It seems like everyone and their grandma is releasing a headphone these days. If you’ve got a brand (or a band), you might as well add a line of headphones. One of the latest to join the trend is the English rock band, Motorhead, famous for their jukebox wonder, “Ace of Spades.” Lead singer, Lemmy, was on hand to introduce his Motorheadphones. (Hee hee.)
Mike Yee (shown here holding his DAC) has been working for the past several years on a unique approach to DAC design. He has invented a technique (for which he has applied for a patent) he calls MODR or Musically Optimized Digital Reconstruction.
Yee uses an FPGA (field programmable gate array) to intercept the digital signal as it comes into the DAC. The FPGA provides a proprietary "pre-emphasis" conditioning of the signal before the DAC chip to "remove the DAC's effect on quantization error." After the DAC chip, an analog stage provides de-emphasis prior to output.
There are SPDIF and Toslink 24/192 inputs as well as a 16/48 USB port. On the front are LEDs to indicate the sample rate. Introductory price is $1,000
Meridian's Bob Stuart is holding the recently introduced Media Source 200 which allows current Meridian Digital Media System (Sooloos) owners to add another zone to their system for $1,000. As with other components in the MDMS line, the Media Source 200 includes Meridian's apodising upsamping filter.
There is an ethernet jack on the rear to connect to the network and then a combination analog/digital jack so you can connect the Media Source 200 via stereo analog cable or optical SPDIF. There is also a SpeakerLink output for connecting directly to Meridian DSP loudspeakers.
EMM's new transport sports an Esoteric drive and is intended to mate with the company's DAC2X DAC. Retail price is $17,000 or $30,000 when bought together with the DAC2x. When the two are connected, "CDs and SACDs are automatically upsamples to 5.6 MHz, which is double SACD's standard sampling rate." There is an optical out for DSD and AES/EBU for PCM (from CD or SACD).
McIntosh had their new D100 digital preamplifier on hand with five digital inputs (each with their own DAC according to the company's Marc Lamb) and remote controlled volume. The preamp/DAC has been optimized to work with headphones and will retail for $2,500.
Cambridge Audio’s good-looking Azur 351A integrated amplifier ($599) is rated to deliver 45Wpc into 8 ohms, has a front-panel iPod input, headphone jack, balance and tone controls, and a handy USB input mated to an onboard Burr-Brown DAC so you can connect your computer and get better performance out of your music files.
Also new to the line are the 75Wpc Azur 651A ($799) and 120Wpc Azur 851A.
At $1295, Rogue Audio’s latest hybrid integrated amplifier is also the company’s most affordable amplifier. Don’t you love that? I do. The Sphinx is rated to deliver 100Wpc into 8 ohms; looks tough; has a phono stage, headphone amp, and an optional remote; and is handmade in Pennsylvania, USA.
I was looking forward to seeing Antelope's recently announced Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamp at CES, but so is the company. At the time I visited the room, DHL still hadn't found and delivered it, so we have Director of Sales and Marketing Marcel James standing next to the poster.
After a few years absence from the U.S. market, France's oldest loudspeaker company, Cabasse, has signed a distribution agreement with Esoteric and Teac. In the next few months, many of Teac-Esoteric's 125 US dealers will begin distributing the Cabasse line.
Although most of the products on display at CES Unveiled were not in the audio category, there were a few products that were of interest to Stereophile readers: winners in the Best of Innovations 2013 contest, which had products nominated in various categories of consumer electronics. The Sennheiser 800IE earbuds are the result of several years of research, and are claimed to have a frequency response of 8Hz41kHz, ±3dBan astonishing achievement for a single transducer. The price is $999. For many people, earbuds are almost a disposable item, and are often left on planes. I would be very afraid of losing these.
The Best of Innovations 2013 award for High Performance Audio went to the B&O Beoplay A9 digital loudspeaker ($2699), which offers wireless streaming via AirPlay and DLNA. The Beoplay A9 was on static display. It's an interesting-looking product, and I'd like to have a chance to listen to it. Maybe at the B&O press conference that's coming up on Tuesday. . .