January 2015 - IsoTek fill out down-market models - IsoTek's Venus [£325] is a mains conditioner with a "delta filter topology against common and differential mode noise plus 30dB RFI reduction. Each of the five outlets is independently isolated to prevent cross contamination. In addition, sequential and repeatable protection provides 13'500A of instantaneous safety against electrical spikes and surges." Available with UK, EU, US, AU or CH sockets, the Venus is 16 x 4.5 x 22.5cm WxHxD, weighs 1.5kg and comes in a white finish.

January 2015 - Greek cables - With the promise to end Greek austerity by just elected opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, Audio4soul follow suit with their new  OCC iT! Reference speaker cables. "Employing the finest single-crystal pure OCC copper made with the famous Ohno casting method, our OCC cable digs deeper into the musical truth of your collection. As with all our products, these are completely hand-mad and come with real-world pricing."

January 2015 - Genelec active 3-way - Finnish pro company Genelec who have also been romancing the home user launch the 8351A monitor [€6'600/pr] in their signature cast-aluminium clam-shell housing with rear port and with plenty of owner adjustments. Set centrally in the baffle is a wave-guided 5.75" coax bracketed by two invisible oval 4 x 8.5" woofers. This 19kg tri-amped speaker (150/120-watt class D for the woofers and mid, 90-watt class A/B for the tweeter) claims stout 32Hz-40kHz bandwidth and 110dB SPL potential. Inputs are on XLR analog and AES/EBU digital. Finish options are white and anthracite.

January 2015 - Is it hi-rez or not? Lars Inger points at their new MusicScope software which allows users to analyze and play their audio files including DSD64/128. There's now AIFF support and a new graphical representation of the loudness range. Apparently both 2L Recordings and Pioneer use MusicScope to look at their own files. If you suspect that not all of your high-resolution files are what they're cracked up to be and were sold as... this software will show you what they're made of whilst also giving you all manner of other data.

January 2015 - Horny Greeks - With Arcadian Audio's giant Pnoe horns and Tune Audio's multi-way horns, one might not have expected another hornspeaker company from the land of Plato but the Sonus Aeterna firm is just such a one. We'd reported on their smaller two-way horns in various show reports but the 106dB Zeus scales things up to a 4-way. It combines an 18" down-firing sealed subwoofer topped by a 100Hz 1st-order circular Tractrix horn with 8" compression paper driver. Above that comes another circular Tractrix horn with a 220Hz cut-off that loads a 2" compression driver whilst the top horn has a 1" ring radiator behind it. The entire affair measures 230x105x115cm HxWxD and weighs in at a breathless €180'000/pr.



January 2015 - Amplific exposé - "The 3010S2-D [£1'700] is the 4th incarnation of Exposure’s top integrated amp. Like its predecessor, it comes with six line level inputs. However, one of these is now a direct AV input to enable integration with a surround system. There is also the option to fit a £240 MM or MC phono stage or a plug-in £325 DAC board capable of up to 192/24 bit PCM and DSD 64 with auto-switching USB and BNC inputs. A pre-out allows for a separate power amplifier to bi-amp. The linestage sports a new PCB with all discrete components rather than ICs whilst the power amp features a fast bipolar output stage. A new power supply adds extra stages of regulation. The amp delivers a solid 110wpc with better than 100dB SNR and THD below 0.03% for its full rated output. The deck weighs 12kg and comes in silver or black."
January 2015 - Questyle DAPs - Chinese Questyle had announced 2015 as a big year for their brand in a December email. This rendering of the forthcoming QP1 [$600] and QP1 Pro [$900] models explains why. These will be portable music players with current-mode headphone outputs and true DSD compatibility, with the dearer unit featuring costlier parts. Two 128GB MicroSD card slots allow storage beyond the built-in 8GB flash memory. Reportedly being assembled in the same Foxconn plant which builds Apple's iPhone 6, Questyle's champagne and Titanium finishes should be perfect matches. D/A conversion is via CS4398 to support DSD128. The OS is Linux. The 3.5mm line-out jack is a combo Toslink affair. A Li-on 3'000mAH battery is claimed good for 8-10 hours of play time. Could this be the hi-rez replacement for Apple's discontinued 160GB iPod Classic?

