The Well-Tempered Computer, an introduction to computer audio

Monday, February 28, 2011

Auraliti PK100 reviewed by has posted its review of the $799 Linux-based Auraliti PK-100 File Player which we covered in our earlier blog.

Very interesting and in some ways similar to Bryston's BDP-1. The fan less , hard drive less PK-100 however does not stream from Network Attached Server Drives (NAS), does not rip CDs, and nor allow for connection to USB DACs yet. The philopsophy is to keep it simple stupid. Connect a USB drive and press play on a remote website or iDevice application. It output analog audio (via internal DAC based on an AKM chip) and digital S/PDIF coaxial.

Auraliti is also coming out with a new line of products which include the higher-end L-1000, the improved PK-200, and the PK-USB.

The PK-200 is similar to the PK-100 but with improved power supply regulation and transformer coupled S/PDIF connection. The PK-USB will allow connection to USB DACs.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Bulgarian base APL Hi-Fi a.k.a Alex Peychev worked extensively with Sony Broadcast and has 25 year experience in the digital field.  His latest DAC is set out to be a state of the art, cost no object product. 

The DAC-S is an all-solid-state DAC with eight 32 bit AKM4399 per channel in mono mode, M2Tech 24/192 hiFace USB interface built in, discrete output stage, no negative feedback, no capacitors in signal path, and galvanic isolation of digital and analog stage.


  • Professional grade digital input receiver
  • Asynchronous Hiface USB interface by M2Tech built-in. 192kHz/24bit capability
  • Asynchronous upsampling working steady at 195kHz/32bit
  • Very low jitter Master Clock oscillator
  • Second generation, top-line 32bit DACs by AKM of Japan; 8 per channel for much reduced noise floor, working in Mono mode for up to 10dB better channel separation
  • No negative feedback, linear phase, transformer-coupled Analog output stage featuring Lundahl Amorphous Core audio transformers and high-current output buffers
  • No capacitors on the signal path
  • No Op Amps
  • Galvanic isolation between Digital and Analog stages, eliminating digital noise ground interference in the Analog output stage
  • Attenuator control with 0.5dB step. No preamp required
  • LCD display with blue back light, dimming steps and OFF mode
  • Digital and bar-graph attenuator level displays for easier user interface
  • Low latency and Normal digital filter selection
  • Digital input sampling frequency meter, shown next to the selected input
  • Infrared remote control
  • Selectable output level for better matching with power amplifier/s input sensitivity for direct-to-amp connection
  • Headphones direct-drive capability. See text below under outputs
  • Unique, custom-made, oversized power transformer for Analog and Digital audio sections
  • Second stand-by toroidal power transformer for microprocessor and LCD display only
  • Custom-made, all-aluminum enclosure with 10mm thick front panel
  • Custom-made feet, machined from solid Maple
APL Hifi also makes a CD player which is a heavily modified Esoteric unit.

Next week....

Apple rumored to be offering 24/192 hi-rez download through iTunes.  HDtracks meanwhile is saying it will announce something.  What would that be?, hmmm.....

Update: The history is The Rolling Stones in Hi-rez!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thunderbolt interface pipes 20x more speed than USB 2.0

Intel's Lightpeak is now rebranded as the Thunderbolt interface. First computer to offer this is the new generation MacBook Pros. Thunderbolt has raw speed of 10 Gbps which is more than 2 times faster than USB 3.0, 12 times faster than FireWire 800, and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. Two 10-Gbps channels on the same connector mean you can daisy-chain multiple high-speed devices and a display, without using a hub — and without reducing performance. It replaces the Mini DisplayPort on the new MacBook Pro models, however Apple's existing Mini DisplayPort-based displays will work unmodified with the Thunderbolt port.

Thunderbolt adapters will allow MacBook Pro users to connect to USB, HDMI, Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet or Fibre Channel. Thunderbolt will support much longer cable lengths (USB cables max out at 5 meters).

