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High-End Audio Industry News

 

03 / 29 / 02

Talon Audio Raven Loudspeaker  Talon Audio launches the Raven 2002 ($6,950) loudspeaker whose obelisque-shaped enclosure recalls its bigger Khorus X sibling. The Raven is a 10-inch 2-way with claimed bandwidth of 19Hz to 25kHz and prodigious power handling of up to 1000 watts. Weighing in at a substantial 130 lbs, the Raven's footprint measures 17.5" W x 20.5" D while the crown narrows to 9.25" W x 12" D. Overall height is 40.75". While the firm's "X series" currently comprises the Khorus X floorstander and Peregrine X monitor, the Raven joins the new Roc subwoofer in Talon's new 2002 series of attractively priced high-performance contenders, Like the Roc, the Raven is available in a variety of optional designer finishes including four Birdseye veneers (Platinum, Butternut, High Gloss and Crimson), Italo Pearl, High Gloss Burl and Piano Black.

 

 

Vaessen AquariusThe Belgian Vaessen 3-way Aquarius loudspeaker is reminiscent of the idealized egg-shaped cabinetry of the late Mach 1 by Waveform Audio. It employs expensive high-end German drivers and a complex injection-molded egg shaped enclosure. Due to the manufacturer's website being under development at this time, further details about this unusual speaker remain as yet unclear.

 

03 / 28 / 02

Led Zeppelin vs. Atlantic Records  On March 12th members of the legendary rock group Led Zeppelin have filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Atlantic Records claiming royalties from the band's music have been withheld. James P. Page, Robert Plant, John Baldwin, Superhype Tapes, Patricia Bonham, Zoe Bonham and Jason Bonham have filed this legal action against Atlantic Records who will need to defend their activities. Popular songs by rock group Led Zeppelin include "Stairway to Heaven". This lawsuit covers the bands first five albums where Atlantic Records license has expired, yet Atlantic has allegedly refused to pay increased royalty fees that undoubtedly reaches into the many millions of dollars.

 

 

Ampzilla 2000The Ampzilla 2000 monoblock amplifier ($5,000/pr) from Spread Spectrum Tech. uses a fully complementary four-quadrant balanced-bridge circuit design by James Bongiorno, designer of the original Ampzilla. Weighing 52 lbs, the monoblocks' output is 200 watts into 8 ohms and 400 watts into 4 ohms. Input sensitivity is 1 volt RMS across 50kohms on the unbalanced input and 70kohms on the balanced input. The impedance value can be factory-adjusted to any value up to 1 megaohm. The damping factor is >250 at 20Hz and noise >-120dB at full rated power. Input and output jacks are gold-plated and the 14 guage all-steel chassis is finished in black powder coat, with thermal and clipping indicator LEDs on the front panel. The latter is blue and sports the Ampzilla tooth logo and nomenclature.

 

03 / 27 / 02

Bel Canto DAC2  Bel Canto Design follows up their introduction of the eVo2i and PRe6 with the second-generation iteration of the famous DAC1, now called DAC2. The DAC2 upstages its predecessor by featuring 24-bit/192kHz upsampling and uses "a dual differential, multi-bit delta-sigma converter combined with a low noise, extremely fast and low distortion differential current to voltage circuit. All critical analog resistors are high precision 0.1% metal-film devices. A simple 2nd order analog low-pass output filter provides a clear path for the analog output. Multiple stages of digital and analog power regulation with separate toroidal transformers are combined with a four-layer board design to insure the optimum operating environment for the sophisticated circuitry." The DAC2 features RCA and TOSLINK digital inputs compatible with CD, DVD and hybrid SACD sources. It uses the latest S/PDIF receiver technology and a dual PLL clock recovery scheme with both analog and a FIFO based digital phase lock circuit for lowest possible jitter performance.

 

 

Blue Circlue CS Integrated AmplifierGilbert Yeung of Blue Circle Audio is proudly introducing his first integrated amplifier, the CS solid-state Integrated. It is the designer's answer to consumer requests for a compact integrated unit that might serve as the heart of a modestly priced music system. The CS is entirely hand-crafted and eschews PC boards for point to point construction. The CS delivers 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms (75 watts into 4 ohms). Connectivity includes three line level inputs, one complete tape loop and an optional pre-amplifier output. Weighing 15 lbs, the dimensions of the CS are 17.5" x 3.625" x 7.625" (WxHxD).

