Baetis Audio makes high-definition audiophile computers based on the latest Intel multi-core processors. Our objective is simple – to provide for perfect bit-streaming of more types of audio and video files than any other media server – and to do so at least as well or better than any other computer, no matter the price.
Our computers are based on the belief that the very best in music quality requires the use of modern Digital-to-Analogue (“DAC”) converters that are at the Front-End of the user’s audio system. Same thing with video quality -- video is optimized with the use of best quality pre-amp/processors (“pre/pros”).
We started out trying to build the best-quality music computers for the audiophile who still listens to his/her music on a high-end 2-channel (stereo system). But we found out quickly that the best 2-channel music computer is also the best quality multi-channel computer for a high-end Home Theater project.
If you have not yet been introduced to the latest in high-definition audio, please read the PDF file “What is an audiophile computer?” If you have begun to delve into this wonderful arena, please keep going.
The Baetis Philosophy and Design Process
In this second decade of the new century, audio and video files stored on computers have become quite common. But the vast majority of computer users have never heard an audio file or a movie or concert played on really good equipment. Those who are satisfied with the MP3 files on their iPod or iPhone or iPad will not be interested in what we are doing. But those of you who have invested in good audio speakers or headphones, or have spent years fine-tuning your stereo system’s components, will know what we are talking about. High-definition sound, like high-definition video quality, can only be appreciated by hearing and seeing with your own ears and eyes. Once you’ve heard what “high-definition” really is, and if your budget allows, you will be eager to spend the extra money to bring your own equipment up to the level of true hi-def.
Baetis Audio focuses on the highest-definition sound, but as
you read on, you’ll see that the same computer used to maximize sound quality
can also be used to maximize video quality.
Our search for the best components has led us to two beliefs – a) simple
is often better than complex, and b) the key to the best audio/video quality is
the software being used to bit-stream or digitally alter the audio or video file
on its way to the hi-quality DAC or multi-channel pre/pro. This has led us to two choices:
a) Our machines do NOT use expensive, separate sound cards but rather the integrated audio circuits that are part of the processors and motherboards utilizing the latest-generation Intel Core iX processors. The separate sound cards, in our view, add more electronics that accomplish better sound only if your DAC is not up to snuff. Conversely, if your DAC is good, provides good clocking and, most importantly, provides the most natural conversion of the digital music signal to the analogue domain, the additional sound card can only make things worse, not better. Some people disagree with us; others agree whole-heartedly. Only your own ears, not those of a salesman, can tell. So, we insist that our retail dealers allow you to demo our units in your own home. We also sell directly to clients by permitting a 90-day return period.
[Note: For those of you who can’t believe that an integrated sound circuit can be better than an expensive PCI sound card, remember this – the reason you bought the separate sound card for your computer was that you didn’t want the integrated card to do the digital-to-analogue conversion – it makes audio sound tinny. But our computers are meant to give the ENTIRE process of digital-to-analogue conversion over to the expensive DAC or pre-pro in your system. For this job, less electronics in the computer is better.]
b) The best and most flexible software for conveying most-accurate audio (and video) files of all types to your DAC is JRiver’s Media Center 17, which comes pre-loaded and configured on all our machines.
Here are the major details and specifications of our machines.
1. All major audio file formats can be bit-streamed without Digital-Signal-Processing (“DSP”). This includes WAV, ALAC, FLAC, HDCD-encoded files, MKV, Dolby Digital True HD, DTS HD Master, and many others. Also, the JRiver software will handle DSD audio files (the files found on SACDs) in computer form if your DAC processes DSD (otherwise the DSD will be converted to PCM). DSD audio files are now becoming available from a few sources such as Blue Coast Records.
Importantly, we are a leader in playback of blu-ray audio files (such as from blu-ray concerts). Also, only a real full-fledged computer can provide best-quality streaming of concerts and other material via an internet browser. If you are an audiophile, you will want to buy an annual subscription to the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Music Hall once you own a Baetis computer. For the rest of us, there are other internet goodies such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and others. With our machines you can bit-stream perfect hi-def audio AND video from the internet to your home theater setup.
