Munich 2016

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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 05, 2016 6 comments
It looks like a Vega with an antenna (you can easily see the one on the right but there's two). You can think of the new Auralic Altair ($1,899) as a Vega and Aries stuffed into one chassis if you'd like, but that's not the case. A competitor might say some such thing, you get the performance of much more expensive separates form our one-box solution, but I'm not so sure any manufacturer would set out to make such a thing to compete within their own product line. While the Altair inherits many of the things learned from designing the Vega and Aries, Auralic has taught the Altair everything it knows but not everything they know.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 0 comments
The only real piece of additional information I have on the Ayre Acoustics QX-5 Twenty Digital Music Hub ($TBD) beyond my previous post/announcement, is this picture. Ayre exhibited in a booth in Munich, i.e. not a room, so the QX-5 Twenty sat and posed for this photo op. Ayre's Alex Brinkman will be reading a QX-5 for an in-barn audition in the near future.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 12, 2016 0 comments
Now that's what I'm talking about: some color, some sexy. The Box-Design by Pro-Ject Audio Systems Stream Box DS net (€630) is a 24/-bit/192kHz-capable network player/DAC using the Cirrus Logic CS4344. Inputs include Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g, Ethernet, and USB, while fixed analog (RCA) & digital coax outputs (RCA) take care of connecting to your hi-fi. The Stream Box supports gapless playback and streaming from Internet Radio (vTuner), Spotify Connect, and Tidal. Since the company makes a point of stating that the Stream Box supports "FLAC decoding for all 9 compression levels including Level 0", my guess is they're using the streaming modules from Stream Unlimited.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 1 comments
You mean Brinkmann of Brinkmann turntable fame? Yup (they actually made their first DAC back in 1986, the Zenith). The brandy new Nyquist DAC (€12,000), which is RoonReady and MQA-enabled, currently processes PCM resolutions to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD128 but since the Nyquist is modular in design, future upgrades can be done in the field with a simple hardware/software swap. Inside resides a hybrid circuit topology employing tubes in the output stage, leveraging their "instantaneous response to voltage changes."
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 11, 2016 0 comments
I always enjoy my visit to the CAD room mainly because CAD's proprietor, Scott Berry, is an interesting guy to talk to and the system that finds his DAC paired with electronics and speakers from Boenicke Audio is a pleasure to listen to. His CAD 1543 MKII DAC (£7,200) is a R-2R resistor ladder DAC using 16 NOS Phillips TDA 1543/N2 chips (because the company "believes that sigma delta technology used in current DAC chips does not sound as natural as resistor ladder technology"). The CAD 1543, which supports PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHZ, is non-oversmapling with no output filtering. I'd recommend a visit to the CAD website since it goers into some details about the company's approach to DAC design.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 11, 2016 2 comments
When I go into the dCS room at any hi-fi show, I know that two things are going to happen: I'm going to hear great music and it's going to sound great. The former, and in many ways the latter, are due to dCS' John Quick. While I often make fun and sometimes complain about the music played at hi-fi shows since it falls somewhere between absolutely dreadful, painfully cliché'd, and "Really? Are you kidding me?" (especially in Munich), some people actually enjoy music. John Quick enjoys music.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 11, 2016 8 comments
How much time do you spend at your bathroom sink? If the answer is "a lot", then Denon has a set of speakers for you. The HEOS 1 ($199/ea.) are wireless and Bluetooth endowed and can pass PCM resolutions up to 24-bit/192kHz (AIFF and DSD support are coming soon). The HEOS app supports Internet Radio and a number of streaming services including the only one that really matters, Tidal.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 0 comments
What's a WAMP? DigiBit introduced their unqiue WAMP mono power amplifier/wireless media streamer/DAC (€2,000/pair), which is designed to sit under your passive speakers (custom plinths are available for any speaker) turning them into active streamers that will accept up to 24-bit/192kHz data and pump out 150 Watts of Class D power (into 8 Ohms).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 11, 2016 2 comments
I already covered the RoonReady ELAC Discovery Music Server DS-101 ($999) at CES 2016 (see ELAC Are On Fire!) so I'm only going to say one thing:
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 0 comments
EMM Labs had their flagship DA2 ($25,000) at work in an EMM Labs/Lansche Audio system. I noted "effortless power" which makes sense seeing as the MTRX2 monoblocks ($85K/pair) deliver a "conservatively rated" 600W into 8 Ohms and 1000W into 4 Ohms and those Lansche Audio horn-loaded speakers house dual 19" woofers. Woof!.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 12, 2016 0 comments
You're looking at, among other things, a Western Electric 11A horn system c.1924 (before the advent of electrical recording) courtesy of the fine folks at Silbatone Acoustics. Silbatone's own electronics designed by J.C. Morrison provided the juice (using vintage, and I mean vintage VT-1 and VT-2 triodes), while one of Frank Schroeder's or Thomas Schick's tonearms rode the grooves. All-in-all, this was the most goosebumps inducing sound at The Show, at least according my goosebumps-O-meter, as it was able to convey the life in music. I find some systems, OK some modern systems, pale in comparison on this note, delivering a strained sounding imitation more intent on sound effects than music or in the worse case serving up music that is, for all intents and purposes, DOA. A corpse.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 0 comments
One of things you encounter at High End Munich are companys looking to make connections. Japan's Fidata is one such company and they were showing their HFAS1-S10 network music server ($TBD) which houses a 1TB SSD (two 850EVO high-reliability SSDs from Samsung), a 25 Mhz low-phase-noise vacuum-type crystal oscillator, and USB or Ethernet out for connecting to your USB DAC or streamer of choice.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 10, 2016 0 comments
Grimm Audio whose hands, knowledge, experience, and products reach deep into the pro audio world, continue to improve their active (NCore-based) LS1 speakers. The new LS1be three-way (€36000/pair, incl VAT) add a new custom beryllium tweeter manufactured by SEAS, upgraded electronics, new cabinet material, and a digitally controlled motion feedback controlled woofer. The LS1be's price also includes the USB controller and all cabling for a plug and play solution (the DAC, DSP, and amps reside in one of its legs).
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: Apr 26, 2016 3 comments
One week from today I head out to Bavaria for the Octoberfest of Audio in München. The High End Show feels like a party, a hi-fi and music bash, filled with people: Shiny happy people.
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Michael Lavorgna Posted: May 12, 2016 2 comments
The big digital news from Munich is something that you have to put together. It's not a single thing, rather an accumulation of things. I know, so much for simplicity. But it is simple.

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