January 2015 - EOS integrates - Trafomatic Audio's most powerful EOS push-pull amplifier has spawned an integrated version with headphone output and remote control. The output tubes of choice remain KT-120.

January 2015 - Gyro your gear - From South Korea comes the Gyrotension Vega vibration isolator from Hifi Stay which is distributed worldwide by DC Son of Highend city.com and Nasotec. The device is described as a floating type isolator with a radial silicone ring and adjustable tension plus 3-point support on ceramic balls all tucked into a duralumin body with hard-anodized tope plate which offers a 20mm height adjustment. The stretched rings come in 4 layers with 48 rings; or 6 layers with 72 rings. A Vega triplet of the first kind will support up to 36kg/79lbs, the second kind will handle 54kg/119lbs. Tension is matched to each component by removing or adding ring layers by means of a weight chart for proper compliance.

January 2015 - Meitner upgrades - Starting with the freebie of the new lot, MDAT2 is Meitner's FPGA-coded DSP engine which "takes all PCM and DSD and does real-time transient filtering and up-conversion to 2xDSD (5.6Mhz/6.1Mhz) before being sent to our custom 2xDSD MDAC modules. With MDAT2 we have improved sonic detail from all digital audio streams with new high-resolution algorithms; greatly optimized time and frequency response filters; a new signal processing engine built for very high-precision audio upsampling; and a new more accurate 2xDSD up-sampling algorithm."

Meitner also are readying a new flagship DAC tentatively called DA2 for Q2/Q3 with all new MDAT2, MFAST and MCLOCK components, 384kHz PCM and optional network and streaming support in a new chassis with luxurious ultra-fine CNC finish. Pricing will start at $25'000 in the Titanium finish. Shipping already are the MTRX flagship amps rated at 750 watts into 8 ohms and 1.5kW into 4 ohms.

January 2015 - Deliver the power - Fono Acustica  from Spain announce their new Allegro power distributor which is "based on high-quality pure silver and copper alloy conductors thermo-treated and blended in proprietary ratios in Teflon-insulated dielectrics with ultra-effective shielding and top Oyaide connectors." Pricing is €2'800 for the 6P Schuko version. A 10P version is available by special request.

January 2015 - Good dharma karma - As teased already on their Facebook page, EnigmAcoustics of Sopranino super tweeter and Mythology M1 super monitor fame are readying their new Dharma headphones [$1'200] which they announce as a unique 2-way hybrid. This presumably means that they've adapted their self-biased electrostatic technology for headphone use and augment it in the bass with a dynamic driver. The Athena A1 triode hybrid amplifier [$1'500] in what looks like a repurposed Sopranino glass casing becomes its designated driver. And Sopranino gets a new super tweeter mate called Veleno whose cylindrical concept rendering we'd already run in December and whose width naturally matches the M1. "Veleno employs the same self-polarizing electrostatic design/concept and second-order external crossover control as our flagship Sopranino but in a lower profile with aluminium enclosure. The transducer is not curved and operates with a similar pattern of dispersion despite a rather different look. Veleno is also designed for easier integration into any left, center, right environment (it may be purchased in set of 3s), whereas Sopranino is strictly designed for a 2-channel application. Nevertheless, even without Sopranino’s attenuation control, Veleno can still be effectively and effortlessly integrated into any stereo system. Its sensitivity (1M/2.83V) is 90dB but users should not fixate solely on sensitivity matching but more on the concept and importance of spectral energy and utilize the 3-step crossover frequency adjustment accordingly. Traditional 1" dome tweeters suffer inherent limitations of narrow dispersion and rapid signal decay. Possessing close to 30 x the surface area of a 1" dome tweeter, Veleno acts as an effective ambience restoration device which allows ambience recovery for multiple listeners over a much larger/wider sweet spot."

