The Well-Tempered Computer, an introduction to computer audio

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Software upsamplers

Why? And you thought NO oversampling supposed to be best? OK, yes when you can avoid it.  Today, most d/a chips - including the best ones - are of the sigma-delta types which up/oversampling is embedded into the design, otherwise you would be left with horrendous noise in the output signal.

Upsampling itself can not create information that was not already there, just like blowing up 1m pixels file to poster proportions.  So here the point is not to create faux information, but it is there to move noises out of the audio band.  All of this usually happens in the oversampling digital filter (usually an integral part of the d/a chip, some are custom and external).  The noises, now moved high up out of the audio band, are then filtered out.  The filter can be a brick wall type, at say 22kHz ( good frequency response, but bad phase response), or a slow roll off minimum phase type.  In multi-bit DAC, this filter is normally analog, but for a sigma-delta dac, it is done in the digital domain.

Hardware oversampling in digital filters are not the best, even in the best DACs, because of all the computations that has to be done in real time.  The more sophisticated DACs uses custom, outboard digital filter to do the job, but since we're sending music to DACs from our computers - there's also the software upsampler route.  Sending the DAC an already up-sampled high resolution file gives the hardware digital filter an easier job, sometimes bypass its upsampling work almost completely.

Industry standard software upsamplers or sample rate converters (SRCs) are Weiss Saracon and Izotope RX.  They are used in mastering studios and expensive.  For PC users, there are quite a number of other alternatives, including on-the-fly upsamplers such as the XXhighend player (design to work in conjuction with the Phasure NOS no filter DAC) and Sygnalist's HQplayer.  For a Mac user like me, there is the Wave Editor from Audiofile Engineering for $79.

Wave Editor uses Izotope's upsampling algorithm with options to adjust, among other things, bit depth, sampling rate, filter slope, pre-ringing.   There is also the Sample Manager, a batch processor from the same company but with less options.  However, the only thing Wave Editor does not do is real time on-the-fly upsampling.  Wave editor takes about a minute to convert a file.  If you want to do on-the-fly upsampling, Apple CoreAudio is good, but not good enough.  Check out which shows charts of various SRCs.

iZotope SRC sweep
iZotope SRC minimum pre-ring
Pure Music and Amarra supposedly has better built-in SRCs and are worth the price they are charging for their hard work.  There are also the new Audirvana (still in alpha stage, open source, and free) utilizes Secret Rabbit Code libSampleRate algorithm which also open source, free, and sounds great.

As I am writing this blog, I am running Audirvana, which upsamples to 32-bit/ 192kHz, via 32-bit asynchronous USB transfer to Calyx Audio DAC (16 x ESS 9018 32-bit DAC chip, the only chip that can accept true 32 bit data path).  The sound? It's a glimpse of audio nirvana!

Calyx DAC

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Centrace DACmini

Centrance is the leader in USB implementation for digital analog conversion.  Many DAC manufacturers (eg. Benchmark, Bel Canto, Lavry, PS Audio, and Empirical Audio's older products) uses Centrance's AdaptiWave™ code to achieve 24 bits/96 kHz over USB using native mode with the TAS1020B chip on Windows, Mac OS and Linux.  Please note that this is an isochronous/adaptive USB transfer mode.

DACmini is styled to stack over an Apple Mac mini (but, er...pre-2010 mac mini??), making for an exceptional small-footprint music server.  DACmini is also a versatile home audio hub, featuring a line-level input for your portable music player, an S/PDIF input for your digital sources, and a headphone amplifier that can drive virtually any headphones with lowest distortion. 

  • 24-bit 
  • USB - Up to 96kHz 
  • S/PDIF - Up to 192 kHz
  • USB 1.1 or 2.0, driverless
  • 10 ppm precision clock

Grace Design M903

After launching the excellent M902 six years ago, Grace Design's M903 is its new reference headphone amplifier, DAC, and monitor controller.

