When Sony introduced the first Super Audio CD (SACD) player, the SCD-1 (see previous report and Jonathan Scull's forthcoming review in the November 1999 Stereophile), audiophiles who heard it were impressed with its performance, but wondered if its $5000 price tag would keep it out of the market for a while. Last week, Sony announced their second SACD player, the SCD-777ES, to appear in October at the slightly more wallet-friendly price of $3500.
Another portable player in the $1k range is Sony's latest offering which includes the proprietary DSEE HX process to "upscale" music while streaming. Files up to 24/192 and DSD are supported and there is 128GB of built-in memory, as well as micro SD card slot, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and about 30 hours of HD playback per battery charge.
Sony announced last week that it has created a new brand product line intended to identify its highest end products: Qualia. Initially, the new line will launch only in Japan, and will include both audio and video products in addition to a small pocket camera. Sony President Kunitake Ando had previously suggested the line would launch by March 2003.
While Apple's iTunes and RealNetworks Rhapsody are battling it out in the music download ring (see related story), and Microsoft is rumored to be eyeing a corner, Sony has now decided to join the fray with a new music service announced last week in Europe.
The Sooloos display comes with a built-in CD slot for loading your music onto the server. The $4400 Control:One touch-screen display/controller is pretty slick. The CD ripper is in the base—unobtrusively located, might we add? Once the disc is ripped, all of All Media Guide's metadata is automatically entered, so you could, for example, locate any recording in your collection with Phil Lesh playing bass. Oh wait—maybe we should have used an example with somebody who changed bands more frequently.
Earlier this year, in an online poll, we asked the magazine's readers if they were ready for a music server. The response was startling: 32% of you had already set one up, and 44% were ready to. Only 7% responded "probably not" or "never." In the polls we conduct online, we rarely get this kind of positive consensus about anything audio.
Soul Of the Music had their sMS-1000 media server on hand featuring the Vortexbox OS and the ability to handle PCM files up to 32/384 as well as DSD. The front panel has a slot for ripping both CDs or DVDs and pricing is dependent on type of output selected: $3,000 for both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs, $2,700 for coax, toslink, AES/EBU, and $2,500 for just USB 2.0
Another music server that caught my eye was the latest offering from SOtM, which will hit retailers in February for around $3k. Though the front of the box is plain, this is a full-featured machine, as evidenced by the back panel. USB inputs and outputs support up to 32/384 PCM and native DSD, and networking support for DLNA is included.
This very simple looking box is Swiss company Soulution's new USB to SPDIF/Toslink/AES converter that will set you back approximately $4k. It can handle streams up to 24/192 and can sync with the company's 745 and 540 players.
Keith Pray, Publisher of the Source Interlink Home Tech Network, is delighted to announce the launch of the newest Home Tech Group website AnalogPlanet.com, edited by the world’s foremost proponent of analog technology, Michael Fremer.