This is our bulletin-style news room on product releases; new companies and websites; industry events and the like. To be included submit a press release with photos or logos attached. The delivery format can be a word doc, PDF or email. Please send your news items to [email protected].

April 2014 - True digital amps from Greece - Audio4Soul announce global distribution of their new modular reference series with 'pay for what you need' featurization, 300 different colors and wood or plexiglass front panels. There are three different upgrade paths including two battery-powered PSU and three different base models called Reference 20, Reference 50 and Reference 120. The base price for the smallest model is €1'470 which includes remote control and 24/192 async USB. €180 adds the coax/Toslink S/PDIF module. Another €180 adds the Ethernet module with 1.5sec. memory play. €1'200 adds a 20Ah battery supply (€750 for the 10Ah version). Shipping in mainland Europe is €90.
April 2014 - More Oppo headfi - After announcing two planarmagnetic headphone models, Oppo Digital ready the ESS 9018-powered DSD-ready HA-1 fully balanced headphone/preamp/DAC with coax, Toslink, AES/EBU and async USB inputs, 6.3mm and 4-pin balanced headphone sockets plus line-level RCA/XLR i/o. Digital iDevice compatibility is promised once the machine releases and it'll also have a 4.3" multi-mode display which can show a classic VU meter, spectrum display or simple data summary. Further there's to be apt-x Bluetooth connectivity, analog volume and remote control.
April 2014 - JansZen monitor - "The zA1.1 [$4'495] is a stand-mount electrostatic hybrid, the first of its kind to our knowledge. It's meant to go right near the front wall and has a second woofer in the back to fill in the bottom octave. Here are the basic specs:
  • Electrostatic midrange and treble (500Hz, 1st order crossover)
  • 2nd counter firing woofer at rear (60Hz rolloff)
  • Deep bass and treble individually adjustable
  • Maximal room independence via controlled dispersion (±20° horizontal; ±10° vertical)
  • Not overly beamy
  • Space saving, normal position is only 5" to 15" from front wall
  • Sensitivity: 85dB
  • Frequency response: 30Hz - 40kHz in room (±3 dB)
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms (pink noise; rear woofer at zero dB position)
  • Power requirement: 120W/ch for full steady state SPL (40W - 350W/ch)
  • Entirely passive; sealed enclosure
  • High linearity 7" alloy cone woofers with paper dust caps and secret sauce
  • 17" H x 8" W x 12" D; 35 pounds [43 x 20 x 30 cm; 16 kg]
  • Figured maple, walnut, or cherry finish
  • 30 day trial on direct purchases"
April 2014 - Wilson Benesch news - Fidelis Distribution of Nashua, N.H. is proud to announce its appointment as the distributor of Wilson Benesch line of loudspeakers for the USA and Canada. Fidelis  will be showing select models of the highly reviewed  Square Five Series at the Newport Beach Audio Festival May 31 to June 2.  Wilson Benesch will introduce the next evolution in its reference line May 15-May 17. The Endeavor, Wilson Benesch's first super-monitor speaker, will make its global premier at the Hotel Kempinski Munich as part of High End Munich 2014.
April 2014 - Channel D extra large - Channel D, developers of Pure Vinyl™ and Pure Music® audio software for Apple Macintosh computers have released a major update to their Pure Vinyl software. "The new Pure Vinyl 4 includes more than three dozen significant new features, user interface and performance enhancements. Pure Vinyl 4 also includes a preview of the forthcoming Pure Music 2, which adds dozens more additional improvements and new features. Pure Vinyl 4 retails for $299. Upgrades to Pure Vinyl 4 are free for all users who purchased a license on or after January 20, 2013. The upgrade price for previous users is only $79 for a limited time until April 20, 2014, increasing to $139 thereafter.  
April 2014 - Korea hits Canada & UK - Kanuck distributor Charisma Audio recently added Codia Acoustic Design to their stable as did his British counterpart at 8thdimension. Codia Acoustic Design is a high-end audio furniture company based in South Korea which designs and manufactures premium grade audio racks and accessories. Their Stage rack system is a wooden rack designed to reduce the effects of resonant frequencies via a number of design features such as:

• Baltic multi-layer plywood with different densities that absorbs and releases vibration at different frequencies.
• Shelves with precision cut slots in differing lengths to address vibrations at different frequencies similar to how acoustic diffusers work.
• Solid aluminum posts which are superior to hollow posts in eliminating ringing.
• Special decoupling washers and metal spikes to further address vibrational energy.
• Spike discs to help dissipate vibrational energy in 360 degrees.

Codia Acoustic Design Stage racks are available in a number of configurations however special custom versions are available upon request. There are also half-width versions for kit like April Music and Bel Canto and headphone stands.
April 2014 - Suesskind Enviee speaker - Joachim Gerhard, formerly of Audio Physic then Sonics, now works under the Suesskind label besides doing OEM work for Fast Audio, Kiso, KYra, Canalis, SB Acoustics, Mundorf, L'Art du Son, Mace and Bauer Audio. Where soundkaos were the first to commercialize a speaker to use Armin Galm's wideband driver in their Wave 40 model, the Suesskind Puls now is the second. Exploiting a ported cabinet whose construction is related to early BBC models, the Puls [€6'800/pr] runs the Enviee without auxiliary tweeter but does add a 3-part impedance correction network to linearize its response. It will make its first public appearance in the BFly Audio booth of the Munich show.
April 2014 - Soulution DAC - The 560 [CHF23'000] with "preamplifier-grade output stages" offers AES/EBU, S/PDIF, Toslink, async DSP-based USB and LAN inputs and 32/384 PCM and DSD128 compatibility. Upsampling uses 32-bit floating point DSP whilst the reconstruction filter is based on Soulution's 'zero-phase tech' described as "a 3rd-order bessel filter with a cut-off frequency of 120kHz that ordinarily would show a phase shift of up to 15° in the audio band" but due to their solution remains "below 1° from 20Hz-120kHz." Core specs are 2/4Vrms output voltage on RCA/XLR, 10-ohm output impedance, 140dB S/NR, 0-80dB attenuation and ±9dB balance control.