  • 24bit/192kHz digital stereo inputs- AES, S/PDIF, TOSLINK and USB 
  • A new volume control provides higher headroom and lower distortion and noise
  • Precision level control with a 99.5dB range in 0.5 dB steps 
  • Ultra-low noise balanced I/V current to voltage converter 
  • Asynchronous high speed USB interface which is driverless USB Class 1 operation on Windows and Mac up to 24bit/96kHz and USB Class 2 audio for 24bit/192kHz operation on Windows and Mac (drivers needed for 192kHz operation under Windows)
  • Mono mode for checking mix phase issues (or listening to Pet Sounds)
  • s-Lock™ phase lock loop sample clock regeneration for ultra-low jitter 
  • High-current trans-impedance headphone amplifier circuitry built to effortlessly drive low impedance headphones
  • Balanced and unbalanced analog inputs
  • Balanced and unbalanced variable level analog line outputs (we only unbalanced?)
  • Improved power supply architecture isolates headphone power amplifiers, line amplifiers, DAC's and digital logic 
  • Channel level matching accuracy of 0.05dB
  • Improved x-feed circuit eliminates perceived loss of low frequency content
  • Optional infrared remote control available
  • Internal linear power supply with custom wound toroidal transformer
  • Sealed gold contact relays used for all signal switching
  • Five year transferable warranty on parts and labor

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lampizator DAC forum

Lukasz Fikus is well known in the DIY circles and his DAC mods recipes are being done by audiophile hobbyist all over the world.  His recent move into creating a commercial product, the Lampizator DAC, is relatively recent and there are not enough reviews or discussions available on the internet.  

The current group of owners (around 100 strong at the moment) have created a forum to share discussions about the DAC.  For those of you who are interested please participate at the address below:

Calyx The Integrated

South Korea based Digital & Analog Co., maker of Calyx Dac 24/192, recently announced a new matching integrated amplifier for the Calyx range.  Made of solid aluminum billets, the 200w class-D amp also handles USB input (24/96, as opposed to Calyx DAC's 24/192) directly.  The company is a leading supply of class-D integrated circuit to specialist audio industry, and this is their forays into high-end audio at competitive prices.  In addition to April Music with its Stello, Eximus and Aura lines, we are seeing more and more quality products from South Korea.  Keep them coming!

  • 200w x 2 (@ 4ohm)
  • Inputs: 3 x RCA, 1 x USB (up to 24-but 96kHz)
  • Class-D power with over 80% efficiency
  • SNR -100dB @1kHz, 200W
  • Damping factor >1000
  • Bandwidth -3dB at 60kHz
  • Volume control 18dB, 0.5dB steps
  • Universal voltage 110-220 V
  • 220 x 325 x 70 mm
  • 3.5kg
  • Available in matt black or aluminum finish

Monday, January 24, 2011

Computer ads from the 1980s

M2Tech Young DAC

Start shipping now is the long-awaited Young DAC from Italy's M2Tech, makers of the industry standard hiFace and hiFace EVO USB to S/PDIF converter.  Young DAC  is a 32-bit / 384kHz capable DAC. It features a high speed asynchronous USB input based on the hiFace technology, further developed to allow for higher sampling rates. It features a comprehensive input set (S/PDIF on RCA and BNC, AES/EBU on XLR and optical on Toslink) to accomodate a wide variety of digital connections.  Looks like a DAC with exceptional value at under $2,000.

  • 32/384 max over asynchronous USB (However, Mac OS drivers are not yet ready as of blog date)
  • 24/192 max over AES/EBU and coaxial S/PDIF
  • 24/96 max over toslink input
  • Custom digital oversampling filter (off-the-DAC-chip) using Xilinx Spartan's FPGA which implements minimum-phase filters with low pre-echo 
  • The 32 bit Burr-Brown 1795 DAC chip's digital filter is bypassed to allow for 768kHz internal operation to acheive an exceptionally low noise floor and THD figure
  • The output stage and buffer uses high grade class-A biased low-noise OPAMPs 
  • Size: 200(w) x 50(h) x 200(d) mm
  • Weight: 1Kg approx. (2.2 pounds)
  • SNR: 121dB (A weighted, 192kHz, 24 bits, 20kHz bandwidth)
  • THD+N: 0.0003% (192kHz, 24 bits)
  • Inputs:
  • 2 x S/PDIF (RCA and 75 Ohms BNC)
  • 1x AES/EBU (XLR)
  • 1x optical (Toslink)
  • 1x USB (USB female Type B)
  • Output: single ended on RCA female
  • Output voltage: 2.65Vrms (7.5Vpp @ 0dBFS)
  • US$1,999
M2Tech also makes a reference model, the Vaughan Reference USB DAC with better specs (4 x DAC chips per channel), more inputs and outputs, I2S output, master clock port, digital dithered volume control, and balanced outputs.

