Within this multicolored, fuzzy-feeling box lies one of the world’s most expensive . . .
. . . power cords. Crystal Cable introduced the Ultimate Dream power cable (€11,900 per 1.5m cord) at CES 2017. It’s an upgrade from the company’s Absolute Dream, the previous flagship. Differences include new connectors from Oyaide, of Japan, as well as an increase in the total number of conductors from four to six. The Ultimate Dream uses a new silver-gold core that’s said to reduce ground-loop noise. The Ultimate Dream has two shields, one made from silver-plated monocrystal copper and the other from gold-plated monocrystal silver.
The Siltech Triple Crown power cable is even more expensive than Crystal Cable’s Ultimate Dream. It uses seven conductors, each of which is 2.2mm in diameter. According to Edwin Rynveld, Siltech’s founder and chief designer, this enables the Triple Crown to carry very high current. He also said that the shield keeps magnetic distortion inside the cable itself, due to the configuration of the conductors. This feature is said to prevent distortion in other surrounding cables. The Triple Crown’s price is €12,900 per 1.5m cord.
Nordost released the Valhalla 2 USB 2.0 cable, priced at $3499 per 1m cord and $4699 for a 2m cord. This flat cable uses a twin-axial design that is shielded with silver foil; it also has Nordost’s Dual Mono-Filament technology. The cable’s conductors are solid-core, silver-plated 99.999999%-pure copper (4x19AWG). According to the company, signal propagation speed has been improved, and the Valhalla 2 is also mechanically tuned according to length in order to reduce resonances.
The Nordost Sort Lift is a new cable suspension system that uses the company’s patent-pending Floating Spring Design, a feature said to minimize the “contact that cables have with the apparatus while reducing boundary effects without negatively affecting the resonant properties of the cables themselves.” The Sort Lift’s price is $600 for a pack of two.
The Musical Fidelity M6 Encore 225 is similar to the company’s M6si integrated amplifier, but it’s also a CD player/ripper and a streaming device, which the M6si is not. It’s rated to deliver 225Wpc into 8 ohms or 400Wpc into 4 ohms. The M6 Encore 225 currently supports incoming digital data signals with resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz, but will support 24/192 with an upcoming upgrade, and in a longer-range update, DSD. It comes with a 1TB hard drive with an option for a 2TB hard drive for an additional $50. When a CD is first inserted, the M6 Encore 225 will rip two copies and keep only the most accurate rip. It also has a 2GB RAM buffer so that the mechanical hard drive performs more like a solid-state hard drive. The M6 Encore 225 will be available in February at a price of $5999.
Musical Fidelity also introduced a new lower-priced integrated amplifier in its M series of components -- the M2si. The M2si is rated at 55Wpc into 8 ohms and is surprisingly large and hefty given its very reasonable asking price of $999. The M2si will be available in March.
The Music Hall MMF-1.3 is a belt-drive turntable that comes with a dust cover and has an aluminum tonearm and vibration-damping rubber platter mat. It also comes with an Audio-Technica AT3600L cartridge and a built-in phono preamp, which will be handy for those without one built into their integrated amplifier, preamplifier, or receiver. For anyone looking for a truly budget-friendly turntable for themselves or to recommend to others, the MMF-1.3 will be available in May or June for just $299.
M2Tech was showing, literally, a whole stack of new micro-sized EVO2-series components. The most interesting of the bunch was the EVO PhonoDAC Two (top), which is a DXD-DSD A/D-D/A converter, preamplifier, and phono stage. It has RCA analog inputs and outputs as well as coaxial, optical, and USB digital inputs. Due to its D/A and A/D converters, the PhonoDAC Two can also be used for digital room correction (DRC) when running any DRC software and placed between a preamplifier and power amplifier. The EVO PhonoDAC Two is priced at $1600 and is shipping now. Pictured below the EVO PhonoDAC Two are the EVO Clock Two precision clock regenerator ($640), HiFace EVO Two USB converter ($640), and EVO Supply Two power supply upgrade ($500), which can power up to three EVO2-series components simultaneously.
