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Hi-Fi World
December 2011
Computer Audio
Editorial By David Price


  This month I've been up to my neck in computer audio – almost literally. There have been times when my listening room has had piles of tablet computers, Android smartphones, monitors, NAS drives, USB cables and the DACs to connect them to, towering higher than my normal hi-fi ever gets. My router, previously stuffed in another room out of the way, has suddenly become the nerve centre of my sound system, with Ethernet cables running here, there and everywhere!

I've reviewed countless network music players in the past, but this has been the first time I've actually reviewed a modern ‘audio computer'. The Item Audio DAT 1 USB Silverstone Edition [p12], is basically a PC that's been stripped down to the minimum, with no hard disk drive (it uses a solid state drive), no DVD-R drive, no fancy video cards or even a soundcard. Instead it gets a premium quality USB PCI card and a whopping great power supply, the like of which I've only seen on Krell-sized amplifiers before! It's a real beast, and will appeal to many hardcore computer audiophiles I'm sure, but those who need room to roam about their living spaces might look elsewhere...

Speaking of which, we have two small but perfectly formed loudspeakers for you this month. The Eminent Technology LFT-16a is an amazing performer for just £1,100, with drive units that make those of most of its rivals look positively Paleolithic. It sounds amazing – read all about it on p26. The Piega Premium 1 [p54] also uses super drivers, albeit slightly more conventional, plus stunning aluminium cabinetry; it's one of the most exquisitely built loudspeakers I've seen anywhere near its price point, and sounds the part too.

Elsewhere, we've got stacks more kit for your perusal, including a sub-£1,000 tonearm supertest [p17], the lovely Bel Canto CD2 silver disc spinner [p50] and the sumptuous sounding Cayin A-55T tube amplifier [p68]. Meanwhile, soldering iron swingers will enjoy our Logitech Squeezebox DIY upgrade feature [p66] and Origin Live's Linn LP12 DC motor mod [p102] – a few hours spent on either of these projects will yield a serious improvement in sound quality, for a relatively modest outlay. Enjoy!


David Price, editor


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