January 2015 - Get serenaded - "Serenade DSD [$299] is the world's first hybrid DAC and headphone amp with cutting-edge DSP which controls different effects and software control panel settings. Serenade DSD i the first hybrid hardware/software solution for audiophiles. Developed based on our Serenade Workstation, the portable DSD/DXD music production workstation, Serenade DSD provides the same sound quality as the recording and mixing engineer hear in the studio. We use a reference-grade 32/384 DAC with 123dB of dynamic range and THD+N of -105d plus native DSD 512 support. Our virtual preamp software compensates for dynamic losses based on volume setting and can inject the sonics of vintage analog gear. Our headphone mix tech includes an environmental simulation system, frequency compensation and HRTF tech to make the experience closer to speaker listening. The portable Serenade DSD measures 12x12x3cm and is powered directly from a USB port. It drives headphones with 300mV and crosstalk better than -120dB."
January 2015 - Sabre grow more teeth - ESS Technology, provider of high performance audio/video solutions, today announce the Sabre9018Q2C, a 32-bit stereo DAC with headphone amplifier and ultra-low THD output switch in a compact 5mm x 5mm package for mobile applications. "The SABRE9018Q2C chip delivers 121dB SNR, -115dB THD+N and up to 49mW into 32Ω headphones. Using an internal charge pump, it operates from a single +3.3V supply to produce ground-referenced headphone outputs, eliminating pops and clicks as well as the need for large DC blocking capacitors. The ultra-low THD output switch connects headphones directly to the headphone amplifier or to auxiliary inputs for either voice communications or an alternate music source. The on-board DAC uses ESS’s 32-Bit HyperStream® architecture to handle up to 32-Bit 384kHz PCM data via SLIMBus, I2S or DSD-11.2MHz data." Also new is the Sabre9602 headamp on a chip with integrated output switch, 122dB SNR and -123dB THD whilst driving 49mW into 32ohm headphones.
January 2015 - Roguish - Rogue Audio's new RP-5 preamplifier "utilizes 4 x 12AU7 tubes in a mu-follower configuration with computer-optimized circuitry for outstanding sonics as well as industry-leading technical specs. The feature-rich design includes both a tube-based headphone amp and an MM/MC phono with user-adjustable gain and loading.  The RP-5 also features a VFD display that provides input, volume and L/R balance information. A high-quality ten button remote controls volume, balance, on/off, input select, a processor loop and mute and mono functions. And best of all, in keeping with Rogue Audio’s tradition of  providing high value, the RP-5 sells at $3'500."

January 2015 - Aussie virtuosity - After quietly bowing their Conductor Virtuoso a few months back, Australia's Burson apply the makeover to their Timekeeper power amp now also in Virtuoso guise. "Key features of the Timekeeper Virtuoso stereo power amplifier include class-AB operation with a specially tailored transformer making 100Wpc into 8 ohms and 200 into 4 ohms, 300 bridged into 8 ohms and an incredible 600Wpc bridged into 4 ohms using one amp per channel. MSRP is a projected $3'450 when released in the first quarter of this year. Due to its small size and huge performance, the Timekeeper Virtuoso is suitable for any listening environment small or large. It looks and sounds great on a desktop and is ideal for high-end home theater or commercial environments where equipment is often hidden. CES will also show a prototype of the upcoming Timekeeper Virtuoso integrated amplifier."

January 2015 - New Audeze models drive BMW - Audeze introduce the EL-8 planarmagnetic headphones [$699] in open- and closed-back versions plus the Deckard headphone amp. "With industrial design by the BMW Group Designworks USA, the EL-8 is a refined and contemporary addition that personifies modern luxury. With fine wood accents and exceptional build quality, the lightweight EL-8 features the world’s most advanced planarmagnetic technology with Fluxor™ magnetic tech and a Uniforce™ diaphragm material that was originally developed by NASA for lightweight electronics to withstand the rigors of space. Audeze reengineered this super strong material to work as a planar magnetic driver. The slim-chassis Deckard [$699] also designed by the BMW Group Designworks USA is a class-A circuit whose internal DAC handles 16 to 32-bit signal with sampling rates from 44.1kHz to 384kHz. There are front-panel switches for three gain settings and input (USB and Analog) as well as a volume control. The headphone output is standard quarter-inch."
January 2015 - HifiMan hit 1000 - Given their naming conventions, HifiMan's headphones just broke the glass barrier with the new HE-1000 model whose number separates it from what has come before to a higher extent than any other model in this catalogue. The web is inundated already with photos of it in all black, with red detailing and in silver/wood detailing as shown. Little else is known yet other than the obvious - it's another open-backed planarmagnetic design and the new flagship in Fang Bian's line.

