprocessor control.

The NEO iDSD’s low-noise, high-bandwidth power supply circuity sports linear regulation and delivers excellent PSRR (Power Supply Rejection Ratio) performance. BiCMOS semiconductor technology using a PMOS device achieves ultra-low distortion and excellent transient response. This couples with iFi’s iPower AC/DC adapter, which engenders significantly less noise than other similar devices and is included with the NEO iDSD (£49 when sold separately).

The OLED display, which indicates audio format, sampling rate, volume level and input mode, offers user-adjustable brightness and SilentLine design, ensuring there is no electrical noise to interfere with the audio signal. Even the way the NEO iDSD switches between settings has been engineered to ensure sonic transparency – FET-based switching is handled by a microcontroller, which only ‘wakes up’ when the user changes a setting, thus eradicating any sonically deleterious interference.

In terms of measured performance, all this painstaking attention to detail results in THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) of <0.0015 per cent and SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) of >120dB – highly impressive at any price. To the ear, this translates as more clarity and texture, and a more dynamic and engaging performance – quite simply, you hear more of the music, just as the artist intended.

Well connected

For cable connections, the NEO iDSD provides three digital inputs – asynchronous USB Type B, as well as both optical and coaxial flavours of S/PDIF. Three devices may be connected simultaneously via these inputs, plus a fourth via Bluetooth, with the desired input selected via the front-mounted rotary control.

Balanced outputs are supplied, to make the most of the NEO iDSD’s fully balanced circuitry. To the front, alongside a standard 6.3mm single-ended headphone socket, resides a 4.4mm Pentaconn output for headphones offering balanced connection. An increasing number of high-quality headphones and in-ear monitors either come so equipped or give the option of detaching the cable and upgrading to a 4.4mm Pentaconn connector (this output is particularly recommended for tougher headphone loads). Around the back, to connect the NEO iDSD to an amp and speakers (or active speakers), single-ended RCA outputs are accompanied by a pair of XLR sockets ­– the standard balanced connector for high-end hi-fi.

With an RRP of £699, (€749, $699) the iFi NEO iDSD is available from selected retailers from Friday 6th November 2020.


The post iFi NEO iDSD launches appeared first on Dagogo.

Original Resource is Dagogo

RTS Digital Partyline Family Debuts with OMS

RTS OMNEO Main Station
RTS OMNEO Main Station

Burnsville, MN (October 23, 2020)—RTS has introduced its RTS Digital Partyline with the debut of its new OMNEO Main Station (OMS), a hybrid IP/digital/analog main station for partyline intercom systems used in theaters, houses of worship, broadcast, AV rental, industrial facilities and entertainment/event venues.

Presented in a 1RU enclosure, OMS can interconnect both wired/wireless and IP/digital/analog devices; full TCP/IP connectivity is supported. OMNEO IP technology – incorporating Dante (audio transport), AES70 (device control) and more – allows OMS to interconnect with RTS Digital Matrix products (including ADAM, ADAM-M, ODIN, KP series keypanels and ROAMEO DECT wireless) and forthcoming new members of the RTS Digital Partyline family. This aims to provide users with a path from legacy equipment to the latest technology, allowing users to migrate to an IP infrastructure while protecting the investment value of their existing analog partyline hardware.

RTS Intercoms Bring Trucks Together at Big Game

OMS is available in five configurations — Advanced, Intermediate and Basic digital (each with OMNEO), as well as Analog Plus and Analog (main station options for analog-only partyline systems). Software upgrades allow for increased capacity and functionality as needs evolve. Users requiring both analog and digital should upgrade to OMS Intermediate or OMS Advanced.

All OMS configurations feature a full-color front panel display and an icon-based menu structure for system configuration and control. The panel layout has dedicated color-coded controls for each channel (talk/listen/call/volume); each of the four button sets can be programmed to function with any destination in the system. The AC power supply has a locking IEC connector, and due to its low power draw and venting, it does not have any cooling fans

Support for four ports of analog AIO four-wire, four ports of analog two-wire (equipped with echo cancellation), two program inputs and one stage announce output are included. Ethernet connectivity is via copper or fiber (for OMS Intermediate and OMS Advanced versions with OMNEO). Additional OMNEO expansion audio ports are included for networking with other OMS units. OMS Intermediate and OMS Advanced configurations support the TIF-2000A digital telephone interface.

RTS • www.rtsintercoms.com

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com

Hi-Fi: Why Do Records Sound Better? | The Ivory Tower

Into The Groove Why do a lot of us audiophiles (and casual listener types) prefer the sound of records over the same music released digitally? Is it something about the inferiority of digital? Are vinyl records, without those sacrilegious anti-aliasing filters and stair-step samples, somehow higher in resolution? Or is it simply the much-heralded warmth of vinyl? Some would say digital is superior without the surface noise, side length limitations, and inner groove distortion. So what’s the point of putting digital mixes on an analog record? Records should be cut from an analog master, right? I’m not talking about the ritual of owning and playing records. Putting aside the factors of having a tangible object that requires more care and intention, along with the fun of combing bins for used treasures and everything else that goes with being a record collector, let’s explore the sonics and what’s responsible for that warm and fuzzy feeling we often get when having a platter party. Words and Photos by Dave McNair Everyone hears things differently. Folks have different tastes for what lights up that pleasure center in our brains. It’s a subject I talk about a lot with my audiophile friends, especially the [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile