Product-related news items of general interest should be accompanied by a formal press release with basic descriptions, finish options, pricing, a photo 598px or wider and a valid web link. Event news should have venue, date, ticket and registration information plus a logo and website link. We only publish product news on items you can actually buy now. We won't publish product news about items a manufacturer promises to build if enough people pre-pay (crowd funding).

May 2016 - Tangent cleared - ClearAudio's TT5 [ £1'750, optional swing base £250] is billed as "a more affordable entry point into tangential tonearm tech". The TT5 adopts a new fully rigid design. For those who still want the convenience of their bigger arms' ability to swing out of the way when loading records, Clearaudio have created the optional swing base. Tracking force and azimuth are finely adjustable. The ball bearing is of the dry-running sort and total weight of the assembly is 560g (add 60g for base). Dimensions are 20 x 15 x 14cm WxHxD.
May 2016 - Sonus faber grow wood - A new Walnut finish for the replaceable side panels of the Chameleon range models has just become available.
May 2016 - ARC build out their foundation - Audio Research introduce the Foundation Series of vacuum tube components, the first three of which include the LS28 linestage, PH9 phono preamp and DAC9 D/A converter all priced at $7'500/ea. "A new amplifier will follow, with other products to complete the series. All models will be available in both black and natural anodized aluminium finishes. Each unit comes with its own custom metal remote. The LS28 offers four balanced and four single-ended inputs and two sets each of balanced and single-ended outputs. The straightforward menu allows control of input naming, tube-hour tracking, auto shutdown and HT passthrough. Phase invert and mono are standard functions. At the heart of the LS28 are four 6H30. The PH9 too runs 6H30 in a trio configuration and offers five different impedance settings which can be changed on the fly. The DAC9 sports USB, RCA, BNC, AES/EBU and Toslink and a quad converter architecture for a balanced digital signal, wide dynamic range and decoding up to 384kHz and native DSD. A pair of 6H30 vacuum tubes are the heart of the analog circuit. Both balanced and single-ended connectors are provided.. Native mode, upsampling and selectable digital filters allow customization of the digital signal."
May 2016 - Credo flagship - From Switzerland's Michael Kraske comes the Cinema Reference designed "for large high-performance home theatres and music rooms. Unlike simple straight line arrays, we address their well-known issues of extreme lobes from 200Hz - 2kHz; decreasing high-frequencies on axis; rippled non-linear off-axis response; and extreme horizontal directivity at high frequencies (+/-5° above 5kHz). Thanks to a proprietary crossover, Mundorf AMT and outstanding 6.5" ScanSpeak mid/woofer, our speaker performs with extreme dynamics at very low and high SPL. This modular passive two-way design is completed with active subwoofers. The mid/woofers are high-pass filtered, allowing them to perform down to 35Hz with very low distortion. For the sealed subwoofer we use a 9" ScanSpeak aluminium woofer."
May 2016 - Eh, look - It's neither a KEF Blade nor a Vivid oval model but Elac's new flagship called Concentro, a 1.7m tall lacquer-finished affair atop a 25kg machined-from-solid aluminium plinth. Horizontally opposed pairs of 10-inch woofers join a Jet5 ATM tweeter working inside a coaxial midrange, an expected choice since Andrew Jones joined the firm though this project's leader was Rolf Janke. Pricing is estimated to come in between €50'000 - €60'000/pr once production commences. Customization options enter with the finish of the sides which can be carbon fibre, veneer or leather. The full reveal happens in Munich.
May 2016 - On the bends - That would be a new full-range bending-wave transducer from Oliver Mertineit and Tibor Palatinus with optional dipole subwoofer. Nothing else but an invite without website was forwarded to us so for now, just these teaser pictures.
May 2016 - Dig this bit - Digibit bow the new aria2 [€4'170], "the only music server to support extended metadata fields for any music genre. This allows users to sort and view their collection as albums from the romantic (period) for piano (instrument) played by Maurizio Pollini (soloist). aria2 sports 18 predefined fields to automatically match the tag structure of our proprietary classical music database, SonataDB. You can delete or add missing fields at will. For any other music genre, all fields can be manually created and tagged. Software features include a fully automatic (insert & rip) error-free CD ripper; best-in-class metadata retrieval results from five databases; bit-perfect playback up to 24bit/352.8KHz and DSD256; multizone support; multichannel PCM and DSD support; remote access over the internet; and Airplay, Googlecast and DLNA support. The latest app for iOS and Android adds selection of ripping format and path for external HDD or NAS; incremental backup; and Googlecast Audio support. On the hardware side, there's a new fanless 6mm aluminum chassis milled from solid; a new Intel semi-custom computer board with Celeron CPU and 4GB RAM with extremely low-power consumption; 4TB SSHD hybrid disk standard, 2TB SSD optional. aria2 alsocomes with a new optional external ultra-low-noise linear power supply with universal voltage support.The basic aria2 ships without internal DAC and offers USB, coax and AES/EBU outputs. An optional DAC comes with balanced and unbalanced analog audio outputs. A new HDMI output can be used as multichannel output to an external power amp and for service purposes.

Wamp is a powerful new 150-watt class D mono amp [€1'660/pr], wireless media streamer and 24/192 DAC. "Wamp converts your preferred passive loudspeakers into active and wireless using an elegant non-intrusive industrial design. You need just 2 power cords to get a complete double mono hifi system. Each mono amp is styled as an elegant plinth for your loudspeakers. A convenient remote allow users to avoid the iOS and Android devices for the most common features."
