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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 14, 2015 1 comments
The Mola Mola Makua Preamplifier/DAC ($13,450) is one very interesting piece of technology and its designer, Bruno Putzeys, is one very intelligent and affable person. I wish I'd brought my recorder to record everything Bruno told me about the Makua's DAC because my hand could not keep up with his mind. What I can tell you, with some help from the Mola Mola website, is that the discrete D/A conversion process in the Makua DAC is completely homegrown, designed from the ground up by Bruno using no off-the-shelf DAC chips. All incoming data is passed through a three layered board. First, all incoming data is upsampled to 32-bit/3.125MHz "and converted to noise shaped PWM. The two remaining boards are mono DACs, in which a discrete 32-stage FIR DAC and a single-stage 4th order filtering I/V converter convert the PWM into analogue with a breathtaking 140dB SNR."
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 14, 2015 0 comments
I'd heard tale of an "audiophile NAS" years ago coming out of Asia. Rumor had it that electronics and NAS manufacturer Buffalo had started an off-shoot brand called Dela to support this effort. Alas, nothing ever officially showed up in the US. That is until now. Melco is that company and they offer two "High End Source Component for High-Res Music", aka Network Attached Storage. Pictured above are the insides of the N1Z ($8000) which houses, as you can see, two 2.5" 512GB SSDs.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 0 comments
North Carolina's Cary Audio was showing a number of new digital products including the fully balanced TL-300d tube preamplifier ($7995) which includes a 32/384 and DSD256 capable DAC. The TL-300t utilizes four 12AX7’s and two 12AU7’s carrying on the Cary tube tradition. The TL-300d includes 4 analog inputs and 5 digital inputs including Asynchronous USB, aptX Bluetooth, 3x Coaxial S/PDIF, Toslink, and AES/EBU. Outputs include balanced XLR and single ended RCA pairs.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 0 comments
The new Aavik Acoustics U-300 Unity Amplifier ($30,000) is actually a full function integrated amp and DAC. The U-300 offers a phono input, 3x analog line level inputs, and 5 digital inputs (2x RCA Coax S/PDIF, 2x Toslink, and 1x USB). The Coax and USB inputs are capable of handling up to 24/192 data while the Toslink maxes out at 24/96. On the amp side, we're looking at 300W of Class D power ("not ICE") into 8ohms, and double that into 4. Aavik is a joint project between the designer of the wonderful Raidho Acoustics speakers, cable manufacturer Ansuz Acoustics, Michael Borresen, and "some of the best analog and digital designers that the world has to offer."
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 6 comments
While you could write a doctoral thesis on the technology behind Meridan's MQA (Master Quality Authenticated), I'm going to take the easy way out and point you to John Atkinson's excellent article in Stereophile for a thorough introduction. Essentially, MQA is an encoder/decoder that claims to losslessly compress high resolution digital audio files down to much smaller file sizes (about the size of uncompressed CD-quality) with no loss in sound quality. As a matter of fact, Meridian claims MQA processing actually outperforms regular old high resolution audio formats.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 1 comments
While I've covered the Bel Canto Black twice before (see report), Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio whose speakers were in use along with the Black components, shared an interesting A/B comparison. What we compared was the Ethernet and USB inputs on the Bel Canto C1 Controller (pictured above) being fed from a MacBook. What I heard from the Ethernet connection was greater clarity and ease as compared to USB. Take that for what it's worth.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 1 comments
SOtM, whose products I've enjoyed (see the list), were showing the as yet to be priced iSO-CAT6 Ethernet signal noise eliminator. While we've seen plenty of similar devices for USB, this is only the 2nd Ethernet device I'm aware of, the other being the totaldac ethernet cable/filter. Maybe we should do a shootout instead of just a shoutout!
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 0 comments
That's MLife ($48,000), I tell you I can't deny it, I thought of quitin' babe, but my heart just ain't gonna buy it...Dan D'Agostino has gone and added a full fledged UPnP streamer to his integrated amp including aptX Bluetooth, AirPlay, and Tidal's lossless streaming service. There's a 5-inch color LCD display, USB, Toslink, and Coax S/PDIF inputs which support up to 24/192 data as well as an XLR analog input. Additional streaming services including Spotify, Deezer, and Sirius XM are coming soon.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 0 comments
I was mightily impressed with the Chord Electronics Hugo (see review) which continues to cause quite a stir on audiophile forums today. The new and larger Chord Hugo TT (£2,995) is meant for the Table Top and offers "a USB-B input, XLR outputs, two ¼-inch headphone outputs, plus improved performance and features." These improved features include the use of supercapacitors "extending the battery life as well as improving dynamics and demanding transients in recorded music" according to Chord. The TT also ups the ante by supporting up to 32/384 audio via coax and USB, and 24/192 over optical, plus DSD64 on all inputs and DSD128 via coax or USB (all via DoP). The TT also throws in Bluetooth connectivity (with a range of 40 meters) and a remote control.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 13, 2015 0 comments
McIntosh have gone all out with their D150 Digital Preamp/DAC/Headphone Amp (pricing info coming soon). The D150's USB input supports up to 32/384, DXD, and DXD 384kHz. Additional inputs include 2x coaxial and 2x Toslink which support up to 24/192 data. There's also a "unique DIN input" which "connects to select McIntosh SACD/CD transports or players for the purist possible sound quality". Outputs are the expected RCA and XLR pairs and come in fixed and variable varieties.

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