Late last year came an epic audiophile moment: I slapped a final length of tape on the box of the awesome-sounding MSB Diamond DAC (Stereophile, October 2012), in final preparation for its trek to John Atkinson's testing lab, in Brooklyn. Next up was the Bifrost DAC from Schiit Audio. I popped it into my system, where, moments before, the MSB had held court.
From $43,325 to $449. Yowseh!!the MSB costs almost 100 times as much as the Schiit! Was this even fair?
Register to win a Schiit BiFrost USB and Modi DAC (MSRP $449 Bifrost; $99 Modi) we are giving away.
Bifrost is the world's most affordable fully upgradable DAC, featuring 32-bit D/A conversion, a fully discrete analog section, and a sophisticated bit-perfect clock management system, together with one of the most advanced asynchronous USB 2.0 input sections available, as well as SPDIF coaxial and optical inputs, all with 24/192 capability.
Music lover Dennis Cassidy had an itch years ago to start an audiophile label dedicated to releasing the particular kinds of music he liked with the best vinyl and packaging available. Cassidy was involved with music distributor Sound Advice at the time, which sold the standard audiophile favorites from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, and others.
Not an audiophile product per se, SE2 Labs ITC One "Integrated Theater Console" takes all the components typical in a high-end audio/video rack, and strips away everything but the circuit boards and transports and puts them all in a single climate-controlled chassis.
Audio retailing has been a tough business in recent years, but two just-released surveys are suggesting that with the right combination of economic factors and dealer preparedness, things could turn around for smart retailers over the coming holiday season.
As expected, the Recording Industry Association of America held a press conference last week to announce the formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI), with which they hope to develop Internet downloading technologies for music. The move comes after a rough year for the music business, which has seen thousands of unauthorized websites offer copyrighted material for free using the MP3 audio format.
I admit to being a little surprised at the results of our Discs or Downloads poll a couple of weeks ago. More of you (65%) see a future for downloads as a viable music medium than I would have expected. As reader Mike Garner put it, "As bandwidth and storage continue to become cheaper, audiophile quality music downloads are inevitable." "Downloads save you trips to the shop or having to wait for shipping when you shop online. We'll soon be loading the data into a music server anyway," adds reader Ola Roll.
In an Internet world, the audiophile's quest for sound quality via high-resolution formats like DVD-Audio or SACD might be the last gasps of a dying generation. New media and technology companies like Liquid Audio, Diamond Multimedia, and RealNetworks are betting that the new generations of music lovers care more about how music is distributed, stored, and manipulated than about how it ultimately sounds. Les Garland, one of the founders of MTV and VH-1, has stated that "Technology fueled the growth of the market for music during the time when we pioneered music on cable. The Internet is having a similar effect, tenfold, driving artists and consumers to embrace digital media."