2. The machines bit-stream, without DSP, all major resampling rates and bit-depths. Sampling rates handled without DSP are 32khz, 44.1khz, 48khz, 88.2khz, 96khz, 176.4khz, 192khz, and 384khz via HDMI. For 2-channel systems, the coaxial S/PDIF BNC output handles all of these resampling rates without DSP except for 176.4 (which is up-sampled to 192khz). Bit-depths can be as low as 16-bits up through 24-bits, 32-bits, and 64-bits. The JRiver software is the only one capable of the 64-bit-depth (computer audio files with 64-bit bit-depth do not yet widely exist) because that is the bit-depth it uses for internal processing. These details are why no other major builder of media computers uses within their advertising the phrase “bit-streams ALL resampling rates and ALL bit-depths without DSP.” If they really could do it, they would say so.
3. Our computer is one of the first to take advantage of the zero latency configuration of the Intel iCore processor, with integrated audio circuitry. We set up this “integrated card” with HDMI, Toslink optical, and S/PDIF coax digital outputs (BNC and/or RCA), and we believe this performs the bit-streaming process better than any PCI or PCIe additional soundcard. Only your ears can confirm this. We also believe that the integrated video performs pure bit-streaming perfectly, but, again, this requires an adequate external video processor in the form of a good pre/pro.
Note for those of you who already have ordinary computers with iCore processors please read our paper on further ways our audiophile computers differ from such ordinary computers or ordinary dedicated media servers. The key is the combination of hardware, including the S/PDIF output, and the software, including JRiver Media Center, that guarantees pure bit-streaming to the high-dollar DAC or pre/pro. Running WinAmp software, for example, on the right computer simply won’t provide the BEST sound quality, because this software can’t perform the perfect bit-streaming to the DAC of ALL files of varying resampling rates.
4. Because one of our machines does so much more than the typical media server, we choose NOT to build them as a completely passive machine with no moving parts. Heat build-up in a passive machine is risky when utilizing all the power of today’s new processors, such as when ripping a blu-ray concert. Therefore, we build a machine that, while not passive, does not add any measurable sound to the inherent sound within the listening room, as measured by a professional sound meter at a distance of 1-meter from the computer.
Our basic build does NOT have any spinning hard drives. The noise of these drives can be heard (very slightly) at boot-up and, for a brief second, while loading an audio file into RAM. But audiophiles have objected to these sounds even though they mainly occur prior to the music being played. Moreover, in this decade, there are many new file-server options, including USB3.0 off-board or network drives that can hold a LOT of audio and video files (e.g,, 1.5T portable USB3.0 drives and 12T -- that’s 12T not 12G -- network servers) for reasonable cost. So, onboard spinning hard drives are no longer a necessity.
We accomplish this non-measurable noise by using:
a. A high quality all-aluminum case that dissipates heat;
b. A Solid-State-Drive (“SSD”) on which we load the operating system and the JRiver media software. The SSD is large enough not only to hold the programs and OS (which take up about 30G of space), but is also large enough to rip blu-ray concerts and movies directly to the SSD before storage on an off-board hard drive. The solid-state drive is WAY faster than an ordinary hard drive (Windows boots in under 20 seconds), and it is completely silent.
c. A proprietary cooling system that includes:
· A special heat sink;
· A large, slow-moving CPU fan that has been specially milled to fit into our small cases, while having measurable noise at about 7dba in a specially insulated noise-measurement room (whereas a VERY quiet listening room has an ambient noise level of about 30dba);
· Fan speed and heat measurement software that can monitor heat and adjust fan speed;
· This near-passive cooling system results in audible noise that is not measurable, via professional digital sound pressure meter, at a distance of 1 meter, above the sound of the listening room itself. Our machines produce approximately the same noise as the audio system on standby. Only at boot-up can you hear the slight, brief noise of the blu-ray optical drive booting, but then complete silence.
d. A good quality, fan-less power supply unit ("PSU"). This PSU is not only silent but most efficient in terms of the quality and cost of the 12-volt power it proves. The PSU is external to the case (like a laptop) but supplies all the power needed to rip and play the most graphics-intensive movie, if that is your desire. Our latest version of external PSU has a 4-pin DC input to the computer chassi's. This allows us to offer several options for switch-mode of linear PSUs that are the best out there. These options can significantly improve sound quality.
e. Special noise filters that go between the PSU and the Solid-State-Drive – the major source of digital noise that could affect sound quality;
f. We include a very quiet optical blu-ray/DVD/CD drive so that the user can rip blu-ray discs, CDs, DVDs, etc., all the while listening to his/her favorite audio. The blu-ray drive is slot loading, to fit into the small case, but the risk of scratching a disc is very much lower than when using a regular CD or SACD player. That is, the disc needs to be “played” only once, during the ripping process. Then it is stored in digital format to preserve the original disc forever.
