• CA Bits & Bytes Volume 3: 2012 CES, Upcoming Reviews

    The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show is finally here! I'm very excited about the show this year. Many manufacturers will announce computer audio and desktop audio components over the next few days. Every year more and more of the specialty and major audio manufacturers cater to the next phase of home audio reproduction, computer based audio. This year I also plan to spend more time at the main convention center in addition to the standard high end suites at the Venetian. I don't care how much the products cost, if they are good I want to talk about them here on CA.




     




    A few manufacturers I will visit in the main convention center are Synology, ASUS, and Audioengine. All three offer great products at great values. On the way to visit these guys I will likely find tons of other great products. Who knows maybe C.A.P.S. v3.0 will be kickstarted at CES :~)

    The high end manufacturers who've been building great products for audiophiles for decades will of course consume most of my time. It seems like every component manufacturer has issued at least one press release about a new DAC. The new Bel Canto DAC3.5 VBS MKII was the latest one to stream into my inbox. I can't wait to visit with John Stronczer of Bel Canto to hear more about the updates. Bel Canto also announced February availability of its new 24/192 asynchronous uLink ($795) that converts USB to Coaxial SPDIF, AES/EBU, and ST Fiber with Bel Canto Light Link circuitry. 24/192 audio flows through all outputs. The last BC product that should interest many readers is the $2,995 CR7 DAC with integrated receiver based on the REF150.

    Some other new items include a DAC / digital preamp from Alpha Design Labs by Furutech, DEQX HDP-4 Processor, and the Bladelius Embla music server. The Embla is definitely a looker [Link], I can't wait to see and hear it in person at the show.

     

    Upcoming Reviews

    The Sonata music server review was scheduled for late December, but has been pushed back just a bit. CA's new contributor is working diligently on the piece. I was adamant that she not rush the article just to meet a deadline.

    My next review will be the Auralic Ark MX+ USB DAC. So far the unit is really nice. The Auralic USB approach is not run-of-the-mill. Many readers should be refreshed by Auralic's custom design work.

    After the ARK MX+ are the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB, Musical Fidelity M1 CLiC, ASUS Xonar Essence One USB DAC and headphone amp, and the Halide Design DAC HD.

    I'm also working on an ultra geeky article about converting my Mac Pro into 16TB NAS. It was a really fun and frustrating project. The end result is fantastic.

     

