PCs, PC Audio Software, and Me


Last week a reader contacted me regarding some PC playback software that he claimed was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It was better than any Mac playback software he'd used (although he did not elaborate on what Mac software he'd used in the past.) I considered his missive for about an hour before writing him back that I was a Mac user and had little to NO interest in trying PC software.

Naturally, this got the letter writer upset. He wondered how I could be a serious audiophile or computer audio specialist if I wasn't willing to try this particular piece of software. He also complained (to my editor) about my curt manner. With 20-20 hindsight, I should have given him a less honest but more socially acceptable "maybe" along the lines of "Thank you for your letter, I'll certainly look into it..." The end of the sentence that would have been left off, would have read, "in 2019..."


Why am I so against using a PC for computer-based audio? Because, I can't do a review of a piece of PC audio software and expect it to have a similar level of relevance for my readers as reviews of Mac-compatible software. Why? Because, all the parts in a computer audio system affect the final sound quality - hardware, software, interfaces, settings, and environment. And since they all play a part in the final sonic presentation, if I use a Dell PC how much relevance would my findings have for someone using an HP or Sony? If I use Windows 7 what relevance will my findings have for someone still using Vista or Windows XP? I suspect, very little.

And that is the problem. To do a useful review of a piece of PC audio software would require multiple PCs - one from each major manufacturer with capabilities to run all the PC OS. While nothing is impossible with enough time, money, and staff hours, the amount of time and work needed to comprehensively review even a single piece of PC playback software and arrive at a robust assessment would require far more time and effort than reviewing Mac software. Using PCs would require so much time that for a single reviewer it's not practical - most of the software under review would be obsolete by the time the review was completed.


The reason I use Apple Macs exclusively for my computer audio system and computer audio reviews is so that my reviews might have greater consistency for my readers. By using a Mac I can limit the number of variables so that my readers stand a far better chance of being able to duplicate my set-up and results, so they can hear the same things that I hear. Instead of sonic conclusions that can only be relevant within the narrow range of a specifically-configured PCs, with the Mac I can begin to arrive at more universal assessments that have a greater degree of relevance and value for my readers.

And that's why I don't review computer audio for the PC...



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