Sunday, 28 August 2016

My Favourite Movie Audiophile Scene

Well, I had a great time away in Asia and glad to be home in Vancouver!

Just wanted to share with everyone my favourite "audiophile scene" from a movie :-). It's at the start of the Chinese movie Infernal Affairs (無間道, 2002). I remember watching it at a buddy's place when it first came out - maybe around 2003 and was just blown away by the movie! I guess Martin Scorsese must have been impressed by it as well to come up with The Departed in 2006 which of course won him the Best Director and declared Best Motion Picture in the Oscars.

As often happens with first impressions, I much preferred the original movie situated in Hong Kong - shorter, more concise, less of Leo DiCaprio's brooding, more cinematic than gritty realism - all subjective of course. Starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung, the opening scene where they meet each other in an audiophile store is a "classic" for me as an audiophile moment... Featuring a vacuum tube amp, audiophile female vocal, "transparency", soundstage and imaging, veils lifted with small tweak, uncontrolled sighted listening and $4000 cables :-). But at least the guy got a tip on where to buy cheaper speakers! Also a nice view of the electronics street in HK circa early 2000s.

By the way, the song is "The Forgotten Time" (被遗忘的时光) by Cai Qin (Tsai Chin / 蔡琴). Available here among other similar compilation CD's...

Enjoy as we end off August and the summer vacation season... :-(

Thursday, 18 August 2016

MUSINGS: Convenience, lossy audio, societal trends, and worsening sound quality?

IMO, a realistic graph of audio formats and quality first discussed here.
Last week, as I was browsing the internet catching up on the news after a long day out doing touristy things in China, I came across this interesting post on Stereophile. A whimsical look at the proverbial crystal ball and presenting a rather dystopian audiophile future of 2116. For some reason, the protagonist seems to be a hippie and references to Baby Boomers are made. As if these terms would even be of contemporary significance by that time! Plus it's presented as if high quality sonic reproduction would be absent in a century's time!

The basic lament is the tiring belief that we don't seem to care about sound quality any more as a society, the quality is "deteriorating", and that ultimately it's all got to do with "convenience".

But is this true?

Short and sweet:
NO, I don't think so.

I suspect it's much more complex and worth putting some thought into...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

MUSINGS: Do "audiophile" computer-based players make a difference? On "Everything Matters" and wisdom.

Since publishing the results from the NUC measurements a week back, permit me to discuss the topic of "audiophile" music servers, streamers and transports - specifically addressing the idea some have that they make a significant sonic difference.

As audiophiles, we've all seen them reviewed in the various websites. Names like Aurender, Antipodes, SOtM, Small Green Computer, Baetis Audio for machines that run either Windows or Linux, or more customized non-PC looking devices like the Auralic streamers, SONORE microRendu (Wow! So much hype!), and established audio companies within the arena like PS Audio, Ayre, Bryston, Simaudio, etc. Even JRiver sells their customized NUC server/player, called the Id.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

MEASUREMENTS: Intel NUC [6i5SYH] (and Audio)

Packaged contents of the NUC - mounting screw, universal power jack attachments in the bubble wrap, metal VESA mount plate under the power supply, basic instructions.

Like most of my computer upgrades lately, it's not because I need the speed, or expect much power saving, or necessarily to silence a noisy machine... Speed, efficiency, and quietness have been achieved to the level I'm satisfied with for years now! No... It's because I wanted to upgrade my work computer to something that handles 4K resolution :-). As discussed here and here, over the last year, I've been transitioning to what I think is going to be the target resolution for the foreseeable future (in a way very much like how audio CD resolution has been completely fine for decades). Beyond 4K, the reasons for even higher resolutions drop off exponentially based on the physical limitations of vision. (Of course, beyond spatial resolution, HDR color range and contrast ratios are important and those are catching up nicely.)

A few months ago, I decided to upgrade an aging 24" Dell monitor with a new ASUS PB287Q - quite a nice reasonably priced 28" 4K unit. (If I were to buy today, I would take a good look at the LG 27UD88 or consider the 21:9 LG 34UC98.) Alas, for the last while, I've been running the monitor at 1200p resolution with the current work computer. Though the upscaling doesn't look bad, it's noticeably compromised compared to actual native resolution of course.

As a simple way to upgrade instead of buying all the parts and assembling a new computer, I decided to go with the current generation Skylake NUC "Next Unit of Computing" - the Intel NUC6i5SYH which houses the Core i5-6260U processor with the Iris Graphics 540 integrated GPU. This NUC case allows for a 2.5" SSD/HD and M.2 SSD. If you want an even smaller, flatter unit, consider the similarly-priced NUC6i5SYK, the same innards but with a smaller case removing the 2.5" bay so the internal SSD will have to be an M.2 card.