January 2015 - Aries goes quad - AURALiC have added quad-rate DSD streaming over WiFi to their Aries high-resolution streaming bridge.

January 2015 - Nagra news - Announcing a split of their catalogue into two lines called High Definition and Classic, Nagra's HD DAC released last year was the first of the new extreme products. The second is a new monaural power amp built around Mosfets capable of more than a constant kilowatt RMS power into low impedance whilst displaying a 1MHz DC bandwidth at -5dB and residual noise at <0.003%. With a 1'600VA power transformer weighing 18kg, Nagra's HD amp is designed to handle all speaker loads unconditionally. A successor to the MSA amp is the new Classic Amp which doubles the MSA's output rating to 120Wrms into 8 ohms and reimagines the original's case work for a new look by internalizing the massive heatsink. Formal launch dates are April 2015 for the Classic Amp and September 2015 for the HD monos.

January 2015 - PS Audio hybrid amp - At CES 2015, PS Audio will show the final pre-production prototypes of the Bascom H. King Signature 250 amplifier. First sighted in prototype form at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October, the BHK Signature 250 stereo power amplifier features a triode front end followed by all-Mosfet circuitry including the output stage. Power ratings are 250wpcl into 8 ohms and 400wpc into 4. The amplifier will also be available as a monoblock in the Bascom H. King Signature 300. The BHK is the first product in PS’ history to feature vacuum tubes. It is expected to be in full production by May, 2015 MSRP in the US market is projected at $7'499 for the stereo and monoblock versions.

January 2015 - Hugo grows - With more than 10'000 units sold, Chord Electronics' Hugo was a very successful 2014 product. With the new Hugo TT [£2'995], the same circuit now goes on the desktop with enhanced connectivity (RCA and fully balanced XLR outputs), an alphanumeric display, remote control and a USB B digital input. Battery power has been doubled and a 10'000'000uF bank of super-capacitor backup was added. Otherwise the Chord still supports 32/384 PCM and DSD128 plus advanced headfi with 2 x ¼" and 1 x 3.5mm outputs, a crossfeed filter, Bluetooth over A2DP and proprietary D/A decoding via a custom-coded Spartan 6 FPGA. The Hugo TT comes in silver or black and its size versus the portable Hugo is shown in the top photo.

January 2015 - Aurender systems - The X-PAC and N-PAC 2somes combine two different server front ends with the company's new X725 DAC/stereo amplifier. The X-PAC gets the X100 server with SSD-cached playback from a large up to 12TB internal HD whilst the N-PAC's source streams from a NAS instead. The control point for both is Aurender's own app which includes full Tidal integration.


January 2015 - Pass integrates - Following up the point-8 range of amplifiers introduced in 2014, the company now spreads the same luv to its two integrateds which become the INT-60 [$9'000] and INT-250 [$12'000] respectively whose nomenclatures mirrors their 8-ohm power ratings per channel. The power supplies, output stages and glow meters carry over directly from the point-8 amp range. The integrated models add direct-access input buttons on the face plate, a digital volume display, volume knob and mute button.

January 2015 - 50 new amps - Actually, it's two new 50 amps, one stereo, one mono called Time Bandit. As George Lenz of TubesUSA explains, "we are releasing two new type 50 amplifiers for 2015. Both are cathode biased so no adjustments are necessary. Both use point-to-point wiring and transformer coupling throughout. The power output is 5wpc from the Emission Labs type 50 triode. It will work very well with a variety of speakers from 92dB and up. All parts were chosen for their sonic attributes as well as their reliability: Hashimoto output transformers, Lundahl interstage transformers, tube sockets and meters from Yamamoto Soundcraft. Both amplifiers can be utilized with or without preamp as they feature volume controls of their own. Pricing for the stereo version is $7'495 while the 'mirror imaged' monoblocs are 9'995/pr."

