A new name at CES, Qualia (not associated in any way with Sony) featured its Indigo USB-DAC ($45,000). With a chassis crafted out of a solid piece of billet aluminum, the Indigo uses four ESS 9012 DAC chips in parallel-monaural output mode, four power transformers encased in non-magnetic panels, and separate power supplies for the right and left channels. Currently the USB input only supports up to 96k although it is USB 2.0-compliant.
Playback Designs unveiled its MPS-3 Music Playback System ($8500). It features both balanced and single-ended analog outputs and inputs for AES/EBU, S/PDIF, and USB. Not only will it play 192/24 PCM files, but also DSD files up to 6.1MHz.
Cambridge Audio showed its new DacMagic Plus DAC ($599) in the Mirage Hotel. With twin Wolfson WM8740 24-bit DAC chips at its heart, 384/24 upsampling, and up to 192/24 via USB 2.0, asynchronous USB transfer, balanced and unbalanced analog outputs, and provisions for an optional Bluetooth input that can use Apt-X Bluetooth digital codec, this modestly priced DAC delivers big-time.
Back at the Venetian, Arcam unveiled a trio of products in its budget line as well as one more up-market DAC. The rLink DAC ($150), drDock ($200), and rBlink Bluetooth DAC ($150) cover all the variations on digital connectivity, while the FMJ D33 ($3500/aprox) promises the ergonomics and performance of a much higher-priced unit. The FMJ D33 uses a low-resonance case, massive power regulation, and even sub-regulation to achieve better than a 110 dB signal-to-noise figure.
High Resolution Technologies have also been busy dreaming up new products. In addition to the HeadStreamer USB DAC ($139.95) and LineStreamer+ A-to-D ($349.95), HRT unveiled its HDMI Streamer ($249.95). The HDMI Streamer has two HDMI inputs, an analog output, and one HDMI output, and supports up to 192/24 bit rates. The HeadStreamer supports 96/24 via USB 1.0 and delivers 103dB A-weighted signal to noise. The LineStreamer was created so LP enthusiasts could transfer their favorite vinyl easily into a digital format. It encodes analog to digital at 96/24 and has one USB output
M2Tech showed a pair of new devices, the EVO Clock ($499) and EVO DAC ($499). The EVO Clock was designed specifically to interface between the M2Tech HiFace and EVO DAC for improved performance. It has two clock outputs and is capable of frequencies up to 384kHz. The EVO DAC uses a Burr/Brown chipset, supports up to 192/24 via S/PDIF, 192/32 via I2S, and 96/24 via TosLink.
Simaudio displayed two new digital products, the Moon 380D DAC ($3900) and MIND ($1250) intelligent network device. The 380D is a true 32-bit DAC that uses a Sabre ES9016 chipset and supports 192/24 via USB 2.0 as well as S/PDIF. The MIND supports streaming from any UPnP drive or network storage device and supports up to 48/16 via its wireless connection.
Bel Canto demonstrated its latest DAC 3.5VB Mk II ($3995) and uLink ($795) 192/24-capable USB interface as the front end of a system featuring Joseph Audio Pearl 2 speakers ($28,500). Using an ST fiber connection between the USB converter and the DAC not only insures galvanic isolation, but also allows the computer and hard drives to be positioned many feet away from the rest of the system.
Stello showed its U3 USB 192/24 Link ($495), which also supports up to 192/24 via USB 2.0 and outputs S/PDIF and AES/EBU simultaneously. With technology similar to its Eximus DAC, the Stello U3 offers a high-quality, reasonably priced USB-input path.
Antelope Audio is well known in pro mastering suites for its DACs. Antelope’s top-of-the-line Gold ($4200) includes Antelope’s Voltikus external power supply, a dual-stage headphone amplifier, remote 384kHz streaming capability, eight inputs, a stepped-relay volume attenuator, balanced and single-ended analog outputs, and high-speed USB 2.0 support for up to 192/24 bit rates.
Teac’s new UD-H01 USB Audio DAC ($549) uses a pair of Burr/Brown 192/32 bit 1795 DACs, supports 192/24 via USB 2.0, has an asynchronous transfer mode for USB, and includes a headphone amplifier. It’s housed in a ¾-width case similar to the original Teac 500 series.
Micromega’s new MyDAC streamer/player ($479) combines a lot of technology in a small box. It supports up to 192/24 files via USB 2.0 as well as S/PDIF and uses two master clocks, one for multiples of 44.1 and the other for 48kHz.
The big news from Audio Research was its DAC Digital Media Bridge ($14,000–$15,000). With all the technological advances of the DAC 8, combined with the ability to access the Internet either via Ethernet or a wireless connection and full USB 2.0 connectivity, the Digital Media Bridge represents a major step forward in system design and execution for Audio Research.