Should Stereophile review more or fewer computer audio products?

As evidenced by the response to last week's vote, audiophiles are increasingly turning to their computers as a source of music. Should <I>Stereophile</I> review more or fewer computer audio products?

Should <I>Stereophile</I> review more or fewer computer audio products?
Way more!
58% (377 votes)
A bit more
29% (190 votes)
Keep it the same
5% (32 votes)
A little less
3% (19 votes)
A lot less
6% (37 votes)
Total votes: 655

Nathan's picture

I say way more for a year or two, then see where we are. I'm mostly interested in how people are setting up computer servers than in particular pieces of hard/software.

Stephen Durfee's picture

You have no choice if you want to stay relevant. I guess you could charge $400 a year for your magazine and be like a niche wine maker who only puts out 1000 cases a year.

gallardo's picture

The computer will be most important everyday component in the audio chain.

Simon Friedman's picture

I think computer audio dovetails nicely with your recent column on less expensive setups that still produce great sound. I think a decent computer and DAC can be had for less than a traditional analog rig or disc spinner for that matter. Also, it's the future! Now we just need some hi-rez audio downloads that aren't classical banjo from eastern europe.

Jonathan Cohen's picture

More or less, computer DACs are the future.

JWS's picture

Let's be serious, without computer audio bringing in new enthusiasts, audio would die a long slow death. Computer audio will create entire new markets and bring in new blood.

Noam's picture

The CD system is dead. Computers are the new High End. It is that simple.

Fred's picture

Stereophile has done a fine job reviewing PC audio products. In fact, I bought one, thanks.

Mark Evans's picture

Let the computer mags do that if they want to. Please stick to genuine audio products with a tangible (hi-rez CD) format.

Dan from Detroit's picture

As a 21-year-old, I find the current hi-fi market downright disappointing (with respect to the poor adoption of digital technologies). If any hi-fi company expects to survive, it has to realize that people my age are using computers for their main—and only—source of media. If they want to reach my generation they must know no-one is going to go out and spend $$$ on sources other than a computer to solve a problem they might not know exists. Who is going to put CDs in a separate CD player that costs as much as their computer when they can just download music straight to the drive and never have to deal with handling CDs or worrying if the computer's CD drive can interpret audio to a "good enough" standard? As long as you import the audio files from the disc in a lossless format (or what have you), the quality of the medium from the computer as a source is just as good as the quality of the medium from a stupid $3000 CD player as a source or a stupid $9000 McIntosh turntable as a source. With the computer, it is far cheaper and far more convenient. Anyhow, my idea of the future of hi-fi has the computer being the main (hopefully only) source. Once you have the audio on the hard drive from importing by the CD drive or ideally downloading hi-fi recordings (you have no idea how much I wish iTunes downloads were lossless and not 256 kbps AAC,) even a crappy $400 computer with a horrible CD drive and terrible audio out can become a perfect source as long as it has a USB port (USB is easy to use and recognizable to most people unlike Toslink). Just hook up a USB DAC and an amp (preferably the amp is the USB DAC) and connect to the speakers. Or even simpler, just hook the speakers up via USB and be done with it because the speakers contain the DAC and the amp. Seriously, check out the B&W MM-1—the design is brilliant. I just wish B&W applied the concept to their loudspeakers so I never have to worry about analog cables or separate components. I just want a computer and speakers. I don't think anyone can say they want to deal with more than the source and the output to get their music. With that set-up, you can get your hi-fi audio without paying stupid $$$ for some ridiculous analog turntable or standalone disc player. And you only have to worry about the quality of the analog wires from the amp to the speakers. That's the nice thing about digital (USB cables)—no signal loss and no $200 cables! Just a $2 or $3 cable and all you need to worry about is if the signal gets there or not. You either have all of the signal or none so as long as you can hear something you can hear everything. Anyhow, Stereophile needs to review more computer audio products. I will only use my computer as a source whether I am listening with headphones or loudspeakers and have been looking for a great USB DAC headphone amp. I tried Stereophile and was disappointed. Stereophile's reviews on USB DAC headphone amps is lackluster. I found the headphone amp I will most likely purchase through a technology site ( and not a hi-fi site. Where on Stereophile do I find that the Nuforce Icon HDP is a great way to get hi-fi audio from my computer to my headphones? Or that I could get what is essentially a headphone amp from the B&W MM-1 and bypass my MacBook Pro's crappy audio out port? Or that the NuForce and the B&W are essentially the same price, but the B&W is a headphone amp and computer speakers? Tell me Stereophile, how does your site help me? I find this out from And where are the USB DAC amps (not just headphone amps) that can power loudspeakers? Someone please make good ones for me! Hi-fi needs to get with the times.

Thequietman's picture

It's the future.

