This is Part 3 of a four-part report on High-Performance Audio at CEDIA 2011, which highlights new products from: Linn, Mark Levinson, MartinLogan, Monitor Audio, NAD, Onkyo, Paradigm, and Paradigm Shift. CLICK HERE to read Part 3.
Part 1 covers new products from: AKG, Anthem, Atlantic Technology, AudioQuest, Audio Research Corporation, Bryston, Canton, Cambridge Audio and Cary Audio. CLICK HERE to read Part 1.
Part 2 covers new products from: Definitive Technology, Focal, GoldenEar Technology, Harman/Kardon, Integra, JBL Synthesis, KEF, Klipsch, Labgruppen, and Lexicon. CLICK HERE to read Part 2.
Part 4 covers new products from: Pioneer, Polk Audio, Pro-Ject, PSB, Rotel, Soundmatters, TAD (Technical Audio Devices), Totem Acoustic, Wadia Digital, Wharfedale, Wisdom Audio, and Yamaha. CLICK HERE to read Part 4.
Also check out David-Birch Jones’ mostly video-oriented CEDIA 2011—Highlights, which highlights new products and technologies from Sony, JVC, Pioneer Elite, THX/LG, Panasonic Business Solutions, Sim2, Screen Innovations, Epson, Runco, and Lexicon. CLICK HERE to read CEDIA 2011—Highlights.
The venerable Scottish high-end audio firm Linn Products was well represented by a product that, while not new for CEDIA, certainly points toward what may be the future of high-end music reproduction. I’m speaking, here, of Linn’s Akurate DS digital stream player ($7000), which is designed to play just about every kind of digital audio file you could name, from comparatively low-resolution MP3 files right on up to high-resolution “studio reference quality files.” Specifically, the Akurate DS (most Linn names feature peculiar usages for the letter “K”, just in case you were wondering) can decode “FLAC, WAV, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC and OGG audio formats with up to 24-bit 192 kHz native sample rate.”
The DS is designed to play digital music over a standard Ethernet network, but can also “stream Internet radio, podcasts, and ‘listen again’ broadcasts. The player is compatible with UPnP servers and UPnP AV 1.0 control points. Balanced and single-ended analog audio outputs are provided, along with S/PDIF digital outputs via BNC jacks.
The Mark Levinson display focused primarily on the No. 53 monoblock amplifier, which was reviewed not long ago in The Absolute Sound.
To show off the inner workings of the No. 53 amp, including its distinctive four-quadrant switching amplifier design, Levinson set up a display version of the massive, tower-type amp with clear side panels that afforded an unobstructed view of the circuitry within (see photo).
MartinLogan built its reputation on spectacularly good full-range and hybrid electrostatic speakers, but for CEDIA 2011 the firm sought to pull off one of the most difficult tricks in all of high-end audio; namely, replacing a model that is quietly but widely acknowledged to be one of the best values in its entire product range—the Spire hybrid electrostat. Replacing the well-loved Spire is a new hybrid electrostat called the Montis ($9995/pair).
Drawing technology elements from the firm’s more costly Summit X hybrid electrostat, the Montis features the firm’s latest-generation CLS (curvilinear line source) electrostatic panel married to a piston-type, self-powered, mid-bass driver. The woofer, in turn, is driven by a built-in 200-watt class D amplifier that is controlled by a 24-bit Vojtko DSP engine said to help provide, “a seamlessly blended woofer system that delivers mid-range clarity, a richly etched soundstage, and tight low-frequency performance with efficiency and finesse.”