Pursuing the Ultimate Music Experiences

Audio Federation High-Fidelity Audio Blog

Naim Mu-so, Bristol HiFi Show: Audiophiledom – March 1, 2015

Naim Mu-so, Bristol HiFi  Show


The 2015 Knob Feel Awards. We need more  contestants…  manufacturers, you need to send this guy your gear if you got good knob feel.

The winner? The  Naim Mu-so wireless music system. Yep, that is one heck of a knob. Good choice.




Stereophile has an article on the perennial topic about whether exhibitors should or  should not play music brought by attendees.

First, there is a lot of music snobbery at shows.  Maybe snobbery is not always the right word. Some attendees will only listen to classical music and will leave a room and never come back if anything else is played. Some attendees only listen to 3 or 4 piece jazz. Some only to ‘audiophile quality’ music. Most exhibitors will only play audiophile music, in fact 90% or so will not accept requests anymore (CES especially, but also trending at RMAF).

The reference to “… ask to hear a bootleg recording of ear-splitting heavy metal…” is a joke. No one plays heavy metal  during a show [except Audio note].  No one plays modern pop music [modern being after 1990 or so]. Established, old fashioned, very well-recorded Radiohead is OMG are you sure you want to play that? No one plays techno. No one plays country or bluegrass [with a few exceptions].

When we exhibit we play all requests. If the music is recorded badly, so be it.  Let the attendee hear how badly it is recorded. There is  a real problem with burned CDs, however, where well-recorded songs sound terrible. They say “We heard Hotel California in this room with $2 speakers, sounded  great THERE”. But they played the real CD, not the burned mockery.

We also have people come to the store with these, and we  just wait, wincing, hoping and wishing for one of their songs to be from a CD we also own  – so we can replay the darn thing and show them how it is supposed to sound. Otherwise we have to have the ‘talk’ about how to not burn a CD –  and that  all of their  auditions to this point, perhaps years worth, have been with material that is harmonically flawed and dynamically flat.

The real story in the Stereophile article is that the guy  got to hear his recording for a few minutes  before the exhibitor wanted to play a different genre of music.  He  should  consider himself lucky  and do not assume that exhibitors can hear the flaws being revealed in their play  systems anymore  that we can assume musicians can hear them. Or reviewers. This ‘being able to hear things’ ability is only found on a case by case, individual basis, and has little to do with the listener’s profession. In fact, I bet one would find it  to be inversely proportional to what you would expect based on their profession [few plumbers listen with their mind’s preconceptions rather than their ears].

Personally, I think they should ban classical, jazz  and audiophile music  from shows. Not that I don;t love these genres, but I AM SO BORED  with hearing the same old every show.  I bet sales would triple for most,  while some manufacturers  would  go right out  of business  ;-)




Hi-Fi Pig has a .
Bristol High-end Audio Show report

It is a PDF file, takes awhile to download, and there are a lot of ads, but still fun to peruse I think.



Capital Audiofest and Chester Group – Audiophiledom Feb 27, 2015

Good news for the Capital Audiofest, I think, getting access to more marketing and promotional juice.

Every year we hear good things about this show and how both exhibitors and attendees get a lot out of it.


The Vinyl Factory has a piece on Eno thinking sound engineers have gone too far in their reliance on digital.

It was about 10 years ago that they used a computer to generate  ‘new’ Beethoven  symphonies [by programming a computer  with his basic patterns and rhythms, etc.]. At this point, any popular musician who has a sound [like Eno]  can be imitated by both humans and  computer.

How does a musician  differentiate themselves? Is it  REALLY by going analogue?

Or is it by changing up the sound from album  to album like Radiohead.  Or  by  playing so many, many concerts, and giving them  away like  the Dead thereby making imitations entertaining, but in the end worthless.



And then we have  Krell  being awarded  a plaque by  Honda.

“In recognition of continuous dedication to The Advanced Technology”

Does anybody else wonder about the English here and, ignoring that, what does this mean? That Krell is continually advancing Krell’s technology?

This is nice for audiophiledom, but there is a battle going on for the dashboard, and Apple, having been rejected, is working on building their own cars.

Ever think about  the massive captive audience when people are stuck in their automatically driving cars for  an hour a day with nothing to do but play with the dash?

Maybe Apple will buy a [real, not  Beats] high-end audio company next for their auto factory.



That’s all for today folks. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.

Technics Tracks – Audiophiledom February 25, 2015

Technics has launched Technics Tracks, a high-res music download site with reportedly 100s of thousands of downloads.