Xanthe's picture

A lot more, of course. But that comes with a caveat. These items must be understood by the people who review them. There are all too often missing links and holes in these articles. The reviews need to be thorough and comprehensive. And accurate. But yes, it is the future, so more please!

Jamie Steiwer's picture

I could do with a lot less, particularly by Atkinson, Phillips, and Iverson on soundcards and USB converters that have only a marginal connection to high-fidelity. Also, no more $60,000 phono stages unless they're tubed.

Roland's picture

Hey—I'm biased, but I believe this is the way things are headed, and we'll see more high bit-rate recordings available if more people are made aware of the advantages they offer!

James's picture

The High End is waking up to the opportunities of computers as servers. Keep the reviews coming!

Dismord's picture

What these days is a computer product? Would you call the software that runs Velodyne's onboard subwoofer room equalization program a "computer product"?

Pete's picture

For every three CD players you review, you should review at least five computer audio components—the future is here and now!

Dominique's picture

It's an unavoidable evolution.

m sagar's picture

Stereophile should be on par with technological advances in audio.

Jerry's picture

For example, J Rivers Media Center and its blurb for portable music players. A whole array of options and it is the drive engine behind 20+ commercial applications. Amazon, Gracenote, Sony, Roadrunner, MTV and Best Buy to name a few. "Connect a handheld player Take your music to work or on the road. Portable devices like the ones available from Creative, Sandisk, Apple, and iriver now have enough capacity to store most media libraries. You can listen to your music with head-phones, but you can also connect to a normal receiver (as you would from a PC) with the right cables. Or you can hook the device up at work, open Media Center, and you'll find all your music there under Drives and Devices in the Tree. These devices usually connect to a PC by using a USB cable. When you're loading the device, you can use the Action Window to drag and drop, or you can set the device to sync automatically. Many options are available. Sync options allow you to sync specified playlists, which could be a playlist for all your media if the storage on the device is big enough. You may need a current version of Media Center since devices are constantly being improved."

Pureeschaap's picture

CDs will disappear within a few years. I have my doubts about vinyl because of the very big difference with CDs (and not only the material), but CDs? For sure!

Andrea Tubaro's picture

Computer audio opened the door to high-resolution audio. Furthermore, it took some dogma down (eg, who can prove that ripping through a high cost transport is better than using a CD computer transport?)

kbchristian's picture

I would compromise if the computer industry would get deeply involved in hi-rez and vinyl production.

i.s.'s picture

I am already considering how to transfer my 5000+ CD collection (mainly classical) to FLAC, store it into a wd share space, and stream it through my home network! Actually, my main problem is the lack of classical-music-friendly software: a combination of hierarchical and associative database structure (associative tags integrated into multiple hierarchies and paths) which will allow me to index my collection in accordance with the Grove Dictionary of Music conventions: era (early and medieval, renaissance etc), style (baroque, galant, early classical, romantic, belcanto, verismo, national schools, etc), geography (French baroque, Francoflemish polyphony, etc), form (orchestral: symphony, concerto, suite, etc, chamber and so on), soloist, instrument, and, of course, musical work and parts of it (instead of the rigid "track" and album classification)—and all that in addition to the usual categories of ensemble, soloist, conductor, composer, lyricist/librettist, recording/album(s), etc. But who cares about classical? Even though we are not into illegal downloading and we are spending more per person than any other group—grrr.

Woody Battle's picture

More variety/diversity; not necessarily more total items.

Leo Belleville's picture

Computer audio is the future, costs less, and will bring more people into audio. I run my USB DAC through Dalhquist DQ10s, a Dynaco PAS, and ST70 using WAV lossless files. I am very pleased with the results.

Stephen's picture

A few more computer audio product reviews wouldn't be bad. Maybe an occasional feature on pre-built computer systems and how they work for audio. PC magazines don't care how silent a computer is but if it's a music source, that matters. There are some nice miniPCs (Dell Zino, Mac Mini), but without knowing how easily they'd integrate with a hi-fi (fan and drive vibrations upsetting tube amps and any other possible problems), I'm not likely to get one. It'd be a mistake to add too many reviews of computer audio products at the expense of amp/TT/loudspeaker or even CD player articles, though.

chris's picture

The only way. Unless you want to fade into luxurious irrelevance. But, please: a little more engineering, a little less voodoo.

Claude's picture

I am an analog addict with 1500+ records. With my computer (Mac with Amarra and QB-9), I am enjoying CDs for the first time in my life.

Jim Tavegia's picture

You should be doing much more with breakout boxes like offerings from M-Audio, PreSonus, RME, like the Fireface 400, and the new Babyface. We should be comparing the measured performance of these affordable devices compared to the DA-only Benchmark type products. You should also be including software like Sony Sound Forge, Audio Studio, and NCH WavePad and Switch for needle drops.