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High-End Audio Industry News


05 / 31 / 05

Creative Technology's Sound Blaster Xtreme Fidelity and Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity Audio Processor.  Creative Technology's Sound Blaster now offers their Xtreme Fidelity and Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity Audio Processor. While Creative touts the capability of increasing mp3's sound quality, their Xtreme Fidelity supports 24-bit/96kHz samples, 3D headphone, and surround speaker technology. The recently (over)hyped Burwin Bobcat, while providing a solution for those who desire adding sound effects and colorations to their music, only offers a low 44.1kHz or 48kHz rates. Meanwhile the Xtreme Fidelity appears to be overly-hyped as they tout "Consumers will be able to upgrade their existing CD and MP3 music to the Xtreme Fidelity standard, using applications that can run on the Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor. Being able to upgrade an existing library of music to Xtreme Fidelity differentiates it from other high-end music standards such as DVD-A and SACD, which offer limited selection and require consumers to repurchase their music in that specific format. When consumers upgrade their CD or MP3 music to the new Xtreme Fidelity standard, they will be able to experience playback that sounds better than its original CD recording." Confused? Basically audio software can aid with interpolating data, thereby mathematically adding samples between two known samples in audio. This is akin to line quadruplers in the video realm. Of course such software can also be used as a type of effects/equalizer/etc, as found in Digidesign's Pro Tools, SRS Labs or the like.

On the hardware side, Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor operates at 3.4GHz and capable of over 10,000 MIPS (million instructions per second). While the company touts their SRC engine "...is so precise that any audio resolution is converted to any other resolution at near transparency with 136db THD+N and digital-matched recordings in resolutions from 44.1kHz to 96kHz," this is akin to upsampling converters within high-end audiophile products. The advantage in the X-Fi's floating point processing is in the ability to maintain precision over a wide range, though the chip's DSP also supports fixed point computation if needed. The advantages of floating point is in the ability to compute higher resolution than fixed point. Still confused? The basics are that plug-ins/software generally offers interpolation and sound effects of you desire adding such distortions in the original signal. There is no substitute to having high quality source material and hardware to precisely decode it.

 

05 / 27 / 05

JBL Studio L890 Floorstanding Loudspeaker  JBL's introduction of their Studio L Series incorporates a variety of innovations. Available in June, JBL's new models are the L830 3-way bookshelf monitor ($650 per pair), L880 4-way floorstanding tower ($699 each), L810 and L820 bookshelf/wall units ($550 and $650 per pair respectively), L8400P 600-watt 12-inch subwoofer ($999 each) and L890 5-way flagship floorstanding unit ($699 each, pictured here). The L890 includes a newly developed 0.75-inch ultra-high frequency transducer that produces sounds up to 40kHz and operates in conjunction with a specially designed horn. For standard tweeter duties, a 1-inch pure titanium dome with highly flexible surround is housed within an Elliptical Oblate Spheroidal (EOS) waveguide. Midrange (4 inch) and woofer (8 inch) drivers are made with a proprietary PolyPlas polymer-coated-cellulose-fiber cone material said to combine the sonic neutrality of paper yet with added rigidity for smooth frequency response and faster transients than non-treated paper. Woofer drivers utilize JBL's Symmetrical Field Geometry (SFG) that claims to lower woofer distortion by maintaining a symmetrical magnetic field in the voice-coil gap. Crossover duties are conducted by JBL's Straight-Line Signal Path (SSP) network that employs a minimum of premium-quality parts with very small-value bypass capacitors to block EMI/RFI noise. The cabinetry of the new Studio L series is made with thick MDF that is internally braced to further increase structural integrity and reduce cabinet vibration. Frequency response of the Studio L890 is from 28Hz to 40kHz.

 

05 / 26 / 05

AV123 Rocket Digital Equalization System (R-DES)  AV123's new Rocket Digital Equalization System (R-DES, $399) PC based 6-band parametric EQ is aimed at correcting a subwoofer's frequency response, thereby reducing frequency peaks. Low frequencies are especially problematic due to room nodes and these nodes can cause frequency peaks and dips. The R-DES unit, in conjunction with an SPL meter, PC, and test tones, allows users to tune/calibrate the subwoofer to their room. AV123's R-DES hardware interface connects via USB to your computer and via RCA cables to your sound system. PC software allows for five memory settings stored within the R-DES unit and thousands on your PC.

