The Auralic Mini is a streamer of diminutive proportions, but does this mean it has to compromise on sound? Dan Worth attaches this £450 unassuming black box into his system to find out. More »
The Auralic Mini is a streamer of diminutive proportions, but does this mean it has to compromise on sound? Dan Worth attaches this £450 unassuming black box into his system to find out. More »
The SOtM sMS 200 streamer is an unassuming little unit costing $450 plus taxes. John Scott puts it to the test. More »
The £2800 Simaudio Moon Neo ACE is a versatile, all-in-one solution that you need only add speakers to…there’s even an on-board moving magnet phonostage. John Scott finds out just how ACE it really is. More »
The new Sirius is a hifi-grade streaming music server system that provides a high-performance solution for the storage and playback of digital music. Developed in partnership with Innuos, Leema’s ex-BBC engineers have combined audiophile performance with the convenience of a UPNP/DNLA-compatible music server.
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.”
A very smart cuboid package has just arrived at Hifi Pig Towers, looking forward to having a play with this, especially as it promises everything the Mu-So has and more bass….pass the Hardfloor, I feel a sub bass test coming on!
The £3785 Naim Superuniti is an all in one box streamer, DAC and amplifier, but is it a Jack of all trades and master of none? John Scott finds out for Hifi Pig. More »
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 »
Dominic Marsh and Ian Ringstead take the very well specced £699 Pro-Ject MaiA DS integrated amplifier for a ride and rather enjoy it. More »
MELCO, the audiophile division of Japanese computer peripheral company Buffalo Technology, has announced the launch of its latest firmware update to its Digital Music Libraries. Available to all existing and new owners, V3.00 FW enables users to make a once-and-for-all archival quality import of their CD collections onto a MELCO that will never have to be repeated.
In keeping with the Melco concept of simple operation without sound quality compromise, it is now possible to import and store music using Direct Download from Web Vendors, USB import, or Network Transfer. Additionally, MELCO will now support direct import of music from CDs as either Red Book CD Music Disc (CD-DA), CD Extra, Mixed Mode CD) or CD Rom data disc containing audio files – all with auto format recognition.
This newly developed function allows a user to take CDs from their collection and make a bit perfect import into the MELCO – confident that the sound quality cannot be bettered and safe in the knowledge that if they use the easy MELCO backup routines, the music will be safe and secure.
Set up is simple – the CD is read using a USB connected CD loader direct to the MELCO via the front panel USB socket, or the rear-mounted USB 3.0 socket. (A list of compatible drives will be available on the MELCO web site, although any highperformance drive will deliver the desired performance) The Direct CD-Import function starts automatically once the CD is recognised and the imported music is automatically located within the MELCO in a folder called ‘CD-Import’ and is date stamped for user convenience.
Metadata is derived from Gracenote database. This includes high-resolution cover art royalty free and totally legal. Integration between the metadata download and the internal MELCO UPnP server ensures a comfortable user experience.
As the number of circulating CDs continues to rise, there may be circumstances with conventional solutions whereby the incorrect metadata decision is made by the system. MELCO removes any chance of metadata mistakes or duplications by offering the user the available choices on the front panel display, allowing the selection of the correct album before the download of metadata. This MELCO-developed system safe-guards the user from subsequent time-consuming and frustrating metadata editing. The result is a true archive quality duplication of the users CD library, leaving the user confident that they have the most accurate file and that it will never be necessary to import the CD again.
Music storage can be selected as either .wav, or .flac with selectable compression ratios including zero compression flac – favoured by audiophiles as there is no unpacking burden for the DAC. Both flac and wav have fully embedded metadata.
Users need to satisfy themselves of local copyright laws before using the MELCO Direct CD-import feature and MELCO specifically does not encourage any copyright infringement.
Supporting the Melco Direct CD-Import feature are the following additional features, all of which are packaged within V3.00 firmware:
Local USB player:
• Precision Start permitting connected DAC settling time for both PCM and DSD. Music delay is adjustable by the user.
• Automatic hybrid MODE control – auto selects Mode 0 or Mode 1 depending on the Control Point App chosen by the user. Mode 0 or Mode 1 can also be fixed by the user.
