The SOtM sMS 200 streamer is an unassuming little unit costing $450 plus taxes. John Scott puts it to the test. More »
MUTEC, 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.
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.”
John Scott takes a listen to the Hana Lab Sakura music server and DAC hailing from Croatia and costing £500
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.
- 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.
There is something new from Clones Audio and it’s called The Host.
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.
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 connectivity
- 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
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.
“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.
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.
Frequency Response: 20 – 20KHz, +/- 0.1dB*
THD+N: <0.001%, 20Hz-20KHz at 0dBFS
Dynamic Range: 121dB, 20Hz-20KHz, A-weighted
Network shared folder
Internal music storage**
uPnP/DLNA media server
TIDAL and Qobuz streaming
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
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
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)
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.
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.)
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. 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”.
- 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
McIntosh has introduced three new products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016): the MX122 A/V Processor, MB50 Streaming Audio Player and RS100 Wireless Loudspeaker.
MX122 A/V Processor
The MX122 A/V Processor can serve as the brain centre for an advanced home theater system for years to come. It features many of the latest breakthroughs in surround sound and object-based 3D audio such as Dolby® Atmos, and will be upgradeable to support DTS:X™ and Auro-3D®. Besides 3D audio, existing formats like Dolby
TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio™ and others are still supported. The MX122 is fully compatible with modern 4K Ultra HD video sources and can upscale lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD. A wide assortment of inputs and outputs are included to connect current and future entertainment sources. All HDMI inputs and outputs are HDCP 2.2 and support High Dynamic Range (HDR), 4K Ultra HD at 50/60Hz, 4:4:4 color, Rec. 2020 and 3D video pass-through. The MX122 can send select audio and/or video to 2 additional zones within in the house. Users can connect to their online digital music with either the wired or wireless network connections. DSD64 files can be played from flash drives or over the network. Bluetooth and AirPlay® connectivity allows for easy streaming from mobile devices. Interfaces to popular streaming services including Pandora®, SiriusXM® and Spotify® are included while vTuner connects to 1,000s of internet radio stations. Audyssey MultEQ® XT32 will calibrate the MX122 to each home theater’s unique acoustical properties.
MB50 Streaming Audio Player
A home audio system can be transformed into a wireless audio system with the MB50 Streaming Audio Player. The MB50 features DTS Play-Fi® technology to give the freedom and flexibility to wirelessly play music at home over an existing Wi-Fi network. While utilizing DTS Play-Fi streaming capabilities, the MB50 delivers the legendary McIntosh sound quality and performance found in our other home audio products. Simply connect the MB50 to a Wi-Fi network and audio system via the analog or digital outputs and then stream music to it from the Apple or Android mobile app or Windows desktop app. Besides accessing a personal music library on a mobile device, the apps have built-in support for many leading online streaming services including Deezer, KKBox, Pandora®, QQMusic, Rhapsody, SiriusXM®, Songza, Spotify® and TIDAL (list subject to change). If there’s more than one audio system to stream to, just add an MB50 to each and then stream the same music to all systems. Or if there are multiple mobile devices with the app, different music can simultaneously be streamed to each system.
Analog and digital inputs allow for connecting audio components such as CD players, letting the MB50 to act as a mini-preamp.
RS100 Wireless Loudspeaker
The RS100 wireless speaker allows streaming music capabilities to be added to any room. It features DTS Play-Fi® technology that gives the freedom and flexibility to wirelessly play the music on mobile devices over an existing Wi-Fi network. Simply connect it to a Wi-Fi network, install the free Play-Fi Apple or Android mobile app or Windows desktop app and then begin streaming. A single RS100 is all that is needed to start building a wireless speaker system; more can be added over time to expand the system. Up to 16 speakers can be connected to a single Wi-Fi network – enough for stereo playback in 8 separate rooms. With the Play-Fi app installed on multiple devices, each device can stream different music to each room, giving all family members or guests control over what they want to hear in their room. Besides accessing a personal music library, the apps have built-in support for many leading online streaming services including Deezer, KKBox, Pandora®, QQMusic, Rhapsody, SiriusXM®, Songza, Spotify® and TIDAL (list subject to change). Not limited to just streaming, the RS100 is flexible thanks to its auxiliary input which allows it to be used in non-streaming setups; it can quickly be switched back and forth between the two inputs to accommodate listening preferences. A subwoofer output is also included.
