Companies featured in gallery below: Melco, Astell&Kern, Cary Audio, Bryston, Boulder Amplifiers, Ayre Acoustics, YG Acoustics, Bryston, Vandersteen Audio, Cyrus Audio, Monitor Audio
All prices in US dollars unless otherwise indicated
Newcomer Melco debuted two versions of its High Resolution Digital Music Library, which is an ultra-high-quality NAS device for UPnP/DLNA streaming of audio files. The N1Z (shown) features high-grade dual power supplies with high-quality capacitor banks, cast iron and oak wood insulators, thick aluminum chassis panels, and dual custom-optimized 512GB solid-state drives. Manufactured in Japan, the N1Z is priced at €8000 (no USD price was available). The N1A has two standard 3.5" 2TB hard drives. It has less robust construction and power supplies, but it has the same logic board, and it's priced at €2000. The internal build quality . . .
. . . is impressively clean.
Astell&Kern, based in South Korea, is known for high-end, portable music players. But in Las Vegas the company showed a new three-box music server-based system that includes the AK500N music server ($12,000); AK500A stereo power amplifier, which produces up to 100Wpc into 8 ohms (price TBA); and the optional AK500P power supply, which can connect to the amplifier and music server (price also TBA). The music server features . . .
. . . a slick side-mounted volume control.
Astell&Kern also had on display a collection of high-resolution music releases (24-bit/192kHz PCM or DSD, depending on the release), which are housed on micro SD cards and presented in attractive packaging. Astell&Kern's CEO, Henry Park, is seen in the photo holding three of their newest releases. Henry said that the goal is to offer high-resolution music as "physical media." Price per release is projected to be $32 to $40.
A complete Maria Callas collection is available from Astell&Kern as a box set.
Cary Audio displayed the TL-300d tube preamplifier-DAC, which features analog inputs (two RCA and two XLR) and five digital inputs (Bluetooth, USB, TosLink, AES/EBU, and coax). The DAC will decode PCM and DSD files. The TL-300d's retail price is $7995.
The latest subwoofer from PSB, seen here with designer Paul Barton, is a slim unit that can be placed upright, on its side for placement under a sofa or other furniture, or even mounted on a wall. Called the SubSeries 150, it features a 6.5" driver powered by a 100W amplifier and has a sealed enclosure. Rated down to 30Hz, the 150 also has a USB input for use with a future PSB USB dongle for wireless connectivity (or could be used with a USB dongle from another manufacturer). The SubSeries 150 is priced at $499 and will be available later in the first quarter of 2015.
Boulder Amplifiers displayed its new impressive 2120 digital-to-analog converter. The circuitry is housed in . . .
. . . four chassis -- the external power supply and the left and right channels are completely separate from the main cabinet. Inputs include AES/EBU (two), coax (one), USB (two), TosLink (two), HDMI (three), and Ethernet (two). The 99S output gain stage, seen first in the 2110 preamplifier, is used in the analog output section of the 2120. The 2120 will handle 32-bit/384kHz PCM and DSD. The retail price is expected to be under $60,000 when it's released later this year.
Ayre Acoustics introduced the Twenty update to its popular 5-series components. Shown in the photo is the KX-5 Twenty ($8950) preamplifier. Original models can be updated to the Twenty versions, supporting Ayre's long-term commitment of not discontinuing products. The AX-5 Twenty ($12,950) and the VX-5 Twenty ($8950) are also available; all are shipping now.
The YG Acoustics Carmel 2 is the newest speaker from the Colorado-based speaker manufacturer -- it's also their smallest. The Carmel 2, which is a two-way design, now includes the company's ForgeCore tweeter and BilletCore midrange-woofer. The price is $24,300/pr.
The Bryston BDA3 is the company's newest DAC and is capable of decoding PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 512. Inputs include HDMI, USB, coax, and AES/EBU. The BDA3's retail price is $3195.
The Bryston AC1 Micro center-channel speaker is designed for small systems where sound quality is a priority. The AC1 has two 5.25" aluminum-diaphragm midrange-woofers and a 1" titanium-dome tweeter. The AC1 Micro's price is $490.
The Bryston Model A subwoofer houses a pair of 10" drivers powered by a 400W amplifier (and yes, the amp is a genuine Bryston, complete with a large linear power supply). The drivers are mounted on opposing sides of the cabinet for a force-canceling effect. The Model A's price is $1895.
The Vandersteen Model Seven Mk.II includes several new features that distinguish it from the outgoing model, including a new midrange/tweeter mounting interface, which results in more tightly aligned "acoustic centers" of the drive units. The subwoofer system has also been modified by weaving the voice-coil leads directly into the spiders of the push-pull subwoofer cones. The price of the Model Seven Mk.II is $62,000/pr.
Cyrus Audio showed a new class-D stereo power amplifier aptly called the Stereo 200, which features . . .
. . . a linear power supply with a large toroidal transformer. The 200Wpc-into-8-ohms amp also features the company's Speaker Impedance Detection (SID) circuitry, which reportedly results in flat frequency response irrespective of the loudspeaker impedance. The Stereo 200's retail price is $3499.
The latest Gold series from Monitor Audio is more of a refresh than a completely new line of loudspeakers and, as such, the models and pricing will be the same as the previous Gold-series speakers. The most significant change is in the cones of the bass and midrange drivers, which now feature Monitor’s RST (Rigid Surface Technology). RST has a strengthening effect and displaces standing waves that can propagate on the cone’s surface, which is said to provide more clarity and a more cohesive sound. The line features an attractive new High Gloss Ebony finish that can be seen in the GX300 floorstander ($5500/pr.) and . . .
. . . the GX100 ($2195/pr.) bookshelf model. All models should be available at the end of January.