• DSD over PCM playback
• Gapless playback – both PCM and now DSD. (NB requires compatible DAC)
• QUAD DSD 11.3MHz or 256fs DSD support .dff and .dsf files
• Further sound quality improvements based on internal data-flow
• Compatibility Enhancement with new embedded drivers for additional external DAC implementations beyond UAC2. Full details will be posted on the Melco-Audio website.
Having used the MELCO in the Hifi Pig reference system for some time now this is an extremely useful and welcome feature.
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)
A full size integrated amplifier with phonostage, plus a CD player that is also a streamer for just shy of £1200 seems like a good deal. Stuart Smith investigates. More »
John Scott is entranced by the sleek, stylish beauty of Naim’s £850 all-in-one speaker system but will she sound as good as she looks? More »
Bowers & Wilkins, the renowned British audio brand, introduced the original Zeppelin integrated speaker dock seven years ago. Keeping the recognisable silhouette, but with every element of the speaker redesigned, the are now introducing the Zeppelin Wireless. For Zeppelin Wireless the material and shape of the subwoofer has been altered with a larger 6-1/2” driver and an ultra-long voice coil to allow deep bass to be played at volume, while decoupled double-dome tweeters and FST midrange drivers produce clean, dynamic audio. A new reinforced cabinet has been designed with a front fascia 50% thicker than the previous version. Specially designed glass-fibre ribs strengthen the cabinet in order to produce sound that is free from vibration.
The Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is twice as powerful as its predecessor and all inputs are upsampled to 24bit/192kHz resolution. Zeppelin Wireless includes Airplay, Bluetooth aptX and Spotify Connect. Control App has also been updated and is available via iOS, Android, Mac and PC.
The new Zeppelin Wireless is priced at USD $699.99 (in Canada $799.99) and is available online immediately and in retail locations by Oct. 15th.
Whitestone is the first platform for interactive music experiences. A place to create, collect, and truly experience music online. Whitestone has been created by a group of artists, designers and programmers with a vision to bring album art to the internet, using the medium to create special interactive editions of albums and videos. Streaming is just the beginning; they want to take it a step further. One of the founders of Whitestone, Roey Tsemah told us: ‘In 1939 Alex Steinweiss invented album artwork. Before he came up with the idea, records didn’t have any artwork, just a brown dust cover. The first album he illustrated made 800% more profit, it added value to the record and soon enough became an integral part of the culture of music. With the transition to MP3’s we lost the album, we lost the artwork, we were left with the cover and a tracklist. It’s about time we change that.’
‘We believe that true fans want to support artists. Our business model is based on the concept of the tip jar and fan contributions rather than advertisements. As a fan you can follow creators to get their feed. When you see something you like you can tip them – You decide how much, and your money goes directly to the person you intend to. Not only artists are creators – radio hosts and music bloggers for instance can get tipped as well, the stage is for everyone.’
Whitestone are launching their Kickstarter funding campaign on Sunday 30th of August, keep an eye on Hifi Pig for more news about this exciting and creative project!
Denon® Electronics has announced a new partnership with TIDAL, This new partnership gives HEOS users a new option for high fidelity music streaming. Users can access their TIDAL account directly through their HEOS system via the HEOS app, available for iOS, Android™* and Kindle Fire.
Don Freeman, Denon’s Vice President of Marketing, says: “This is a perfect partnership because we both cater to music listeners who appreciate and understand the quality of music – it is a top priority. TIDAL’s high fidelity tracks stream effortlessly through our amazing HEOS products providing listeners with the experience they deserve. TIDAL is offering an exciting new dimension in music streaming; combined with HEOS speakers, high quality digital music delivery is guaranteed!”
HEOS is a multi-room system featuring four wireless multi-zone speakers; HEOS 1, HEOS 3, HEOS 5 and HEOS 7. The HEOS Link and HEOS Amp bring HEOS functionality to Hi-Fi systems and passive speakers.
