Sunday 31 December 2023

Archimago's Musings: Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy

Sites need to comply with General Data Protection and Regulation (GPDR) policies if there are visitors from the EU, so for transparency, here are some broad Terms and Conditions as well as Privacy Policy statements for this blog as we enter 2024.

Basically this: I trust we're here to learn, enjoy the hobby, debate sometimes, as generally anonymous participants, acting like decent persons online. The purpose here is not to sell stuff or make money even though I don't mind getting a little "tip" if folks buy stuff for example off Amazon links or if the ads work out for you. I have no interest in soliciting funding from anyone such as with Patreon and the like; my day job pays just fine.

Be mindful that public comments are public so don't say anything private unless you want it known broadly. No doubt in the days ahead there will be all kinds of bots and increasingly sophisticated autonomous agents reviewing the information and scraping the data. Consider how this might have an impact on you and the comments made.

Cookies and IP addresses are sent to browsers routinely so feel free to decline sharing cookies, use "incognito" browser mode, perhaps connect through a VPN if you don't want to be tracked especially on a public network (here's one I use). Google Analytics, AdSense, maybe a widget on the blog might use some of the cookie or IP info.

If you're responding to one of my surveys, blind tests, or contacting me by E-mail, unless you choose to do so, I will not have any need for your private information unless we get to know each other or plan to meet up, etc.

Otherwise, Happy 2024! May your life be free from scammers, spammers, identity hackers, snake-oil salesmen, and general crooks in the coming years! Peace.😌

Thursday 21 December 2023

Merry Christmas & Happy 2024! A year in review, final MQA sales, and have a very Spatial Christmas. 🎅

Hey everyone, I want to post a holiday greeting and retrospective as we end off 2023 and as I wander off for some R&R down south. This has been an interesting year I think in the world of audio. In my journeys through audiophilia, it's the year I'll remember as one of continued evolution in the fidelity of various components and further maturation of technologies available to consumers at very reasonable prices - specifically amplifiers.

2023 also marks the point of crossing 10M hits to this blog according to Google's analytics which is I think a significant numerical milestone. Not bad I think given my pace of sub-weekly posts, dealing primarily with topics that attract a relatively small group of hobbyists. While some of these technically-oriented articles probably are a bit beyond the interest of many audiophiles, I do hope that in time, the "average" hobbyist will see them as presenting some foundational knowledge that we should all know about the technologies we buy, and expressing a worldview that those who assess the audiophile hobby more objectively would tend to focus on.

Let's have a little recap of some articles and ideas shared over the last 12 months...

Saturday 9 December 2023

MUSINGS: On the duplicity of hi-fi audio anti-measurers? The John DeVore example.

The Hall of Measurement Devices.
"When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be." --- Lord Kelvin, Popular Lectures and Addresses vol. 1 (1889) ‘Electrical Units of Measurement’, delivered 3 May 1883

"What is measured, improves." --- Peter Drucker (from The Effective Executive) 
"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates." --- Karl Pearson

A longstanding debate over the years in the audiophile pursuit sadly is that of whether measurements are important in audio. Obviously, to me, and I think the vast majority of the world, the answer is "Of course it does!". One does not need to be a scientist of Lord Kelvin's stature or a statistician like Pearson, or a management consultant like Drucker to see the wisdom of such a basic idea which probably is one of the founding principles giving rise to our modern technologically sophisticated world.

Can you think of a single technological pursuit where the use of measurement instruments of some sort isn't beneficial to help gauge the effectiveness, efficiency, or value of a device which has been invented, produced, or manufactured? Is this not doubly important if that devices is supposedly built to a high "standard", reportedly made with quality and care? Typically at a higher cost like the things of "high end" audio?

Well, apparently, there are supposedly respected people in the audiophile world, designers even, who seem to think otherwise about the importance of measurements...

Saturday 2 December 2023

Do bit-perfect digital sources affect a USB DAC's sound quality? [2023 Edition - phone, Raspberry Pi, MiniPC, laptop]

In the image above, we see embedded some pictures of contemporary, expensive (>US$10k) digital audio devices. Each one of these are just streaming or server boxes that can take data over your network or internal storage and pass them along to a DAC with no actual conversion. Typically, these "high end" audiophile products (for example some featured here) are not asked to perform DSP, thus passing the data in a "bit-perfect" fashion. Furthermore, these expensive devices do not include an internal CD/DVD/SACD/BluRay mechanical reader. They're basically computers with hard drives or SSD storage and software to index and manage your music library. You'll typically be connecting them to your favourite external DAC most popularly through USB although proprietary interfaces (eg. Wadax's optical), ethernet, S/PDIF coax/optical, and i2S could be other options.

The other day, a family member was in need of a replacement phone so I gave them my Huawei P30 Pro which I've been using since 2019 and got a Google Pixel 8 Pro. After transferring the apps and data over, I figured I'd try to see if USB Audio Player PRO on the Pixel 8 Pro would work with the very high resolution Sabaj A20d 2022 DAC (ES9038PRO converter) which the Huawei phone previously did not. It worked, reminding me that Android USB hardware and drivers can result in different levels of USB DAC compatibility.

With the phone connected to the DAC, and given that it has been awhile since I've put together a "shootout", let's see if there's any evidence now in the 2020's of potentially audible differences between source devices playing to a very high-resolution USB DAC. Not that I have a $10k streamer lying around here, but a $1000 phone could be different from a sub-$100 Raspberry Pi, right? 😉

[FYI: years ago, I did a test similar to this using various mostly S/PDIF outputs connected to the same ASUS Essence One DAC.]

Let's look at some data.