Hegel's HD20 DAC was shown in prototype form at CES 2011, but it's now shipping. The HD20 supports 24-bit/192kHz resolution through its one optical and two coaxial inputs, and 24-bit/96kHz resolution through its one USB input. The HD20 has single-ended and balanced outputs and is priced at $1995 [www.hegel.com].
The UK's Rega showed their new digital-to-analog converter simply called DAC. The DAC has five user-selectable digital filters and supports . . .
. . . sampling frequencies from 32kHz to 192kHz (16 to 24 bits) through its two coaxial and two optical inputs, and 44.1kHz and 48kHz sampling frequencies (16 bits) through its single USB input. The DAC comes in silver-satin and black-satin metal finishes and is priced at $1095.
We don't think that there's much of a market for a straightforward CD player anymore, but that hasn't stopped Atoll Electronique of France for making one to aesthetically match their IN400 160Wpc (8 ohms) integrated amplifier (bottom). The CD400 uses two Burr-Brown PCM1794 DACs, one for each channel, and has single-ended and balanced outputs. Atoll's CD400 is priced at $6500.
We're always on the lookout for something cool, which is what Tangent Audio's new Fjord tabletop radio is. The strikingly simple and attractive design houses a CD player, iPod dock, and speakers. There are two Fjord models: one with only an FM tuner, and another with an FM and DAB tuners. About the design . . .
. . . it comes from Jacob Jensen who was involved with B&O's designs for almost 30 years. The Fjord isn't being formally brought into North America yet, so no firm pricing details were given, but estimates of around $600 were given.
Thrax Audio of Bulgaria appears to be a new player in the high-end scene. In Montreal, Thrax was showing their Dionysos tube-based preamp that carries a retail price of $22,000 that features a unique transformer-based volume control. The Dyonysos has four pairs of RCA and two pairs of XLR inputs, and two pairs of RCA and two pairs of XLR outputs. Thrax also showed their matching . . .
. . . Spartacus tube-based mono amplifiers that retail for $44,000 per pair. The Spartacus is said to deliver 70W into 4 or 8 ohms an has RCA and XLR inputs.
As of 2010, Triangle of France had been in business for 30 years. To commemorate this anniversary Triangle released a 30th-anniversary, limited-edition version of their Antal speaker that's priced at $3895 per pair. This version of the speaker features a black piano-lacquer finish, a solid-aluminum horn for the tweeter, and upgraded internal wiring. A 30th-anniversary version of their bookshelf Comète loudspeaker is also available.
Vienna Acoustics, which is based in Vienna, Austria (obviously), is now handling their own distribution in North America. In Montreal, Vienna Acoustics showed the Mozart Grand Symphony Edition (SE for short), a two-and-a-half way, 4-ohm floorstander that has a 1.1" soft-dome tweeter along with two 6" mid-woofers. The lower woofer, which only works in the bass region, has the latest version of the company's Spider-Cone technology. The Mozart Grand SE retails for $3500 per pair.
The Beyond Frontiers Audio (BFA) Tulip integrated amplifier isn't exactly brand new, but it's fairly new and the story behind this company is interesting, so we thought we'd include it here. Beyond Frontiers is based in Serbia, but they're manufacturing most of their parts in Canada. The company's two main designers were with the original Sonic Frontiers company back in the '90s, which explains their name. Their first product is the Tulip . . .
. . . a hybrid integrated amplifier (it uses tube and solid-state devices) that also contains a 24/192 DAC (there are two RCA-based coaxial inputs and one USB input). The Tulip is rated to deliver 180Wpc into 8 ohms, 360Wpc into 4 ohms, and is stable down to 2 ohms. The Tulip retails for $17,000.
The new $30,000 Kronos turntable (no arm or cartridge) created quite a bit of buzz at Son & Image, probably for good reason. First off, it's made in Montreal, Canada, so its debut is on home turf. It's also beautifully made and has two platters. The top platter obviously holds the record. The bottom platter spins at the same speed as the top one, but in the opposite direction. The reason they designed it that way is so the bottom platter counteracts the force that the top one puts on the suspension as it spins. As a result, the suspension has a much more stable environment and works more effectively. Seems clever.
The O/96 Oscar from DeVore Fidelity was shown in prototype form at CES, but is now in full production. It is part of the company's new Orangutan line of high-sensitivity speakers. The O/96 Oscar has a 1" silk-dome tweeter that has a double-magnet system augmented with a waveguide, and a 10" paper-cone woofer powered by a motor system adapted from the company's Silverback Reference drivers. DeVore claims the sensitivity to be 96dB (1W/1m) with an impedance of 9 ohms, which makes them suitable for low-powered tube amps. The cabinet . . .
. . . is also quite different, which this top shot reveals. It's wide and shallow with a front baffle made from birch plywood. We quite liked the decidely retro design. The O/96 speakers are priced at $12,000 per pair with stands and are handbuilt in the United States.
Sonus Faber's Amati Futura also made its debut at CES 2011, but this was its first Canadian showing. The Amati Futura is $35,000 per pair and is a three-way design. A unique aspect of the Futura's design . . .
. . . is the use of metal to strengthen the enclosure and improve its visual appeal. Nickel-plated aluminum on the bottom, rear, and top "brackets" the wood-based side and front panels. The appearance, fit, and finish of the Futura are superb.
We thought it fitting to end off the product coverage with this nifty integrated amplifier from Nagra of Switzerland -- it might be a good match for some of the speakers we covered. The 300i is a hybrid design, meaning that it uses solid-state and tube devices. It has a FET-based input stage that feeds the 300B-based output stage for a total of 20Wpc. Nagra also manufactures the 300p, which is the same as the 300i but is configured as a dedicated power amplifier. The 300i retails in Canada for a cool $21,250 and was more than sufficient to drive Verity Sarastro speakers to satisfying volume levels and provide bass that was tight, room-filling, and realistic.