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Blacknote Expanding Lineup, Adds Digital Media Players

New York — Akamai Audio of Florence, Italy, is complementing its Goldenote brand of analog-based audio components with a growing selection of digital-oriented Blacknote components, which include a selection of tube-equipped digital media players.

The Linux-based player, the $4,400-suggested DSS30 Digital Static Source, plays music stored in multiple formats on USB sticks, SD memory cards, USB-connected hard drives and Ethernet-connected PCs. A solid-state version is also available at $2,876. Both lack disc transports of any kind but feature 24-bit/192kHz DACs and balanced outputs. RCA and digital inputs enable the device to double as a DAC for other music sources.

Both models deliver performance superior to CD players because flash-memory sources and USB-connected

HDD sources eliminate jitter and other digital artifacts that arise from a CD player’s mechanical transports, said Maurizio Aterini, GM of Blacknote and Goldenote. The players “recognize virtually any music file and plays it natively,” he noted.

Versions of the DSS 30 without balanced outputs or networked Ethernet connection are also part of the Blacknote lineup. A tube-equipped DSS15 is available at $2,700, and a solid-state DSS15 is due in June at $1,500.

The DSS line will expand further with the late2009 availability of the $7,200 DSS 50 and 2010 availability of the $12,800 DSS 70, both featuring 32-bit/768kHz DACs to prepare for 32-bit recordings, Aterini said. Additional details were unavailable.

Other products in the Blacknote lineup include CD and SACD players, which will be joined in the second half by the brand’s first integrated amplifiers and amplifiers, including a five-channel amp and a two-channel preamp processor. The integrated amps feature digital preamp stages to differentiate them from Goldenote integrated amps with analog preamp stages, he said.

In North America, Akamai’s products are marketed by Carolina, Puerto Rico-based Koetsu USA, the U.S. distribution arm for multiple audio brands, including Koetsu, Chario and Montegiro.

All Akamai products, built in Italy, are targeted to A/V specialists and custom installers.