Beneath the striking fascias of B.M.C. electronics lies some advanced engineering. As best I could gather from a rather zippy introduction that had me scrambling to write everything down coherently, the B.M.C. M2 monoblock amplifiers ($7790/each) contain LEF (load-effect-free) circuitry that delivers the signal, voltage, and necessary current independently. This purportedly allows them to handle complex speaker loads without need for global feedback. (There’s more to say, of course, but I don’t trust my scrawl.) The M2 outputs 200W into 8 ohms, and 380W into 4. Designed in Germany but manufactured in China, each monoblock weighs 88 lbs and includes a 2kVA transformer.
The big news from UK-based Naim is the arrival of the company’s first asynchronous USB DAC, the DAC-VI ($2395). Its companion in size is the new NAP 100 discrete-transistor, compact power amplifier ($1295). Production on both begins in February. To focus first on the amp, which is in my CES blogging territory of amps and preamps in the $2500$15,000 price range, the NAP 100 is a dual-mono design that outputs 50Wpc into 8 ohms and 100 into 4, and is said to incorporate a linear power supply with a “large toroidal transformer and audiophile grade selected components” into a non-magnetic, low resonance, compact chassis and sleeve.
With his Renaissance Edition components, Red Wine Audio’s Vinnie Rossi says he aimed to fuse traditional and modern design elements. The battery-powered Signature 16 integrated amplifier ($1995) has a beautiful real wood chassis and a chrome top plate held in place with simple thumbscrews for easy access to the tubes inside. The amp is rated to deliver 16Wpc into 8 ohms.
Sharing the room with Cayin was cable manufacturer Tara Labs. No one from Tara Labs was present when I was in the room, but I did learn that the rectangular solid-core RSC Air series has been redesigned with new red sleeving. Look for the new Air 1EX interconnects with anti-corrosion coated copper braid shield, as well as other new products.
Centrally located between exhibits and near the lunch area in T.H.E. Show’s downstairs area of the Flamingo Hotel, a host of exhibitors had set up displays. Here, the folks at Elusive Disk take a breather before helping yet another vinyl and CD enthusiast explore recordings new, old, and remastered. Among other vendors was Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings, with whom I discussed holding a listening discovery party at Casa Bellecci-Serinus for members of the Bay Area Audiophile Society.
For those of us in search of the best bang-for-the-buck enhancements to our systems, and the cables that best complement our components, Ultra Systems and the Cable Company are a favored one-stop gold mine. At his table at T.H.E. Show, the company’s Robert Stein (pictured above) spread the word that the excellent HiFi Tuning Supreme fuses he markets now incorporate Quantum level treatment from WA-Quantum. These are the folks who also make the Quantum chips that you put on components and speakers. I need to play with the latter some more before I get a handle on what they do or don’t do to the sound of the Wilson Audio Sashas currently in my reference system.
"I am a substantial amp, and I deserve your attention," Accustic Arts' new, pure class-A AMP IIMk.2 dual-mono power amplifier ($11,000) seems to declare. Its aesthetics certainly got me to take notice. The 121 lb amplifier includes 24 MOSFETs, and both balanced and single-ended inputs and bi-wire/bi-amping speaker terminals. It outputs 250Wpc into 8 ohms, and 500 into 4. Also available, albeit not pictured, is Accustic Arts' fully balanced, tube hybrid TUBE-PREAMP II ($6500), with 3 XLR and two RCA inputs, and 2 XLR and 1 RCA outputs. The company also makes a transport, DAC, streamer, cables and accessories. While these products, handmade in Germany, have been out for a while, this appears to be the first time they've become available in the US.
New for 2013, and due this summer, is Playback Designs' IMS-3 ($13,000). IMS stands for Integrated Music System, as in a one-piece unit housing DAC, preamp, and amp. The DAC is the same as in the excellent NPS-3 one-piece player, and the amp a class-A/B design that outputs 130W into 8 ohm and 260 into 4. A digitally controlled analog volume control, three analog inputs, and four digital inputs are among the features of a unit that will also support multi-channel playback.
Krell released the Phantom III ($5500), a dual-mono design stereo preamp with a dedicated headphone amp and option for an internal DAC ($1500 extra). Fully balanced, the DAC portion, based around the ESS Sabre 32 DAC, handles files up to 24/192, and includes an asynchronous USB input.