 

03 / 26 / 02

Balanced Audio Technology VK-300x Integrated Amplifier  Balanced Audio Technology introduces the VK-300x integrated amplifier that delivers 150/300 watts into 8/4 ohms and can be configured with an optional MM/MC phono board, a 6922-based tube front-end or a 6H30 SuperTube gain stage and full-function, all aluminum remote control. The output stage is based on the symmetrical bipolar design of the VK-6200 multi-channel amplifier while the optional SuperTube gain stage is derived from the VK-50SE preamp, complete with the latter's paper-in-oil signal capacitors. The VK-300x offers five inputs (two XLR, three RCA), XLR pre-outs, RCA record-outs and two pairs of speaker terminals. Frequency response is given as 2Hz to 180kHz. The BAT VK-300x measures 19" x 5.75" x 15.5" (WxHxD) and weighs 50 lbs.

 

Boston Acoustics VR-M90The Boston Acoustics VR-M90 ($2,700/pr) reference tower is a 3-way 4-driver design with dual 6.5-inch copolymer woofers, a 3.5-inch copolymer midrange and a 1-inch black-anodized aluminum dome tweeter with the Amplitude Modulation Device first developed by Phil Jones for the firm's groundbreaking Lynnfield 300 and 500 models. With a sensitivity of 90dB and 8-ohm nominal impedance, frequency response is given as 37Hz to 20kHz, and recommended amplifier power as 25 to 250 watts. Dimensions are 37.25" x 9.25" x 14" (HxWxD), and weight is 65 lbs.

 

03 / 25 / 02

Emission Labs  Czech Republic based tube manufacture Emission Labs to offer VV 300B, 300B-XLS, mesh plate 2A3 and mesh plate 45 tubes designed by Anton Schoenfeld and Jac van de Walle. Anton Schoenfeld worked in R&D at the TESLA tube factory in Prague from 1956 until 1990, then going to AVVT to work within their R&D department from 1996 until 1998. Emission Labs is an independent, privately owned tube factory in the Czech Republic and is operated by longtime tube experts of the old school. Emissions Labs feels that releasing "super tubes" with "hyper technology" is not desirable. Instead, they are concentrating on "good old triodes, the traditional way, with the focus on reliability, superior sound and finest looks."

 

 

LinnLinn and ESS Technology join forces to support Sony's "high-resolution" 1-bit Super Audio CD (SACD) format in DVD players. ESS Technology’s Vibratto DVD single-chip solution family may be incorporated in future Linn products. This chip supports both 2-channel and upwards of 6-channels of SACD sound with text and image data. The ESS Vibratto chip is also backward compatible with the standard audio CD format. Linn's "Silver Disk Engine" was shown at CES 2002 and integrated the SACD and DVD-Audio format. In this new collaborative venture, Linn will be Sony and ESS's reference design house supplying this jointly developed solution. Linn plans to produce two standard versions (one mid-market and one high-end) of this engine, which can be tailored by other manufacturers to suit their audio and video processing and control interfaces. Kits will consist of loader, PCBs, and software. They will be made available on an OEM basis beginning mid 2002.

 

03 / 22 / 02

Pioneer DVR-A04  Pioneer Electronics is aggressively going after the lucrative recordable DVD market with their new DVR-A04 drive that is expected to retail at only $500. The new Pioneer drive will be used within computer systems and is able to read and write to DVD-R, DVD-RW, CD-R and CD-RW discs. The new drive also provides wider compatibility, higher speeds, lower noise, UDMA33 support and buffer under-run protection for both CD and DVD recording than Pioneer's previously released DVR-A03. Full specifications are as follows:

Write Support
DVD-R (4.7GB for General) 
DVD-RW 
CD-R 
CD-RW

Read Support
DVD-ROM single layer/dual layer 
DVD-R (all types) 
DVD-RW 
CD-ROM Mode 1 
CD-ROM XA Mode 2 (form 1, form 2) 
CD-TEXT 
Photo CD (single & multiple session) 
CD-DA (Audio CD) 
CD-Extra 
CD-R 
CD-RW (Support AM2)