January 2015 - Clones add R - The new Clones Audio 25iR finally gets the (all metal) remote control with learning function which many shoppers were waiting for. This well-liked 3-input 'gainclone' integrated from Hong Kong otherwise still is a 25wpc into 8-ohm affair with a high 30dB of voltage gain, i.e. a simple circuit with opamp outputs based on the original 47lab Gaincard idea.
December 2014 - Clamp it - Have you been bothered by relatively loose-fitting power connectors? Now ART aka Audio Reference Technology from Italy have a solution for at least their own power strip: adjustable clamping blocks which prevent any lateral play on those power connectors. This even works on the power IEC.
December 2014 - Prime go Hypex - Prime Loudspeakers of FInland who use domestically sourced stone for their speaker enclosures are readying a matching class D amplifier called DA140 based on Hypex technology.

December 2014 - Less loss, less coin - The Lithuanian company announces their new FireWall module for OEM and DIY use. "Beginning at only $178, the new Firewall module is a small self-installable highly effective solution to your existing power-line problems. It is versatile in use and takes us several steps further to overcome the information-overloaded mains problem we must now live with."


December 2014 - Go with the Flow - Aurender debut their $1,295 Flow portable DAC/headphone amp with multi-status display inside a velocity-sensistive volume control dial. Based on the Sabre ESS9018K2M DAC, the Flow is compatible with 384kHz PCM and DSD128 whilst an optional user-installatable mSATA slot can add up to 1TB of storage for on-the-road-playback via a laptop whose own storage now needn't be used for music. A leather case is included with each shipment. Connections are USB 3.0 and Toslink plus a 6.3mm headphone jack. The Flow measures 80x137x28mm, weighs 450g and uses a Samsung SDI 4450mAh battery for a claimed 7 hours of play.

December 2014 - Carmel the Second - YG Acoustics™ announce the Carmel2 [$24'300/pr] loudspeaker, a two-way all aluminium tower with "ForgeCore™ tweeter, extremely rigid 7.25" BilletCore™ mid/woofer and leading-edge ToroAir™ crossover inductors." Response of 32-40'000Hz is claimed to be within ±2dB and ±5° of relative phase throughout the entire filter overlap which hinges at 1.75kHz. Sensitivity is 87dB and nominal impedance 4Ω, said to not reach below 3.5Ω. Dimensions are 103x23x31cm (41x9x13“) HxWxD and weight is 34kg/76lbs.

December 2014 - Zanden Audio - "The model 500 DAC makes use of Zanden’s patented analog filter for superior phase coherence. The result is a more palpable, detailed, analog-like and ultimately realistic musical presentation. Noise artifacts are also a very serious impediment and even more so with digital audio and computer based audio systems. The model 500 borrows filtering technologies from Zanden’s model 2000P transport, making its USB connection virtually noise free. Asahi Kasei Fiber’s extremely effective HF noise absorbing material called Pulshut is used extensively as are various shielding techniques. Basic features include 32-bit 192kHz resolution, USB, I2S, AES/EBU, S/PDIF and DSD inputs and balanced and single-ended outputs."

December 2014 - Diasoul - The Diasoul Corporation introduces their first loudspeaker system, the Diasouli. "It incorporates a number of advanced technologies like a pure boron tweeter, NCV cones (nano-carbonized high velocity) and a powered spherical wave multi-tweeter system. The driver diaphragm has the greatest impact on the sound quality of a speaker unit. The ideal material would combine high propagation velocity and moderate internal loss. B4C aka boron carbide at a propagation velocity of 12'700m/sec is faster than beryllium and second only to diamond yet possesses an internal loss similar to paper to be ideal. Mitsubishi Electric exclusively provide these pure boron tweeters. They are the only manufacturer in the world capable of manufacturing a pure boron driver. The diaphragms of the midrange and woofer employ another very special material called NCV. These drivers are constructed of nano-carbon tubes and multiple resins with injection molding. NCV is an ultra-high speed material. Its propagation velocity is 5'600m/sec surpassing titanium (5'100m/sec). After various experiments and repeated thorough listening tests, Diasoul have settled on an arrangement of 4 x 32mm direct-radiating tweeters on the surface of a sphere for their head unit. The Diasoul Corporation is a privately held company based out of Hyogo, Japan. It was established in 2014 by Kohei Teramoto, an engineer at Mitsubishi Electric whose work has been recognized with numerous awards. Diasoul is the culmination of over 30 years of research into the reproduction of recorded music."

