CES 2014

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 1 comments
I’ve had a couple of conversations the past couple of years with mastering engineer Dave Collins about the D/A processor he was designing for Manley Labs, the company run by his wife EveAnna Manley. The 2014 CES saw the consumer debut of the Heart Monitor Controller 24/192 DSP ΔΣ [Delta-Sigma] DAC, which was being demmed in a system featuring Manley’s 25th Anniversary monoblocks, which use KT120 tubes. There are four digital inputs and Dave has kept the fully differential signal path as short as possible. Silicon includes a SHARC DSP and AD1955 DAC chips and harmonic distortion has been kept to a superbly low –120dB, and even that is the subjectively benign second. Price has yet to be decided.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 1 comments
Shipping by the end of January, Ayre's new KX-R Twenty preamplifier ($27,500) is a complete redesign of the KX-R that was introduced in 2008. Among the new baby's features: a completely new "Ayrelock power supply" with twice the capacitance as of old, an optimized Equilock gain stage and Diamond output stage, significant part upgrades in all critical areas of the audio circuit, and, of course, "proprietary tweaks." Also playing in the system, which featured Vivid Giya G1 speakers, were the forthcoming MX-R 20 20th Anniversary monoblock amplifiers. There is as yet no retail price, as the parts are being finalized over the next two weeks.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Swiss company Manufacture Le Son was one of many that attended CES in hopes of securing US distribution. In tow was their LS002 Le Son (approx. $35,000), a dual-mono class-B stereo amplifier that outputs a bit more than 100Wpc into 8 ohms, and 180Wpc into 4.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Replacing the venerable CD5, Audio Research has released the new CD6 which includes asynchronous USB, and the other usual digital inputs. Inside are quad DACs running a balanced configuration that doubles/upsamples whatever comes in over USB and quadruples 44k and 48k digital sources.

Pricing is $9,000 and users will also be able to choose between two filters. AR stated that they see the CD6 as a bridge between discs collections and computer audio.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
The case and front panel nomenclature are not in final form, but if VAC's forthcoming two-piece Master Signature preamplifier ($26,500 as linestage, $40,000 with additional phono stage)—ignore what the prototype unit's front panels say—due in early March, sounds anywhere near as good as the VAC equipment I heard at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, it will be worth waiting for.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Kalman Rubinson mentions the big news from Cambridge Audio earlier in this report: the Minx Xi streaming device. Also worth mentioning is that the company announced the $1,649 851D DAC/Pre, which in addition to normal DAC functions, can accept a stream from your phone or other Bluetooth device. Available now.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Jason mentions the new NAD Master Series below, but it's worth fleshing out the M12 DAC/Pre. Inside is basically the same DAC as the M51 which has been updated it a bit. The M12 also features NAD's MDC or Modular Design Construction chassis, meaning there are several card slots on the back for a variety of inputs including their new BluOS on a card to tie it in with the new Bluesound products from parent company Lenbrook Industries

The M12 (which NAD calls a Host component) will be available in May for $3,499.

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Jon Iverson already reported on the Antelope DAC, but as I have just favorably reviewed their SCM 7 v.3 minimonitor for the forthcoming April issue of Stereophile, I was more interested in the active ATC SCM100SL Towers in the room. This speaker combines ATC's proprietary soft-dome midrange driver with a 1" tweeter and 12" woofer, tri-amped by ATC's Anniversary amplification. With a laptop running JRiver Media Center feeding data to the Antelope Zodiac-Platinum DAC with its Voltikus power supply, the 24/96 transfer of Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters" was reproduced with tight, well-controlled low frequencies.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Astell&Kern, whose audiophile-grade portable music player won over John Atkinson, and whose AK120 model won a 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award, offered a sneak peak at their prototype Cube One, class-A, 20Wpc, 300B, push-pull integrated amplifier (no price set). Due in the second half of 2014, the Cube One delivered very liquid and illumined sound through Astell&Kern’s prototype loudspeakers. Expect a complete Astell&Kern system before too long, and check out Jon Iverson's report on A&K’s new AK240 media player.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 2 comments
Tri-Art Audio of Canada displayed its complete mid-level Bam Bam system, whose cost was under $35,000. Built to a very strict price point, the electronics, all stuffed with sheep's wool—why didn't they name it the Bah Bah system?—included the new Bam Bam passive preamplifier ($1295), which is housed in a solid wood cabinet and allows for passive bi-amping and tri-amping without an electronic crossover; Bam Bam 75Wpc class-D balanced amplifier #75-S ($1995); and Bam Bam 24V battery power supply ($900).
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Audio Research's new SP20 tube stereo preamplifier ($9000) combines a full-function linestage and phono stage, and includes a hi-resolution tube-driven headphone output, touchscreen control, remote control, and both balanced and single-ended inputs and outputs. The front panel echoes the Minnesotan company's fabled SP3 preamps from the 1970s. Listening to the company's first preamp in 20 years to include both a linestage and phonostage via Sonus faber Olympica III loudspeakers, I heard both the classic Audio Research midrange and a fast response that served bebop extremely well. Bob Reina is working on an SP20 review for Stereophile.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Project is adding some more midi-size products to its line. In addition to the STREAM BOX noted by Kal, a new product this year is the Class-A tube balanced output DAC BOX RS (pictured at the bottom right), which should be available now for around $1,000 or so. Users can switch between tube and solid state output and the DAC accepts all the usual inputs at PCM rates up to 24/192. Digital processing is built around two BurrBrown 1792 chips.

Above the DAC is the new PRE BOX RS Digital preamp/DAC also available shortly for $1,500. This one also had a headphone amp built in with switchable impedance and damping factor from the front panel.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
If that title got your attention, so may loudspeaker manufacturer Westlake Audio's novel use of the bed that every other exhibit in the Venetian's sleeping rooms had dispensed with in one fashion or another. Instead, Westlake Audio used it as a fashion statement, of sorts.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 3 comments
This year has seen Ayre add DSD capability to both the QB-9 DAC ($3250) and QA-9 ADC ($3950). Older QB-9s can be upgraded for $500 (makes everything sound better they say), and the QA-9 gets a free firmware update.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
Like Stephen Mejias at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I have been impressed by the German Zellaton speakers when I have heard them, both at shows, and at a dealer event I attended in 2012 at Fidelis Audio in New Hampshire. With foil-covered drive-units, a crossover from Duelund Coherent Audio, and driven by Trinity balanced phono and line preamps and 200Wpc CH M1 amplification from Switzerland, the three-way Reference speakers sounded forceful and detailed.

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