Frank Van Alstine keeps refining his designs. His newest $2500 FET Valve DAC uses a hybrid no-feedback design and can handle up to 192/24 sources via its co-axial and TosLink inputs and 96/24 via USB. Although it has a fixed-level output, the output gain can be adjusted to any reasonable level at the factory.
Switzerland was well represented at RMAF by the $26,500 Orpheus Privilege D-A Converter Mk II. Its case is made from a solid billet of carved aluminum. Inside there’s a 384/24-bit processor with provisions for S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and TosLink at 192/24. USB input currently only supports 96/24.
In the Daedalus Audio room on the 10th floor the $4995 Abbington Music Research DP-777, $10,995 Abbington Research CD-77 CD player, and Bolder Cable–modified Logitech Touch made a very positive impression. With the $14,700 Daedalus Ulysses speakers, the system played at concert hall levels with no signs of strain even in a large room.
Although they sound European, Bricasti hails from Medford, MA. Its M1 dual-mono DAC ($7995) supports 192/24 through all its inputs. A true dual-mono design, each channel is completely isolated, including the power supply.
Music Hall, longtime leader in affordable audio, presented its $299 DAC 15.2. With three inputs including USB, it supports 192/24 through S/PDIF and 96/24 through USB. The 15.2 uses a Burr-Brown PCM 1796 DAC, delivers 110dB signal-to-noise, and weighs less than 2 pounds.
Teac also unveiled three affordable digital products. Its UD-H01 DAC ($549) uses a Burr-Brown PCM 1795 and supports 192/24 via USB. The DS-H01 docking station ($399) can be used as a stand-alone DAC or as a source for the UD-HO1. Finally the A-H01 stereo amp with digital converter ($649) also supports 192/24 via USB and even has a subwoofer output.
Rounding out an affordable DAC trifecta, Audioengine debuted its $599 D2 wireless 96/24 DAC and USB converter, which can be connected via a wireless sender or with USB or TosLink. If you are on a tighter budget, for $169 you can get Audioengine’s D1, which boasts 110dB S/N using the AK 4396 DAC chip.
EMM Labs may never make budget products, but the first product in the more affordable Meitner line, the $7000 MA-1 DAC is designed for value. Based on EMM Lab’s XDS1 DA, it delivers 192/24 capabilities from all inputs, including USB using Meitner’s proprietary MDAT DSP, MFAST data extraction, and discrete 5.6MHz (2x DSD) DACs.
Moving upmarket, Peachtree Audio unveiled a $4295 integrated and $2999 preamp. Both are part of their new Grand series of products and feature 32-bit ESS Sabre DACs, USB 2.0 compatibility, and tubes in their preamp stages. Driving the new $22,900 Sonus Faber Elipsa special edition speakers the Grand integrated sounded superb on my high-resolution files.
Naim continues to expand its network players with two new devices. The $3495 ND5 XS features wired or wireless UPnP streaming along with both Internet and AM/FM radio (with the FM/DAB module). The SuperUniti all-in-one player includes an 80Wpc amplifier plus complete UPnP interoperability.
Laufer Teknik The Memory Player 64 (up to $25,000, depending on options) can be configured a variety of ways. It upsamples to 32 bits and offers the option of a direct-to-DAC signal path that completely bypasses all unwanted output circuitry.
Salk, which is better known for its fine speakers, has moved into electronics with its StreamPlayer. Priced at $1299, the player supports up to 192/24 files via all inputs. Designed to be a minimalist music player, its entire operating system and applications are all on a single 4GB flash card.
NAD rolled out a virtual armada of new digital products beginning with the $2500 M50 digital music player. NAD also added the $2000 M51 direct digital DAC and the $2000 M52 music vault to its Master Series lineup. The $300 DAC1, a point-to-point wireless USB DAC, and the $2600 C390DD join NAD’s C Series components. The C390DD incorporates many of the innovations from NAD’s M2 digital integrated amplifier, including its all-digital signal chain, at a much lower price than the original.