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High-Resolution Audio Comes In Multiple Forms

LAS VEGAS – New home and car audio products at International CES got behind the industry effort to promote high-resolution audio formats.

New car products include aftermarket head units from Pioneer and Clarion, while new home audio products include a wireless DAC “bridge” from high-end audio newcomer Auralic, a DAC from Wadia, and Cambridge Audio’s Azur 851D DAC/preamplifier.

In car audio, four new navigation-equipped DVD receivers and one new DVD receiver are Pioneer’s first head units to play back high-resolution 192kHz/24-bit FLAC files. They’re priced from a suggested $700 to $1,400.

For its part, Clarion unveiled a $999-everyday NX604 navigation-equipped DVD-receiver with 24-bit/192kHz FLAC playback.

In home audio, Auralic unveiled the Aries wireless DAC “bridge,” which enables high-end DACs to stream high-resolution music files wirelessly over a home’s Wi- Fi 802.11ac network from a PC or NAS drive.

The Aries bridge, available in May at suggested retails starting at $999, is promoted as the first product that streams DSD, double-rate DSD, and Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) music files wirelessly in native format from networked sources.

To control the Aries and music playback, the company will offer a Lightning app that lets users browse their music library, select songs and choose hardware settings.

The Lightning App will also feature built-in Cloud-based music services such as Spotify. The Lightning App will be available for Apple iOS and Android mobile devices, Windows PCs, Mac OS X and Linux OS.

Theoretically, users could connect up to 64 bridges on the same LAN, and each bridge stream the same song or different songs from a NAS drive, a spokesman said. However, “the NAS has to have a Gigabit connection with a router to make sure it has enough bandwidth to send out the data.” Most consumer-grade Wi-Fi routers won’t be able to handle more than 10 wireless devices, he added.

For its part, Wadia unveiled its latest “decoding computer,” the 321 with two 192kHz/24-bit digital coaxial inputs, two 192kHz/24-bit optical inputs and a high-speed 192kHz/32-bit USB input. It also has a headphone output and cast-aluminum construction. Additional details were unavailable.

Meantime, Cambridge Audio expanded its selection of products with embedded DACs with January availability of the $1,649-suggested Azur 851D DAC/preamplifier. It features 24-bit/192kHz Type B USB audio input, upsampling to 24-bit/384kHz, and supplied Bluetooth receiver with AptX decoding It also features the following additional inputs: 192kHz/24-bit S/PDIF, 96/25 Toslink, 192/24 AES/EBU, and 192/24 BNC.