CES 2014

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
UK-based Leema Acoustics is new to me, but they've been around since 1998, and they were showing a number of products at CES 2014 including CD players, a preamp, a phono stage, and amps. Of interest to us is their Elements Integrated Amp/DAC ($2,895) which marries a 55W integrated amp with a 24/192-capable DAC. Offering Coax S/PDIF, Toslink, asynchronous USB, and a single analog input, the Elements Integrated Amp/DAC also provides a headphone jack for personal listening.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
The very shiny thus difficult to photograph Jadis JS2 MKIII DAC ($6,700) can handle up to 24/96 data via its Coax S/PDIF, optical on ST Fiber, or USB inputs. The analog output stage employs ECC 82 dual triodes.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
I don't believe anyone at CES was more enthusiastic about their new product than John Franks of Chord. From the information sheet supplied by Chord, "...I traveled to Japan to meet with the movers and shakers in this newly emerging [mobile audio] market to see if we could bring something special to the party with the new hugely capable Spartan-6 FPGA 0.7-volt chip. With this new programmable chip, we are no longer limited by gate-count or power consumption. Freed from these constraints, our brilliant designer, Robert Watts, has at last been able to create this wonderful, landmark, truly mobile, reference-standard, beautiful-sounding design, which I'm confident you'll soon love as much as I do." I appreciate and enjoy enthusiasm. Don't you?
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
Interestingly enough, directly across the room from the qøl Signal Completion Stage was the Synergistic Research room where they also demoed some room treatments. This demo consisted of the new XOT Crossover Transducers (expected retail $399/pair) which attach to your speaker's binding posts as well as the HFTs (see Steve Plaskin's review). This was an in/out demo (I'm winking as I type) and I clearly heard a difference in the musical presentation with and without both devices. "More open | Flatter, less depth, less organic, less dimensional." is what I wrote about the XOTs in and out, and "Better sense of place | smeared spatially" is what I wrote about the HFTs in and out. While I won't discount the possibility of placebo effect, I found it interesting that the Synergistic devices and the qøl Signal Completion Stage worked similar apparent magic on my perception.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
The BSG qøl Signal Completion Stage ($3,995) is essentially room treatment in a box accept the qøl Signal Completion Stage treats your musical signal not the room. I sat in for a demo which essentially consisted of listening to music with the device on and off.

And here's what I wrote—O o. That's what the perceived sound picture looked like with the qøl on (O) and off (o) (everything flattened out without and expanded beyond the confines of the room with). For the full run down on this product, I encourage you to read John Atkinson's review in Stereophile (see review).

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
"You’re buying into a program." So explained MSB's Vince Galbo about their new Diamond Select DAC ($59,900) which is a DAC and a program. Essentially for the first year after you make your purchase, you will receive any and every upgrade that MSB can imagine for free. Even if that means they deliver a brand new chassis in the event that an upgrade warrants more space than the current chassis can accommodate. The Select program lasts for 10 years and starts life as a fully loaded Diamond DAC IV. Then, according to MSB, "These upgrades are free for the first year and simply the difference in cost between your DAC and the current select DAC for the remaining years. Guaranteed, no questions asked. Upgrade as often as you like. This DAC is kept in stock in matte Black and ready to ship. Custom colors are available but require 6 weeks lead time." Interesting, no? For the guy who has everything but wants more...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
You could write a novel about the functionality and available options for the Theta Casablanca (starts at $16,000. A typical setup averages $22-$25k according to Theta). Let's just say that this latest incarnation includes the Dirac Live digital room correction and optimization software (see review) [trendspotting] which processes data up to 24/96 while the Theta can handle up to 24/192. Inputs and outputs can include essentially anything your heart desires with the optional cards from stereo to multi-multi-channels.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
The Muse Music Source ($15,000) from Genesis Advanced Technology who are mainly known for their loudspeakers, incorporates a 1TB solid state drive, 2x USB 3.0 inputs, 1x Ethernet, and transformer-isolated RCA and XLR output pairs. The Linux-based DLNA/uPnP compatible Muse can handle up to 24/192 and DSD data and delivers streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, and Rhapsody as well as internet radio. The internal CD-ROM drive auto-rips your CDs using AccurateRip (requires an internet connection) to the internal storage and you can use a number of third party apps to control playback. From the Genesis Facebook page, "It's EXPENSIVE - to encourage you to build your own. The latest recipe (not for the G-Source obviously) is available on the Genesis website."
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
The 2.1 MicroMagic ($2,400) from Elac wraps up a DAC, sub, speakers, and 3 amps into one bundle. Consisting of the MicroSub 2010.2, and 2x ELAC 301.2 satellite speakers, the MicroMagic system offers Toslink, USB Type-B, USB Type-A, line level RCA analog, and 3.5mm aux analog inputs and can handle up to 24/96 data.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
The Prima Luna ProLogue Premium CD Player/DAC ($3,799) obviously employs vacuum tubes. While we've seen this kind of thing before, mainly in the analog output stage, the ProLogue Premium CD Player/DAC employs 2 tubes to reduce jitter. Interesting no? "...the SuperTubeClock™ replaces the solid state oscillator normally found in a CD player's digital clocking device with a mini triode vacuum tube. By using a tube, we have significantly lowered the amount of jitter and noise, resulting in superior detail retreival. This in turn yields superior detail and dynamics from top to bottom, and improved overrall musicality." (read more about it here).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The Creek Audio Evolution 50CD ($1,495) is also a 24/96-capable asynchronous USB DAC. Featuring an Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display that can read CD text where available, the 50CD also offers 2x Coax S/PDIF and 2x Toslink inputs (24/192), Coax and Toslink outputs, and single ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs. The Dacs in question are dual Wolfson WM8742 per channel and there are 5 user-selectable digital filters as well as an optional Bluetooth input ($150).