No its not Easter but KEF has an EGG for us. It seems like the market is awash with Bluetooth systems at the moment but KEF has reinvented its successful ‘egg’ design, to be Bluetooth enabled, with superior 4.0 aptX compatibility and featuring KEF’s famous Uni-Q driver from the KEF Blade. It’s a plug-and-play’ package, with built-in amplification and DAC and can be used for streaming music anywhere in the home, for TV sound with the optical connection, or as a desktop music system. The system is also compatible with sonically superior high resolution music, with a digital 96kHz/24-bit USB input.
Available now, priced £349.95 in a choice of three contemporary finishes: Gloss Black, Pure White and Frosted Blue.
Monitor Audio have launched the Airstream S150 Bluetooth speaker. The super-compact S150 is constructed from a high tech, mineral filled polymer for maximum rigidity and damping and housing for a cluster of four specialised drivers, comprising a proprietary gold dome C-CAM tweeter flanked on angled baffles by dual 3”-CAM metal cone bass drivers augmented by a rear-firing Auxiliary Bass Radiator (ABR). The C-CAM drivers are powered directly by dedicated class-D amplifiers, generating forty watts in total, fed by a high resolution DAC and optimised by intelligent digital processing. S150 will pair instantly with compatible devices to deliver CD-like sound plus iOS devices may be charged via the USB input and analogue devices can connect through a 3.5mm stereo jack. Available in white or black finishes for shelf or table-top or a wall via one of Monitor’s optional ¼” UNC mounting kits.
Available from August 2015 priced £150
Raumfeld, the makers of high fidelity multi-room streaming systems, have announced that it has expanded its stereo system offering to include the One S. Users will be able to combine two One S’, previously available as a single speaker, together to deliver a full stereo system. The two-way coaxial arrangement of the Raumfeld One S consists of a long-stroke 90 mm woofer with a projecting 25 mm tweeter and two 95 mm wide passive bass drivers on the sides. Amplification is provided by a low-noise 50-watt Class D amplifier. Great for small rooms and flats and quick and easy to set up, users can access both One S’ through the Raumfeld App, available on Android™ and iOS®. The two speakers can be linked and placed in stereo mode through the app’s settings. Users will then be able to use services such as TIDAL, local radio stations or their own music.
Voxtok, a Frano-American company with their R&D team based in the South of France, announces the launch of AudioCapsule, an audiophile-grade player and a music server, controlled from your smartphone, tablet or Smart TV. Combining a premium quality player, a multi-room music service, and a CD-ripping feature, AudioCapsule also comes with a high-capacity internal storage, and provides access to cloud-based services.
AudioCapsule can be pre-ordered from today at an early bird retail price of 1199€, with a one-year subscription to related services included.
Voxtok has also launched its Accelerator Program. Users are invited to share their opinions and ideas, and to play a vital role in designing upcoming features of AudioCapsule.
AudioCapsule will be available from November 16th 2015, full price will be 1999€.
I first became aware of Tidal in October last year. At that time it was being quietly marketed as a high quality streaming service with the emphasis on its lossless, CD-quality sound. Sound quality has virtually become an irrelevance in the mass market; the received wisdom that it it impossible to hear the difference between a 320 Mbps MP3 file and a 24 bit 192 high resolution file has been happily accepted as truth, mostly by people who have never heard a high resolution file. The result of this was that Tidal found itself targeting a niche market of audiophiles for whom sound quality was still a vital consideration and who had either already discovered the benefits of streaming music from their own computer-based audio set ups or were increasingly curious about doing so.
TIDAL has announced it is delighted to announce its integration with Meridian Audio, the Cambridgeshire (UK)-based technology company. With immediate effect, TIDAL will be available on Meridian’s Sooloos digital media system, enabling seamless streaming of the services extensive library of 25 million CD-quality tracks.
The TIDAL integration brings a lossless audio streaming experience to Meridian Sooloos system owners old and new. After a simple software upgrade, Meridian Sooloos customers can sign up to the service and gain unlimited access to TIDAL’s CD-quality catalogue, which can be navigated via the Sooloos Control 10/15 touch panel screen or any compatible tablet, smartphone or the desktop controller. Giving both existing and new Sooloos customers the opportunity to try out TIDAL for themselves, a complimentary three-month trial of the service will be available to all, allowing instant access once registered.