May 2016 - Power chord - Chord Electronics will show two new proprietary-tech amps at High End Munich 2016. The TToby [£2'995] is "a desktop stereo amplifier designed to complement the Hugo TT DAC and take advantage of its high-quality digital preamp functionality using the same form factor offering 130 watts into four ohms. TToby offers balanced and unbalanced inputs and uses switch-mode power supplies." The new 200wpc SPM1050MkII [£4'995] "introduces internal upgrades plus aesthetic improvements" for "reduced output distortion and improvements to capacitance for a bigger, cleaner power delivery via four proprietary lateral-structure dual-die Mosfets."
May 2016 - Stereokonzept - Johannes Rickert bows their new Model 2 which marries a "cost-no-object Beryllium tweeter to a rapidly responding 5.25" midwoofer using a powerful underhung Neodym motor design and sandwich paper cone for a two-way loudspeaker taken to an entirely new level."

May 2016 - Grim news - Grimm Audio add three new products to their catalog. "The most prominent novelty is the LS1be. This loudspeaker features a new Beryllium tweeter with a CNC-milled aluminium waveguide jointly developed by Grimm Audio and Seas. To match the performance of this tweeter, the amplifier and converter electronics received careful tweaking. The new enclosures are Hi-Macs, a modern and very rigid material. A new LS1s-dmf subwoofer augments the low end. Rob Munnig Schmidt developed a digital motional feedback system with a cone accelerometer to reduce distortion by 30 times." To offer the LS1 quality to a broader audience, Grimm Audio also introduce the more cost-effective LS1a.
May 2016 - Mingus Quintet - That's Marten Design's newest 3-way floorstander "using the same diamond tweeters and midrange as the €390'000 Coltrane Supreme 2. Accuton created a new 7" cell technology woofer especially for the Mingus Quintet. The enclosure is tapered, with the slimmer front reducing reflections and adding to the speaker’s compact look. A super high-quality Walnut and piano black finish completes the high-end feel. The crossover is a 1st-order three-way filter."
May 2016 - Herkules from Russia - Alexey Syomin of S.A.Lab bows the Herkules mono amps at 250 watts into 4 ohms by using four EL509/6п45с tetrodes in a push/pull output stage. Input and drivers are 6072 and 6п6 respectively. All valves are carefully selected and tested Russian military spec from 1970-80. An 800-watt power transformer with Russian steel core handles anodes and heaters, separate transformers power the auxiliary circuits and meter. The steel/aluminium casing is coated in an anti-resonant compound. The face plate is Corian and available in a number of colours. Dual pairs of binding posts support biwiring. S/NR is 96dB, THD 0.1%, weight 55kg and dimensions are 46x13x45cm.
May 2016 - EBTB box up - The BoXXer HM 0.4 from Everything But The Box uses solid front/back aluminium baffles, vegetable-tanned full-grain leather on the other surfaces, aluminium footers with a spring suspension, a copper port and a 4.5" Seas Excel mid/woofer with a ring radiator tweeter. Bandwidth is 58Hz-35kHz, sensitivity is 85dB, weight is 6kg and dimensions are 20x27.5x28cm WxHxD.
May 2016 - Stenheim addition - The Alumine Five is called "the little brother to the Reference Ultime. Made exclusively in Switzerland, our new full aluminium floorstander uses the same midrange driver and tweeter and its extreme high efficiency allows pairing with the finest low-powered amplifiers."
May 2016 - New Magico - The M3 [$75'000/pr] combines a 1" diamond-coated beryllium tweeter with a 6" graphene Nano-Tec midrange and triple 7" matching bass units. It also gets new carbon-fibre side panels. "The newly designed midrange and woofer cones use multi-wall carbon XG nano graphene and a new proprietary ultra-stiff carbon weave 20% lighter and 300% stiffer than the cone material used in previous Magico speakers. The underhung neodymium motor creates an ultra-stabilized magnetic field for a pure titanium voice coil. The midrange operates inside a purpose-built sub enclosure made of a proprietary polymer to enhance control and articulation." Specs are 91dB sensitivity, 4-ohm nominal impedance, 24Hz-50kHz bandwidth, weight of 145kg/ea. and dimensions of 120x49x34cm.
May 2016 - Vox Olympian offspring - "Following the success of the Vox Olympian, Living Voice  introduce the Vox Palladian hornspeaker system at Munich 2916. Sharing much of the Vox Olympian's DNA, the Vox Palladian is aimed at a broader audience with simple clean lines yet still retains artisanal construction techniques and traditional materials. Its super tweeter is made for the project by Vitavox in a joint collaboration with Living Voice. On display though not being played will be a matching Vox Basso subwoofer available later this year. We also have a new 300B made to our specification by KR Audio that will be used in the Kondo Gakuoh."
May 2016 - Aerostar - Akiko Audio's best power cable now comes with Furutech FI-50 NCF plugs. "This new part from Japan features nano ceramics with piezoelectric properties to lower noise and absorb unwanted vibrations. The Aerostar cable has been upgraded with a new configuration for the nine conductors, a new Teflon inner sleeve and improvements to the 90% air-insulating 'dual tube' technique."
May 2016 - 511 - Two down from 711, Soulution's new stereo amp is claimed to be "just a razor-thin fraction behind our reference designs of the Series 7. This was the design goal we set for the 511 stereo amplifier." Key features are a 4 600VA switch-mode power supply, more than 500'000uF of capacitance, 60A+ peak current and power of 150wpc into 8 ohms (600 into 2) or 600 watts mono into 8 ohms (2KW into 2).
