Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 16, 2012  |  0 comments
Wadia has been calling their DACs "Computers" since 1988 when they released their 2000 Decoding Computer putting them well ahead of our curve. The new 121Decoding Computer ($1,499) is a DAC/digital preamp that offers Asynchronous USB, AES/EBU (XLR), Coax (RCA & BNC), Toslink, and up to 24-bit/192kHz on all of those inputs. There are pairs of balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA outputs as well as a headphone output stage and aluminum IR remote. Wadia includes their Windows drivers on a thumb drive which is a nice touch (they're also available via download from the Wadia website).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 16, 2012  |  1 comments
DSPeaker was showing a prototype of their Anti-Mode 2.0 (projected price $1,200) that sits between your amp and preamp and offers room correction, parametric EQ, digitally controlled differential analog volume control, remote control and a USB DAC (sorry no corkscrew). Inputs consist of a pair of balanced XLRs, RCAs, Toslink, USB, and outputs incude the same pairs of XLR/RCAs, Toslink and the DSPeaker datalink connector.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2012  |  0 comments
Jon Iverson (left) and Stephen Mejias of Stereophile in the first and last milk shake show down (it was a tie)

Our best laid plans were laid to waste by the piss-poor Internet service provided by Harrah's hotel in Las Vegas. Some days and nights there was simply no service available and at best connection speed was fair to middling turning a typical 10-15 minute task into an hour-long ordeal. All that to say that I will continue to post my show coverage into tomorrow and realize that this is less than ideal and I'm deeply disappointed that I was unable to provide this content in a more timely manner. And yes, I'll admit that I'm taking time out today to watch some football and root for the NY Giants.

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.