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High Fidelity Audio Industry News


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01 / 31 / 14

Hi-Fi World  Enjoy the Music.com has just posted the March 2014 edition of The Absolute Sound including the complete editorial and table of contents. This issue includes reviews of the Audioengine A2+ desktop loudspeaker and Audioengine D3 DAC, Sony's game-changing HAP-Z1ES high-res music player, Aragon 8008 power amplifier, Rockport Technologies Atria loudspeaker and more! The editorial by Robert Harley says, "My editorial in the last issue ("Dodging a Bullet") touched off some impassioned reader response. The essay posited that the iPod rescued music after it had been hijacked by the home-theater boom of the late 1990s. I suggested that audio had become a subset of home theater, relegated to second-class status by lossy compression systems, sonically degrading interface formats designed primarily for video, and the relative dilution of quality in 5.1 or 7.1 channels of amplification and loudspeakers. The iPod, I argued, brought music back to its two-channel roots for an entire generation of listeners and paved the way for the quality-oriented renaissance we’re seeing today." See the complete March table of contents and editorial of The Absolute Sound by clicking here.

 

01 / 30 / 14

Esoteric Grandioso P1 SACD/CD Transport  Esoteric has launched their new Grandioso line to the United States market. The Grandioso line consists of the P1 SACD/CD transport, D1 monoblock D/A Converter and M1 monoblock amplifier ($44,000, $22,000 and $23,000 respectively). Esoteric's P1 and D1 digital source system include ES-LINK4 and 36-bit D/A processing. ES-LINK4 is a new data transmission format developed by Esoteric that allows DSD and 352.8kHz/48-bit PCM ultra wideband digital exchange using an HDMI cable. Both units apply an Esoteric exclusive 36-bit D/A processing algorithm that converts PCM signals to analog signals at 36 bit resolution by combining several 32-bit DAC devices. Their P1 SACD/CD transport features the VMK-3.5-20S VRDS-NEO transport mechanism with a refined drive circuit design. A pair of selected ball bearings is used in the spindle shaft bearing assembly, and there is a micron-level accuracy duralumin turntable with a 20 mm-thick steel turntable bridge for a total mass of 11.5 lbs. for just the transport. The P1 also incorporates the VS-DD dedicated spindle servo driver to drive the spindle motor that functions as the core unit of the VRDS-NEO mechanism. An outboard power supply has a total of four independent toroidal power transformers to supply clean and stable DC power to each circuit of the P1. Esoteric's D1 monoblock DAC now provides right and left channels that can be link-connected with a single HDMI cable and easy input from external source devices is possible. All analog circuits in the D1 are electrically and mechanically separate from the digital circuits, in hopes to further enhance the clarity of sound quality by preventing the intrusion of digital noise. Esoteric's M1 monoblock amplifier is claimed to achieve theoretical-value power linearity from 300 watts at an 8-Ohm load to 1200 watts at a 2-Ohm load. This new power amplifier incorporates bipolar LAPT components in a three-stage Darlington configuration with six parallel push-pulls. The power supply unit features sixteen 3300 micro farad capacitors in 8-parallel configuration, with the shortened voltage charge time contributing to high-speed electronic signal transfer. Esoteric employed a total of 16 bus bars in the amplification stage. The chassis structure on al models within the Grandioso line utilizes a double-deck structure and 3D optimized chassis construction connecting each circuit block with the shortest signal paths. Thick aluminum materials are used for the exterior, and the 5 mm-thick steel bottom chassis is supported at four points on original Esoteric pinpoint feet.

 

SpotifySpotify and Last.fm have teamed up to bring you more music within your Spotify online streaming music account. To quote Last.fm, "We've teamed up with Spotify to bring their entire catalogue, on demand, to the world's leading music recommendation service. Whether it be your own profile page, artist pages or album pages – if Spotify has it, you can play it and control it on Last.fm via the Spotify playbar at the bottom of the screen. Using your Spotify account (premium or free) you can listen to any track simply by pressing the play button. This will load all tracks on a Last.fm page as a playlist in Spotify. This new feature brings a depth to Last.fm like never before and gives you a much richer listening experience. The availability of over 20 million tracks at your fingertips allows you to listen to full albums as well as rediscover your scrobbling history – listen to your loved tracks, past charts and more. This latest collaboration builds on an already successful partnership between the two services, which includes the highly successful Last.fm app on Spotify."

In more Spotify news, the televised Grammy Awards has caused certain musical artists to become more popular on their streaming music service. Many older viewers of course knew of the band Chicago, yet due to their Grammy Award appearance they reached a new audience as Chicago's online music streaming went up 150% on Spotify. Taylor Swift's music streaming on the Spotify increased 67% and Beyoncé's "Drunk in Love" was requested 52% more than in previous weeks. Daft Punk plays increased 205%. Stevie Wonder, who performed with Daft Punk, saw this legendary artist benefited to the tune of an additional 635% in music plays on Spotify after the Grammy Awards show.