Intel says Thunderbolt is "designed for" audio and video, so let's expect to see it appears in digital audio equipments in coming months.

Ipad2 to be announced in March reportedly will sport a Thunderbolt port.

A closer look at Thunderbolt on

Schitt Audio Valhalla

Not really a digital product, but if headphone amps are what you are looking for - a company with really funny name - Schitt Audio's Valhalla is quite serious looking and interesting.  It is a Class A, single-ended triode headphone amplifier with no overall feedback and noninverting circuit topology. It provides classic tube sound and can drive headphones with impedances as low as 32 ohms. 

"Yes, we know that all you got out of the preceding paragraph is probably, "Classic tube sound." And if you're not a tube junkie, you might not even know what that means. Well, let us explain. Tube sound is a smoky nightclub with a hot chick in a red dress, it's a warm swimming pool in summer, glowing green against the purple twilight, it's a... well, hell, you can't really explain tube sound. Think "smooth, fluid , liquid, alive. "But not in a SF-movie-gonna-eat-you kinda way. Valhalla delivers warm, magical sound for most headphones, as long as they aren't less than 32 ohms."


  • Headphone Impedance: 32-600 ohms 
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-200KHz,-3dB 
  • Maximum Output: 30V PP into 600 ohms 
  • THD: Less than 0.1%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V 
  • Topology: Class-A single-ended triode, zero feedback, noninverting, single voltage gain stage 
  • Tube Complement: 6N1P dual triode input, 6N6P dual triode output, 1 each per channel 
  • Power Consumption: 40W 
  • Size: 9 x 6.75 x 3.25 " 
  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • $349

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Centrance DACmini CX

From our earlier post on the Dac Mini. Centrance, maker of the popular DACport™, has firmed up details on the unit and renamed it DACmini CX.

"'Built like a tank' and 'Pristine audio quality' are no longer mutually exclusive," stated Michael Goodman, Managing Director of CEntrance. "Through our expertise in the professional audio industry, we're bringing reliable design and robust performance to the world of Hi-Fi. We have Mastering engineers endorse our products-they use the best gear from the Pro Audio and the Audiophile markets to create their listening systems. Their goal is to hear exactly what the music sounds like and make the recording the best it can be. We create sophisticated products to do the same thing: let the consumer hear the best possible sound - all at a great price-point. The DACmini is a perfect example of this philosophy." 
The newly announced DACmini CX™ is a compact 192kHz 24-bit USB DAC and Class A Headphone Amplifier. It's a preamp and digital to analog converter with multiple I/O options including: USB, optical, Coax S/PDIF, analog input and output, and a front-mounted 1/4-inch connector for professional headphones. DACmini's stylish form-factor matches the classic Apple "Mac mini" computer footprint, creating a perfect platform for an audiophile-level music server.
DACmini features galvanically-isolated, gold-plated output jacks, a proprietary JitterGuard™ jitter elimination system, and plug-and-play driverless USB connection on PC or Mac. The extended range volume control accommodates the widest array of headphones, from IEMs to professional high-impedance models. DACmini is engineered to excel at rugged reliability and is constructed for quiet, interference-free performance. Placed near your computer monitor, DACmini becomes the center of your desktop audio system. 
The new DACmini CX is now available and has a suggested retail price of US$795.

Firestone Big Joe III digital amplifier

Taiwan's Firestone Audio produced some miniature digital audio products, but packed with features (and reportedly decent sound quality) at unbelievable prices.

The Big Joe 3 is a digital integrated amplifier with 20w (8ohm) power output. It accepts a variety of inputs including USB (USB 1.1, up to 48kHz), Digial toslink and coaxial plus a pair of analog line-in via 3.5" mini jack.  DAC chip used is a 24/96 capable Cirrus Logic CS5343 and Amplifier module is based on a Texas Instrument TI TAS 5706. Featuring Fi-reclock® technology to reduce jitter for digital inputs and high quality WIMA capacitors and inductors for its analog signal path.  Speaker output is via two space saving ethernet-style RJ45 jacks a-la Nuforce Icon 2.  The Big Joe III retails for US$325.