All three products are available to order now from authorized McIntosh dealers with shipping anticipated in January for MX122 and in March for MB50 and RS100. Suggested retail price for each (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded):
MX122: $7,000 USD
RS100: $1,000 USD per speaker
It is a first for the Swiss brand usually known for extreme loudspeakers like the gigantic and inaccessible Apologue Anniversary, but good things come to those who wait!
Goldmund has announced the introduction of what they are calling “a high-tech computer audio system that will dramatically transform your sound environment during the long hours you are spending in front of your screens: the Goldmund Talisman Audio System”.
The system comprises the Nanometis Speakers and the Metis Talisman Hub, two lifestyle products holding the company’s “latest developments in nanotechnology for ultimate sound reproduction”.
The Metis Talisman is a mini wireless hub the size of a jewelry box. It is the central piece of the system that allows connecting the speakers to multiple sources with its USB port, analogue and digital RCA inputs, and toslink optical connection. In addition, it comes with a headphone plug.
It is delivered with a simplistic remote control and has push buttons for input selection and volume on the back panel. Input and volume controls are monitored by a linear led indicator running along the unit’s front panel.
Different colors are proposed for the standard version of the Talisman: Pearly White, Black, Clear Grey and Anthracite Grey, just like the Goldmund Nanometis Speakers.
Both products come with a Goldmund logo engraved gold plaque. They are built in aluminum and handcrafted.
The new Nanometis is the smallest and more versatile speaker proposed by the Swiss manufacturer. It completes an already very wide line of Goldmund high-end wireless speakers created to simplify customers’ lives thanks to models that are extremely easy to use and install, it includes the new Goldmund Leonardo 2 technology associated to Proteus and 140W of Telos amplification per pair.
The Talisman Hub and Nanometis can also be ordered separately, which gives customers the choice to:
Select different colors for the speakers and the hub.
Use the Nanometis without the Talisman directly from your computer thanks to the USB dongle emitter provided with the speaker.
Use the Nanometis with any other Goldmund Processor.
Use the Metis Talisman Hub with any other Goldmund wireless speaker.
Lastly, two luxury finishes are available on demand for the Metis Talisman Hub: Goldmund Aluminum and Matt Gold.
And for those who are only satisfied with unique products, bespoke Gold and Rhodium plated versions can be created for this model, as well as completely personalized designs with inlaid gemstones.
AURALiC is now significantly extending the potential user base for music streaming by introducing the all-in-one ARIES MINI.
The ARIES MINI offers wireless streaming, including Quad-Rate DSD/DXD, a built-in DAC, plus new connectivity to a much broader market of consumers — the millions of music lovers with stereo & A/V receiver-based or powered speaker-based audio systems — not just Audiophiles. The highly compact unit, with its built-in DAC and analog/digital outputs, shares most software and hardware functions with the original ARIES, plus Bluetooth, at a fraction of the latter’s cost.
Priced at only $549, the ARIES MINI also comes with a free one-year subscription to TIDAL HiFi’s® Lossless music library of 35 million tracks — a $240 value. [U.S. and Canada sales, only]
Music may live on a computer, on the Internet or in the Cloud — even an SSD/HDD installable inside the ARIES MINI. A USB input allows playing from HDDs and thumbdrives.
“The ARIES MINI begins a new and evolutionary era for the future of the audio industry,” said Xuanqian Wang, President and CEO of AURALIC LIMITED. “We intentionally set the retail price at an extremely affordable entry point to offer everyone an opportunity to enjoy the convenience and Studio Quality music that modern technology can bring to all.
“Digital audio is changing very fast. The digital audio component is becoming a software-driven product, rather than a static piece of hardware out of a box. Manufactures can add new features, functionalities, ease of use and improve the sound quality by software updates — and it will be almost transparent and extremely beneficial for customers. In the future, you will no longer be buying a “box” or static piece of hardware.
“That is perhaps the most important transition or “education” that consumers have to appreciate about what is going on in the audio industry today. And I’m referring not only to ‘Audiophiles’, but anyone who loves to listen to music. It’s the latter group that will drive our industry’s growth. We want both segments of the market to benefit from our work.”
Set-up is said to be extremely easy and uncomplicated, and with its built-in ESS Sabre DAC chip, analogue and digital outputs, and optional 2.5” hard drive slot for anyone who doesn’t want to invest in a dedicated DSD DAC and/or NAS drive, it represents an extremely simple way of adding high-resolution music, or accessing one’s own music library, for the millions of existing stereo and AV receiver-based audio systems.
