If you’ve always wanted an EMM Labs DA2 digital-to-analog converter from Ed Meitner, but run a digital-only system and avoid the use of a preamplifier altogether, you’re in luck: EMM’s new DV2 ($30,000) is essentially a DA2 with a high-resolution digital volume control, which allows for direct connection to a power amplifier. A unique feature is that the output voltage is adjustable for use with different power amplifiers.
It’s not really a new product -- but the color is. The Merging+NADAC digital converter ($10,500 for the stereo model, $11,500 for the eight-channel version), from Switzerland’s Merging Technologies, used to be available with only a silver-colored case. Now it’s available in a stealthy-looking black.
Boulder used High End 2018 to debut its least-expensive product ever -- the 508 MM/MC phono preamplifier, priced at $5000. The 508’s chassis is machined out of a solid billet of aluminum, and the circuit board utilizes all surface-mount technology. The input impedances are set at 47k ohms for MM and 1000 ohms for MC, but the MC impedance can be adjusted by changing the internal resistors. According to company representatives, the concept and design of this compact unit, which is much smaller than the usual massively built components that Boulder is known for, was conceived by one of the employees in the company’s machine shop. The 508 is available now.
Monitor Audio showed its least expensive line of loudspeakers, the new Monitor series. The contemporary-looking design includes bass-midrange drivers with orange translucent MMP II (Metal Matrix Polymer) cones and black C-CAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminum Magnesium) dome tweeters. The smallest and least expensive main speaker, the Monitor 50 bookshelf, is priced at €250/pr. and features a square cabinet, a 25mm tweeter, a 5.5" bass-midrange driver, and a single set of binding posts. The slightly larger 100 bookshelf is priced at €320/pr. and has a 6.5" bass-midrange driver, a 25mm tweeter, and two sets of binding posts for biamping or biwiring. The 300 floorstander has three 6.5" drivers, two for the bass and one for the midrange frequencies, and a 25mm tweeter. It’s priced at €750/pr. The C150 center-channel has two 5.5" bass-midrange drivers in a horizontal MTM configuration with the 25mm tweeter and is priced at €180. The line also consists of the 200 floorstander and MRW-10 powered subwoofer, which are not in the photo.
Dynaudio is calling its new Confidence speaker line, which officially launched at High End 2018, the “most advanced passive speaker range in Dynaudio history.” The new lineup is headed up by the Confidence 60 (€40,000/pr.), a towering three-way floorstander that supersedes Dynaudio’s €65,000/pr. Evidence Platinum as the company’s flagship speaker. The 60 is accompanied by the Confidence 50 (€26,000/pr.) and Confidence 30 (€19,000/pr.) large- and medium-size floorstanders, respectively. There’s also a two-way standmounted model, the Confidence 20 (€12,000/pr.). All speakers feature downward-firing ports and the company’s Esotar3 tweeters, which . . .
. . . work in tandem with Dynaudio’s DDC (Dynaudio Directivity Control) lens system. The DDC lens steers sound by increasing horizontal dispersion and by restricting vertical dispersion to decrease ceiling reflections. Analysis in the company’s new measuring facility has served to improve DDC, with the benefits showing up in the new Confidence speaker line.
Q Acoustics’ new 3000i series comprises five loudspeakers, of which the 3050i is the largest. This three-driver floorstander is, amazingly, priced at only €800/pr. It features twin 6.5" midrange-woofers and a .9" soft-dome tweeter. It comes with a rear outrigger for stability. It also has structural elements in the cabinet that are said to be taken directly from the company’s more expensive Concept series. Smaller models such as . . .
. . . the 3020i and 3010i bookshelf models appear to be very well made, with a smooth and attractive continuous vinyl finish that’s available in four colors. All models feature point-to-point internal braces to minimize vibration. Like the 3050i, these smaller models use a 0.9" soft-dome tweeter that’s decoupled from the baffle to reduce interaction with vibrations from the midrange-bass driver. The 3020i has a 5" midrange-bass driver with a coated-paper cone, and the 3010i utilizes a 4" unit. The 3020i is priced at €299/pr., and the 3010i at €249/pr.
Danish speaker maker DALI has teamed up with Bluesound parent company Lenbrook to produce the Callisto wireless speaker system. Callisto configurations feature either the 2C bookshelf speaker (€1399) or the . . .
. . . 6C tower (€1799), paired with a Soundhub preamplifier (€1149 with BluOS module). Both speakers use a hybrid high-frequency driver that combines a 1" soft-dome with a 0.65" x 1.75" ribbon tweeter. Onboard class-D amps deliver 250W total to the tweeter and the 6.5" bass-midrange drivers (one on the 2C bookshelf, two on the 6C tower). The Soundhub preamplifier provides both digital and analog inputs and sends up to 24-bit/96kHz signals wirelessly to the speakers using the BluOS protocol, with control carried out via the BluOS app or the included hardware remote.
