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Does the Wolf provide the option of downloading from sources such as HDTracks?

Yes, it does. We built the Wolf platform so that you could buy your music in the same place you play it.  That is important to us. Many devices on the market require you use a computer to buy the music, and a computer to move it onto the system. Instead, Wolf’s servers are both the computer and the audio component. You buy music from within Media Center, or through a web browser. It automatically imports and is ready to play as soon as the download is done.

Buy Hi-Res Music from: HDTracks, SuperHiRez, Sony, Blue Coast Records, 2L, AIX Records, AcousticSounds, ProStudio Masters, iTrax, NativeDSD, HighResAudio, Onkyo, Linn Records, Pono, Channel Classics, eClassical, Gubemusic, Bleep, Qobuz, etc.

Stream Music from: Tidal, Pandora, Spotify, Last.fm, Rhapsody, Rdio, Radio Paradise, Qobuz, MOG, Grooveshark, Slacker, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, NoiseTrade, Google Music, Amazon, Apple, Sony Music, TubeRadio, deskamp, Just Hear It, ShoutCast, Live365, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Jango, Songza, Aupeo, Radio Reddit, 8tracks, Jelli, Mixtaping.fm, Sworly, SoundSleeping, Twusic, Musiclovery, Stereomood, Mugasha, Turntable.fm, We Are Hunted, CitySounds, Locusic, thesixtyone, earbits, Hype Machine, Shuffler.fm, Musopen, This Is My Jam, Tweewoo, we could keep naming but at some point you’ll  think we’re just making names up. Wolf gives you access to all these sites natively.

Stream Video from: Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Sony, HBO, CBS, NBC, etc.

Does the Wolf have a DAC in it?

No, at this time we are not offering a DAC in our systems.  We have put a lot of thought into whether or not we should, and have decided that at this stage in the DAC game, the pace of innovation is moving too fast and we would not be able to bring a product to market that would match the quality of our servers. Further, the members of Wolf collectively are really big fans of separate components. We’d prefer to be able to incrementally improve our digital audio chain than spend a larger sum of money on an all-in-one device that isn’t upgradeable.

Is the Wolf equipped for MQA playback?

Yes, we can play and deliver MQA music with an app like Roon and an MQA capable DAC. Having a non-MQA DAC does not mean no music… the MQA data is stored in a sub-layer of a song file. If your DAC cannot decode the MQA data, it ignores it, and just plays the song. We don’t want to delve too heavily into it, but there are two aspects to MQA – one is packaging hi-res audio files into a smaller container better sized for streaming to phones or devices.  The other is relevant to DACs and traditional HiFi listening… the MQA process cleans up distortion and blurring – essentially ‘fixing’ the digitization process. If you don’t have an MQA capable DAC, but have MQA encoded tracks, don’t worry. The song plays, but you don’t get the ‘benefits’ of MQA encoding. Here’s an excerpt from an article that puts it succinctly:

MQA addresses the “time smearing” created by analog-to-digital conversion during the original mastering. It does this by applying a digital correction filter in a process that MQA refers to as “de-blurring.” In addition, MQA files carry information to correct for time smearing effects created on output by the digital-to-analog conversion process in an MQA-certified DAC.

When listening with an MQA-compatible software music player such as the Tidal desktop app or Audirvana+, you’ll get to hear the first origami unfold (to 88 kHz or 96 kHz, depending on the sampling rate of the original file) known as MQA core. Passing on streams to an MQA-certified DAC permits the additional unfold steps, allowing you to play hi-res files with up to a 768-kHz sampling rate.

Read more at https://www.soundandvision.com/content/what-mqa#fcJPoR1qcWSxzxrq.99

Another good article… 


Dissenting opinion:


So ultimately, yes, we do MQA, but full blown-multiple level MQA decoding takes place and requires a subscription through Roon, which incidentally (in our testing) does not sound as good as Media Center. Unfortunately, the minds behind Media Center are not sold on MQA, and aren’t doing anything to integrate.  We offer Roon, but the cost per year for the Roon subscription is $120. Roon has a great look and metadata, but sounds inferior to Media Center, and has FAR FEWER features. The Media Center license is built into the cost of the Wolf, whereas Roon is not.