The noise produced during the initial ripping process is measurably quite a bit lower than the sound of loading a CD every time it is played on a high-end CD player.
g. We employ a build-quality process second to none. Our process includes a two-person physical checking process, coupled with software and hardware burn-in over a several day period. “Burn-in” is very important for achieving long-run stability in operating temperatures that are well below critical maximums. We put more hours into the building of our machine, we think, than any other media computer maker. Meanwhile, we are searching continually for improvements in the quality of all of our parts. Our proprietary fan milling process is coupled with an S/PDIF digital audio output (via spring-loaded BNC connection) that uses multi-fibered true 75ohm connecting cables to the motherboard. [Note that we believe our BNC 75-ohm digital output off of the motherboard results in better sound than a 110-ohm AES/BSU (XLR) digital output off of a separate PCI sound card – but only your own ears and your own DAC can provide judgment.]
Meanwhile, the JRiver software has to be seen and heard to be believed. It is regarded as the best out there, and it is better now than ever before. We use a “remote control”, in the form of a small Android-based tablet, which is outstanding. A main objective in using this software, besides its bit-depth advantages over other software, is that it allows for amazing flexibility in how to set up the computer for playback of alternative types of audio files. For example, you can set up a separate “Zone” for multi-channel audio files (e.g., blu-ray files), if you want to play these files on your high-end 2-channel system. The computer uses DSP to down-mix 5.1 channels into 2 channels. The Zones can also be set-up to allow you to easily switch between digital inputs to your DAC(s).
The Android tablet, with the touch of one finger on the screen, can switch immediately between Zones. Also, the tablet allows you to search for an album by any of the types of information that the software (or you) has input into the Library (e.g., you can search by Conductor, Artist, etc.). As is normal with the best software, a very sexy Theater View shows all the album cover art, which can be played with the touch of a finger. Also, the JRiver software allows for multi-room playback, as do many of its competitors.
Finally, our media computers free the user from reliance on the manufacturer to maintain the user’s Library. Manufacturers such as Sooloos™ and Kaleidescape™ impose very strict rules for managing libraries (in one instance, the user needs to seek permission to delete a file; in another,. the user must prove he/she has physical possession of the blu-ray disc). Now, with our Intel-based machines, the user (or his high-definition retail advisor) maintains full control.
Speaking of retailers, it is our belief that setting-up and managing an ultra-high-end media computer is not for everyone. Especially if the user’s economic opportunity costs are high (in dollars per hour), it would be less expensive to use the highly-trained retailer than your own time. Therefore, we try to sell our machines mainly through capable retailers and system integrators. Not only will the retailer allow you to demo our machines in your own home’s system, but he will alter the JRiver configuration to suit your tastes, test for mistakes in set-up, rip your discs for you, handle any hardware problems, etc. Most importantly, he will give you more than one hands-on training session with your new equipment. We believe that these are valuable services that should be priced accordingly. Therefore, we think that there should be very significant mark-ups between our wholesale prices and the prices charged by retailers (which include the value of their services).If you are already a savvy computer audiophile, you won’t need the retailer’s services. You may even want to build your own machine. If, however, you are willing to do all the set-up and maintenance work, but DON’T want to build the machine yourself, we can sell you one of our machines at a price above dealer wholesale, but less than retail.
Finally, if your budget can’t afford one of our machines, we suggest you shop on one of the websites for internet-available audiophile computers. For in-depth knowledge about audiophile computers, no site is better than Chris Connaker’s www.computeraudiophile.com.
So, are there any downsides to owning one of our computers besides the cost? Well, if you are a 2-channel audiophile, our computers may cause you to spend more money on a better DAC. Also, if your eyes are, well, older, you may need to invest in a large flat-screen monitor for you equipment rack, which may require you to buy a new, larger equipment rack. If these things happen, we will know that we have accomplished our objective.
All of our machines are custom-built. Baetis Revolution™ has the following features:
The Baetis Revolution™ also has a 2-year warranty on hardware.
Finally, we give our customers a 90-day trial period. If you are not satisfied with our server, notify us and we’ll start a no-hassle return process. We DO require that you pay postage for returning the machine, to remove the incentive to play games with us. When the machine is received by us we send you a check for the purchase price (less the original postage, again to remove the wrong incentives).
Since our machines come with an additional coaxial RCA S/PDIF interface, you should know that our coaxial S/PDIF connector in spring loaded BNC format does sound better than the RCA interface. We think this is because the BNC interface has its own dedicated header on the motherboard, while the RCA interface and the optical interface share a header. This difference in sound quality can be heard at times on even a modest DAC. If your DAC has only an RCA coaxial input (no BNC connector), use the following cable: We can include this cable for you when you buy from us.
