4. Optionally recording music selections back onto CDs for playback in your car or other places, commonly called "burning".

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1 Introduction The integration of the personal computer (PC) into the home stereo system has provided a revolutionary way to purchase, organize, and play your digital music collection. An Ayre USB digital-to-audio (D/A) converter provides an equally revolutionary way to play back your music files with unprecedented fidelity and realism. Connected via the ubiquitous USB port, an Ayre USB D/A converter generates a fixed-frequency master audio clock and requests the data from the computer at the correct time for jitter-free playback of your music. This is all done using the standard device drivers supplied with all recent operating systems, allowing simple installation and operation with most computers. Ayre USB D/A converters also utilize opto-couplers to provide total electrical isolation for the connections between your computer and music system. This minimizes the introduction of unwanted radio-frequency interference (RFI), generated by all computers, into your audio system. Important Reminder - Back Up Your Music Files! No matter what your choice of computer, operating system, and music playing software, please remember one important fact -- all hard drives will eventually develop problems and you may lose precious data. Be sure to back up your music files! You will likely end up with hundreds of hours and/or thousands of dollars invested in these files. Taking a few minutes to back up can save a lot of heartache down the road. Computer Requirements Operating system requirements for an Ayre USB D/A converter: Windows XP Service Pack 2, or newer. (The driver model used in earlier versions of Windows will not give reliable results with asynchronous USB transfers.) Apple OS X 10.4.x, or newer. Linux (If you know enough about computers to use Linux, you'll know enough how to figure out what is required.) Software Overview No matter what operating system (OS) your computer uses -- Apple, Windows, or Linux -- you'll need to set up your computer to perform several different tasks: 1. Transferring music to your computerís hard drive, either by converting the files from your CD collection, commonly called "ripping", or by purchasing files that are downloaded via the internet. 2. Labeling the files you have transferred with the names of the song, artist, album, et cetera, commonly called "tagging". (Downloaded files will normally already have the tags included.) 3. Using a music player program to organize your music collection and play it back. 4. Optionally recording music selections back onto CDs for playback in your car or other places, commonly called "burning". 5. Optionally transferring part of your music collection to a portable music player, commonly called "syncing". A few programs can perform all of these functions, for example itunes (Apple and Windows) and J.River Media Center or Media Jukebox (Windows), Foobar, (Windows), and Windows Media Player (Windows). Some users will prefer to use other software packages or even a combination of other specialized programs to perform these functions, but for most users we recommend using one of these all-in-one software packages. Apple or Windows? If you are setting up a music server for the first time, possibly the simplest route is to purchase a new Mac Mini or other Apple computer. It will come pre-loaded with a variety of software, including itunes. The Apple OS X operating system has been designed with high performance audio in mind, and it is very easy to set up one of these systems. On the other hand, there are also many valid reasons for using a Windows computer as your music server. You may already be using a Windows computer, or you may be more familiar with the Windows operating system. The music player software applications available for Windows may offer more flexibility or customization than is available with itunes. However, there are typically more steps and choices when setting up a Windows computer as a music server. If you are still unsure of which way to go, read the setup instructions for each OS. You will find additional information there that will help guide your decision. Apple Setup Introduction For an Apple computer we recommend using itunes. Not only does this come pre-installed with new Apple computers, but it is easy to set up and use, the ripping capabilities are excellent, and the program works exceptionally well with other Apple products such as ipods. Computer Setup Setting up your Mac to get the best sound from itunes is quite simple. Here are the steps: 1. On the Dock select "System Preferences".

2 Then on the "Hardware" row, select "Sound". First choose the "Sound Effects" tab, which controls the various sounds your other programs make (such as a " notification" sound). Select "Internal Speakers" so that these sounds are not routed through your stereo system. Then click on the "Output" tab and select the Ayre USB D/A converter.

