Easily winning the award for most outside-the-box chassis design, Light Harmonic's Da Vinci DAC is an amazing assembly of machined metal. In the photo is co-founder Henry Chew, which also gives you some perspective on how large this DAC is next to a smiling human.
Inputs include an asynch USB and SPDIF and the DAC can handle up to 32/384 at either input. Chew says that the DAC does not upsample and processes all streams at their native sampling rate. Chew feels that "the use of upsampling, oversampling, or any digital filters or signal-manipulations is ineffective". Available now for $20k
There's nothing like a nice big touchscreen to browse a large music collection, and Pathos was showing a prototype of the largest touchscreen dedicated to a music server that I've seen to date. Called the Musiteca, the new product was up and running but clearly had some features to work out. As shown, the product has a built-in DAC, transport for loading discs, and 1TB drive for storage.
In addition to the above features, Pathos' Paolo Andriolo says there will be variable XLR outputs to feed the audio directly to your amp and a free iPad app. Price is predicted to be around $7k and should show up by April.
Also in the Burmester room is the new 113 DAC which retails for $6k and is available now. The DAC is rather modest-sized next to the rest of the Burmester line and includes Toslink, 24/96 USB (24/192 on Mac only) and Bluetooth (wireless!) inputs and both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The Bluetooth input means you can stream from any Bluetooth audio device like a Blackberry or iPhone in the vicinity.
When Bermester jumps into the music server market, they jump in with both feet. The new 111 Musiccenter, which is scheduled to ship in April, will include an Apple iPad controller with custom app in the box (a first for Apple says the company), six digital inputs, three analog inputs, streaming services, UPnP via either WiFi or Ethernet, etc. etc.
All this and a robustly built box with gorgeous and bright front panel display for $50k.
It's no secret that I love the Meridian Sooloos touchscreen interface for handling a large music collection. But the Sooloos iPad app and desktop application left a little to be desired in the ease-of-use department compared to the Control 15 17" touchscreen sold by the company. Neither app included the album cover art grid that is essential to the Sooloos' ease of use, and other features were hit and miss.
Not any more. The new iPad app includes the album cover grid as well as almost all of the Focus and navigation features from the Control 15 touchscreen software. So all you need now is a Sooloos core somewhere in the network and an iPad or computer if you want the grid without Meridian's touchscreen. I couldn't see not having a Control 15 in the house, even though I use the iPad as a controller too, but I'm sure some folks would disagree.
Hand model Bob Stuart demonstrated the new cover grid, and it flowed rather smoothly as he browsed the collection. Should be available in the next month or so and is free (though only of use to Sooloos system users). I can't wait to get my hands on it and hope to do a follow-up to my original Sooloos review in the next few months.
Audioquest is known to the general public as a cable manufacturer and also to audiophiles for their phono cartridges. They will soon jump into the DAC market starting with the Dragonfly USB to miniplug DAC.
Steve Silberman was on hand to provide a demo of the new product in raw circuit board form, and I was able to grab an artist rendering of the finished product from his laptop as seen above. The light on the back of the dragonfly changes color depending on what sampling rate is being detected.
The asynch 24/96 USB DAC will be about the size of a finger and its electronics have been designed by Gordon Rankin. Price is estimated at around $300 and it should be available in April.