As for us, we are still waiting to be wowed by MQA, we have heard tracks that were good, bad, and some merely OK.  Many people in the industry think that Bob Stuart has ensured a very comfortable retirement filled with residual royalty checks, and some are enthusiastically evangelizing it, having heard demonstrations that obliterated any question marks in their minds.  Personally, I am a little wary of those tightly controlled demonstrations as it is all too easy to manipulate the results to a favorable conclusion that benefits the aims of the presenter.

To conclude, I have high hopes for the advancement and improvement of the music that we listen to. While I can’t imagine MQA would have gotten this far without having some redeeming qualities, I might not rush out to purchase the first MQA capable DAC you find – the DAC industry is moving quickly and I am looking forward to what shakes out in 2018.

Is there a way to back up the material stored on the Wolf?

Backing up data is one of the most important aspects of our digital world. We don’t want you to suffer the pain and anguish we’ve experienced when we lost about 3TB of music. It still haunts us to this day. Storage is a wide and varied landscape that depends on the customer and his or her needs. The simplest implementation is to buy a portable external 4TB hard drive, copy your data, and put it in a drawer. When you have new music, pull the drive out and copy the new data over. Once the backup is complete, unplug the drive and put it away. Data at rest is far safer than online data (we’re talking backup and storage philosophy here). Another way to backup, and one I personally use is the NAS (network attached storage).  This device sits on your network and is usually always online, employing RAID redundancy so you can suffer a drive failure and still have all your data. and with modern drive sizes can give you many Terabytes of storage for a reasonable amount of money.

Fun fact: Wolf is working on a Storage and Ripping station device called the Echo that has redundant spinning disk storage. You can have up to 16TB redundant storage in a case half the height of our Alpha 2 series systems.   That’s 22,000 ripped CDs, 3200 DVDs, or 600 ripped Blu-ray drives, all stored in a system that feeds your Cub or Alpha 2 or Red Wolf wired or wirelessly. Interested? Email us, or watch our Newsletters for an announcement.

If you have large storage needs that go beyond audio and video, and is more IT centric, a NAS device has a lot of features beyond storage. A NAS device can hold as few as 2 drives or as many as 12, it all depends on your need and budget.  Wolf is thinking about instantiating a cloud based storage solution where you could securely upload your files and store them permanently, until and if you have a storage failure at home and need to re-download your collection.

Is more hard drive memory (storage) available for this model?

The question was posed in reference to the Alpha 2. Yes, a Wolf can be configured to pretty high levels, with a caveat. We don’t put spinning disk drives inside Wolf machines, so you are limited to using solid state storage, which maxes out at 5 drives, and 2TB* per drive. 10TB is not too shabby, but once 4TB drives become more widely available, the 10TB limit becomes 20TB. Wolf’s entire music collection, which consists of ~3000 CD rips, 400 SACD, 100 Bluray, and several thousand hi-res audio albums takes up about 8TB.

*Though there are 4TB Solid State Drives (SSD) out there, we are in the midst of the worst DRAM and NAND drought in years. DRAM is dynamic random access memory, NAND is flash storage. It’s very fast silicon, and is the main component of RAM memory that makes loading applications go so fast. It also plays a big part in the architecture of SSD’s, and this drought has kept SSD prices high for far longer than we had anticipated. As a result, 4TB SSD drives are almost non-existent, priced so astronomically that we’ve only ever bought one of them.

I have a Schiit Yggdrasil DAC with a Transparent AES/EBU connection between them, would your servers work with that connection into the Yggy DAC?

We are working on implementing the AES/EBU and BNC outputs now. Strangely, the other implementations we are seeing in the wild are outputting at 60 Ohms, instead of the 75 Ohm spec. We feel like these implementations have gotten lucky so far, but we are working to get it right.

I control the whole thing with an Apple iPad, would that work also?

Yes, Media Center apps for iPad and Android tablets (and phones) are available. While we’d still recommend having a monitor or TV handy for the times you want to delve a little deeper into the system, our music listening sessions are tablet driven. You simply pick the Albums or tracks you want to hear and click Play. Metadata, like track info, Artist Bio’s, Album Art, etc. are available on the tablet.  Wolf is working on a new tablet app that will bring many more features and options to the tablet, and will be free to Wolf customers.