December 2014 - Furious Furutech developments - In their accessories division, the Japanese announce new parts. "The Furutech FI-68 noise filter IEC connector effectively removes all high-frequency noise from the mains before it reaches your components. The FI-68’s high-end parallel circuit with in-line coil and cap reduces noise by 8dB at 100KHz, 14dB at 500KHz and 30dB at 10MHz. Nano-sized ceramic particles and powdered carbon are then combined in a special damping resin inside the filter shell to create a chassis that is effectively damped both mechanically and electrically. Special stainless steel fiber compounds in the FI-68 EMI filter’s body and housing insulation feature a surface resistivity between 102–109 ohm/sq for ESD or EMI shielding. The FI-06 Series IEC inlets feature an improved set screw construction and solid OFC grade Alpha pure copper conductors. The FI-12L Series angled connectors are the world’s first high-end angled power connectors. All versions sport adjustable angle settings  and Furutech's top rhodium-plated pure-copper conductors. Furutech's patented FT-860 Series one-piece wire-wound binding posts are ideal for speaker builders, manufacturers and DIYers looking for low-mass, quality engineered and superb-sounding terminals."
December 2014 - Audio Alchemy reboot - It's happened to Batman and Spiderman so why not AA? Under the lead of Peter Madnick, the brand returns to life in 2015. The DDP-1 shown will have seven digital inputs, three analog inputs, XLR and RCA analog outputs and a 0.25" headphone jack whilst using dual 32/384 chips with an FPGA router, a multi-stage PLL jitter attenuator, passive anti-aliasing filter and a discrete FET driver and output stage.

December 2014 - New ADL - To launch at CES 2015, Furutech's sub brand ADL are readying the Stratos [$779], GT40a [$529] and H128 [$458]. The Stratos and GT40a are combo DACs, ADCs and phono stages with 16-600 ohm headphone outputs. The Stratos adds DSD128. The H128 is a headphone promising more dynamics than the H118 predecessor by using a completely redesigned driver.

December 2014 - Join the CIA? - US Crayon Audio importer Fred Crane of StereoDesk let slip that Roland Crammer is working on a 33wpc integrated amplifier which, without phono, will sell for ~$3'300 and with phono for about $800 more. That makes CIA into Crayon integrated amplifier...
December 2014 - Pavane - From Metrum Acoustics' Cees Ruijtenberg comes the new flagship Pavane DAC which sports 8 of their proprietary and new converter modules. "Pavane is designed with a double damping inner frame and finished with heavy aluminium front and side panels to be all but immune to outside vibrations. Like her predecessors, the Pavane is available in silver and black. The top panel consists of a sandwich of steel and 4mm of tempered glass for a distinctive new look. Additionally the Pavane is outfitted with a sharply designed aluminium remote control to switch sources. Unlike the Hex and Octave, the Pavane comes standard with AES/EBU, USB and balanced outputs. She uses parallel driven R2R ladder networks in the eight DAC modules. They can already handle very high sample rates but still get a significant boost from our FPGA-driven 'forward correction module'. This module splits up the audio samples for each channel into new separate data streams. Each DAC cluster processes a portion of the data in the most linear region of the DAC chips. The result of this process is extremely high linearity right down to -140dB, which gives the Pavane a realistic 24-bit dynamic range. Due to the dual mono design over the entire frequency range, we realize an extremely high channel separation of 120dB." The Pavane will sell for €4'095 without VAT but as part of the company's 25th anniversary, an introductory price of €3'695 (ex. VAT) applies until January 31st.

December 2014 - ATC active - "Featuring wholly ATC designed and built drivers and amplifiers, the new SCM40A is an active version of the SCM40 3-way floorstander. It combines the soft dome dual-suspension SH25-76 tweeter with the company’s signature 75mm soft-dome midrange and a 164mm underhung woofer. The built-in 3-channel class AB Mosfet amp dedicates 25 watts to the tweeter, 60 watts to the mid and 150 watts to the bass unit. The crossovers are all active 4th-order modified Butterworth with phase compensation circuitry for each crossover point. The speaker comes with a 6-year warranty, measures 980 x 370 x 344mm HxWxD and sells for $11'999/pr in Cherry or black Ash finish."

