Both HD downloads and vinyl have held their ground, and new equipment continues to pour forth at an astounding rate. But in the overall scheme of things, has this past year been a plus or minus in the audiophile ledger?
With car audio, background streaming, and iPods, there are plenty of choices for listening to music when away from your main system. Do you save your main system only for special occasions or does it dominate your audio life?
The Burmester music server was one of my favorite products of last year's CES. Pricey at $50,000, it nonetheless has that feel of a product where the designers have though of everything you would want in a music server. Since last year there have been some refinements and I had a chance to play with the iPad app (there is an iPad in the box with the app loaded) which allows complete and instant control of the system including music selection and volume control. Everything worked quite smoothly and Burmester's Robert Hagemann picked out some cool music for the demo too!
Philip O'Hanlon always provides some of the very best show demos, and this CES was no exception. As before, he had a suite atop the Mirage hotel, featuring Vivid loudspeakers and for purposes of this report, a new Luxman DAC. Music was provided by O'Hanlon's Mac Mini running Audio Nirvana and Pure Music and consisted largely of wonderful high-resolution rips of vinyl tracks.
The DA-06 will be available in May for $5,990 and can accept PCM up to 24/192 as well as DSD/DXD and 2xDSD. Digital inputs are upsampled and processed at 32/384 and there are USB, SPDIF, AES/EBU and Toslink inputs on the back.
Aimed straight at the Sonos owner, Arcam's new DAC has a form factor similar to a Sonos ZP90 and plugs right in. It forms a base for the Sonos to sit on and is similar to the company's rLink DAC with TI PCM5102 chip, supporting streams up to 24/192. Retail price is $299 and it is available now.
MSB gets the award for most interesting new chassis design for their new The Analog DAC, which is essentially a single low-slung curvy slab of aluminum with pockets sliced out of the bottom for the electronics.
Pricey though it was, their Diamond DAC IV is the best I've heard in my system so far, so you have to wonder what the new DAC brings to the table. The intial price is $7,000 with one input module installed. You can install up to three and pick from ethernet, USB or SPDIF at $995 each. Add $1,000 for volume control and $3,000 for the powerbase option for a total of $12,990 fully loaded.