Astell&Kern’s AK10 portable DAC ($299) measures 2.1 ” W x 2.1 ” H x 0.5 ” D, weighs just 1.8oz, and comes with an attractive leather case. It uses a Wolfson WM8740 DAC, capable of handling 24-bit/96kHz data, and is compatible with iOs (iPhone 5 and 5th generation iPod Touch) and Android (Galaxy S3, S4, Note2, Note3) operating systems. Its USB 2.0 input means it can also be used to improve the sound of music files stored on your Mac or PCjust send the output to your headphones or stereo. Inspired by turntable design, the silver circle atop the AK10 is actually a volume control: spin it to raise or lower the volume. Sweet.
One of our favorite small desktop loudspeakers has been significantly revised. Audioengine’s new A2+ powered loudspeaker ($249/pair) is scheduled to ship on November 1. Upgrades include a built-in 16-bit Burr-Brown DAC; variable subwoofer output; and improved binding posts, AC connection, and power supply.
M•A Recordings' Todd Garfinkle is proud to now offer Sera Una Noche’s beautiful La Segundaon vinyl. Garfinkle explained that the source was upsampled to 5.6MHz and that the record was then cut "on the fly." The result is "a double-DSDmastered LP."
If you’re going to spend time scrubbing records, the task might as well be made fun and easy. That seems to have been Jonathan Monks’ goal when he designed the new discOveryOne record-cleaning machine ($2495, base price).
SVS Sound’s Gary Yacoubian explained that his company’s speakers are designed to combine the dynamics of a home theater system with the neutrality of an audiophile system. “When voicing the speakers, we used real music that real people listen to in their homes.”
I was as surprised as everyone else who walked into the MSB room to find the company’s Universal Media Transport Plus ($5995), Diamond DAC Plus with Diamond Base ($34,000), and 200Wpc Platinum Stereo S201 amplifier ($17,995) driving the enormous SoundLab M1PX loudspeakers.
I first met Gary Gesellchen and Rick Kernen, the duo behind Vanatoo, at the 2012 Music Matters event, held at Definitive Audio in Seattle. At the time, Gesellchen and Kernen, who, through prior business relationships and active participation in the Pacific North West Audio Society, have known each other for 28 years, were just bringing their design to market. Now, the Vanatoo Transparent One powered loudspeaker ($499/pair) seems fully realized.
The Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum DAC ($5500, including Voltikus power supply and remote control), seen here in the shadow of the wild Rubicon, utilizes the company’s 64-bit clocking technology, supports sampling rates up to 768kHz, and plays DSD files. It offers both analog and digital inputs, including balanced analog XLRs, unbalanced analog RCAs, AES/EBU, two coaxial, two Toslink, USB, and a 10MHz input for Antelope’s Rubidium Atomic Clock. Dual front-panel 1/4" headphone jacks, an analog volume control, and a spiffy app for PC, Mac, and mobile devices add to the fun.
The UK’s Neat Acoustics is distributed in the US by High Fidelity Services in Braintree, Massachusetts. Here we see the company’s Motive SX2, in sassy pink ($2395/pair), driven by a Sonneteer Orton integrated amplifier ($3795). The digital source was Sonneteer’s Byron CD player ($2795), while vinyl was being spun on a VPI Scout 2 ($2400) with a Dynavector 20-2 XL cartridge ($850). The attractive rack is the Custom Design Ikon 750 Reference ($1475). Neat, indeed.
The combination of Octave Audio V 40 SE integrated amplifier ($5300) and Dynaudio Excite X34 compact floorstander ($3400/pair) produced some of the fastest, most agile, and muscular sounds I heard at RMAF.