 

01 / 29 / 14

Cambridge Audio Azur 851D DAC  Cambridge Audio's new flagship Azur 851 series consists of the Azur 851E preamplifier, Azur 851W power amplifier, and Azur 851D digital to analog converter. Another part of this series is the EISA award-winning Azur 851A integrated Class XD amplifier and Azur 851C upsampling CD/DAC/Pre. The Azur 851E is a true analogue preamp that delivers improvements over its predecessor with a more versatile and high-end range of inputs including three balanced XLR inputs. The Azur 851W power amplifier is Cambridge Audio's best effort to date due to the most refined version of the company's proprietary, patent-pending Class XD (crossover displacement) system, plus high-end components such as two toroidal transformers and Terrapin impedance buffering modules. The Azur 851D DAC, pictured here)  uses upsampling technology and internally uses enhanced key components to handle digital audio files from a wide array of potential sources including computers, smartphones, set-up boxes, media streamers, etc. All stereo sources can be upsampled to 24-bit/384kHz and runs through a proprietary second generation ATF Adaptive Time Filtering algorithms co-developed with Anagram Technologies of Switzerland. The six digital inputs include S/PDIF coaxial, TosLink optical, BNC coaxial and AES/EBU plus asynchronous USB and optional Bluetooth wireless. The all-metal chassis combines structural rigidity, careful damping and control of acoustic resonance. The Azur 651W is a two-channel power amplifier that employs Toroidal transformers instead of El transformers. It features both fully balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA analogue audio inputs.

 

Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
MacrovisionQuite a bit going on in the music world as Macrovision has released a more relaxed version of CD protection scheme, Napster developer Shawn Fanning works on a pay for play peer-to-peer software called Snocap, meanwhile the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) targets vinyl. Macrovision's latest generation of copy-protected music on CDs, called CDS-300, now allows content owners (i.e. record labels, music artists) to set "usage rules" on the Microsoft Windows Media files. This, in turn, will dictate how many times and to where a copy of the music can be made. Adam Sexton, Macrovision's vice president of marketing, said "Before, you had the 'second session' that was bolted to the disc. We're pleased we can now deliver the same functions and can go 'mano a mano' with the online services." Previous versions of their software blocked the ability to burn copies onto CD-R. This new move is in tune with Apple Computer's iTunes and Napster that also allow for CD-R copies of purchased music. Aso of note is that Shawn Fanning of Napster fame is now moving forward with Snocap that will allow users to pay for content while also enjoying the luxury of a peer-to-peer (P2P) file swapping network. "It's a pretty well thought-out idea, but the success of it hinges on everybody in the ecosystem getting involved," said one record label executive familiar with this new software. "The key to its success is the peer-to-peer companies agreeing to participate. If they do participate, it could be phenomenal."

 

01 / 28 / 14

AURALiC Lightning Streamer  AURALiC will be offering a new high resolution audio wireless solution via their Lightning Streaming unit. Based on AURLiC's proprietary Telsa hardware platform, the new unit handles 25,000 MIPS calculating capability called Sanctuary. The unit uses a quad-core ARM Coretex-A9 processor running at 1GHz, 2GB DDR3 and a 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi. This is the industry's first streaming solution based on dual-band 802.11ac Gigabit Wi-Fi with a maximum speed of 1300 Mbps. As a result, Lightning is also the first system able to stream Direct Stream Digital (DSD), double-rate DSD and Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) wirelessly. In addition, Lightning is the first streaming solution that allows digital audio signals to output though a USB host port to DACs. The USB output does PCM in sampling rates from 44.1 to 384 kHz at 16, 24 and 32 bit resolutions. It also supports AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA. Lightning is based on the OpenHome structure, adopted by the U.K. streaming manufacturer Linn. Compared to the legacy standards of the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA), Lightning supports several more-advanced functions, such as on-device playlist that allow control software to turn off during play, the gapless playback, and complete supporting of multi-room, multiple control points. Lightning also supports Songcast, a music distribution service that allows users to map computer's sound to any Lightning-equipped system and to map sound between different Lightning systems in the house. AURALiC’s Lightning App can control all Lighting-powered hardware. The Lightning App allows you to browse your music library on your network-attached storage (NAS), to control the playback, and to set the hardware settings. The Lightning App also comes with built-in radio services, such as Spotify. The Lightning App will be available on several platforms including Apple iOS, Android, Windows PC, Mac OS X and Linux. The Lightning Streaming solution is compatible with other digital streaming control programs, such as Kinsky and BubbleDS. It is also backwards compatible with legacy UPnP and DLNA standards hardware and software.

 

Gato Audio PRD-3 Preamplifier / DACGato Audio PRD-3 preamplifier / DAC (€2500) features low noise analogue circuitry, true 24-bit/192kHz conversion, upsampling and clean internal clock generator for ultra low jitter in the digital domain. The built-in D/A converter uses a dedicated power supply, a balanced-drive Burr-Brown PCM1794 D/A converter, an optimized high bandwidth I/V converter, and an analogue stage with low-Q, low pass filters. All digital inputs are upsampled to 24-bit/192kHz. The PRD-3 offers a wide range of digital and analog inputs including line-level outputs, a trigger signal for external power amplifiers, and a configurable home theater input. The HT input can turn the preamplifier into a fixed level preamplifier for use in a surround setup. Digital inputs include S/PDIF coax, TosLink optical and asynchronous USB digital. It also accepts digital streaming directly from Apple iDevices. Both balanced XLR analog inputs and outputs are also included. Overall frequency response is from 20 Hz to 100 kHz, signal to noise ratio is < 110 dB and line out maximum level is 13V balanced and 6.5V unbalanced. Input impedance is 20 kOhms RCA or 40 kOhms balanced. Dimensions are 12.8" x 4.1" x 16.5" (WxHxD) and weight is 15.4 lbs. 

