Computer Audio—the Big Picture

"I don't want you to talk about the nuts and bolts of computer audio, FLACs and DACs and files, etc, but to talk about the impact the computer has had on high-end audio," said AudioQuest's Steve Silberman when he asked me to be on the Saturday lunchtime panel session he was organizing for RMAF. Titled "Computer Audio and Beyond—the Ever-Shifting Landscape of Hardware, Media, and Content Providers," the session featured (from right to left in my photo), as well as Silberman, Joe Harley of AudioQuest and Music Matters, Chris Connaker (, Matt Ashland (J River Media Center), Gordon Rankin (Wavelength), and Matt Green (Logitech/Ultimate Ears).

The wide-ranging discussion lasted for an hour, following which we took questions from the capacity audience. One of the first questions was addressed to Matt Green and raised a laugh from all: "Why did you kill the Squeezebox Touch?"

My own contribution was to complain about hardware that wasn't receptive to every one of the wide variety of file formats it would encounter. To paraphrase: "There is no reason why anyone needs to get in touch with his inner geek just to be able to enjoy his music from a computer."

LS35A's picture

The question is, why is it ten years on for PC audio and other than the Touch (now discontinued) AND THERE STILL IS NOT A SIMPLE, AFFORDABLE, FILE STREAMER?  

If I see one more multi-kilobuck 'all in one box streamer, dac, etc' I WILL SCREAM. 

Memo to hi-fi business:  START MAKING STUFF PEOPLE WANT.  


Lofty's picture

I recently bought a small self-powered usb dac which was advertised as "plug and play". It was my first step into computer audio. Well, it is anything but simple! I was on the phone with a very patient manufacturer's rep for nearly an hour on two ocassions. Every time I wanted to do something different, it required downloading software. Want to stream radio broadcasts (?) then download this. Want to listen to dad's (?) then download that..

Come on, what a pain in the ass. Reminds me of the early days of lp's when pre-amps had half a dozen phono equalization curves to choose from. Only this computer stuff is more difficult. We really need true "plug and play".  I don't see how this will become the new standard if it is so difficult.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

The M2TECH hiFace DAC ($295) that I reviewed for

sounds fantastic for the price and was a breeze to use with my Macbook Pro. I didn't have to do anything except enjoy. As to how complicated it is to use with Windows and tablets, I do not know. 

Nuz1's picture

So what was Matt Green's answer to the question of why did Logitech kill the SB Touch?