 

05 / 25 / 05

ml_iPod  There is a new Winamp plug-in for Apple's iTunes users that allows them to move music files in a way that circumvents DRM (digital rights management) protection. ml_iPod is a plug-in for Winamp 2.9x/5.x and features ease of media management, playlist support, and the ability to copy songs from your iPod to your computer's hard disk. This is in contrast to Apple's own software that does not allow tracks from being moved off the iPod. With ml_iPod people can share their iTunes collections provided Apple's FairPlay DRM scheme is unlocked via Hymn project, then configure ml_iPod plug-in to run the hymn.exe file. Justin Frankel, creator of Winamp and P2P software Gnutella, said "I firmly believe you should have the right to transfer your music with any application you like and if this requires software which circumvents DRM (digital rights management), then I don't believe this is ethically wrong. I trust our users to use this freedom responsibly and to not steal music."

 

05 / 23 / 05

ifpi  The IFPI, with its membership comprising over 1450 music companies in more than 75 countries, has announced the largest move in legal actions against internet music file-sharers. The new round of legal actions concern 963 individuals in 11 countries across Europe and Asia are being sued for alleged illegal file-sharing of copyrighted music via BitTorrent, DirectConnect, eDonkey, Gnutella, iMesh, KaZaA, and other P2P networks. According to the IFPI, "This brings the total number of cases against illegal file-sharers to 11,552 worldwide." The IFPI claims that the Japanese market has lost 30 percent of its value ($1.8 billion USD) between 2000 and 2004 due to illegal file sharing. Within the United States, a total of 9,900 cases have been filed to date and international totals have reached 11,552. John Kennedy, IFPI Chairman and CEO said: "One year of lawsuits, which were taken to stop the theft of music, is not a particularly joyous anniversary to be celebrating. But when you look at the impact the campaign has had over the last year, there are good reasons to be optimistic. Today, people across Europe can be in no doubt that uploading copyrighted music on to file-sharing networks is against the law, affects jobs, investment in music and livelihoods, and carries the risk of financial penalties. We have spent two years raising public awareness of this, and ignorance really is no longer an excuse."

 

05 / 20 / 05

BVaudio A300SE Stereo Integrated Amplifier  BVaudio's new A300SE stereo integrated dual-mono amplifier ($2,490) produces 120 watts per channel, provides 5 inputs, and is claimed to be the world's first unit to include an Open Loop Gain (OLG). BVaudio claims their OLG technology is a proportion of negative feedback's time response based on frequency and corrects both time and phase distortions plus provides constant gain up to 30kHz. An included remote control works all functions and each of the five inputs can be individually set for initial volume level. A critically-matched microprocessor controlled volume setting insures accurate level setting with 0.5dB steps. Frequency response is a wide 1.2Hz to 500kHz (-3dB), distortion is 0.005%, and the entire unit weighs 31 lbs.

 

05 / 19 / 05

  Red Dragon Audio sa250, sa500 and sa1000 ($1,199, $1,399 and $1,799 respectively) stereo amplifiers are claimed to offer top quality technology, are built in the USA, yet are available at affordable pricing. Internal parts include silver-plated copper wiring and shielded 12awg copper power cord. Internal protection features include thermal overload, over current, short circuit, and HF protection. Both natural or black anodized aluminum faceplate versions are available. As for wattage, the sa250, sa500 and sa1000 output 125W, 250W, or 600W per channel respectively.

 

05 / 18 / 05

Aperion Audio HD-X3   Aperion Audio 's new HD-X3 crossover, the company's second-generation crossover technology, is claimed to improve frequency response, efficiency, and overall sound quality. HD-X3 enables flatter frequency response yet increases efficiency by 3dB and makes the loudspeaker more amplifier friendly by presenting a flat 8 ohm impedance, making the loudspeaker easier to drive. Aperion Audio's new Intimus 5-Series uses their 1-inch silk dome tweeter, 5.25-inch custom Poly Vinyl Acetate (PVA) midrange/woofer, 5-way gold plated binding posts. new HD-X3 crossover technology, and 1-inch HDF furniture-grade cabinet. Five-way gold binding post. Bookshelf loudspeakers are $360 per pair and power towers are $1,198 per pair. The Intimus 6-Series uses the same tweeter yet uses a 6.5-inch woofer and priced at $598 per pair and towers priced at $998 per pair.

 

05 / 17 / 05

KR Audio Electronics Kronzilla SX Stereo Amplifier  KR Audio Electronics has announced the company's new Kronzilla stereo model SX stereo amplifier. With 50 watts per channel, the SX has a completely different circuit from KR Audio's Kronzilla SD as the cathode resistor circuitry was replaced in its entirety and has automatic biasing. Each channel employs a T1610 tube, output impedance can be set for either 4 or 8 ohms, and frequency response is from 20Hz to 20KHz (-3dB). The large 38.5 x 41.5 x 55 (WxHxD in cm) unit weights in at approximately 50 Kg.