December 2014 - Devialet Phantom - Calling it a boom box would be a bit coarse but in a high-end luxury sense, the Phantom is a compact Devialet with two opposing convex woofers and a front-firing coaxial tweeter/mid array driven by the company's hybrid class A/class D amplification technology miniaturized to fit eight mono amps which are then bridged. Two models are announced, the €1'690 standard Phantom with 750 watts of onboard power; and the €1'990 Silver Phantom with 3KW of go juice for higher SPL. Whilst the marketing lingo presently surrounding the Phantom is admittedly colourful, if anyone aside from Bang & Olufsen can design a hi-tech 'boom box' aka powered mono speaker that's scaleable to traditional stereo and beyond and promises 20Hz bandwidth, it's Devialet, never mind all their talk of bass implosion speakers, cybernetic intelligence and the rest of it.

December 2014 - Schiit storm - "2 years after launching the original Magni and Modi, we’re changing the game again. Announcing Magni 2 and Modi and their Uber partners! In total, four products encompass the second-gen Magni/Modi line:  
Magni 2. All-new discrete headphone amp with 1.2W RMS per channel and switchable high/low gain, together with a refined constant-feedback gain stage. The update of what's arguably the most popular headphone amp, ever. $99. 
Magni 2 Uber. All-new discrete headphone amp with 1.5W RMS per channel, switchable high/low gain, preamp outputs, and even more sophisticated constant-feedback gain stage. Also includes new 24VA wall transformer (3x larger than Magni) and aluminium top chassis and knob. $149.
Modi 2All-new USB asynchronous DAC with switchable USB Class 1 and Class 2 modes. USB Class 1 remains driverless for all supported computers, USB Class 2 adds 24/192 capability but requires drivers for Windows. The update of one of the most popular USB DACs ever. $99.
Modi 2 Uber. All-new USB, optical, and coaxial three-input DAC running full USB Class 2 for 24/192 capability through all inputs. Essentially a mini Bifrost. AC linear power supply with included 8VA wall transformer. Aluminium push button and top chassis. $149

December 2014 - More physikal germans - German Physiks' Unlimited MkII Ultimate is "a luxury edition of our award-winning Unlimited MkII.  It uses the same wide-bandwidth DDD driver combined with an 8-inch downfiring woofer but the cabinet is finished in high-quality deep gloss polyester. Colours available are yellow, white, red and black. In Germany this loudspeaker is priced at €12'500/pair. The DDD driver is proprietary to German Physiks. It's a wide-bandwidth omni. In the Unlimited Mk II it covers from 200Hz to 24kH. This eliminates a crossover in the midrange for a major improvement in clarity. The DDD has a very low moving mass so the transient response is excellent. In addition it is phase linear across its operating range, giving very high timbral accuracy. Because the DDD is omnidirectional, it produces well-focused stereo images that can be enjoyed from a wide range of positions in the listening room just like in a concert. This contrasts with the small sweet spot that most conventional loudspeaker designs produce."

December 2014 - Supertronic - Graham Tricker's new Tron Atlantic is a £6'750 300B stereo amp with C-core output transformers and C-core chokes, a D3a driver stage and ElectroHarmonix output glass plus 5AR4 tube rectification. The tube bases are Teflon, the input RCAs by CMC and the signal path is said to be exceptionally short. Delivered in a special flight case, the Atlantic is available in silver/black as shown, gold/black or gold/red. Output power is 9wpc.

December 2014 - More virtuous conductor - Burson's Conductor Virtuoso adds the three earlier missing pieces to its preamp puzzle: more finely stepped volume, a numerical display and remote control. Otherwise it's still a 4wpc into 16-ohms drive-anything headphone amp, 24/192 ESS Sabre or BurrBrown DAC with USB, coax and Toslink inputs and a compact preamp with 1 x RCA line input and fixed DAC and variable pre outputs. The new remote wand is machined from solid aluminium stock and the display is a two-digit numerical sort with pin-prick blue LEDs like first seen on NuForce desktop gear. The volume control now spans 100 discrete steps and the DAC modules are user-replaceable to make choosing between the two boards a fuss-free option. Pricing for the Conductor Virtuoso is $1'995/€1'850 with the Sabre 9018 board and $1'495/€1'451 with the PCM1793 board. The enclosure remains Burson's trademark 6mm solid aluminium vault.

