HI-FI '98 Product Previews, Part Five

Hundreds of manufacturers will be demonstrating state-of-the-art audio products at HI-FI '98---some of which have never before been seen by the public. Here is the last installment of announcements:

Dunlavy Audio Labs
Dunlavy will launch the SC-IV/A loudspeaker, furthering the tradition of excellence established with their much-acclaimed SC-IV. The speaker's improved dynamic range offers amazing visceral impact, and increased linearity translates to improved soundstaging, imaging, and musicality. A newly designed first-order crossover ensures total phase coherence, accuracy, and immediacy.

Z-Systems will introduce an all-new, full-function, reference-grade digital control center. The new model is a three-chassis design, its power-supply unit housing separate supplies for the control and display, DSP, and both A/D and D/A functions.

The main processor unit includes the most powerful DSP capabilities Z-Systems has ever offered, including separate digital control of room-correction and program material, optional 24-bit/96kHz A/D inputs including RIAA equalization, optional 24-bit/96kHz D/A outputs, room equalization, tone control, remote control, and write-protected equalization memory. These facilities will ensure that the unit will be easy to configure and use in even the most complex custom-install systems.

The elegant remote control employs both six-band Transparent Tone Control and tilt control, the tone control adjusted through a predetermined set of frequencies and bandwidths or fully programmable by the user. What promises to be the state-of-the-art all-digital command center will sell for an estimated price of $12,500.

NXT has rewritten the rules of loudspeaker design---but you knew that already. HI-FI '98 provides the first opportunity for the public to hear what has generated all the hysteria. After a century in which ungainly boxes have necessitated aesthetic compromises and the sacrifice of precious floor space, speakers that can---literally---be hung on the wall have finally arrived.

Now boasting over 20 licensees for their revolutionary flat-panel loudspeaker technology, NXT will be showing the latest variants, including a worldwide first: a complete NXT home-theater system using the DTS surround-sound system. This radical alternative to the normal home theater features a projection screen that doubles as the center-channel speaker! NXT will also offer a glimpse of the future: speakers built into the lids of laptop computers, incorporated into the interiors of car door panels, and even speakers disguised as paintings.

Signal Guard
Signal Guard II is the newly upgraded comprehensive isolation system utilizing aerospace industry techniques such as closed-cell foam technology. The unique approach establishes a new performance benchmark for component isolation devices by offering both mechanical isolation, which grounds component vibration and inhibits mechanical feedback, and electrical isolation through RFI and EMI shielding incorporated into the platform.

VAC/Valve Amplification Company
VAC's Visionary Audio Components System PTS100 2-channel solid-state stereo/bridgeable mono amplifier is a 100Wpc high-end audio/home-theater amplifier bridgeable to 200W mono. The PTT100 is a 100Wpc x3 solid-state multichannel high-end home-theater amplifier for front, center, and right channels. The Visionary System units integrate superb-sounding vacuum-tube and solid-state technology into a system with true high-end sonic performance, unified visual appeal, and total ease of use.

The attractive appearance of the VAC Visionary System and its user-changeable cosmetic trim features make high-end audio and home-theater sound welcome in any domestic environment, and will attract consumers who may not previously have considered the purchase of a high-end system. These components feature a unique vibration-control system consisting of purpose-designed high-durometer spacers that fit between the pillars of the individual components. These pillars absorb unwanted component resonances for maximum sonic clarity, and eliminate the need for aftermarket vibration-control accessories.

Probably the biggest hit of HI-FI '97 was the world launch of Nagra's first pure audio product, the PL-P preamplifier. For 1998, the Swiss firm has followed up the PL-P with the Nagra MPA MOSFET power amplifier. The MPA stereo model is rated at 200Wpc in class-AB mode---enough to drive any speaker on the market. But, to allow for demands for even more power, the MPA can be bridged for mono operation to deliver 400W. Nagra has had decades of experience in the professional sector; the MPA features studio-grade construction and such niceties as balanced XLR connection.

The Nagra MPA can be ordered with special remote control and multiple input options, providing infrared selection of volume, balance, mute, and input source select, the latter allowing the user to select from four inputs. Nagra's famous modulometer provides a read-out of the output power wattage, referenced to two separate scales. For those who've been spoiled by the sheer professionalism of the PL-P preamp, here is the power amplifier to complete the system.

Kora will be showing their new 120W Titan monoblocks ($7495), the Eclipse remote-control preamplifier ($5495), the new Hermes converter ($3895), and a new speaker---the Odyssey Studio ($12,500), whose big brother, the Professional, has already been remarked upon (at WCES '98) for its innovative aesthetics. Cables used will be by Renaissance Audio from Norway, and audio furniture will be by Billy Bags.

Established in 1990 by a handful of electronics engineers contracting for Aerospace in Toulouse (the French Silicon Valley!), Kora is a French manufacturer of high-end hi-fi tube amplifiers and acoustic loudspeakers. Says R. Lacrampe, La Nouvelle Revue du Son: "Kora makes music blessed with a rare power of expression. A must in its category."