HANA LAB

A Few Words about Computer Audio
(and our Offerings)

So, what exactly is "computer audio"?

Basically, it is a concept where a computer is used as an audio source - just like (or instead of) a CD player or a turntable. The music is stored on a computer hard disk in any of the usual audio formats (MP3, FLAC, OGG, WAV etc.), and the computer is used to reproduce those audio files, sending the audio output to an amplifier...

In short, instead of a CD player with one album, you get a hard disk full of music - the limit is only the space on hard disk, and the actual number of albums or tracks that you can store on a disk also depends on the audio file format and the quality (resolution) of the audio files. Speaking of quality, i.e. resolution of audio files, the quality of audio coming from a 24/96 high resolution file easily surpasses the usual CD audio quality - not to mention files in even higher resolutions (24/192 or even 32/384)...

An additional benefit is that you can use Internet music streaming services - from free Internet radio stations to subscription-based services like Spotify, Tidal, Deezer, Google Play Music, etc.

What do I need to use computer as an audio source?

- A computer, obviously - and one that can reproduce the audio files well.

You can use the audio output of the built-in audio card of your computer and connect it directly to an amplifier, but, if you tried this, you were probably disappointed. For something that could be called "audiophile" sound, you will need either a purpose-built computer with a very good quality sound card, or, more likely, an external DAC (Digital to Analog Converter). An external DAC (like an external "sound card") is generally recommended for good quality audio, since it avoids the possible interference coming from the components in the computer case itself...

So, a well-balanced computer (low-power processor, as quiet as possible, preferably fanless) and a good DAC, and you're all set. High resolution audio files can easily be purchased and downloaded from a number of online sources, so that's about it.

What kind of a computer for Hi-Fi audio?

You can try with any computer, but most likely you'll be disappointed... The usual desktop computers are either too loud, or using an operating system that's not well suited for optimal sound. Not to mention probably poorly shielded electric components (the power supply being the most likely culprit). The usual desktop operating systems (e.g. Windows) are well-suited to majority of the usual computing tasks, and, with a lot of tweaking, even for some serious audio listening. However, if you want to get the best possible sound coming from your existing computer without investing too much in new hardware, we recommend installing another operating system (Linux), with some tweaks to get the best sound possible (bit-perfect reproduction of audio). You don't really have to buy a new computer - the existing one can be tweaked to reproduce a satisfactory quality audio: but that usually involves installing some of the specialized Linux distributions, dedicated to playing high-quality audio. More about that some other time...

Our solution?

A dedicated small computer, with low power consumption, which does not need any active cooling (and is thus completely silent), and which is used just for audio. We do not offer a "Jack of all trades" multimedia solution: what we build is a music server/network streamer with a built-in DAC, which does just one thing: plays music - and does it properly.

Our Take on the Problem

Completely fanless low-powered server/streamer with an excellent sounding 2x50W Class D amplifier - more info here

Design

Design is an important part of our work. What we strive for is a minimalistic design: unobtrusive, compact, using natural materials whenever possible. The results are clean and simple objects, which will fit wherever you choose to display them.

Handmade

All our products are made by hand in our shop. Each product is made in accordance with client's wishes - with care and a lot of manual work: each product is customisable, unique and made to order.

Small is Beautiful
Some of our products and kits...

See also the Gallery.

Minimalistic audio servers

Mini fanless server with a high-quality 24/192 DAC already built-in: our own design and manufacture. Various configurations possible.

Class D amplifiers

We also build small, but capable and excellent-sounding amplifiers, in the same design as our servers/streamers. We offer various models, with power ratings from 2x20W to 2x100W.

Made and packed with care

Even our packaging follows our design philosophy: everything is natural, there is no plastic or styrofoam anywhere. The package is padded with straw, which provides protection during transport.