CES 2014

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 |  Jan 14, 2014
The new classic looking McIntosh MB100 Media Bridge ($6,500) is a network player and a server with a 1TB internal hard drive for music storage while the music player and OS sit on an internal 64GB solid state hard drive. There's also wi-fi capability and "On-board embedded streaming services include Pandora®, SiriusXM®, Spotify®, Rhapsody, Last.fm and TuneIn". The MB100 can play back up to 24/192 PCM data. Inputs include 4x USB (2x USB 2.0 / 2x USB 3.0), 1x Network (10/100/1000), and 1x eSata. Outputs consist of 2x Analog (1 Balanced, 1 Unbalanced), 1x Coax S/PDIF, 1x Toslink, 1x HDMI for GUI only, and 1x DVI for GUI only. There's also a McIntosh supplied remote app for iOS and Android devices. Expect production models to be available by June.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 02, 2014
The Big Show. The really, really, big show that is CES begins Tuesday, January 7, 2014 and runs through Friday, January 10. I'll be covering all things computer audio with a keen eye towards that which is new. With the recent proliferation of shows, it will be interesting to see how many companies have saved their product launches for CES 2014. My guess is a lot.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
Primare was showing a number of network-ready products including the handsome Pre 60 ($10,000) which will be available by March. The Pre 60, as its name suggests, is a preamplifier with added networking and DAC capability including support for WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, and ALAC file formats with resolutions up to 24/192. Analog inputs include of 2x XLR and 3x RCA, 1x RCA HT bypass, while digital inputs include Ethernet, 2x Coax S/PDIF, 3x Toslink, and 2x asynchronous USB input. Control is through a Primare iOS remote app and the Pre60 supports gapless playback.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The new Cambridge Audio Azur 851D 24-bit/192kHz-capable DAC ($1,649) is Cambridge Audio's flagship DAC / digital preamplifier. Based on the Analog Devices AD1955 DACs in dual differential mode, inputs include asynchronous USB, Coax S/PDIF, Toslink, BNC S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and BT100 Bluetooth. Outputs are your standard balanced XLR and unbalanced RCAs as well as a 1/4" headphone jack (supports 600 ohm headphones, however 300 ohms max recommended). The 851D upsamples all incoming data to 24-bit/384kHz and includes a Linear Phase, Minimum phase or Steep filter mode. Volume control is handled in the digital domain.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
miniDSP has a new digital room correction in-a-box product coming down the 'pike but it wasn't ready for prime time at CES. While the name and price are TBD, the miniDSP device will employ the Dirac Live Room Correction software (see review) and should be available by mid-February. Trending.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 14, 2014
cocktailAudio is another new company at least in my experience. On display in the Usher room was the cocktailAudio x30 ($TBD around 1,800) which is a network player, server, and a 50W integrated amplifier that arrives discless so you can outfit it with the 3.5” SATA hard disk, 2.5” SATA hard disk, or solid state drive (SSD) of your choice. There's also USB inputs to connect USB storage devices. Based on the Burr-Brown PCM1792a DAC, the x30 can handle up to 24/192 files and supports APE/CUE, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, PCM, MP3, WMA, M4A, AAC, AIFF, AIF, and Ogg Vorbis file formats as well as gapless playback. There's also a built-in FM tuner, two digital inputs (Toslink, Coax S/PDIF), two analogue inputs, three digital outputs (Toslink, Coax S/PDIF, AES/EBU), and two analogue outputs, as well as the obligatory speaker binding posts. And a 5" TFT LCD (800x480 pixel) front mounted display and a headphone amp. All.in.one.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2014
Its easy to lose sight of the music just as its easy to lose sight of your senses in Las Vegas. So many things are screaming for your attention in every sensual way possible. Sights, sounds, smells, its difficult to hear yourself think which I imagine is the point. But sensory overload is hardly the ideal environment for listening to music on the hi-fi. It's like trying to enjoy some delicate sashimi with ketchup and fries.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The T+A CM Active two-way bass-reflex speakers ($2,000/pair) are some handsome lads with aluminum top and bottom plates sandwiching a black mesh grille cloth which covers a 150mm mid-bass driver and a 25mm fabric dome tweeter. The CM Active speakers include a pair of amplifiers, one for each driver, delivering a total of 70W with a claimed frequency response of 45 - 30,000 Hz. Input is handled by a single cinch/RCA connector per side.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
Not to be confused with the Musical Surroundings MYDAC, the Micromega MyDac ($399) can handle up to 24/192 data through its asynchronous USB input. The MyDac also includes Coax S/PDIF and Toslink inputs and a pair of RCA outputs. Available in Black or White.
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
The Millenia CT 2 sub/satellite system ($849) from Paradigm delivers aptX and Bluetooth streaming, decodes Dolby Digital, and offers a "Music" and "Movie" mode. The CT speakers are based on Paradigm’s Reference MilleniaOne's and the CT 2 package includes a controller box with a Toslink and 3.5mm analog input. Owners of older Millenia CT systems can upgrage to the CT 2 status for $149.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 15, 2014
In the On A Higher Note room, Philip O'Hanlon had a special treat in store (Philip always does). "I'm going to play you the quietest demo you've ever heard." Philip proudly stated. And he proceeded to do just that by playing lovely music at an absurdly low but completely lovely-sounding level through the Eclipse TD-M1 active wireless speakers ($1,300). The TD-M1s are single driver speakers with an integrated NOS DAC that can handle up to 24/192 data and includes AirPlay compatibility, an asynchronous USB input, 3.5mm analog Aux input, and a USB Type-A input. Philip was feeding the TD-M1s with music from an iPad and the sound was in a word completely captivating.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2014
While you can't see it (or hear it), there's DSD streaming over the air to the system on the left

From Auralic:

ARIES acts as a bridge between NAS and DACs
It will endow your existing high-end DACs with streaming function
With DSD, double-rate DSD and DXD
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 13, 2014
The wall hang-able Bladelius Mimer (3,000 Euro) also incorporates a touch screen, Ethernet input for accessing NAS-based music as well as internet streaming services including WiMP and Spotify, 2x Toslink input, 2x Coax S/PDIF input, 1 RCA analog input, and 1 USB DAC input that support up to 32/284 data. There's also an optional CD player and a free iPad app coming soon.
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...

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