Write Speed
DVD-R: 2X CLV, 1x CLV 
DVD-RW: 1X CLV 
CD-R: 8X CLV, 4X CLV 
CD-RW: 4X CLV

Read Speed
DVD-ROM (Single): 6X CAV 
DVD-ROM (Dual): 2X CLV 
DVD-R, DVD-RW: 2X CLV 
CD-ROM: 24X CAV 
CD-R, CD-RW: 24X CAV 
CD-Audio: 10X CAV 
Video-CD: 4X CLV

Interface: ATAPI (ATA/ATAPI-5, MMC3, SFFC INF8090 Ver. 5)

Data Buffer: 2 Mbytes 

Mounting Orientation: Horizontal or Vertical 

Dimensions (W x H x D): 5 13/16" x 1 11/16" x 7 13/16" 

Net Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces

 

 

PS Audio HCA-2PS Audio is now shipping their new HCA-2 power amplifier ($1,695). HCA stands for "Hybrid Class A" and this new amplifier features an input voltage gain stage, hybrid analog/digital technology, zero-feedback and fully differential/balanced analog input stage. Capable of delivering 150 watts into an 8 ohm load (250 watts at 4 ohms), PS Audio's new HCA-2 employs their "Super Digital Amplifier Technology" (SDAT) that is claimed to solve problematic varying loads that some loudspeakers present. Having a digital amplification output stage allows the HCA-2 to operate at 95% efficiency while generating very little heat unlike pure "Class A" amplifiers.

 

03 / 21 / 02

Brinkman Integrated Amplifier  The German Brinkmann Integrated Amplifier ($3,595, $4,395 with digital option) is a 70 watts into 8 ohms (120 watts into 4 ohm) unit with four line level inputs, one buffered tape out and two optional digital outputs that are mated to the optional onboard DAC that supports 32kHz, 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampling rates. The outboard DAC also features a tubed analog stage. To insure signal purity and quality, the headphone output is powered by its own miniature amplifier to avoid compromising the main speaker outputs. The amplifier's central feature is the massive toroidal transformer that the amplifier actually sits upon to solve vibration grounding that also allows for a slimmer profile chassis. The top of the housing is glass, volume potentiometer is made by Alps. Overall dimensions for the Brinkmann Integrated measures 17" x 14.5" x 3.5" (WxDxH).

 

 

Home of socialized medicine, Canada is considering increasing the taxes on many forms of recordable media. The Copyright Board of Canada will vote in September on legally raising the taxes on audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, hard drives, MiniDiscs and memory cards that will take effect beginning January 1, 2003. Canada is justifying this new action by claiming they have decided to be judge and jury in helping the music industry recover lost revenue due to the possibility of using said blank media to record music. So what will this new action cost manufactures of media? A total of 60 cents Canadian for each audiocassette, 59 cents for each computer CD-R/-RW disc and a staggering $2.27 for each recordable or re-writeable DVD. Meanwhile digital audio players with built-in memory will be subject to 2.1 cents for each megabyte while non-removable memory while hard drives will suffer a $21 each gigabyte tariff. Of course not everyone who buys memory cards and blank media uses them for music. This new tax effort will hurt not just manufactures due to possible decreased sales and spur illegal importation of media into Canada, it may also cause a backlash from those who need digital storage for system backup, digital cameras and other non-music related storage needs. Brings a new meaning to being hosed in Canada, eh?

 

03 / 20 / 02

Ayre Acoustics AX-7  The new Ayre Acoustics AX-7 remote-controlled integrated amplifier ($2,500) is fully balanced from input to output and uses eight output devices per channel to offer 60 watts into an 8 ohm load and doubling to 120 watts with a four ohm load. The circuitry is zero feedback, the volume control is fully balanced and features FET switches and metal film resistors for 66 steps of 1.0dB. For connectivity, the AX-7 sports two XLR and two RCA inputs and the assignable "Theater" mode for a surround-sound processor works on any input and with balanced or unbalanced processors. The Ayre AX-7 measures 17.25" x 13.75" x 4.75" (WxDxH) and weighs 25 lbs.