December 2014 - Thiel Audio TT1 - Bearing obviously no resemblance whatsoever to the classic Thiel style, this 2015 model for $5'798/pr endeavours to take the brand's renewal under its new ownership to the next level. As part of the new 3rd Avenue Collection, the press release describes the TT1 as "a 4-driver array with multi-order crossover network in a heavily braced vented MDF enclosure. The sculpted elliptical side panels are created with proprietary tooling to achieve the most refined visual presentation. The rigid baffle construction and midrange mounting architecture have been engineered with a focus on back-wave optimization, resulting in unusually flat response and overall clarity. Another critical aspect of the TT1 is the sophisticated manufacturing process, designed to ensure that each production loudspeaker meets the exacting performance specifications of the reference design."

December 2014 - Stenheim news - Jean-Pascal Panchard reports the opening of a new Stenheim showroom in Vétroz of Switzerland's Valais region "where we have built a beautiful listening room and technical lab. We will use it for our development and for demonstrations to our dealers and distributors. In parallel we will open it to the audiophile public and the official launch will be at the end of this week." Demonstrator electronics include CH Precision, Le Son, Nagra and Neukomm.

December 2014 - Master Quality Authenticated - MQA is a new codec from Meridian's Bob Stuart said to guarantee that the master file approved by the recording engineer and artist arrives that way at your ears. The associated 'white paper' is scarce on details but says this: "Every last subtlety of the master recording is captured using a new sampling method that can resolve the finest time divisions we can hear and deliver them in your player. We call the process 'Encapsulation': it is informed by the latest neuroscience and psychoacoustic research that shows how we identify and locate sounds, and that timing details of a few microseconds are important. This new technique combines this extreme level of time accuracy with authentic dynamic range. MQA also uses innovative lossless processing to build a file or stream which also delivers sophisticated metadata: details of the recording, instructions for the decoder and D/A converters plus how to create an authenticated exact reconstruction of the original analogue signal. MQA can be delivered inside any lossless container, e.g. as ALAC, FLAC or WAV. Unlike the huge files from super-high-sample-rate systems, the MQA file is extremely efficiently encoded and yet it contains and protects all the sound of the original. MQA is decoded by a simple decoder which can be an app, a software player or hardware. It reconstructs the exact sound approved in the studio along with an indicator to authenticate that what you are hearing is a true rendition of the original master recording. It works for all masters between 44.1 and 768kHz. MQA has another unique feature: the decoder gives the highest possible sound quality but you may not yet have a decoder everywhere you listen. In the meantime the MQA file plays on normal equipment but instead of ‘studio’ you get ‘CD’ quality. MQA may be used for downloads or streaming."

December 2014 - Explorer 2 - Meridian also bow the $299 successor to their debut portable DAC, with the new model featuring "significantly more powerful DSP to decode and render the MQA format. The elegant all-metal enclosure houses a 6-layer circuit board and the compact 50g unit upsamples all input signal to 176.4/192kHz and includes Meridian’s proprietary apodizing filter."



December 2014 - Schiit's Fulla - "Our new $79 combo DAC/amp plugs into virtually any computer, delivers 24/96 high definition audio, 10 x the output power of your typical laptop headphone socket and sports a real analog volume knob. No fiddling with software, no fumbling at push buttons and no drivers, period. Just plug into any PC or Mac, most Linux machines, some Chromebooks, the Sony PS4, and, with external power cables, iPhones and Android phones. And did we say this was made in the USA from aluminum and steel?" Fulla uses many of the same parts as other Schiit products, from the CM6631A asynchronous USB input receiver to the AK4396 digital to analog converter combined with high-quality thin-film resistors and precision Analog Devices ADA4610 and AD8397 output devices."

December 2014 - Raidho amplifier - The Aavik Acoustics U-300 integrated amplifier [€24'000] from the Raidho team combines a 24/192 DAC with 2 each Toslink, coax and USB inputs with adjustable phono and three line-level inputs; 3/6/12dB adjustable gain assignable to each line input; and class D Pascal power modules for 300/600wpc into 8/4 ohms said to be unconditionally stable into lower impedances.