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Within the hardware there’s more going on. The heart of the La Rosita line of streamers is an Apple Airport Express Wifi base station. Dan chose the Express version because it has a dedicated audio output. After easy-as-can-be setup La Rosita communicated with our Mac running iTunes. Aside from the Airport, this streamer also houses a BioClock precision clock to fight jitter and enable fully asynchronous comm protocol. A power supply over-dimensioned for this task ensures enough current on hand to be instantly available for the most extreme dynamic peaks. Just look at that pack of four 33.000μF BHC capacitors. And while we’re looking at the innards of the Beta, there’s admittedly not much to see. All the nifty stuff like input routing, clocking and D/A conversion is handled inside the sealed black box with the Powered by DB System version 3 label.

What is known about the goings-on inside the black box is that the signal path is kept extremely short and that a DSP chip is responsible for buffering before the signal is send to ‘a’ DAC chip. Even though we were curious about what's really happening inside, the concept of a black box was in line with the notion that an audiophile interested in this server should concentrate on the music and let the computer stuff be what it is and take care of itself. Our review sample arrived in adequate packing. Unpacking and installation were easy as pie. The Beta’s rear offers an IEC power inlet, reset button, Ethernet terminal, S/PDIF digital output, RCA analog output and mains rocker. The bulky black protrusion is the external part of the reworked Airport Express. At the front sits a bi-color LED indicator beneath the logo. C'est ca.

Even though OSX and iTunes are examples of simplicity for both installation and day-to-day operation, they can still create major cock-ups. In our case the latest Rosita iTunes plugin required that we upgrade to the latest iTunes version - 11.0.3 at the time. However running iTunes 11.0.3 demanded OSX Snow Leopard or 10.6 whilst we still worked off 10.5 Leopard. An upgrade of the OS to the latest 10.8 Mountain Lion was easy after a PayPal money transfer. The upgrade to the latest version of iTunes was smooth too as far as the upgrade process itself went.

Then a cluster fuck began to form. Upgrading the OSX broke our Parallels virtual Windows environment. Mr. Parallels figured that it was time to collect coin again by not bothering to offer an upgrade to remain in sync with the latest Apple system. No, we had to purchase a full-price completely new Parallels package. Thank you very much! Then the iTunes upgrade wreaked more havoc. It broke all our streamer protocols, i.e. both La Rosita and our standard Devialet Air. To reboot at least rudimentary streaming meant reverting to the previous iTunes version.

Oy veh! Try finding a previous release of any Apple software. It took serious googling to hit upon an unofficial website hawking the desired download package. Back it was to our previous version and some shenanigans to have iTunes point properly at the library again. Now we were back in biz. Or so it seemed. Because now the La Rosita plugin didn't show a yellow icon but remained stubbornly red. And seeing red is never a good thing not just for bulls. To make a long story short, it appears that the distributor dispatched the wrong plugin package which lacked the Mac address of our review sample. This got very quickly resolved and things started to work again. When Apple finally trundled in with patches for iTunes 11.0.4. after much complaints from around the globe, the time had come to assess the full potential of this La Rosita setup. All in all our distributor contact was very savvy, communicative and responsive to all our questions of this somewhat bumpy start.

Once fully up and running on the software end of thing, we had to fine-tune our hardware setup. Our Mac lives downstairs hardwired to our wireless router. The La Rosita Beta thus communicated directly with the router over a Wifi connection. During the test period we connected the La Rosita Beta from its S/PDIF output to the matching input of one of our Devialet D-Premiers or analog to either an Audio Note Meishu integrated or Trafomatic Audio Reference One preamp driving Ncore 1200-based mono amps. Speakers of choice were the jet-engine Pancin Art Technology VZ1, Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega or Arcadian Audio Pnoe. To not hustle up and down the stairs we used an iPad with Apple's remote app to control the iTunes running downstairs.