Germany’s T+A is celebrating 40 years in business with the introduction of the M 40 HV Anniversary Edition mono power amplifier (a pair is shown here, with the right unit’s top and side open). This model is rated to output 550W into 8 ohms or 1000W into 4 ohms. The 54kg M 40 HV mono is available for €40,000/pr.
Innuos has updated its full Zen music server line to Mk3 status. The new models include the ZenMini (€749, left), Zen (€2099, middle), and Zenith (€3299, right). All models benefit from improvements introduced to reduce noise and vibration. Also, a new, optional linear power-supply upgrade is available for the entry-level ZenMini. Another product introduction from Innuos is the company’s new flagship, the Zenith Statement (€11,000, not shown), a model that features a double enclosure, eight individual linear power supplies, and a custom USB board with a high-precision OCXO clock. All servers will be available in July.
Goldmund’s new Samadhi (a Sanskrit term for the highest state of mental concentration a person can achieve) is a full-range wireless speaker that has 700W of built-in amplification per unit. It also has a key feature distinguishing it from most other wireless speakers: a €250,000/pr. price tag. The Samadhi receives signals over a proprietary wireless link from Goldmund’s USB transmitter, or from the company’s Mimesis 11 hub. A digital input is also onboard. The Samadhi’s driver configuration consists of a soft-dome tweeter, two 7" midrange drivers, and a 12" woofer.
The new Technics SC-C50 (€749) is a compact speaker that uses Chromecast Built-in technology for wireless multiroom streaming of Spotify, Tidal, Google Music, and more. Like its big brother in the Technics Ottava line, the SC-C70, the new model features the company’s Space Tune auto EQ feature to compensate for corner or near-wall placement. Its driver complement consists of three horn-loaded midrange-tweeter modules and a single subwoofer, all driven by a 100W amplifier. The SC-C50 will be available in September.
Amphion showed several upgraded Argon-series speakers at High End 2018. The models are the Argon 7LS (€4500/pr.) and 3LS (€3750/pr.) towers, and the 3S bookshelf (€2250/pr., shown). Each of the upgraded speakers is a two-way with a passive radiator on the backside that uses crossover technology derived from the company’s pro audio division. All models are available now.
The iFi AIO -- for all in one -- audiophile music center sports multiple ways to connect to it: Wi-Fi, USB, SD Card, and DLNA. The AIO is amplified by a hybrid tube preamp and class-D power section. The speaker drivers include four paper-cone woofers and four tweeters arrayed in a stereo configuration. The AIO can be Alexa-controlled as well. The price will be around $1500 when it’s launched in October.
Audio Research was showing the Reference 160M vacuum-tube monaural power amplifier, which we first saw in prototype form at CES 2018, held in Las Vegas in January. It is now in production and shipping. Utilizing four KT150 output tubes and two 6H30 driver tubes, the 160M features switchable ultralinear/triode operation, proprietary auto-bias, and a refined audio topology. The beautiful industrial design that we saw in Vegas remains, with a transparent faceplate that provides a view of the glowing tubes and features etched markings for the integral power meter, which illuminates with LEDs that are adjustable for brightness.
The Reference 160M is rated to deliver 140W and has output terminals for 4-, 8-, or 16-ohm speaker loads, and also has both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA inputs. There’s an auto-shutoff feature that can be defeated, and the fan speed is adjustable. Also included are a tube hour counter and a tube monitor LED that indicates whether each output tube is operating properly. Finally, there’s an RS-232 connection and a remote turn-on input. The Reference 160M is priced at $30,000 per pair.
Kii’s BXT is an extension module designed to add bass to the Three, the company’s DSP-controlled active loudspeaker. A pair of BXTs will cost you $15,000 and will contribute 16 drivers and 7000W to a Kii Three BXT system. Adding a BXT will cause the Three to automatically reconfigure its DSP software to include it as part of the complete system.
The Marten Coltrane Momento 2 is the second-from-the-top model in the company’s line of loudspeakers. It uses Accuton Cell drivers and first-order crossovers. The four-way model uses an upper midrange and a tweeter made from diamond, along with a ceramic lower midrange and aluminum-honeycomb woofers. Passive radiators on the rear round out the driver complement. The price is €310,000/pr.
Swedish manufacturer Engström debuted its new entry-level, fully balanced 300B integrated tube amplifier named Arne, after a Swedish jazz musician. It’s the result of ten years of R&D since the launch of the company’s Lars mono power amplifier, which is named after one of Engström’s cofounders and costs more than €100,000 for a pair. Priced at €30,000, the Arne is said to be designed with a “jazz band mentality” and with the intent to bring the company’s unique Scandinavian sound to a wider audience, due to it being much lower priced than the Lars and the company’s other models.