 

 

Shunyata Taipan Power CableShunyata Research's family of PowerSnakes AC cords welcomes its newest member, the Taipan power cable. Combining high-purity ten-gauge copper and silver conductors, minimum power dissipation dielectrics, proprietary "Venom" silver/Rhodium co-plated terminations, individually shielded conductors and a custom extruded clear and flexible polycarbonate sleeve, the Taipan is billed as a reference-level power cord for the very finest of systems. The Taipan joins the Sidewinder and Mojave cords by eschewing the firm's proprietary FeSi-1000 compound that's used in both the Hydra conditioner and King Cobra v2, Python and Black Mamba AC cords. Shunyata is also working on a lower-priced version of its award-winning Hydra powerline conditioner.

 

03 / 19 / 02

  More DVD-Audio and SACD discs to reach stores in a few months. Silverline Records has already released a total of 53 DVD-Audio titles to date has now announced adding over 140 new titles in the months ahead. Planning to release six new 5.1 surround DVD-Audio titles each month starting in April, artists will include The Kinks, Bob Marley, Megadeth, Joey Ramone, Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Widespread Panic and many others. Meanwhile Verve Music Group plans to release three new SACD titles in June including Diana Krall The Look of Love, Ella Fitzgerald/Louis Armstrong Ella and Louis, and John Coltrane A Love Supreme.

 

 

Myryad Z120 DVD PlayerArtech Electronics Ltd. has just announced many new, highly affordable audio products under their Myryad brand. The Z-series will initially include an Integrated Amplifier, CD Player, DVD Player, FM Tuner and an additional power amplifier for bi-amplifying setups. The Z120 24-bit DVD offers high quality audio and video playback of formats that include DVD-Video, CD, CD-R, Video CD, Super Video CD and MP3. Both coax and optical digital audio outputs are included and decoded by a 24-bit delta-sigma processing. For video, composite, S-Video, component Y/Pb/Pr and component RGB are included.

The Z110 CD player employs 24-bit/96Khz delta-sigma digital to analog processing. Seven regulated power supplies, enhanced DAC decoupling and generous reservoir capacitors are said to deliver superior bass clarity and impact, ultra-wide sound staging and mid-range focus and detail. Coax digital output is included for using outboard digital to analog converters if desired.

Myryad Z140 Integrated AmplifierMyryad's new Z130 remote-controlled FM Tuner builds on their well-received MT100 Stereo FM Tuner. The Z130 includes RDS, built-in alarm clock, manual or auto-search tuning, and 29 presets. Also new is their Z140 stereo integrated amplifier that produced 50 watts per channel. Features include six inputs, a tape monitor loop, headphone jack, and also a built-in MM phono stage. A full-featured wireless remote handset allows for total control. Myryad's DC5 circuit configuration and seven regulated power supplies provide very clean power to the internal circuitry. The new Z160 stereo amplifier is also 50 watts per channel and compliments the Z140 integrated amplifier for those who desire bi-amplification.

 

03 / 18 / 02

Tacet  Germany based music label Tacet, headed by Ulrich Oesterle, releases audiophile quality music on both high-resolution DVD-Audio and CD digital formats. Their new release, features Mozart's Flute Quartets that are both musically beautiful and challenging to play. This recording was made at a remote monastery in the Austrian mountains. To quote Tacet "The musicians do not only play structurally clear music but also love emotional interpretations - as one recalls them from the great musicians of the past: for many listeners today that is a completely new and impressive experience. It is refreshingly stimulating to listen to a Tacet production. The Tacet sound is something quite special: it is audiophile and does not kill the music. That is why many musicians see Tacet as "their" label. Tacet is kind both to the music and the musicians! And is therefore of course listener-friendly." Catalog number D107 is the Mozart Flutequartets/Gaede Trio while T107 is the CD equivalent.

 

 

Soundations Equipment StandEstablished nearly twenty year ago, Soundations specializes in equipment support furniture that excels in both style and functionality. Their stands range from those that can support loudspeaker or amplifier to front-end equipment and also complete video systems. The "Soundation HF technology" found in both their Soundation HF and AV series enables the integration of high performance audio/video systems into modern interiors without compromising equipment performance or interior aesthetics. A combination of coupling, absorption and mechanical isolation to ensure maximum isolation. All internal shelving is decoupled from the outer "isolation cradle" using adjustment bushings that also allow for infinite shelf adjustment possibilities. A combination of MDF, aluminum and steel are employed to make the isolation cradle. The shelving can be supplied in either heavy duty glass or MDF. Frame elements come in either cherry veneer or blackstone lacquer.

 

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