Small and definitely cute, the new Chord DAC has SPDIF and USB inputs and unbalanced analog outputs. Priced at $1,795 and available now, the QuteHD also handles DSD files and can process streams up to 384kHz. Michael Lavorgna gets into the details in his recent review, but worth noting is that it features a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to handle the digital to analog conversion process and to automate input selection.
The EMP 3 is the company's latest version of an upgraded Oppo player and retails for $3,995 and is available now. They start with the Oppo 103, leave the video section alone, and rip everything else out. The put their own 24/192 DAC in the box and replace the Oppo op-amps with all discrete circuitry in a final design very similar to the previous EMP 2 model.
Being based on an Oppo means it will play just about any audio disc you have on hand and also do 3D Blu-ray and upscale video to 4K if you have a display to handle it. On the audio side, there is also a separate balanced stereo analog output added by Electrocompaniet.
Norwegian Manufacturer Electrocompaniet had two new digital products this year. The first is the ECD 2 Reference DAC retailing at $3,099 and available now. It features balanced and unbalanced outputs, 24/192 SPDIF Coax and new this year, USB. The ECD 2 upsamples and uses 24/192 processing throughout.
NAD greatly impressed me with their M51 bitstream DAC. Next, they've taken on the streamer/music server market with the M50 ($2499) and M52 Digital Music Vault (1999), both available now.
The M50 has WiFi, ethernet, USB and HDMI to handle PCM files up to 24/192 and has a CD slot for ripping discs and retrieving metadata. Streaming services should be available as options in about six months. For storing files, the M52 connects via USB and runs a 3TB RAID 5 Array. All functions can then be controlled via NAD's iPad app.
In some rooms, spotting the new product or two can be tough without asking or taking time to carefully look at everything on display. Not the Oracle room. The BRIGHT yellow Paris CD 250 was screaming "look at me" the moment I crossed the threshold. Once my eyes had settled I could see Oracle had also brought the CD player and DAC in a few more color choices: black, white and red.
Using the same chassis design and color options, the CD player or DAC each run $3,500. The DAC features 24/192 SPDIF, Toslink and USB inputs as well as volume control.
Swiss company CH displayed the new $32,975 C1 DAC/controller with optional ethernet board ($5k) and USB board ($4k). The processor handles 24/192 PCM and will soon support DSD/DXD via ethernet.
The C1 is compact and beautifully made (unlike my photo) and has all the standard digital inputs as well as analog options and a variety of output options including balanced and unbalanced analog. The company says that the modular approach to the C1 makes it "future-proof" as they keep coming up with new boards.
JA noted the new Weiss network player at Rocky Mountain, but this was the first time I had seen the production version. There are two options available: with DAC for $12,262 or without for $9,083. Either way the MAN301 uses an iPad app for remote control, has a CD slot on the front for ripping your discs, and the need for external storage.
Since this is a network player and not just a music server, the Weiss can handle internet radio and podcasts and has a variety of digital inputs. Both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs as well as digital complete the back panel.
Arriving in the US next month, the new Cambridge follow-up to the 751BD has a retail price of $1299. Arcam's Dan Poulton was quick to point out that though it has a similar feature set (most disc formats supported as well as streaming services), this is not just an Oppo in a Cambridge box.
Audio is upsampled to 24/192 using Cambridge's Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF) system and allows the user to set the digital filter from several options as with the company's DacMagic.
M2Tech is seen here showcasing the new Joplin ADC which can convert analog signals to anything up to 32/384. You can convert line level inputs and there is also a built in phono stage with 16 preset EQs built in for compatibility with various manufacturers. Price is $2,499 and there are AES/EBU, SPDIF, Toslink and USB outputs. There is also a single SPDIF input.
One of my favorite products to review over the last couple years was the Cantata Music Center from Resolution Audio. What's not to like: solid engineering, forward thinking and gorgeous styling.
The company claims the product is designed to be future proofed for at least the next 10 years, and is now offering a new $500 24/192 hardware upgrade (software upgrades are free) to existing owners that is also featured in current versions. The Cantata Music Center is now also UpNP capable for FLAC and AIFF file decoding.