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.