Classe Adds USB, 3D To Select Audio Components

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Atlanta - Classe plans to add 3D-ready HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs to its existing SSP-800 and CT-SSP surround processors and show a working prototype of its first audio component with front-panel USB-audio port to play back music from a connected iPod, iPhone, or iPad.


The stereo preamp, the CP-800, is promoted as the first of a new generation of stereo preamplifiers incorporating front-panel asynchronous USB host and slave port, which streams the PCM output of Apple iPod, iPhone and iPad devices as well as the PCM output of USB-connected PCs.

A Classe remote would control such basic iPod functions as play/stop and skip/scan. If a USB-connected PC is running iTunes, users could control iTunes remotely via a Bluetooth-enabled remote app available from Apple for the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.

The CP-800, expected to be available in December at less than $6,000, uses asynchronous techniques and proprietary clocking circuits on the USB input so that, when playing back full-resolution files from a connected device, "the CP-800 can surpass the performance of conventional disc playback systems," said Dave Nauber, EVP of brand development. "A storage device like an iPod or computer can contain all the data of the original recording, so it has the potential to be an audiophile source," he said. "The challenge is to clock that data into the D/A converters at precisely the right time, which the CP-800 achieves through newly-developed recovery and clocking technology."

 In the future, the company said it plans an upgrade to add network streaming and incorporate popular compressed-music decoders.

Other features include bass management and five-band parametric EQ that the company said have not appeared before in stereo preamps. The component also features a subwoofer output and two configurable auxiliary channels that can be used to drive additional subs, bi-amp the left and right channels, or send audio to a second room, the company said. Other features include 16x9 touchscreen with graphical user interface .

 Referring to the current SSP-800 surround processor and the rack-style CT-SSP, Classe said a new video board with five HDMI 1.4a inputs and two HDMI 1.4a outputs will be incorporated as a running change beginning in November. Current models already in consumer's homes will be able to take advantage later this year of a $1,500 modular upgrade that dealers could install in consumers' homes. The price excludes possible labor charges.

 With factory-installed video board, the SSP-800 and CT-SSP will retail for $9,500, up $500 from the versions without HDMI 1.4a. The HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs support all standard 3D video resolutions and formats plus HEC (HDMI Ethernet Channel) and ARC (Audio Return Channel).


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