Hot off the press: Opera Audio goes Kusunoki
Kusunoki what? Russian-style Cossack opera with csárdás violins? Nope. Simply put, Ryohei Kusunoki's revolutionary paper on non-oversampling, zero digital filter D/A conversion started the burgeoning trend to opt for eliminating the pre/post ringing or time-domain smearing of upsampling/filtering while putting up with measurable digital aliasing artifacts in the output signal. The underlying belief is that the latter are inaudible or at worst, the lesser evil whereas the absence of the ringing endemic to digital is very much audible and something to be pursued. This paper was originally translated by Yoshi Segoshi of Sakura Systems, 47Labs' US distributor. 47Labs of course was also the first company to offer a commercial product based on this paper and what it suggested. Today Audio Note UK is perhaps the most well-known supporter of this concept. But there are many others, including Zanden Audio, iLungo, Scott Nixon, Ack! and AudioZone. To this list now add Chinese heavyweight Opera Audio. Its Consonance brand is well known for high-performance value-priced offerings.

Opera Audio celebrates this entry into the no/no bit streams with two models: the Consonance CD-120 Linear [$995] and the Consonance Reference 2.2 Linear [$1,849]. Both use passive I/V conversion and a 16-bit TDA1543 DAC with JFETs for an op-amp-less analog reconstruction filter with a 2.35V output. The latter model adds more upscale styling and a 6H30-based valve output stage. US importer Steve Monte of Quest for Sound notifies us that first shipments have landed on American soil. With Thanksgiving around the corner, what else to say but "gobble gobble"?

On a more wistful note, it should strike observers as remarkable that while none of our domestic mainstream companies have paid much attention to this concept -- rather, selectable upsampling, selectable dither and selectable FIR filters are becoming all the rage -- it took a Chinese firm to package this esoteric approach into one-box "maintreamish" machines. I don't know about you but it does give me a bit of pause. Our friends in the East are no longer content to lead on price or finish. They now clearly aim at pushing the creative boundaries as well. Good for them I say! The other half of the chorus about leadership and inventive spirit shall go unspoken for a change ...