So, is this the new Audio Note $300,000 DAC/preamplifier combination you ask? Well, Audio Note has decided to offer something really special. Specifically, a super duper low priced DAC and also a separate preamplifier too! Both units will used tubes, but instead of being produced in their large UK facility, it will be made in Korea. The DAC 0 is an 18-bit decoder and priced at 499 British Pounds. The preamplifier has four inputs, a tape loop, and will also be reasonably priced too! Stay tuned for reviews of these great value for your money Audio Note products!
Linn, makers of the long admired, highly praised vinyl playback machine the LP12, now has what they feel is the ultimate CD playback machine. Specifically, the CD12. Using Linn's "4D" design, Linn Italian representatives Geri Felici and Antonio Trebbi were waxing lyrically about how good this CD player is and urged me to get one for review. In fact we musta spent the better part of one hour just discussing this unit alone! With its elegant styling, it did sound better in their demo room then the other Linn CD player we compared it to (?the Mimik?). Bottom line, this is a must audition for those looking for high quality CD playback.
A company known for its cost-no-object products is MBL. Seen above is their new MBL 1621 CD transport (29,000,000 Lira) which was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous! Finished in piano gloss black this thing was (as my Jewish grandmother would say) to die for darling. They were also showing their new MBL 1611 (29,000,000 Lira) 24-bit/96kHz capable matching DAC. Alas, the transport doesn't play DVD discs. The DAC uses Delta Sigma technology. The speakers seen above are their new MBL 101D in piano black (63,000,000 Lira).
Ya know, not much really gets my attention digital these days. i was getting depressed in Italy because there were very few things digital that caught my eye/ear. In the Fedeltą del Suono room, they were using the Pioneer CD/DVD/LD player, but for digital decoding duties was this kit. Yes, a kit, but not of the usual 16-bit/44.1kHz variety. There i saw the first 24-bit/96kHz kit! Capable of decoding digital sampling rates from 44.1-96kHz and bit depths from 16 to 24 bits, this unit helped the room really reproduce some amazing music to my ears! The North Star Design S.r.l. Model 3 accepts Toslink, SPDIF via RCA coax, and AES/EBU via XLR connector. It uses two Burr-Brown 1716E chips for decoding and the Crystal CS8414CS for receiver duties. Word has it that the unit should be arriving here for review shortly and retail pricing in kit form should be around $1,500 USD. Stay tuned!
Still not ready for prime time, Sony was showing their DSD unit (though not playing). i have heard rumors that Sony is still having a very high (over 70%) defective rate on their DSD discs which also are very expensive to manufacturer compared to normal CD and DVD discs. Also, Sony's big "cash cow", the CD which they get money from each and every one pressed, contract is running out as of 2002. So if by 2002 they can't figure a way to substitute all this extra money they are currently getting from CD...