Wadia's Intuition 01 was on silent display (rats!) but looking as sleek as ever. The Intuition marries a 350W/ch amplifier, preamplifier, and 32/384kHz and native DSD playback (via USB) that employs the ESS 9018 SabreDAC. There are a total of 7 inputs including the usual digital suspects (1x USB, 1x Toslink, 2x Wadialink/I2S, 1x AES/EBU, 2x Coax S/PDIF) as well as 2 analog inputs. The Intuition upsamples all incoming PCM data to 1.536 MHz using the Wadia Delta-SigMaster FIR 32-bit upsampling algorithm and counts as another entry in our "Simplification" trendspotting lineup.
The B.M.C. PureDAC ($1,600) that was first spotted at CES on silent display and will be shipping in June. The PureDAC is more than a DAC, adding a balanced preamplifier and balanced headphone amplifier while offering asynchronous USB, AES/EBU, Toslink, and Coax S/PDIF inputs, and balanced and single-ended outputs. The PureDAC can handle up to 384kHz PCM data as well as DSD, it includes a nice aluminum remote, and as you see from its mug shot is very nicely put together. All for 1600 smackers. Nice.
The Beast, "Der ultimative HighEnd Server", from ReQuest Audio of Switzerland is a music server and I must have lost the accompanying data sheet in my travels and have no other information besides "Coming Soon" on their website. Dammit! I do recall that ReQuest worked with MSB Technology and The Beast was on display in the MSB room. If I turn up more info, I'll update this pitiful post.
MSB Technology was pulling out all the stops with a stack of multicolored Analog DACs that Steve Plaskin recently reviewed (in just one color) very favorably. I'll be doing a follow-up review and the review sample Analog DAC is already here rarin' to go. If you're wondering why the follow-up, the reason is simple—interest. I wanted to hear the Analog DAC for myself after being repeatedly impressed at various hi-fi shows.
I was very happy to see and hear the Auralic Vega Digital Audio Processor ($3,500) that I so thoroughly enjoyed (see review) and continue to enjoy. The Vega was coupled with Auralic's Taurus preamplifier ($2,099) and two pair of Merak 400W monoblock amplifiers ($4,995/pair) driving a pair of YG Acoustics Sonja™ 1.2 speakers ($72,800/pair). All together, this system produced a clean, clear, and powerful musical portrait.
So often in Hi-Fi it’s as if we have no memory. Its as if we’re led around by the nose solely with whiffs of the latest and greatest (blame reviewers, I know). But there are companies and products out there that remind us of things past and Silbatone Acoustics (visit their website for a history lesson) is a champion among suchlike. For Munich 2013, Mr. Chung & Co. brought in a pair of Western Electric Mirrophonic theater speakers from 1936 and this room and this system not only reminds us of our shared hi-fi heritage, but it also serves to illustrate that progress in hi-fi is not always linear.
The active display in the Amphion consisted of a simple €10k setup featuring the Amphion Two15 professional monitors (€1500/each), Lindell Audio AmpX ($1,599.99), and the Antelope Audio Zodiac+ DAC/Preamp ($2,695). The desktop/near field (trendspotting again) strikes me as the new hi-fi frontier mainly because so many of us spend so much time in front of a computer monitor with terabyte-busting music collections of increasing quality. With speakers and systems like this Amphion-based rig, you can get exceptional near field performance without busting your bank account.
There's a whole bunch of buzz over the France-based totaldac components designed by Vincent Brient. There are a few versions of their R2R DAC including the totaldac d1-dual DAC (€9,900), totaldac d1-tube DAC (€6,960), and the d1-single DAC (€6,960). All of the versions can handle up 24/192 via asynchronous USB, Coax S/PDIF (BNC), and AES/EBU inputs, and 24/96 via Toslink. There's an integrated volume control as well as an adjustable 12dB/oct high pass filter and a 69-bit 2 or 3-way active crossover for taming your system's sound in-room. I encourage you to read more about totaldac on their website but from the bit I heard, I'd certainly like to hear more.
Copenhagen, Denmark based Audiovector was showing their Si 3 Avantgarde Arreté speakers that come in a passive version (€8,000/pair) and an active version (€13,000/pair). We listened to the active version and while I was there Jay Rein of Bluebird Music treated me to some tunes from an iPad using the Sennheiser BTD 500 USB Wireless Bluetooth Transmitter ($59.95) which uses the apt-X® audio codec streaming to an Arcam rBlink Bluetooth DAC ($249.00). If I was trendspotting, and I was, I'd point to another example of a simplified system along with the ability to feed your system music from a variety of sources including the ubiquitous iOS or Android-based devices.