Auralic refer to the Aries as a “bridge”; basically a digital device which refers to a networked music library from the likes of a NAS drive, or by use of an external USB hard drive, connected directly to the Aries. What we have come to know more lovingly as a streamer – although you could argue that they are usually an all in one device, often with an on-board hard drive and with analogue outputs from it’s on-board DAC. Dan Worth takes this £1495 box of tricks for a whirl.  More »

Dan Worth takes a look at the Innuos Zenith MK2 an all in one streamer, CD ripper and SSD storage unit costing from £2299 depending on storage capacity chosen.   More »

JCAT has introduced NET Card FEMTO, which they say is the first high-end ethernet adapter for noiseless and jitterless data transfer from your PC media server. More »

Midland Audio Exchange will be hosting an open day with Scott Berry and Isabel Whitley of Computer Audio Design. More »

Audirvana Plus, the desktop music player for macOS, has released the latest version of its software which now integrates MQA audio technology.  The MQA Core decoder, contained within the new Audirvana Plus 3 player, enables the first origami ‘unfold’ and also authenticates the file using a blue or green light to confirm that the sound is identical to that of the source material. More »

As we featured in our Bristol Sound and Vision coverage, Melco have updated their original N1 series with their new MkII range which reflects both technical improvements and feedback from owners, with the aim to further improve sound quality and also to add ‘innovative new functionality previously not possible with this type of Audiophile Source Component’. More »

The SOtM sMS 200 streamer is an unassuming little unit costing $450 plus taxes. John Scott puts it to the test.  More »

roksponsmallMUTEC, German manufacturer of professional and audiophile consumer audio equipment, is proud to release a utility app for firmware updates of the MC-3+ Smart Clock USB on Apple Macs. Since the release of the Windows update utility in July MUTEC say they have received “a tremendous positive response from customers who have eagerly updated their devices”. More »

Merging Technologies will display a pre-production version of the Merging+NADAC Player at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. The result of a dynamic partnership with Roon Labs, On a Higher Note, Merging’s US distributor will be demonstrating the product in Long Peaks on the Mezzanine floor of the Denver Marriott Tech Center. The concept of Roon’s ground breaking player program being offered in integrated solutions is not new; there being many existing partners with products available, but this will be the first time that the focus will shift to a complete turnkey and networked solution offering stereo as well as multichannel capability up to DSD256 and DXD.merging_tech_rocky_mountain

The Merging+NADAC player was shown as a concept at the 2016 HIGH END Munich event and was welcomed by the attendees. The ‘single box’ solution with the software and the server combined with a DAC removes the need to have a computer in the living room. The ease with which the whole system can be controlled by your favorite tablet or smart phone enhances the user experience significantly. Integration details such as direct control of the NADAC volume and mute from the Roon user interface, also adds to the overall ergonomics by simplifying the control of the entire system from one single page on one single tablet. The NADAC Player requires only to be connected to the home network to access the remote control tablet through Wifi and stream from NAS servers storing music. When connected on the network any computer can still also stream music to NADAC using Merging Ravenna/AES67 drivers for Windows or Mac, while the NADAC Player enjoys a brand new Merging Linux/ALSA driver. Optional USB drives containing music may be connected directly on the back plate of the NADAC Player.

Merging also announced that this solution can be retrofitted to all Merging NADAC units already in the field and to any units shipping from now on, meaning that early adopters can take advantage of the upgrade if they wish. The Merging+NADAC Player is planned to be shipping in time for CES in January.  Prices will show a small increase from the existing DAC despite the huge increase in functionality and convenience.

Roon’s CEO, Enno Vandermeer commented; “We are sure that this combination of the very best audio reproduction and the ultimate user experience, is going to bring back the enjoyment of listening to music in the home.” On Merging’s behalf, Head of Software Engineering and NADAC Product Manager, Dominique Brulhart stated; “The feedback we have had from customers, dealers and distributors over the past few months has convinced us that the market wants an elegant solution in a neater package. The Merging+NADAC Roon player is just that.”