April 2014 - Audiovolver news - With 30 years in the biz operating out of Germany's Aachen, Audiovolver aka Audiodata are now poised for change. The speaker division goes independent and under the new leadership of Hannes Palfinger and Franz Stögler to operate henceforth under the name Audiodata Lautsprecher GmbH. Founder Peter Schippers who for the last few years had focused on the Audiovolver speaker/room-correction electronics remains associated with the new speaker house as part owner, key developer and advisor. Three new speaker ranges are planned, the Premium Series will hit by Munich HighEnd 2015. Stögler's 4-storey villa in Vöcklabruck will serve as the new assembly and audition center. An event in the fall of this year will introduce Audiodata's new listening facilities to the public.
April 2014 - Selmoni from Switzerland - This speaker design house presents their first model called Lumina, "an uncompromising 2-way" bass-reflex floorstander. The mid/tweeter is a hornloaded 1.7kg AMT, the mid/woofer a ScanSpeak 18W Revelator Nominal impedance is 8 ohms, bandwidth is 33Hz - 20kHz, xover frequency is 2'500Hz. Sensitivity is a low 85dB, dimensions are 104 x 24 x 32cm HxWxD. No price is listed.
April 2014 - M2Tech - This Italian firm recently added the buzzword-compliance mandatory DSD to their Young DAC [€1'250]. Whilst at it the machine also got balanced outputs and preamp functionality, the latter with a new gain adjustment to generate either 2.7/5.4Vrms or 5.4/10.8Vrms from RCA and XLR respectively which better interfaces with overall system gain before the volume control is engaged.
April 2014 - Wall of Sound - Whilst pundits predicted the demise of vinyl long ago, it's still here arguably stronger than ever. Whilst pundits keep predicting the death of high-end audio, there are more hifi magazines and webzines out there than ever. The latest one is Wall of Sound based out of Canada. Take a look.
April 2014 - Jeanne d'Arc - That's the name of Peak Consult's d'Appolito ported two-way with 2.5kHz filter, claimed 25Hz to 30'000Hz response, 92dB sensitivity, linear 5-ohm impedance, dimensions of 144 x 57 x 30cm and weight of 125kg.
April 2014 - Danish pantheon unearthed - Gryphon's new 5-driver 3-way bass-reflex Pantheon floorstander [€35'000/pr + VAT] adds itself to their Pendragon, Trident II and Mojo speaker models with the same constant phase technologies. The top-end is handled by a Mundorf AMT whilst the 5" and 8" fiberglass cone drivers from ScanSpeak are made to Gryphon's specs. The 4th-order filter uses Duelund, Jensen, Holm and Mundorf parts and is pre-biased with a 28V battery for constant charge to the electrolytic capacitors in the impedance correction circuit. Claimed response is 25Hz - 40kHz at -3dB. Each speaker weighs 89kg and measures 148cm high x 29cm W x 69cm D.
April 2014 - Active voice - Voxativ's new AC-1.6 driver gets "a highly engineered ferrite magnet system for a field strength of 2.0 Tesla in the gap with an underhung coil. It has 100dB efficiency and at €1'995/pr. is located in  a more comfortable price range than our Alnico and field-coil models. Every customer will get a free blueprint for an excellent backloaded horn when they buy a pair."
April 2014 - Auris - Doing a Sonus faber on tube gear with Walnut wood and cream or black leather, newcomers Auris Audio from Serbia impress with a very deep catalogue that includes this Adagio 3 integrated running 2A3 output bottles with 6SN7 drivers and a 5U4G rectifier. Double C-core output transformers are from Trafomatic, the circuitry is from Auris' engineers. Basic specs include 4 RCA inputs, 47K input impedance response of 15Hz to 32kHz, weight of 16.5kg and dimensions of 45 x 32 x27cm WxDxH. Auris Audio will attend HighEnd Munich 2014 with loudspeakers from Swiss firm Boenicke Audio.

Styled like the Adagio there's also the Allegro EL84 ultra-linear push/pull model; the 18-watt single-ended 6C33 Rubato mono; the HA1 headphone amp with line-level pre-out and 24/96 USD DAC running one ECC82 driving two EL84; and the battery-powered Largo preamp with E88CC tubes.

Yet more models adopt simpler cosmetics for lower price points.
April 2014 - Mac headfi - With headfi's ground swell continuing unabated, McIntosh enters this scene with their $4'500 MHA100. In established company amp tradition it gets autoformer outputs for adaptive impedance said to welcome from IEMs to low-impedance planars. There's also a built-in crossfeed function and four digital inputs for up to 32-bit data at 192kHz via async USB 2.0, coax, Toslink and AES/EBU. But the MHA100's main 50wpc outputs also drive loudspeakers and there's a 5-step bass boost control. None of it yet would make a Mac without those trademark blue VU meters. As such the brand, like Audio Research, seems immune to the cosmetic modernization the FineSounds Group has lavished on its other brands Wadia and Sonus faber of late.
April 2014 - Dutch AVC - Tribute Audio's autoformer not transformer stereo volume control is built on a 24-step ELMA switch and sports 1Mohm impedance at 1kHz and a nanocrystalline toroidal core. Attenuation steps are 3dB from 0 to -6dB, 2dB from -6dB to -42, then finish off with one 4dB and one 8dB step before full mute. Max input voltage is 6Vrms at 20Hz. This makes it a natural competitor to the Slageformer volume control as used in the Bent Audio passive preamps.
April 2014 - Jordan + Scanspeak = ? - That would be the Jordan Eikona 2 [£155], a 30Hz - 20kHz wideband driver designed by the UK's Ted Jordan and built by Denmark's ScanSpeak. Basic specs are 86.5dB sensitivity, 40Hz free-air resonance, 10cm effective diameter, ±5mm linear travel and 9.3g of moving mass.
April 2014 - Rockna and Audiobyte - Both brands are from Romanian designer Nicolae Jltariu who has done OEM work for MSB, Goldmund, Wadia, PS Audio and more. Under the Audiobyte banner, the €699 Hydra X+ is a USB bridge with a battery power supply where the asynchronous D/D conversion is handled by a custom-coded Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA rather than standard chip, I-squared-S is over HDMI, clocking via top Crystek clocks and DSD compatibility is included. This Hydra X1 aims at the same market as the Audiophilleo and SOtM equivalents. Under the same brand there's also the €1'499 Silver Dragon DAC with headphone output.

