Jon Iverson
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CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 11, 2014 0 comments
Chord's John Franks was trying hard to contain his enthusiasm. "Everything we've done has been leading to this point" he intoned dramatically while holding the new Hugo DAC/Headphone Amp in his hand.

Aimed at both the headphone enthusiast and home listener, the Hugo (goes everywhere "you go") has five digital inputs including 24/192 optical, 24/384 Coax SPDIF, 16/48 driverless USB (for tablets/phones), 32/394 or DSD128 USB, and A2DP Bluetooth link. Outputs include two 3.5mm headphone jacks, 1/4 inch headphone jack and a pair of RCA jacks.

Inside is a rechargeable Li-ion battery for portable use, since the USB does not draw any power and of course, FPGA circuitry which the company is known for. And colors. Chord is also known for putting a window into their DAC's soul on the top of their cases (which indicates the resolution of what's playing), and for the Hugo, they've added a colorful volume control marble as well.

Price in the US will be $2395 when the Hugo is released in the next few weeks.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 3 comments
Meridian didn't have any new digital products for me this year (I guess they've been busy outfitting those Jaguars with premium sound systems), so they only came up with the Control 15 in the new black finish for a photo. There is about 60 days supply of silver models still left, so grab one now if you want that colour.

The black model looks beautiful and is exactly like the silver one inside, retailing for the same price: $7,500. And IMO is still the best way to control a large library of full resolution music.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Though they didn't have the product on hand, I convinced Accuphase representative Kohei Nishigawa to hold up the brochure. The new player will be here in February for $27,000 and features the company's obsessive build quality.

Inside, eight 32bit ESS "Hyperstream" DAC chips are run in parallel, which Accuphase calls "Multiple Double Speed DSD". In addition to playing discs, there are HS-Link (for DSD), coax, optical and USB inputs.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
When I reviewed the Romulus DAC/CD player last year, a reader quickly noted in the online comments "Can't play pure DSD files. That seems absurd for a player targeted at the audiophile market. Pity - I like the design."

Ask and ye shall receive. The Company's Jim White has updated the product with the ability to accept and process both DSD64 and 128 natively over USB. In fact, the entire DSP processing section has been updated with an Xilinx gate-array to allow for the pure DSD.

Customers with current Romulus or Pandora DACs can also upgrade their products at the factory starting mid January. In addition to DSD, the upgrade also adds a new analog board, Vishay Z-Foil resistors, and Dynamicaps.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Korean manufacturer Aurender was on hand to debut the new X100L and X100S digital music players. The L and S designations are for long and short and describe the length of each case, which contain different sizes of hard drives. The L version can hold two 3TB SATA drives for a total capacity of 6TB, while the S version has space for a 1TB 2.5 inch drive or SSD.

The L will retail for $3,499 with the S coming in at $2,999, both being released in February. The Aurender X100 supports bit-perfect playback of DSD, WAV, FLAC, ALAC, APE, AIFF, M4A, and "other major formats". Control is via the Aurender Conductor App for iPad/iPad Mini (same as used with the Aurender S10 and W20).

Designed to be combined with USB compatible DACs, the X100 is equipped with a USB 2.0 audio output that was originally designed for the flagship Aurender W20 model. Other connections include a Gigabit ethernet port for network connectivity and two USB data ports.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 0 comments
Teac's Esoteric division also released their new P1 transport that can handle SACD/CD playback, built around the company's VRDS NEO mechanism.

The P1 also features a two-chassis design with separate power supply (not shown), "leather-finish" remote control and a $44k price tag. Both the P1 and D1 are housed in a gorgeous aluminum chassis with a fine-ribbed finish.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 09, 2014 1 comments
Yes, DACs can be bought as monoblocks just like amps. The D1 retails for $22k each (so that's $44k for a stereo pair) and includes Esoteric's proprietary ES-LINK4 connection allowing DSD transfer from the companion P1 transport as well as 48/352.8 PCM, both via an HDMI cable.

Both the P1 and its D1a can be connected by a BNC cable for clock sync, and the company says that the D1 employs a 36bit digital to analog processing algorithm for PCM. In addition to accepting the P1 signal via HDMI, the D1 has six more inputs including USB, AES/EBU, SPDIF (x2), optical and i.LINK.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 08, 2014 2 comments
After last year's shipping mishap, I thought it would be appropriate to provide a shot of the actual product since it finally arrived in Vegas.

From last year's post: The $40k Rubicon features a built-in analog to digital converter that can be driven from an internal phono preamp, several sets of regular line level RCA jacks, or balanced XLRs. Digital inputs include 2 SPDIF, 2 Toslink and AES/EBU. Analog and digital outputs are also available. The Atomic part of the product's name refers to the 10MHz rubiduim atomic clock driving its 384kH converters.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
New for Antelope Audio this year is the Zodiac Platinum DAC at $5,500, which in addition to the normal PCM stuff, handles DSD 64, 128 and has the ability to upsample these to DSD256. The spec sheet also lists "64 bit precision 8x linear phase PCM upsampling" with the onboard FPGA, quad DAC architecture, and for extra precision there is an input for Antelope's 10M Rubidium atomic clock.

There are two headphone jacks on the front, volume control, and input switching for a wide variety of digital inputs. There are also 2 "de-jittered" SPDIF outputs for up to 24/192 PCM. The Zodiac Platinum is available now.

CES 2014
Jon Iverson Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
Having had a Meridian Sooloos in my system for the last few years, I'm a sucker for a nice big touch screen for controlling a music collection. Done right, there's nothing like it. So I made a beeline to the $9,995 Pathos Musiteca, which I first observed in prototype form at a previous CES.

Very similar in features to Meridian's Control 15, with built in 1TB drive, CD slot for ripping discs and network connection for gathering metadata, the Musiteca also has a built in tube DAC based on the design for the company's Endorphin CD player.

The Musiteca has beautiful styling, however when I started tapping the screen and calling up music, I found it a bit pokey in the speed department. Also, there is currently no method for adding more hard drive space in case you exceed the roughly 2,000 CD storage capacity.

Still, it looks gorgeous sitting there and should be available in April.

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