Burmester had its new and very full-featured 111 MusicCenter ($50,000) on active display. It can handle three analog and six digital inputs and streaming via VPN, is UPnP compliant, and has an internal 1.5TB storage capacity via two mirrored RAID drives. With support for 192/24 via either S/PDIF or USB, a built-in 7” display, and its own iPad/iPod and Android apps, the MusicCenter was designed to be as flexible and ergonomically elegant as possible while still delivering Burmester sonic quality.
Auraliti had a passive display of its latest L1000-USB high-resolution music file player ($799). With no moving parts, the L1000 operating system is a small solid-state drive. It supports up to 192/24 files in FLAC, WAV, or AIFF, and is built entirely with open-source software so it can be easily modified and updated.
The new Weiss Man 301 music archive network player is available in two versions. With the equivalent of a DAC 202 inside, it’s $$11,700 (and without a DAC, $8700). Both versions include a CD transport for playback and ripping, ins and outs for FireWire 800, along with Ethernet and WiFi connections. The Man 301 also supports an external word clock, has iPad/iPod control, and can handle multiple libraries.
Constellation showed a prototype of its new Cygnus Media Player ($20,000). With similar internal topology to its reference series, the Cygnus supports up to 192/24 files via its five digital inputs as well as through USB. Armed with a proprietary DSP-based digital filter that has user-selectable options, the Cygnus demonstrates trickle-down technology is alive and well.
T+A’s new Music Player ($4400 plus $350 for preamp module) can be used as a CD player or media player. Supporting 192/24 via all digital inputs, with five S/PDIF inputs in addition to its WLAN, LAN, and USB inputs, the UPnP-compliant Music Player even includes a digital FM tuner. With the addition of its preamp module the Music Player can drive power amps directly without the need for an external preamp.
Amarra released Amarra 2.3 a few days before the show, but its big news was a new bundling agreement with Weiss, Peachtree Audio, Bel Canto Design, and Musical Fidelity that bundles Amarra Junior software with these companies’ digital products.
Pure Music wasn’t officially exhibiting at CES, but its software package was running on many of the Macs in the Venetian. During my 2011 RMAF report I neglected to mention that as of September Pure Music became the first Mac-based software package to play back DSD files.
There may also be an alternative to J-River for PC-based music systems in the near future. Several manufacturers were using pre-release versions of a new PC playback software package called Emotion from Emerging Technologies in Switzerland. No ship date or price has been announced, but the sound from every PC using it was top-notch.
A femtosecond is 1/1000 of a picosecond. The MSB Femtosecond Galaxy Clock produces jitter artifacts that are so minute they must be measured in femtoseconds rather than picoseconds. This $10,000 part can be added to any current generation MSB DAC IV.
This year I finally “got” Magico, courtesy of the system in Axiss Distributing’s Room. Starting with an HP portable running pre-release Emotion playback software, the signal ran through Solution’s new 590 USB convertor ($4000) via AES/EBU cable to a Solution 540 CD player and then to Solution 501 amplifiers driving Magico Q3 speakers. All wire was from Kubala Sosna Elation series. The system recreated the soundstage on my own 192/24 recording of the Deadly Gentlemen more precisely than any system I’ve heard before. Awesome, a word I rarely use, was an understatement. Gobsmacked would better describe my state after just 30 seconds of listening.
I’ve heard the Magnepan 1.7 speakers numerous times at shows, but I’ve never heard them sound as good as in Digital and Analog Co LTD’s room. Starting with a Dell computer running J-River playback software connected via USB to a prototype Calyx Femto DAC/preamp driving a pair of Calyx 500 monoblock amps, my 192 files were served up with all the finesse and brio of a far more expensive system. Cables were from Zen-Sati, and the whole shebang came in under $12,000.