I will be in Jacksonville, FL in October and would like to make an appointment

Awesome! Excellent! We look forward to it! We love showing off what we do with our Wolf systems, and just don’t have enough frequent flyer miles to get us where we want to be all the time.  Outside of Audio Shows, we try to make a couple trips a year to different shops on weekends, but can’t reach everyone… Therefore, if you are ever in North Florida, you can meet us at House Of Stereo for a demo in several awesome rooms. We have all of our Wolf’s doing various duties there, so you really get a sense of what life could be like. You can also ask your local stereo shop to get in touch with us if you’d like us to come to your area for a larger engagement.

When I transferred Hi Rez files into (a gaming server) they were down converted. Would the same thing happen again?

With a Wolf server, we assist you during the transfer process to make sure everything imports as it should from other systems in your home. The Media Center application does no conversion of the audio files during import, so your music will be safe. What application were you using? They should not have down-converted at all, are you talking about during playback, or did the app convert the High Res files into smaller files at say, 16/44.1Hz, or even mp3?  Do you have access to the original, un-converted files?

I have Tidal & Roon `{`already`}` would these transfer over also or would I have to get new subscriptions?

Your subscriptions transfer. Roon has a pretty robust licensing server which will immediately want you to unregister your laptop if moving to any other computer or server. Unregistering is simple, you click OK when logging into Roon on the new server. Tidal on the other hand can be used in several places (so far as we have seen). We use the same Tidal account on several servers here in the Wolf den.  However, that could change in the future, so we don’t want you to treat that as gospel. They could upgrade their licensing management at any time, limiting users to only one server at a time. We hope they don’t.

What is the process you recommend for copying CD's for the server?

We are pretty confident in Media Center’s ripping process and the quality of the rip, because we limit the speed of the rip – keeping errors down. We rip to FLAC at a middle of the road compression level, which will give you an album size of about 330-400MB, so half that of CD. If you have a preferred file format such as AIFF, ALAC, APE, OGG, WAV, etc. we can set the system to however you would prefer. Wolf sets the ripping process up so that when a disc is inserted, the CD rip process starts immediately, without user input required. The exception to this is if there are multiple records in the database. The application will want you to choose which version of the disc you have, as there are albums out there with multiple versions- i.e. a Japan reissue.  If you have a preferred application that you would rather use, we support that too. dbpoweramp and EAC are ripping apps that some swear by, so of course we will cater to the customers wishes and install their preferred application. We simply like the automated nature of Media Center’s internal ripping, and believe that it is as good as any other when properly configured.

Can I play SACDs on the Wolf?

Wolf’s BluRay drives can not read SACD’s, but can read the normal CD layer. Sourcing SACD transports is an expensive and difficult process, and Wolf is more focused on file-based DSD audio opposed to the physical disc medium. The number of SACD releases drops every year, and each new SACD release almost always has a digital release right alongside it. The Wolf can not read SACDs, but it will play extracted SACD – dsf, dff, and dxd – the bitstream file types of the SACD format. Get in touch with us to discuss your options if you have a large SACD collection you want converted, services exist in the world to do this for you. Just Google ‘rip SACD’ and many options should come up. If that is too technical, sites like superhirez.com will have the downloadable DSD files for sale.

Windows Tablets - The Wolf runs Windows, should I get a Windows tablet?

Since the OS used is Windows based; would it not be better to use a windows based tablet or PC rather than my iPad?

The iPad and Android tablet apps for Media Center aren’t ported to Windows based tablets.  Microsoft cancelled Project Astoria – which would have enabled us to port the existing iPad or Android apps to Windows tablet.  That being said, I WOULD NOT recommend a Windows tablet unless you have a legitimate business need. If you do have one, you could simply install another instance of the full Media Center application to control the Wolf in Server/Core configuration. We actually are working on a Server/Core edition of the Cub/Alpha/Red Wolf Lines, so let us know if you are interested in that.
Back to the topic at hand, the iPad Pro 10.5″ or 12.9″ tablets are pretty awesome tablets.  We are Android guys, we’ll never own another iPhone, but the iPad’s are a different story entirely. The apps developed  for Media Center and the one we are developing are iOS and Android only, while Windows Tablet development is not planned, at lease for now.

Does Audirvana work on a Wolf?

Audivana does indeed work on a Wolf. We are testing it out now, and definitely enjoy the design and ease of use. We are testing the sound capabilities, and can say that Audirvana has their audio act together. Like Roon, Audirvana is a great option if a good amount of your listening comes from Streaming services. Qobuz and Tidal are integrated, as is Highresaudio.com Beyond Audirvana, the Wolf can run many software titles, including different ripping applications, or any software you like really.

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