Resolution Audio Cantata Music Center
Twice this CES, I found rooms that were so striking that I suggested all the Stereophile brothers go take a look/listen. The first one was the Sumiko/Vienna Acoustics suite up on the 34th floor (I still can't get over how great the sound was in that roomyou can read Jason's more reserved take on the room here), and the second, for completely different reasons, was the Resolution Audio room.
Some say all that matters in an audio component is that it sound good. Period. But good industrial design not only creates great sounding products, but ones that you enjoy seeing. I realize that not everyone's taste or style is the same, but in my book, the new Resolution Audio Cantata is one of the most beautiful audio products built to date.
The first thing you notice is the irregularly scalloped solid metal top and then the large retro-futuristic display on the front. Resolution's Jeff Kalt said he worked closely with his metal fabrication shop until he was able to achieve this look. The photo above does not do it justice.
So what does it do? The Cantata is a digital preamp/DAC that includes a built-in CD player and networking for external NAS drives or computers. Kalt says he has tried to anticipate the most common needs for a digital system, including networking with computers in other rooms. For this, since USB can quickly falter at distance, Kalt has developed the Pont Neuf device to convert the USB to Ethernet which can then be networked across a house with either a standard cable or wireless bridge. All controlled with an iPhone/Touch remote app.
Inputs include SPDIF, Toslink, AES/EBU, and USB (up to 24 bit/96kHz). Both balanced and unbalanced outputs are provided with either a fixed or variable signal. Retail will be $6,000 when released in February.
Erick Lichte comments: Pictures do not do justice to this company's elegant and original industrial design. Resolution Audio's gear reminded me of the Walker Art Museum in my home town of Minneapolis, except I love the way the Resolution Audio gear looks and hate the way the Walker looks. Minneapolis needs a building that resembles a dirty snowball as much as Pittsburg needs a museum shaped like a smoke stack.
Also playing in the Resolution room was the new Cantata 50 integrated amplifier. The amp puts out 50Wpc of class-AB power, features two RCA and two XLR inputs, and is intended for use with high-sensitivity loudspeakers. The Cantata 50 is styled to match the DAC and sells for $4000.