Rogue Audio not only received a 2016 Product of the Year award for its RP-1 preamplifier while at CES 2017; the company also introduced the more advanced and considerably more expensive RP-7 preamplifier ($4995). This model features true balanced circuitry and has two pairs of balanced (XLR) inputs, three pairs of single-ended (RCA) inputs, and two sets each of single-ended and balanced outputs. Parts quality appears to be high -- the RP-7 is said to use pricey Mundorf Silver/Gold oil coupling caps.
Emotiva’s Airmotiv T2 is a floorstanding loudspeaker that offers a lot more than its price may reflect. This three-way design uses an Air Motion Transformer tweeter, a 5.25" midrange, and two 8" woofers. The price is a super-affordable $499 each. The .75"-thick MDF cabinet is said to be heavily braced, and the drivers are mounted to it with threaded inserts -- not screwed directly into the wood.
Totem Acoustic launched the Signature One, a monitor speaker that’s the successor to the company’s much-loved Model One. This new speaker is said to present a nominal 8-ohm load for easy amplifier matching, and the 6.5" woofer has a 3" voice coil for high power handling. An aluminum-titanium dome tweeter rounds out the driver complement. The Signature One’s price is $2595/pr.
NAD’s C 368 Hybrid Digital DAC-integrated amplifier features Modular Design Construction, which allows for the addition of optional plug-in modules, such as BluOS, which enables wireless multiroom audio. The C 368’s rated power output is 80Wpc into 8 ohms. Other models in the line include the C 388 ($1599) and the C 338 ($649).
KEF’s LS50 Wireless powered speaker features the acoustic design of the original LS50 with a bevy of added electronics: two DACs per speaker, a 200W class-D amplifier for the midrange-woofer, and a 30W class-AB amp for the tweeter. Connectivity is most impressive: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, TosLink, USB, and RCA. Its price is $2200/pr., and there’s even a subwoofer output! Unlike the original LS50, which was a passive speaker requiring amplification, a source, and associated cables, the LS50 is an all-in-one design. Furthermore, color-matched . . .
. . . LS50 stands ($400/pr.) are now available for both the standard LS50 and LS50 Wireless.
ELAC’s Adante-series three-way stand-mounted loudspeaker was at CES 2017 in prototype form. The midrange and high frequencies are handled by a coincident driver, but not visible is an internally mounted 6.5" woofer that drives -- through two internal chambers -- the front-mounted 8" passive radiator. According to designer Andrew Jones, the result with this interesting low-frequency implementation is deeper bass than a simple front-mounted woofer would produce, without the associated noise that ports can produce. The projected price is $2500/pr. The stands are optional and will cost $500. When released, there will be multiple finish options, including Gloss Black, Gloss White, and various wood veneers.
Technics launched a new turntable at CES 2017, the Grand Class SL-1200GR. This model is projected to cost $2000 when launched, making it a less-expensive option to the relaunched SL-1200G ($4000), which, cosmetically, it looks nearly identical to. Also introduced by Technics . . .
. . . was the SU-G700 DAC-integrated amplifier, which has a built-in moving-magnet phono stage and a headphone amplifier. The power output is 70Wpc into 8 ohms or 140Wpc into 4 ohms. The SU-G700’s retail price is expected to be $2500 when it becomes available in the summer of 2017.
Rick Schultz’s company, High Fidelity Cables, uses a patented process it calls “magnetic conduction” to pass electrical signals through its cables. According to Schultz, this method results in lower noise and distortion than with standard electrical-signal transfer through a wire. To accomplish this, there are magnets placed midway on the cable and the wires themselves are also magnetized. What Rick said is most important about his new Reveal interconnect is its price -- whereas his previous lowest-priced single-ended interconnect was $1600 for a 1m length, this one is $699 for 1m ($999 for a 1m XLR-terminated balanced version). There is also a Reveal . . .
. . . power cord, which is priced at $999 for a 1m length and $1175 for 1.5m -- again, considerably cheaper than the company’s previous power cords. Furthermore, the power cord’s connectors are proprietary to High Fidelity Cables -- they are designed and machined in-house.