DS Audio, Mobile Fidelity Electronics, Aesthetix Pallene and Dione, ProAc Speakers, Ansuz Acoustics Cables

DS Audio's Tetsuaki Aoyagi, known casually as Aki, was at High End Munich introducing his new DS Audio Eccentricity Detection Stabilizer ES-001 device. The next-gen (read: young) designer attended with his parents—something seldom seen at hi-fi shows. (That said, my father attended AXPONA again this year.) And families do attend the High End Munich show, perhaps more regularly than others.

Anyway, Aoyagi's new Eccentricity Detection Stabilizer ES-001 (estimated MSRP $6000) performs a few cool functions and has a touchscreen display on top. It essentially acts an LP centering device for records and is reported to reduce wow and flutter. Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings (DS Audio's US distributor) mentioned that there's no official, published standardization spec for the diameter of record spindle holes. This is something vinyl fans might take for granted, or not consider. The ES-001 projects a light onto the runout groove to measure the amount of variation, then adjusts it so it's perfectly centered.

Aesthetix introduced a couple of new separates, the tubed Pallene preamplifier and hybrid Dione stereo power amplifier. Some of their circuitry and other elements derive from the Aesthetix Mimas integrated amplifier. The Pallene's volume control, which deploys discrete switched resistors, is based on the Aesthetix Calypso model's. The Pallene preamp ships with a standard headphone amplifier onboard, or you can choose the upgraded option instead: a fully discrete class-A headphone amp (with differential input) that outputs 1W into 32 ohms. Optional DAC and phono stage are available for $1250 each. The DAC handles up to 24-bit/352kHz PCM, up to DSD128. The MC/MM phono section allows user-selectable gain and loading for various cartridges. Adjustments can be made via the included remote control.

The two-channel Aesthetix Dione amp uses FETs in the input stage, tubes (one 6DJ8/6922 per side) in the gain stage, and bipolar transistors in the driver and output stages. The zero-feedback design has one differential balanced-bridged output per side. Its estimated power rating—both channels driven—is 160Wpc into 8 ohms, 320Wpc into 4 ohms. The separates come in either black or silver (natural) with MRSP estimated at $6500 each.

The active system featured a pair of white ProAc Response D20R loudspeakers with ribbon tweeters. (Another version with a dome tweeter, the D20D, is also available.) Amplification included the new Aesthetix Pallene preamplifier and Dione amplifier, and Ansuz cables connected the system. A couple of Mobile Fidelity Electronics turntables did analog duty; the tonearm of one was fitted with a MoFi cartridge, the other with a DS Audio 003 optical cartridge—DS Audio's own phono preamp amplified the 003 cartridge's signal.

Also introduced in this room—actively and passively—was Mobile Fidelity Electronics' MasterPhono phono preamplifier that Jason Victor Serinus covered. Plus, Allen Perkins of Spiral Groove has designed a new, higher-end Mobile Fidelity Electronics turntable that was shown on passive display. Perkins was behind the original Mobile Fidelity Electronics UltraDeck model, which is decently priced and excellent—one of my references.

When I visited, the room was crowded with chatty people, so unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to do any meaningful listening here. Next time!