Micromega AirStream WM-10 with AirPlay

The Micromega AirStream WM-10 network streamer is upgraded to work with Apple's AirPlay wireless streaming system.

From earlier digital audio blog post:
The WM-10 is basically a souped-up Airport Express but they call it "Airstream". It has basically the same specs and functions except the aluminum case (black or silver) and better power supply (R-core transformers rather than switching PSU). Although it uses the Cirrus Logic 4344 24-bit/192hKz DAC (same with the AE), the streaming is limited to 16-bit 44.1/48kHz files due to Airplay limitations. Another limitations is that no matter what file you choose to play, the WM-10 will convert to Apple Lossless (ALAC) on the fly (same as the AE). Retails for $1,595.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review : Calyx DAC 24/192

Calyx got its name from a chinese poem, poetically means the corolla of music.  The brand is a division of Digital & Analog Company based out of South Korea which is a specialist supplier of Class D amplification integrated circuits, and Calyx is its recent foray in to the world of high end audio.  There are two other products available, the Kong which is a headphone DAC and The Integrated which is an amp that also sports a USB input.  I understand that Calyx is now in the process of finalizing appointment of its US and European distributors, but people can contact them direct for any inquiries.

Max mini
The Calyx DAC 24/192 is housed in a minimalistic extruded solid aluminum casing, similar to a Mac mini but some what larger and heavier.  It shouts quality and style, everything is well made and feels more expensive beyond its $1,500 price tag.  There are no buttons nor controls in the front panel of the unit, just a small LED which turns violet, indicating a signal lock.  In the back there is one set of unbalance RCA, and another balance XLR output.  Input wise, there is one single S/PDIF coaxial input and one USB.  There are two flip switches: one to select the inputs, the other to select whether you want to power the DAC with USB power, or from the included wall-wart.  The included wall wart is of generic (cheap) type and will be needed if you are driving the DAC from a CD transport, but if you feed them USB, this is optional.  

The power arrangement raised a question for me.  In other "serious" DACs, they are usually A/C to get a good power with enough juice to adequately drive pre-amps or amps.  After my time with it, I can tell you that it has more than enough power to drive a pre-amp or a power amp directly.  My understanding is that Calyx uses a "charge-pump" to store DC power in a capacitor arrays, which in turn power two  the ESS SABRE 9018 chip.  The 9018 is a 8 channel DAC, that's 8 4 DAC per mono channel phase stacked in balanced mode [Edit: Got clarifications from Calyx Audio].  Running the chips in balance mode in-theory gives superior linearity, signal to noise ratio, dynamic range, and of course - higher output (6.8v balanced output).  Given that it takes power from the USB bus, I'm assuming there are no galvanic isolation between the computer to the DAC.  So clean raw power, and a fairly low noise computer is a must, otherwise sound quality is likely to be affected.