Bel Canto C5i Integrated amp/DAC

Bel Canto's new C5i is a combination integrated amplifier / DAC creating a true digital media center solution.  Unlike the previous s300iu model, which is basically an integrated amplifier with USB-only input DAC, the C5i has in addition to USB several S/PDIF inputs. Volume control is now managed in the digital domain, which Bel Canto claims superior to s300i's analog attenuation.  Vinyl lovers can also enjoy the C5i with its MM phono input (with the s300i, you either choose the USB or phono board).  All in one compact unit.

  • 24 bit 192 khz DAC
  • 120 watt (@4ohm, 60watt@8ohm, 3ohm minimum)
  • Class D amplification (Bel Canto heavily-modified ICE module)
  • 2 x coaxial S/PDIF inputs
  • 1 x toslink digital input
  • 1 x USB 24/96 input
  • 1 x Phono MM input
  • 1 x Analog line input
  • 1 x Analog line level output
  • Reference Ultra-Clock circuit
  • 115dB dynamic range
  • 24-bit volume control
  • Class-A output control circuit
  • Low noise power supply
  • Headphone output
  • Full remote capabilities
  • US$1,995

Oversampling vs Upsampling

A recent thread on has sparked a heated debate on Upsampling/Oversampling, whether it is a marketing hype or algorithm with true sonic benefits. 

I've came across this article by Pacific Valve & Electric Company's Vic Trola, a good read. 
Note: Pacific Valve imports and distributes Lite Audio, Audio GD, among others.
"Monday, June 12, 2006
What’s with Oversampling, Upsampling and Non-Oversampling (NOS) 
When we were vinyl, we had our own vocabulary: belt drive, direct drive, servo, anti-skate, counter weight, tracking angle – remember? Now that we are optical, a whole set of new words spook our vocabulary: Upsampling, Oversampling and Non Oversampling. Needless to say, these words are creating confusion out there in the press and among some audio jockeys (not you, of course) and they are used interchangeably, which is a big no-no.
Let’s first start out with some basics: oversampling is the realm of the conversion between digital to analogue and the upsampling is the realm of digital. Non oversampling is an enigma wrapped in a mystery. You cannot use these words interchangeably because they all mean different things.
You want a DAC to correct the anomalies in the conversion process. Take some of the earliest DACS, that were 16 bit and extracted data at a rate of 44.1 kHz / 16 bits. When the DAC converts data in the 20-20kHz range, it leaves some canard above the 22kHz range that must be cleaned up. If it did not, inter modulation distortion and ultrasonic frequencies would wreak havoc on your system – destroying tweeters, midrange drivers and turning mylar into chewing gum. In order to prevent this, a filter is applied. The filter that filters this out is called a “brick wall”, and it abruptly chops off frequencies at 20kHz. This filter, while not allowing the digital leftovers to blow your tweeter to smithereens, does cause audible distortions. The abrupt filter is responsible for some of the sonics coming from early vinyl copies of Fleetwod Mac’s Tusk that were digitally recorded and mastered or some circa 1980 digital recordings(Ry Cooder) . Cymbals sound like tambourines, highs are compressed as well as dynamics. If digital was going to make it into high end, something had to be done. Enter Phillips with its 4X oversampling player.
In a 4X oversampler, the digital signal is fed through a special digital converter that samples it four times. When a CD is sampled four times the sample rate becomes 176.4 kHz(44.1 X 4). When the filter is applied here, there is less of chance that the filtering roll off will make its way into the audible range. A filter applied at 176.4 kHz sweetens the music as it removes most of the grunge. As cost allows, oversampling pays off in a big way. The DAC 60 and DAC 38 use Burr Brown’s latest PCM1704UK chip which is 8X oversampling at 96kHz. The DAC 68 uses Analogue Devices AD1835 chip which samples as high as 192kHz. The AD1853 is fully compatible with all known DVD formats and supports 48 kHz, 96 kHz and 192 kHz sample rates with up to 24 bits word lengths. The higher bit lengths of these DACs allow them to act more in a linear fashion during the conversion process and results in superior sound quality.
Now I digress, to the DAC AH that is a non oversampling DAC using 8 TDA1543 chips with no digital filtering. From our discussion above one would assume that the grunge left over should have blown up tweeters and mylar alike. But, that’s not what happens. So what gives?
This has to do with the 8 TDA1543 that the DAC AH employs and the algorithm used for designing non oversampling DACs. The non-OS algorithm by definition introduces a slight roll off in the treble, so by the time you get up to damaging frequencies, the output of frequencies above 22kHz isn't really all that high. Hence, intermodulation distortion still makes its way into the DAC AH and other non oversampling DACs. This may explain why some non oversampling DACs sound compressed at the higher frequencies. The DAC AH modded, less so, only because the superior OP AMP compliments the conversion process in that it is able to open the sound a bit. Some NOS DACs add a digital filter – but that really defeats the whole purpose of the NOS DAC anyway – its kind of like adding MSG to a low salt diet.
So what is “upsampling”? First let me take away some of the confusion. There is belief in many an audiophiles’ minds about the power of upsampling or oversampling to create data. It is not possible to create more accurate information than is already in the digitally sampled signal. Think of blowing up a digital picture: if the data is not there, blowing it up does not increase detail.
Upsampling differs from oversampling in that upsampling is between the transport and the DAC. In the case of the Lite DAC 39, it sits between your transport and a DAC – like the DAC 60 or DAC 38. In this case the DAC 39 feeds the DAC 60 a 96 Khz signal instead of the 44.1 kHz. In theory, when a superior upsampler is mated with a DAC that can handle the upsampling, the true 96kHz 20 bit processing can be achieved. The resulting filtering process operates in a linear fashion which yields better sound quality. So, it has to be a careful match. An upsampler should only be used with a DAC capable of handling the high sample frequency."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kingrex UC192

