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deckeda
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Last seen: 1 month 6 days ago
Joined: Feb 1 2006 - 7:41pm
Micromega's claim of being future hires-ready: It can be tested today.

I'd originally breezed past AD's June review. 16/44 limitation? That's a joke, right? It wasn't until Micromega later said in the August issue essentially, "Wait!" that the product caught my eye. In the Manufacturer's Comments for the AS400 it is stated, "Art might have made more clear that when Apple begins to sell 24-bit files via their iTunes store, our AS-400 will follow suit, outputting true native 24-bit performance without software updates, new boards, or anything additional to purchase."

Presumably, this capability is because Micromega sidesteps the DAC that comes with the AirPort Express upon which it's based. Fair enough, but there's no need to wait for Apple to make the leap from selling lossy AAC files to high resolution files. And that's lucky, because Apple can't be bothered to offer even lossless 16/44 files yet. And it goes without saying that many of us don't buy music from the iTunes Store anyway.

iTunes will store and play any hires file you care to import into it. And we know iTunes will play back at high resolution (i.e. NOT downsample ...) if you jump through some OS X or Windows hoops first, or employ something like Pure Music (OS X).

Speaking of which, there's a fly in the ointment for Art's clever use of Rogue Amoeba's AirFoil software to send audio from Decibel to the AirPort Express-based AS400 (and similar models): AirFoil, so far as we know, might only pass downsampled audio. Hires transmission isn't claimed by Rogue Amoeba because there's never been a reason up until now. I wonder if they know what Micromedia's been up to?

So the question is, what does an AS400---or any of Micromega's AirPort Express-based models---do when the computer is properly setup to play hires files today? I wish I knew from AD's review.

P.S. Please also budget Stereophile to purchase a decent Intel-based Mac, maybe set it up to dual-boot into 10.6 and 10.7 so that we may learn about any changes to Core Audio that could affect any of the above. Scratch that. Set it up to additionally use Bootcamp to boot into Windows 7 for the same reason. One computer to easily test what happens under multiple OSes and/or different playback software iterations: this stuff does matter, sometimes a great deal.

P.P.S. Yeah, computers and OSes change more rapidly than traditional reviewer-ware hardware, and there's a comparitively bizarre set of if-then conundrums, hassles and annoyances to deal with for computer-based audio. But if you're gonna tackle computer-based stuff this complete path must be attempted more thoroughly to achieve relevancy.

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