     
    Comments 56 Comments
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Doc - I certainly will.
    1. bachrocks's Avatar
      bachrocks -
      That's great you keep us up-to-date on what's happening at CA. Someday, I'd like to attend an audio show. It must be a blast. And the Sonata review will be well-worth waiting for I imagine (Carly Simon's Anticipation is playing in my ears).<br />
      <br />
      thanks,<br />
      ron
    1. davidovada's Avatar
      davidovada -
      Chris,<br />
      Have you seen this? Might be worth a look.<br />
      <br />
      <br />
      http://www.samsung.com/us/news/newsRead.do?news_seq=20042&page=1&gltype=localnews
    1. Audio_ELF's Avatar
      Audio_ELF -
      Chris... Maybe worth getting to Meridian. A new digital pre-amp; DSP speakers and update to Sooloos iPad application. <br />
      <br />
      Eloise
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      Chris is really gaga over I will attempt to go hear it myself, for another set of ears/perspectives.<br />
      <br />
      Ted
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      Quoting The Computer Audiophile on Sun, 01/08/2012 - 19:51<br />
      "...Who knows maybe C.A.P.S. v3.0 will be kickstarted at CES :~)..."<br />
      <br />
      I think the ideal C.A.P.S. v3.0 should have ethernet input and analog output.
    1. The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
      The Computer Audiophile -
      Hi Brian - The current C.A.P.S. v2.0 server has Ethernet input and analog output.<br />
      <br />
    1. Brian A's Avatar
      Brian A -
      Well, then I think the ideal C.A.P.S. v3.0 should have ethernet input, analog output AND a remote control motorized analog volume control.<br />
      <br />
    1. fjmcsu's Avatar
      fjmcsu -
      Any information on this interesting new "phase layering" technology would be appreciated!<br />
      http://www.bsgt.com<br />
      thanks<br />
      Francisco
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      A few times. Will report back on the demo.
    1. agentsmith's Avatar
      agentsmith -
      Chris,<br />
      <br />
      I think dCS is there showing their DSD over DAC.<br />
      <br />
      Could you watch out for us and when that update for Debussy will be available?<br />
      <br />
      Thx
    1. MarkS's Avatar
      MarkS -
      Agreed on the dCS dsd request, and I will try to ask about this myself as I think I will attend for a day. Does anyone know where dCS will be on Friday?
    1. Paul R's Avatar
      Paul R -
      If you happen to pass by the tablets and TVs, a word or two on the newest stuff would be appreciated. <br />
      <br />
      -Paul<br />
    1. murrayp's Avatar
      murrayp -
      Hi Chris,<br />
      <br />
      somewhere I thought I heard you were reviewing the TAD C2000 DAC Preamplifier. A very interesting device it seems. Is this coming or did I get it wrong?<br />
      <br />
      I was told a few months ago that TAD were hoping to release some new products at CES. I'm sure you'll be catching up with these guys so look forward to hearing more.<br />
      <br />
      thanks<br />
      <br />
      murray
    1. jtm's Avatar
      jtm -
      TAD will show the new C600 pre-amp (only analog inputs) which completes the 600 reference series next to the D600 SACD-player and the M600 mono amps. Retail is expected at something like 35k.<br />
      <br />
      In addition the new E1 floor standing speaker will be presented with C2000 DAC/pre-amp and M4300 power amp to complete the so-called evolution series. E1 will be around 25k/pair.
    1. audiozorro's Avatar
      audiozorro -
      IMO the demos are quite misleading because of the significantly higher volume that is achieve with the QOL engaged versus bypassed. Having a bypass in the unit is somewhat gimmicky feature to sell the QOL since the QOL folks cannot demonstrate an instance where the music sounds better through the bypass. I think a more useable feature would have been to have a variable bypass that engages the QOL circuitry from zero to 100%, especially since there are instances or setups where the full QOL effect might seem excessive.<br />
      <br />
      I believe the volume levels must be identical for a fair comparison. Most people will find the QOL unit to enhance the 3D characteristics of sound. This is almost similar to what one might get with well done reverberation - not that QOL is using reverb but I believe they are altering the phasing and timing through analog circuitry.<br />
      <br />
      Of course this is just my opinion since I don't own the QOL unit. I am most interested to read your report.
    1. francisleung's Avatar
      francisleung -
      Hi Chris and Ted,<br />
      Suggest you listen to the Music Culture products and see whether you agree with my view in regard to their high value/performance as mentioned in the report in my blog. I foresee these products have significant impact on other brands in the market.
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      Today. I told them I couldn't get past the 2-3db gain. So Larry put on a compilation cd that was gain matched so we could hear only the phase effects without the added gain (although they claim the gain is not from voltage but from increased music information.). With the cd demo the QOL process sounded pretty good in my short demo! With the most effects being better dynamics at low volumes. I will go back tmrw or Thursday to hear it in a better more relaxed environment (whipped and still jet lagged today).
    1. ted_b's Avatar
      ted_b -
      A couple CA folks there too (afveep, etc) and it was a very nice stay. I will go back tmrw and listen further. Beautiful stuff, wow.
    1. francisleung's Avatar
      francisleung -
      Hi Ted,<br />
      Glad that a veteran such as yourself endorses my enthusiasm for the products, especially the speakers. Not only the sound, the build quality of the products is very high. Mr Meletsky is a nice person. Hope he is able to spare the time talking to you at length. Please ask him to use the Jazz at the Pawnshop track as demo and you will be able to hear the realism capability of the setup.