The new UC192 from Taiwan-based KingRex is one of the newer USB to S/PDIF converter, this one supports up to 32-bit 192kHz.   

The UC192 can transfer from PC or Mac at 16/44.1 or up to 32/192 through its S/PDIF and I2S outputs. The UC192 runs in isochronous mode with an adaptive clock generator to auto sync with the host. The master clock generator is a high precision 1ppm TCXO unit with proprietary low-jitter drivers for Windows & Mac. 

Kernel streaming, Direct Sound, ASIO4ALL and WASAPI are all supported and run smoothly. The UC192 is housed in an oval cross-section aluminum case with black hairbrush polish. It measures 88 x 82 x 24mm.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bladelius Embla

Mike Bladelius was the head designer of the great Threshold Audio and consulted for Classe' Audio and Primare during the 90s.  Now he is back with his own company, Bladelius Design Group, based in Sweden.  The Embla has got to be one of the most beautiful piece of audio gear in existence.  Classic Scandinavian clean looks plus super high-tech touches.  

"The Embla offers a silent playback system without any moving mechanical parts when playing from the built-in flash memory.  Unlike computer based playback products the Embla is based on our proprietary audio DSP design, allowing complete control over the timing and reading of the discs. The Embla is designed as a true audiophile unit from the ground up and it's not a modified computer that can copy discs. Not only is the Embla a playback system but it also includes an analog preamplifier, a world class DA-converter based on our reference CD-player, the Gondul M. The DA-converter also carries a switchable digital filter with analog behavior. Insert a CD and you have the option to play directly from the disc like a standard CD-player or you can store the disc on the internal flash memory. You're not even limited to just internal storage. External units can directly connect via USB to the Embla, as well as you may access files on a network drive or music streaming from a PC.
The Embla comes preloaded with a database with album and track names and will display album art if connected to the internet via its Ethernet port."
  • Bit perfect copies into memory from integrated DVD-ROM drive, eliminate transport-related jitter
  • Silent operation when drive not in use
  • 2 x USB host port
  • PCM, WAV, HRx, FLAC, MP3, and OGG
  • 2 x 32-bit/192kHz dac chips per channel
  • User selectable digital filters to suit listening preferences
  • Built-in pre-amp with analog volume control in 0.5dB steps
  • Digital inputs: 1 X AES/EBU, 1 x RCA, 1 x Toslink
  • Digital outputs: 1 X AES/EBU, 1 x RCA
  • RJ45 port for internet connection
  • Bluetooth 
  • Balanced and un-balanced analog output

