Why now HDD?

Posted by: HansW on 24 April 2008

Naim have just lainched the HDX, Linn recently launched their SD products. Several other 'high-end' companies are also launching HD-players.


But wy now? Why not 5 or 10 years ago? Has there been a technology breakthrough? Hard Drives have been around for ages as have mp-3 players. What has happened to suddenly allow for high quality audio performance from these products?

Anyone know?

Puzzled

Hans
Posted on: 24 April 2008 by Sloop John B
Ah yes I fondly remember my gateway PC that I bought in 1998 with it's wonderfully spacious 8GB hard drive, my how I laughed considering my work PC had a whopping 1.5GB, how on earth would I ever fill all those 8GB?


I had a dream that night that a man called to my house and said

Before Man Utd win the Champions League twice there will be a cd player with 2 hard drives 50 times the size of the one in your computer.


Who knows?


SJB
Posted on: 24 April 2008 by Keith L
John has nailed it.... cheap as chips storage which very soon will make the cd format look absurdly primitive. Even die hard vinyl enthusiasts will sit up and take notice.
Posted on: 24 April 2008 by HansW
That shows how little I know about computers. Thanks.

Are there additional explainations?

Hans
Posted on: 24 April 2008 by Don Phillips
I think there is another reason. Good old-fashioned stereo hifi is becoming more and more a minority interest. Hifi shops are closing; the survivors are stocking things like digital radios, mp3 players, and home cinema gear. In my youth, when I set up home or moved, the first thing I installed after a bed, was my hifi. Nowadays it would be a plasma screen and lots of silly little speakers on sticks.

No doubt the hifi companies want to get in on the act, and make it possible to ease people away from computers and mp3 players.

Just my two cents worth.
I am not really grumpy, or everso old

Don
Posted on: 24 April 2008 by Christopher_M
Hans, I think the assumption within your question is that high-end audio manufacturers would release their best products into the marketplace as soon as they could. But in the case of HD-players I don't think they could necessarily be sure of size of their market.

Possibly high-end companies like Naim have had HD-players for several years but have been waiting for broadband take-up to reach a certain 'tipping point'. That point may be now. In other words the market is now adjudged to be of suitable size to contain enough early adopters who are going to pay handsomely for the latest technology. There would be no point launching a brilliant product into a tiny market, even if you did have that technology 5 or 10 years ago.

Personally, I'm going to be waiting for the 'HDX5i' but until then, as many have pointed out, there's loads of pleasure to be had from vinyl, cds, FM radio and even going to gigs.

Regards, Chris
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Adam Meredith
quote:
Originally posted by Christopher_M:
... Possibly high-end companies like Naim have had HD-players for several years but have been waiting for broadband take-up to reach a certain 'tipping point'.


No - we did a HUGE amount of work in this area several years ago. We couldn't, at the time, overcome the problems inherent in getting packets of musical data off a hard disc and then reconstituting it in a satisfactory manner.

Other projects then both took R&D time and suggested solutions.
I imagine that certain aspects of computer hardware have improved over the years to allow solutions to succeed in the terms we define.

It was certainly not our ambition to make something only as good as a PC/Mac with DAC. Although that has been available for many years the quality was/is insufficient to offer as a Naim product.
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Chris Kelly
You'd get a helluva Mac for 4500. I don't think this aimed at those of us with 1000s of CDs and a pretty good replay system is it? Why would I bother?
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Adam Meredith
quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kelly:
Why would I bother?


If you don't have a need for what it offers - there's really no requirement to bother.
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Chris Kelly
Phew!
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Adam Meredith
quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kelly:
Phew!


It IS always a relief not to be entirely cutting edge.

The server/home install market is, in part, a move into a new market and intended to address requirements slightly different to those of our core 2 channel customers - hell, some of you even get out of your chairs to turn over a record.

Sound quality will always be the prime test of our products and all NaimNet products are intended to offer both convenience/connectivity and superior sound quality to that available elsewhere.

