We've spent the last 13 days getting an introduction to computer music and tomorrow we'll move on to something else.
I figure it's worth summing up our experiences.
The series was begun as an introductory course, focusing on one of the easiest, yet most reviled programs in high end audio, iTunes. iTunes is not high end, yet with some fiddling, it can come close - especially on a Mac. But I recognize the world runs on Windows and as such, perhaps the next series we'll do will be with JRiver or Minimserver, two programs that are certainly higher end than iTunes.
I believe the future of high end audio is streaming music from our boxes. Even vinyl folks will come over, capturing their wonderfully rich music on a hard drive and playing at the touch of a finger. Of this I am convinced. It still is impressive to me to play vinyl through the DirectStream DAC and enjoy every nuance that excellent sounding medium has to offer. I have a group of tracks digitized for me by Michael Fremer on his tweaked out setup and they sound so much better than my meager turntable setup.
We have spoken of the upside and the downside of computer music and I would offer my view of it here.
To date, there is no perfect - or even acceptable - out-of-box solution to computer music. No one has yet nailed it. Our Bridge, installed in DirectStream, is the best sounding digital music source I have ever heard - yet its UPnP based interface leaves much to be desired. Roon is the greatest joy to use, yet it requires a computer setup correctly to operate and does not facilitate getting music into the computer. Roon requires you to have previously added your music and its sound is dependent entirely on the hardware that they do not specify: so Roon is great, but in the end, a crapshoot as to how it will perform. The dedicated server boxes on the market are a mixed bag: some sound excellent, others not so good. None have a great interface, so we're left wishing for more.
No one has yet come out with a dedicated piece of hardware that just connects to the DAC (without a computer in the mix), has an interface the caliber of Roon, and sounds as perfect as the PS Audio Bridge. I can tell you that creating such a thing is not trivial. It would have been done by now were it so. We are working with the folks at Roon to try and integrate their program into the Bridge - a great combo would come forward if that works. I am not sure that would be perfect. It will still require a computer somewhere in the mix. But it could be a good start.
In the meantime, there are many "almost" great solutions. And I don't think the lack of a perfect solution should stop any of us from enjoying the wonders of Computer Music. Jump on the bandwagon and add to the conversation.
Thanks for reading.