For those users wishing to access music stored on their PC/Mac or NAS, AURALiC’s iPad app uniquely offers simple, step-by-step setup directions. (iPhone app to come very soon.) The App also supports Songcast, a music distribution service that allows users to map computer’s sound to any Lightning-equipped system and to map sound between different Lightning systems in the house and streaming sound though AirPlay. AURALiC also added Bluetooth support to ARIES MINI, enabling it to access other streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and SoundCloud from mobile device or PC/Mac.
The ARIES MINI is an elegantly sleek, minimalist device, befitting its usage by the average music lover or “Lifestyle” customer, measuring a mere 5.3” W x 5.3” D and 1.1” H [13.5cm x 13.5cm x 2.8cm], and weights 1.1 lbs. [without HD]. Despite its very compact size, there is also internal space for music storage. This is user-installable, and AURALiC may also offer the ARIES MINI with a factory-installed SSD at additional cost.
It is available in both white and black finishes.
It is powered by AURALiC’s proprietary Tesla hardware platform that includes a Quad-Core ARM Coretex-A9 processor running at 1GHz, 512MB DDR3 onboard memory and 4GB internal storage. The Tesla platform has a calculation ability of 25,000 MIPS, more than enough to decode a vast spectrum of audio formats, including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, APE, DIFF, DSF, FLAC, MP3, OGG, WAV, WV and WMA.
By using OpenHome structure which is adopted by U.K.-based streaming solution manufacturer Linn, the ARIES MINI, as well as all other Lightning based products, supports advanced functions such as on-device playlist that allow control software to turn off during play and complete supporting of multi-room, multiple control points — functions that are not part of the legacy standards of the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA).
The ARIES MINI is also compatible with other OpenHome and uPnP AV based control software such as Linn Kinsky and BubbleDS, although those software do not support most of Lightning DS App’s advanced functions such as the online streaming and hardware settings.
Outputs are: high quality analogue RCA jacks, Coaxial and TOSLINK, and USB 2.0 High-Speed for compatible DACs. Inputs are: RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet, High-Speed USB 2.0, and Tri-Band WiFi.
The USB and analogue outputs can deliver PCM from 44.1 to 384 KHz at 16-, 24- and 32-bit resolutions as well as the latest Quad-Rate DSD and DXD for compatible USB DACs. The other digital outputs are limited to 192 KHz at 24-bit in maximum according to S/PDIF standard.
Another rant from Stu, this time about recent legislation in the UK regarding making back ups. “So what, given this new ruling am I supposed to do if and when my hard-drive goes belly up and refuses to let me at my precious music files?”
Croatian-based newcomer “Hana-Lab” has recently announced their new audio server plus Class D amp set in a stylish and unusual design.
This versatile fanless audio server has integrated DAC which supports high-resolution playback (configurable with a 24/192 or 32/384 DAC) and a variety of streaming services (Spotify, Internet radio, UPNP/DLNA playback, Airplay, etc.).
It plays most of the usual audio formats (MP3, Flac, Aiff, WAV, etc.) via external USB, or a wide selection of Internet radio stations. It also supports network sources for audio files (NAS or a network share).
The server connects to network via Ethernet cable or wirelessly (Wi-Fi), and the network connection is very easy to set up say the company.
The other part of the product is a small and efficient amplifier, based on the well-known TI TPA3116D2 chip, which will easily handle even the more demanding speakers. Like the server, the amplifier part of the product is also customisable, so you can choose different combinations, e.g. a more powerful amp (2x100W).
Hana-Lab offers a unique blend of technology, design and craftsmanship, together with individualised approach to each customer.
They have several other optional additions to this basic product (enclosure for the external 2.5″ hard disk, or a server with front-mounted LCD screen and an additional IR remote control), and offer completely customised setups. Their manufacturing process is artisanal, and each product is handmade in consultation with the customer (they will even go as far as to offer differently positioned power switches for left-handed users).
The prices for the server start at €350 for a simple network player without DAC: the model shown has integrated HD Audio DAC, at 24-bit, 192KHz, and costs €450. The amplifiers start at €320 for the basic 2x50W model, with a 10% discount if both are purchased at once.
