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Hi-Fi World
February 2012
Computer Audio
Editorial By Noel Keywood

 

  As computer sales stagnate, their use as music sources seems suddenly to be taking off. Shorn of their ability to baffle users with facile failure messages and tasked to cope with one role only, computer based servers like this month’s Aurender S10 show they can deliver amazing results.

Just a few years ago Mac Minis were spewing out masses of jitter, likely caused by poor clock multipliers working in conjunction with an on-board CD based 44.1kHz master clock. Now the CD has gone, the little Mini’s clock source has changed – and improved no end in the process. Here’s another step forward.

All of a sudden computer audio seems to be getting into its stride and in the process a strange new alliance is forming where absolutist audio ideas are being imposed on number crunchers to extract a devastating audio performance. How the world is changing!

Once we would have recommended students and the impecunious grab a turntable, budget amp and an inexpensive floor standing loudspeaker to make music. The turntable became a CD player and now it is likely to be a laptop running iTunes and feeding an external DAC. In this new world floor standing loudspeakers remain little changed we find in this month’s Group Test. But that’s no disgrace as they deliver fine results for little outlay; just £300 gives you a great taste of real audio quality. Just don’t forget decent cables and stands, because accessories make all the difference – as readers testify in our Letters pages.

What would hi-fi be without the need to tweak!  Computers are now benefiting from it, but turntables were the original hotbed that nursed this hobby, demonstrating just what could be achieved. Little changes – this month we review a Garrard 301/401 bearing no less! Don’t you just love it. Well, Adam did, as you can read in this issue too. Enjoy!

 

Noel Keywood, editor.

 

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