The portable audio market is certainly heating up and Alpha Design Labs has added another contender with the A1 (€499). The A1 can connect to Android, iDevices, PCs and Macs and its Cirrus Logic CS4392K DAC can handle up to 24/192 PCM data as well as DSD128. The headphone amp is based on the Texas Instruments TPA6130A2 offering max output levels of 70mW(12 ohm), 80mW(16 ohm), 65mW(32 ohm), 38mW(56 ohm), 9mW(300 ohm).
I was very favorably impressed with Digibit's Aria Server (see review) so I was happy to see them in Munich showing off the Aria's little brother the DLNA and AirPlay-enabled Aria Mini ($3200). The Mini can accommodate up to 2TB of HDD storage or 1TB of SSD storage into its fanless and fun form factor. You can attach to your network-attached storage via Ethernet/Wi-Fi or USB storage via its USB input. The Mini also houses a 32/384 and DSD128 capable DAC or you can opt to exit through its USB output (ASIO, WASAPI and Kernel streaming) to your DAC of choice.
Krakow Poland's Abyssound had their brand spankin' new ASA-1600 (€4500) on silent display. The integrated amp packs 160 Watts (into 8 Ohms) of dual mono output power, an MM/MC phono preamp, 24/192-capable DAC (Coax, Toslink, AES/EBU, and USB inputs), 5 RCA inputs, 1 XLR input, and a headphone amp into one handsome package.
Aurender had their N10 Caching Network Music Player ($8000) on display along with the company's other impressive servers including the W20, X100, and N100(H). The N10 comes with 240GB of SSD storage for caching playback and 4TB (2x 2.5" 2TB) of HDD storage. There's an Ethernet input for connecting to the Internet and your NAS if you require more than 4TB of storage. Outputs include USB, Toslink, Coax and AES/EBU and the N10 supports PCM playback up to 24/192 and DSD128. Aurender also supports Tidal's lossless streaming service (yeah!).
Here's another bug from AQ this time in the form of the small form factor Beetle DAC ($149). This 24/96-capable Digital to Analog Converter (ESS 9010) accepts USB, Toslink, and asynchronous Bluetooth inputs. The Beetle can be powered from the USB bus or from the included linear power supply. That Toslink input is squarely aimed at real-people devices like Apple TV or Sonos Connect and I got to hear a comparison with/without the little Beetle and guess what? The Beetle-endowed Connect sounded better. Much better.
We first the laid eyes on the AudioQuest Jitterbug ($49), albeit naked, back at CES 2015. We learned that this little USB dual-function USB line conditioner promises improved sonic performance from your USB-connected DAC for two main reasons: VBUS and line conditioning for data, as well as improvements in S/N ratio and a reduction in jitter and parasitic resonances. There's that darn noise in digital data transmission thing again. Duck and cover.
Melco (Maki Engineering Laboratory Company) began as audio company in 1975 producing the belt-driven, heavy platter'd Melco turntable. They proceeded to morph into "the largest computer peripherals manufacturer in Japan, offering advanced products based on rigorous R&D, including Wireless routers, Ethernet Data Switches and storage devices such as NAS drives." Well, Melco's getting back into their audio roots while leveraging their technological prowess.
While the Internet connection in my hotel is currently working (fingers crossed), I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for not posting. When I first arrived on Wednesday, everything was hunky dory with our connectivity. As the week progressed, our fragile connection to the world at large became increasingly spotty to the point of simply not working. Let's hope the hotel has this all sorted.
There's a new Moon in town and this one incorporates the Moon MiND network player (see review) making the 780D more than just-a-DAC. The Simaudio 780D ($15,000) fits into the company's flagship Evolution Series and is capable of playing back up to 32/384 PCM files and quad rate DSD.