May 2016 - Breaking badder - Audionet announce five new components in their new Scientist range: Heisenberg and Stern, two "über amps" designed by Hartmut Esslinger of Apple fame; and Planck, Watt and Ampere. The full reveal remains for the Munich show.
May 2016 - More powerful Kryptonite - From Amphion comes the Krypton3 [€15'000/pr] which sports a "completely redesigned crossover. The cardioid midrange performs exceptionally well even in small rooms and close to big windows. Krypton’s unique design neglects room acoustics and deals with irregularities which traditional speaker designs cannot cope with. Krypton3 reduces unwanted reflections from both the side and back walls so you hear less of the room and more of the speaker."
May 2016 - Metrum launch Adagio - "We think that our current flagship Pavane DAC is hard to beat but at least one idea was not yet realized - a quality volume control to decommission a preamplifier and improve performance. Especially with an R2R ladder architecture, it is quite easy to change the output voltage of the DAC by changing its reference voltage. So we designed dedicated converter boards to get the best regulation possible. Like in our Pavane, 'forward correction' techniques drive both mono boards. The result is extremely high linearity down to -140dB for a realistic 24-bit dynamic range. The Adagio omits a preamplifier. Recommended retail price is €6'950. It will become available by the end of June."
April 2016 - Baffled widebander twins - Swiss/UK firm soundkaos will launch their new reference speaker Libération at the upcoming Munich HighEnd/Hifi Deluxe shows. They will exhibit with Korea's SOtM in Hall 2/G07 and at the Marriott Hotel with Grandinote server and amplifiers, Entreq cables and music by STS Digital. "Libération eliminates the box and with it, box colorations, port issues, nonlinear pressurization of the drivers and attempts at choking half the speaker's output with internal damping materials. Unlike many other open baffles, Libération also eliminates the messy derriere by covering both front and rear in attractive phosphor-bronze mesh covers. The driver array combines two bespoke 8-inch Enviée widebanders with a Raal ribbon super tweeter and a massive 15" woofer to add scale and spatiality with real authority."
April 2016 - Little Joe rides again - Cue the Bonanza theme song. Actually, it's Littlezoe, a 45wpc push/pull EL34 amplifier about which the website says a lot about resonance control and little about the actual circuit or performance specs. But, if looks matter, this amp is off to a thoroughly modern start...
April 2016 - Continuous Continuum - Continuum Audio Labs bow the Obsidian turntable and Viper tonearm. "The Obsidian utilizes tungsten in the arm post, contact points for the arm suspension, bearing ball and shaft. The bearing itself utilizes a magnetically opposed but non-floating design. The net effect of these constructs is that all platter resonances are below 10Hz and thus have negligible impact on the sound. Speed stability comes from a 35mm 60-volt zero-cogging DC motor controlled by a servo amplifier running at 53.6kHz with a very high-resolution closed-loop encoder circuit for near perfect speed stability. Noise is addressed through the use of graphite brushes which provide the current conducting capacity required to drive a heavy platter and a specially designed damping system that attenuates brush noise. Drawing on the familiar shape of the Cobra tonearm, the Viper bearing is a sapphire V-jewel paired with a hardened stainless steel pivot. The swash plate rides on damped miniature bearings manufactured to ABEC 9 standards, the tightest tolerance (0.0012mm) and highest quality available. A 30mm adjustable tungsten central tower provides a massive stable support for the tonearm. Finally, the Obsidian allows the owner to add a second tonearm of virtually any length or design."
April 2016 - Nyquist in practice - Brinkmann bow their modular Nyquist DAC [€12'000] which integrates MQA, 32/384PCM and DSD128 with inputs on USB, S/PDIF, Toslink and Ethernet and outputs on XLR, RCA and 6.3mm headfi. "Proprietary high voltage power supply technology delivers improvements in digital circuit performance as do custom filters in the digital domain. Hybrid circuit topology in the output stage exploits tubes for their instantaneous response to voltage changes."    
April 2016 - Heavy karma - Kharma's new Enigma Veyron EV2 combines a "bullet wood cabinet with a triple array of 1" and 2" diamond tweeters and a double complement of the Kharma Omega F 7" and 11" drivers, the latter named after the 1855 discovery of Eddy currents by Leon Foucault. Kharma have employed a completely new motor system that has eliminated the need for iron as a focusing element and the issue of Eddy currents. This motor is located in a carbon basket to power an ultra-stiff and light carbon cone. Even the voice coil former is made of carbon fibre. The spike disc suspension system incorporates Carborundum balls sitting on a diamond surface for minimal contact between extremely hard surfaces."
April 2016 - Portugal's power grab - It's rare to come across Portuguese hifi companies. But that's exactly where Audiotricity are headquartered. They specialize in electricity for audio, hence heir product range spans AC conditioners and power cords. The former are unusual by offering the option to have outlets custom configured for very specific gear and environments. This includes power factor correction, power draw, DC filtering, outlet quality, direct cabling without outlets and much more. Audiotricity are different too by selling direct to eliminate middle-men margins of distributors and dealers.
April 2016 - Zeth - With claimed bandwidth of 35Hz - 20kHz, the new 97dB Voxativ Zeth floorstander promises a lot from a compact enclosure that's just 33 x 108 x 25cm. The Munich show will see it premiere to the world at large.
