Musical Fidelity X-24K D/A processor A Caveat
There is one thing to remember when you are thinking of buying any digital processor with a 96kHz-capable unencrypted digital data input: One of the things holding up the setting of the finalized DVD-Audio standard has been the record industry's concern that allowing their 24/96 data to be sent between transports and processors "in the clear" will lead to rampant piracy. (Shyeah—like pirates will not think of putting a DAC/ADC link in the mastering chain.) But it's likely that digital connections will have to be encrypted in some way, which will mean using a FireWire link or the 13W3/I2S standard proposed and used by Muse Electronics' Kevin Halverson. As of December 1998, it looked as though the encrypted Muse link had edged into the lead. But, given the record industry's general lack of initiative, by the time they finally decide on an encryption/datalink standard it might well be too late to have any effect on the market.
But if data encryption becomes mandatory, it might mean that the current generation of 96kHz-capable DVD-Video transports and processors such as the Musical Fidelity X-24K will become orphaned products. Even so, there will still be the growing catalog of Chesky and Classic Records releases to be played, and the X-24K costs sufficiently little that I think the risk taken in buying it well worthwhile.—John Atkinson