If you’re reading this article on a home computer connected to the Internet, chances are very good you have a home network even if you don’t know it. We routinely speak with customers who aren’t aware of what a network is, much less if they actually have one. Let’s go ahead and assume you indeed do have one, everything you’re reading on this page is being accessed through that network. What’s going to be interesting is learning how you can deliver high performance audio over this network you already have. But first, let’s figure out just what it is.
There are social networks, family networks, industry networks, plumbing networks and the list goes on forever. A network is when two or more items are connected together in some fashion. Your network of friends defines the connection you have between a group of people you are familiar with. A stereo or home theater network may be as simple as all the related equipment and how its connected together through cables or by any means tying the equipment together into an operating system
More to the point of this article, a wired or wireless home network defines the way your connected equipment communicates. The connected equipment might be a printer, a computer, an Apple TV, a PerfectWave DAC and Bridge. The point is, if we have formed a system of interconnected components that communicate with each other, we have built a network.
The center of just about any home network is a piece of equipment I’ll bet you have in your home. It’s called a router. If you have a router and there’s more than one thing connected to that router, either wireless or wired, you have a network by definition.
This subject will be covered in depth through a series of continuing articles, written by network expert Aaron Gutin in upcoming editions of PSTracks. You can read the first installment here. I posted this story as a kind of awakening for some because the general sense I get is that many of you don’t know what a network is and don’t know if you have one or need one. The answer is most likely, yes you have one, yes you need one, and no, it’s not difficult to use one in your high-end home entertainment system.
I was on the phone with a very bright and well respected reviewer for one of the audio print magazines the other day and asked if he was excited to have a go at enjoying music over the network and join the streaming crowd. His answer was not unexpected: “I’m excited about the possibilities but holding off because the whole setup is just too “fiddley”. This is a sentiment we hear a lot and it’s a concern not without merit.
On the one hand we’re all used to rolling our sleeves up and fiddling with cables to setup a traditional two channel audio setup or multi-channel home theater rig. This fiddley process can consume hours, can (at times) cause us to pull our hair out tracking down hum and buzz and noise, but it’s something we are ok with because the results are predictable. In the end, we’ll be enjoying music or movies.
But setting up a connected audio system is less of a predictable exercise and a lot of people aren’t comfortable venturing out into this uncharted territory. This is completely understandable.
Why even consider moving from a traditional wired high-end setup to a networked or computer based music system in the first place? Greater access to your music collection, access to high resolution audio, improved performance and more fun playing it. These are some pretty compelling reasons for most of us.
It doesn’t take much to demonstrate to the uninitiated how much better high resolution audio sounds than anything else. One simple comparison is usually all it takes and, with the growing libraries of high-resolution media coming on line daily, the opportunities are growing in exponential fashion. Access to this media is currently restricted to SACD players, high-resolution memory players like our PerfectWave Transport and computers storing the music.
But here’s the rub: SACD players and libraries are dwindling after Sony, the inventor of the technology, abandoned it. The PerfectWave Transport indeed plays high-resolution WAV files but requires you to burn those files onto DVD’s before playing them. Computers and network storage devices are growing in possibilities, but the industry is still very young and “fiddley” when it comes to choices about enjoying the media.
PSTracks was created, in part, to keep everyone that’s interested in high-end music up to date about the latest innovations, movements and progress on connecting our systems to the best mediums possible and getting the most out of those systems.
Stay tuned to this Newspaper for all the latest in this field and before you know it, you’ll be streaming high-resolution audio with the best of them. No fiddling necessary.