Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  0 comments
That's obviously a stock photo which I decided to use because every one of the many pictures I took of the AktiMate Minis sucked

The new AktiMate Minis ($499/pair) powered speakers w/USB DAC are distributed in the USA by Music Hall. The Minis are a two-way active speaker of the master/slave variety as only one has a 40W Class D amplifier so the other is driven by it (I'll let you decide which one's which). Frequency response is 58 Hz - 28 kHz according to the Music Hall-provided literature. Inputs include 1 pair of RCAs, (1) 3.5mm jack, a top-mounted Apple iPod Dock and a rear-mounted USB input wich passes 16-bit/48kHz data. There's even a pair of RCA outputs to connect to a subwoofer or according to the literature, "daisy-chain pairs of AktiMates". And they come in high (really high) gloss black, red or white.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  1 comments
The new Music Hall DAC35.2 ($1,200) is more than that. Sure it's got an Asynchronous 24-bit/192kHz USB DAC and 4 S/PDIF inputs (2 Coax, 2 Toslink) that can handle the same musical load, but it adds a pair of analog inputs and 2 variable analog outputs which pass through a pair of 6922 dual triodes or 1 fixed analog output that bypasses those tubes for those who don't want to go there. So yea, it's also a preamplifier. But wait, there's more including a USB-A input so you can connect your iPod/iPad, a tube headphone amp and a remote control.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  4 comments
Some time after my review of the self-powered Paradigm Shift A2 speakers ($279/each Ash Black Grain, $329/each Premium Finishes), Paradigm decided to re-think their design primarily to deal with the tweeter noise that I and others mentioned. Well here's the new and according to Paradigm improved Shift A2! In addition to adding some user-friendly features such as a soft mute after 30 seconds without a signal passing through and a full mute after 30 minutes of silence, the tweeter level was knocked down by 8dB.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  0 comments
The Esoteric K-05 is "Esoteric's Flagship One Box Solution" (projected price $9,990). The K-05 is a CD/SACD player with three digital inputs including Asynchronous USB and S/PDIF (Coax/Toslink) each capable of handling up to 24-bit/192kHz data. If you're looking for some trend-spotting, I'd say the inclusion of a 24/192 capable USB input on spinning disk payers is certainly one of them.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 12, 2012  |  1 comments
Teac America announced their Reference 01 Series at CES 2012 which includes the UD-H01 Universal DAC ($549.99), A-H01 Stereo amplifier and the DS-H01 Docking station for your iOS devices. Each of the products in the Reference 01 line have their own DAC (even the amp) so you don't need to have them all even though you know you might want to.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  0 comments
You've probably seen the Light Harmonic DaVinci 384K DAC ($20,000) before and if you have, you'll recall its quirky and to my eyes playful in a manta way design. As the name suggests, the DaVinci DAC can handle up to 32-bit/384kHz data and it can do so through its Asynchronous USB or S/PDIF input. Now you may think the DaVinci offers up its super high resolution in order to upsample all those lowly incoming signals. But it doesn't. The DaVinci DAC is of the non-oversampling variety and it is so because Light Harmonic felt it sounds better that way.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  0 comments
Switzerland-based soulution was new to me so I checked out their website and found this:
The Spemot corporation is notably strong when it comes to innovative products and services for special customer and market requirements. The products in the audio sector are marketed under the separate premium brand «soulution». They meet the highest demands of music reproduction. How did that come about? On the one hand the Spemot corporation has distributed the «HiFi & Records» magazine in Switzerland for quite some time; on the other hand the two managing directors, Cyrill Hammer and Roland Manz, have been indulging for years in their hobby of high-class music reproduction.
I don't know about you but I enjoy hearing about successful people who turn their success into an opportunity to pursue a passion.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  1 comments
Constellation Audio was showing and rightfully showing off their beautifully made Cygnus Digital file player / DAC ($20,000). The Cygnus is made right here in the USA including that machined aluminium chassis and its refreshing to see the art of craft emanating from these shores (California to be precise). The Cygnus supports FLAC, WAV, and AIFF file formats and I know that's not a long list but my guess is they hit the high rez highlights. Inputs include 1 AES/EBU, 2 RCA S/PDIF, 2 Toslink, and 1 USB (optional) while on the other end there are RCA and XLR stereo analog audio outputs.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  2 comments
Everything in the Cambridge Audio room has some sort of computer audio interface (I think the sofa was equipped to handle USB and Ethernet). Our featured image is the new DacMagic 100 ($399) that offers 24-bit/192kHz Asynchronous USB courtesy of the Wolfson WM8742 24-bit DAC (Windows users must by necessity install the free Cambridge Audio driver to enjoy the fruits of higher resolution labor since Microsoft has not yet seen fit to support USB Audio Class 2.0). There's 1 optical and 2 Coax inputs to convert additional digital data to analog music. The Dacmagic 100 was on silent display but I plan to get one in for review where it'll be anything but (silent).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Jan 11, 2012  |  0 comments
Simaudio was also showcasing its new MOON 380D Digital-to-Analog Converter ($3,900 + $600 for variable analog outputs). Using a whopping 8 DACs per channel, the 380D boasts 24-bit/192kHz on any of its 8 digital inputs (2 AES/EBU on XLR, 2 S/PDIF on RCA, 1 S/PDIF on BNC, 2 Toslink and 1 USB). Simaudio claims "A virtually jitter-free '1 picosecond' digital clocking system" and you can add the MOON MiND module (it won't sit on top like this image, it'll reside inside) for $1,200 turning on wired and wireless streaming capabilities.