 

01 / 27 / 14

Hi-Fi World  Enjoy the Music.com has just posted Hi-Fi World's March 2014 edition including the complete editorial and table of contents. This issue includes reviews of the T+A CWT 500 electrostatic hybrid speaker, Esoteric K-05 silver disc spinner, Ming da MC368-B5 Credenza Grande valve amplifier, Camdridge Audio Minx XI one-box system, Astell&Kern AK100 MKII portable media player/DAC, Chord DAC 64, Funk Firm Flamenca turntable and more! The editorial by Noel Keywood says, "Digital gets ever more impenetrable – and controversial even. Not everyone is happy – see Letters – that CD and the CD player are becoming sidelined, ageing technologies that are seen as artefacts from the past even if they do still have much to offer. We managed to get a CD player for review in this issue, an increasingly difficult task because new ones are as hard to spot as Dodos. But as the fabulous Esoteric K-05 demonstrates – see p22 – CD just isn’t what it used to be. The transport that spins the silver disc is now a side issue, a mechanical contrivance in a world of software dominated by the wretched iPad." See the complete March table of contents and editorial of Hi-Fi World by clicking here.

 

Ferguson Hill KickstarterFerguson Hill has embraced the new way to fund future high fidelity audio products via their Kickstarter campaign. With form following function, pictured ere is actual photographs of the horn and bass speakers. They are offering three systems, with all of them including an integrated amplifier so that at any time a basic setup can be upgraded by adding an extra bass sphere to the Deluxe system, or by adding two extra horn speakers that come with stands and wall mounts for the full Deluxe surround sound system. All systems come with wall mounts and stands for the horn speakers so you can choose your preferred setup. Shipping is included for all of Europe, USA, Canada, and China, with shipping to other locations being priced separately. Ferguson Hill is currently evaluating the best AV processing chips available and working with the leading AV chip manufacturers to implement this latest technology. Another challenge is to design and produce the tooling to manufacture the clear acrylic horn and bass speaker by injection and blow moulding techniques using Polycarbonate which is extremely tough and UV stabilized. They have have already produced the horn speaker tooling plus the bass sphere tooling, and developed / tested fully working examples. Ferguson Hill are now at the stage of optimizing the bass drive unit for the best bass sound response. The full system will then need to undergo a whole series of testing, developing and fully optimizing of both the hardware and software and finally certifying so that it can be put into production and brought to market. There are a variety of packages available at Kickstarter, with pricing starting at £650 for The Primary Ferguson Hill clear speaker system for early bird backers. This system contains two horn speakers, two wall mounts, two stands, one bass speaker and the fully specified integrated amplifier. If you pledge £1075 or more you will receive The Deluxe surround sound Ferguson Hill speaker system. This system is for surround sound and contains four horn speakers, four wall mounts, four stands for the front and rear speakers, two bass speakers and the fully specified integrated amplifier. Estimated delivery date is September 2014.

 

01 / 25 / 14

Interview with Alan Sircom of Hi-Fi+ Magazine
Alan discusses CES / T.H.E. Show

 

Interview With Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem
And Positive Feedback's David W. Robinson

 

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has added song streams to its Gold & Platinum (G&P) Program in 2013 which helped fuel a record-breaking 663 Digital Single Awards – a 25% increase in Digital Single Awards year-over-year and the most in G&P history, according to RIAA’s year-end certifications tally. In addition to adding streams in 2013, RIAA modernized other program parts to ensure that G&P awards reflect a changing music market. This included aligning digital single and album requirements so that sales can be counted from the day of a title's release, plus modifying Latin Program thresholds and creating a new Latin Digital Single Award to reflect developments in the Latin marketplace. In 2013, three top achieving artists earned the prestigious RIAA Diamond Awards counting song sales and streams to surpass the 10 million threshold: Justin Bieber, Eminem and Lady Gaga. Bieber's "Baby" earned 12x multi-Platinum status to become the RIAA's highest song certification ever, while Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie" certified 11x multi-Platinum and Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" rose to 10x multi-Platinum! In 2013 the RIAA awarded a total of 128 album and 663 digital single certifications. Complete lists of all album, single, mastertone and video awards can be accessed at The RIAA's website.

 

01 / 24 / 14

EMM Labs MTRX Monoblock Amplifier  EMM Labs celebrates the eagerly anticipated return of designer Ed Meitner to the world of power amplifiers with the debut of his MTRX reference monoblocks ($130,000/pair or $75,000 per monoblock.). It has been twenty years since the last Meitner audiophile amp and the MTRX is said to be well worth the wait. More than a decade in the making, these 1500 Watt Class A/B solid-state powerhouses are able to drive the most fiendish and complex speaker loads effortlessly. The designer says the sound is "as sweet, musical and detailed as a classic single-ended triode tube amps. It is truly a gentle giant," said designer Ed Meitner. The EMM Labs MTRX monoblocks employ 21st century technology with proprietary Meitner circuit topologies and zero overall negative feedback. These systems are fully discrete, offering ultra low distortion, very high bandwidth, and with the ability to deliver huge and instantaneous output currents. The MTRX monoblocks are designed with short and fully balanced audio paths plus speaker protection and self-protection. Conservatively rated at 750 Watt into 8 Ohms, 1500W into 4 Ohms, they are capable to drive loads well below 2 Ohms impedance effortlessly. The enclosure features an ultra-fine CNC finish in silver and black with customers choice of 24K Gold (hard coated plating), Silver (deep nickel plating) and Titanium (dark grey brushed aluminum) center inserts and buttons. Also of note from EMM Labs and Meitner Audio Digital is that they will be issuing a general DSP update in the next months for all of their products. This free software update for their company's proprietary DAC systems will take all products up to that next level of audio performance. Along with this update, EMM Labs and Meitner Audio are also working on updates for all their products to support double DSD and DXD PCM audio formats.

