Munich 2015

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Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
Krakow Poland's Abyssound had their brand spankin' new ASA-1600 (€4500) on silent display. The integrated amp packs 160 Watts (into 8 Ohms) of dual mono output power, an MM/MC phono preamp, 24/192-capable DAC (Coax, Toslink, AES/EBU, and USB inputs), 5 RCA inputs, 1 XLR input, and a headphone amp into one handsome package.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
That's the Media One (€9500 pictured on top) from Alluxity, a 32/384 and DSD128-capable network player/DAC offering a web-based control app. My notes on the Media One are rather sparse and the company's website offers no additional information. I did note there are RCA and XLR outputs. Apologies for the scant info. Alluxity is the brain child of Alexander Vitus the son of Hans Ole Vitus of Vitus Audio.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
The portable audio market is certainly heating up and Alpha Design Labs has added another contender with the A1 (€499). The A1 can connect to Android, iDevices, PCs and Macs and its Cirrus Logic CS4392K DAC can handle up to 24/192 PCM data as well as DSD128. The headphone amp is based on the Texas Instruments TPA6130A2 offering max output levels of 70mW(12 ohm), 80mW(16 ohm), 65mW(32 ohm), 38mW(56 ohm), 9mW(300 ohm).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 19, 2015
AK380 shown sitting in the AK380 AMP with the AK380 Cradle charging station to the left

I reviewed the Astel & Kern AK240 for Stereophile (see review) and found it pretty fabulous with an equally fabulous price tag. The new AK380 ($3499) ups the price ante by a cool $1k while offering dual 32-bit AKM AK4490 DACs, 256GB [NAND] of internal memory and 1x microSD (Max 128GB), and "32bit/384kHz Bit to Bit Playback, Native DSD Playback, 20 Band EQ/0.1dB steps, VCXO Reference Clock (200 Femto Seconds), Extendible Docking connector, AK Connect App, and a Metal-touch sensor Home button."

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 21, 2015
I've always enjoyed Atoll's kinda quirky art deco-esque designs. The ST 200 (€2000) is a UPnP/DLNA enabled network player/DAC offering up to 24/192 PCM playback using the Burr Brown PCM1796 DAC. Beyond the typical digital inputs, the ST 200 adds Wi-Fi and two analog inputs as well as an analog volume control for direct to amp connection. Remote control is provided by Atoll's custom app for Android and iOS devices.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
Italy's Audio Flight was new to me as was their FLS1 Pre/DAC (€4500). The DAC part runs on the ESS 9018 offering up to 32/384 and DSD256 playback. Digital inputs include 1x Toslink, 1x AES/EBU, 2x S/PDIF, and 1x USB in additional to 4 analog inputs (2x RCA, 2x XLR). There's also a headphone amp and an optional phono board for you vinyl lovers (I know you're out there).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
Here's another bug from AQ this time in the form of the small form factor Beetle DAC ($149). This 24/96-capable Digital to Analog Converter (ESS 9010) accepts USB, Toslink, and asynchronous Bluetooth inputs. The Beetle can be powered from the USB bus or from the included linear power supply. That Toslink input is squarely aimed at real-people devices like Apple TV or Sonos Connect and I got to hear a comparison with/without the little Beetle and guess what? The Beetle-endowed Connect sounded better. Much better.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
the Jitterbug fully clothed

We first the laid eyes on the AudioQuest Jitterbug ($49), albeit naked, back at CES 2015. We learned that this little USB dual-function USB line conditioner promises improved sonic performance from your USB-connected DAC for two main reasons: VBUS and line conditioning for data, as well as improvements in S/N ratio and a reduction in jitter and parasitic resonances. There's that darn noise in digital data transmission thing again. Duck and cover.

Michael Lavorgna  |  May 14, 2015
What would you consider to be a reasonable price to be paid for a network player capable of playing up to 24/384 PCM files, quad rate DSD, and Tidal's lossless streaming service? Let's also throw in an ESS 9018-based DAC and a custom in-house developed iOS and Android app for running the whole shebang?
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 18, 2015
Aurender had their N10 Caching Network Music Player ($8000) on display along with the company's other impressive servers including the W20, X100, and N100(H). The N10 comes with 240GB of SSD storage for caching playback and 4TB (2x 2.5" 2TB) of HDD storage. There's an Ethernet input for connecting to the Internet and your NAS if you require more than 4TB of storage. Outputs include USB, Toslink, Coax and AES/EBU and the N10 supports PCM playback up to 24/192 and DSD128. Aurender also supports Tidal's lossless streaming service (yeah!).
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
Here's another all-in-one integrated amp/DAC/UPnP/DLNA Streamer from Germany's AVM, the Inspiration CS 2.2 (€4490). The CS 2.2 accepts MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG Vorbis, FLAC (192/32 via LAN), WAV (192/32 via LAN), AIFF (192/32 via LAN), and ALAC (96/24 via LAN) file formats and the 2.2 also supports vTuner Radio. The amp puts out 100W into 8 Ohms and there's a separate headphone amp for your cans.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
The Bryston room featured their BDA-2 ($2395)/BDP-2 ($2995) digital combo (see review), 7BSST² Single-Channel (Mono) Amplifiers, BP26 Preamp, and the Mini T Bookshelf Speaker. My notes read "Nice!" which is all I cared to write, instead preferring to just listen and enjoy one of my favorite rooms of Munich 2015.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
One of the more fascinating conversations I had at the High End Show took place in the CAD (Computer Audio Design) room with Scott Berry CAD's founder and designer. He spent some time explaining how he has spent considerable time addressing the issue of noise in his 1543 DAC (£7250) including high frequency noise (MHz to GHz) which he initially thought would not matter but it turned out when addressed it did. I asked Scott how reducing this noise impacted the DAC's sound and he replied that the most obvious improvement related to the depth of the stereo image and a generally more natural sound. Sound familiar?
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 20, 2015
Germany's Canton (founded 1972) was showing their AM 5 Active Monitors (€399) on inactive display. Each speaker houses an 80W amp for driving this two-way (1x 115 mm aluminum woofer, 1x 25 mm aluminum tweeter) for a rated frequency response of 50Hz - 38kHz. There are RCA and XLR inputs, three high pass filter settings, three input sensitivity settings, and three filters for adjusting bass, mid-range, and treble to your liking.
Michael Lavorgna  |  May 19, 2015
Chord unveiled their new flagship DAC DAVE (£7995) in Munich to a standing room only crowd. Pictured above are John Franks (left), Chord's Chief Executive/Senior Designer, and Robert Watts, "a digital design genius with 30 years' DAC technology development experience", who has collaborated on many of Chord's digital products since 1996. DAVE (Digital to Analog Veritas Extremus) replaces the Chord QBD76 HDSD DAC with technological advances and performance levels previously unavailable according to Chord.

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