Under the Rockna Audio banner the WaveDream converter in balanced trim runs four discrete R2R DAC modules from MSB in either Reference or Signature guise (the single-ended versions get two MSB boards), Hydra-type FPGA encoding for USB, a proprietary Femtovox clocking scheme and custom digital filters using 58 DSP blocks for high processing power. This converter upsamples everything x 16 and decodes at 705.6kHz or 768kHz. There's also a 256-step volume control in 0.5dB increments for amp-direct drive and of course DSD compatibility.

April 2014 - Lab 12 - Their Greek PRE1 preamp spent two years in R&D and just bowed. A pair of E88CC "in a special configuration" mated to a four-stage solid-state power supply and dual-mono layout net a 5Hz - 60kHz response at -3dB, 20dB of voltage gain and 50K/1Kohm in/output impedance. Socketry is 5 x RCA in, 2 x RCA out.
April 2014 - USB special - Cees Ruijtenberg bows the Metrum Acoustics USB 2 interface. "Until now our Octave MKII and Hex DACs used an OEM USB board by M2tech. With Mavericks OS their driver became outdated. Though M2tech have undertaken development of a new driver, after several months without news it was too risky to wait longer. So we developed a new USB interface. We now use Amanero technology with additional glue logic to get all necessary data for both Octave MKII and Hex. We also adapted the new board's form to become a drop-in replacement. Unlike the stock two-layer designs from  M2tech and Amanero, we use four levels. Two layers are assigned to data handling. This creates lower induction from shorter traces and less radiation. A third layer is used as ground plane, the fourth is dedicated to power.  A power breakout can implement passive power filtering for the Octave MKII or a separate power source for the Hex. In addition very high-quality clock get jitte rto the lowest possible level. Mavericks and Linux require no driver.  For Windows XP, 7 or 8 a driver is available. The USB 2 interface is in full production now and will be available end of April, early May."
April 2014 - Planar OPPOsition - Oppo Digital join the planar-magnetic headfi revolution with the open-backed circumaural PM-1 [$1'099] whose 7-layer diaphragm uses an FEM-optimized powerful Neodymium magnet system. The diaphragm's spiral flat conductors are applied to both sides for higher efficiency and better control and damping. A $699 PM-2 version is announced as well to scale down the PM-1 concept to a lower price point. Aficionados of planar headphones from Audeze, HifiMan, Fostex and MrSpeakers will welcome this latest addition to the breed.
April 2014 - Omnipolar ESL? - Canadian Muraudio have such a beast, albeit not across the full audible range for just that technology. Visually reminiscent of a closed-leaves mbl perhaps, the $58'000 Domain Omni PX1's 'barrel' (there's also an active DA1 version) is an assemblage of outwardly curved electrostatic panels in a circular array. Three 9-inch woofers below are spaced 120° apart to duplicate the omni dispersion pattern of this hybrid design. Basic specs are 5'000cm² active ESL membrane surface, a sealed bass alignment, a 4th-order 450Hz crossover, response of 30Hz - 20kHz ±3dB, very low 82dB sensitivity, 66kg weight and 144 x 44.7cm dimensions.
April 2014 - Lossless streaming - Snobsters who decry streaming and aren't hip yet to Qobuz have a new source for lossless reception. WiMP offer FLAC or ALAC files instead. Developed in Norway, this service has spread to already 5 countries including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland and Germany. The current catalogue includes 23'000'000 songs.
April 2014 - Headfi ALOcation - ALO Audio hope you'll allocate $599 to their revised International portable amp now in '+' guise. "Updated features include an Android compatible DAC, output impedance that's been lowered to <1ohm and new micro USB connections." The International+ supports single-ended and balanced headphone terminations and adds a low noise floor to be compatible also with IEMs. The DAC is based on a Cirrus Logic 4398 chip.
April 2014 - SOtM - Korea's Soul Of the Music are readying the sHP-100 USB headfi amp with analog volume, USB, coax, optical and one analog input that's 24/192 PCM and 64/128 DSD compatible. There are headphone and line-level outputs. To reduce clutter the main volume control also handles mute and input switching (press and turn). An external power supply provides from 7-9VDC at 1.5A whilst USB runs on computer power. The extruded enclosure is familiar from the company's existing USB bridge and matching battery power supply.
March 2014 - Klangschloß - The 9th iteration of Switzerland's annual hifi pilgrimage to castle Greifensee near Zürich caters to both computer fi and traditional tube/vinyl lovers. "Expect many active solutions from Grimm (LS1), Backes & Müller (BM35) and PSI Audio (A25M). Innovative Swiss Illusonic and Klangwerk will present trinaural/surround playback based on stereo material. Headphone fans have the famous electrostats from Stax and the new Float. Schopper will present analog with vintage Thorens and Swissonor gear. Add Devialet, Focal, Piega, Sonus faber, Primare, Weiss and B&W. DIY speaker kit fans also have the right address. Sound engineer Jürg Jecklin will hold a Sunday conference on the history of sound recordings ("From Edison to Surround") with lots of music samples. Christof Faller from Illusonic will show ways beyond Stereo, Thomas Flammer from voice70 differences between analog and digital (workshops in German). Wein&Co will again run the bar and after hours on Saturday discussions can continue in the Gasthof zur Krone around the corner.
Saturday 12. April: 10am to 7pm
Sunday  13. April: 10am to 5pm
Tickets (incl. one free drink): CHF10/ea.
March 2014 - Ex3ma - Sonus faber launch this 30-pair limited-edition futuristically styled model to celebrate their 30th anniversary. The Ex3ma honours the Extrema precursor with a novel combination of carbon fibre, aluminium, copper, brass and wood enclosure, a diamond-coated Beryllium tweeter, a carbon fibre mid/woofer loaded by an oval passive radiator, Shunyata wiring and Mundorf caps. Specs are 40Hz-40kHz response, 88dB sensitivity, 18.6kg weight and 434 x 282 x 560mm HxWxD dimensions. The speaker is biwireable and sports a 4-position adjustment control.