USB implementation is of asynchronous type, which means Calyx's clock controls the data flow and is based on the new XMOS controller chipset.  The Calyx has two clocks, one for the 44.1k family and another for the 48k family - the correct way to do it.  There are no drivers needed for Mac OS X (10.6.4 or above).  For Windows there is an included Theyscon UAC2 class driver which natively supports ASIO and WDM, and in theory can go up to 400kHz (I successfully tried 192kHz).  ESS 9018 is the only DAC chip in existence (as of early 2011) that can accept true 32-bit PCM data path up to the digital conversion stage.  With some software such as Audirvana for the Mac OS, one can stream music in "integer mode" via USB to the Calyx, with full bit precision up to d/a stage.  Calyx then perform almost like an extension of the computer itself.  Please note that its S/PDIF coaxial input can accept up to 32-bit 192kHz, but I have not seen encounter a transport that is able to do that yet.
Edit Feb 24th 2011: The Calyx DAC can connect at 32/192kHz with DAC firmware release 3.1 and above for the Mac OS X.  I am able to do this with my Mac, however with the current XMOS implementation, the chip does internally truncate down to 24-bit most significant bits.  
For me, the Calyx works flawlessly.  I use a late model dedicated Mac mini music running various music player softwares, dB Audio Lab's Essential Signature USB cable to connect.  A TEAC VRDS 50 CD transport and Theta Compli Blu CD/DVD transport were also used via Illuminati D60 and Transparent signature digital coaxial cables.  The Calyx has no physical analog nor digital volume control and I listened to the it both through an Audio Note preamp, and also directly to power amps using software volume control.  Pure Music and Fidelia provides excellent dithered volume control.  Audirvana's non-dithered software volume control also works and since it's operating at 24 or 32-bit resolution you should not be too worried about throwing away bits.  Features are bare minimum - no display, no IR remote, no dedicated headphone output.  

Smooth operator
We began by listening to the Calyx DAC via its coaxial digital input replacing the Weiss DAC 202.  The Weiss was providing some of the best sounds I have ever encountered in this system, with extended 3D sound stage, natural yet detailed presentation.  With the Calyx in its place, the first thing we noticed was that it has a more laid-back balance.  The music seems to move further into the sound stage.  The Calyx sounds smoother and a bit less immediate compared to the Weiss, although it isn't soft or unfocused, the Weiss has more slam/attack.  The smoothness of the Calyx is quite deceptive, it's just as detailed and dynamic, but with a relaxed and rounder quality.  Music is refine, open and articulate but never calling attention to itself.  "Neutral" and "extended" sums up the sound of the Calyx DAC.  It's not an instantly impressive DAC - doesn't wow you with bells and whistles.  It just gives you music in a balanced and refined form.  The more I listen to the Calyx, the more apparent that I really enjoy it.  The high frequencies sound airy and open, yet with excellent detail.  Midrange is very integrated with the highs creating a realistic portrait of the music.  Bass is quite deep and full, and gives good fundamentals to music's rhythm.  However, given the relaxed presentation, it seems a bit soft on the leading edges given the illusion that it doesn't have the same weight and slam as the Weiss.  This is not to say that it is weak in the bass, which is absolutely not the case.  It has better extension than the excellent Tranquility SE DAC, for instance.  The Calyx is also dead quiet.  The background is so black that all the little low level details are rendered very clearly.  One can hear not only those details, but can also place them with precision in the sound stage.

We then moved on to USB input.  We listened in this mode mainly with the free Audirvana OS X music player feeding native, high resolution, and upsampled music files with integer mode.  We also tried Pure Music, Fidelia (1.01), and Decibel but found Audirvana's latest implementation of integer mode playback has a slight edge.  I am happy to report that computer USB playback takes the Calyx to a different level altogether.  A very good DAC is now an extraordinary DAC! 

The naturalness and tonal presentation is roughly the same, but everything becomes "bigger".  Sound stage now extends both wider and deeper, and the speakers "disappear" better than before.  There is a strong sense of involvement with ease and effortlessness.  Spatial resolution is now the best we have ever heard from any DAC - period.  With the Calyx/Mac/Audirvana trio, it is now a notch or two better than through coaxial.  The improvements were unambiguous and consistent from track to track.  We also did a comparison of Calyx USB connection to that of the Weiss 202 via firewire, and there were smaller differences between them at this point.  The Weiss's tonality is still more immediate and "live", but Calyx's spatial cues and 3D soundstage are just as impressive.  I would be as happy to live with either of them.

Ultimate computer companion?
In the quest for the ultimate digital audio playback, I find that it is no longer a single equipment that matters, it is more and more the system.  Some manufacturers such as Ayre and dB Audio Labs take the guess work out of the equation and decide for us that computers and USB is the way to go for getting the best possible sound out of their DACs.  Weiss and other pro audio makers went for firewire as their method of choice and they even published a white paper to back it up.  

