Component-Audio Suppliers Unveil Their Latest

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NEW YORK — A wave of Bluetooth speakers entered the market in recent weeks, but component audio suppliers aren’t about to let retailers forget about the relevance of audio components.

A series of components introduced by multiple companies takes on familiar shapes, but most are being updated for new audio or video sources, including the Internet, computers and Ultra HD.

AudioControl, for example, plans December shipments of its first two A/V receivers with Ultra HD 4K passthrough and up-scaling, dual HDMI outputs, and Internet radio and music-streaming services.

Luxury-audio supplier Meridian entered another new audio product category, this time launching its first headphone amplifier. Earlier this year, the company launched its first portable USB DAC and first home USB DAC.

And Bryston developed its first digital-to-digital converter, which connects a computer’s asynchronous USB output to high-end legacy DACs that lack USB input.

Yamaha, known mostly for audio electronics, introduced its highest end speaker to date, the NS-F901 Soavo floorstanding speaker at a suggested $2,499 each. It also launched two powered subwoofers.

Here’s what the new products offer:

AudioControl’s first two A/V receivers with Ultra HD 4K passthrough and up-scaling, dual HDMI outputs, and Internet radio and music-streaming services are the Concert AVR-8 and AVR-6.

The AVR-8 is rated at 7x200-watt into 4 ohms, and AV-R 6 is rated at 7x100-watt into 8 ohms. Both will ship only to the custom-install channel and won’t be available on the Internet, the company said.

Both feature seven HDMI inputs, HDMI 3D passthrough, dual HDMI outs with audio return channel, four coaxial inputs, two optical inputs, six RCA inputs, USB input, Ethernet client, coolrunning Class H amplification, and ability to drive a 5.1 system and second-zone stereo speakers. Other features include proprietary auto room setup and room correction with equalization.

The USB port accepts USB memory devices and digital PCM audio from iPods, iPhones and iPads.

Both can be controlled from the company’s AudioControl iOS Control app, available free in the iTunes Store.

Pricing was not disclosed.

Bryston’s $799 BUC-1 digital-todigital converter, available Jan. 1, is designed for consumers who download high-resolution music files up to 24-bit/192kHz but can’t play them through a high-end legacy DAC that lacks USB inputs.

The converter takes a computer’s standard USB output and delivers bit-perfect data via either an AES/ EBU or S/PDIF output to any DAC.

The BUC-1 differs from competing devices in that it is not buss-powered via a USB cable, so it gets clean power, he noted. In addition, the Bryston BUC-1 takes control of the master timing of the audio system, rather than depend on the computer’s master clock, to ensure ultra-low jitter.

Meridian’s first headphone amplifier is the $2,000 Prime headphone amplifier, which plays music from analog and USB sources. It is available through Meridian dealers and the company’s online store.

The component, which works with almost all types of headphones, switches among two analog sources and a USB source. The USB input features 24bit/192kHz native conversion capability, asynchronous data transfer, and separate low-jitter crystal oscillators for 44kHz and 48kHz sampling rates.

It also features Meridian’s Analog Spatial Processing (ASP) technology to provide a more natural spatial soundstage, the company said. The three soundstage options include off, out-of-head, and out-ofhead with bass boost.

The headphone amp can be powered by its provided wall-mount supply or, to boost audio quality, by an optional Meridian Prime Power Supply available early December. The external power supply keeps AC noise away from the amp’s analog stages, the company said.

Yamaha’s Soavo NS-F901 speaker, shipping at a suggested $2,499 each, is the first model launched in years in the high-end Soavo speaker series.

The series’ top price point was $2,199 each for the Soavo 1PN introduced several years ago but since discontinued, a spokesman said. At one time, as many as five speakers populated the top-end Soavo line.

Yamaha’s other speakers are priced from $149 to $599 each.

The new Soavo speaker is a three-way bass-reflex floorstanding speaker described by Yamaha A/V division general manager Bob Goedken as “a definitive statement for Yamaha.”

The speaker uses exclusive advanced polymer-injected mica diaphragm (A-PMD) midrange drivers whose lightness, rigidity and stability enable the reproduction of high-resolution sources, the company said. A-PMD woofers with large ferrite non-shielded magnets deliver high-drive power and ample bass volume, the company added.

The speaker also uses non-parallel surfaces, slanted partitions between the woofer and midrange sections and vertical ladder bracing to reduce vibration.

The piano-black cabinets were designed by Toshiyuki Kita, whose work is featured in the permanent collections of museums around the world.

Separately, Yamaha launched two new active subwoofers due in December. They are the $549-suggested NS-SW300 and $449 NS-SW200, both with Twisted Flare Port technology to reduce port noise and deliver deep low frequencies.


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