March 2014 - Get a-head - Trafomatic Audio bow their statement headfi amp/preamp, a fully front-to-back balanced valve design combining ECC88 drivers with push/pull 6N30 outputs that'll be called Head2. It'll have RCA and XLR i/o to support all sources, standard headphones and amplifiers when used as a preamp. Impedance matching is standard too. Price is expected to be $2'500.
March 2014 - Boenicke tuning box - As seen on US importer Stereodesk's website, Sven Boenicke has launched his Tuning Box which includes many of his customary tweaks including Stein Music Speaker Match Signatures, latest-gen Bybee Bullets on both rails, a special acoustical phase linearization network and proprietary harmonizer. "Just place the box between your amp and speakers. The results on 3- and 4-way speakers is even more profound than on 2-ways."
March 2014 - Horned - Sadurni Acoustics' Staccato 4-way hornspeaker exploits MDF horns with up to 3" wall thickness. The 92cm lower midrange horn which loads a cone driver can "achieve 100Hz in-room". The actual 'turbine-horn' midrange driver is a compression sort. "The tweeter was the last ingredient to be mixed in.  We tested most of the high-efficiency drivers from silk-dome arrays to huge ribbon tweeters before making our final choice." A line-level subwoofer crossover is included and a 9" wide amp support is built into the base. The crossover is actively biased. The system efficiency is 110dB. Dimensions are 40" deep, 53" tall and 36" wide. The ABW added backwave bass module "comprises a series of concentrically arrayed vertically stacked channels which receive the back wave of the bass driver, augment it and bring it forward to a calculated chamber where the front and rear output of the driver come together through a peripheral ring. An array of three, four or more bass modules per side can be used according to room size and bass appeal."
March 2014 - Active streaming speaks - Electrocompaniet introduces three wireless active speakers plus a matching video streamer. The speakers go by N°1 through N°3 to distinguish specific functionalities. N°1 is a mono box with built-in streamer and amplification. This can be expanded to stereo with the N°2 which eliminates the streamer. N°3 is equal to N°1 but adds a touch controller on its top. N°4 is a video network player which streams film from your LAN to TVs or monitors. Like N°1 and N°3, it can be steered by Android or Apple apps. This Living Line product range will be introduced at the Munich HighEnd in May.
March 2014 - Goldmund - Whilst the firm has launched many active speakers, the Metis Tower now is available also in passive guise using the same all-aluminium enclosure with Goldmund's mechanical grounding technology. The driver complement is a soft-dome tweeter with two 4" mid/woofers in a vented alignment. Basic specs are 88dB sensitivity and 54Hz - 25kHz response @ -3dB. Dimensions are 14 x 100 x 11cm WxHxD. A possible companion for this model is the new wireless Metis subwoofer with the same Telos amplifier as the bigger Goldmund subs. The enclosure is a 29cm cube, weight is 27.2kg. The wireless protocol is a 24bit/48kHz affair with a 10-20m reach and a 2.4GHz transmission frequency based on TI's PurePath technology. Internal processing for xover DSP occurs at 24/96.
March 2014 - Roxanne - Jerry Harvey Audio announce their new Sirens Series Roxanne universal-fit IEM [$1'599]. "Equipped with soundrive technology and JH Audio's newest proprietary mini quad drivers, Roxanne offers the widest frequency range you’ll ever hear and then seduces with the first variable bass control IEM cable." There are quad low, mid and high balanced-armature drivers per side using an integrated 3-way xover whilst the bass control (from 10Hz-100Hz) offers up to 15dB of boost. Noise isolation is -26dB and the connecting cable is a 4-pin affair with twist-lock mechanism. Claimed response is 10Hz - 23kHz, sensitivity is an ultra-high 119dB/1mW, impedance is 15 ohms. The delivery includes an aluminium carrying case with wax tool, comply wrap sample and screw driver for the bass adjustment.
March 2014 - Custom hifi furniture - Eames Home Elements of upstate New York not only specializes in architectural restoration millwork but offers made-to-order stereo component supports with integral vibration attenuation like the one shown.
March 2014 - Kick your tube habit (into high gear) - Jim Hagerman of Hagtech launched a Kickstarter campaign for a tubed phonostage called Cornet3.
March 2014 - German power bars - T+A elektroakustik's 5- and 7-outlet outlet multiplier boxes go the full-metal jacket route with extruded aluminium enclosures on adjustable spikes to "act as Faraday cage". The innards include DC-filter coil, filter caps and shielding against inter-component noise whilst the outlets are grouped into power and source clusters. The Power Bar 2 + 3 sells for €1'490, the 2 + 5 for €1'790. Specs for both are nominal 16A current, 3'500-watt max load, 275Veff surge protection and 2'500A at 20µs discharge rate. LED indicators confirm power polarity, triggered surge protection and normal operation. Dimensions are 9x16x53cm (or 63cm), weight is 3.8/4.3kg. respectively. The finish is clear-anodized silver.
March 2014 - Orchestral care - Care Orchestra SRL, an Italian speaker brand, expands its portfolio with its Celestial range which at present consists of four models. "These are characterized by bass reflex tuning and accurately engineered shapes and include the 2-way 4.8-liter Rose monitor, the 15-liter Deep Breath 2-way monitor shown, the 86-liter 3-way floorstander Cathedral and the 23-liter Eye center channel. They all use 2nd-order filters with ultra-fast parts, silver wiring and Seas and Tangband drivers."
March 2014 - Dutch hifi mosh - Time flies. Already 35 years ago Thomas Blumenhofer launched Blumenhofer Acoustics to specialize in hornspeakers. That was in Germany. Over in Holland meanwhile Eddie Driessen started Pluto Audio 40 years ago to focus fully on turntables. To celebrate these successful companies' illustrious birthdays, dealer Audio21 invites anyone interested to their beautiful shop in Wapenveld, Holland for a special 10:00 to 18:00 celebration on April 5th. Next to refreshments there'll be lots of music, with vinyl played on one of Pluto's ultra-fine turntables whilst Blumenhofer will present their Gioia horn loudspeaker. Visitors are encouraged to bring their favourite LP to experience how the Pluto Blumenhofer combination brings the music to life.