For the Calyx, it is a very good S/PDIF performer in its own right, but when driven through USB from a carefully set up computer rig will give you the sound that approaching state of the digital art.  At the time of review, only a handful of DACs can connect via USB at true 32-bit (Northstar designs and M2Tech's Young comes to mind) let alone 24-bit resolution.  The point is not about high resolution music format, but rather the ability to bypass jitter-prone S/PDIF connections with native computer operating word-size that makes all the difference.  Trust me, it is not hard to hear the benefits.

Now, it boils down to a matter of personal preference whether you prefer a "neutral" or an "exciting" presentation.  If neutrality, realistic & expansive sound stage is your forte, I doubt you can find another DAC that can really better it, even at three times the price of the Calyx plus a dedicated computer.

Red: Calyx 24/192       Blue: Weiss DAC 202

Audiophile hotline...

Bricasti Designs M1 DAC

US-based pro-audio company Bricasti Designs, known for its excellent M7 digital reverb processor which many recording engineers reckon that it is the best in the world, is launching home use DAC called the M1.

M1 is a dual mono unit with extremely low distortions and jitters.  It is said to have user selectable custom digital filters with superior sound quality.  

Launching in Q2 2011 for approximately US$10,000.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Audiant 80i Integrated amplifier with DAC

New Zealand based Perreaux's recent revival is all about going back to its roots, but with a modern twist.  Its new Audiant 80i integrated amplifier features direct digital inputs and a 24/96kHz DAC.
  • Touch button interface
  • 3 line level input, one phono
  • Home theatre input bypass
  • 400VA toroidal power supply
  • 24/96 upsampling DAC
  • 1 x USB digital input
  • 2 x Toslink and 1 x coaxial digital input
  • Audiant's remote can control iTunes and Windows media player via USB
  • 80W of Class AB into 8Ohm (130w into 4ohm)
  • MOSFET output device
  • Less than 1w energy consumption on stand by
  • US$2,995

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Audio GD Reference 7.1

Audio GD's Kingwa stated that the new 2011 model Reference 7.1 is the best DAC he has ever made. Sporting 8 of the best multi-bit DAC chip available today, the 24-bit Burr-brown PCM1704UK, in a fully balanced discrete configuration. DAC Reference-7.1 had improved on the output analog stages based on the Reference 7 with fully discrete amp without any Op amps or coupling caps and with fully non- feedback Class A power supplies .

The proprietary DSP-1(version 5) is a Two-channel Digital Interpolation Filter and data in-phase processor for digital audio. This Device offers advanced features for high-performance digital signal processing applications up to 250-MHz. Data and master-clock in-phase processing are without jitters. DSP-1 supports NOS, 2X, 4X and 8X oversampling customers setting.

Ref7.1 uses audiophile grade components, including DALE resistors, WIMA & SOLEN caps , custom order NOVER caps, all audiophile grade input & output sockets and gold IEC socket.
  • ACSS/XRL/RCA output balanced DAC 
  • AES/BNC/RCA/Optical input 
  • Supports up to 24Bit/96KHz 
  • Supports NOS , 2X , 4X and 8X oversampling customers setting 
  • Non USB version: $1,900 
  • USB version: $1,940 
  • Single input: $1,750

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Last request...

    Audirvana music player 0.6.1, with integer mode

    New beta release of Damien Plisson's Audirvana music player for Mac OS X is the first to provide integer mode processing. From our preliminary listening session showed that it is superior to anything else we have heard. For those of you who still doubt that softwares do make a difference, download and try it for free.

    The USB DACs and SPDIF converters using the Streamlength code (such as Wavelength, Ayre, and Halide Bridge) are known to provide support for integer mode which talks to the driver in the DAC native data format (e.g. 24bit signed Integer) instead of using the Apple's CoreAudio intermediary standard 32bit float format.

