First shown at RMAF last year and making its CES debut, the QA-9 is intended for audiophiles wishing to transfer their LPs and other analog sources to hard drive. It features two XLR left and right inputs that can run both balanced and unbalanced and has only a single USB output (up to 24/192) to your computer.
The QA-9 should be shipping in late February or early March at $3,950. An optional Word Clock Input Board upgrade is $800 and will allow the QA-9 to be synced to a master clock in a recording studio environment.
Ariel Brown (Ayre's senior engineer) also hinted at a new DAC at some point that would include both USB and SPDIF inputs.
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.
In 1991, British loudspeaker manufacturer B&W celebrated its 25th birthday with the introduction of the John Bowers Silver Signature loudspeaker (see review). Not the largest or most expensive speaker on the company chart, the John Bowers Silver Signature, named after the company's late founder, still prompted John Atkinson to write that its performance was the best he'd heard for its modest size in his listening room.
In an age of rectangular components, adding a large round object to your product is a way to set it apart. Witness the Dan D'Agostino amplifier gracing this month's Stereophile cover for example, and add Germany's B.M.C. Audio to the list as evidenced by their new PureDAC Digital-to-Analog Converter. Speaking of round, the company is also known for its BDCD1.1 belt-drive CD player which has an acrylic "turntable" for your disc to rest on inside.
Retail price for the DAC will be somewhere under $1,600 (which is inexpensive by B.M.C. standards) and will feature all the usual inputs including asynch USB as well as volume and input switching. There is also a headphone jack with its own dedicated volume control.
First seen last year at CES, the PureDAC has now been released and the company claims to have sold more than 1,000 units since August of 2013. Price is $1,690 and it handles up to 32/384 PCM, both DSD 64&128 and has a separate volume control for room and headphone listening. Designed in Germany, built in China.
We reported last year about the new direction that Bang & Olufsen America has taken in distributing its products: the company has recently opened a series of branded BOA stores around the US. The strategy seems to have paid off. The company reports increased sales of more than 60% in the first quarter of its current fiscal year, and claims that individual shops reported an average sales increase of 20%.
Branding was once reserved for cowhide and breakfast cereals, but changes in the retailing landscape have fostered new approaches for everything from running shoes (Niketown) to cartoon-character merchandise (Disney and Warner Bros. stores) to clothes (Gap, etc.). In the audio market, Bose stores are now common sites in shopping malls, but few higher-ticket companies have taken the brand-store plunge.
Danish audio-video manufacturer Bang & Olufsen has long been known for its unusual product designs. Eschewing the normal tendency of consumer electronics manufacturers to design their circuits and transports into stackable black boxes, the company's current home-audio line includes colorful vertical CD stacks with sliding clear-glass doors and brushed-aluminum cylindrical speakers.