We have NOT gone over the the Dark Side
I have been talking about streaming music here a bit lately. While bored waiting for CES to get here, I surfed around a bit and came across an article on Audiostream.
Audiostream,com is Stereophile’s new spinoff computer audio zine.
Some of the perspective there on this stuff got me to thinking that you all might think we’ve gone to the Dark Side.
Not to pick on anyone in particular, but lets look at this article on the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II.
He does a excellent job describing the Musical Fidelity family sound and hints at their version-itus. But the overall context of the review reveals even more about how we are are experiencing yet another…
Worse is Better - Don’t You Clueless People Out There Get It?
… event in high fidelity audio.
Kool Aid Flavor #1 - If you don’t get it then you must be old or stupid
Now, about the AARP crack in the article… and that young people being are comfortable with ripping, no wait burning, no wait… downloading? streaming? digital music? computer audio? online music?
Heaven help me but I agree with Sam Tellig - “There’s so much uncertainty and confusion surrounding computer audio and high-resolution downloads.”
First, I think young people, the under 23 crowd, think all this junk is for middle aged geeks who have a lot of extra time on their hands. The desktop is seen as old school and not seen as an entertaining piece of hardware.
Second, if one tries and follows where the big money is going, what is being invested in, it is not,… well, it IS really confusing.
Kool Aid Flavor #2 - There is no confusion
First, there is Amazon and Apple and Google investing in their cloud services - which are, in this context, essentially, places to store music and videos and photos on a website somewhere. This is all because they figure this is currently the best way to monetize music and videos [they can make money off of subscription services (my prediction as the winner of the end game) - but not nearly as much. I mean, otherwise, how are they going to sell you the same pieces of music, over and over again… DSOTM say, about every 3 years we have to buy a newer better one right? ].
But you have all these blogs talking about ripping your CDs and saving them in some format or another across hopefully striped terrabyte drives on some noisy PC and playing it back using clumsy itunes or some such software. Seems like a big disconnect to me. Besides ripping being illegal [another stupid law written by corporate lobbyists, I agree, but…] and the RIAA and unscrupulous lawyers happy to use these laws to extort the most harmless of people, this is just a Transitional Technology - people making some money as we all make the transition from physical media to online media.
But on the hardware side, there is real confusion, IMHO. You have Google TV and Android TV versus Apple TV versus Smart TV versus the now ancient iPod and several thousand it seems boxes that sit on your network and pump music from place to place.
There IS a lot of confusion here because nothing is winning [although I heard that 9 million people have now permanently dropped cable and moved 100% online - aka cutting-the-cord - to netflix et. al…. so people WANT a solution now, they are diving in even without one], The idea being that music is online and coming back to the family living room from a long hiatus - and if 99.99% of people are going to be listening to music in their HT then that is the hardware source we maybe should be looking at making high-fidelity hardware work with.
Kool Aid Flavor #3 - The cheapest of the new sounds better than the most expensive of the old
Remember those $200 CD players back in 83 and 84? How they were better by far than any turntable? Well, they’re… back…. [here is where the horrified scream needs to be forcibly suppressed so as not to freak out Neli].
You really going to let yourself be fooled again?
Here is the quote [and I see this kind of thing said EVERYWHERE by the computer audio crowd, not just on this site] “That’s because I can enjoy a bargain as much as the next guy and the idea that you can buy a device for $349, connect it to your computer on one end and your hi-fi on the other and play music that’ll make your CD player weep with envy is cause for celebration. ”
[OK. Hard to hold back that scream huh?].
Be interesting to put up an $200 Oppo DVD/CD player [the cheapest player that is widely recommended] against this combination of several thousands $$$ [check audiogon if you do not believe. Well, when they get a category for this, anyway, until then search CD players and these show up] computer audio system with $349 external DAC. Interesting also to see which wins on the typical - usually bright sounding - solid-state system most computer audio people have and an ultra hifi system and see if the Oppo weeps or, perhaps, kicks ass. I think it would be close, but it would be a fun shootout, huh?
In conclusion, We are Not Drinking no Darn Kool Aid.
As we explore various approaches and solutions for incorporating online music into our casual, or exploratory, focused, or ultimate music experiences we will do the following:
1. We WILLfocus on fidelity fidelity fidelity
2. We will NOT lie and tell you it is Better than what it is not better than [ *sheesh* ]
3. We will NOT say people are stupid if they do not see how obvious all this non-obvious stuff is
4. We will NOT throw away the good of the past [but we do expect to see a lot of very cheap CDs at yard sales in a few years. Can’t wait. ] but we will NOT hang on unnecessarily to past assumptions that are no longer as important [ultra flat screens now allow video to be brought into the high-end audio listening room, similarly the tablet/smartphone now allows more interactivity with our music in the listening room, etc.]