    Still in beta stage, the open source software still have some bugs and glitches. Help report them would even make it better.

    @wgscott over at wrote a nifty Apple script to enable control of Audirvana (and Decibel) via Apple's iphone/ipad Remote app.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-09

    Hong Kong made Grant Fidelity Tube DAC-09 is a tube-output stage USB DAC with headphone amp.  Seems like a lot to offer for merely US$215.  Tweakers can tube roll the unit, several discussions on DAC-09 tube rolling here:

    • 2 x analog RCA input 
    • 1 x coaxial, 1 x Toslink and 1 x USB 2.0. 
    • 2 x RCA Outputs tailored to your taste - one with transistor and one with single 6N3 (5670) vacuum tube.
    • Built-in headphone amp to allow you enjoy music in privacy (standard 6.5mm jack). Transistor output.
    • Separate power supply rectification to analog and digital circuits
    • Gold coated signal connectors throughout
    • Supports up to 24 bit and 96kHz
    • High quality processing chips used throughout  - Cirrus Logic for main D/A converter and National Semiconductor LF353N for op-amp 
    • Input impedance: Analog - 100kohm; Digital - 75 kohm
    • THD: Transistor output <= 0.001%; Tube output <= 0.1%
    • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 30kHz +/-1 dB
    • Max Output: 1000mWx 2 (32 ohm); 500mWx2 (300 ohm); 300mWx2 (600 ohm)
    • S/N ratio: Transistor - 96dB; Tube - 90dB
    • Output Voltage: 2000mV
    • Dynamic Range: 117 dB
    • Power supply: 115/230V, 60/50Hz selectable
    • Size: 26cm Width x 17cm Depth x 5.5cm Height
    • Net weight: 2kg (detachable standard IEC power cord included)
    • Color: silver or black face plate
    • $215 direct fro Hong Kong

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Autonomic Controls MMS-2 cloud-based music server

    Autonomic Controls' MMS-2 is a cloud-based media server, that can access their digital music libraries from iTunes, Windows Media and other popular audio formats, anywhere in the world. Listeners will also enjoy access to their favorite streaming services from Pandora, RadioTime and SiriusXM Internet Radio. 

    Pulling from Macs, PCs and other network storage devices, the MMS-2 automatically synchronizes and streams content to remote locations. Using the Autonomic cloud service as the system’s backbone, the MMS-2 provides secure, global access to digital media collections and streaming services through Wi-Fi or 3G/4G mobile devices. Automated music programming allows users to schedule content in their homes or wherever they happen to be in the world.
    With a leaner form factor and a lower price point, the MMS-2 is designed to work as a solo server for compact spaces, such as a beach house, yacht or pied-à-terre, or as a complement to the award-winning, five-source Mirage Media Server (MMS-5). The MMS-2 features 500GB of internal storage, two independent audio outputs—one 5.1 digital output for the audiophile in the main listening room and one analog output for distribution to multiple rooms—and one video output for displaying metadata and photo slideshows on the HDTV.
    When a song or album is purchased or ripped at home, the MMS-2 will automatically synchronize new media to the cloud and make it available anywhere with Internet access, sparing the trouble of manually transferring music. To protect a user’s content, MMS-2 offers automatic backup to a private Internet data locker (the "cloud"), reducing the chances of losing digital files, while offering remote access to music from computers and mobile devices. Users can also create Pandora Internet Radio stations based on whatever artist or song is playing, allowing them to create customized music stations on the fly.
    With the convenience and low cost of an iPad, users can now browse and control media libraries and all supported streaming services, complete with metadata and album art, all from one application. Mirage Media Controller (MMC) for iPad is currently available from the iTunes App Store for $49.99, and the same app for iPhone and iPod Touch is available for $19.99.  MMS-2 MSRP is $1,995.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    How to communicate with your plugged-in kids

    Antelope Zodiac Gold DAC / Pre amp

    Another pro-audio company's venture into high end home audio.  Antelope Zodiac Gold is its  flagship DAC based on Antelope's 64-bit clocking technology used by the world’s top audio engineers. A custom designed USB controller chip streams digital audio at 480 Mbits, supporting sample rates up to 384 kHz with native drivers. 

