Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2012  |  0 comments
Pathos Acoustics was showing off their super slickly styled and touch screen endowed Musiteca music server/DAC ($7,000). The Musiteca uses a proprietary software interface, 21" touch screen, and includes a built-in CD drive for ripping, 1 TB hard drive, the same tube DAC that resides in their Pathos Endorphin CD player, USB input for importing music files from hard drive, and an Ethernet LAN connection for downloading track info and cover art.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2012  |  0 comments
Audio Research was showing a prototype of their upcoming Reference DAC Digital Media Bridge ($14,000 - $15,000). Using the same tube analog stage and power supply as the Reference 5 SE Line-Stage Preamplifier and building on the Reference DAC 8, the DAC Media Bridge adds Wired and Wireless Ethernet (802.11b/g/n) capabilities, UPnP/DLNA compliance, vTuner Radio, and six inputs including AES/EBU, S/PDIF (Coax and Toslink), and three USB 2.0 for connecting your computer, iOS device and thumb drive. Theres also a 3.5" TFT display and while there's no reference in the literature to an iOS or Android app, let's hope for the best.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2012  |  1 comments
Those looking for Big News from CES, whet your appetite with the Dynaudio XEO 3 compact monitor ($2,300 w/transmitter and remote) and XEO 5 floor standing ($4,500 w/transmitter and remote) wireless active speakers. The XEO's 2.4 GHz transmitter and receiver create their own network so they are truly plug in and play. The XEO's also have an internal DAC which can handle up to 24-bit/48kHz over their wireless connection. There are four inputs including a pair of analog RCAs, Toslink, mini USB and stereo mini jack. There's also a remote that controls volume and source. Dynaudio claims, "one Transmitter can send the signal up to 50 meters, or up to 100 meters in spaces without any boundaries" and you can connect up to three pairs of XEOs using one transmitter.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2012  |  0 comments
Peachtree Audio was showing some new/upgraded products including the pictured decco65 integrated amp/DAC. The 65 adds the following to the older Deco 2 - 25W/channel for a total of 65W/ch, Asynchronous USB as opposed to Adaptive mode USB for up to 24-bit/96kHz input, 24-bit/192kHz S/PDIF inputs, and the ESS 9023 Sabre DAC. What remains are the analog inputs, headphone amp, 6N1P tube buffer, and remote. Price for the decco65 is $899, $80 more than the Deco2 for the above-mentioned upgrades.

Trend spotting #2—Sonos as gateway drug into higher end sound quality.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  2 comments
Don't worry you're not having a flashback. That super visually active display nearly perfectly camouflages the Amphion Helium 410 ($995/pair) 2-way speakers we listened to but it doesn't really matter because those are all Amphion speakers. Standing all of 259mm high, the Helium 410s were powered by the NuForce DIA ($299) integrated amplifier/DAC playing back music from a MacBook Pro via Toslink. When I double-checked the price on-line, I ran across Stephen Mejias' show report of this very same combo from last year's CES and it made me smile.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  0 comments
Cambridge Audio's international sales manager Adam Shaw-Cotterill is shown here holding the Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus ($600) because he made me take this picture. Of course I'm joking but Adam is one of the more genial and helpful international sales managers I met at the 2012 CES and when you're spending your days walking in and out of a few hundred rooms saying hi and asking questions, it really helps when people are at least friendly. For those other less helpful people I ran into, I would offer the same advice that Jeanne Moreau offered Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita (the original French version not the crappy remake), "Smile when you don't know something. You won't be any smarter, but it's nice for others."
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  0 comments
That's obviously a stock photo which I decided to use because every one of the many pictures I took of the AktiMate Minis sucked

The new AktiMate Minis ($499/pair) powered speakers w/USB DAC are distributed in the USA by Music Hall. The Minis are a two-way active speaker of the master/slave variety as only one has a 40W Class D amplifier so the other is driven by it (I'll let you decide which one's which). Frequency response is 58 Hz - 28 kHz according to the Music Hall-provided literature. Inputs include 1 pair of RCAs, (1) 3.5mm jack, a top-mounted Apple iPod Dock and a rear-mounted USB input wich passes 16-bit/48kHz data. There's even a pair of RCA outputs to connect to a subwoofer or according to the literature, "daisy-chain pairs of AktiMates". And they come in high (really high) gloss black, red or white.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  1 comments
The new Music Hall DAC35.2 ($1,200) is more than that. Sure it's got an Asynchronous 24-bit/192kHz USB DAC and 4 S/PDIF inputs (2 Coax, 2 Toslink) that can handle the same musical load, but it adds a pair of analog inputs and 2 variable analog outputs which pass through a pair of 6922 dual triodes or 1 fixed analog output that bypasses those tubes for those who don't want to go there. So yea, it's also a preamplifier. But wait, there's more including a USB-A input so you can connect your iPod/iPad, a tube headphone amp and a remote control.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  4 comments
Some time after my review of the self-powered Paradigm Shift A2 speakers ($279/each Ash Black Grain, $329/each Premium Finishes), Paradigm decided to re-think their design primarily to deal with the tweeter noise that I and others mentioned. Well here's the new and according to Paradigm improved Shift A2! In addition to adding some user-friendly features such as a soft mute after 30 seconds without a signal passing through and a full mute after 30 minutes of silence, the tweeter level was knocked down by 8dB.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  0 comments
The Esoteric K-05 is "Esoteric's Flagship One Box Solution" (projected price $9,990). The K-05 is a CD/SACD player with three digital inputs including Asynchronous USB and S/PDIF (Coax/Toslink) each capable of handling up to 24-bit/192kHz data. If you're looking for some trend-spotting, I'd say the inclusion of a 24/192 capable USB input on spinning disk payers is certainly one of them.