April 2016 - DSD256 for all - That might as well be the tag line for Lindemann's revised musicbook range of DACs and network players. The suffix 'DSD' to the models 10, 15, 20 and 25 indicates that all data (from Bluetooth APTX, thumb drive, UPnP, PC, Tidal and similar sources) are upconverted to DSD256 before conversion to analog in their Asahi Kasei chip's 'Pure Path' mode to circumvent even on-chip volume. After the introduction of the musicbook dsd range, at next month's Munich show, all prior units are eligible for a hardware upgrade whilst firmware updates to new streaming services remain available free of charge online.
April 2016 - DAC Two - "In early 2014 we started the Transient project because no new R2R NOS-style converters remained available for audio. By the end of 2014, the DAC One was the first module available and we used it first in our Metrum Pavane flagship converter. To boost low-level performance, we combined two DAC One modules with our FPGA 'forward correction module' to obtain true 24-bit performance, extreme linearity and amazing noise figures. Now we succeeded to flow all of this technology into a single module. The DAC Two has the dimensions of a half-sized credit card but carries two R2R ladders and extremely fast glue logic. The lab results are amazing and the next step is to prepare a production model which will be available in the second quarter of 2016." That was Cees Ruijtenberg of Metrum Acoustics announcing their new voltage-mode DAC module which requires no I/V conversion and outputs a ±12V balanced analog signal.
April 2016 - BNC to RCA goes square - From XOX, a new sub brand in Chris Sommovigo's umbrella, comes this adapter which henceforth will accompany his coaxial digital Black Cat cables but of course is also available to users of competing leashes who must connect an RCA-terminated cable to a BNC chassis connector whilst insisting on a true 75-ohm connection. "Precision machined, this adapter uses a hollow direct-gold-plated pure copper signal pin, very rare for BNC-to-RCA adapter but important for a low resistance transfer of the sensitive digital signals. The XOX adapter comes as an included standard with our Digit-75 and TRØN digital cables but is also available to people who have not yet upgraded to Black Cat digital cables or who have our Silverstar."
April 2016 - Esprit at Munich - French cable designer Richard Cesari of Esprit Audio would like showgoers to know that they can hear their Lumina and Kappa range cable models in the Atrium 4.2, room F222, with Metronome, Jadis and Focus Audio electronics and speakers. The main system will run a Metronome MC1 server and Kalista DAC into Jadis JA and JP80 electronics with Focus Master 2BE speakers and a full loom of Esprit Lumina. The second system will feature the Metronome CD8S tube player, a Jadis I88 integrated amp and Focus FP90 BE speakers with a complete Esprit Kappa loom.
April 2016 - 60-year reunion - Former Canadian Hafler distributor Radial Engineering Ltd. relaunch the Hafler brand and join it to Dynaco. According to Radial president Peter Janis: "Back in the 1990s, we enjoyed tremendous success selling Hafler amplifiers in Canada. After Rockford-Fosgate decided to shelf the brand to focus on car audio, we approached them to take it on and have been diligently working to put together our first series of Hafler products. As a small box specialty manufacturer, we decided to begin by focusing our attention on items that we could build using our current production techniques. With the incredible proliferation of turntables and headphones, the path was clearly defined by the market. So we have started with six products: two step-up transformers equipped with world-class Jensen transformers, two active phono stages (one for moving magnet, the other for moving coil), and two headphone amps, the first powered by valves, the second 100% discrete. Retail prices range from $500 to $1'200 American and these products are now available."
April 2016 - Sonus faber expand - "Principia is the new entry line made up of five passive loudspeaker models (2 monitors, 2 floorstanders, one centre channel) which share many of the Chameleon’s design and technical details like the brushed aluminium finishes and trapezoidal shape. The 29mm pre-coated fabric dome tweeter with DKM membrane is inherited whilst the other drivers are new Sonus faber designs unique to Principia. Where Chameleon has exchangeable coloured side panels and leather trim, Principia features black vinyl veneer. Pricing for the vented monitors is €458/pr and €541/pr respectively whilst the ported floorstanders go for €999/€1'249/pr. The closed centre channel with passive radiator is €291/ea.
April 2016 - World's first 100µm glass drivers? - It's what Gilles Milot of French firm Leedh believes he has; and what's in his latest version of the Leedh model E2 called E2 Glass. Our French contributor Joël Chevassus has the first pair and stands by to report on all of the unique tech that has found its way into this product.

 

April 2016 - High-power corruption from Serbia - Trafomatic Audio's new 200-watt Noa monos combine four KT150 per side with outboard power supplies to not exceed standard sizing for the main amps. With such power specs, the Noa should drive pretty much any speaker made. The HighEnd Munich show next month will see the first demo.
April 2016 - Aequo - A new Dutch company hoping to make a splash in Munich next month are Aequo Audio with their fully sealed compact 3-way Ensis loudspeaker. Design parameters include an NC500 nCore-powered 10" subwoofer; physical time alignment of the tweeter/midrange; an oval tweeter waveguide milled from aluminium or composite; a just 14cm wide mineral-filled polymer baffle; boat-hull curvature cabinetry; four types of wood inside the enclosure; a minimum-phase filter network; dimensions of 116 x 31 x 29cm; weight of 25kg; sensitivity of 90dB; and claimed bandwidth of 10Hz - 40'000kHz. Various finish options are under development.
