The Eximus DP1 by April Music of Korea is a 24/192 DAC coupled with a preamplifier, all in an amazingly built little chassis that just exudes class. The DP1 sports balanced and single-ended analog outputs, a headphone jack, and six digital inputs including 24/192 asynchronous USB. The price is $2995 and Doug Schneider has one in right now for review. [www.aprilmusic.com]
Aura is another April Music brand (their other brand is Stello). The Aura Vita (bottom) is an integrated amplifier with a built-in phono stage, and it's rated to output 50Wpc into an 8-ohm load. On top of the Vita is the matching Vivid CD player, which includes two 24/192 coaxial digital inputs and one 24/192 optical digital input. Like all of April Music's products, these new Aura components look sharp. Unfortunately, though, they're so new that their prices haven't been established. [www.aprilmusic.com]
Bel Canto Design continues to add to their cohesive-looking and expansive product line. Shown above is the CD3t CD transport, which comes equipped with S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital outputs. The price is a reasonable $1495, and it can obviously work with all of Bel Canto's DACs, as well as others. [www.belcantodesign.com]
That finish is so glossy it almost looks wet! That's what's most important (along with the ten-year warranty) about the new Signature versions of the Dynaudio Confidence series loudspeakers. Shown above is the C2 Signature, which retails for between $13,500 and $15,000 per pair, depending on the wood finish. [www.dynaudio.com]
Genesis has revamped their G7-series loudspeaker, now deemed the G7.2f. The new speaker's main claim to fame is a new version of the company's ring-ribbon tweeter, which is said to be the same one used in the massive Genesis 1 flagship loudspeaker. There are a host of other improvements in the G7.2f, including a revised crossover. The G7.2f's price per pair is $8950. [www.genesisloudspeakers.com]
Hegel has replaced their well-received HD10 digital-to-analog converter with the new HD11. The great thing about it is that it's still priced at $1200, but it now includes a 32-bit DAC chip from Texas Instruments that's said to significantly improve sound quality. A quick A/B comparison with the older HD10 proved the claims are true! [www.hegel.com]
Odyssey Audio seemingly provides great value and great sound in all their audio products. The new Kismet hybrid integrated amplifier (hybrid means a combination of tubes and solid-state devices) comes complete with a separate power supply (not shown) and an impressively machined chassis. Odyssey says it takes 30 hours to build a Kismet integrated, which makes the $3500 retail price quite remarkable. When you peak under the hood . . .
. . . of the Kismet you quickly realize that the build quality is more than skin deep. [www.odysseyaudio.com]
"Beryllium, baby!" is the slogan Odyssey uses on their press release for the new Kismet Reference Monitor loudspeaker. These speakers come complete with the stand shown in the photo, along with an impressive Scan-Speak driver array that includes a beryllium-dome tweeter normally seen only in speakers that cost much, much more. Crossover components are said to be from Mundorf. The price of the Kismet Reference Monitor is $3500 per pair. [www.odysseyaudio.com]
Audioengine's new 5+ powered loudspeakers use Kevlar midrange-woofers and silk-dome tweeters. This updated model (the original was simply called 5) features a front-mounted volume control. Audioengine's finish options are: Satin Black, Hi-Gloss White, and Solid Carbonized Bamboo. The retail price for the 5+ is $399 per pair.
Concert Fidelity's new CF-080LSX2 preamplifier is a hybrid line stage (it uses tubes and solid-state devices) that retails for $20,000 and incorporates what the company says are chip-based resistors in critical places in the circuit design -- a feature that's reported to improve clarity. One other neat feature is . . .
. . . the way the tubes are mounted. They're accessible from the rear panel. Novel and smart, we thought.
DeVore Fidelity showed the Gibbon 88 at RMAF 2011 in prototype form. The cabinet is made from bamboo, and the woofer is said to be a new and improved version from what DeVore has used in the past: the 7" midrange-woofer has a 50-percent larger magnet system and double the linear travel compared with the driver used in the company's previous Super 8 speaker. DeVore says the price of the new Gibbon 88 will be $5000 per pair.
Are powered speakers making a comeback? Perhaps. Here is the Emotiva Pro Airmotiv line of speakers, ranging in price from $399 to $799 per pair. Each driver is powered by its own internal amplifier, and all models use an Air Motion Transformer tweeter.
Sjofn HiFi debuted (the clue) loudspeaker -- yes, the model name is stated in parentheses on all company literature, so we did it here. The woofer is 5.5" across and the tweeter is a silk-dome unit that looks to be about .75" across. This little guy is priced at $999 per pair, and the company reps claim that each speaker that comes off the assembly line is matched to within a half decibel of the reference model. If true, that shows great quality control, which isn't something all speaker makers have. The warranty is six years, too!
Albert Von Schweikert debuted his newest speaker at RMAF 2011: the VR-44, which is a three-way design with an active bass section. This largish floorstander retails for $20,000 per pair and is said to have a cabinet that's close to inert due to its triple-wall-laminated enclosure panels. The driver array includes two 8.8" woofers, a 6" composite midrange, and two 1" tweeters (the second one is mounted on the rear to improve spaciousness). The system also comes in a passive version if required.
Zu Audio played its Definition Mk.IV to an enthusiastic audience. This $12,500-per-pair speaker uses Zu's new "nano-sanctified" full-range drivers and a Radian 850 tweeter. A 12" downward-firing woofer handles the bass.
LM Audio, a China-based company, produces the LM-219IA dual-mono single-ended integrated amplifier. This model is rated to output 24Wpc and uses 300B and 845 tubes. The LM-219IA has selectable feedback levels and a preamp input to access just the power-amp section. This amp powered the DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 88 speakers, and the sound was fantastic. The price of the LM-219IA is $7995.
Penaudio of Finland debuted the stand-mounted Cenya, a two-way speaker with a textile-dome tweeter and a magnesium midrange-woofer. Sensitivity is rated at 86dB, and the price is $3995 per pair. We were surprised by the generous bass this very small speaker offered.
When looking at this photo in editing, we realized that the way the add-on feet are mounted to this tiny integrated amplifier from Chapter Audio of England made it look like this little critter was walking up to our camera for a sniff. It's kind of cute, and also pretty feature-rich. The Airplay 250 integrated amplifier has a rated output of 150Wpc into 8 ohms and 250Wpc into 4 ohms. You can wirelessly stream 24/96 music to the Airplay from your favorite iDevice or Android-enabled phone.
Tenor Audio, based in Montreal, Canada, showed the two-chassis Line 1/Power 1 line-stage preamplifier. At $75,000, the Line 1/Power 1 was perhaps the most expensive preamplifier at this show, but Tenor obviously designed it to challenge the state of the art.