 

01 / 23 / 14

Benchmark Media AHB2 Stereo Power Amplifier  Benchmark Media is showcasing an improved version of their new AHB2 stereo power amplifier at the National Association of Music Merchants Show (NAMM) in Anaheim, CA. The AHB2 stereo power amplifier introduces advances in power amplifier design with new patented technology that eliminates most sources of distortion while extending the dynamic range well beyond that of most high-end amplifiers according to the company. After the initial company reviews, Benchmark has made additional improvements to the binding posts on the rear plate and relocated the connectors for ease of use. The final stages of product testing are nearing completion. The dynamic range of the AHB2 approaches 130dB, making it 10 to 30 dB quieter than the typical audiophile power amplifier. Benefits are said to be the ability to produce nuances, dynamics, and detail in your favorite recordings and experience the full potential of the latest high-resolution 24-bit PCM and 1-bit DSD audio formats. To quote Benchmark Media, "THX recently patented two new technologies that address crossover distortion, and Benchmark incorporated these innovations into the AHB2 design. These new innovations virtually eliminate crossover distortion while offering opportunities to improve efficiency, damping, and dynamic range. The licensed technology solves the crossover problem by combining a plurality of output stages such that one stage drives the output while another stage enters a crossover region. Distortion performance exceeds that of class A amplifiers, while the efficiency exceeds that of traditional class AB amplifiers." Enjoy the Music.com's sister site Enjoy the Music.TV has an excellent interview with Laurie Finchman of Benchmark / THX at this link.

 

     
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01 / 22 / 14

Apple Automatic Station Tuning  Apple has successfully patented a new automatic station tuning function as a way to seamlessly access audio and video from multiple sources. Filed back in September 2008 and now being approved, this new patent combines your audio/video content and broadcast content so users can access their media in a more streamlined fashion. A brief summary of the patent says, "The present invention relates to systems and methods for browsing and navigation content and other media assets. In various embodiments, a user can interact with a media player or portable media device to browse or otherwise initiate playback of content or other media assets from a variety of sources that provide content within content streams. The user may define from which sources content should be selected and may also define content selection criteria that enables the media player to have finer control for selecting content from the sources. The media player may output or playback content or other media assets within the content streams that satisfy the criteria. The media player may switch from one source of content to another source of content based on the criteria to provide playback of the content or other media assets that the user desires. A media player or portable media device may analyze information associated with content streams from multiple sources to determine currently playing or forthcoming content. The media player may automatically tune to one of the sources based on user preferences or criteria to output the currently playing content. The media player may tune to a source or switch from one source to another source based a user's tastes for music, a give volume level, an aversion to talk radio, or other user preferences or criteria. The media player may also queue or schedule forthcoming content on a given source for playback to the user. When the time comes for the content to be received from the given source, the media player may tune to or switch to the given source for the user." You can see the entire patent at this link.

 

Beats MusicBeats Music is now available online with music streams @ 320kbs. Developed and led by a team of executives that have spent their entire careers in service of music, fans, and artists -- Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Luke Wood, Trent Reznor, and Ian Rogers -- Beats Music brings fans and music lovers "an personalized and curated listening experience...". A free trial of Beats Music is available for 7 days to everyone and 90 days for AT&T customers, after which a $9.99/month single subscription fee will apply or $14.99 for an AT&T family plan. The service is available on iOS, Android as well as via the web. Windows Phone app coming shortly. Fans can stream their music or download to listen offline. "Beats was created so people could hear the music the way the artists intended, but speakers were just the first step," said Luke Wood, President of Beats Electronics. "Beats Music is the final piece in making that vision a reality." Beats Music features a vast catalog of more than 20 million fully licensed songs from all the major labels, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group, as well as all independent labels– managed and maintained by a team of music experts with hundreds of years of curatorial expertise. Beats Music also features a collection of editorialized playlists from some of the most well-respected music brands in the world, including Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, DJ Mag, Country Weekly, and Hot97/Power 106. Through an exclusive deal with AT&T, Beats Music will be available to AT&T wireless customers on a family account for $14.99 a month. Up to five family members across 10 devices can access the Beats Music service and get their own personal music on their own personal devices.

 

01 / 21 / 14

YG Acoustics Hailey Floorstanding Speaker  YG Acoustics new Hailey floorstanding speaker follows the company's ambitious design project that culminated in the internationally acclaimed Sonja flagship loudspeaker. Hailey incorporates the same 10.25" BilletCore woofer used in the Sonja loudspeaker. A brand new 7.25" BilletCore midrange driver was designed specifically for Hailey, offering what the company says is "a phenomenal strength-to-weight ratio for effortless performance". For accurate and extended high frequencies, YG Acoustics' Hailey utilizes the ForgeCore tweeter. Specailized DualCoherent technology ensures integration of drivers and enclosure for top quality amplitude response coupled with relative phase. YG Acoustics crossover circuits are all created using proprietary software developed entirely in-house. The cabinet combines visual refinement with over-engineering. It is constructed of precision-machined aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. This material, using vibration-free pressurized assembly, allows for an acoustically desirable enclosure. The structure is optimized for each module's specific frequency range. YG Acoustics' Hailey is available in two modular configurations, which can be expanded from one to the next at any time, without the need to replace existing modules. The Hailey 1.1 weighs 60 lbs in total and is simply a compact speaker whilst the Hailey 1.2 weighs 170 lbs. and adds a bass module for floorstanding speaker configuration. Enjoy the Music.com reviewed the YG Acoustics Carmel floorstanding speaker at this link.