Polish company, LampizatOr have launched their new DSD Komputer, a Windows 2012 R2 Server machine which they say is ‘as no-compromise and as high spec as possible. Nothing is ordinary about it. Most of the parts can’t even be bought in regular computer stores, even on-line. A machine as such can’t be bought anywhere even at a much higher price – simply speaking no-one makes such machines and especially the real IT people would tell you it is insane.’
LampizatOr have created the Komputer to sonically match their Golden Gate DAC and make the bold claim that ‘this machine plays both PCM and DSD and can not be upgraded or beat because it is the best that PC technology has to offer’.
As more and more music lovers incorporate computers into their various listening systems, demand grows for greater system flexibility and improved digital sound quality. Tokyo-based Furutech’s Alpha design Labs (ADL) responded to that need with the release of the GT40, an “impressively affordable high-performance” piece of kit.
Combining USB DAC with A/D converter, MC and MM phonostage and headphone amp, this extraordinarily handy little gadget was hailed as the audiophile’s “Swiss army knife”.
Now comes its successor, the GT40α (alpha), which can record and play back at a bit depth/sampling frequency of 24 bit / 192 kHz – a doubling of the original GT40’s 96 kHz rate.
The outer design has also been subtly tweaked, including the addition of a new discrete red ‘clipping’ light which warns of digital recording overload. Used in combination with the new three-position recording attenuation switch, success in making high definition digital recordings becomes a breeze.
The ADL GT40α is available now priced at £395 (including VAT).
Tidal (expect a Hifi Pig review in the next 24 hours) has announced the integration of its service within the ickStream music
platform, which delivers music streaming services to home audio devices. ickStream’s recent support of the Logitech Squeezebox brings TIDAL to the popular device. The latest release of the ickStream app for the Squeezebox that includes TIDAL integration is available now.
ickStream is an API plug-in that works across various platforms, allowing users of supported devices to incorporate multiple streaming services into their systems. Tidal’s integration allows Squeezebox users to navigate and control the service through the Squeezebox controller and/or Logitech’s Squeezebox app, giving access to TIDAL’s lossless 16-bit/44.1 kHz FLAC and ALAC format service, with access to its 25 million-plus tracks.
“Having developed the ickStream API, we have been waiting for a service that champions the quality of the performance as well as the breadth of its catalogue,”said Joerg Schwieder, CEO of ickStream. “We very much see TIDAL as the ideal partnering streaming service, as it is designed for music lovers who appreciate the finest quality available. We are sure that our users are going to love it.”
“We were thrilled to have been approached by ickStream so early into our integration drive,” said Pål Bråtelund, Strategic Partnership Manager HiFi at Tidal.“Many of the ickStream team helped develop the Squeezebox and, therefore, have many years experience of streaming music. The number of customers in the UK and US using Squeezebox as their streaming music player is vast, and we are delighted that they can now hear TIDAL through their systems.”
A streamer with a built in digital to analogue converter for less than £150? Well that’s what arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago from our friends at QED. To say I was a touch sceptical would have been an understatement, however I was pleasantly surprised.
“It’s compatible with all the main file formats including MP3, FLAC, WAV and what not and has an onboard Wolfson DAC which is 24-bit/96kHz compatible. The uPlay is DLNA/UPnP compatible and can be controlled from your iPad or Android doodad. You can have up to eight of these beasties dotted around your house and it will play tunes from your tablet or smartphone, your PC or NAS drive or even from Drop Box and Sky Drive”
Everyone loves a freebie and we were really please to hear that Computer Audio Design (CAD), manufacturer of the CAD 1543 USB DAC, has created a number of free system set-up and optimisation guides, which are now available to download from their website.
With computer audio destined to be the dominant source of high-quality music in the home, Computer Audio Design’s (Manufacturer of the CAD 1543 USB DAC) Proprietor and Chief Engineer Scott Berry (pictured here at the Bath Audiodest) has applied his knowledge of computer audio set-up and system optimisation, to create a series of free guides for anybody wishing to get the best sound from their Windows PC.
The guides were conceived during the exhaustive research and development phase of the 1543 DAC, where a comprehensive range of media playback packages, drives and even operating systems, were tested over a period of many months to find the best-sounding partnering equipment and software.
The PDF guides, which contain a wealth of free information, have now been uploaded to the CAD website and are accessible to anyone looking to optimise their PC’s sound quality. The guides contain recommendations on media playback software and optimisation, file formats and CD ripping, plus step-by-step information to help configure Windows systems for optimum playback performance.