It is also our intention to offer the benefits of this work to our existing, audiophile, customers. These products will work within a distributed music system but can sensibly be used as a standalone. They are designed to extract the very highest sound quality from HD replay. If purchased they will also allow an answer for that occasional query "I have my main system in the sitting room but would also like to access my music in the ...". The system allows high quality music to be available wherever you wish - with the choice of the quality being made with the equipment chosen in that location - rather than the distribution network.

As to possible customers from this forum - you, like me, may be saying "I can see some benefits from this system but, if it disappoints compared with my existing system, why should I bother?"

As the product range introduces more products like the HDX this question will be answered for more people.

I am just old fashioned enough to like to make my playlists on the fly - each disc played prompts another, dependent on mood and circumstances. As might be expected, I like the weird connections my brain makes as each CD is playing.

I once (for insurance purposes) had to catalogue my LPs and took the opportunity to put them into alphabetical order. From then on it was almost impossible to find anything. Previously - Kevin Ayers would be near Robert Wyatt - who would, of course, be by Soft Machine who (perhaps oddly) would be grouped in with John Surman and Gamelan music from Indonesia. Piece of cake to find anything.

So - it'll be a 555PS for me this year. I'm not (yet) the target customer.
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Chris Kelly
Adam
An eloquent expression of my thinking!
You'll love the 555PS. It transformed my CDX2 but made the change of head unit to the 555 much easier to justify and harder to resist!

As for me ever being cutting edge - heaven forbid. Let's leave that to the younger set!
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by u5227470736789439
I am not young, and probably not cutting edge, but I imagine that have equal access to any recording, will assist me in replaying exacylt what I want: One piece at a time, just as now, but without the slightly random filing system I use now, which means I can find 95% of what I want in spite of apparent chaos! The damnable thing is when there is something more or less lost! This HDD isea would solve that perfectly!

ATB from George
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Chris Kelly
Hi George
Funnily enough when I moved from my former marital home to my present abode my CDs came with me but I have never got around to setting them out in the relatively orderly way I had them before (By musical genre and then alphabetically). As a result, when looking for a particular disc I often come across another one about which I had forgotten but which then gets added to the listen soon shelf! A great way to rediscover half-forgotten pleasures!
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by pjl
I agree completely with what Adam and Chris have said. I will be sticking with my CDS3/XPS2. I think that, particularly younger people, tend to integrate music into their lives in a somewhat different way to people of my age (47). Everything needs to be instant, the less effort required the better. Also the more high-tech the better, particularly if it involves lots of computer technology and terminology, so beloved of the younger generation. Yes, I imagine these people will be a whole new generation of Naim customers, snapping up the likes of the HDX. I get the impression that sitting down specifically to listen to an evening of music is a bit of an old-fashioned idea. Sorry if this all sounds like the ramblings of an old (well, middle-aged) fool!

Peter
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by prowla
I think the time is about right for such a product.
Squeezeboxes and iPods have effectively tested the market.
People are conversant with technology.
Computers are now sufficiently powerful to allow them to do their work properly, and disk storage is at a level where it is feasible to store an entire music collection.
Networks (wired and wireless) have the required capacity.
We are getting more and more cramped, with smaller houses to live in, so something that holds a music collection in a single box gives us back more space.
Naim have the audio aspects pretty well covered.
All in all, I think things have pretty much converged.
(Sadly, I haven't got 4.5k to spend, though.)
((BTW, I'm 47 too!))
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Huwge
Having hear the HDX this morning, I think that a lot of us older geezers will definitely find our current thinking and prejudices challenged. Naim have taken 5 years to get this off the ground and they have pulled no punches. It's the first time since hearing an active Naim system many years ago where I have just thought "wow!"

I really want to hear it in the context of the higher end amplification and as a straight shoot out between the CDX2, CDS3 and 555 head units. I have written on another post how this might represent a genuine compromise between the audiophile wishes of one partner and the domestic order of the other.

Any preconceptions as to why the HDX should not sound good versus a dedicated CD player
are just unfounded.

