‘Splainin

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Sometimes it’s necessary to take a deeper dive than what I normally do. In my post on sources, I posited the notion that perhaps the day of the source is over. That once streaming has become the norm, the need for a separate box we call a “source” will no longer be needed.

That statement, of course, riled a lot of family members. Not so much because of the inevitable changes, but because a server is wrongly considered a source.

To me, a source is a device that renders one thing into another.

  • A CD player or transport extracts digital information trapped on one medium, an optical disc, and prepares it for playback on a stereo system.
  • A turntable and cartridge convert molded plastic patterns into audio signals.
  • A tape recorder recognizes changes in a magnetic field and converts them into electrical signals applicable to an audio system.
  • A tuner captures radio waves and converts them into audio signals.

A streaming device, on the other hand, does no such thing. If we ignore all the fancy footwork of the user interface—the metadata, artist bio, sound tracks, library access—we can narrow down the job of a streamer to its simplest duties. Streamers connect DACS to memory locations on hard drives. They are mere intermediaries similar to routers and internet switches. They are no more sources than the cables used to connect them are.

Why would these small differences matter? They probably don’t.

I was just sayin’.