Companies featured in gallery below: Crystal Cable, Magico, Tannoy, Octave Audio, CH Precision, Simaudio, Nagra, Cambridge Audio, Amphion, Pro-Ject Audio Systems, Alpha Design Labs, Pathos Acoustics
All prices in euros or US dollars unless otherwise indicated
The Crystal Cable Arabesque Minissimo loudspeaker is a beautifully conceived two-way design that features a beryllium-dome tweeter and Illuminator woofer, both from Scan-Speak. The Solar Orange color was attractive (other colors, such as Aquamarine Blue, were shown on static display; a total of five colors are on offer), but the speaker's shape, as best seen from . . .
. . . the top, leaves no doubt that this is a Crystal Cable Arabesque design. The price is €10,000/pr. including the stands, which means it's the lowest-priced speaker the company has ever offered.
Crystal Cable's Cube integrated amplifier ($15,000), which we covered at CES 2014, comes with the coolest remote, which the company debuted at High End 2014. The touch-sensitive controls allow for various adjustments that we thought made for a very intuitive control center, and the readout is OLED-based -- a nice touch.
At the extreme end of high-end audio is the Magico Ultimate III, a five-way active design that is 112dB efficient and comes with a Magico-designed digital crossover. In the configuration shown at High End 2014 . . .
. . . the midbass and low-bass drivers are powered by internal amplification, leaving three channels per side of external amplification for the owner to provide. The price of the Ultimate III in this configuration is $600,000/pr., not including the external amplifiers.
The Tannoy DC10 Ti is a brand new model from this well-known Scotland-based firm. The DC10 Ti has a coaxial driver comprising a titanium-dome tweeter that sits at the center of a 10" treated-paper-cone midrange driver. Below that is a dedicated 10" bass driver. The price for the DC10 Ti is €7000/pr.
The new Octave HP 700 tube-based preamplifier comes as a basic line stage for €11,000, but you can add a phono stage for an additional €3000. The phono module plugs right into the rear of the unit and can be added at any time. The HP 700 more or less supersedes the HP 500 model, which has been in production since 1989, though the company is not quite ready to retire that model just yet.
CH Precision, which is based in Switzerland, showed a prototype of its new preamplifier, the L1. It's the company's first "traditional" preamplifier. This unit is an all-analog line-level device that features a fully discrete volume control configured as an R2R ladder network using tight-tolerance metal-film resistors. The price for the L1 is €22,000.
Simaudio, based in Canada, showed the Neo 4350A headphone amplifier, which features a discrete output stage, selectable gain, an oversized power supply, and defeatable analog crossfeed circuitry. The 4350A comes with two sets of single-ended RCA analog inputs and one set of balanced XLR inputs on the rear panel. On the front panel are one 1/8" headphone jack and three XLR-based balanced output connectors. An optional DAC includes two optical, two coaxial, and one USB digital input. The USB input supports PCM audio up to 32-bit/384kHz, as well as DSD. The price for the 4350A is $3500 without the DAC, and $4200 with it.
Nagra's new digital-to-analog converter is the HD DAC (€17,990). This model will play all available resolutions including DSD, and it's equipped with two internal power supplies -- one for the digital section and one for the analog. You can also purchase the unit with an optional MPS power supply (€4500) and VFS anti-vibration plates (€1650) for even better performance. The cool dial is actually a . . .
. . . digital-clipping meter. Cool!
Cambridge Audio's new Aeromax 2 (€748/pr.) and 6 (€1498/pr.) speakers look quite a bit like the original Aero 2 and 6 speakers -- but they are not quite the same. New features on these models include fourth-generation BMR drivers with . . .
. . . more rigid diaphragms, upgraded crossovers, more cabinet bracing, better internal cabling, and improved speaker terminals. The new Aeromax also comes painted instead of with vinyl veneer -- finishes are Gloss Black and Gloss White.
The Amphion Argon0 is now the smallest, and newest, model in the company's popular Argon range. This miniscule minimonitor incorporates a 4.5" woofer and a 25mm titanium-dome tweeter crossed over at 1600Hz. The design is said to be based on the company's One12 professional monitor. The price is €900/pr. Amphion also introduced . . .
. . . the Apila loudspeaker line. These models are meant for environments where the acoustics are challenging, such as ballrooms and restaurants. The interesting aspect of these speakers is that the dispersion pattern can be adjusted through DSP (electronics would be included in the purchase, which would determine the price in a package format).
Pro-Ject's new Xtension 9 Evolution turntable comes complete with the Carbon Evolution tonearm. The chassis of the 9 is MDF filled with "metal sand." An aluminum-alloy platter and vinyl record mat round out the package. The Xtension 9 is priced at €2100 and is available in a range of catchy colors, including the bright red shown.
The Pro-Ject RPM9 Carbon (price expected to be under €3000 when released) has a carbon-fiber/MDF/aluminum monocoque chassis and includes the Carbon Evolution tonearm in the price. Pro-Ject's Heinz Lichtenegger said, "This is the best RPM9 ever!"
Pro-Ject's diminutive MaiA (shown with Pro-Ject's owner, Heinz Lichtenegger) possesses nine inputs, including Bluetooth aptX, USB streaming, and AirPlay. It even accommodates vinyl via a built-in phono stage. The MaiA has a 30Wpc stereo amplifier built in to . . .
. . . power a small pair of loudspeakers. This product is designed to be the centerpiece of a small do-everything audio system. The price for the MaiA is a very reasonable €499.
Alpha Design Labs' new products include the H128 headphones, which feature dual dynamic drivers (right, €299), the EH008 earphones (left, €199), and the A1 headphone amplifier-DAC (€499), which is designed specifically for Android devices and will play back PCM and DSD formats.
Alpha Design Labs' Stratos is a 24/192-capable stereo USB DAC that also has a headphone output stage and preamp functionality. This unit sells for €599. The company's H128 headphones are shown on top in an attractive brown and silver finish.
The Pathos Acoustics Classic Remix is an integrated amplifier-DAC-headphone amp that produces 70Wpc into 8 ohms and features a tube input stage and solid-state output stage. The retail price is €2500 in base form with the finish shown, and €3000 with an optional DAC. (Optional finishes for the Classic Remix are available for additional cost.)