April 2016 - Pure gold - The River's Tone desktop 2-way bass reflex system from ex Sony designer Michio Sakamoto and Anodic Supply Co. Ltd. is available in 3μm and 10μm gold plate, in sterling silver and in pure gold. Pricing starts at €53'000, goes to €79'000, then €153'000 and finally tops out at a cool €4'665'000 for the 24K gold version. Accompanying trim is silver + zirconia for the grills of the first two versions, platinum + diamonds for the second two. Weight in each case is 15kg. Dimensions are 12.4x13.x17cm per cube. Each speaker combines a 3" carbon-fibre widebander crossed to a silk dome tweeter at ca. 6.5kHz. Each transducer is powered by its own dedicated switching amplifier housed in the centre cube. There is one pair of analog inputs and Bluetooth. Given the intended desktop use, there is no remote. Simpler anodized aluminium finishing for presumably lower pricing is available as well.
April 2016 - Latest mod - ModWright bow their new SWL 9.0 Anniversary Edition tube preamp [$2'900]. "Celebrating our 17th year in business, this line stage is a tribute to our very first product, the SWL 9.0SE. The namesake of Dan Wright’s son, Spencer Wright, 9.0lb at birth, the SWL 9.0SE was released thirteen years ago." The AE has four RCA inputs (one doubles as HT bypass), two variable and one fixed output. There's also a hybrid headphone amp with 1.5wpc into 25-600 ohms. An optional MM/MC transistor phono module is available for $300. The tube complement is 2 x 5686 rollable with 7044, 6900, 7119 and equivalents. Voltage gain is ~14dB depending on tube, input impedance 30Kohm, output impedance 800 ohms, bandwidth 20Hz - 100kHz, noise -110dB and distortion 0.03% THD. Weight is 28.5lb, dimensions are 17 x 12 x 4.5" WxDxH.
April 2016 - Merrill cara package - Merrill Audio Advanced Technology Labs, LLC announces the new $3'500 Cara preamplifier with outboard power supply and bandwidth to 200kHz within 0.1dB. "Using transformer-like circuits with the CMRR of a balance transformer plus the gain, drive and bandwidth of active circuitry, the Cara will drive cables over long distances and maintain excellent noise rejection. With an active gain control circuit for the volume control, it achieves a wide range of attenuation and gain, ranging from -99dB to + 15dB in 0.5dB steps. Each of the 4 inputs have independent +/-12dB gain trim. A large LED display shows channel volume and information."
April 2016 - New Hong Kong show? - Former contributor David Kan points us at this FaceBook page, about "a new AV show called the Hong Kong Audio Visual Expo that is coming to Hong Kong in June this year, organized by Hi-Fi Review magazine. It's still in the planning stage. The only current source of info is this Facebook page. The August show (HK High-End AV Show) organized by competing magazine Audiotechnique is on schedule for the first weekend in August. This should be interesting..."
April 2016 - FirstWatt expands - "This has always been about making amplifiers. Dick Olsher famously remarked that 'the first watt is the most important watt'.  With this in mind, I created First Watt in 1998 as a 'kitchen-table' effort, exploring unusual low power amplifiers with an emphasis on sound quality. I wanted to explore a variety of amplifier designs in what I think of as neglected areas - amplifiers that might not fit into the mainstream and are probably not appropriate to my more commercial enterprise, Pass Labs. Fourteen years later I have accomplished that goal but along the way it seems that I have created a commercial enterprise that has outgrown my ability to handle alone. I tried addressing that by hiring my nephew and son to help, but they wandered off to their own careers (as offspring will do), leaving me with all the work. Don't get me wrong, I like work. It's good for you. Building product is fun and keeps me grounded, but production demands are not leaving me with enough time to pursue the vast array of yet-to-be-designed amplifiers. So I am doing the logical thing, which is to hand the business end of First Watt over to Pass Labs, bringing my three business partners to the table as well. My relationships with these people stretch back to 1972 with ESS, through the Threshold years and for the 25 years of Pass Labs. Starting in April, Pass Labs will be building First Watt amplifiers and will also take responsibility for marketing and distribution. Support and service policies will remain the same. I will continue at what I do best, the fun part." - Nelson Pass
April 2016 - Shrinking Vox - That would be the new not Nina but Hagen model from Berlin firm Voxativ, adding a bookshelf monitor to their range and premiering their brand- new 5" AF-2.6 100dB paper-cone wideband drive unit. Using their trademark piano gloss lacquer for the enclosure, the Hagen also shows a frontal slot vent which is presumably the end of some clever hybrid rear-horn/line/ported system. Full information will become available at the global launch during the HighEnd Munich show in May. Thinking observers will also expect a floorstanding version of the Hagen; plus eventually perhaps a two-way effort to combine this new high-resolution driver with Voxativ's high-efficiency big woofer first shown in the active H-frame bass system of the 9.87 system.
April 2016 - Classic Classé - The Sigma 2200i integrated amplifier offers USB, network streaming and bass management. Inputs include analog XLR and RCA, an optional MM/MC phono, digital coax, optical, USB host/device, Ethernet for streaming/IP control and HDMI switching. Because this machine combines a digital preamp with a class D power stage to make D/A conversion redundant, analog sources are converted at 24/96 to access the same DSP options, nine-band parametric EQ and customizable tone control as the digital inputs. "Managing switching technology to achieve <3 nanoseconds of dead-band time, the 2200i boasts the same low distortion broad-band performance as our separate amplifiers." A 1KW switch mode power supply with power factor correction enables 200/4oowpc into 8/4 ohms. A front-panel touch screen with Android and Apple apps plus DNLA and AirPlay support round out the feature set.