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Behold Gentle G192 Media Player

Behold Gentle G192 Media Player comes with a 7" full coloured widescreen TFT-Display (800x480). The control of the device is realised by a touch panel placed in front of the display.  Connection can be via an external USB connected drive. This can be placed up to 60ft “away” from the Gentle for direct use at the listening position. The internal HDD can also be used with 120GB storage for up to 12.000 minutes of music.
There are up to 8 analog and 6 digital inputs available to run several stereo channels or one multi-channel 5.1. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nuforce DAC-9

Soon to be released Nuforce DAC-9, preliminary specs:

  • BNC coaxial digital input
  • AES/EBU coaxial digital input
  • USB input
  • Toslink digital input
  • XLR analog outputs
  • 1 x fixed and 1 x variable RCA analog outputs
  • Discrete headphone outputs
  • Digital volume control
  • Remote

More details soon... (here)

Musical Fidelity M1 Clic

The new Musical Fidelity M1 Clic music control centre has 3 digital inputs, 3 analog inputs, a USB memory stick and a digital iPod input.  The iPod input accesses the digital data, not usual analog.  It also has wireless and ethernet LAN connectivity and also streams internet radio as well.  The M1 Clic has fixed and variable outputs so it can be used as a full preamp or a signal source. Retails for £1299.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cambridge Audio iD100

The Cambridge Audio iD100 is the newest iDevice docking solution with Apple-approved digital output with the most comprehensive arrays of output to date.  Compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod.  Digital data is then fed to an external digital audio converter or AV Receiver using its digital input for the best possible digital to analogue conversion.

The iD100 also outputs VDO with its Component, S-Video and Composite connections mean you can enjoy portable video content like You Tube, iTunes, iPlayer and much more on your TV.  Full remote enabling you to enjoy control all your iPod content from your seat and an iPod App is being developed.

  • High quality, low jitter digital audio output from iPods, including iPad and iPhone 4
  • AES/EBU balanced digital audio output 
  • S/PDIF coaxial and toslink outputs
  • Component / S-Video and Composite video outputs
  • Eco- friendly low-power mode automatically activated when iPod removed from dock
  • Type-B USB connection allowing convenient and simple syncing to iTunes
  • Supplied slim-line remote control
  • Available in black or silver finishes
  • Dimensions (H x W x D) 46 x 108 x 128mm
  • Weight 0.469kg

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Purist HDR 6

AMI Hifi of Germany has an all in one Hard disk storage/Music Server and CD ripper.

  • 24/192 resolution
  • 2TB storage
  • Option to use SSD disks of up to 1TB
  • 1.5GB cache
  • Quad core CPU
  • ASIO streaming interface
  • NAS interface (squeezebox compatible)
  • Digital outputs: AES/EBU, Coaxial, Toslink
  • Teac DVD-ROM slot-load drive mechanism
  • HDMI 1.3 compatible (1080p)
  • Ethernet port
  • 4 x USB host port
  • 1 x eSATA power
  • iPod touch and iPad interface
  • Option for an improved analog stage with discrete I/V and purist analog filter
  • Option for better master clock
  • Option to include Blu-ray capabilities
  • Option for WLAN 802.11n

Auraliti L1000

In addition to the $599 Linux-based music server PK100, which is only available directly from Auraliti website.  The company is launching new product line which will be sold through audio specialist dealers (TBA).  

Auraliti's main man is Demian Martin, a well-regarded audio designer who co-founded Spectral Audio, and now designs and consults technically for Constellation Audio, Rockport, Nuforce and Monster Cables.  Some web forums swears by the PK100 and thinks it beats the Mac Mini as a specialized computer-based music server.  I have yet to try it but the L1000 looks very tempting.

