Wednesday, 18 May 2016

OS X 10.11.5 / iTunes 12.4 - Update

We are pretty sure we have homed in on the problem that can cause loops of ~6 seconds duration in playback with this new software update.  It is associated only with iTunes 12.4, and only affects playback in “Minimize iTunes Interaction” mode.  The solution is to avoid using this mode.  However, it appears that additional steps are required to turn this mode off (or on).  First uncheck the “Minimize iTunes Interaction” check box in the iTunes tab of BitPerfect’s Preferences Window.  Next, close the Preferences Window, and select “Disable BitPerfect” from BitPerfect’s menu bar drop-down menu.  Finally, re-enable BitPerfect again by selecting “Enable BitPerfect” from BitPerfect’s menu bar drop-down menu.

I have been using this combination all day yesterday with “Minimize iTunes Mode” disabled, and have encountered no further problems.  I am also getting feedback from some of our users who have been trying out this fix for me, and it seems they are also reporting no further problems.  Therefore I am cautiously recommending to BitPerfect users that you can safely make this update if you choose to do so, provided you follow the measures I described.

For the time being we still don’t know what the specific root cause is, but when we do find out, if a workaround can be found to re-enable “Minimize iTunes Interaction” mode we will include it in our next version update.

Monday, 16 May 2016

OS X 10.11.5 / iTunes 12.4

Apple has released another simultaneous update to both OS X and iTunes.  Early testing has shown some possible compatibility problems with BitPerfect after making this upgrade.  The problem causes BitPerfect to play in a continuous ~6 second loop.  While we believe we have identified a potential workaround for this problem, the combined nature of the problem together with the (simple) fix means that once the fix is in place we are unable to re-create the problem.  This means that testing the fix becomes a little bit challenging.

We are working with a few users to test out our solution and make sure that it does in fact work for everybody.  But in the meantime, we recommend that BitPerfect users avoid this particular upgrade until I am in a position to communicate further on the subject.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

I strongly recommend everybody to read this post on the Vellum blog page.  This is what can happen when you blindly agree to Apple's Terms & Conditions.

https://blog.vellumatlanta.com/2016/05/04/apple-stole-my-music-no-seriously/

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Surely…. Surely…. Surely….

In the summer of 1968, when I was 13 years old, my family moved to Leicester, a small industrial city in the heart of the UK’s East Midlands, and there they stayed.  Located close to the geographical centre of England, Nottingham and Derby lie to the north, Birmingham and Coventry to the west, London further to the south.  It was the place where I transitioned from childhood to adulthood, and is therefore the place I think of first when people use the expression “back home”.  When they discovered the body of King Richard III (“My kingdom for a horse!”) under a city parking lot two years ago, it was the event that many hoped would put Leicester on the map.  Which, indeed, it did.  For a while, at least.  Most people still think of it as the curry capital of England.

The local football (i.e. “soccer”) club is Leicester City.  A few matches into the 1968/69 season I hopped onto a bus and took myself off to the decrepit Filbert Street stadium to watch Leicester City play Coventry City.  It was the start of a lifelong love affair.  I barely missed a home match until 1973 when I went off to University and eventually got myself a job in a town 500 miles away, before moving to Canada.

It may come as a surprise to Americans (and Canadians), but sports are organized differently everywhere else in the world.  Leicester City played in the English Football League.  This comprised 96 clubs, divided into four large divisions.  At the end of each season the top teams in each division would be “promoted” to play in the next division up, and the bottom teams would be “relegated” to play in the division below.  It was quite possible (although relatively rare) for teams to work their way from the fourth division all the way up to the first over the course of a few seasons, or vice versa.  Promotion and relegation are cruel masters, and no respecters of reputation.  Big clubs can (and do) go down and little clubs can (and do) go up.  There are no such things as end-of-season playoffs to determine the champions.  Winning the League is the big enchilada.  Today, this concept is extended to at least nine tiers of English football - several hundred football clubs - with automatic promotion and relegation all the way from top to bottom.  Football leagues around the world are mostly organized along the same principles.

As a hangover of Britain’s late and unlamented class-based society, most of the clubs in the Football League know their place.  Leicester City’s place was to hover precariously between the top two tiers.  When playing in the first division their season would be a constant battle to avoid relegation.  When playing in the second division, a constant battle to challenge for promotion.  In many ways, as a fan, it was a lot more fun watching your club doing the latter, even though its objective is to win promotion in order to struggle with the former!

