We'd been told to check out Boulder's new music server, but that's not exactly what the $24,000 1021 Disc Player is. It's a CD player (with a few other formats "to be announced") that uses a computer disc drive to feed a one-minute buffer to "preserve the integrity of the audio signal delivered from the drive. "Also," confided Steve Rockwell, "the clock is about this far [pinches fingers together], so jitter is phenomenally low."
Sumiko was showing the $2495 Primare DVD110 DVD/CD player/reciever. It's a two channel unit with a class-D 102Wpc amplifier and a couple of features you don't see on most stereo components: a subwoofer and 1080p video outs.
The three phase power supply is pure Ayre. There are three amplifiers, one for each phase. "Essentially, they are mini-MXRs," said Silberman. They are 120 degrees out of phase with one another, and we need to tune each one with a stethoscope to achieve absolute pitch stability. The result?
We were stunned to see Roger Skoff in the Ultralink/XLO room—we thought he'd retired years ago. "I did," he explained, "but I was asked to design some new stuff incorporating new technologies and more advanced versions of our existing designs."
We ran into SinglePower Inc.'s Mikhail Rotenberg as he was sprinting down the hall to the Synergistic Research room. "Check these out," he said. "These are a 1932 Tung Argon 4327 and a 1943 722A (323), labeled Centennial, but manufactured by Western Electric."
Behold bills itself as "true digital audio" since it maintains audio as a digital signal up to the amplifier stage. The 600Wpc BPA768 (US price TBD) incorporates 768kHz/24-bit signal processing, a switch-mode power supply, an analog output stage, and an integrated power conditioner.
Many of the best-sounding rooms at the show employed Ayre's $16,500/pair 300W MX-R monoblock amplifiers. Yes, they look small enough to be class-D amplifiers, but they're pure analog. How'd they do it? The entire enclosure is the heatsink and Ayre's Charlie Hansen designed a special low-rise transformer, used in pairs, to keep the chassis so compact.