April 01, 2013 by Robert Archer
No-Holds-Barred Digital Dynamo
When it comes to designing the ultimate audio system, North Carolina-based Audio Advice has few peers in the electronics industry. Dustin Clemens, system designer for the design and installation company, is one of the industry’s leading authorities on digital audio, and he points out that part of his theoretical design submission represents what Audio Advice can do when asked to engineer a flagship, cost-is-no-object digital audio system.
Clemens’ design includes a Mac Mini that it has hot-rodded with solid-state hard drives, additional RAM and Amarra’s music player software. Along with the audio component picks, Clemens also specifies acoustical design, dedicated power outlets, Harmonic Resolution rack components and power filtration into the system to ensure that it performs to its fullest capabilities. “Surprisingly, there is one element of an ultimate, computer-based system that doesn’t require a processor or AC power—room acoustics. The best electronics in the world can’t overcome a poorly designed room,” he says. “The Harmonic Resolution Systems MXR Audio Stand is designed to provide a very low noise floor to the audio system, allowing the high-performance electronics to perform to full potential.”
As for the system’s main components, Clemens turns to two of the most revered names in consumer electronics: Audio Research and Wilson Audio. “I chose the new Audio Research Reference DAC for the quality of the digital-to-analog converter and the simplicity of its design. I’ve found that keeping the signal path shorter is rarely a bad thing and the Ref DAC includes an excellent analog domain preamplifier. It will hand off to several of Audio Research’s Reference 750 amplifiers powering a proven speaker array from Wilson Audio,” he explains. “Though the Wilson Alexandrias are not lacking bass response, I’ve chosen to increase their bass extension and dynamic capability with a pair of the company’s Thor’s Hammer subwoofers. The room was designed using the ‘golden ratio’ [proportions] and is really the most important component of the system.”
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Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.
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