Football clubs like Leicester City are privately owned.  But, unlike in America, ownership is viewed as a sacred trust, a shepherding of the values and fortunes of the club on behalf of its fans.  For example, football clubs cannot simply be moved at the owner’s whim from one city to another like an NFL franchise.  Even attempts to rename (or rebrand) a club can cause a permanent and irreversible breach of trust.  In the long term, an owner will not survive without the support of the fans, which can be a hard thing to come to terms with, because the last thing in the world the fans care about is whether or not the owner loses money.  A fair number of wealthy Americans - experienced owners of major league franchises - have got their fingers badly burned by messing with Premier League ownership.

At the root of this is the nature of the football fan.  Once you become a club’s true fan you are hooked for life.  Being a football fan is not the same as merely being a supporter.  Being a fan is like having children.  It’s a commitment - you can’t change to another team when the going gets tough, although there’s nothing wrong with cheering for multiple teams.  But only one team is ever allowed to break bread with your soul.  “Fan” is an abbreviation of ‘fanatic’, and in times gone by the fanaticism of certain British football fans has taken them down some dark roads.  Thankfully, these problems are firmly in Britain’s past, but in many parts of the world football violence - and, increasingly, racism - is still a shameful problem.


It has always been the case that the bigger clubs are the more successful ones.  After all, bigger means richer, and richer means you can afford better players.  This has always meant that the bigger clubs have gravitated to the higher divisions, and the smaller clubs to the lower ones.  But the size of that financial gulf is what determines whether or not a “have-not’ club can ever dream of playing successfully among the wealthy “haves”.  In 1978, Nottingham Forest - a club with similar ambitions and resources to Leicester City - most famously bridged that gap and powered its way to the top of the English First Division, and even won the über-prestigious European Cup.  To this day, they remain the benchmark for small clubs emerging from nowhere to reach the pinnacle.  The smaller the financial gap, as was the case in 1978, the greater the chances of a minnow emerging to fill it.  But the larger the gap, the less likely that possibility becomes.

Today this financial gulf is huge, and is only widening.  Clubs in the top tier of English football (the “Premier League”) are massively more wealthy than those in the second tier (the “Championship”).  And likewise down the chain.  Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992 only 5 teams have ever won it.  A select handful of clubs are expected to compete for the top spots every season, and for everyone else just breaking into the top five is pretty much the limit to their ambitions.  Furthermore, recently introduced “Financial Fair Play” rules now prevent a wealthy owner of a lowly club from injecting massive amounts of capital to make it competitive.  All of this makes a significant disturbance to the status quo less and less likely.

In 2002, on the back of a short period of minor success in the Premier League, Leicester City built themselves the brand new King Power stadium, one of the nicer, most modern Premier League standard football stadiums in the country.  However, they then found themselves relegated once more, and the resultant financial pressures brought them to the brink of bankruptcy and even relegation to the third tier.  Fortunately, they survived, but the scenario is becoming a common one.  Teams routinely face serious financial hardship following relegation from the Premier League as they, in effect, feel irresistible pressure to bet the farm in an attempt to go straight back up, but learn that the Championship is a much tougher division than they had bargained on.

Two years ago Leicester City finally won promotion to the Premier League.  For their pains, they got to spend the entire season at the foot of the table in a death struggle to avoid occupying one of the three relegation spots.  Miraculously, at the 11th hour, they won 7 out of their last 9 games to escape relegation, a feat that had never previously been accomplished.  And so, as their prize, they got to try the same thing all over again this year.

Bearing in mind that Leicester City’s budgetary limitations are such that their entire team cost them less than the top five powerhouse teams would have paid for any one of half a dozen or more global superstars, bookmakers offered odds of 5,000:1 if you wanted to bet on them winning the Premier League.  By comparison, you could bet on British Prime Minister David Cameron being appointed head coach of Aston Villa (2,500:1 odds), or Celebrity Idol judge Simon Cowell replacing him as Prime Minister (only 500:1 odds).  Or even Elvis being found still alive (5,000:1 odds).  As best as I can tell, no major sporting event has ever paid off at close to such incredible odds.  At the 2004 UEFA Euro Championship, Greece won at the long odds of 150:1.

As I write this, the season is almost over.  Thirty-five games are in the bag, three more to play.  On Sunday morning Leicester City plays the famous Manchester United.  If they win that game they will become Premier League Champions.  I can't believe I just wrote that.  That’s right, Leicester City stand poised to win the Premier League!  They ride seven points clear at the top, and only Tottenham Hotspurs (“Spurs”) can catch them.  One more win for Leicester, or one defeat for Spurs, and it’s all over.  If you wanted to bet against it, you can get generous odds of 33:1.  Across the globe, Leicester City is the talk of the footballing world.  Which, of course, means not in America.

