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New Audio Components Include Traditional, Untraditional

8/25/2013 08:00:00 PM Eastern

NEW YORK — New home-audio components hitting the market this month include a range of traditional products, such as in-room speakers and a stereo integrated amps, as well as the untraditional, including a portable USB DAC said to be the first to process digital DSD files.

The new products also include a first-of-its kind phono preamp/digital converter that converts a turntable’s analog output to PCM or DSD files.

Here’s what coming from multiple audio suppliers:

Light Harmonic: The Sacramento, Calif.-based high-end audio supplier, which offers a pair of DACs at a suggested $20,000 and $31,000, is developing its first portable USB DAC.

The Geek USB DAC/headphone amplifier will ship in the first quarter at a suggested $299, but backers of the company’s Kickstarter campaign will get the device for as little as $99, the company said.

The portable DAC, which will be the size of a thumb drive, plugs into the USB port of a laptop or desktop computer and drives two pairs of headphones. It will support playback of high-resolution files up to 384k PCM, and it’s promoted as the first portable DAC to process DSD and double-DSD files.

Marantz: The company plans Aug. 26 shipments of a new stereo integrated amplifier and a CD player, replacing current models and adding upgrades.

The matching models are the $699-suggested PM6005 integrated amplifier and $499 CD6005 Hi-Fi CD player.

Compared to its predecessor, the M6005 adds digital fiber-optic and coaxial inputs and internal 192kHz/24-bit DAC, whereas its predecessor was an analog-only model. Like its predecessor, the PM6005 is rated at 2x45 watts into 8 ohms and 2x60 into 4 ohms.

The CD6005 CD player, priced the same as its predecessor, features improved internal components and signal paths and adds AAC playback to its predecessor’s MP3, WMA and WAV decoding.

Monitor Audio: The Canadian company upgraded its Radius series of compact speakers, which consists of eight models that include a three-channel passive soundbar, LCR, center-channel speaker and two active subwoofers.

The U.K. company’s series, imported by Kevro International, now sports all-metal alloy midbass and tweeter drivers for the first time and features slimmer center-channel speaker, slimmer LCR and slimmer three-channel passive soundbar. The two active subwoofers were reengineered to deliver higher output and deeper bass response, the company added.

The metal-alloy drivers are called CCAM drivers for ceramic- coated aluminum/magnesium, a material that delivers increased efficiency and clarity and reduced distortion, Monitor said.

The new speakers include the Radius 45 super-compact speaker cube at a suggested $375/pair, the $500/ pair Radius90 compact two-way monitor, the $400-each Radius225 compact LCR with 2.5-inch cabinet depth, the $375-each Radius200 compact center-channel speaker with 2.5-inch cabinet depth, the $825-suggested RadiusONE passive three-channel compact soundbar with 2.5- inch cabinet depth, and the two active subs, which feature higher power than their predecessors. The subs are the $725 Radius 380 and $900 390.

PS Audio: The Boulder, Colo., company developed what it called a first-of-its-kind phono preamp/digital converter. The $1,895-suggested NuWave Phono Converter can be used as a traditional high-end analog phono preamplifier, as a stand-alone analog- to-digital converter (ADC) via an auxiliary analog input, or as a phono preamp that digitizes a turntable’s analog output.

The component converts a turntable’s analog output to digital for transfer over digital coaxial or digital I2S outputs to an outboard digital-to-analog converter (DAC) or to another hifi component for playback. A vinyl record’s content can also be transferred via USB to a computer for archiving, said PS Audio CEO Paul McGowan.

Unlike other phono-preamp/converters on the market, the NuWave converts a turntable’s analog output to PCM or DSD files, not just to PCM files, McGowan said. Also unlike other converters, the NuWave is the first to amplify a turntable’s output and apply the RIAA equalization curve while the audio signal is still in the analog domain, enabling it to “faithfully reproduce the turntable’s analog output,” he said.

The device also simultaneously produces both a balanced analog-audio output and a digital output. The analog output enables owners of all-analog hi-fi systems to rip a vinyl record while listening to the content through their home hi-fi system. Although all other preamp/converters have an analog output, “that analog out is from a cheap D/A built in as a convenience,” Mc- Gowan said.

Yamaha: The company is going way upscale in its selection of two-channel stereo integrated amps and two-channel CD/SACD players.

The company plans September retail availability of the A-S3000 integrated amp and CD-S3000 CD/ SACD at suggested retails of $7,999 and $6,999, respectively.

The integrated amp is an addition to a lineup that consists of five other stereo integrated amps at suggested retails from $379 to $2,499. The CD/SACD player is an addition to a two-channel CD/SACD player lineup consisting of two models at $1,799 and $2,499.

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