3 2. On the Dock select the "Finder". On the left hand column select "Places - Applications". Scroll down the list and click on the "Utilities" folder. Find the "Audio MIDI Setup.app".

4 If you are only playing CDs and MP3 files, you can just run this application once. But if you have a mix of standard-resolution and high-resolution audio files with various sample rates, you will need to change the settings here more frequently. Simply drag the "Audio MIDI Setup.app" down to your Dock and it always be handy. 3. Open the "Audio Midi Setup" application and select "Audio Devices". For the "Default Output", select the Ayre USB D/A converter and this will send the sounds from all of yoru programs to your stereo system. For the "System Output" choose the "Built-In Output". There is a drop-down list called "Properties For:". Select the Ayre USB D/A converter and choose the appropriate sample rate. Normally this will be " Hz" for playback of CD-sourced or MP3 music files.

5 If you select a sample rate that is different than the sample rate of the music file itself, OS X will perform a sample-rate conversion, and the data sent to the Ayre USB D/A converter will not be bit-perfect. Be sure to set the "Audio Output - Format:" setting to the native sample rate of the music file that is playing. 4. Launch itunes from the Dock. Choose "Preferences - General" Be sure to check the box "Use error correction when reading Audio CDs". This is very important to ensure that the data transferred from your CD collection is accurate. Then click the "Import Settings..." button. You will need to select a format from the drop-down list at "Import Using:". If you have plenty of hard drive space, choose "AIFF Encoder", which stores the uncompressed audio data from your CD plus tags ("Artist", "Album", "Song", et cetera) that are obtained from an internet database.

6 If your hard drive space is limited choose "Apple Lossless", which will reduce the size of your music files by about 40%. Then click on the "Playback" tab and make sure that the checkboxes for "Sound Enhancer:" and "Sound Check" are cleared. This will ensure that the data sent to your Ayre USB D/A converter is not altered in any way that might degrade the sound quality. 5. That's it! Now you are ready to enjoy high-performance music playback from your computer. itunes only has three foibles, and these are relatively minor for most users. a) When playing high-resolution audio files, the playback sample rate of itunes must be changed manually if you want bit-perfect output to your DAC. If you are playing a lot of high-resolution audio files you will definitely want to drag the "Audio MIDI Setup" application to your dock, but there is a way to simplify this task with a script available from ComputerAudiophile.com. ( b) There is no native support for the FLAC (Free Audio Lossless Compression) file format. This format is commonly used when downloading high resolution (greater than CD) music files. The solution is to use an external program to convert the FLAC files to a format that itunes recognizes. The choices are WAV, AIFF, or ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec). We recommend one of the latter two, as these will retain any tags present in the FLAC audio file. A great utility for this purpose is Max ( c) Limited tagging support for classical music. Although itunes includes a "Composer" tag, it does not allow additional user-defined tags that are useful for classical music. Windows Setup Introduction For an Windows computer, the first thing to do is choose your music player software. There are literally dozens of choices. We recommend J.River for its combination of ease of use, excellent ripping capability, flexible tagging options, and high sound quality. There are two versions of J.River available -- Media Jukebox ( is a free download and works extremely well for most users. Media Center ( is a $40 download (with a 30-day free trial period) and offers WASAPI support, which is the best method for transferring audio data if you are using Windows Vista. Media Center also offers multiple music libraries, which are useful for organizing large collections of music, along with extensive support for both videos and photos. Setup Setting up your Windows computer to get the best sound from J.River requires several steps, but is quite simple. Here is the procedure: Open the Control Panel. Select "Sounds and Audio Devices" and click on the "Sounds" tab. At the "Sound scheme" drop-down menu, select "No sounds". This will ensure that Other choices include Windows Media Player ( Foobar ( itunes ( Media Monkey ( and many other more specialized programs. While excellent results are available with all of the programs, none of them combine the ease of use, flexibility, support, and sound qualityof J.River. However, one of these other choices may fit your specific needs better, so by all means feel free to experimen.

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