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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 2.02 in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Qobuz Hifi subscription (FLAC), Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce II, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, Goldmund/Job Pre 2 [on review], Clones AP1 [on loan]
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250,, Clones 55pmi [on loan
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Albedo Audio Aptica, Boenicke Audio W5se, Zu Audio Submission, German Physiks HRS-120
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink, Arkana Research XLR/RCA interconnects & speaker cables [on loan]
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 on amps, Vibex Granada on all components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Desktop system: iPod/AK100 digital transports, Aura Note Version 2, Aura Vita, Wyred4Sound mINT, Gallo Strada II + TR-3D
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 10m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour see here.
Review component retail in Europe: €5'445 with 2TB SSD (€4'725 with 1TB SSD, €4'455 with 4TB HHD, €4'235 with 2TB HHD, €3'995 with 1TB HHD)

Juan José Pérez of DigiBit had answers!
"We may have a temporary solution for you with our software-only Sonata music server. We have a web interface to access the music server that you could install on a Windows tablet with LAN connection. Sonata simply does not offer all the features of aria (we sell it only via the Internet for €99). A software-only aria or an aria web interface could be your solution. I commit to investigate further." A day later, "this is something we need to test but there may be four different options:

• 1/ Install our DLNA-compatible Sonata software on a touch tablet running Windows 7/8. Connect it to your router with a LAN cable. Play music in a good DLNA streamer/player (Lumin, Linn, Auralic etc.) or any PC/Mac with a good DLNA renderer software (J River will do) connected to a USB DAC. Sonata does not support DSD but PCM 24/192. You can trial Sonata free for 30 days. Sonata also supports our unique extended metadata fields and automatically so for classical music.
• 2/ Install Sonata software in a PC running Win XP/7/8 acting as server/player connected to a USB DAC of your choice. Then install our Sonata web interface on any Windows 7 tablet connected with a LAN cable to your router and you’ll remotely control the Sonata server from your listening place.
• 3/ As we use J.River as player for aria (only the player), it may be possible (or we might enable it for you) to access our aria server via LAN network from a Windows PC/Windows tablet running J.River. The nice Theater View GUI provided in J. River is optimized for touch panels, hence a Windows tablet may be used as the control PC you’ll use from your listening seat. This would be the best and most powerful solution (PCM32/384 plus DSD64). You could use aria as player, ripper, storage and multi-room solution with or without DAC. You’d have to access certain features directly in the J.River software rather than from our aria WiFi iPad app (settings, import music, backup etc.) We’ll test it next week and let you know.

• 4/ There is an immediate option since aria provides a special VGA connector for service purposes only. You could use that to connect a touch-screen VGA monitor and place it close to where you sit for music. You’d have to run a VGA and USB cable from aria to monitor. Touch-screen monitors were the control point we used in our early Sonata systems from 2008 until the iPhone and iPad appeared. You'd have to use the GUI provided by our Sonata software and not the aria but it is very nice and powerful, i.e. J.River’s Theatre View GUI customized for us. You can look at it here."

Let's rewind for proper context. I'd met Juan at the HighEnd Munich 2014 show. Esoteric's former American point man Mark Gurvey had under his Source Systems Ltd. company signed on to represent Juan's DigiBit aria models for the US. Mark recognizes good digital when he hears it. He and I years ago were agreed that Esoteric's fall from grace—it's now owned by Onkyo and Gibson Guitars—was related directly to their reluctance of embracing USB and streaming media in a timely manner; and the resultant re-allocation of R&D resources away from Esoteric. DigiBit's static display at Munich showcased their new aria mini below. That's a compact server/DAC styled as dock for the iPad. Like all servers of its ilk as well as the full-size aria sibling, the mini needs a WiFi tablet to navigate and access its files. The GUI active was Juan's proprietary aria music player software.

Regular readers know how much I despise Wifi (here's some reading on it). It registers as a nasty piercing pressure on my brain to make me feel toxic. My wife gets fierce headaches from it. Hence I store my Samsung cell phone in the car for pure emergencies. Our router's Wifi is disabled. Ditto our computers. My work PC's mouse and keyboard are hardwired to avoid Bluetooth. I own an iPad as iTunes remote for my 27" music iMac but cannot use the bleary blighter. Its radiation is unpleasant. Hence my problem and Juan's various proposed solutions. As I'd told him in Munich, if I could bootstrap his aria server to run without Wifi, I'd be his very first anti-Wifi customer. The vast majority of people clearly aren't bothered by it. My mission was intensely personal. If you're a happy Wifi user, only read my review as standard performance commentary on DigiBit's aria with 2TB of SSD storage vs. my customary iMac. That runs PureMusic 2.02, with OSX and PureMusic on its 256GB SSD drive, my music library on its 2TB HHD and 16GB RAM for memory play. But are you a disenfranchised Wifi sufferer? Then you might also be interested in our workaround.

Looking at DigiBit's aria mini at left whose prototype bowed in Munich, how lovely would it be if that iPad atop it handled the bidirectional comm protocol to access and display the music files on the mini via its multi-pin Lightning connector. Is that really too much to ask?