Give it a chance
DEJA vu, I say. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, a good number of hard-nosed audiophiles shunned everything digital but were forced to embrace the format when vinyl seemed all but done.
These days, a segment of resurgent vinyl fans and those that embraced CD are resisting the future.
A couple of weeks ago during an informal seminar on “computer audio systems” (CAS) with a group of questing audiophiles, a respected local hi-fi guru declared there was no way digital could match analogue.
However, he qualified his statement, saying there was no predicting what wondrous results the future had in store, in terms of playing one’s music off the computer or cloud.
No, he wasn’t being hard-headed. Having invested in a high-end audio player, he, too, was in the experimental stage of this new adventure for most of us. His point – the future of CAS (and related stuff) is exciting, with many hidden nooks open for exploration.
I took the first tentative steps more than a year ago, backed off a bit, and then plunged right in when I realised this cat could be skinned in a number of ways – the computer, high-end media player, USB DACs, network-attached storage (NAS) and so forth.
Best of all, you can get started with a modest outlay if your hi-fi system is already in place.
So what I have running now, along with my vinyl set-up and CD player, is a NAS-based system. No, this is no endorsement, merely a personal choice aligned with my listening habits.
Here’s some advice for those getting into this game.
First, find a combination/system that will suit your needs at least in the medium term. No need to rush, with so much available on the Internet.
Second, heed the vinyl lesson – don’t junk your CDs once you’ve ripped them to a hard drive, or you will live to regret such a rash act. Yes, some vinyl diehards are wincing on reading this!
Three, seek advice and help but don’t be a prisoner of other people’s preferences. Take your own path, it may be tedious but ultimately rewarding.
My project is to eventually get all my CDs on to the NAS; it will take months, maybe even a year or two.
When I’m done, those CDs will be dusted and left on the shelf as exhibits.
And I will keep the CD player, even if one day, it will become more a curiosity than functional piece of hi-fi gear!
Our guru, meanwhile, is studying mechanical resonances and vibrations in the digital realm, experimenting with different support systems and materials.
Over the top? Some may think so, but I see his point – audiophiles, by nature, love to mess around with stuff, and ultimately, someone will stumble on something that impacts the whole chain.
Now, if you’ll excuse, I’ve to go mess with some digital cables ... feels like the 1990s all over again!