The site is built and managed by 7digital… 





But apparently the 44 countries they serve does not include the U.S. as the first screen we are presented with is  below…




But they go ahead and let me browse anyway… Good. :-) Though, like with Tidal, the user interfaces of these sites takes some getting used to…

Next we have a video made last New Years Eve Eve (2014) by  an EXTREMELY popular blog The Verge:



Fairly well-balanced presentation. Nice. Audiophiledom is creeping into the minds of the masses. Figure they arrive where we all are – in terms of macro-sized gear – in about… oh… 2025?

Another headphones forum I was not aware of before:  Reddit: Headphones

That’s all for today folks. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.


Neil Young is our most famous champion

Neil Young is our most famous champion; so audiophiles… don’t you eff with him.

In the New York Post there was a recent article (yes, I know, it is the NYP, but I think they are representative of the hordes who we do expect to eventually join our community,  albeit perhaps as causal imbibers as opposed to addicts like the rest of us)

Engineers at Neil Young’s company admit doubts on music player

This is typical Luddite fodder. First declare Neil as the Audiophile’s champion, then have what he champions, and how he champions it, appear to be ridiculed by people who are close to him, work for him or who are members of the Audiophile community itself.

They even poo poo 4K video in this article, also as ‘too advanced’ for real people to ever care about [I’ve had a large 4K monitor on my desk for a decade, and of course the size and resolution does not give me a competitive advantage :-)]

This article takes a ‘high-resolution is worthless’ position.

They interview Chesky, who explains what improvements high-res can bring [presumably on devices that can handle the higher bandwidth. Like Neil Young’s  Pono]. Yay David!

They interview Lukasz Fikus, digital audio designer at Lampizator [a relatively new and relatively unknown, but rising, brand. Their room at THE SHOW Las  Vegas  2014 sounded decent] , who explains “the difference is so miniscule that it’s not even worth talking about”. Not… worth.. talking… about… Well, I guess we better close down the blog,  since that is  ALL we talk about. Perhaps someone who thinks these differences are so minuscule does not a great digital audio designer make? I don’t know.

Hey, everybody has their favorite approach to digital audio technology.

Audio Note likes Red Book just fine. They do well with it :-) [We are certainly enjoying the poop out of their very expensive 16-bit CDT-5 transport and DAC5 Signature]

EMM Labs like extremely high resolution, and they do well themselves. But, if I remember correctly, feel that most players out there that  support the high-res formats do not have the horsepower [powerful enough DSP  chip and support  structures] to properly handle the higher bandwidth required.

The real situation is that most players that say they support high-resolution, like 24×192 etc, are typically better built than those that do not. They care about catering to the audiophile community, unlike that vast majority of everyday consumer electronics out there. They are making a least a small nod in the direction of people who think the quality of the sound MATTERS.


And so the  Pono, by supporting higher resolution formats, is saying that they care about the sound, unlike the other mainstream digital audio players out there.

And, let’s face it, it is a mathematical certainty that higher res sounds better than low resolution…. All Else Being Equal. And the vast majority of people can perceive higher resolution quite easily  [both audio and video]. And they really like it.

All Else Being Equal.

Of course, if  you have to remaster to bring the media to the higher res format –  well, mastering often has a larger, more beneficial, effect on quality than resolution.  So does upgrading your speakers or headphones. Or cables. Or power supply. Or power supply or circuit architecture. Etc.

So higher resolution isn’t the ONLY way to improve playback sound. I am sure the Pono does other things to improve sound quality as well. Just as I am sure one could  find ‘engineers’ who question what capacitors are used, and the thickness and width of the traces used. And whether they are curved or rectilinear …


Neil was on Fallon a few night ago.

His approach was to say  that the Pono [has a higher quality  sound that] is for ‘music lovers’ but not everybody is a music lover; some people like to listen to music in the background.


Them’s fighting words…

Told you he was our champion…:-)





When you absolutely positively need more rack space

[As I was just getting over the CES cold I caught a worse 24 Hour Fitness cold. Now that I can stand up without coughing, it is time to move more things up from downstairs…:-)]

We wanted to put a turntable on this system – ostensibly to test it out. We didn’t want to move any of the components off the main HRS MXR rack there because we have a big demo tomorrow and everything is nicely warmed and settled.

So.. what to do. What to Do.

Inserting the HRS SXR rack in front like this works great. A little unsightly…. perhaps. But we can get to the preamp controls just fine [if we reach], and we do not need access to the DAC and Preamp power supply below on the lower shelves, so… it works!



Its a wonderful day in the neighborhood – about 65 degrees outside here in the Mountains in mid-February.

We have a lot to say about this Audio Note-fronted Emm Labs MTRX amp and Acapella Atlas system – about just what goes into a system sound that one will never forget … but give us a few days…