March 2016 - Aqua flagship - With Aqua Hifi's reliance on R2R conversion, their DACs never could do native DSD. This left onlookers speculating whether, perhaps, a future statement effort might parallel R2R and DSD engines to auto switch with incoming signal. With designer Stefano Jelo unveiling their new top model Formula at a special April 9th event in Brussels, we'll soon find out. As it turns out, a first spy photo shows upsampling indicators up to 384kHz but no matching DSD indicators. Instead, the inscription beneath the model name reads Optologic DAC. Any ideas what that could mean?
March 2016 - SOtMny - SOtM build out their network audio accessories with the dCBL-CAT7 cable which incorporates a filter block to "eliminate wideband digital noise from router or NAS". They also have the iSO-CAT6 SE filter which in conjunction with three different network cable options allows the end user to tune the sound to their liking. The CAT7 cable with built-in filter sells for between $500 and $900 for 1.5 - 5m lengths in various increments.
March 2016 - Peachtree 2 - We're used to MkII components but not really companies. This is set to change when Peachtree relaunch during an upcoming March 30th event at NYC dealership Stereo Exchange. "It isn't often that a company truly reinvents itself. But that's exactly what we did over the last two years. We're not simply talking about more features or a new model. Peachtree have enlisted an engineering team that you'd expect to see in much larger companies. The product now is in a much higher performance league as a result. Manufacturing was expertly moved to North America while coming very close to retaining our original price points. Why this should be an interesting press event is that we know of no other product with comparable features and power that's built on this continent at near our prices. This will be a great advantage to Peachtree in many ways. The whole Peachtree team will be at the event and we will have the all new nova150 fired up. You'll see and hear the first of three integrated amps that will launch over the spring and summer.." Also, David Solomon rejoins the team after in-between stints at AudioQuest and Tidal. Peachtree 2 indeed.
March 2016 - Argon gets ABR - Amphion's home-audio Argon 3S model replaces its earlier port with an auxiliary bass radiator aka ABR which trickled sideways from the company's pro-audio models. This 2-way combines a 1" Titanium tweeter in a shallow wave guide with a 6.5" aluminium mid/woofer with a 1'600Hz crossover point. New bandwidth figures are a claimed 30Hz - 25kHz ±6dB. Dimensions are 38 x 19 x 40cm HxWxD and weight is 12kg. Trim options are two-tone white as shown, all white or all black, then Walnut, Birch or Cherry veneers. Further customization options are 5 different colors for the tweeter grids.
March 2016 - Liomorph - Vinnie Rossi's modular LIO platform nears its next installment by way of the DHT module with plug'n'play options of the 4-pin 2A3, 45, 300B, 71A, PX4, PX25, SV572, SV811, 101D or 205D triodes. As a statement level module, there will be a bias switch, Yamamoto Teflon tube sockets, Belleson dual super regulators, naked Vishay Z-foil resistors and an external linear power supply. The DHT module plugs into the space otherwise occupied by the tubestage and HPA locations (the latter can be relocated atop the DHT board). A special version of the RVC module will be available to run the LIO DHT as a preamp. It can also be combined with the DAC module to operate as a fixed-output DHT converter instead.
March 2016 - Monaco serves - Monaco dealer Sound Galleries introduce their SGM 2015 Music Server based on a 4GHz Intel Skylake i7 6700K processor with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and Windows 10 OS. For 'audiophile grade custom hardware', there is an OCXO with low noise power supply replacing the motherboard system clock; a low noise dual choke power supply for the motherboard (CLCLC configuration); Mundorf MLytic capacitors with more than 600'000mF storage capacity; steel-potted power transformer with internal copper foil shielding; custom RAM; low noise power supply for SSD; heat pipe cooling system for CPU; optimized BIOS settings for CPU and RAM. The playback software consists of the HQ Player capable of PCM to DSD512 real-time conversion, DSD64 to DSD512 upsampling, Roon Server with library content and Tidal streaming to the HQ player, Kodi media server to stream library content or Qobuz to the HQ player; iTunes content streaming to HQ Player; and an audio-optimized Windows 10 build with process lasso management of execution priorities.
March 2016 - Hifi mans up - That would be HifiMan with their newest models, the Edition S and the Shangri-La. The latter will be the company's first electrostatic model to eliminate any external comparisons of their planarmagnetic models to competitor Stax. With the Shangri-La, that competition will now squarely be in-house. The Edition S is a 32-ohm convertible dynamic design expected to come in below $300. Removable back plates can make it sealed or open-backed.
March 2016 - More noble for your ears - Noble Audio reveal an all-new universal-fit IEM range with "precision construction, composite bodies, anodized aluminium end caps and US manufacturing" to replace their acrylic-body universal-fit series. The new range includes the Trident (£275), Savanna (£350), Savant (£420), Dulce Bass (£485) and Django (£695). Most of these new models will also be available as custom-fit versions for a supplement, using a range of alternative construction materials. Consumers choosing bespoke versions can select a custom-fit acrylic version (suffix C), a time-saving 3-D printed version (suffix SLA) and a silicone version (suffix S). The Trident features three balanced armature drivers per side. The Savanna is a quad BA configuration with linear output. Savant is "detail-oriented with a solid bass performance and an excellent high frequency response." Dulce Bass "is an unashamedly bass-orientated IEM designed to deliver an extended low-frequency response uncharacteristic of balanced armature pieces. A five BA configuration, Dulce Bass offers audiophile sound quality optimised for electronic and bass-heavy music." Django is the range-topping model just below Noble’s Kaiser 10U flagship. Django is a six balanced armature configuration.
