If you have a DAC connected to your computer via USB, there is an industrial device that improves the sound quality tremendously: The Intona high speed isolator, http://intona.eu/en/products.
One of the problem of the USB connection is that, besides the music, it carries all kind of noises (i.e. jitter). This little device was designed to clean the USB stream for industrial purpose, to allow among other things very fine measurements. Although it was not designed for audio, it gives amazing improvements in the music quality.
The good news is unlike some audiophile products:
– It really accomplishes what it claims
– The price is reasonable (200/300 Euros)
– No need to buy another too expensive USB cable between the PC and the Intona. But from the Intona to the DAC, do use the best USB cable you have.
BTW the Intona staff is very helpful as well.
Note: This device does not have a separate power supply, so it does not always work with DACs that are powered by the USB only.
I do not have commercial ties with this company, I just want MusiCHI users to know about it, so they can enjoy a better musical experience. It is not that often that one can find a device that does so much and does not carry the usual audiophile ridiculous price tag.
Major feature, Memory playback
The audio quality improvement is very noticeable and it sounds amazing. The file is loaded entirely in memory first and then is played from RAM, so no electric noise pollution from the reading of the disk nor another process (the reading of the disk) competing with the process of playing. To enable Main menu > Settings > Audio > Memory playback
Hiding the mini player
Some users wanted the ability to have the player to behave like a normal windows application when minimized, to collapse to the bottom task bar, without showing the mini player. Best of both world, it is very easy to switch between modes. Main menu > Settings , check or un-check hide mini player.
Play list enhancements
- You can add the content of selected tracks in the playing queue to an existing playlist. Why is it useful? if you had created a playlist “My favorite arias” and you are listening to an opera, if you really like a few tracks, just select them, 2nd option “Add to a play list” after clicking the playlist toolbar button. So you can grow your play list over time with minimum efforts.
- Some audio optimizer do disable the drag and drop feature of windows, preventing to add music from the windows explorer into the playing queue with the mouse. Tracks can be added using the 6th option “Pick tracks to add to playing queue” after clicking the playlist toolbar button.
What are “views”?
With this version you can save and retrieve cascading order of the columns with optionally a filter on it. An example will make obvious why it is a nice feature. First here is a screenshot of my most used columns arrangement for the MusiCHI player [aka the Default].
Let’s assume I want to have every week-end a breakfast with baroque oboe concertos as a musical background. To make the best selection I would have to move my columns around this way (this picture) and then decide on the composer(s) I want for the event (Note that I switched to composition view).
I can save this view by clicking the monitor icon, pick “Save current view” and fill up a short description, so next week-end I can get to my favorite breakfast selection right away.
And because, I did the same for my default screen I can get back to it in 3 clicks. The monitor icon, “Recover view”, select item I want by moving the bar on the list [NOT the check box, see below] and click “Select”.
Needless to say, you can save as many columns arrangement as you want: Being a J.S Bach piano fan, I have this as a saved view.
To delete unused views, then check the line you want out and and click “Delete”.
You can also see the available views if you click on the “Saved views” button before saving a new one.
Before we did support only foobar, now you can pretty much use any players you want as long as they can load a playlist upon opening.
We added a skinning engine to the player and added thumbnails to the the playing queue. There are 20 skins available, sure you will find your favorite…Light or dark.
Also some new icons, to toggle between Compositions/Album views and Tabular/Cover views.
Now the player has a great look and is faster to navigate.
Tagger, Ripper & Library manager
To make it “smaller screens friendly”, we added some scroll boxes in the manual edit forms and the text processor form, so if the form needs to be re-sized, you can still visit any area of the display.
In the library manager (Tool tab) you can reconcile you composers and performers data with our MusiCHI Clean reference database, useful for checking work in progress or past mistakes.
This upgrade is easy, there is no need to re-do the libraries, just install over the existing version, hence do not hesitate to do it.
The main event here is the enormous work that has been done on the MusiCHI Clean reference database. Now we have the complete catalog of compositions of the 125 most popular composers (about 26,000 compositions), and many performers have been added as well, now counting over 10,000. The MusiCHI tagger and ripper have been modified to improve the searches.
The other improvement: now the sorting on all columns (for example composers, performers, etc) is not case and diacritical sensitive, so names will be sorted most conveniently. A picture worth a 1000 words, notice d’Anglebert is just after D’Albert, and Döhler just before Dohnányi. The same work has been done on the FTS searches (Full Text Searches), if you for example search for “etudes” you will filter all tracks that have Études, Etudes, études or etudes somewhere. IMPORTANT: To take advantage of these sorting features, though you will have to scrap your old libraries (the MUSICHI*.FDB) and their corresponding FTS files (the MUSICHI*.db3), create new ones and re-scan your music. If you do not want to bother, the application will still work but you will have the old sorting method. If you want only the FTS feature then, it is painless, just delete the old MUSICHI*.db3 files, located in the same folder as the library with the same name, and they will regenerate themselves in a few seconds, once you open the player and connect to the corresponding library.
Mainly an update of the DB server and libraries allowing for tags of greater length; for example now Artist is 400 letters long, Instrument 800, Album artists 2000.
Detailed list of new features:
a) Update the Firebird database server from version 2.1 to 2.5. It had to be done because version 2.1 was getting too old and phased out..
b) Thanks to this Firebird upgrade, the fields sizes could been increased considerably, so no more truncation of metadata any longer.
c) In the library manager, you can download to a text file the list of your albums.
d) If a column is too narrow to display the full text, it is shown on hint over it.
Important steps required!
1) The manual removal of the old Firebird server program.
a) Go to the control panel, locate “Programs and Features” or type “add or remove” in the “Search programs and files” after clicking the start menu button (if you still have one). Find Firebird 2.1.etc and uninstall it. You may say “Yes” when it asks to remove common components.
b) Like most windows programs, not all files are removed, when a program is uninstalled. So we have to do it manually. In the file explorer, go to the folder C:\Program Files (x86), if you are running Windows 64 or to C:\Program Files, if you are running Windows 32. Locate the “Firebird” sub-folder and delete it. We are done. The new server is included in the new setup files
2) the old libraries structure is not compatible with the new server, so they have to be deleted as well as their corresponding *.db3 files. Example, if you have a MUSICHICLASSIC.FDB and next to it MUSICHICLASSIC.db3 delete them both. The same would apply to MUSICHIJAZZ, MUSICHIPOP etc.
3) Create new libraries and scan your music again.
If you want to continue to receive the updates for MusiCHI Clean with new composers, performers and composition catalog, please you have to update because the new reference files have a different format too. Hence the users that purchased the Tagger only should update as well.