CES 2015

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 14, 2015 1 comments
Ayre also had a Pono player on display since it houses their digital and analog circuitry. Alex Brinkman of Ayre suggested I give the Pono player a spin comparing single-ended and balanced operation through a pair of Sennheiser HD650 cans. So I did.
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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 15, 2015 0 comments
The Adcom GIA-275 Integrated Audio Multimedia ($1199) wraps up an 80 watts/channel into 8 ohms integrated amp, a 24/192 and DSD-capable Wolfson DAC, headphone amp, Bluetooth (A2DP and aptX), digital (USB, 2x Coax S/PDIF and 2x Toslink) and analog RCA inputs into one fairly tiny (9.75" x 9" x 3.5") black box.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 0 comments
ADL's GT40 got upgraded to α (alpha) status ($529) which includes the ability to record your LPs in 24/192 resolution (the GT40 was limited to 24/96) using the Cirrus Logic CS4270 DAC/ADC chip. The alpha version also comes with upgraded phono and volume stages according to the company. Inputs include USB Type B and an analog MM/MC input (RCA) and RCA outputs.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 0 comments
While I've covered the magisterial looking Antelope Audio Rubicon DAC ($40,000) before (see full report for details), another picture is always welcome in my book, er, site, and the Rubicon now supports DSD128 playback via USB.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 1 comments
Reader "beaur" asked, "keep an eye out for an integrated media solution. What I am thinking of is an Aurender/similar product that has [an] easy to navigate interface that would allow me to stream both music and movies etc. essentially what I want is a hires hi end AppleTV." Well here you go, Arcam introduced a prototype of their new Solo Movie all-in-one home theater/network player (around £2000). Offering 5 x 60W (into 8 Ohms), the ability to play Blu-ray, CD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and SACD discs, the Solo also includes a UPnP/DLNA network player and Bluetooth streaming. The Solo Movie will be available Q2 2015.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 07, 2015 Published: Jan 08, 2015 9 comments
49 bucks buys you some of the soundest improvements I've heard for anywhere near the price.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 6 comments
Very high on my "Can't wait to hear this in my system" list was the new Aurender caching N100 network streamer ($2499). Capable of handling up to 32/384 PCM and DSD128, the N100 offers Ethernet and USB inputs and a USB output as well as 120GB of SSD storage for caching. I've been very favorably impressed with Aurender's S10 music server (see review) and their less expensive X100L server (see review) in terms of both their build quality and more importantly their sound quality. In addition, the Aurender app is one of the user-friendliest around. Another cool feature of the N100 is the ability to stream from Tidal's lossless streaming service which is also controlled from within the Aurender app. You can even mix music from Tidal and your NAS on the same playlist! You can also opt for an optional 1TB SSD internal storage ($TBD).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 0 comments
Aurender also had a listening room across the hall from their silent displays featuring none other than the ever-elusive Berkeley Alpha DAC Reference Series ($16,000). The Alpha DAC can handle PCM resolutions up to 24/192 and Berkeley recommends converting DSD to PCM prior to sending it to their DAC. So there! Inputs include AES, 2x S/PDIF (BNC 75Ω), and Toslink while outputs include RCA and XLR pairs.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 12, 2015 0 comments
While I reported on the Avantgarde Acoustic ZERO 1 ($16,000) from Munich nearly two years ago (see report for full details on the ZERO 1), I thought I'd mention their appearance at CES 2015. The ZERO 1s wrap everything you need (DAC, preamp, and amp with USB, Toslink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and optional analog inputs stuffed inside a pair of horn-loaded loudspeakers) in one slick package.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 14, 2015 1 comments
In a surprise move, Ayre Acoustics has come out with the Codex headphone amp /DAC/Preamp with a projected retail price of $1500 (that's the surprising part). The Codex supports PCM playback up to 32/384 and DSD128 using the ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC chip. Inputs include asynchronous USB and Toslink, while the outputs consist of a 1/4" headphone jack, 2x 3.5mm headphone jacks (configurable as balanced), and pairs of single ended RCAs and balanced XLRs. Like all of Ayre's products, the Codex is a fully balanced zero-feedback design and contains Ayre's custom digital filter as found on the QB-9 DSD DAC.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 15, 2015 2 comments
that's Stereophile's Jon Iverson getting the full 3D effect

One the biggest and most mind-boggling moments of CES 2015 was delivered by Professor (of applied physics) Edgar Choueiri of Princeton University. I'd bumped into HDtracks David Chesky, whose binaural recordings are helping to spread the word about 3D sound and Bacch 3D, a number of times at CES, and each time he reminded me that I had to see and hear what Professor Choueiri had to offer. I was intrigued since David has never led me astray in the past and I'd been hearing raves about Bacch from everyone who'd heard it. What is BACCH 3D Sound? In brief the technology behind Bacch is a tonally transparent realtime inter-aural crosstalk cancellation filter. How's that for an oversimplification!

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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 14, 2015 0 comments
I'm a fan of the entire Bluesound lineup including the original Pulse (see review). For CES 2015, Bluesound was showing the upcoming Pulse Mini (targeted retail price $499) hitting stores in April. The Pulse Mini includes the Bluesound networking capabilities, so it can play up to 24/192 music from your NAS, stream music from the Internet, Bluetooth, and through the recently announced deal, you can now stream from Tidal's lossless streaming service.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Jan 14, 2015 1 comments
While Boulder calls their new 2120 ($55,000 - $60,000) a DAC, shown in prototype form at CES 2015, it's really a DLNA/UPnP compliant network player complete with a Boulder-developed control point app. The 2120 is a four-chassis built like a tank beast, modeled after the matching Boulder 2110 Preamplifier. The separate chassis house the power supply, the logic and user interface, while the top two contain the left and right channel analog stages. Each analog stage and the logic chassis has it's own dedicated power supply, "in addition to a fourth which handles only a low power consumption standby mode".

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