    As a preamp, the device allows up to 8 input sources with auto-detection of active channels with ease and flexibility to connect to virtually any device. A dual-stage headphone driver architecture unveils every sonic detail, while the relay based volume control assures superb stereo imaging at any listening level. For enhanced user experience your Zodiac comes with aluminum remote control and friendly PC/Mac software panel.

    • Up to 384kHz sample rate
    • Stepped relay volume attenuator
    • Optional outboard power supply
    • High precision clock
    • 64-bit internal processor
    • Custom USB implementation
    • 2 x headphone output
    • RCA and XLR outputs
    • AES/EBU, coaxial and toslink digital inputs
    • Word clock input on BNC
    • De-jittered digital outputs

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Fidelia music player for OS X

    Yet another new music player.  Audiofile Engineering, maker of the fine Wave Editor software which we covered in an earlier post, is launching a Fidelia, a Mac OS X music player which does upsampling and dithering on the fly using industry standard iZotope's algorithm. Seems like it has the best features out there.  We will be testing it soon to see how does it compares sonically to competing OS X players like Amarra, Pure Music, Decibel and Audirvana.  Beta testers who were using Fidelia under its previous "Twilight" name, reported excellent sound quality.

    • Fidelia takes advantage of Apple CoreAudio, Quartz, and other solid OS X features
    • Supports AIFF, WAV, CAF, AAC, Apple Lossless, Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and FLAC, also convert existing files to and from any
    • Seamless access by importing your iTunes library, including user-generated playlists
    • iZotope's 64-bit Sample Rate Converter featuring a hybrid ringing control enabling a compromise between the standard pre-ringing of a linear phase filter and the post-ringing of a minimum phase filter with unlimited sample rate support (including 44.1kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz, and higher)
    • iZotope's MBIT+ dithering algorithm (Audiofile Engineering claims that this is the best sounding dither on the market - making digital domain volume control a real contender for serious listening)
    • Fidelia remote app ($10 available from Apple Appstore) for iOS turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a full-featured remote control
    • $119 Price to be announced
    Update: The base program is $20.00 The Advanced program that includes hog and advanced settings for iZotope SRC is an addtional $50 in the Add-on store.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Orb Audio Jade II

    Orb Audio of Japan's new Jade II is a full-feature DAC with the usual arrays of digital inputs.  There is a line level input to feed a legacy device into the headphone amplifier, an amplifier capable of driving 600ohm headphones with ease.
    The USB port on the front panel can be used to playback music files from a USB stick, with capacities reaching the sky these days, the ORB can be your only music source as well.

    • AKM AK4396 24/192 chip
    • 24/192kHz for SPDIF coaxial and toslink inputs
    • 24/96kHz USB input
    • Additional USB host port on the front panel
    • Load Impedance of Headphone Amplifier 16 ~ 600Ω
    • Input Sensitivity / 2V/47kΩ impedance
    • 16Ω load rated output 1100mW + 1100mW
    • Frequency Response 20Hz ~ 20kHz +0 dB,-0.5dB
    • USB 0.018% total harmonic distortion below
    • 0.018% or less optical
    • Coaxial below 0.018%
    • RCA 0.004% 
    • S/N over 127dB 
    • More than 120dB Dynamic Range
    • 0.1Ω Output Impedance
    • Headphone output (standard stereo jack φ6.3)
    • Dimensions 238W × 317D × 96H mm
    • Weight approx 4kg
    • $1799
    Cryo-Parts is the US distributor for the Jade II.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    B&W The Dome

    I'm speechless, still deciding whether its beautiful or hideous.