March 2014 - Not up your nose but NAS - Germany's Certon Systems bow the Integrita C4 [€1'699], a Raid-5 calibrated 4TB NAS with fan-less cooling that can be built out to 8TB. A CD ripper for FLAC or MP3 capture is included. A browser interface creates network access and auto diagnostics even send emails when there's overheating, a hard-disk crash or memory issues.
March 2014 - New preamp firm - "Our company Backert Labs has released the Rhythm 1.1, a single-ended tube preamp in frosted silver or black. It sells for $7'500. Focus points include a sonic emphasis on rhythm and dynamics and the first-ever power supply to utilize V-Cap capacitors. Other firsts? No aluminium electrolytics for better sound and to make the Rhythm 1.1 environmentally friendlier. It also has automatic continuous bias to always run at exactly the correct voltage and current no matter which 12AU7 tubes are inserted. Backert Labs focuses exclusively on preamplifiers. Bob Backert has been modifying audio equipment for years. The Audiogon forums contain many reviews of his work as do the testimonials for Bob's modding company" The constant-current zero NFB circuit with active bias management shuns the common cathode follower. Output impedance is below 500 ohms, internal wiring is Kimber Kable, the volume and balance control are by TKD. The Rhythm 1.1 utilizes two 12AU7 tubes in its gain stage and an all V-Cap power supply.  In addition to its remote volume, the Rhythm 1.1 has a balance control, mute switch, mono switch, five sets of RCA inputs and two sets of RCA output jacks plus a fixed output.
March 2014 - Fondle the femto - Wyred4Sound announced that their DSD-se upgrade package for the popular DAC-2 now includes "the industry-leading femto-grade clock which reduces phase jitter by over 80% and lowers phase noise." For current owners of the DSD-se, this upgrade is available for $150.
March 2014 - Pandora the music box - Austrian maker Poet Audio propose the €3'490 compact Pandoretta Bluetooth system which disperses sound 360°. An optional receiver module accommodates Apple's AirPort Express. The mono construction houses a 170-watt amp, a Kevlar woofer, two widebanders and four Neodymium-powered tweeters oriented in a pseudo stereo array. The solid Oak stands adds €1'990, the Walnut stand €2'820. The box itself combines multi-chamber MDF inners with brushed stainless steel outers.
March 2014 - 2MHz half sized - Cremona firm Norma introduce their HS half-width series with the HS-DA-1 [$3'500] and HS-DA-1 'Pre' [$5'800]. The base model is a 24/192 dual-mono Burr-Brown multi-bit converter with 5 digital inputs incl. USB and S/PDIF and remote. The 'Pre' version adds 2 analog inputs, 2 class A headphone outputs, hi-lo gain, active/passive preamp modes and a high-quality analog pot. The in-between 'Var' version has both fixed and variable outputs selectable by remote. In typical Norma style the circuit bandwidth of this deck is 2MHz.
March 2014 - HRA Planet ... bills itself "as the only site on the web that focuses exclusively on high resolution audio. The site features articles on high-resolution audio, a comprehensive list of high-resolution download sites, HRA music and hardware reviews, a discussion forum and soon a database of all currently available high-resolution audio tracks/albums complete with an analysis of the dynamic range and spectrum!"
March 2014 - Buffer with bottles - One of the products from Purity Audio Design's new 2014 lineup is the Harmonia 300B buffer. "Designed to become a music lover's dream come true, the Harmonia is the ultimate component to bring richness and soul of the 300B tube to even the most elaborate audio/video system. Available in both single-ended and transformer coupled balanced versions ($3'995/4'995), it comes with EH300B gold grid tubes.
March 2014 - Burkhardtsmaier - A new German hifi company launched a few days ago promising a complete and uncompromising systems approach. It was formed by father and son Berthold and Philipp Burkhardtsmaier. Check out their website for a first teaser presentation.
March 2014 - Homeless vet goes speakers - Kevin Nelson of Zealth Audio turned around tough times and today his new business is flourishing. The full story is here. A pair of his ZAL22s start at $390/pr.
March 2014 - 2 new Ikeda - The $2'800 9TS MC cartridge "has the same exceptional musicality as every other MC cartridge in the " family but at a more attractive price. The 9TS has a .35mV output, almost twice the output voltage of the 9TT. This will allow the end user to experiment with a variety of phono stages. The $7'500 SAI MC is an uncompromising advancement of the 9MUSA sporting a new pickup system. Through enhanced developments in the area of the coil drive, the output voltage has been increased to .3mV and the addition of a Boron cantilever makes setup much easier. The diamond stylus profile is a 'micro ridge'."
March 2014 - New USB cables - Chris Coakes, founder of new company The Digital Music Box, launches two USB cables to mark his launch. The Kalliope power supply & USB cable [£995] and Linus USB cable [£495] are billed as "best in class hand-crafted in the UK."Utilising a fully regulated linear power supply, the Kalliope ensures that a high-end DAC operates without connection to a computer’s power supply. This cable features  99.99% pure silver data cable helically wound with a silk thread encased in a PTFE tube. Gold-plated USB plugs are terminated using silver solder for superior conductivity. The power supply is housed in an aluminium enclosure with high-precision locking 5V power connector. The Linus is the Kalliope without power supply."
March 2014 - New $24'995 Verity - "January 2015 will mark the 20th anniversary of Verity Audio. To celebrate, Verity are thrilled to introduce the new Parsifal Anniversary in superbly crafted cabinetry showing beautiful lines and curves and embracing new technologies. The traditional floor-coupling spikes are gone in favour of our high-performance isolation platforms. A new cabinet enclosure system and new driver integration topology are specifically designed to enhance sound intelligibility and coherence. More than just a high performer, the new model is also a luxury piece of furniture handcrafted with rigorous attention to details and glossed with the most durable and exquisite finishes."