 

Convergent Audio Technology (CAT) JL5 Stereo Triode AmplifierConvergent Audio Technology (CAT) JL5 stereo triode amplifier ($11,990) features two 6922 input and four KT120 output tubes per channel to produce 100 WPC. Weighing over 80 lbs, this KT120-based vacuum tube stereo amplifier is a high-current triode design and is said to have unique technology developed specifically for the JL5. "Our goal was to make a tube amplifier as carefree to own as solid-state," says Brian Wasserman. "So we developed a go/no-go (green/red) tube status indicator so that people don't have to guess if their tubes are still good. We also wanted to make the amplifier auto-biasing, but the problem is that auto-biasing degrades sound quality." Thus CAT's solution was to develop their own proprietary circuit: OptiBias. It is the first of its kind to actually compensate for line voltage fluctuations. "It is not uncommon to see fluctuations of up to +/-10%. OptiBia™ compensates for these fluctuations and enables the JL5 to sound its best whether line voltage is low, high or spot-on."

 

01 / 20 / 14

Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) 2014  Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) will be held in Chicago from April 25th through 27th and features many high fidelity audio companies. For those who can't make it to the event, Enjoy the Music.TV will be at the event featuring daily streaming video coverage with interactive chat too! Come join music lovers and audiophiles from around the world as they descend upon AXPONA to immerse yourself in hundreds of exhibits and live demonstrations, daily seminars, live music, and more. AXPONA will have hundreds of dedicated listening rooms and table displays featuring the world's finest audio equipment. For those who enjoy personal media players and headphones, a special Ear Gear Expo (EGX) will offer many great products to be experienced. An Audiophile Marketplace will have thousands of LPs, CDs and supporting accessories whilst there will be a special Silent Disco powered by Sennheiser. An exciting and exclusive live auction presented by Audiogon will also be taking part during this event on Saturday, April 26, from 6PM to 9PM. You can see Enjoy the Music.com's previous AXPONA show coverage at this link. Our sister site Enjoy the Music.TV recently interviewed Steve Davis of AXPONA about this great upcoming event, which can see seen by clicking here.

 

MBL 1521 AMBL Akustikgeräte was presenting prototypes of their new NOBLE LINE family of electronics during the recent International CES 2014. The new designs feature the company's state-of-the-art sound quality, unique user-friendly controls, diverse technical innovations and innovative special features. NOBLE LINE stereo amplifiers feature the second generation of MBL's "L.A.S.A." amplifier technology (MBL LASA 2.0). The Linear Analog Switching Amplifier's frequency response is completely speaker-load independent and guarantees a low distortion signal that is independent of the frequency. The MBL LASA 2.0 amplifiers can deliver 36 Amperes of current into any complex loudspeaker load. An example of one of the many inventive features found in the NOBLE LINE amplifiers is the "Unity Gain" setting. When activated, amplification is reduced by 8 dB, affording a decrease in noise and distortion while allowing an audible increase of dynamics and resolution. This technology is said to produce an appreciable improvement in the sound experience at lower volumes without having to sacrifice the dynamic reserves typically available at higher gain levels. MBL's NOBLE LINE digital products have been redesigned with a resulting number of sonic advancements. The CD slot drive is mounted in an optimal structure for mechanical resonance free foundation and where air turbulences that impair the sound are avoided. All NOBLE LINE products offer many inputs including 24-bit/192kHz and DSD capabilities. The redesigned USB ports are optically insulated and self-powered, enabling iOS to provide high-resolution sources of music without hiccup. Asynchronous signals are transmitted Bit-true and jitter-free. The fresh styling of the new NOBLE LINE family takes cues from MBL's Corona and Reference Lines. The luxurious chassis has been crafted in a distinct language of forms offering subtle contrasts between matte and highly-polished surfaces. The user interface data appears on a 5" color TFT display, with choices of user-specific languages and characters. The new MBL NOBLE LINE will be available in several different color combinations and is targeted to hit the market mid-2014.

 

01 / 17 / 14

Audial Model A Stereo Amplifier  Audial's new Model A stereo amplifier (€850 to €1250 depending on features) is a minimalist concept two channel amplifier based on linear IC. There are several optional features that makes possible both to keep signal path clean and short plus address specific user requirements. Model A is available as two channels @ 25 Watt or two channels @ 50 Watt per. At its front end, Model A utilizes low impedance shunt potentiometer, thus bringing a breakthrough for the company in volume control domain. Naturally it is ideally partnered with Audial DACs or other solid-state sources able to drive 1 kOhm or similar load. For more broad compatibility, more conventional 25 to 50 kOhm input impedance is available. The entire signal path is a mere 15 cm total from input to output. Options include premium parts including pure copper input and output connectors, non-insulated internal wiring and Cermet potentiometer. Also available are one or two inputs, since one input has all the advantages as it just skips any switch / additional parts in the signal's path. A low impedance shunt potentiometer is normally installed, and this is what the company feels is the best sounding volume control. However, tube sources usually do not drive well such a load (as low as 750 Ohm) and thus an option 25 to 50 kOhm input impedance is available. In addition, the Model A can be shipped as power amplifier only with no volume control at all. In this configuration it will have a 47 kOhm input impedance. As for power output choices, the only real difference between 25 Watt and 50 Watt version is in supply voltage.

