March 2015

PS Audio March 2015 Newsletter

Montreal Show

Montreal is a great city and my only complaint is the cold. Much of Canada is still in winter’s grip and the short walk from my hotel to the Bonaventure, where the show was being held, was a cold one.We took the new BHK Signature power amplifier on its first venture outside the US and it made music as well in the frozen north as it does in Colorado. The speakers we used were new to me: Neat SX1s from the UK, and the connecting cables were made by my old friend Ray Kimber. As you can see in the photo the P10 Power Plant drove the system. Music streamed out of my modified Mac Mini, now as magical as it gets thanks to a new wizard, Bill Ernst. The Mini fed through USB into DirectStream connected to the BHK through balanced Kimbers.

The sound was excellent, the speakers disappeared and the performers played in perfect space behind them. Here’s a link to two reviews of the room, one from Jason Thorpe, the other from Art Dudley.

Detecting cancer with sound

We listen to a heartbeat to see if it is working properly, but the sound of cells remains elusive. Recent development have changed all that and it is now possible to hear the music of healthy cells and the discordant strains of cancerous ones.
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Nanostructure analog recording

Yes, we are aware of the growing need for more storage. High resolution audio files keep getting more bits and running at faster speeds, their files sizes grow with them. Hard drives are cheap, but solid state drives sound better. It’s a never ending battle between storage mediums, having enough size and sound quality.Recently the world’s first plasmonic nanostructure memory has been demonstrated when it played back the simple tune Twinkle, twinkle, little star. But what’s truly astounding about this technology; it’s analog, no digital conversion necessary. This could be a wonderful invention for the future of music reproduction.
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Squeezing Music

You may have read articles about Meridian’s new lossless encoding scheme to stream music using lower bandwidth pipes, called MQA. But I suspect not too many among us truly grasp how it works or what it is doing.Hans Beekhuyzen’s name is more difficult to pronounce than his explanation to understand the subject. Given in simple, easy to understand language and diagrams, this video is worth the time it takes to understand what may become a standard in our industry for music reproduction streamed into our equipment.
Watch the video

Naxos launches streaming classical

There certainly has been a lot of new, quality, streaming music services lately (see the article on Tidal in this newsletter). Classical label Naxos has joined the fray with an excellent service for classical music lovers. What makes this so delicious is the quality of the product, the extent of their library, and the ease of searching and finding that which you wish to listen to. It’s low cost, high quality, and a blessing for classical music lovers.
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Giving up music

How hard would it be to give up music? It’s a question most of us rarely contemplate; me never. Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering in England writes an insightful article entitled The Five Things I Discovered by Avoiding Music. You might be surprised at what he found.
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Tidal for musicians?

Tidal started as a cool high resolution music service pitched to me and the others at PS Audio as the next best thing for Audiophiles. Finally, an affordable streaming service of all genre without restriction of sample rate or bit depth. Recently Shawn Carter, also known as the rapper Jay-Z, purchased it for $56 million from the Swedish company that owned it. He announced he would turn Tidal into a company owned by the artists and I said “yay’! This seemed to mirror our own project of releasing an album where 80% of the profits go to the musicians and studio. And then I watched the video. A dozen of the wealthiest musicians banding together to make more money? I will give you my detailed opinion tomorrow in Paul’s Post. Click here to subscribe if you wish.
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Horns, part II

The invention and rapid mechanical development of the valved horn in the early 19th century revolutionized horn playing—so it also changed forever the music written for the instrument.Our resident musicologist Lawrence Schenbeck finishes his series on Horns with a wonderful article filled with musical snippets and suggestions for music to purchase.
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