Main Features The Future is Here Now
The Future is Here Now
Written by Roger Kanno   
Monday, 11 January 2010 00:30

I recently heard someone at a local dealer say they couldn't believe the digital source for the high-end system being demonstrated was actually a laptop computer feeding a USB-capable DAC. But at CES this year, it was actually kind of unusual to see new DACs that didn't have a USB input, and many demo rooms featured some kind of computer-based audio system. Our publisher, Doug Schneider, believes that the future of high-end sound is computer-based playback of digital audio files stored on a hard drive, and he's probably not in the minority.



In our CES coverage you'll see new USB-enabled products from Simaudio, Furutech, Wadia, Aesthetix, Bel Canto Design, Esoteric and High Resolution Technology. Many of the demos we listened to utilized computer-based digital-playback systems such as those from Genesis, Magico, Usher, TAD, Naim, and Rockport, to name just a few.

I made the switch to a computer-based audio system about a year ago when I ripped my entire CD collection to FLAC files that now reside on my hard drive. It was easy, if somewhat time consuming. My Anthem Statement D2 audio/video processor doesn't have a USB input, but I use a Trends Audio UD-10.1 to covert the USB output of my laptop to a coaxial S/PDIF signal. I have a couple of 500GB hard drives to store and back up my files, and I use the freeware audio player, foobar2000, with kernel streaming enabled to transmit bit-perfect data.

Computer-based audio is now an integral part of my reference system, and this year I hope to experiment with a product like the Syabas Popbox that will allow me to stream high-resolution audio and high-definition video to my system via Ethernet, WiFi, or with an attached USB storage device. The future is here now -- and it was all on display at CES 2010.

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