Shown above is the new Pandora DAC which has three slots on the back for a variety of input options including AES, USB (asynch) and SPDIF, and tube analog stage and both balanced and unbalanced outputs and an optional volume control. Retail is $6k.
I've had the new Peachtree DAC•iT at home for several months and a review will be showing up in Stereophile shortly. It's a great little product for the money ($449) and sports USB, SPDIF and Toslink input and features an ESS Sabre32 9022 chip.
The GoldenEar Triton Two, which I reviewed in the February 2012, issue, is my favorite speaker at anywhere near its price ($2499/pair until February 1, when it goes up to a still-very-reasonable $2999/pair). The Triton Two now has a "little brother": the Triton Three ($1999/pair), is a smaller version of the Triton Two. The resemblance goes beyond the physical; listening to a pair of Triton Threes, I was very much reminded of the Twos: the same sort of expansive soundstage and bass that was very nearly as impressive as I'm familiar with from the Twos.
Bang & Olufsen's publicist sent me a "By Invitation Only & You Are Invited" email, promising to "unveil the newest innovations" and "the unveiling of a new, iconic product concept." (I pity the poor housekeeping staff at CES, having to clean up all the veils discarded by manufacturers.)
Reduced to its essentials, the "new, iconic product concept" is a division within B&O under a new brand, called "B&O Play." As I understand it, the products with the B&O Play brand will have all the traditional quality that B&O is known for, but they'll be less luxury-oriented, more "fun"and perhaps less expensive. The first product under this brand is the Beolit 12, a portable (battery-powered), AirPlay-equipped sound system.
MartinLogan is famous for speakers that use electrostatic driversfull-range or in combination with dynamic woofersbut they have more recently broadened their offerings to include non-electrostatic models. According to MartinLogan's Peter Soderberg, their aim is to produce speakers that approach the sound of their electrostatic models, but at a lower price and easier to drive. He says that this has become possible with their version of the Heil tweeter (the original Oskar Heil patent having expired). He did a comparison for me between their top-of-the-line electrostatic CLX ($25,000/pair), supplemented by the Depth 1 subwoofer ($2000), and the new Motion 40 ($1995), which uses the Folded Motion (aka Heil) tweeter, in both cases driven by Anthem's new class-D amplifier, top-of-the-line Conrad-Johnson preamp, with a laptop as source. With Patricia Barber singing "Norwegian Wood," the tonal balance of these physically very different speakers was surprisingly similar. Peter Soderberg is pictured here with the CLX and the Motion 40, after what must have been an exceptionally amusing quip on my part.
The Adam is yet another loudspeaker manufacturer that uses drivers that are descendants of the Heil AMT tweeter. Adam's Classic Mk.3 uses what they call Accelerated Ribbon Technology (X-ART) for the midrange as well as the tweeter, and 2x7.5" HexaCone midwoofers. The Classic Mk.3 is available in passive ($7000)/pair or active ($10,000/pair) form, the latter for the studio professional market. A brief demowith Cary Audio electronicssounded convincingly full-range and dynamic. I understand that Kal Rubinson is getting a pair of these for review in Stereophile.
The Genesis Advanced Technologies 7.2f claims to be the "new affordable reference for bringing true-to-life music into your home." And they have a formidable amount to technology in the speaker to support this claim. At the top, there is the latest version of the circular flat-ribbon tweeter that apparently has been steadily improved since it was first introduced in 1992 (and which, for once, owes nothing to Dr. Oskar Heil). A solid titanium-cone mid/woofer claims to deliver exceptional clarity and low distortion within its range (and the "oil-can" resonance is far outside the range where the driver is utilized), and a servo-controlled powered bass from an 8" side-firing aluminum-cone driver, is claimed to extend the response down to 22Hz. There is also a rear-firing tweeter, which can be turned off if desired. There is control over tweeter as well as woofer level. The price of all this technology is a very reasonable $9000/pair.
Not strictly a digital product, the ECI-6 DS from Norwegian manufacturer Electrocompaniet is a 125 watt per channel integrated amp that also incorporates a DAC and streaming and runs $5995 for the "basic version". DAC inputs include SPDIF, Toslink and USB and the ECI-6 DS can stream internet radio, DNLA devices, iPods, etc.
Company COO Peder Beckman provided an interesting demo where he was able to move the music stream from the integrated amp to a handheld device (in this case an Android phone), which started playing the music though its tiny speaker instead of the main system.
Electrocompaniet was also showing the new EMP-2 Disc Player based on the Oppo 93. They have added their own 24/192 DAC, analog board and balanced outputs. All for $3995.
Esoteric displayed the new K-05 SACD/CD player scheduled for release sometime in 2012 at a retail price of approximately $9,900. It will be a dual-mono design and feature 32-bit AKM4399 DACs, 24/192 digital inputs including asynch USB. CDs are upsampled to 24/176.
What we have here is the Vincent C-35 Hybrid HDCD CD Player. It features a 100% vacuum tube output stage (two 12AX7 tubes and one 6N10), dedicated headphone amp with volume control and SPDIF digital output. Priced at $1,999.99.
A combination digital preamp, streamer and DAC, Cambridge Audio's Stream Magic 6 also has twin Wolfson WM8740 DACs that upsample to 24/384 and a 24/192 USB input. All for $1,149 and available sometime this month.
Audioquest is known to the general public as a cable manufacturer and also to audiophiles for their phono cartridges. They will soon jump into the DAC market starting with the Dragonfly USB to miniplug DAC.
Steve Silberman was on hand to provide a demo of the new product in raw circuit board form, and I was able to grab an artist rendering of the finished product from his laptop as seen above. The light on the back of the dragonfly changes color depending on what sampling rate is being detected.
The asynch 24/96 USB DAC will be about the size of a finger and its electronics have been designed by Gordon Rankin. Price is estimated at around $300 and it should be available in April.