  • L1000 - Flagship performance with AES/EBU digital output, Aluminum case
  • PK200 - is an upgraded power supply version of the PK100 with SPDIF output
  • PKUSB - USB output version for connection to USB DACs

  • Zero config (via Bonjour) on Mac OSX
  • MPD freeware cients for PC and MAC
  • DAC chip: AKM4396 24-bit/192 kHz
  • Low jitter crystal oscillators
  • SSD hard drive for Linux OS
  • External drive for storage of music via USB host port
  • Ethernet LAN for connection to NAS drives
  • Fully silent operations, fan-less
  • FLAC, WAV, AIFF playback
  • Auto select 44.1kHz to 192kHz
  • Remote control from network connected web browser
  • iPhone and iPad control
  • Bit perfect, no re-sampling nor DSP
  • RCA analog outputs and optional XLR balance outputs

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Audio GD NFB-8 DAC

Newest Audio GD's WM-based DAC (the other "Reference" family uses Burr-Brown PCM1704), NFB-8 uses two WM8741 and can decode up to 24/192kHz with a plethora of inputs.  Impressive internal layouts and components as you would have expected from Kingwa.

  • Dual WM8741 sigma-delta DAC chip
  • Low jitter WM8805 digital input reciever
  • Fully discrete no feedback class A output stage (NFB means No-Feed-Back)
  • no feedback Class A power supply
  • No OPAMPs, no coupling caps
  • 3 x R-core transformers
  • Premium parts (Nover, Wima, Evox and Solen capacitors, Dale and Vishay resisters, Sanyo Oscons, etc)
  • AES/EBU, RCA and BNC Coaxial, Toslink, and USB digital input (24/96)
  • Dual FET buffer output stage to achieve low output impedance
  • XLR and RCA analog outputs
  • SNR of 128 dB
  • Dynamic range of 128 dB
  • US$1,200

Birdland Audio aTVDAC

Designed as a companion to the new AppleTV.  The  aTVDAC  is a digital to analog converter with built-in integrated amplifier.  So you connect AppleTV's digital output to aTVDAC, and then connect you speakers. No details yet on output power (watt) or whether it can decode surround sound.  

Problem with using AppleTV as streaming device is that it is limited to 16-bits so 24-bit files will be down-sampled.  However it converts everything to 48kHz (44.1 up, 96 down), so I am not sure why Birdland's product mock-up pic above shows 44k1.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wadia 121 Decoding Computer

It's been almost two years since Wadia first talked about it, Wadia's new 121 DAC should be available in Q1 2011.  May be they have been waiting for their deal with First Sound to close before launching this new little baby (Milan-based owner of Sonus Faber speakers and Audio Research amplifier, recently acquired Wadia Digital).

The entry-level 121 will be in the same chassis as the other 1-series components (151 amp/dac, 170i transport, and 171i transport).

  • 4 digital inputs (2 x RCA, 1 TOSLINK, 1 USB) 
  • USB inputs up to 24/192kHz (unconfirmed whether its asynchronous or not)
  • Featuring Wadia's proprietary Digimaster (3.x) up-sampling reconstruction filter
  • "Swift Current" analog section - discrete high quality operational amplifiers
  • "Direct connect" line level output with volume control
  • 1 x XLR, and 1 x RCA analog outputs
  • Dual headphone jacks with discrete output (both 1/4" and mini jacks available on the left side of the front plate)
  • All functions controlled from included remote control
  • Est. US$1,500-$2,000
Wadia also offers two higher-end stand alone DAC models in its line up including the  521 Decoding Computer (Digimaster 2.5, Burr-brown 1704 multi-bit chip) and 922 Mono Decoding Computer (mono, DigitMaster 1.4, 8x1704 per channel, Isolated Digital Coupler Arrays). 

We were impressed with the PowerDACmini 151 and really looking forward to audition the Wadia 121.

Pathos Musiteca server and Inpol Remix integrated amp/DAC

Pathos Acoustics of Italy has some interesting products.