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John Scott takes a listen to the Hana Lab Sakura music server and DAC hailing from Croatia and costing £500
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Hydra Z from Audiobyte is a USB audio playback bridge and clock generator whilst the Hydra ZPM is its matching Ultra linear audio power supply. Dan Worth is already a user of the company’s previous model Hydra X+ and most definitely a digital audiophile, so who better to put to put this £1050 combo through their paces.  More »

MUTEC, German manufacturer of professional and audiophile consumer audio equipment, say they are excited to introduce the firmware V1.10 for their MC-3+ Smart Clock USB. The new firmware V1.10 will not only introduce several functional improvements, it also presents a significant step-up for the already exceptional sound performance of the MC-3+USB say the company. Furthermore, the update will be free to all users and is ready to be installed on their own at home or at the studio.mutec_MC-3+ Smart Clock USB_mutec_firmware_update_news

KEY FEATURES:

  • Free, user-executable update
  • Painstakingly optimized re-clocking algorithm
    Improving the already exceptional sound quality to achieve even more clarity, resolution, and presence
  • PCM/DSD auto-detection
    Enjoy music via USB up to 192 kHz PCM and DSD/DoP streams (up to DSD256 and DoP128 respectively) without the need for manual switching
  • Bugfixes and functional improvements

Windows only at the moment, but Mac update coming soon 

One of the most significant functional improvements and most requested feature of the firmware V1.10 is the automatic detection of DSD and PCM streams when using the MC-3+USB for audiophile computer audio playback via USB. MUTEC CEO Christian Peters comments: “Convenience is key for our high-end consumer audio customers and having to switch modes depending on the source file when playing back a mixed format playlist for example was a major nuisance.” From now on, the user simply has to select the USB input from the reference menu (all top three LEDs now illuminate) and the MC-3+USB will automatically adapt to PCM streams with up to 192 kHz sampling rate and DSD/DoP (DSD256 and DoP128 respectively).

Christian continues: “Our development engineers have painstakingly tweaked the DDS algorithms under the hood yielding a new level of sound quality. This is an achievement we’re particularly proud of and that all users will benefit from.”.

The firmware release package will contain several update files and a comprehensive guide taking the user through the process step by step. The update will be made available via MUTEC’s website as a zip-archive download. At the moment, the update is limited to Windows users only, but a Mac version of the update is expected to follow soon.

Expect a review of this the MC-3+USB on Hifi Pig soon.

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There is something new from Clones Audio and it’s called The Host.clones_server

The Host is the first digital music server of CLones Audio and comes equipped with a high performance USB digital audio output, Ethernet port, solid-state drive for music storage and full linear power supply with the super low noise regulator modules.clones_server_3

Host runs a custom Linux OS with the ROON Server  but the company can also supple the DAPHILE as the difference choice for the user.

  • SHAAR USB gateway for USB audio class 3.0 output.
  • Full linear power supply.
  • Double POWER STATION regulator supply the SSD/SHAAR and the Main processor board separately
  • 256GB/ 500GB/ 1TB/ 2TB internal storage option
  • Machined aluminium case
  • Gigabit Ethernet LAN Port for network connectivityclones_server_2

Specification

  • 322mm(W) X 260mm(D) X 90mm(H)
  • Weight: 7kg
  • Mucic Storage: 256GB/ 500GB/ 1TB/ 2TB
  • Digital Output: 2 – USB
  • Other I/O: Gigabit Ethernet, USB Port X 4
  • 2 YEARS WARRANTY

Price: Starting from HKD11,799(EUR1,377)*

*Solid-state hard drive and ROON licence are excluded

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Clones Audio have been in touch to let us know abut their latest product.Sclones8shqqr
The SHAAR is an  audiophile grade PCIe to USB audio gateway. Ultra low noise regulators for digital chips, clock, USB power. Power input noise filters. Extreme low noise master clock module with the precision 1ppm TCXO.
-USB portUSB 3.0 controller
-Support for super-speed, high-speed, full-speed, and low-speed
-Over current protection
-Ultra Low Noise Regulator
-Ultra low phase noise clock with 1ppm TCXO
Internal power input
Input voltage : +5.0Vdc(+0.5V, -0.5V)
Input current : 2A max
4 pin IDE power connector
USB port output power
Output voltage : +5.0V(+0.5V, -0.25V)
Output Current : 600mA/each at 20 degree C
Recommended output current 0.5A >
OS support
Linux (kernel with high speed USB 2.0 support)
Windows 7 or higher
Price: HKD1,399 (USD181/EUR162) + shipping
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Mitchell and Johnson’s trio of CD Player, Amplifier and Streamer cost a total of £947 which puts them very much in the budget category but can they satisfy sonically? Dominic Marsh finds out for Hifi Pig.  More »

