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Cue the south of France where long-term music lover and audiophile Dan Bellity lives in the beautiful surroundings of Grasse. Here in the middle of lavender fields and its masters of perfume Dan runs his DB Systems which is focused on the distribution, setup and repair of exotic hornspeakers systems with Goto compression drivers and the like. Dan also manufactures his own line of cables.
Working with products in the highest and priciest audio leagues Dan felt there was much to be improved upon with digital music reproduction. Playing CDs is not a straightforward digital affair as it is in fact an analog process for the greatest part and only a fraction of it—where the extracted data is transferred to the DAC—is purely digital. The predominantly analog nature means that each and every time a CD is played it sounds different and as such sound quality is never consistent.
To counter this frustrating characteristic of playing back physical media, Dan investigated the possibilities of exploiting computer capabilities to enhance and stabilize digital playback. It's no surprise that Apple’s Mac platform became his hardware and software combination of choice. It's great looking and plug‘n’play in the true sense of the word. That was one part of Dan’s idea. The next part was a device that would process the digital computer output and convert it into the best analog version of the signal ready to be sent to an amplifier.
The biggest challenge in D/A conversion is jitter as the timing errors that mess up the integrity of the music signal. Another challenge is interference between various parts in a computer. Even a Mac generates all manner of nasty high-frequency noise that runs amok beneath its sexy cover. That noise is bound to ride on the signal via the cable connection between computer and DAC.
Jitter elimination can only be done in hardware via precision clocks. The best noise elimination relies on complete galvanic isolation. To do both properly Dan set himself a great challenge but one he embraced wholeheartedly. As is already known, a strict hardware solution alone won't lead to the best possible sound quality. It also requires appropriate software support which should operate invisibly in the background to be absolutely friendly to sound-only audiophiles.
Dan configured his software as an iTunes plugin. His hardware became known as the La Rosita and galvanic separation was handled by a clever implementation of an Apple Airport Express. These three parts sound quite simple in practice but took a lot of time and effort, trial and error to get right.
The La Rosita plugin is a nifty piece of software that sits atop iTunes and only uses a hook to direct the library's pointer at the file to play. Hence the La Rosita plugin is the music player itself. There's no disruption of or interference with iTunes or OSX. (And yes, La Rosita’s plugin is exclusively Mac without a Windows equivalent for the reasons already mentioned.) We also did not encounter any interference running the La Rosita plugin actively besides another plugin in the same iTunes context. Besides tapping into the iTunes library data, the La Rosita plugin also enhances network traffic. Where the default network traffic from a Mac’s iTunes output occurs in bursts at low data rates, the latest La Rosita plugin handles things far better. The plugin ensures a stable buffered data flow at high bit rates. Remember here how the plugin is tailored to the La Rosita streamer with the built-in Airport’s unique media access control (Mac) address. This restricts your use to one La Rosita at a time.