Musiteca™ high-end music server
  • Proprietary user-friendly interface with 16/9 touch screen 21"
  • Built-in CD drive for music ripping
  • 1 TB hard drive good for 2,000 CDs in lossless format
  • Tube output stage
  • State-of-the-art D/A converter, the same of the acclaimed Endorphin™CD player
  • USB input for importing either lossless or Mp3 files
  • LAN connection for downloading track info and cover arts
  • Available in 2011

INPOL Remix Integrated Amplifier / DAC 

  • INPOL circuit (Inseguitore a Pompa Lineare - Linear Pump Tracker) patented by Pathos
  • 10W in pure class A with zero-feedback (rms 8 ohm)
  • 24/96 digital to analog converter
  • Original aluminium heatsinks reproduce the logo of the company
  • Front panel is covered by wood
  • 1 x XLR and 1 x RCA analog input
  • 2 x USB input
  • Speakers connectors + analog RCA for subwoofer

Sunday, January 9, 2011

McIntosh free AP1 Audio Player for iDevices

McIntosh Laboratory is offering iPhone and iPad users the opportunity to enjoy an iconic McIntosh experience anywhere and anytime with its new AP1 Audio Player iPod/iPhone/iPad App, available now for free download at the iTunes Store. Designed to give McIntosh fans a familiar look and feel, the AP1 Audio Player offers virtually all features of the existing iPod App, while tailoring the portable playback/control experience for the unique McIntosh style. 

Notably, when not used as a controller, the AP1 will default to a McIntosh “Meter Display Mode” and act as a live meter display for the music, in effect, providing users with a backdrop consistent with the iconic “McIntosh Blue” LED watt meter – a recognized hallmark of audio excellence. The App will function independent of any external hardware (i.e. Dock) and allow a portable McIntosh experience for all iPhone and iPad users. When used with an iPod Dock (of any make or model) the App serves as a virtual McIntosh display, reflecting the company’s renowned brand, style and experience.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Griffin Universal Remote Control System

Griffin's Beacon's technology revolves around Bluetooth technology and good 'ol infrared.

Beacon pairs with your iOS device (iPad, iPhone, or iPods) via Bluetooth then convert signal to infrared.  Beacon has a 360 degree remote firer, so that adds flexibility to where you put them.  Set up is supposed to be simple, where Dijit's Universal Remote App (included) uses a library of constantly updated device codes.

  • Wireless universal audio/video controller for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Low-profile component designed to blend unobtrusively with any decor
  • Use your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad as a powerful universal remote control without dongles or cases
  • Connects to your iOS device via Bluetooth and gives you control of your TV, stereo, and other home entertainment components
  • For use with Dijit's Universal Remote app, a free download from the App Store
  • The Universal Remote app uses a constantly updated device code library and integrated learning feature to make setup simple and intuitive
  • No wires or power cables; runs up to two months on 4 AA batteries

Softone Model 2 tube DAC

From Japan, Softone's Model 2 DAC is industrial in looks but seems functional and has some very interesting features.

  • 24-bit/96kHz
  • Burr-Brown PCM 1716 chip set (64x over-sampling)
  • Non negative feedback vacuum tube analog output stage
  • 2 x 6DJ8 low noise wide band tubes
  • Error detection circuit with condition readout (7 types, 4 digit error counter)
  • 1 x RCA and 1 x toslink S/PDIF digital inputs
  • RCA analog output
  • US$650 (good price!)
Softone also produces a top loading CD player/transport called the Model 3, which uses the better Philip's CD-PRO2 mechanism.

dAck! 2.0

Seattle-based Ack! Industries' dAck! 2.0 is a battery-powered digital-filterless non-over sampling DAC.  Up to 16-bit/96kHz.  Good for 6-8 hours per charge. US$795.

Moodlab Dice and Concept DAC

Moodlab from China has two reasonable priced non over-sampling DAC offerings.  The Dice is based on a Philips TDA1543 digital to analog converter chip run in non over-sampling mode.  USB, Coaxial and Toslink digital input, re-clocked by Crystal semiconductor chip.  Accepts up to 24/96kHz but downsample to 16-bit.  Shunt regulated power supply. US$399.

The Concept is "conceptually" the same as The Dice, but with no USB input. US$249.