March 2016 - Just bloody do it (yourself) - Patrick Tang wants you to. He just made their Glow Audio Voice One speaker available as a DIY kit. "They equal the sound of the original speakers yet at a bargain price, allowing for the customer to build them to their taste and level of finish. The speakers can be fully assembled in a couple of hours and all parts and hardware are provided."
March 2016 - New element - Leema Acoustics expand their Elements range with the new £1'395 Elements Pre-Amplifier "with a high-quality 24/192 DAC in the same half-width chassis of the matching 160wpc bridgeable power amp. Connectivity is 1 x coax, 3 x Toslink and 1 x USB, 3 x analog RCA in , 1 x analog XLR in plus a 3.5mm input on the front. Outputs are on RCA and XLR.
March 2016 - Basso more Continuo - The Aeon 2 is the firm's 2nd-gen carbon fibre equipment rack. "Carbon fibre is a hi-tech material which continuously evolves. We've since pushed certain parameters to expand the envelope." The carbon-shield shelf composition is a new micro-cell polymer of lower mass but equivalent resistance. "These aeronautic resins reduce input vibrations by another 25%." Torsional rigidity is claimed higher thanks to a new carbon lamination scheme whilst the new solid carbon terminal hooks promise greater structural integrity. Now 600g of carbon fiber will support more than 120kg with just 1.2mm of elastic deformation. The breaking limit is 350kg. Trim options for the shelf endoskeleton are genuine black leather with red stitching (Le Mans version) and red leather with black stitching (Millemiglia). Even headphones, remote controls and cable management are accounted for with new optional accessories available for each shelf.
March 2016 - exaSound networker - Their new PP aka play point network audio player works with Roon, Apple Airplay, HQPlayer, MPD, UPnP and Tidal via Airplay, includes a digital volume control, a touch screen UI and sample rate support up to 384kHz PCM and native DSD up to 12.28MHz.
March 2016 - New extreme Voxativ driver - Called the AC-Xh [€59'000], this field-coil widebander adds a Neodymium magnet to put 24'000 Gauss into a 10mm magnetic gap to "need less electrical energy and perform at extreme resolution". Also, "the leather surround is back at Voxativ, for the AC-Xh and recommended for all top-line drivers."
March 2016 - Zardoz - Dan Bellity of La Rosita launched a new line of valve gear called Zardoz at last month's Hamburg show. This consists of the Louis preamp, Louis phono stage, 300B SE monos shown and Rameau tube integrated. The La Rosita streamer remains tube-less. The website is expected to update shortly to highlight these new arrivals with photos and specs.

March 2016 - More immediate Cary - CaryDirect "is an online e-commerce webstore encompassing our entire product catalog, making it available directly to consumers. With the changing landscape of brick and mortar showrooms, CaryDirect will offer free shipping and a 30-day return guarantee allowing customers to experience risk-free in-home evaluations of Cary Audio products. While our model will be direct-to-consumer, CaryDirect is actually a hybrid model which takes great care to include our current dealer base into the direct to consumer model. Our dealers will now be called Cary Retail Reps or Cary Brokers and will continue to play a key role, as much or as little as they choose. The model incentivizes Cary Retail Reps to continue to have demonstration product on display for sales and promotional purposes within their local markets. Our goal is to make the Cary Audio buying experience transparent and consistent for the end-user customer. This program not only supports our past dealers, but will also generate a much larger base of new Cary Retail Reps and Cary Brokers that can profit from our hybrid model, which is more in-line with how they prefer to do business in today’s market. CaryDirect is only available in the U.S. and countries where there is no Cary Audio representation. Customers in countries where there is current distribution will be directed to the appropriate contact person for that country."
March 2016 - Universal vibrator - Nearly. Luke Pighetti of Vibro Labs announced their universal Aria in-ear monitor which as such does not require a prior visit to an audiologist to take a mould of your pink bits. "The preorder price is $499 and the ship date is April 4th, 2016. The preorder is limited to 10 pairs. Every Aria is delivered in a Pelican 1010 case. Laser-cut foam inserts hold Aria, its premium cable, cleaning tool, and a signed certificate of authenticity. The universal includes TS-400 Comply foam tips in small, medium and large."
March 2016 - Fostex march out new Magnesiumators - "The G1001MG is the newest smallest bookshelf speaker system in our G Series, featuring pure magnesium diaphragms for both its 20mm ridge-dome tweeter and 10cm mid/woofer. The ported enclosure uses special Plywood with hard Camphor layers crossed with soft Eucalyptus." Only the rear baffle is MDF. The 2-way crossover sits at 2kHz. Efficiency is a very low 82dB to achieve bandwidth of 55Hz - 45kHz from a cab whose dimensions, with plinth, are only 16.4 x 30 x 24.2cm WxHxD. Weight is 7.6kg. Finish is gloss piano black as shown. In the same range, the bigger model G1300MG sees itself revived as well.
March 2016 - Reflector - Reference 3A have a brand new monitor called the Reflector [$12'000/pr]. "It’s the most advanced speaker we've ever made. The cabinet sides have layers of thick glass which are laminated with an absorptive material in constrained-layer mode and which are structurally integrated onto the main cabinet. Critically positioned and perforated cross and vertical spine braces prevent the inward movement of the cabinet walls. Tunable brass tension rods are applied in both lateral directions to prevent outward movements. This has created our most silent cabinet ever, exceeding even our previous flagship built with dense resin board panels. Newly refined and specifically optimised for this model, our proprietary woven carbon fibre driver is hyper-exponentially shaped to avoid cone break up modes. It operates in direct-coupled full-range mode without requirement of a crossover, avoiding signal interruption for the most immediate wave propagation. The high frequencies are served by a well-matched beryllium tweeter which is aligned and positioned in a precisely shaped wave guide. The high frequency bandwidth is controlled by a single in-house customized capacitor, resulting in a well-integrated and very coherent spatial sound."