TIDAL is also offering all new Meridian customers the opportunity to trial its service. Available up until 31st May 2015, any customer purchasing a Meridian product will receive a 3-month (90-day) subscription, giving them unlimited access to the service.
Commenting on the announcement, Pål Bråtelund, Strategic Partnership Manager HiFi at TIDAL, said, “We are delighted to be announcing this integration with Meridian! Having worked closely with one of audio’s foremost innovators to demonstrate its MQA technology streaming earlier this year, it is great to firm up the association by offering TIDAL subscriptions to its customers, so that they can appreciate the high quality performance of our service.”
John Buchanan, CEO at Meridian Audio said, “The partnership with TIDAL is significant for a company such as Meridian, which prides itself in delivering a super-quality digital signal throughout the path from the studio to the home, using advanced digital signal processing technologies”.
From early 2015, TIDAL will be available on Meridian’s Sooloos digital media system, enabling seamless streaming of TIDAL’s library of CD- quality music.
TIDAL will also be integral to Meridian MQA demonstrations at the International Consumer Show (CES), streaming MQA music files via a Meridian Sooloos digital media system. Meridian will be based at The Venetian Hotel in Suite 30-335 and the demonstrations will allow listeners to experience the full extent of the new TIDAL integration.
The TIDAL integration brings a lossless audio streaming experience to Meridian Sooloos system owners old and new, all of whom can now enjoy unlimited access to over 25 million tracks.
In addition, purchasers of the new Meridian Explorer 2 – the portable, compact USB DAC – will be able to enjoy a complimentary 3 month trial of the streaming service.
Commenting on the announcement, John Buchanan, CEO at Meridian Audio said, “The partnership with TIDAL is significant for a company such as Meridian which prides itself in delivering a super-quality digital signal throughout the path from the studio to the home, using advanced digital signal processing technologies.”
Cary Audio’s new DMC-600 and DMC-600SE represent the company’s “best digital products yet”. These “Digital Music Centers” are designed for traditionalists as well as new-age music lovers so you can continue to enjoy your CD collection while exploring the virtues of high resolution & super high resolution Asynchronous USB computer audio. Both the DMC-600 and DMC-600SE support PCM up to 32 bit/ 384 kHz native audio as well as native DSD 64, 128, and 256 audio. Additionally, the DMC-600 (600SE) also includes; CSR aptX® lossless Bluetooth, SPDIF coaxial and Toslink inputs, AES/EBU inputs and both fully balanced XLR and RCA outputs. The DMC-600 (600SE) also includes Cary’s TruBit™ Upsampling technology and DiO™ vacuum tube and solid state analog outputs. The DMC-600SE utilises “reference grade components” within the analogue output sections as well as a clock input for use with an external master clock for recording studios and professional or semi-professional use.
Multiple Parallel DAC Topology
Utilises 3 DACS consisting of 6 channels (3 per side) to create a fully balanced parallel circuit. DSP, upsampling and clocking duties are done by a separate 128 bit DSP engine.
CSR aptX® lossless Technology featuring fi™ Bluetooth Implementation
Fully integrating (fi™) Bluetooth digital signals into the entire digital circuit whereby using all features such as TruBit™ Upsampling, OSO™ Reclocking, DiO™ outputs.
Processing using a 128 bit DSP engine (separate from the DACs) which allows for up to seven (7) different selectable upsampling rates all the way up to 768kHz.
Double reclocking of all signals again once onboard, even XMOS USB, as to “ensure all jitter is virtually eliminated”.
XMOS xCore USB Asynchronous
XMOS asynchronous clocking for computer USB sources whereas the XMOS processor takes complete control over the audio clock.
DiO™ Analog Stage
DiO™ Analog Stage is two separate analogue output stages that are completely independent of one another. One is all solid state and the other is vacuum tube..
DMC-600 Retail Price: $5,995
DMC-600SE Retail Price: $7,995
The DMC-600 and the DMC-600SE will begin shipping on December 10, 2014.