 

Keith Louis Eichman RCA PlugAs Enjoy the Music.com was the first site to review the now prestigious Eichmann RCA jack in 2001, they have just announced a new version from Keith Louis Eichmann. Keith Louis Eichmann (a.k.a. KLE) is the inventor/designer of the Eichmann Bullet Plug and they now offer a new generation phono/RCA plug. This new version is the Copper Harmony and comes in a four-pack to build a single stereo unbalanced RCA cable. The Copper Harmony Plug has signal and ground pins that are pure copper and IACS. Signal/Ground pin optimization enhances electron flow in accordance with KL's copper formula and the pins are now much stronger and shaped like a tag, which makes soldering small/large/multiple wires very easy. A signal/ground anti-short shield has been added and the pins are arranged to maintain a maximized distance from each other. The utilized foil technology ensures that capacitive, inductive and EMF effects are minimized. The Head Assembly jaw structure has been redesigned and mechanically improved to allow an easy snap-like connection to a Phono/RCA socket, thus ensuring excellent connection with easy removal. The ground pin includes thread teeth which ensures that a metal housing is star-point grounded whilst the housing assembly uses two screws to retain and secure the cable.

 

Music Industry News 10 Years Ago
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) ULTRADISC CD-RLongstanding audiophile music label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) is now offering their new ULTRADISC CD-R. MFSL's engineering team started experimenting with CD-Rs in the lab and found that many were melting incorrectly and 1s were being read as 0s and vice-versa. Pinholes within the CD-R would cause a decoder into high error correction mode, thereby "making up" data in the error correction circuitry. After researching and various prototypes, MFSL now offers their 24 Karat Gold ULTRADISC CD-R. It is said to be "designed for professional, data critical, music and graphic archival use, and all other data storage applications where there is no room for error or loss. These specially-gold-plated CD-Rs ensure excellent reflectivity, no corrosion, and dramatically improved resistance to light and heat. Additional features include instantaneous pit burning (burst burning) for superior pit formation and extremely low to no error rate; and a patented, specialized, scratch resistant, protective surface. In addition, the ULTRADISC CD-R undergoes an unprecedented four levels of quality control. Plus, MFSL offers a lifetime warranty for each CD-R. The average CD-R has a projected lifespan of 20 years — if stored in ideal conditions. But, accelerated aging tests show that the 24KT Gold ULTRADISC CD-R retains its specifications for more than 300 years." A 50-pack of raw CD-Rs is tentatively priced at $99.98 while a 10-pack with MFSL's trademark, deluxe, lift-lock case is tentatively priced at $29.98.

 

01 / 16 / 14

KRK System ROKIT G3 Powered Studio Monitors  KRK Systems new ROKIT Generation 3 powered studio monitor series (ROKIT G3) are available with 5", 6" or 8" Aramid glass composite midrange/woofer driver mated to a refined 1" soft dome tweeter. This new line of two-way active monitors features multiple innovations that elevate KRK's performance and further refine the company's design philosophy: deliver transparent, balanced spectral response, with ultra-low distortion and superior imaging. KRK studio monitors have been the professional's choice of recording engineers and artists for mixing and mastering hit records around the globe. KRK's ROKIT 8 G3 (Generation 3) powered studio monitors offer professional performance and accuracy for recording, mixing, mastering and playback. The system consists of a 1" soft dome tweeter and 8" glass-Aramid composite woofer. It delivers high frequencies from 35Hz to 35kHz (+/-2dB) and had tuning adjustment on the rear of the unit. These Class AB bi-amp'ed speakers can output sounds up to 109dB. The ROKIT tweeter waveguide is designed to ensure detailed imaging in the listening position. The front-firing bass port reduces boundary coupling to allow flexible positioning in the room while the engineered surface reduces diffraction distortion. High frequency adjustment tailors the system to personal taste. Low frequency adjustment tailors the monitors to taste and adjusts for room acoustics. The specially designed low resonance enclosure minimizes cabinet-induced distortion and colorization. There are multiple audio input connectors including balanced XLR, 0.25" headphone and unbalanced RCA. Factory installed foam pad provides isolation between the speaker and surface. You can see our video covering Gibson Pro Audio's new KRK speakers at this link.

 

STREAMZ HeadphonesSTREAMZ has released the world's first smart streaming headphones ($549) that allow you to play music/audio from multiple sources, including onboard stored music, streaming online radio, streamed phone music, plus audio from your TV, movie, and game player. With its built-in Android processor, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and storage, STREAMZ simplifies and enhances the entertainment experience for ease of use and flexibility. As the first headphones to incorporate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, STREAMZ makes listening to any source of music and audio fast and easy. With a built-in music player and 16-bit/48kHz DAC, these headphones are based on patent-pending Smart Headphone technology that delivers standard quality fidelity digital music and audio, yet can not play 96kHz/24-bit nor DSD files yet can play Flac. Internally, there are 3 Watt capable drivers and 160 mWatt dynamic amplifiers. The two vibration speakers are claimed to deliver high power and low frequency range audio that you can literally feel. To quote the company, "STREAMZ's vibration speakers achieve the same or better sound quality than traditional headphones with little or no head pressure being applied, which results in exceptional comfort. The four speakers are arranged as bi-amp'ed, two-way speakers with two vibration speakers, and two 50mm dynamic speakers. STREAMZ has soft over the ear leather cushions with collapsible frames and are designed for active, mobile use." STREAMZ have in-line controls and an SDK and a Kickstarter STREAMZ for App Developers will soon be announced. Here are the technicals: Android 1.6 GHz dual core processor, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, 8GB upgradeable to 40GB with micro SD RAM card, two vibration and two dynamic speakers, 16-bit/48kHz DAC, two channel 3 Watt amplifier and stereo 160 mWatt amplifier, microphone input jack, rechargeable battery, and adapter. The headphones also handle Pandora, Spotify, rdio, etc.

 

01 / 15 / 14

  Enjoy the Music.com's midmonth update to their Review Magazine is now online!