March 2014 - Isotek EVO3 Optimum - Behind this name hides an upgraded power cord from the UK maker of powerline products. "The new EVO3 Optimum [£595/2m] delivers advances over its GII predecessor. At its core are 3 x 3.0mm² silver-plated OCC copper conductors in a new square-shaped configuration of 40 x square strands to provide enlarged inter-strand contact for higher electrical conductivity.  An FEP dielectric extruded over each conductor provides very low dielectric constant. The conductors' slight rotational twist aids RFI and EMI rejection, the surrounding cotton filler adds internal strength, reduces microphony and possesses superb dielectric properties similar to Teflon.  The whole construction is double shielded in first a Mylar wrap to provide an additional dielectric buffer before applying an active OFC copper shield for maximum HF interference rejection. A durable heat-resistant PVC jacket gives a high degree of flexibility and mechanical strength. Finally the EVO3 Optimum is hand terminated using IsoTek’s bespoke audiophile grade 24-carat gold-plated connectors."
March 2014 - Pono not porno - If you haven't paid attention, Neil Young's Pono Kickstarter campaign already exceeds its ask to be well on its way. Pono is two things - a high-resolution portable player compatible with FLAC, ALAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF and AAC; and an online music store like Apple's iTunes store with one vital difference: all music offered by Pono will be come in the studio master resolution the artist recorded at (up to 24/192). Whilst the Toblerone-shaped PonoPlayer will ship with 128GB of memory (64GB built-in flash, 64GB via swappable microSD card) and comes with variable (headfi) and fixed outputs plus Ayre-authored zero NFB circuitry with a fully discrete headphone buffer, Sabre's 9018 DAC, a minimal-phase filter without pre-ringing plus low output impedance, the real kicker if you already own high-resolution portable players from Astell&Kern, HifiMan or Calyx is the PonoMusic store. If a large enough catalogue of widely varied music becomes available, Apple's lossy catalogue will become yesterday's sad news. Can Neil Young & Co. usurp Apple with PonoMusic? Or will the iTunes store finally go hi-rez to keep up? Either way will be a win!
March 2014 - Updated LS1 - "The Grimm Audio team is very pleased to announce that its development team led by Bruno Putzeys has upgraded playback functionality with DSD/DXD capabilities. All LS1i USB interfaces shipping now play DSD 64fs, DSD 128fs and DXD. For existing LS1 installations we are providing a simple software upgrade easily done by the customer. The LS1 USB interface now also runs on Win 8 and Linux." The LS1 is a 3-way fully active speaker with Hypex Ncore electronics and DSP-powered response optimization.
March 2014 - 'Full-throttle' tube amp - Eryk S Concept of Poland bow the Superior [$2'690], a 6wpc stereo amp with added Bluetooth connection that claims to go where competing ECC83/EL84 SET amps don't. In addition to the EL84 output bottles there is one each 6P14P, 6N6P and 6N1P for a claimed 5'000 hours of use and far superior drive. Specs are a 20Hz to 28kHz response with 11.5x28x30cm WxHxD dimensions and 15.5lbs of weight.


March 2014 - Network cables go fancy - The Chord Company bow a 3-deep range of Ethernet LAN cables. The entry-level C-Stream [€49.50/75cm] runs individually insulated conductor pairs with gold-plated contacts and molded plugs. The Indigo Tuned Aray [€1'052/1m] and Sarum Tuned Aray [€2'024/1m] exploit sub-miniature coaxial construction for more effective shielding. The conductors are micro-polished silver-plated copper with PTFE dielectric.
March 2014 - Son of Titan - Aesthetix bow the 200wpc Atlas Signature "featuring an innovative hybrid design of bipolar output and driver stages with a tube input gain stage and zero feedback." One 6SN7 per channel provides all the voltage gain. Two transformers and three chokes are housed under a stainless steel cover to prevent magnetic stray fields. A 6dB/octave high-pass can be set to 16 different values between 40-200Hz, "ideal for speakers with powered woofers". A direct input bypasses all switches and crossovers for traditional full-bandwidth mode. The Signature edition uses "only the highest quality parts. Where the standard Atlas used Rel-Caps as interstage couplers, the Signature upgrades to StealthCaps at 10 x the cost. The high-current output stage power supply capacitance is doubled and all emitter resistors replaced with a specialised metal foil low-inductance type.  The three versions are the Atlas Stereo [£8'000], Atlas Stereo Signature [£10K] and Atlas Mono Signature [16K/pr].
March 2014 - Accustic Arts' slim mono - The new Mono II in the firm's cubic Bauhaus style packs a 1200VA toroidal power transformer that's potted and shielded with mu metal; 8 x 10.000µF filter capacitors; 12 selected Mosfet power transistors; and current-mirror drivers. A special circuit eliminates a DC servo whilst controlling the idle current. Inputs are on XLR and RCA, the power mains switch is on the front. Finish is anodized aluminium win high-gloss polished chrome. Voltage gain is 31dB, power is 300/500/700w into 7/4/2Ω, input Ω is 100K/20K on RCA/XLR, cross talk is 111dB, S/N ratio is -104dB, dimensions are 350x240x430mm and weight is 25kg.
March 2014 - Porfyra amp - Pit Kominos introduces his class A single-ended 50wpc tube hybrid power amplifier with transistor outputs and valved driver stage.
March 2014 - Wyred to the 2nd mark - Wyred4Sound's ST-500 [$1'499] and ST-1000 [$1'999] stereo amplifiers now in MkII guise sport not only the cosmetics of the mSeries components but also the "latest generation ICEpower® technology with a 3rd-generation input stage. Whether using the balanced or unbalanced inputs, the dual differential common mode converter ensures a perfectly balanced signal to the power amp whilst the quad FET buffer optimizes synergy between components."
March 2014 - Pearl diving - Konstantinos Papachristou's Black Pearls Audio brand from Greece adds a phono stage to its catalogue. "This RIAA preamp is a one-enclosure design with special op-amps and differential input. It comes in two versions: one with adjustable gain for MC cartridges and fixed 102-ohm and 200pF input (custom order with different values possible), another with fully adjustable gain for MM/MC and various settings for resistance and capacitance via interchangeable components on the PCB (yes, one has to open it to adjust it). Retail price for the fixed version is €1'500 and €2'000 for the adjustable."
