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It is. In my dream I'd park the dandy duo right next to my listening chair, single digital cable running beneath a carpet to my usual DAC. iMac bye-bye, full music control right at my sweaty finger tips. Except that Big Apple in their corporate wisdom have crippled that very functionality. They enforce the use of Wifi instead. One cannot hardwire an iPad to replace Wifi and retain the desired functionality. Thus far I'd always hit a brick wall whenever I brought up possible alternate solutions with various providers of overpriced audiophile servers. They invariably all relied on wireless tablet remotes. Without them their gleaming hunks of metal were deaf mutes, with 10s of 1'000s of files stored on them but zero means to get at them. These firms clearly couldn't be bothered with my left-field inquiry. Juan Pérez meanwhile took it serious. Hence I was all ears.

aria with linear power supply, optional DAC board, twin Western Digital SSD and 30GB Kingston RAM

The DigiBit aria ticked off all my other basics already: being fan-less; AIFF-compliant (that's how my library is coded); SSD-based; with BNC and AES/EBU digital outputs plus USB for higher than 192kHz file output; built-in Teac drive with optimized ripper software; extensive automated metadata search function; automated backup protocol; 18 customizable metadata fields for manual tagging of endless search categories which becomes vital as libraries grow; in silver because I hate black hifi; without a silly small track/artwork display one can't read from the listening chair à la Aurender or Lumin; made in Europe with solid distribution and service via the B&W Group's network; and for a fair starter price of €3'995 for the 1TB HHD version. I asked for the 2TB SSD variant in the event I'd want to acquire the loaner. It'd have to work in Wifi bypass without any compromised functionality; and sonics had to at least equal my current iMac/PureMusic setup but ideally trounce it soundly.

Who are DigiBit? A Spanish company who today employ 10 people, eight domestically, two programmers in the UK. Founder and CEO Juan José Pérez brings 37 years of experience in high-tech executive positions and entrepreneurship to the firm. His CV includes a degree in electronics engineering with specialization in sound engineering. From 1977-1985 he was founder and first general manager of Motorola Spain. From 1985-1992 he was founder, minority shareholder and general manager of Daisy Systems Spain (Intergraph), a company specialized in CAD/CAM work. From 1993-1998 he was founder, majority shareholder and general manager of telecom company TeleComputer. From 1998-2001 he was founder, minority shareholder and CEO of telecom firm Dialogic Spain (part of the Intel Group). From 2001-2007 he was founder of telecom firm Caliware Voice Technologies for which he remains a board advisor. From 1993 until today he also owns Cassone Inversiones, a family holding company.

no nasty switch-mode power supply in this version

Juan is also invested in the US firm GD3 Data, a CD/DVD lookup database; and encodecenter for automated CD ripping software. DigiBit is the co-founder of Cloud Audio Ltd. founded in 2011 in the UK "with some of the world's most successful authorities in computer audio" whose suite of services is called PerfectTunes. It consists of "next-generation metadata fixing tools and cloud services" currently in beta testing. This suite combines five software programs: AccurateRip to check lossless tracks for ripping errors; an Album Art service to automatically add missing covers in high resolution; DeDup to remove duplicate tracks; a browser to navigate one's music cloud collection; and, under development, Auto Tag to automatically tag digital libraries.

optional DAC module with XMOS asynchronous USB

DigiBit also import Oppo products into Spain to explain their €999 proprietary Oppo 105 kit which adapts their aria music server to be user-installed inside Oppo's top Blu-ray deck as two compact modules (SMPS and small mother board) to add full server functionality. Against this background DigiBit's aria no longer appears as just a freshly minted newcomer but rather a machine which leverages considerable experience and collaborative efforts in this sector. Having shown at Munich with Marco Manunta of M2Tech, it's an open secret that the two companies work together. In fact the above converter module is sourced from them.

With Juan's Swiss importer Fritz Fabig called on the job to deliver a loaner and set it up without Wifi, I'd learn whether my self-imposed mission to fly this server game fully wired would be hit or miss, yawn or yousa. There was one other question Juan needed answered. "We'll be shipping along a touch monitor. Please let me know your preference. We can ship a lightweight USB monitor of 10-15" which you hold in your hands like this one; or a larger 22-27" table-top version." I opted for a bigger hand-held to 'clone' the iPad which most standard users would have.

Then Juan had these news: "I don’t know whether you're a multi-channel audio fan. In case you’d want to know, we’ve just tested our aria music server with the exaSound e28 multi-channel DAC. I am happy to report that aria plays nice with both multi-channel PCM FLAC and native bitstream DSD64 files from the e28 USB input. We believe this is another first in the audiophile music server market. I know many audiophiles have not yet embraced multi-channel audio. I guess it is mainly due to the limited availability of good hi-res recordings. Fortunately this is changing rapidly thanks to the efforts of music labels which really care about audio quality and are now releasing downloads in multi-channel PCM and DSD. Good examples are 2L, Aix and Channel Classics to name a few. Unfortunately many audiophiles don’t know what they’re missing."

To be blunt, multiple speaker pairs with their associated wiring and amplifiers is what. In none of our 'sound rooms' over the years would my wife and I have tolerated rear channels. Home owners can conceal wiring in their walls. Renters like us cannot. And it's hard enough to set up a proper stereo system. Why complexificate and expensify matters with five or more speakers?

Obviously here opinions diverge. So does a user's willingness to pay the multi-channel piper and enjoy the format's benefits. Count me out even for movies. With the visual action occurring exclusively in the front—after all, we don't have eyes on the sides or back of our heads—I've never grasped the allure of having associated sounds come from behind. Same for pure concert sound. That too originates purely from the front and in most cases, at quite a distance to boot.