Melco, the audiophile division of leading Japanese computer peripheral company Buffalo Technology, has announced the launch of its Digital Music Library range with its first two products – the N1A and N1Z. Featuring audiophile-grade components and construction combined with unique data transfer and protection software that requires no network setup, Melco Music Libraries (MML) are aimed at audiophiles who wish to “store and protect their music files, whilst playing them back at the highest possible quality”.
Melco enters the market at a time when the dedicated digital music library is becoming a necessity for many music lovers. Seeing a gap in the market whereby HiFi companies are generally relying on conventional IT-based music storage solutions, Buffalo Technology commenced a two year project lead by a group of dedicated Audiophiles. The result is the revolutionary Melco High Resolution Digital Music Library.
Incorporating audio-grade SSD (N1Z) and HDD (N1A) drives, both MML’s have been designed from the ground up as high-end HiFi components. From the high-quality power supplies and rigid front facia and chassis through to the dedicated Network Player, LAN, Expansion and Backup rear-mounted connections, “audiophile components have been utilised in every conceivable area of the design to optimise data integrity and to remove the possibility of interference and noise”.
Makoto Maki, the founder of Melco inc. and Chairman of Melco Holdings Inc, said, “The origins of Buffalo go back to the high-end audio company Melco, which I founded to use all of the available engineering resources at the time to craft Hi-Fi products of outstanding performance. For various reasons, Melco changed business focus to IT products and became Buffalo, and it gives me great personal satisfaction as a real audiophile to see that my team of Audiophile engineers at Buffalo have been able to create an innovative Hi-Fi product, truly worthy to carry the name Melco on the front panel, which surely leads the way in bringing musical delight to users of streaming Hi-‐Fi systems.”
“The Melco N1 is designed and manufactured as a high end source component for digital music. It’s designed to be not like IT peripherals but like consumer electric appliances, to reduce/stop any stresses normally encountered by computer audiophiles.” said Masakazu Araki, Senior Product Producer of Audio at BUFFALO inc.
The company’s press release continues “Regardless of the precautions and optimisations within a digital music source/network player, it all comes to nothing when sensitive music data is put onto a LAN network. Compromises such as commodity grade data cables and data switches designed purely for rapid data transfer all have a detrimental effect on music files. To combat this, the MML has a dedicated Ethernet port for direct link to the network player. By removing the necessity for external network switches, this architecture not only ensures the best possible data delivery from the MML to the player, but also exposes the benefits of carefully engineered precision Ethernet cables”.
The dedicated Player port establishes the relationship between the MML and the player, including management of the player IP address.
A separate opto-isolated Ethernet port provides a connection to the LAN, so that the network player will still be connected via the MML and, therefore, can be controlled by iOS or Android devices, whilst also connect to music streaming sites or Internet radio. But for the simplest purest playback of High Resolution music on a network player that has its own control, all that is required is the MML and a “precision” Ethernet cable.
Internal and external data communications are differentiated with separate and isolated power supplies, whilst SSD data management (N1Z only) is especially optimised “as the requirements for audio are quite different to PC requirements (music data is written infrequently and is rarely modified, rendering the usual SSD lifetime optimisation algorithms as inappropriate, especially as they also tend to impact on data integrity, as they operate in burst as required)”. The N1Z uses purpose-built SSDs designed especially for audio playback, as they have a low level and consistent management algorithm that has zero impact on data integrity.
All digital processes, including the external Ethernet communications, are derived from an ultra‐low jitter data clock to “ensure total freedom from jitter-induced artefacts on final D/A conversion”. The low jitter Ethernet connectivity is provided by RJ45 ports, which are also optically isolated on all lines, contrasting to the IT industry norm of using isolating magnetics or transformers. The Ethernet connectors have data transfer indicating LEDs, which can be extinguished to provide the purest connection environment.
The MML has separate power supplied for internal and external data communications, but also specially designed components minimise common mode interference, protecting delicate analogue circuitry elsewhere in the playback system.
In the spirit of the MML being a true Audiophile source, the MML does not have a web server and does not require a computer to either configure it or to enable it to play. A versatile array of useful customisations is available from the OLED front panel display and navigation buttons. During playback, the display shows the selected track along with sample rate and can be switched off if required.
