Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Yet another North American premier, the Lector Digicode S-192 DAC ($6,500) was sitting all dark and handsome in the Audio Arts room. Capable of 24-bit/192kHz playback on each of its five inputs that include 3 S/PDIF (Toslink, RCA and BNC), AES/EBU, and asynchronous USB. There's also a Word Clock input and the outputs include a pair of RCAs, balanced XLRs, and S/PDIF BNC. I hope you can at least make out that faint blue glow because behind it sit a pair of ECC-81/12AT7 vacuum tubes used in the output stage. That little brother to its left (our right) is the external power supply.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Another North American product premier, the Atoll Electronique DAC200 (CA$2,400) offers up to 24-bit/192kHz from each hardwired input including 1 AES/EBU, 5 S/PDIF (2 Coax and 3 Toslink), and 1 Asynchronous USB. There's also an included USB wireless dongle offering up to 16/44.1 CD-quality input. The output side is equally well-endowed with 2 S/PDIF (Coax and Toslink), a pair of RCAs and a pair of XLRs. The DAC200 also incorporates a digital volume control if you'd like to forego a preamp.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Another enticing product on silent display, the exaSound Audio Design e18 DAC is jam-packed with features and its available for a limited time "at our special introductory price of $1,999". The e18 can play DXD 352.8 kHz files (via USB input) and supports stereo or 8 channels at up to 32-bit/384kHz. Inputs include Asynchronous USB (up to 384 kHz), 2 S/PDIF - Toslink (up to 96kHz) and Coax (up to 192kHz), and there are 4 pairs of RCA outputs. There's also a digital volume control, a headphone amp, custom drivers for MAC and PC users, and all in all the exaSound e18 DAC looks like we need to learn more about one up close and personal. I'll see what I can do...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
The T+A DAC 8 ($TBD but "under $3,000") is making its North American debut at SSI 2012 but in a silent way as it was on silent display. Capable of delivering 24-bit/192kHz on all inputs that include 4 RCA S/PDIF, 1 Toslink, 1 BNC, 1 AES/EBU, 1 Asynchronous USB, and for T+A system owners the "Control Link". Outputs include balanced and single-ended RCAs as well as RCA S/PDIF. The DAC 8 can also act as a preamp as it includes an analog volume control. There's also 4 digital and 2 analog filters so you can shape the sound to your liking. Did I mention there's also a front-mounted headphone jack? And...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
You read that right—44.1 > 705.6kHz which represent the incoming and outgoing sample rates. CH Precision made their North American debut at the 2012 CES and I missed their room that time, but not this time. You're looking at the front panel of the C1 Digital to Analog Controller ($33,000 + optional boards), an upsampling DAC (to say the least) that offers "linearized R2R, 4x PCM1704 per channel, 705.6/768kHz, factory calibrated DSP Processing CH-HiD synchronous up-sampler, DSD to PCM and resolution enhancer Analog output stage...". The C1 can handle native DSD playback and there's also a digital/analog volume control, and optional boards including an Ethernet interface ($6,000) or what CH Precision refers to as a "Network Audio Streaming board (clock master up to 24/196)" and Asynchronous USB ($3,750).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 22, 2012  |  5 comments
Tim Murison of BitPerfect

If you don't already know (but you should), BitPerfect ($4.99) is an add-on application for iTunes that makes it sound better. BitPerfect also adds some very useful and practical features including automatic sample rate switching, gapless playback, memory playback and integer mode to name just a few. And it does all of that for under five bucks.

Perhaps the most interesting thing we learned in the BitPerfect room at SSI 2012 is the new beta version of BitPerfect ($TBD available "in a few months") sounds a lot better than the existing version. And I'd go as far as saying it sounds a hell of a lot better as it makes your music sound more compelling. More like the kind of musical presentation that you can dive into and get lost within without getting distracted by the fact that you're listening to recorded music through a bunch of stuff.

But from a certain perspective there's bigger news to this news and that's only half of the story.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 22, 2012  |  6 comments
Today is Press Day at SSI 2012 and the festivities begin at 11:00am. I've heard word that some Exhibitors may not be ready for prime time until tomorrow but I certainly plan to find out. I've also made contingency plans and mapped out a few of the nearest used record shops (there appear to be a lot in Montreal!) ya know, just in case.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 20, 2012  |  1 comments
Intel is promising optical Thunderbolt cables later this year. What's the big deal? From Intel,
“Copper cables provide adequate data transfer for use over short distances of up to six meters (about 20 feet), but optical cables will be good for data transfers over longer distances of tens of meters”
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 20, 2012  |  0 comments
In a widespread rumor first reported by Business Insider and based on a single unnamed source (I guess they're really loud), Beats Music/HTC has bought music streaming service provider MOG. Exactly what Beats Music/HTC wants with MOG's 14M+ tracks and reported 500k subscribers remains to be seen but in a related rumor Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC, who bought 51% of Beats last year for a $300M investment in the company, has been looking to differentiate their service by focusing on music and offering their own streaming service for their smartphones and tablets. A MOG acquisition sure reads like a nice pre-packaged solution.

What this means to current MOG subscribers and if this rumor is in fact something more than that will have to wait for further information. As of now, MOG is not talking.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 19, 2012  |  0 comments
I'm packing my valice and getting ready for the trip North. This is the 25th Montreal Hi-Fi Show and my first time attending. I'm looking forward to great Hi-Fi (in 100 Exhibitor rooms), great crowds (rumor has it they'll be 10,000 attendees and I hear audiophiles in Canada come in all shapes and sizes), great music, and great food.