World Premiere! 
EMMESpeakers Da Vinci Loudspeakers
Bringing the story of music, passion and style with a richly palpable sound.
Review By Matej Isak

World Premiere! 
Musical Fidelity M1 HPAP Headphone Amplifier
Incredible detail from an affordable headphone amplifier that doubles as a preamplifier.
Review By Tom Lyle

 

Chord Electronics HugoTo celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chord Electronics, they have launched their reference-class portable DAC/headphone amplifier called the Hugo (£1200). Based on the same FPGA DAC technology, the Hugo offers "studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability, all from a palm-sized player" says the company. Hugo offers five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus advanced 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback for today's high-resolution DXD (Digital eXtreme Definition) music files. The new Hugo can be used as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a reference-level source component in a static system. It can decode sample rates ranging from 44.1kHz to 384kHz (PCM) plus has two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz. Thanks to two additional digital inputs, coaxial and optical, any connected component with a digital output will also benefit from Hugo's advanced technology. In addition to 384kHz PCM files, the Hugo can also process DSD 128 data using the latest DSD-over-PCM standard (DoP). Whether using Mac OS or Windows OS, Chord Electronics' own proprietary driver software is provided, removing the restrictions of current operating system audio playback. Hugo has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours that lasts 14 hours in use. Hugo takes no power over its USB input and only takes signal data, therefore, it is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Further features include an advanced reference-grade digital volume control that does not lose bits. Hugo's casework is precision-machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, with a bright silver hard-anodized finish. Complementing the design is a top-mounted 'porthole' that gives users an intriguing insight into the internal circuitry, which changes color with differing incoming sample rates. Outputs include two 3.5mm headphone jacks, a 1/4" headphone jack plus stereo RCA phono output.

 

01 / 14 / 14

Australian Hi-Fi Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com just posted the new issue of Australian Hi-Fi magazine with many informative equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue's equipment reviews include Marantz PM-11S3 integrated amplifier, Focal Chorus 706 loudspeakers, Sunfire HRS-10 subwoofer, Project RPM 1.3 Genie turntable, VTL MB-125 vacuum tube amplifier and more! In the editorial by Greg Borrowman it says, "Regular readers will know that I have in the past used my editorial page as a soapbox to complain about both the level of background noise in restaurants, and the sound quality of the sound systems used by restaurateurs to play background music in their restaurants. And, although I have taken sound pressure level meters onto aeroplanes before to measure noise levels, I have never taken one into a restaurant. However, last year, someone did. Daniel Castro, of Sydney firm Wood & Grieve Engineers, was commissioned by the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide to check the noise levels of a number of restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne. I wasn't surprised to read (in articles in the SMH written by Nina Rousseau and Richard Cornish) that noise levels in some cases exceeded the official WorkCover safe limit of 85dB SPL. At two restaurants, Café Nice (Sydney) and Chin Chin (Melbourne), the two acoustical engineers recorded measurements of 95dB SPL!" You can see this issue of Australian Hi-Fi by clicking here.

 

01 / 13 / 14

Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2 USB DAC  The Audioquest Dragonfly version 1.2 USB DAC/pre/headphone amplifier combo is now available. Improvements include the circuitry between the DAC chip and the analog output stage has been refined to create a more direct signal path. This is said to provide even greater transparency and immediacy. Also, the DAC's power supply has been fortified, which gives the sound more 'grip' and greater dynamic contrast. The older version 1.0 black casing has been replaced by the 1.2's gray color. Audioquest's USB stick sized DAC plays digital music files including MP3 to 192kHz/24-bit, yet not DSD. It can drives headphones directly via the 3.5mm stereo jack and/or act as a variable output for powered speakers or external amplifier. A fixed output can fee preamplifiers. Asynchronous transfer ensures digital timing integrity and two clocks and 24-bit ESS Sabre conversion chip enable native resolution at 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz and 96 kHz.

 

Pro Audio Technology (PRO) Pro SoundToolsPro Audio Technology (PRO) has released Pro SoundTools, which is a newly revamped and expanded software suite designed to simplify the deployment of the company's full range of DSP-optimized amplifiers. Building on the foundation of Pro Audio Technology's PMA Manager amplifier control and calibration software, the new Pro SoundTools suite adds compatibility for the company's recently released DMA-1508 digital amp, with full support for its advanced bridging capabilities, along with a host of new DSP designed for both PMA and DMA amps alike. As with PMA Manager, the new Pro SoundTools software makes it easy for integrators to attain optimized audio performance in a matter of minutes. Advanced room correction processing intelligently compensates for the deleterious effects of the room itself on bass performance, and clearly labeled drop-down filters enable installers to correct for other acoustical issues-such as the effect of perforated projection screens on the high-frequency performance of the main left, right, and center speakers. Whether the installer employs Pro Audio Technology's PMA or DMA digital amps, with the company's own loudspeakers or those from other manufacturers, Pro SoundTools works in conjunction with the amps to deliver constant onscreen feedback during the deployment process. Thanks to a combination of LED feedback on the amps themselves and onscreen prompts within the Pro SoundTools software, it's nearly impossible to be unaware of both saved and unsaved changes that have been made to the amplifiers' programming. For the Premium edition of Pro SoundTools, Pro Audio Technology has also included a number of advanced DSP tools, all controlled by the same point-and-click interface, and all enhanced by the same real-time visual feedback. In addition to high- and low-pass shelf filters, as well as variable-Q high- and low-pass filters, the Premium software also removes frequency restrictions on equalization, allowing those installers with more experience in advanced room acoustics to tweak EQ settings up to 20kHz. "At Pro Audio Technology, we believe that automatic equalization above 200 or 300 Hz often does more harm than good to the performance of a system, so by default Pro SoundTools only applies EQ to low frequencies, to assist in standing wave correction," said Paul Hales, founder of Pro Audio Technology. "But for advanced users, the premium version of the software removes those restrictions, to allow them to compensate for things like cloth coverings over the surround speakers, or other contingencies that our pre-defined filters don't already address."

