Search tracks and reflects on the latest developments in VR, AR, and immersive systems.


sonic reality

CES 2015: Neil Young’s Pono Player

Neil Young’s Pono Player Kickstarter project pledged of $800,000 goal and reached $6,225,354. Continue reading “CES 2015: Neil Young’s Pono Player”

Heard music in DSD? hear this! logo-blackI found what the Swedes, Hugo Thorsin and Jan Eric Persson at, write as their intro is in fact a good intro to DSD too! If you want to start learning the story about the super sound format start with their piece of text.

The very first DSD album that I bought was Opus 3 DSD Showcase 1 (128). If you want to experience music in DSD make sure you experience Eric Bibb – Where the green grass grows! I can easily understand DSD fans’ passion for the format when I listen to great DSD tracks like this. For years I listened to this song via CD*, but in DSD the band’s performance is far more realistic.

With that said, is DSD as a format good enough for sound reproduction by an Hi-Reality Machine? No, it is not. The many decades old analogue tape still seems to be the king which is a sad indication of the audio recording industry’s pace of progress (not to mention that DSD itself is a decades old technology).

In the meantime, the old Audiophile society like to debate on things like whether DSD is superior to High-Resolution PCM or not? (a topic for an upcoming post). Perhaps, we should ask more interesting questions such as how will these two formats evolve into the next generation sound recoding and playback methods and formats?

For now, I plan to buy and listen to A Selection of Analogue Eric BibbDirect from Master Tape, in DSD 128 (5.6MHz).


* I was introduced to the prime society of Audiophiles through my university friend Mats, a.k.a HiFi Mats.


In Post-CD Era, Will Hi-Res Audio (HRA) Deliver Full Sonic Reality?

High Resolution Audio (HRA)Will Hi-Res Audio (HRA) be able to deliver full sonic reality? (exceed the Analog tape?) Is 384kHz/32bit sampling rate enough to deliver sonic reality? or maybe much higher sample rates are required? Maybe (and most likely) the entire recording to playback process must evolve?

In any case, one thing is very clear now: HRA, now officially coined by CES as acronym for Hi-Res Audio, is a significant step forward. Why? because:

  • It is higher than CD-quality
  • It is more convenient and flexible to use than CDs
  • and, incremental improvements in audio recording and playback are now possible in much faster rate than ever before which is great news for everyone

When I visited The High-End Show in Newport Beach I clearly saw the paradigm shift: the change of Source and format in audio playback. Majority of exhibitors don’t use CD anymore!! What?! Don’t Audiophiles run CDs anymore? Well, because they now run Hi-Res Audio files from their MacBooks  and change the songs on their audiophile-grade source players via their iPhones and iPads. Thus, a paradigm shift from CD to Hi-Res Audio file.

I think the Post-CD paradigm shift is now officially announced when industry heavy-wights like Sony launch Hi-Rez downloads & playback (see Stereophile). Or, when the Consumer Electronics Association, CES, announces ‘Expanded Support of High-Resolution Audio” (see CES press release). I read today via Audio stream and NPR that Analog tape recording still was superior even to DSD and high-resolution digital (better than CD). So the performance benchmark of Hi-Res Audio (HRA) should be to exceed the Analog tape recording in terms of Hi-Res quality and sonic Realism.

The rise of Hi-Res Audio should be great news for everyone: the goal is, ultimately, to experience full sonic reality whenever we want it. With other words: being totally unable to audibly distinguish between perceived sound in reality and its perceived reproduction (whether it is an e.g. offline playback or a live broadcast).

What qualities matter when buying headphones?

Grado_SR60i_headphonesI have previously published a post on “What qualities and parameters matter when searching for and buying the right home audio speakers?“. How about what qualities and parameters that matter when searching for and buying the right headphones? This should be be highly interesting for many buyers considering market indications that the audio industry has seen a tremendous growth of headphones sales over the past few years (most probably due to the less expensive way to achieve better sound experience for personal use and the march of portable electronics e.g. iPods and smartphones). I have modified (Sound quality unchanged) my equivalent list for speakers to answer this question: What qualities and parameters are important when searching for and buying the right headphones? Here is the list:

  • Sound quality (Acoustic characteristics)
    • Bass (deep, punchy, fast, accurate, extension, control)
      • Well control and extremely accurate lead to a perception of deeper bass than there might actually be)
    • Midrange (space and detail: e.g. vocal, piano sound)
    • Tweeter (High end, hights): crystal clear, detail, smooth, polished, off axis performance (e.g. where frequency response does not drop off nearly as rapidly as with other bookshelf models).
    • Imaging (precise), Spatial (spaciousness), holographic
    • Soundstaging (uncompressed, three dimensionality)
    • Timbral accuracy (good, bad, etc.) (e.g. piano sounding real)
    • Details
    • Clear & transparent
    • Disappear in the room
    • Dynamic: play loud without distortion, loosing
    • revealing of recording material quality/character
    • Tonal balance: (Neutral, not warm but also not cool, sounds like the frequency response from top to bottom is quite linear)
    • Tonal integration (mids and tops transition unnoticeable)
    • Minimum coloration: honest sound, realistic reproduction from the sonic & music point of view, boxy coloration
    • Engaging (long listening)
  • Environment sensitive/demanding (indoor / outdoor use)
  • System sensitive/demanding
  • Design and finish
  • Build quality
  • Features (e.g. Active Noise Control, ANC, etc.)
  • Improvement/tweaking possibility (e.g. replacing the ear cushions, etc.) 
  • Comfort (long listening without ears getting hurt)
  • Price (value for money)

Write a comment and say what you think about this list, does it lack any parameter / factor, should it be modified in any way, etc.


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