We first saw the Merging Technologies NADAC ($10,000 stereo, $11,500 multichannel-8) back at CES 2015 and the buzz that was buzzing then has only gotten louder. Merging Technologies had to hold a rock, paper, scissors death match at RMAF 2015 to keep hi-fi writers from offing each other to get the first review sample (kidding). The most obvious technological NADAC stand-out has to be its RJ45 Ethernet input (RAVENNA/AES67) which promises transmission accuracy and, well, great sound.
Bakoon Products have been quietly doing their own thing in Japan for the past 30 years. Their simple system at RMAF 2015 was comprised on the DAC-21 SATRI D/A Converter ($3,500) and AMP-51 SATRI current-mode Amplifier ($12,495) driving a pair of Wilson Audio Sasha 2 speakers ($29,500). The Bakoon DAC and Amp were connected via SATRI-LINK, i.e. current-mode signal transfer, about which the company states:
I entered the CAS Audio room mainly because I was intrigued by the OPTIMISTA muse 2-way green ceramic speakers ($13,000/pair) sporting a RAAL ribbon tweeter. There was also a laptop sitting center stage so there had to be DAC, too.
RMAF Reporting Intermission*: I brought two tracks from the Jimi Hendrix Experience's third release Electric Ladyland to RMAF 2015; "Voodoo Chile" and "Rainy Day, Dream Away". The rip is from the Japanese import CD [UICY-93142] with the original UK cover art (pictured above in Jimi's teeth). I've been listening to Electric Ladyland since the 1970's and this import CD is the best sounding digital version I've heard. In general, I've found the UK Trax Records LPs (especially the mono releases) and the first run tri-color label Reprise LP's to be the ones to look out for on vinyl. I think everyone should own Electric Ladyland and love it which tells you something about me ;-)
Neal Van Berg of Sound Science has been busy building his forthcoming flagship server, the Music Vault Epiphany (around $10k). As you can see, Eric has pulled out all of the steam punk stops with Epiphany but those looks are mostly functional. That Metropolis-looking tower is all heatsink, baby, to cool the Intel Core I7 Processor. There will be 32GB of RAM and 2TB of SSD storage as well as all of the sonically advantageous goodies Neal has garnered from building his Music Vault servers.
the DirectStream DAC sits in between the BHK Signature Preamplifier and the PerfectWave Memory Player transport
The PS Audio DirectStream DAC ($5,999) never ends. With each firmware upgrade (I think "upgrade" is appropriate in this case more so than "revision"), designer Ted Smith improves the damn DAC. For free. That makes my two-revision-old review, um, irrelevant (click the link to find out what the DirectStream does). Of course from an owner's perspective this is a beautiful thing. From PS Audio's view, I'd imagine it's kinda like the DAC that keeps on giving.
the Veritas' skeleton is milled from a block of aluminum
I have never, in my entire life, correctly typed Resonessence. I actually dread trying because I know I should know how many s's and n's there are by now but I don't. Thank you Google. The new Resonessence Labs Veritas DAC ($2,850) sits comfortably between the company's Concero DAC ($850 see review) and Invicta ($4,995 see review). If you read those reviews, as well as Steve Plaskin's review of the Mirus DAC, you'll see that we think Resonessence (I just cut and paste once I have it down) Labs makes some fine DACs. From what I heard at RMAF, the Veritas adds another to that category.
That about says it all, no? The Questyle T2 Transmitter ($999 pictured above) accepts up to 24-bit/192kHz data via coax S/PDIF, Toslink, and asynchronous USB inputs. Then T2 then sends the digital data via WiFi, "transmitting uncompressed 24bit/22M audio signal in the 5.2GHz/5.8GHz frequency band" according to the company, to the Questyle receiving amp/DAC, in this case the 200W R200 Wireless Mono Amplifiers ($999/ea.).
I'm not going to get into the interesting details behind the Vinnie Rossi LIO ultracapacitor-powered Integrated Amplifier (starts at $2,495) since Sterophile's Herb Reichert has done so in a full review. The LIO is a modular design and one available plug-in is a PCM/DSD DAC (+$895 and offers up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 support) based on a pair of AKM AK4399 D/A chips per channel.
I think it's safe to say that Well Rounded Sound's Jerry Cmehil appreciates industrial design and music. Why else would he be in the hi-fi business? I try to make it a point to stop into the Well Rounded Sound room at shows because Jerry typically plays good music that sounds good. His WRS EXP SE speakers (4,999/pair w/stands) were running off the Hegel H80 integrated amp/DAC ($2,000) and this simple system was putting out some lovely sounds.