Auralic North America Inc. and its parent company, Auralic Limited, is introducing the new Altair Streaming DAC. The company say that the Altair can act as an easy-to-use Home Music Center with more than 15 input sources including: Streaming Inputs: Network Shared Folder (NAS), USB drive, Internal music storage (optional), uPnP/DLNA media server, TIDAL and Qobuz streaming, Internet Radio, AirPlay, Bluetooth, Songcast and RoonReady; Digital Inputs: AES/EBU, Coaxial, Toslink, USB device to computer, 2 USB host for storage and DAC, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n/ac Tri-Band WiFi.

Xuanqian Wang, Auralic’s president & CEO, said: “The new ALTAIR is both a high quality streamer and DAC, and was designed based on feedback from dealers for an exceptional yet convenient-to-operate digital Source unit at an $1,800 – $2,000 price point.auralic-streamer-dac

“Some may consider this as a combination of Vega and Aries or the upgrade version of Aries Mini with digital input. However, the Altair is definitely a Line Extension, and not replacing the Aries Mini, or Auralic’s award-winning Vega DAC or Aries Streamers which represent the very highest level of sound quality.”

The Altair streaming DAC utilizes Auralic’s Lightning technology. Launched in 2014, Lightning was the audio industry’s first streaming technology that supports DXD and Quad-Rate DSD playback through a WiFi network. It also offers features such as Gapless Playback, On-Device Playlist and Multiple-Room functions, as part of Auralic’s ongoing program of offering regular upgrades that download in the background. Memory Playback, the latest feature added to to the Lightning streaming technology, allows the Altair to fetch and cache the entire track in its memory or system storage in advance to improve the sound quality, and also play locally without the need of network data transfer. Using Lightning DS, you can also stream TIDAL, Qobuz and listen to Internet Radio at any time. Altair’s AirPlay, Songcast and Bluetooth functions provide alternative ways to stream your favorite music from Apple Music, Spotify and other service providers through your smartphone or computer.

Altair’s’s streaming function, operated by Auralic’s Lightning DS control App, is available on iOS platforms right now, with Mac and Windows versions in development. It is also compatible with other 3rd party OpenHome or UPnP control software for playback. Altair also works as a RoonReady endpoint to use with Roon software, bringing you a new way to discover and listen to music. The unit’s other inputs include AES/EBU, Coaxial and Toslink, and a USB connection to a computer working as a standalone USB DAC.

When purchasing Altair you can add an optional 2.5-inch HDD or SSD for internal music storage, turning the ALTAIR into a Music Server.

Cosmetically, the new Altair shares the same size enclosure as the Vega DAC, including a 512×64 pixels OLED Display (although the content is different from the Vega). A headphone jack is located on the front panel.

The Altair has a MSRP of $1,899. Shipment will commence in June, following the Munich HIGHEND Show.

Altair is powered by Auralic’s proprietary Tesla hardware platform that includes a Quad-Core Coretex-A9 processor running at 1GHz, 1GB DDR3 onboard memory and 4GB system storage. The Tesla platform has a calculation ability of 25,000 MIPS and can decode including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA. Future features planned include DSD Upsampling, Room Acoustic Treatment and MQA support. All these features can be delivered through automatic online updates without user’s attention.auralic_streamer_new

Femto Master Clock

The dual-frequency Femto Master Clock inside the Altair is specially designed and optimized for its ESS Sabre DAC chip: with one frequency for playing music with a sampling rate which is the multiple of 44.1K, and a second for 48K. The Femto Master Clock, which is powered by a 9uV dedicated power supply that has a very low phase noise performance.

Linear Power Supply

Auralic uses Purer-Power™ linear power supply technology on the Altair where AC power firstly goes into a power purification module, and the DC current and noise from both within and outside audio frequencies can be reduced by as much as 90dB. The purified AC power is then fed to a transformer.

Flexible Filter Mode

ALTAIR has four built-in filter modes which allows its user to customize sound best befitting their personal preference.