 

01 / 07   to   01 / 10

CES 2014 Show Report   T.H.E. Show Las Vegas 2014 Report
CES & T.H.E. Show 2014

  Enjoy the Music.com's International CES Report 2014 (Consumer Electronics Show) and T.H.E. Show Las Vegas 2014 (The Home Entertainment Show) high fidelity audio report begins Tuesday! Our 2014 report marks Enjoy the Music.com's 19th annual CES and 15th annual T.H.E. Show Las Vegas coverage! Our reporting includes many photos plus detailed information of new products at these events. We will also have our sister site Enjoy the Music.TV streaming live on Wednesday! Come join our live stream and you can chat/ask questions to those we are interviewing! Held from January 7th through the 10th in Las Vegas, we naturally focus on high resolution music and high fidelity audio consumer electronics gear. Our daily coverage will be online during these events. See our International CES Report 2014 and T.H.E. Show Las Vegas 2014 at this link.

 

01 / 03 / 14

If you can't see the video above, click here.

  In episode 2 of Enjoy the Music.TV hosted by Steven R. Rochlin we feature the latest edition of Hi-Fi+, Hi-Fi World, and HiFiMedia magazines plus The Absolute Sound's new book "Illustrated History of High-End Audio: Loudspeakers". We also have an interview with Ethan Winer and talk about his book "The Audio Expert: Everything You Need to Know About Audio". Lastly, we prepare for T.H.E. Show Las Vegas and CES 2014! As always, in the end what really matters is that you.... enjoy the music!

 

01 / 02 / 14

Hi-Fi+ Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com just posted the world premiere of January's edition of Hi-Fi+ filled with many great equipment and music reviews plus think pieces. This issue includes equipment reviews of the Kronos turntable, Naim ND5 XS, PMC Fact12 floorstander, Abyss AB-1266 planar magnetic headphones, Hegel H80 integrated amplifier, Graham Audio LS5/9 standmount speaker, Consonance Die Walkure turntable and more!

 

01 / 01 / 14

  Enjoy the Music.com's January Review Magazine is now online and features three world premieres! Reviews include Sonus Faber Olympica III speaker, Wells Audio Innamorata follow-up, Allnic H-1201, Woo Audio WTP-1, Triode Lab 2A3-S, Trends Audio BA-10 plus AC outlet shootout, remembering Ray Dolby, Horowitz and more!! See the January Review Magazine by clicking here.

 

Review Magazine  
Regular Reading
Daily News: Audiophile news updated each weekday!

Show Reports
T.H.E. Show / CES 2014 Show Report
Our Las Vegas show report is coming soon!

Viewpoint
In This Issue...
More show coverage, Dolby remembered, Horowitz and world premiere reviews.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

Senseless Ramblings
Media, In All Forms, Available Everywhere!
During 2014 we will see tremendous growth within the media space.
Article By Steven R. Rochlin

The Amazing Aspirin
What do aspirins have to do with sound or music?
Article By Roger Skoff

Your Music Enjoyment
Appetizer or main course?
Article by Craig Allison of PAtH (Pure Audio to Health)

Shaking The Foundations Of The Audio Industry
Esa Meriläineno, Author
Article By Zygmunt Jerzynski 

Enjoy the Music.TV
Enjoy the Music.TV Preview

Enjoy the Music.TV Episode 1

Superior Audio
World Premiere!

Sonus Faber Olympica III Loudspeaker
A glorious speaker that is in itself a musical instrument!
Review By Matej Isak

Follow-Up: Wells Audio Innamorata Amplifier
Configured in a passive vertically bi-amp'ed system.
Review By Wayne Donnelly

Equipment Reviews
Allnic H-1201 Vacuum Tube Phonostage
A fine tubed phono amplifier for analog enthusiasts.
Review By David McCallum

World Premiere! 
Triode Lab 2A3-S Vacuum Tube Power Amplifier
Triode Lab is the little company that can.
Review By Rick Becker

Woo Audio WTP-1 CD Transport And WDS-1 DAC
Simplicity of design and modest pricing makes this duo a winner!
Review By Anthony Nicosia

Trends Audio BA-10 Bi-Amplification Bundle
Twice as much tiny for only $699.
Review By A. Colin Flood

Audiophile AC Power Outlet Comparisons
Oyaide, Synergistic Teslaplex, ACME, Hubbell IG 5362, cruzeFIRST Audio Maestro, and Furutech GTX.
Review By Jonathan Lo

World Premiere! 
Waveform Fidelity Cables
Superb sound at affordable prices.
Review By Wayne Donnelly

DIY Audio
Vacuum Tubes Part 6
Exploring cathode followers as an output stage.
Article By Grey Rollins

Music Reviews
Vladimir Horowitz
Behind the scenes notes for the Carnegie Hall box set.
Article By Jon M. Samuels

Great Brahms Chamber Music (And There's More!)
Review By Max Westler

Superstar Conductor and Pianist Have a Go at Prokofiev and Bartok Concertos.
Review By Max Westler

Virgins, Vixens and Viragos is a delightfully varied program from mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.
Review By Joe Milicia

 

See the January Review Magazine by clicking here.

 


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