February 2016 - Dual 15" dipole woofers - Giuseppe Gabbarini of Diesis Audio is about to launch his Roma flagship speakers which also sport a dual-concentric mid/tweeter behind their exponential horn plus a separate super tweeter. Their first showing will be at the February 26-28 show in Lisboa. "They follow the same design of the Caput Mundi and Aura models but with larger impact. The speed of the speakers combines effortless dynamics with neutral timbre and bandwidth of 25Hz to 100kHz -3dB. Sensitivity is 98.5dB and the weight of each speaker is 115kg. Three pair of binding posts allow for triamping."
February 2016 - DirectStream sires littlin - The PS Audio DirectStream Junior DAC [$3'999] "steals" the FPGA-managed digital engine from senior, adds a built-in network bridge, keeps the no-loss digital volume control, then promises 85% of the performance of its stable mate. Technically, this means upsampling all inputs to 10 x DSD. Even without a single DSD file in your library, you'll be effectively listening to DSD.
February 2016 - Puccini's anniversary - 20 years after introducing the original Puccini integrated, Audio Analogue of Italy now launch the replacement called Puccini Anniversary [£2'999]. "AirTech designer and technical project manager Andrea Puccini and team spent months during the first R&D stages based on the decision of zero feedback. The Puccini Anniversary also is a fully dual-mono design. The 700VA transformer and three pairs of power transistors per channel deliver 80W into 8 ohms, rising to 300W into 2 ohms. The chassis is finished with a 14mm brushed aluminium front panel. The recessed central knob serves a variety of functions: it has a push function for power and input selection and also activates an encoder that communicates with four digital high-precision potentiometers (two per channel) for volume. A choice of four volume curves is selectable according to the speaker sensitivity. To finish the aesthetics, white dimmable LEDs are the indicators. Remote control completes the package."
February 2016 - Black Cat go fully Japanese - "High Fidelity Partners Co Ltd, a Japanese corporation, has acquired the intellectual property for the products produced under the brand Black Cat Cable as well as the brand itself. "This is mostly a formality pertaining to our physical move from Atlanta to Yugawarawhich occurred last April," said Chris Sommovigo, managing partner at The Signal Collection LLC and co-owner of High Fidelity Partners. "We have been producing the actual goods here since September as a subcontractor for The Signal Collection, erstwhile owner of the IP in question. Now we have made the transition complete by formally acquiring all of the the IP related to the production of Black Cat Cable products." Although this acquisition means that Black Cat Cable is now officially a Japanese brand, due to currency market volatility it will continue to sell its exports in USD. "USD is still recognized as a baseline reference currency throughout the world and so our exports will remain under their USD values," said Mr. Sommovigo. Within the purview of High Fidelity Partners, various new products are under development, including but not limited to additional audio cable designs. "I have been designing audio connectors for over 20 years and so new connectors and adapters will be released under the XOX brand. Further to our desire to diversify, we are also in the process of developing, co-developing and negotiating OEM arrangements for some exciting future products - stay tuned!"
February 2016 - Power modules - The new 75wpc Belles Aria integrated amplifier "provides the analog experience with all of its virtues in one simple enclosure. The unit’s phono, headphone and preamplifier stages use Burr-Brown opamps known in professional circles for their ultra‐low distortion. The power stage is a discrete fully complimentary Mosfet design."
February 2016 - Fostex spring fever - The TH900Mk2 just became "the second generation TH900 premium headphone which features a new detachable 7N-grade unbalanced cable with duralumin plug and an optional balanced cable sold separately to meet growing demands for balanced connections." The Neodymium magnetic circuit of 15'000 gauss couples to a proprietary 'biodyna' diaphragm in Urushi lacquer bordeaux cups made of Japanese Cherry Birch with protein leather pads.

Also new is the HP-A4BL headphone amp slash DAC that's been evolved from the current HP-A4 model to add a balanced 4-pin XLR output and up to 11.2MHz DSD compliance. The internal 24/192 DAC is a BB PCM1792A and the output section features a hi/lo gain switch to offset gain by 10dB. Max output power is 300mW into 32 ohms. Besides USB and Toslink inputs, there's also a micro SD card reader for up to 32GB capacity formatted to FAT32. Outputs are on Toslink and analog RCA, hence this deck can multi-task as a variable-output DAC in a speaker system.
February 2016 - Elijah convertible - The Konvertible Lite is marketed as "the first USB audio cable that allows removal of the 5V lead before or after the PC/DAC handshake without requiring two USB ports at the source. Its data lines consist of a twisted pair of Mundorf silver/gold solid cores in silk sleeving. The fixed ground and detachable 5V leads are Audience Cryo Cu. 5V  is carried on the centre pin of the 2.1mm barrel plug, allowing the barrel to act as a shield. Included with each cable is an insulated 5V blocking plug used when the 5V lead is unplugged to block any 5V emanating from the exposed centre pin." Pricing is from $110 to $270 in varying increments for lengths of 16 to 80cm, with free shipping until April 1st.