Storing music files to the MML is via the USB 3.0 socket on the rear or over the LAN, whilst backup is done via the rear‐mounted BACKUP USB 3.0 socket, which starts to backup the music data onto any external drive with enough capacity upon connection. The dedicated socket also supports the data recovery as well.
Expansion to over 12Tb is easily achieved by simply adding a USB drive to the dedicated rear-mounted EXPANSION port.
The flagship N1Z is provided with SSD storage of 1Tb total capacity, which can be arranged simply to backup internally or to backup externally from the front panel OLED display.
Two completely separate power supplies are provided with additional high capacity Melco smoothing banks, all housed in a solid H frame reinforced extruded aluminium enclosure. The Japanese TAOC-branded insulation feet provide insulation from external influences.
The N1A is fitted with AV HDD of 4T total capacity that has been circumspectly selected for better sound quality. Expansion and backup options are exactly as the N1Z. In addition, a front Panel USB port is available for importing from a USB thumb drive.
Both models are hand-built in Japan.
The Melco N1A has a UK SRP of £1600 and the N1Z of £6200. Both models are available from selected Hi-Fi specialists from mid‐November.
Primare has produced an aptX Bluetooth upgrade for their PRE60 preamplifier, NP30 network player and the MM30 equipped network streaming versions of the I32 integrated amplifier and PRE32 pre-amplifier.
The Bluetooth Upgrade takes the form of a small internal circuit board and external antenna which installs easily, the threaded antenna input replacing the FM/DAB terminal on the MM30 fascia and using a vacant (pre-prepared) portal on the back panel of the PRE60 and NP30.
For compatibility with Primare’s audio design, the receiver-only module supports high quality Bluetooth via aptX, AAC, MP3 but rather than use an integrated DAC (as employed by other BT upgrades) the output is fed to the product’s own Sample Rate Converter and up-sampled to 192kHz through the existing DACs.
Following a software update via the PrimareApp, the BT input is added to the product control menu in a discrete BT section, which allows for the renaming of the input for the product display and the also the BT connection. Other controls are ‘Visible’, ‘Unpair’ and ‘Autoconnect’.
Typical retail prices inc VAT: £180 (free with PRE60 and supplied as standard on new PRE60 models) Availability: December 2014
TIDAL, the first high fidelity music streaming service with HD music videos and curated editorial, today announced the partnership and integration of TIDAL into products from16 of the best known home audio brands. In preparation for the upcoming UK and U.S. launch, TIDAL is working closely with its integration partners to ensure that music lovers will be able to register and experience the catalogue of 25 million-plus tracks, streaming at HiFi, lossless sound quality, on some of the world’s best known home audio products.
Sonos, Denon HEOS, Harman Omni, Bluesound & NAD, Meridian, Auralic, Electrocompaniet, Simple Audio, Raumfeld, Dynaudio, Audiovector, Pro-ject, Airable by Tune In Media, HiFiAkademie and ickStream will all have products that seamlessly work with TIDAL, with users just needing to sign up to the service for access.
Commenting on the partnerships, Andy Chen, CEO at TIDAL, said: “The reaction from the home audio industry to TIDAL has been exceptional and we are really excited that our first 16 confirmed partners are such highly-considered brands in the industry. Experiencing TIDAL on high-quality home audio systems and headphones proves just how good high-quality music streaming can sound. We will therefore offer TIDAL across the broadest selection of home audio systems with these premium partners and more to come.”
As an advertisement-free, lossless, CD-quality music and HD music video streaming service with extensive curated editorial expertise, TIDAL will be available in the UK and the U.S. for a monthly subscription of £19.99 / $19.99 starting later this autumn.
McIntosh Laboratory has launched a new media streamer – the MB100 Media Bridge. The new streamer takes full advantage of the latest McIntosh technologies and gives users access to web-based music plus digital files from its 1TB hard drive.
The MB100 has four USB inputs, plus an eSata port for the direct connection of external drives. Its high-speed network port offers direct connection to online streaming services including: Pandora®; SiriusXM®; Spotify®; Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required); while additional streaming services may be added in the future. Internet radio stations can also be added as presets.
For integration into existing home audio systems, the MB100 has two analogue and two digital outputs, plus it can be connected via USB to other McIntosh USB-enabled products. Users can also create two independent audio zones when using the USB connection in combination with either the analogue or digital outputs.
