Audio Products Debut At Munich Show

By Joseph Palenchar On May 9 2013 - 10:42am

Wilson Benesch unveiled the $100,315/pair Cardinal flagship speaker as part of i
Wilson Benesch unveiled the $100,315/pair Cardinal flagship speaker as part of its Geometry series.


Munich, Germany — Audio suppliers such as iRiver, Sonus Faber, and Wilson Benesch turned up at the High End 2013 show here to unveil new products destined for the United States.

iRiver launched the second high-end portable music player under its Astell&Kern brand, Sonus Faber launched a trio of high-end Olympica in-room speakers, and Wilson Benesch unveiled its new flagship speaker, the Cardinal at $100,315/pair.

Korea-based iRiver launched the $1,300 AK120 portable music player, joining the brand’s first model, the AK100, launched late last year at $699. The new model incorporates two separate DACs to output audio signals independently for each channel. As a result, the product represents “a true dual-mono [dual monaural] setup like those found in expensive hi-fi equipment” to deliver “far superior depth, clarity, and spaciousness” in audio reproduction, the company said.

A U.S. ship date was unavailable.

The AK120 also features the gapless playback and preset EQ (equalizer) settings of the AK100. It also features 64GB of built-in memory and two MicroSD card slots, each supporting 64GB cards in each slot. Other key features include Bluetooth and optical input/output, enabling it to be used as an outboard DAC.

The new portable retains the look and feel of the current model, including the brushed black metal and similarly styled volume knob. The new model, however, is slightly larger.

Both models support the same codecs, but the new model will add support for DSD files in the future. Both models play 24-bit/192kHz FLAC and WAV files, called Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) files. These files are saved as a lossless format straight from the studio mastering source.  HDtracks.com provides albums encoded with Mastering Quality Sound from every major label, iRiver noted

The current Astell&Kern player features single DAC and 32GB of internal memory, which can be expanded via two 32GB MicroSD card slots.

For its part, Wilson Benesch showed its $100,315/pair Cardinal flagship as part of its Geometry series. A high-gloss wood finish costs $5,220 extra.

The Cardinal is positioned as the company’s most advanced loudspeaker, featuring a “complex internal geometry” to counter standing waves and deliver a high signal-to noise ratio. The floorstanding speaker incorporates 18 drive units to deliver 25Hz to 35KHz bandwidth. It’s due in the U.S. sometime later this year.

At Sonus Faber, the company launched a trio of in-room speakers, all with lyre-shape design. Pricing and U.S. ship dates were unavailable.

The Olympic I is a two-way stand-mount speaker. The Olympica II and III are three-way floorstanding speakers. All three are vented models. The frequency response of the two-way is 50Hz to 30kHz with 87dB sensitivity. The II delivers 40Hz to 30kHz frequency response with 88dB sensitivity, and the III delivers 35Hz to 30kHz frequency response with 90dB sensitivity. Sensitivity was rated at 2.83V/1 meter.

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