Companies featured in gallery below: Gryphon Audio Designs, T+A, Octave Audio, EAT, Chord, Hegel Music Systems, Goldmund, Weiss, Pro-Ject Audio Systems, Astell&Kern, Ceradyn, Grado, Lehmann Audio, Pathos, Phatlab
All prices in euros or US dollars unless otherwise indicated
Gryphon Audio Designs' Mojo S is a stand-mounted, two-way, three-driver speaker system. Showcasing this new design at High End 2016 was Mr. Gryphon himself, Flemming Rasmussen. The Mojo S is equipped with two 6" midrange-woofers and an AMT tweeter. It is priced at €20,000/pr. plus VAT (includes stands). End users can replace the side panels, and any color is available for them.
The most massive speaker system at High End 2016 was the Gryphon Kodo, the company's new flagship (to say the least!). This four-way system features an active bass section with a 1000W amplifier powering eight 10" woofers. The main tower houses a newly developed Mundorf AMT tweeter, four midrange drivers, and six midbass drivers -- all developed specifically for this project. Shipping weight is in excess of one ton! As with the Mojo S, the side panels . . .
. . . are not only customizable, but are replaceable by the end user. So you can order more than one set of side panels when you buy the Kodo. The price is €220,000/pr. (plus VAT). The Kodo Owner's Club entitles the Kodo buyer to some special services, such as a three-month follow-up visit by a Gryphon representative to ensure the speakers are properly performing. Also, every three months for two years, Kodo customers will receive a Gryphon-produced CD. The Kodo has a ten-year warranty.
The T+A MP 1000 E is a multi-source player that features a CD player, FM tuner, Bluetooth connectivity (with integral Tidal, Deezer, and Qobuz streaming), and multiple digital inputs. Single-ended RCA and balanced XLR outputs are standard. The price is €4690. The PA 1000 E . . .
. . . is the matching integrated amplifier (€3190). The PA 1000 E's power output is said to be 140Wpc into 8 ohms or 250Wpc into 4 ohms. The PA 1000 E is MOSFET-based and has multiple analog inputs (XLR and RCA).
Octave Audio's RE 320 stereo power amplifier uses KT-150 output tubes and is said to produce 130Wpc into 4 ohms. The company states that 200Wpc of peak power is available, which means that it should be suitable for driving a wide range of loudspeakers. On top of the high power (for a tube amp), the RE 320 is claimed to have extremely low distortion and noise (-110dB). The price is €8500.
The EAT E-Glo S (€2595) is an MM/MC phono stage that uses ECC83 tubes coupled with J-FET transistors. We thought the E-Glo S was super attractive with its wood side panels flanking an aluminum case -- not to mention well-priced.
The Chord TToby is a small stereo power amplifier intended to pair with the company's Hugo TT DAC. Though small, it is claimed to produce 130Wpc into 8 ohms and is MOSFET based -- not a class-D design. The price seems a little high at $4000, but then again, you likely know the saying about good things coming in small packages.
Hegel Music Systems' new Röst is an integrated amplifier (75Wpc), as well as much, much more. The unit sports three analog inputs, five digital inputs, and a headphone output, but also has Apple AirPlay and supports UPnP functionality. It also has the capability to be remotely controlled via IP with the Control4 smart home system. The suggested retail is €2500, and it is available in a fresh-looking white finish -- the first Hegel product to be available in this color. Also new from Hegel . . .
. . . is the Mohican CD player, which is said to be the company's best disc spinner to date. The price is €4500. The Mohican design is said to use the HD30 DAC (the company's flagship DAC) circuitry, but is optimized specifically for CD; in fact, it has no digital inputs, so it cannot be used as a DAC. According to Hegel's founder and chief designer, Bent Holter, because the Mohican has been specifically designed to play only CDs, its performance with 16-bit/44.1kHz material exceeds that of the HD30!