Technical Specifications

Frequency Response: 20 – 20KHz, +/- 0.1dB*

THD+N: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz at 0dBFS

Dynamic Range: 121dB, 20Hz-20KHz, A-weighted

Streaming Inputs:
Network shared folder
USB drive
Internal music storage**
uPnP/DLNA media server
TIDAL and Qobuz streaming
Internet Radio
AirPlay
Bluetooth
Songcast
RoonReady

Digital Inputs
1*AES/EBU
1*Coaxial
1*Toslink
1*USB device to computer
2*USB host for storage and DAC
1*RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
1*802.11b/g/n/ac Dual-Band WiFi

Analogue Outputs:
1*Balanced XLR (output impedance 10ohm)
1*Single-ended RCA (output impedance 50ohm)
1*6.35mm Headphone jack

Supported File Types
AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA

Supported Digital Formats
All PCM from 44.1KS/s to 384KS/s in 32Bit***
DSD64, DSD128, DSD256***

Output Voltage: 2Vrms at Max. with dynamic-loss-free digital volume

Control Software:
AURALiC Lightning DS for iOS
AURALiC RC-1 remote control
OpenHome compatible software
uPnP AV compatible software

Device Display: 512×64 pixels OLED Display

Dimensions: 11”W x 9”D x 2.6”H (33cm x 23cm x 6.5cm)

Weight: 7.0 pounds (3.2kg)

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Aurender has announced that their latest downloadable software upgrade, System SW 4.5.58 (5.5.58), adds several new features, including: Qobuz high fidelity streaming, and the company’s unique Smart Copy®function that allows direct music uploading, within their Conductor App, to any Aurender Music Streamer/Player’s internal HDD directly from your NAS or external USB drive, without using a PC or Mac.AurenderN100

These new features are backward-compatible with any Aurender Music Streamer/Player. The Smart Copy process includes all metadata and the copying of either folders, individual files or both from a NAS or any attached USB drive into the Aurender. One may select a “target” folder of their choice as the destination for the transferred folders or files. It is a “copy” function, and does not currently allow deletion or name changes; this will come in a future software upgrade.

For those Aurender models with two internal HDDs: When the target HDD is full, Smart Copy will copy to the second HDD automatically.

Also included in the latest software upgrade: W20 supports on-the-fly DSD to PCM conversion up to DSD64. (The recently–introduced N10 Music Server has had DSD to PCM conversion since its introduction, and supports up to DSD128.)

 

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The Etalon strEamer is a mini server made in Hungary and costing €550. John Scott wires it into his system for Hifi Pig.  More »

Dan Worth take a listen to the £1000 Chord Sarum Super Aray USB cable.OUTSTANDING PRODUCTboxred More »

At €11000 plus taxes as tested the Lampizator Big 7 is certainly no budget DAC, but does it deliver on sonic ability? Stuart Smith finds out.  More »

SOtM today announced the worldwide release of the sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition, “the world’s first” Windows OS based server, which combines with AudiophileOptimizer and ROON.

The company’s press release says that “The sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition raises the bar for the highest sound quality and also with very convenient usage. The standard unit comes with RoonServer based on fully licensed Windows Server 2012 R2 (Essentials Edition) as well as AudiophileOptimizer and such features tell you everything”.SOTM_windows_server

Key features

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 with AudiophileOptimizer pre-installed, licensed and configured
  • Only selected high quality audio grade Windows OS hardware
  • Roonserver for multi zone internet streaming audio system
  • Various audio player application support
  • Video playback support
  • Windows 8.1 with Fidelizer pre-installed, licensed and configured

Pricing and Availability

  • The sMS-1000SQ Windows Edition with AudiophileOptimizer is available Pricing starts at US$3500.
  • The unit is available in two colors, silver or black, and three different hardware variants: USB, Analog and Digital

The USB version comes with the tX-USBexp based USB output.

The digital version comes with AES/EBU, Coaxial and Optical based tX-USBexp USB output.

The analogue version comes with balanced and unbalanced outputs based tX-USBexp USB output.

  • The internal storage device can be chosen up to 2TB SSD or 4TB HDD besides the originated 32GB SSD installed.
  • The Ultra Low Noise Clock upgrade is available as

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