March 2014 - Battle of the spheres - The Slovenian Audio Alto S105 "fullrange floorstanding speaker is ideal for exacting audiophile users whose priorities are depth, clarity and detail. Featuring ultra lightweight driver cones made from a new thin-wall alloy, the S105 is highly efficient over an extended range of 28Hz to 23'000Hz and can attain sound pressures of more than 110dB with minimal distortion. Rated at 6-ohm, the S105 includes a widebander and additional woofer to be ideal for larger rooms up to 80m2. Total weight is 54kg whilst the finish comes in various colours and wood upon request."
March 2014 - Bring on the files - SanDisk's Ultra 128GB microSDXC card [$120] is good for 24 hours of hi-def video and thus gives users of high-resolution portables like the popular Astell&Kern units more storage which past 16/44.1 RedBook files becomes more important. With 30MB/s file transfer and twice the read speed of standard cards, dumping big content to backup memory also won't take as long.
March 2014 - NuForce headfi - The NuForce HA-200 [$349] is a class A single-ended headphone amp with "constant current outputs and the option to combine two units for true balanced operation with four times the standard power". The single gain stage uses one opamp and one output device per channel. An Alps pot controls volume and the linear power supply sports "a custom-made toroidal transformer and extensive capacitor reserves". Max output power in standard mode is 2W into 30 ohms.
March 2014 - PS Audio DSD DAC - As Meitner and Playback Design have done for years, PS Audio's new DirectStream DAC [$5'995] relies on a Xilinx Spartan 6 FPGA to operate as one-bit converter. All input processing which converts PCM to DSD occurs at 170MHz, upsampling at 56MHz and the outputs at 5.6MHz. Where the company claims that conversion to DSD 'finally fixes what's wrong with PCM', companies like Bel Canto prefer to convert DSD to PCM instead. Existing owners of PerfectWave converters can have their units upgraded to DirectStream status.
February 2014 - Stand free - GIK Acoustics announce the introduction of the FreeStand acoustic panel, "a movable lightweight absorption panel ideal for any room where wall-mounted panels cannot be used or for rooms with multiple purposes. It’s a great product for living rooms used as theater rooms or bedrooms as mixing studios." The FreeStand covers 5 feet of vertical wall space for early reflection points or to help control overall ambiance. When placed against the wall, the supports leave a 4-inch gap behind it to increase low-end absorption."
February 2014 - Italian curves - The Lektor Audio CDP 603 gets a new rounded shape and is a ECC81 tube output front-loading legacy CD player with new laser mechanism for >3mm error stability, a new 32-bit microprocessor servo, direct track access, a DAC board based on 32-bit/192kHz silicon, no transistors in the output stage and just a single custom-made polypropylene coupling capacitor per channel.
February 2014 - French kissing in mono - The 21kg/ea. Advance Acoustic X-A220 monos from France [€2'596/pr] can be set for pure 45-watt class A operation or high-power 220-watt class A/B mode. Inputs are on XLR and RCA and a big blue VU meter leaves no doubt as to product category. Response is listed as 10Hz-80kHz, distortion at <0.08%, S/NR at better than 100dB, channel separation as better than 110dB. Input impedance unbalanced is 32KΩ and 38KΩ balanced. Input sensitivity for full output is 1.4V, standby power consumption low 0.45W. Voltage gain is a high 30dB and the power transformers are rated for 700 watts.
February 2014 - Audel - The Amika + Trittiko monitor and stand pairing from Italy sells for €1'950. This buys you a 2-way bass reflex monitor with 1" soft-dome tweeter and 5" coated paper mid/woofer done up in stacked nude Plywood. Claimed response is 45Hz-20'000Hz with a 2.2kHz xover point. Dimensions are 255 x 255 x 180mm HxDxW, weight is 6kg/pr.
February 2014 - Headfi silicon from ESS - ESS Technology announce their Sabre 9601 headphone amplifier on a chip delivering 122dB DNR and -117dB THD+N. "Using an internal charge pump, the 9601 operates from a single +3.3V supply to produce ground-referenced outputs and eliminate pops and clicks as well as the need for large DC blocking capacitors." The 9601 will be sampling in March 2014 in a 20-QFN package.  
February 2014 - Key is key - ALO Audio introduce the Key [$189]. This is a 16-32bit plug'n'play USB DAC with 3.5mm stereo mini output delivering 2Vrms to your preamp or integrated of choice capable of processing up to 384kHz data. Anodized aluminum color options are clear silver, black, champagne and blue. With a 384kHz sample rate, frequency response becomes 5Hz-150kHz ±1dB. Power comes from the 5V line of the USB connection.
February 2014 - More total - Vincent Brient of TotalDAC reports that "we now offer a DSD option for all d1 Series Vishay-foil R2R ladder DACs. They still work the same way for PCM but now also accept DSD in the standard DoP format via USB, AES/EBU and S/PDIF. The 69-bit volume control also works with DSD so the preamp functionality remains. Our USB to AES/EBU reclocker now also accepts DSD and can transform DSD to 24/176.4 PCM with volume control. This can make any DAC DSD-ready. Our music server too handles DSD via DoP or converts it to PCM."
February 2014 - Arkana from Arkansas - "We are a young US company established by a Russian physicist and American high-end enthusiasts. We create premium-class cables with a full range interconnects both RCA and XLR, speaker cables and power cords divided into good, better, best. With appropriate theoretical knowledge and experience we apply unique technologies never before used for the transmission of music signal. Our special know-how are conductors from various rare-earth metals in different combinations. Based on data obtained in the course of our R&D over several years, we found that a certain combination of rare-earth metal conductors and their special properties minimize negative impact on the phase/frequency response of transmitted signals. Thus our cables provide for a far more accurate signal transmission than traditional metals like copper, silver and their alloys. We are in the process of getting a US patent on our technology. We also paid special attention to the quality and sound of connectors to end up with only the best from Acoustic Revive, WBT and Oyaide. Every Arkana cable is carefully handcrafted by our experienced staff."
