Wireless components with out having degrading sound! So I can feel better with out spending those $$$ on cables.
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A digital product that can produce ALL the nuances of my analog rig. Provide the same imaging, depth, and emotion. Draw me into the music and leave me wanting for nothing. I'd snap it up in a heartbeat and be a very happy dude. So far it's been an elusive goal (at best) and quite honestly, very disappointing.
Kenyonbm: I can't believe no one has chimed in on this yet, but your dream product:
A combination CD player and wireless network hard drive. Each time I played a new CD, I would have the option of saving to the network drive; title, track and performer would automatically be retrieved from the internet; and it would provide for nested grouping so I could then select an entire multi-movement piece for single or random play.
is one that not only already exists, but seems to be fairly common amongst our follow Audiogoners.
It is not, however, a single product, but is available in many variations. Mine happens to be an Apple Macintosh PowerBook with an Airport (Wi-Fi) card that communicates via an AirportExpress base station with my main rig. I'm actually typing on it (the computer--not the stereo) right now.
It comes with a free program (iTunes) that allows one to insert a CD and play it through the preamp/amp/speaker combination that is fed by the AirportExpress while SIMULTANEOUSLY transfering the tracks (with or without error correction) to the hard disc in any of a number of different formats, ranging from straight .WAV to Apple Lossless to AAC (.MP4) to .MP3 at various bitrates.
Track lookup through CDDB is automatic. iTunes allows tagging, grouping, searching, the creation of playlists, various types of "shuffle" operation, etc., and can even display album artwork.
The actual music library can be stored on the computer itself, or if you insist on not using any type of compression, and have an extensive music collection, it is a fairly simple matter to attach (either wired or wirelessly) nearly any imaginable amount of storage to the network.
This allows you to have nearly instant access to any track of even a rather vast music collection via a well-designed, intuitive interface that you can keep right at your side, and which will also work as a volume control. You can also have simultaneous wireless internet access should you need to look up something related to the music, browse Audiogon, or whatever.
If this isn't a big step towards audio Nirvana, I'm not sure what is.
And before the nay sayers jump in, let me acknowledge that at this point this system only works for regular "Redbook" CD (a limitation of iTunes). For those who are more ambitious and like to tinker, higher rez PCM shouldn't be too difficult, but vinyl, tape, wax cylinders and even SACD are not feasible.
There are also some compromises: the main one being reliance on the DAC built into the AirportExpress, which can be bypassed by the use of TOSLINK into a DAC of your choice, which some purists will also object to.
Remember, though, that since the computer has the luxury of reading and rereading the original CD until it is satisfied that it has a bit-perfect copy (something that even the best transport cannot do), using the hard disc as a "transport" is a tremendous advantage. The more ambitious can then probably find a way to get a bit-perfect signal from the hard drive to a high-quality DAC for the best possible results.
All I can say is that even using the built-in AirportExpress DAC, the results are pretty damn good, and the ability to directly and instantly access one's entire music collection from the listening position more than makes up for any slight compromise in ultimate audio quality.
Rel, thanks for your on-topic and thoughtful response.
I have been experimenting with a SqueezeBox in a second system, and that is what got me wondering about the possibilities of other innovative products. For this kind of money, it offers sound quality and interface features that I hope will inspire other innovations.
One of the obstacles to fully integrating the Squeezebox (for me) is the considerable investment of time and effort required to load, tag and organize,say 500 CD's onto a hard drive. Of course that would require an additional backup HD to protect all that work.
So the idea is to semi-automate the process of data acquisition.
I can think of couple other approaches.
A sort of juke-box could handle 100 or more at a time, but I don't think people will want to purchase this sort of device for one time use, maybe they would rent one.
Perhaps a transcription service, would require shipping CD's and HDs back and forth.
Maybe preloaded HD's instead of CD's.
Perhaps buying rights to file stored at the Music Companies own severs. (I'm sure Sony et al would like this one).Requires a high speed connection.
I would like a network drive I could access via Squeezebox without turning on my computer.
I will take another look at AirportExpress.