Huw
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by gary1 (US)
I'm 44 and I disagree. I enjoy sitting down for a night of music. However, I have 2 naim systems and my house has the Cd's stored in another room. My wife didn't want to see shelves of dics in the house and I don't blame her. So I want to play my music at various locations and I also have discovered alot more music than I had access to without going to the record store (many of which have disappeared)and there selections are often lacking. I love the ability to access internet radio, rhapsody etc... for additional listening pleasure. These are the reasons I've embraced the digital world. The trick is now to find the electronics to maximize sound quality and user interface. Whether one perfers vinyl, CD, wav files will always be up to your ears.
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Huwge
600 CDs and not one in sight, well 1200 if you consider there are two HDX on the Fraim

Posted on: 25 April 2008 by u5227470736789439
I shall miss hundreds of CDs like a sore thumb. Only marginally less horrible than LP covers, the idea of one simple black box which can be well hidden behind a closed door, is a real blessing in a small space!

I can then have my books and score on hand on the shelves. Now a book or a score is a thing of beauty!

George
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by pjl
Seems that I'm in a minority with my thinking! A couple of questions:
1. If all CD's from an existing collection were transferred to the hard disc, would all the individual track titles need to be inputted manually? This would take forever!

2. Does the CD drive in the HDX give the same replay quality as the hard drive, in other words, as a CD player is it of comparable quality to a CDX2?

Peter
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by thesherrif
quote:
Originally posted by pjl:
I think that, particularly younger people, tend to integrate music into their lives in a somewhat different way to people of my age (47). Everything needs to be instant, the less effort required the better. Also the more high-tech the better, particularly if it involves lots of computer technology and terminology, so beloved of the younger generation. Yes, I imagine these people will be a whole new generation of Naim customers, snapping up the likes of the HDX. I get the impression that sitting down specifically to listen to an evening of music is a bit of an old-fashioned idea. Sorry if this all sounds like the ramblings of an old (well, middle-aged) fool!

Peter


Blimey ! 47? I wish !! Well this much older old fart loves the digital music world and the quality is stonkingly superb, but I won't buy an HDX cos I reckon it's vastly overpriced for what it does. Two 400GB discs eh? Phooey ! I've just bought a 320GB removable disc to backup music to from PC world for 70. And it fits in my pocket, it's that small, and is seperate from the laptop.... which is the best arrangement for a backup disc. 4500 ? Having a giraffe ! I'll stick to streaming lossless files from a laptop for a long long time I reckon.

PS 47 ain't middle aged anymore, 50 is the new 40 !
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Huwge
A.1 - seems to function like iTunes, if you have internet connectivity. I seem to remember them saying that they had access to 200.000 titles, with album art.

A.2 - they didn't spend much time on CD replay in the dem, but separately it did sound none too shabby (with XPS 2 connected). I think this needs to be part of the dem, together with the consideration of a) how often will you actually listen to a disc vs. HD and b) what guarantees are offered on the HDs (they are not eternal and this would seem to be an integral part of how close the HDX remains to Naim's history of long life kit)
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by jcs_smith
I think at the momenty Naim are missing a trick. They should be releasing an NS05i or NS05x, costing the same amount as a CD5i or CD5x, being of similar quality and including the ability to play internet radio. They would have a valid product then that significantly more people would be willing to try.
Well OK I would give them a go. The offerings they have at the moment are not only far too expensive for me to consider, they're far too expensive for a new medium that I may not end up using very much. The dip the toe factor is an important one, because the squeezebox is a good product it's not good enough to know if it's a concept that I would use as an audiophile product.
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Guido Fawkes
quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kelly:
You'd get a helluva Mac for 4500.


Yes indeed - probably the best one that Crombe or Aquascutum make.

ATB Rotf
Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Guido Fawkes
I have had a Yamaha Hard Disk/CD Recorder for years and it is a good machine, but it is nowhere near the quality of the CDX2/555PS or even the bare CDX2 or CDX5i.

My assumption is the Naim HDX will be a giant step forward in sound quality for this medium, if not there's no point.

I hope the software for it is very simple and there is no reliance on a general purpose computer operating system like Unix or Windows.

Also that there is no need to connect it a computer network - don't mind it as option, but don't want to have to use it that way.

ATB Rotf