February 2014 - Coaxial AMT 'phones - The Taiwanese Stymex Obravo HAMT-1 [€1'499] combines real-wood optics, leather and stainless steel with a coaxial driver array of 57mm Neodymium-powered mid/woofer plus 40mm air-motion transformer tweeter for a claimed 15Hz-45kHz response, 56-ohm impedance and 450g of wear weight.
February 2014 - Say cheeeese - The new AudioSmile super tweeter "features dual isoplanar ribbons for optimal dispersion, a great range of user adjustability and a unique enclosure design that allows various positioning options. Price is £580 (~$960) direct."
February 2014 - Exactly - exaSound Audio Design bow the e22 DAC, "a third-generation DAC with native DSD256+ mode with a 12.288MHz sample rate and more in-house developed technologies like an asynchronous USB interface with error correction, proprietary computer drivers and galvanic ground isolation for vanishingly low distortion, noise and jitter levels. Compared to the e20 predecessor, the e22 offers an 82fs femto clock, an enhanced high-current headphone amplifier, lower noise and distortion levels, a 12V trigger output and heavy-duty USB-B and RCA connectors."
February 2014 - Sig 57 grows glass - As Red Wine Audio's only product without a tube input stage, the 60-watt Signature 57 integrated now got that option. With the flip of a switch these two boards can take valves from the 12AX7 or 6922 family. Play time on one battery charge is still 10 hours. The tube option adds $1'000 to the $3'995 base price and all the original options like the Bellina DAC, Analogica phono and headfi boards may be added. "Other types of customization are possible too. I built one for a customer who wanted pre-out/amp-in jacks to use an active speaker EQ required for his speakers. I had another customer who ordered a Signature 57 with Bellina DAC and a 12Vdc output to feed his Mac Mini for a 100% off-the-grid system."
February 2014 - Bakoon HPA-01 - Called the baby brother of the awarded HPA-21 current-mode headphone amp, Akira Nagai's HPA-01 made its global premiere at the Swedish hifi show February 9-10. The HPA-01 uses the same battery supply which due to lower power consumption is said to last a bit longer. The 01 also gets the current and voltage mode outputs and gain switch but omits the Satri-Link inputs and moves the separate Satri modules onto its main PCB. Pricing from Swedish importer Klutz Design has been set at 16'995 SEK vs. the HPA-21's 28'495 SEK.
February 2014 - Emme Galileo - Lorenzo Martinelli announces production of their new flagship speaker, a 3-way sealed floorstander with 4 x 10" woofers on the back and twin 1.2"/2.5" clusters of Accuton Cell drivers on the front. Basic specs are 86dB sensitivity, 300-watt power handling, 6-ohm impedance, 20Hz-20kHz response, dimensions of 149 x 38.6 x 45.2cm HxWxD and 80kg of weight.
February 2014 - The devil made 'em do it - Teufel's active Raumfeld Speaker L [€1'499/pr] underwent various upgrades since it first launched. These include new class D 200wpc amplification, a new now 192kHz capable DAC, a WLAN antenna concealed inside the cabinet, a downfire port concealed by the plinth and also magnetically fixed grills. Finally this model is now also available as a passive version. Basic specs are 88dB efficiency, 108dB max SPL, 40Hz - 20kHz response. The 3-way driver complement is a 20mm soft-dome tweeter, a 130mm treated cellulose midrange and two 170mm Carbon woofers. Inputs are 1 x RCA, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x LAN, 1 x WLAN and high-level speaker terminals. There's also a high-level speaker output to the slave. DSP correction is integral and fixed. Gapless support is for ASF, MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC, OGG and ALAC. Standby power consumption is 0.4w. Dimensions are 32 x 22 x 114.5cm DxWxH, weight is 27.5kg.


February 2014 - Heretic Huron - "Heretic Audio announce the British-made Huron 3 [£2'500/pr], a 95dB floorstander with >7.5-ohm impedance over all of the useable audio range. Four paralleled 6.75" paper-cone mid/woofers combine with a waveguide loaded soft-dome tweeter for tremendous speed, dynamics and bandwidth. Heretic Audio launched in 2011 as the manufacturing arm of Note Audio Ltd. which includes hifi retailer Deco Audio."
February 2014 - PureVox - B.M.C.'s first transducer in their PureLine follows Voxativ and Audiovox with the 'vox' moniker but then goes its very own way, i.e. as a full-range quasi bipole with equal or balanced driver arrays front and back. The latter angles up 45° and the entire affair is anchored by a monolithic cast aluminum enclosure of varying wall thickness, with cross braces and molten-in internal damping layers. This 6.9"/175mm Kevlar/fiberglass two-way with AMT tweeters is also sealed to avoid the ringing ubiquitous for ported designs. Each speaker weighs a solid 27.2kg (60lbs) and measures 100 x 20 x 33cm HxWxD (39.4 x 7.8 x 13"). Sensitivity is 89dB, nominal impedance 4Ω. Finish options are silver, blue Titanium and champagne anodized. Pricing is expected to be ~€4'500/pr when the model goes on sale in Q2.
February 2014 - Creaky 50s - Creek's Evolution 50CD uses a white-on-black OLED display, sports a USB class 2 input to double as standalone DAC, XLR/RCA outputs, organic polymer capacitors and a 24/192 Wolfson 8742 DAC with WM8805 input receiver. Complete digital socketry consists of 2 transformer-coupled S/PDIF, 2 Toslink and USB in, S/PDIF and Toslink out. The CD drive is a slot loader. Digital filters are selectable via remote. Filtering and buffering are via opamps. Output impedance is 47 ohms and output voltage is 2/4Vrms on RCA/XLR.
February 2014 - Silver cable - Alister Staniland of Artisan Silver Cables announces the Ultimate Digital Dream as "the best digital cable we know how to make." The site describes it further as "a shielded cable necessary for digital with 8 x DCT'd pure silver conductors each separately insulated in Teflon tubing and arranged into a braid to further increase rejection of external interference. This cable contains about three times as much silver as our Digital Dream. It is fitted with WBT 011AG connectors whose pure silver pin makes for an uninterrupted pure silver signal path with true 75-ohm impedance."