The record companies have declared war on their customers when it comes to the fair use rights of purchased music, and it would appear that they want the government to enlist in their crusade. Previous weeks have seen South Carolina senator Ernest Hollings propose draconian copyright legislation as well as recent pro-Hollywood remarks from California's senator Diane Feinstein.
We'd been playing phone tag for a couple of weeks, but Paul McGowan was finally tethered to a handset as he explained to me a product from his "new" company, the reincarnation of PS Audio. "Everything you've ever wanted in a power conditioner---times 10---with none of the drawbacks!" McGowan could hardly contain himself while pitching his latest brainstorm. He certainly had an intriguing idea, but the path from founder of PS Audio back in the late '70s to Genesis Technologies and back again was nearly as interesting.
It's a brave group of souls who run today's audiophile music labels. Sane business minds would likely deem it foolhardy to start a new specialty label these days, but sometimes one's passion for music overrides the rational impulse to try something a little bit more secure (like perhaps an Internet company?).
At the Venetian, Avatar Acoustics' Darren Censullo set up several of the products he distributes including the Purist HDR 6D music server/DAC from AMI HiFi. Darren explains that there are seven versions of the HDR 6D and 6DA, depending on how it is configured, ranging in price from $2,500 to $25,000.
On the front is a slot for loading or playing music from discs and a clever flush-mount receptacle for putting your iPod Touch which then acts as a touch controller and display. There is also a free iPad app.
All the usual inputs and outputs are included: AES/EBU, SPDIF, USB, Ethernet, WiFi and HDMI which supports a full video player. The HDR 6D handles a wide variety of file formats up to 32bit/384kHz (on the 6DA) and the company says that sound quality is enhanced by a process that entirely caches each track for playback. Also included is upsampled Web Radio and multi-room playback.
Beijing's QAT Audio had their new fanless MS6i music server on display in the Venetian. NAS drives are supported via both WiFi and ethernet to supplement the user-replaceable 2.5 inch or SSD internal drives. Digital outputs include toslink, coax, BNC and AES/EBU and there are four USB ports.
All PCM formats up to 24/192 are supported and the company features a nice looking app for iOS and Android. Available mid-year for $2,990 in the US, currently available in China.
New to me at this show is the QAT MS5 music server using an iPad (shown here) or a slightly smaller custom RP5 touch panel for control. There is a built-in Teac CD drive and 1TB of storage (around 2,500 CDs using FLAC) and the system supports a multitude of file formats and data rates up to 24/192.
The product and interface looked pretty slick and the company's sales and marketing director, Vital Gbezo, said that QAT is currently looking for US distribution. The MS5 is priced at around $6,000.
This is the third year I've seen QAT at CES and they seem to making steady improvements. Part of that progress is the new RS3 server, from their lower-priced KUAN series, which retails for $1,800 and is available now. Features include a front-loading replaceable 2.5 inch HDD/SSD with capacity up to 2TB as well as both PCM and DSD support.