There is a growing community of people discontented with the sound of computer audio, and for people like Ted Denney, the finger is firmly pointed at the way a computer can propagate electromagnetic interference. To help prevent this kind of hash, Synergistic Research has launched a range of three Tranquility Bases; the bäsik, Base, and Base XL, to fit on conventional furniture or into dedicated racks (the XL is custom designed to fit the Grand Prix Audio range). The active platforms take a variation on the theme of the EM Cell patented by Synergistic, so that the signals from any component sitting on that Tranquility Base are being conditioned while still in the component itself. Multiple components can be used on each table, and it’s easy to demonstrate (just turn the platform off). Prices start at $995 for the bäsik and rise to $3000 for the Base XL.
The polar opposite to Synergistic, Canada’s Torus Power offers a very down-to-earth approach to power conditioning. Torus has been delivering no-nonsense big-transformer power-line filtering and isolation, along with audio-grade surge suppression, voltage regulation, and even Ethernet monitoring for some time, often in partnership with fellow Canadian electronics brand Bryston. This year, Torus announced its new entry-level IS Series, which eschews anything apart from the basic power filtering and isolation. This hefty Piltron transformer in a basic box series starts from $1095 for the 5A IS5 model and rises to $2395 for the IS20 20A version (which requires a dedicated 20A circuit). Meanwhile Bryston itself has taken what is essentially Torus’ RM range (filtering, isolation, and surge suppression, no voltage regulation or monitoring) for its own BIT5, 10 and 20 range. Bryston also had a late-development sample of its upcoming $1295 BHA-1 balanced headphone amplifier on show, but not on demonstration.
MBL’s full Corona Line system (with 116 F floorstanders) is a lot cheaper than the company’s top Reference equipment, but sounded particularly stunning. The two TAD systems had an exceptionally high degree of awesomeness too.
GoldenEar Technology’s Aon 3 loudspeaker system, driven by a Peachtree Audio Decco. OK, so the source was an Audio Research CD player, but the sound from these $999 bookshelf speakers was extremely believable and entertaining.
A pair costs the far side of $160,000, each weighs 750 pounds and is deeper than a Pynchon novel, but Magico’s Q7 is a game-changer on so many levels. The high end just got a lot higher.
Devialet’s D-Premier clever and elegant amp-meets-DAC isn’t new, but its latest 5.3 firmware upgrade and wireless (currently Mac-only) connectivity mean it has gained unheard of flexibility, including using multiple D-Premiers in a preamp-less active mode.
Not one trend, but two. First, loudspeaker manufacturers are diversifying, adding WiFi to the latest bookshelf or turning those speaker-building smarts into headphone manufacture. Second, price stickers so large, you can see them from space!