I can’t begin to tell you what this means to me personally.  Seriously, if I won the lottery I would not be feeling as pumped as I do.  Leicester have led the league, quite comfortably, since the middle of January.  Pundits left, right, and centre, have been unanimous in their expectation that City would choke under the pressure.  Famous ex-Leicester and England superstar Gary Lineker, who presents the BBC’s flagship “Match Of The Day” football program, has vowed that if Leicester wins he will present the show next season in his underpants.  He, like me and thousands upon thousands of Leicester fans worldwide, is not sleeping.  His blood pressure, like mine, is through the roof.  One topic, and one topic alone fills my every waking hour.  I'm starting to dream about it.  I’m even writing a freakin’ blog post about it on a page for Audiophiles!  I cannot believe what I am witnessing.  Not only is the impossible about to happen, but it’s happening to MY TEAM.

Surely nothing can go wrong….  Surely….  Surely….  Surely….



UPDATE!  Fortunately, nothing did go wrong!  On Monday, May 2nd, following Leicester's 1-1 draw at Manchester United, Spurs could only draw 2-2 at Chelsea.  This combination of results confirmed Leicester City as Premier League Champions of the 2015/16 season, their lead now unassailable with two matches still to play.

 

BitPerfect v3.0.4 Released.









We have today released v3.0.4 of BitPerfect.  This fixes a bug that caused a crash when playing DSD256 on incompatible audio devices.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

BitPerfect v3.0.3 Released









We have today released v3.0.3 of BitPerfect. This is a maintenance release and serves to introduce support for DSD256 playback.  This will only impact users who have a DAC capable of supporting DSD256 using DoP.  

Please note that there are a small number of DACs currently on the market which only support DSD256 via ASIO (a method widely used with Windows)BitPerfect will not deliver DSD256 playback on DACs of this type unless the DAC manufacturer can provide a custom ASIO driver for OS/X (something that very few are able to do).  This situation is complicated by the fact that some of those manufacturers do not do a good job of drawing the customer's attention to this limitation.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

For Sale - My Reference Amplifiers

Classé CP-800 DAC/Preamp

Classé CP-800 DAC/Preamp

Classé CA-2300 power amplifier

Classé CA-2300 power amplifier

Classé CP-800/CA-2300 combo

Classé CP-800/CA-2300 combo

Here is your chance to acquire my reference amplifier combo.  I am selling my Classé CP-800 DAC/PreAmp and Classé CA-2300 power amplifier.

Unlike current production, which comes from China, these units were manufactured here in Montreal, and in fact were hand-selected for me by Classé’s head of quality.  They both look indistinguishable from new, and perform as flawlessly as the day they arrived.

Selected Technical Specifications (from Classé’s web site):

CP-800 (http://www.classeaudio.com/products/cp-800.php#specifications)
    •    Frequency Response 8Hz - 200kHz (analog bypass)
    •    Frequency Response 8Hz - 20kHz (other sources)
    •    THD + Noise 0.005% (digital, analog bypass)
    •    SNR 105dB (digital), 104dB (analog bypass)
    •    AirPlay support (via ethernet only)

    •    Remote control
    •    DAC supports 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.1kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz and 192kHz.
    •    Dimensions 17.5” (W) x 4.8” (H) x 17.5” (D)
    •    Weight 23lb (10kg)

CP-2300 (http://www.classeaudio.com/products/ca-2300.php#specifications)
    •    Frequency response 1Hz - 100kHz (-3dB)
    •    Output power 300W/ch (8Ω), 600W/ch (4Ω)
    •    Harmonic distortion <0.002% @ 1kHz (balanced)
    •    Intermodulation distortion >90dB below fundamental (8Ω)
    •    SNR -116dB at peak output (8Ω)
    •    Dimensions 17.5” (W) x 8.8” (H) x 17.5” (D)
    •    Weight 88lb (40kg)

These products are clean and articulate sounding, with excellent stereo imaging and deep, powerful bass.  They are a good match for power-hungry full-range floor-standing loudspeakers such as my own B&W 802 Diamond S2s.  The CA-2300 runs notably cool and silent,
employing innovative "ICTunnel" technology.  These high quality units will repay careful matching with ancillaries such as interconnects, loudspeaker cables, and AC power regenerators.  I recommend using balanced connections for best performance.

I will be happy to demonstrate these amplifiers to anybody wishing to make the trip to the Montreal (Canada) area!

Price (does not include shipping):
    •    CP-800  US$4,000
    •    CA-2300  US$5,500

If you have a serious interest, please e-mail me directly using richard{at}bitperfectsound{dot}com.  I will be happy to provide any additional information.