Give it a chance

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By SUJESH PAVITHRAN

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!

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