The Goldmund Logo Satya is a three-way loudspeaker ($110,000/pr.) that has amplification, preamplification, digital signal processing, and digital-to-analog conversion built into its massive all-aluminum cabinets. The driver complement is a 1" soft-dome tweeter, a 7" midrange, and a 12" woofer. Each driver is powered by its own amp, rated at 175W, 175W, and 250W, respectively. Perhaps the coolest feature . . .
. . . is that the Logo Satya can be used directly over Wi-Fi from your computer with the included dongle. If you don't like the idea of going wireless, the Logo Satya will also accept a digital cable; however, the company representatives said that regardless of which way you choose to connect your music source, the performance is identical.
The Weiss DAC501 is one DAC that can definitely deliver noticeably different performance -- it includes internal DSP capability with EQ, vinyl simulation, de-essing capability (reduces sibilance), crosstalk cancellation, and volume management. It handles PCM at resolutions up to 24/384, plus DSD up to double-rate (5.6MHz). Outputs include balanced, single-ended, and headphones. Expect a retail price around $9000 when the DAC501 is officially released.
The Classic turntable is a twist for Pro-Ject Audio Systems, which is best known for its fun and often colorful budget 'tables. The traditional wooden plinth gives the Classic a, well, classic look. But with its aluminum/carbon-fiber-sandwich tonearm and its metal/MDF-laminated chassis resting on semispherical elastomeric dampers, the Classic is actually pretty high-tech. It runs €999 with an Ortofon 2M Silver cartridge installed, or €950 without the cartridge.
Astell&Kern's AK300 digital music player looks much like its top-of-the-line AK380, but it's downgraded a bit in capability and dramatically lower in price. It has a single 24/192 DAC chip instead of the AK380's dual-mono 32/384 chips, 64GB of internal storage versus the AK380's 256GB, and a somewhat slimmer and significantly lighter design. It retains the AK380's Wi-Fi connectivity and ability to operate as a USB DAC. The best part is that it costs $899, compared with $3499 for the AK380.
Each earpiece in the $399 Ceradyn earphones incorporates a conventional dynamic driver used for bass and midrange, plus a piezoelectric tweeter. It's available in three versions: one tuned for flat response, one with the bass emphasized, and one with the treble boosted. Our brief listen to the flat version was encouraging: the earphones had exceptional treble detail without sounding bright.
The €1699 GS2000s are the first Grado headphones to use two different woods -- mahogany and maple -- in each earcup, a technique said to help cancel resonances. According to the company, the GS2000s also employ a 50mm driver, the largest the company has yet used. We thought they delivered a satisfyingly full sound, with less of the treble emphasis for which Grados are revered or reviled, depending on whom you ask.
The Drachenfels from Lehmann Audio is an analog headphone amp that can be upgraded with a digital module. The module includes a 24/192 DAC with coaxial and TosLink inputs, but no USB. However, the module does include Bluetooth wireless with aptX decoding. Price is €499 for just the amp, €799 with the digital module.
The Pathos InPol Ear could be considered a headphone-specific integrated amplifier. It combines a tube preamp with a solid-state class-A output stage rated to deliver a whopping 10Wpc into balanced 32-ohm headphones, and 2Wpc into unbalanced 32-ohm 'phones. The analog version has four unbalanced stereo inputs and a single balanced stereo input. The optional HiDAC Evo digital module adds USB, coaxial, and TosLink inputs, plus an Ethernet input that allows it to stream from networked hard drives. A front USB jack accepts music stored on USB sticks. It handles PCM up to 32/384, plus DSD up to double-rate (5.6MHz). A smartphone app allows music browsing and remote volume control. Price is €4000 fully loaded.
Phatlab's $1300 PHAntasy is one of only a few tube-based portable headphone amps we've seen. It's a single-ended, class-A design with two power tubes and one preamp tube and an analog input. According to the company, the PHAntasy's high/low-impedance switch allows it to drive even 600-ohm headphones easily. The battery is said to charge in three hours and play for up to ten hours.