Korg showed a pair of DSD-capable DACs that work with their well-known AudioGate software, the DS-DAC-100 ($599) and, above, the DS-DAC-100m ($350). They are similar in technology and support up to 24/192 PCM and DSD at 2.8224 and 5.6448MHz. Using AudioGate, all audio formats, including MP3, are up-converted to 5.6448MHz DSD in the computer for transmission to the DACs. The bigger DS-DAC-100 sports RCA and XLR outputs in addition to a standard 6.3mm headphone jack while the more portable DS-DAC-100m has 3.5mm outputs for both line and headphone applications.
SOtM is a manufacturer of specialized audio devices for general and for PC applications. I am familiar with them because I am using their highly regarded tX-USBexp as the USB output for my own server/streamer. At CES, they showed a new sHP-100 headphone amp and USB DAC ($600, left) which has an analog volume control, USB, coaxial, optical, and analog inputs, a headphone output and analog line outputs, and supports 24bit/192KHz PCM, DSD playback. To its right is their neat little sMS-100 wireless streamer ($449), which supports up to 32/384kHz PCM and DSD via USB.
PSB had already shown its neat little powered desk-top speaker, the Alpha PS1 but, now, they have completed a 2.1 system by adding the Sub Series 100 Compact Powered Subwoofer, which Stephen Mejias will be reviewing in the March issue of Stereophile. The combination, placed, appropriately, on a desk top, sounded amazingly well balanced and full with good bass on several tracks that were played. It displayed none of the usual muddy bass that one usually associates with table placement and, when listened to seated or standing a few feet away, offered really big and open sound. The combination, called the Alpha-1-100, comes at a special price of only $499.
Bowers & Wilkins and Classé were showing their wares in an elegant suite in the Mirage and there I finally got to see and hear Classé's first venture into class-D amplification, the CA-D200 (above). It certainly looked worthy of the family name and, via B&W 805D speakers and driven by the latest version of the CP800, it produced a lovely sound, discernible even in this unfamiliar space.
The name Tannoy is, of course, synonymous with "Dual Concentric" and their classic designs were in full display and demonstration. Off to the side, however, they were showing their new Precision range of more affordable designs, which are based on a new implementation of the Dual Concentric concept in a 6" driver that incorporates a wide-band tweeter.
Another big name makes the move into wireless speakers with Focal's announcement of the Easya. It is a floor-standing 2½-way system which comes as a pair, with its hub/controller and remote control, for just $1799. Available colors are a snazzy gloss white or black and it sports an inverted-dome tweeter and a pair of 5" polyglass-cone drivers. Inputs are TosLink, coax and USB inputs as well as analog. Better yet, it sounded like a Focal . . . but, look Ma, no wires!
The Jade 7 from Wharfedale was very favorably reviewed by Bob Deutsch in Stereophile's May 2013 issue but at the 2014 CES I got to see and hear the new little brother, the Jade 1. Surprisingly, this smaller and stand-mounted speaker is also a 3-way with the same drivers, aperiodic loading and crossover technology. It certainly sounded similar, balanced and full down into the real bass. It also was finished just as luxuriously. Looks like a great value in a high-end speaker for $1200$1400/pair, depending on your choice of finish.
Chord's John Franks was trying hard to contain his enthusiasm. "Everything we've done has been leading to this point" he intoned dramatically while holding the new Hugo DAC/Headphone Amp in his hand.
Aimed at both the headphone enthusiast and home listener, the Hugo (goes everywhere "you go") has five digital inputs including 24/192 optical, 24/384 Coax SPDIF, 16/48 driverless USB (for tablets/phones), 32/394 or DSD128 USB, and A2DP Bluetooth link. Outputs include two 3.5mm headphone jacks, 1/4 inch headphone jack and a pair of RCA jacks.
Inside is a rechargeable Li-ion battery for portable use, since the USB does not draw any power and of course, FPGA circuitry which the company is known for. And colors. Chord is also known for putting a window into their DAC's soul on the top of their cases (which indicates the resolution of what's playing), and for the Hugo, they've added a colorful volume control marble as well.
Price in the US will be $2395 when the Hugo is released in the next few weeks.
Chord was also showing off their new CodeX uPnP network music player released last August (based on the FPGA-endowed QuteHD DAC) which can slide into the Choral Modular system as shown. The solid aluminum rack lets you stack up to five chord products onto the stand, such as an amplifier shown at the bottom in the second photo.
Joining the chorus of companies adding DSD to their products this year, Chord has also updated their flagship DSX1000 Network Music Player to include DSD64 playback over ethernet. Existing users can upgrade their units over the internet for free.
Yes, DACs can be bought as monoblocks just like amps. The D1 retails for $22k each (so that's $44k for a stereo pair) and includes Esoteric's proprietary ES-LINK4 connection allowing DSD transfer from the companion P1 transport as well as 48/352.8 PCM, both via an HDMI cable.
Both the P1 and its D1a can be connected by a BNC cable for clock sync, and the company says that the D1 employs a 36bit digital to analog processing algorithm for PCM. In addition to accepting the P1 signal via HDMI, the D1 has six more inputs including USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF (x2), optical and i.LINK.
Teac's Esoteric division also released their new P1 transport that can handle SACD/CD playback, built around the company's VRDS NEO mechanism.
The P1 also features a two-chassis design with separate power supply (not shown), "leather-finish" remote control and a $44k price tag. Both the P1 and D1 are housed in a gorgeous aluminum chassis with a fine-ribbed finish.
Korean manufacturer Aurender was on hand to debut the new X100L and X100S digital music players. The L and S designations are for long and short and describe the length of each case, which contain different sizes of hard drives. The L version can hold two 3TB SATA drives for a total capacity of 6TB, while the S version has space for a 1TB 2.5 inch drive or SSD.
The L will retail for $3,499 with the S coming in at $2,999, both being released in February. The Aurender X100 supports bit-perfect playback of DSD, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AIFF, M4A, and "other major formats". Control is via the Aurender Conductor App for iPad/iPad Mini (same as used with the Aurender S10 and W20).
Designed to be combined with USB compatible DACs, the X100 is equipped with a USB 2.0 audio output that was originally designed for the flagship Aurender W20 model. Other connections include a Gigabit ethernet port for network connectivity and two USB data ports.
When I reviewed the Romulus DAC/CD player last year, a reader quickly noted in the online comments "Can't play pure DSD files. That seems absurd for a player targeted at the audiophile market. Pity - I like the design."
Ask and ye shall receive. The Company's Jim White has updated the product with the ability to accept and process both DSD64 and 128 natively over USB. In fact, the entire DSP processing section has been updated with an Xilinx gate-array to allow for the pure DSD.
Customers with current Romulus or Pandora DACs can also upgrade their products at the factory starting mid January. In addition to DSD, the upgrade also adds a new analog board, Vishay Z-Foil resistors, and Dynamicaps.
Though they didn't have the product on hand, I convinced Accuphase representative Kohei Nishigawa to hold up the brochure. The new player will be here in February for $27,000 and features the company's obsessive build quality.
Inside, eight 32bit ESS "Hyperstream" DAC chips are run in parallel, which Accuphase calls "Multiple Double Speed DSD". In addition to playing discs, there are HS-Link (for DSD), coax, optical and USB inputs.