Canada's Bryston showed their SP3 processor at CES 2011, but High End 2011 marked the European debut. The SP3, which will retail for under 10,000€ when launched this summer, features eight HDMI inputs and 7.1-channel analog XLR outputs, as well as a host of additional digital inputs including USB. [www.bryston.com]
Acoustic Signature's entry-level Barzetti turntable looks anything but cheap, but we were surprised to see that it costs a very reasonable 1800€ (2000€ with tonearm). The real looker though . . .
. . . is the company's flagship model, the Ascona (20,000€). The platter features damped brass inserts that are said to minimize any vibration. The construction looked quite amazing, right down to . . .
. . . the three(!) motors used to drive the platter! Acoustic Signature has a total of eight turntables in their product line.
We can count on Audio Physic to have a new speaker model each year, and they did not disappoint at High End 2011. This year they debuted the Avantera, which is now second from the top of the line (their top model is the Cardeas). The Avantera is rated to play down to 28Hz and up to 40kHz and features . . .
. . . elaborate internal construction with fine attention to detail in the crossover components and the internal bracing of the cabinet. The Aventera is priced at 13,000€ per pair.
Although Germany's Avantgarde Acoustic is primarily known for their horn-loaded loudspeakers, the company is making inroads into the electronics market as well. At High End 2011 they showed the cool-looking XA-Power stereo power amplifier that is priced at 9000€. The construction is distinctive . . .
. . . in that it uses cast-aluminum chassis components and a highly shielded and regulated power supply to eliminate outside interference.
The companion XA-Pre, also 9000€, is similar in look and construction, but with one important difference . . .
. . . in that it's battery powered. The XA-Pre charges while listening to music, ensuring that you'll always have the power on tap that you need for control of your audio system.
Although the D1 CD transport (22,000€) and C1 DAC-preamp (18,000€) are from a new Swiss company, CH Precision, we know these folks from back when they started Orpheus Labs. As a result, we're confident that these new products will feature mature technology that works as advertised. The C1 DAC, in particular, looks like quite the elaborate centerpiece of a really advanced digital-based system.
Emillé Labs' tube-based Ara integrated amplifier features a built-in USB DAC and a headphone amp. The power output is rated at 23Wpc and the price is 2900€.
The super-attractive Pathos InpolRemix integrated amplifier has two digital USB inputs that feature operation at resolutions of up to 24-bit/192kHz. The class-A power output is 10Wpc into 8 ohms from its . . .
. . . hybrid amplifier circuitry that marries tubes and transistors in a fashion first seen in the company's flagship Adrenalin monoblocks. The price is 5000€.
Raidho Acoustics' newest speaker is the S2.0, a 2.5-way design that utilizes transmission-line bass loading. Raidho makes all the drivers in the S2.0, an impressive feat considering the use of ribbons and ceramic cones -- not many companies have all that technology in-house. The price of the S2.0 is 8500€ per pair.
The Swiss-made Stenheim Alumine speaker is a modular design in that you can purchase the top module for 9000€ per pair and then add the bass module later. Or you can buy the entire package for 40,000€ per pair. The Alumine is -- you guessed it -- made out of aluminum panels and . . .
. . . is available in a variety of colors and interesting finishes (for an additional cost). This leather-clad model certainly looked intriguing.
Although the Tidal Piano Cera has been in the product line for a while, the newest iteration of the speaker features the latest Accuton drivers, which can be identified by their black appearance. The Piano Cera retails for 15,500€ per pair.
. . . the new Voxativ by Schimmel Pianos Ampeggio Due didn't sound half-bad to Doug Schneider's ears. In fact, its quick, detailed sound makes it a promising design. But its price, 88,000€ per pair, did make Doug shudder.