 

05 / 16 / 05

Cary Audio CD 300/303  Cary Audio is now shipping their new CD 303/300 upsampling CD player ($4,000). With HDCD capability, the new unit features both tube (12AU7) and solid-state output stages plus user-selectable upsampling rates as high as 768kHz. Other features include 48 bit DSP digital buffer circuit, adjustable metal cone feet, variable analog volume control, dimmer light control for display, C-core power transformer, and fully regulated power supplies. While the Cary CD 303/300 includes analog output via RCA or XLR, digital outputs include TOSlink optical, S/PDIF coax, and AES/EBU XLR.

 

05 / 13 / 05

Yahoo Muisc Unlimited  The legitimate online music competition has heated up as Yahoo's Music Unlimited service will cost a mere $6.99 (monthly) or $58.80 if you pay for a year in advance for all the music you care to download. While an introductory price, it is approximately half the cost of Napster and RealNetworks service. The new Yahoo service will allow users to transfer their music, with over 1,000,000 titles available, to portable devices. An additional cost of 79 cents for each song if you want to burn a copy of the downloaded music to a CD. Another feature of Yahoo Music is that users can share their music with others via the company's Messenger service.

 

05 / 12 / 05

Hi-Fi Tuning Audiophile Grade Fuses  HiFi-Tuning now offers their new Schukoplug "Ultimate" European electric plug and audiophile Fuses. The plug, and uprated version of their Gold II, is plated 24 carat gold-plated with the main metal being Tellur-silver-copper (TeCuAg). These plugs can handle wire upwards of 6mm˛ cable diameter (AWG 9), are used by many other manufacturers within their cable (Acoustic Zen, Clearaudio, Kimber Kable, Nordost, Shunyata, etc.), and are available to the DIY enthusiast. Hi-Fi Tuning's new audiophile grade Fuse is made from pure fine silver and handmade in Germany. The Fuse body is made with ceramics and the outer contacts are gold plated to resist corrosion and insure consistent electrical performance over time. Fast and slow blow type 5x20 and 6.3x32 are available in the following specifications: 0.315A (315mA), 0.4A (400mA), 0.5A (500mA), 0.630A (630mA), 0.8A (800mA), 1A, 1.25A, 1.6A, 2A, 2.5A, 3A, 3.15A, 4A, 5A, 6,3A, 8A, and 10A.

 

05 / 11 / 05

Oyaide SWO Series AC Receptacles  The Lotus Group, distributors of Oyaide products, has announced the availability of their SWO Series AC receptacles. Carefully constructed specifically for audiophile/videophile equipment, SWO series are the result of extensive research and testing and available in three different contact material configurations. The contacts are made from twice-polished Deoxidized Phosphor Bronze before being plated with either silver/rhodium, gold, or gold/palladium (black $75, red $79.50 and lavender $84.50 outlet respectively). Receptacle bodies are 30 percent glass filled nylon for high thermal resistance and vibration control.

 

05 / 10 / 05

Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP  Aurum Acoustics' new Integris CDP ($10,000) combines ease of use, high resolution upsampling DAC, and offers volume adjustment to eliminate the need for a preamplifier in a single-source system. An Analog Devices AD1853 24-bit/192kHz DAC feeds a carefully designed gain stage that is buffered and, in turn, feeds a microprocessor controlled dual mono active volume circuit adjustable in 0.5dB increments. Due to the dual mono design, right/left balance control also accommodated and feeds both balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) connections. Philips' CD Pro 2M top-loading transport module and machined aluminum clamp insure disc clamping force and stabile disc rotation while the entire transport is rigidly fastened to a solid, non-resonant structure that is mechanically isolated to the Integris' chassis. The DSP board features Quantum's digital signal processing module by Anagram Technologies of Switzerland. The Quantum's software uses powerful Motorola SHARC processors and outputs 24-bit/192kHz re-sampled digital signal and accommodates five external digital inputs and I/O interfaces are compatible with all PCM data from 16 to 24 bit and 32 to 192 kHz.

 

05 / 01  through 05 / 09

Superior Audio Review Magazine  Enjoy the Music.com has both our Review Magazine and Superior Audio publications now online! Superior Audio includes professional assessment by established British journalist Alvin Gold who offers his insights on the Bowers & Wilkins 800D loudspeaker. Also within Superior Audio is an updated review of Magnepan's celebrated MG 3.6 by Steven R. Rochlin. Our Review Magazine includes reviews of Audio Note's DAC 2.1x Signature, Decorating For Music, and Outlaw Audio's LFM-1 subwoofer. Bill Gaw discusses the Velocitor S and Golden Sound GSIC while Steven Stone continues his nearfield journey with this month's article embracing amplification solutions.

While Enjoy the Music.com has just completed our coverage of the Montreal show with well over 100 photos spanning 7 pages, we are preparing for New York's PRIMEDIA (Stereophile) show and also the Munich High End Society event. The New York show begins this Thursday and operates through Sunday. Only a few days later, from May 5th through May 8th, we will feature virtually live coverage of the Munich show!

 


 

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