Audio Research Corporation showed their impressive new Reference 250 mono amplifiers. These beauties retail for $25,990 per pair and output, you guessed it, 250W each. They use KT120 output tubes. The analog power meters on the front panel were a huge hit with showgoers, we were told. [www.audioresearch.com]
Want to archive your vinyl collection? Have another reason to convert an analog signal to digital? If so, then you'll want to pick up the new QA-9 analog-to-digital converter from Ayre Acoustics. This unit will output 24/192 and DSD digital signals for permanent digital recording or immediate playback over a high-quality computer-based audio system. The price of the QA-9 has not yet been set since it won't be released until later this year. [www.ayre.com]
Musical Fidelity's newest product is the M1ViNL phono stage, which features ten cartridge-loading settings that can be adjusted on the fly from the front panel. It also has balanced as well as single-ended outputs. The M1ViNL's retail price is $1199. [www.musicalfidelity.com]
Vandersteen's $5990-per-pair Treo is a three-way floorstanding loudspeaker that uses a 1" ceramic-coated alloy-dome tweeter, a 4.5" composite-cone midrange, and a 6.5" woven-fiber-cone woofer, all housed in an 80-pound cabinet. The rated frequency response is 32Hz to 30kHz, +/- 3dB, and, like all of Vandersteen's speakers, its drivers are time and phased aligned. [www.vandersteen.com]
Germany's Behold produces not only electronics but now loudspeakers as well. The Tanara is their entry-level model and is deceptively simple looking. The three-way loudspeaker has two internally mounted 8" woofers whose output escapes through the front port, and there's a planar-magnetic tweeter flanked by a pair of planar-magnetic midrange drivers behind the grille cloth. The Tanara requires a two-way active crossover to separate bass and mid/high signals, which in the case of the show system came courtesy of Behold's own Gentle four-channel integrated amplifier with built-in electronic crossover. The price of the Tanara is $30,000 per pair, but that doesn't include the Gentle.
Don't be fooled by the pattern on the shiny faceplate -- it's a reflection from the floor. And also don't be tricked into thinking that EAR's new DACute is a two-piece DAC. The DACute is sitting atop a Townshend Audio Seismic Sink platform that cosmetically looks the same. That had us fooled. But this single-piece box does have some interesting design features including upsampling to 192kHz and a 24/192-capable USB input. And, of course, like every EAR product, one of the most notable things about the DACute is that it was designed by legendary audio designer Tim de Paravacini. The price is $5795 in black and $6495 in chrome as shown.
Thiel's subs aren't just good; they're smart -- as in SmartSubs, because their output can be tailored to your room's acoustics. This particular SmartSub is the USS, which produces low bass from a single 10" woofer powered by a 550W RMS power amplifier. It's rated to play to 20Hz at up to 99dB! The price of the USS has not yet been set.
Norway's Electrocompaniet had a working sample of their EMP 2 Blu-ray/CD/SACD player, which is based on an Oppo Digital platform. The EMP 2 supports HDMI 1.4a and includes a feature that indicates it was designed to be the hub of a super-high-end audio system . . .
. . . balanced stereo analog outputs. The EMP 2 has a retail price of $3990.
Germany's Music Culture continues to roll out the new models, ensuring a complete and impressively styled array of high-end products. At RMAF 2011, MC showed their new Reference MC 331 loudspeaker, which is a three-way, two-piece floorstander that has some impressive features, including . . .
. . . what appears to be a coated, Kevlar-based midrange cone. The MC 331 sells for $9995 per pair.
The Memory Player 64 is a full-featured music server that can be ordered in a multitude of configurations. Although the price starts at around $7000, it can quickly go up from there when the unit is configured with internal DACs and the 32-bit digital volume control. The MP 64 seems to be quite an ambitious product intended for the highest-end systems.
Durham, CT, USA-based Red Wine Audio had several new products at RMAF 2011. On the bottom shelf are the Liliana monoblock amplifiers, which are priced at $5600 per pair through the end of the year (presumably they'll be going up in price in 2012). These amps are battery powered and will output a rated 100W into 8 ohms or 200W into 4 ohms. Above the amps is the Signature 15 integrated amplifier ($1500), which is said to deliver 15Wpc into 8 ohms. The Red Wine products come with a 30-day return policy.
TAD's newest speaker is the E-1, and they showed a prototype at RMAF 2011. The E-1 will be the company's entry-level product and has technology that has trickled down from the company's higher-priced offerings. The E-1, like all TAD speakers, is based on a concentric midrange-tweeter driver. The E-1 retains the beryllium tweeter seen in the higher-priced models, but it incorporates a magnesium cone for the midrange as opposed to beryllium in the more expensive speakers. The anticipated retail price for the E-1 is $27,000 per pair when it becomes available late this year or early next.
Wyred 4 Sound's tiny uDAC is priced at $399 and has three digital inputs. The S/PDIF and TosLink inputs will accept 24/192 signals, while the USB input will handle up to 24/96. The uDAC includes an LED to let the user know it has locked onto a digital signal, as well as an engraved logo that lights up when the unit is powered on.
The 100Wpc m-INT from Wyred 4 Sound is priced at a reasonable $1499. We say reasonable because of all the m-INT will do -- it has a DAC section based on the company's uDAC, and it's capable of 24/96 resolution on its USB input and 24/192 on the S/DIF and TosLink inputs. It also has trigger ins and outs. Although the back panel is packed, . . .
. . . high-quality binding posts are still included and seem to be well spaced for easy accessibility.