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PC Audio - Digital Files

Re: Streaming Audio... the end of Physical Media?
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Interesting product. I will have to be shown a difference. The specifications for an ethernet cable should not lead to the ability to build a cable that can make a difference in sound quality. BUT, that's the theoretical side of the issue. I have reservations about the design of after market USB cables making a difference, and yet I can hear differences in them. Are you going to demonstrate any of these ethernet cables next month? Have you obtained any to review?
Networking is one of the topics that I'll touch on during my talk in January. To get the conversation going, I thought I'd share a link to this interesting gift idea for the Audiophile in your family who has everything:

https://cruxaudio.com/products/iso-cat6-special-edition

This is just to get you thinking about networking and how it relates to your current or future audio systems. Some questions should be popping into your mind as you read about this product. As that happens, please jot them down since I'll be sending out s survey soon to collect questions for me to cover at the January meeting.

-- David
Of course, the tide of the music industry is difficult to resist, and it will pull most of us, even the most hesitant, into Internet streaming. But in case you were worried, there's still space in a streaming-dominated world to maintain your relationship with physical media if that is important to you. In fact, there are some really cool benefits to combining them. Please stay tuned…

Hi John,

Thanks for introducing this topic and sharing your insight into the future of music delivery in this hobby via your Thoughts from the Prez blog post.

Having a subscription to a lossless streaming service has certainly changed my approach to purchasing physical media. I do still buy albums; however, I now rarely buy recordings that are available on streaming services. For example, the two releases of Peter Gabriel's 
So that are available for streaming are remasters from 2012 that have had the life squeezed out of them through gratuitous dynamic range compression. (Infuriating!) It was well worth tracking down the original 1986 release, which sounds better in just about every way.

Another example is excellent remasters from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. As you know, these are limited issue releases that usually provide substantially improved sound and are unlikely to appear in the library of any streaming service. Many other audiophile labels fall into this same category. Some offer downloads in addition to physical media; however, given a choice, my preference is to own the physical versions of these exclusive releases, many of which are beautifully packaged, like the Audio Wave Music XRCD24 discs (highly recommended).

Yet it may surprise some of you to know that I own no audio component that is capable of playing physical media. No turntables, no CD/SACD players, not even a Blu-ray player! It's a personal choice that I don't necessarily recommend for everyone. Still, I'm proof that it is possible to be an active audiophile and maintain a relationship with physical media without the ability to play any of it in real-time.

I'll share more about this with you next month. As you may have guessed, shortly after a new acquisition arrives, I transfer an archival quality, bit-perfect copy of the recording to my digital music library. After I've enjoyed interacting with the physical media (reading liner notes, etc.), I file it away in our storage area. I may keep a few favorite albums on display in our listening room, but I never play them directly. At any given moment, I have at least three copies of our digital library, but if all are lost, I still have the physical media. And if something terrible were to happen to some or all of the physical media, with few exceptions, I could recreate it from the archival copies with absolutely no loss in audio quality.

Yes, a growing portion of my active/critical listening time is shifting to recordings that I stream in lossless quality over the Internet rather than playing from my local library. However, albums that frequently find themselves in playback rotation may eventually find their way into my physical media collection. I don't know if it will still be possible to purchase new releases on physical media in a decade or two, so enjoy it while it lasts!

I can't wait to see you all in January!

-- David

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