Creek will also be offering an optional DAC add-on package ($TBD) for their Evolution 50A amplifier. Trending.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
Apologies for the lousy photo(s). The diminutive palm-sized Arcam miniBlink ($149) is an aptX Bluetooth receiver that allows you to add Bluetooth connectivity to your hi-fi via any available line-level input. The miniBlink sports a mini-USB power socket, a 3.5mm audio output jack, and a "pairing button". Arcam claims a 35-40' range for pairing up your smart phone, tablet, or laptop with the miniBlink. Trendspotters take note.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
Devialet unveiled their full line-up of Audio Systems including the 110 ($6,495), 170 ($9,495), and the 240 ($17,495). The model names indicate the associated output power and you also gain more connectivity as you step up the line. The 170 adds a phono input to the 110 as well as a line level input, digital out, and sub out. The 240 can be run in mono block configuration for a total of 500WPC. Each model comes with 24/192-capable USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and a Streamer Board for network/internet connectivity. For the full scoop on Devialet, I recommend reading John Atkinson's review of the original Devialet D-Premier D/A integrated amplifier in Stereophile.
"Devialet's D-Premier amplifier is the most extraordinary product I have reviewed for Stereophile. Superb sound quality, future-proof design, everything you need in one box - it is the epitome of what a high-end audio product should be. Wow!" —John Atkinson in Stereophile Magazine
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The Krell Connect UPnP/DLNA-compliant network player comes in two flavors—without a DAC ($2,500) and with a 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC ($3,500). The Krell Connect supports FLAC, Ogg, WAV, WMA, Apple Lossless, MP-4a, and MP3 file formats up to 24/192 as well as gapless playback. Inputs include 1 pair balanced XLR, 6 single-ended RCAs, Wi-Fi, and USB, while the DAC module adds Toslink, Coax S/PDIF, and AES/EBU digital inputs. Digital outputs include 1 Coax S/PDIF and 1 TosLink while the DAC module adds balanced XLR and RCA outputs. The front panel sports a 3.5-inch QVGA LCD screen and there's a free iOS and Android app for control.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The new Cambridge Audio Minx Go ($150), Air 100 ($449), and Air 200 ($599) are Bluetooth (Minx Go) and Bluetooth/Airplay-enabled portable speakers. The Minx go offers 2 titanium tweeters, twin 2” woofers, and a rear-mounted Active Bass Radiator (ABR). The Air 100 includes 2x 100mm (4") Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers and a 100W Class D amp, while the Air 200 doubles the 100s power rating and adds a 6.5" subwoofer to its 2x 2.25" Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) drivers. All models come with a USB charging port and 3.5mm Aux input while the two larger units add an RCA input. Available in gloss black and white.

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