The MB100 will automatically synchronise content stored on networked computers and when connected to a monitor or panel, slideshow playback of stored photos is also possible during music replay. Digital content can be backed up to Amazon Cloud Drive or Apple iCloud allowing music to be synchronised across multiple homes or locations. The MB100 can also be configured so that new music purchases from either cloud service can be automatically added to the device’s library.
The MB100 utilises the same eight-channel 32-bit/192kHz DAC as the D100 digital preamp, which is isolated from the motherboard. The operating system and music player are housed on a solid-state hard drive for fast response times, quiet operation and durability. The MB100 can be controlled via an iOS or Android app, a web browser, or a remote control with TV interface.
Frequency response: ±1dB from 2Hz to 22kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005%
Rated output voltage: 2.0Vrms unbalanced; 4.0Vrms balanced
4x USB (2 USB 2.0/2 USB 3.0)
1x Network (10/100/1000)
2x Analogue (1x balanced, 1x unbalanced)
1x USB audio (compatible only with McIntosh products that accept USB audio)
1x HDMI (for GUI only)
1x DVI (for GUI only)
1TB internal hard drive (external hard drives connected via USB and eSata)
Embedded Streaming Services:
Pandora®, SiriusXM®, Spotify®, Rhapsody and TuneIn (where available, subscriptions may be required)
44.54cm x 9.8cm x 40.64cm
Weight: 6.1 kg
The MB100 sells for £5,995 and is available now.
When we heard that James Morrow in Edinburgh was going to be having a launch event for the new Lyric from Cyrus we couldn’t help but send along our man in Scotland (Billy Smith) to take a look. More »
Talking about the new product, Jack Fox, QED’s Brand Manager stated:
“We believe the new uPlay Stream ‘moves the goalposts’. For the first time, users can experience genuine Hi-Fi sound quality from a product that is extremely easy to set up and use, and a fraction of the cost of its competitors.”
“It enables people to access all the high quality music they’ve stored electronically on their computer, tablet, smartphone or network storage, and enjoy it streamed wirelessly through their existing audio or home cinema system.”
Asked to expand on his claim that the uPlay Stream is a ‘breakthrough’ product, Jack Fox said: “QED’s design team has literally ‘thought outside the box’. Conventional hi-fi network streamers are large and have beautifully finished casework, knobs, buttons and exotic displays – all of which are very expensive and, more importantly, completely unnecessary in today’s ‘Smartphone’ age.”
The uPlay Stream boasts a ‘Wolfson’ DAC (compatible with files up to 24-bit/96kHz). It plugs into any available line level input of a hi-fi, audio system, soundbar, television, speaker dock or home cinema system. The uPlay Stream is DLNA and UPnP compatible and supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, FLAC and Apple Lossless audio formats.
Up to eight uPlay Streams can be used together to create a multiroom system, in up to eight separate rooms.
The NDS is an audiophile source, capable of playing and streaming audio over a home network at up to 24bit/192kHz resolution. It offers internet radio yet forgoes a DAB and FM radio tuner to minimise noise. It includes three S/PDIF digital inputs for connection to external digital sources, such as a computer or CD player. A front-panel USB port complets the feature set – either connect an iPhone or iPod digitally to allow the NDS to control and play stored audio or play audio from a USB memory stick, even hi-resolution WAV or FLAC files, with full on-screen control. The NDS will support all the main file formats. WAV, FLAC, AIFF, ALAC, AAC, Windows Media-formatted content, Ogg Vorbis and MP3 files are all catered for, as is gapless playback.
In true Naim reference engineering style, the NDS requires the use of an external power supply. The XP5 XS, XPS and 555 PS are all suitable matches. Performance can be further enhanced by the addition of a second Burndy cable (in the case of 555 PS only) splitting out the analogue and digital sections, which a second 555 PS will bring about even greater gains.
Like its fellow network players, the NDS can be controlled by Naim’s n-Stream control app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The app also alows control of a Naim system’s inputs and volume. The supplied remote and front-panel interface provide simple and easily accessed control.