Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Can’t You Hear Me Knocking? High-End Audio Gets Heard At THE Show

IRVINE, CALIF. – Old and new high-performance audio technology mingled over the weekend at THE Show Newport, where vendors with a long history in the U.S. mingled with newcomers.

Vacuum-tube amps unveiled by such suppliers as PS Audio and Jadis shared the venue with high-performance audio servers from the likes of Antipodes Audio. Emigrants to the U.S. market included Italy-based Aqua, start-up Lambert Company, and Elac, a German company that is re-entering the North American market after an absence of years.

More than 400 manufacturers turned out at the consumer show with new products ranging from integrated tube amps to music servers, headphone amps, headphones, preamplifier/ surround processors and DACs.

Here’s what some of the companies unveiled:

Antipodes Audio: The New Zealand company showed two new variants of its music servers, both with increased storage capacity and new signal-output stages. The top-end Antipodes DX will be available with 3TB of solid-state internal storage at $8,500. The Antipodes DV will be available in a new 6TB version with 2.5-inch HDD at $6,000.

All models feature auto-ripping of CDs, playback of files up to DXD and Double-DSD, and remote control from any computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Aqua: The company, founded in Italy in 2010, showed its La Diva CD transport, La Voce digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and La Scala DAC. Details were unavailable.

Burson Audio: The company’s latest two products include the Conductor Virtuoso headphone amp, which comes with a choice of two DACs: the Sabre ESS9018 for $1,995 and Burr Brown PCM1793 for $1,495. It’s available and will be followed in mid-June by the $3,450 Timekeeper Virtuoso stereo amp, an upgrade of the company’s previous $2,450 Timekeeper amp. The new amp drives desktop and larger floorstanding speakers at 2×100 watts into 8 ohms, 2×200 watts into 4 ohms, and 2×350 watts into 2 ohms. Two can be bridged.

Elac: The company unveiled the Debut speaker series, which was designed by Andrew Jones. Until recently Jones was chief speaker engineer at Pioneer Electronics Technical Audio Devices (TAD). His 35-year career also includes work at KEF and Infinity.

The Debut lineup consists of eight speakers, including bookshelf, floorstanding and center-channel speakers, a Dolby Atmos speaker module, and three powered subwoofers. All are said by Jones to “achieve the most accurate sound possible in speakers that deliver performance far exceeding their cost.”

Elac makes passive, active, single-room wireless and custom-install speakers, and the company plans to expand into other categories in the future, said Elac’s Chris Walker, who left Pioneer as director of product planning and marketing.

Gamut Audio: The company unveiled new handcrafted products from European brands GamuT, Larsen and Pear Audio Blue. GamuT will premiere its GamuT RS3 stand-mount speaker and Di150 limited- edition d u a l – m o n o integrated amp. Larsen premiered its Larsen 6 Ortho-Acoustic speaker, and Pear Audio Blue unveiled its Classic integrated amp.

Jadis: The company’s I-50 pure Class-A 2×25-watt integrated amplifier is designed from the ground up to take advantage of new KT150 tubes, which are said to offer improved microphony and heat dissipation characteristics and provide better detail and bass control than other tubes, said importer Bluebird . It comes with auto bias and remote control at $10,345.

The I-50 also features four line inputs and one 48kHz/16-bit USB input.

Lambert Company: The New Zealand company’s products, marketed in the U.S. market through TAN Distribution, showed its Small Wonder line of compact high-performance audio components. They consist of a set of audio products that can be integrated individually in audio systems or used to create a complete audio system.

The basic system consists of the Control pre-amp with Bluetooth 4.0, the Force 2×50-watt amplifier, and the Last Word/The Bottom Line 2.1 speaker system. The Full Force mono-block amplifiers at 100 watts into 8 ohms and 170 watts into 8 ohms are also available.

PS Audio: The company brought the first vacuum-tube amplifiers in its four-decade history. The Bascom H. King Signature 250 and 300 amplifiers begin shipping in the U.S. in June at $7,499 each, marking the highest priced products ever in the company’s line.

Both amps feature a 6922 dual triode tube front end followed by all-MOSFET circuitry, including the output stage, the company said. The 250 is a stereo amp rated at 2×250 watts into 8 ohms and 2×400 watts into 4 ohms. The 300 is a monoblock amp rated at 300 watts into 8 ohms and 500 watts into 4 ohms.

Theta Digital: The company plans June 1 shipments of the Dreadnaught D modular amplifier and June 22 shipments of the Xtreme D-3, a plug-in DAC for the Casablanca preamp processor.

The six-channel version of the DAC retails for a suggested $4,995; the four-channel version is $3,995; and the two-channel version is $2,995.

The Dreadnaught D modular main amplifier accommodates up to eight channels of amplification via four slots that accept Theta Digital amplifier modules.

The suggested retail for popular Dreadnaught D configurations is $9,995 for the 7×225-watt configuration and $10,695 for the 3×400-watt plus 2×225- watt configuration. In stereo configurations, it goes for $6,149 with 2×225 watts of power and $7,445 with 2×500 watts.