If your DAC or pre/pro has a BNC connector, use the following BNC-to-BNC cable, which we can include for you when you buy from us:
The photos above show generic digital cables. We have found the quality of these cables significantly affects the quality of the audio going to your DAC or pre/pro. So, Please use a good qua;ity coaxial digital cable. We highly recommend the Straight-Wire digital cables as a great bang-for-the buck. See www.thecableco.com.
Also our panel of expert advisors highly recommends that the digital cable going to the DAC be no LESS than about 1.5m in length. This is to reduce the possibility that reflected "standing waves" will harm signal quality.
All our machines have a HDMI 1.4 output. These are connected to the monitor while the S/PDIF cable is used for audio. Or, in a Home Theater set-up, the HDMI cable would go to the pre/pro for both audio and video, while a separate BNC cable might go to another 2-channel DAC that will make your 2-channel music sound much better than coming from the multi-channel pre/pro. Talk to us about these possibilities and please be open-minded. New advancements in DACs have made them immensely better than a decade ago. Some decent 2-channel DACs go for less than $600.
Internet Price for a Baetis as described above: $2995. Note that our prices are based on components, labor, and a profit margin.Recommended USB3.0 external drives:
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex portable USB3.0 drives in 1.0TB or 1.5TB sizes (Silent)Western Digital 3TB powered external USB3.0 drive (nearly silent) -- but their firmware allows only a single one to be set up on a USB3.0 port; the others must be set up on a USB2.0 port. This shortcoming is NOT in their literature; knowledge comes from experience. WD Elements USB2.0 in 2.5T size is also a very good drive that is near-silent. Again, we can include these drives, as many as you want, when you buy our computer. It is possible to hook up significantly more than 12T of drive space to the 6 USB ports on the back of our server. Also Network-Attached-Storage (“NAS”) can be unlimited, although most network server software operates at MUCH slower speeds than directly-attached storage. We recommend that the NAS be used mainly for back-up duty, although music and movies can easily be played directly from such storage devices. In any event, ripping a blu-ray disc should always be done directly to the SSD, then copied to whatever storage device you are using.
32”-42” or larger LED-lighted LCD monitor with high resolution for playing blu-ray concerts and movies; the larger the screen the easier it is to see the information you are typing into the audio library for older or foreign CDs that are not recognized by the internet’s major entertainment information databases such as Gracenote™.
Recommended Wireless Keyboard/Mouse package:
Microsoft 2000 or 3000 keyboard/mouse combos. We recommend you buy the monitor and keyboard directly from your local Staples, Costco or other chain outlet.
The Baetis Custom Audiophile Media Computer – (black or silver)
Voice: 406-686-4282; or
e-mail us your number and we’ll call you!
(Actual feet are silver/nickel color)
When you buy one of our computers, it is set up to reflect
what you tell us about your audio/video system as it now stands and as it might
be improved in the future. You’ll also
receive a special JRiver set-up manual based on our
experience. This manual is MUCH better
than the JRiver wiki which, for example, doesn’t have
many screenshots to help the reading-impaired.
We are constantly updating our JRiver manual. And if you don’t go through a retailer,
you’ll find our 1-year of telephone support immeasurably valuable.
Finally, to see why the Baetis computers surpass Sooloos™,
Kaleidescape™, Naim™, and
other high-dollar audiophile media computers, please read our PDF file – “Why
buy a Windows-based Audiophile Computer?”
Get better sound, more flexibility, more sources of
hi-def audio and video, greater longevity, and lower
cost with one of our audiophile computers.
(Actual feet are silver/nickel color)
When you buy one of our computers, it is set up to reflect what you tell us about your audio/video system as it now stands and as it might be improved in the future. You’ll also receive a special JRiver set-up manual based on our experience. This manual is MUCH better than the JRiver wiki which, for example, doesn’t have many screenshots to help the reading-impaired. We are constantly updating our JRiver manual. And if you don’t go through a retailer, you’ll find our 1-year of telephone support immeasurably valuable.
Finally, to see why the Baetis computers surpass Sooloos™, Kaleidescape™, Naim™, and other high-dollar audiophile media computers, please read our PDF file – “Why buy a Windows-based Audiophile Computer?” Get better sound, more flexibility, more sources of hi-def audio and video, greater longevity, and lower cost with one of our audiophile computers.