Da Vinci 384K/32bit DAC from Light Harmonic
These young Californian guys are obviously big Star Wars fans!
This is certainly the most striking looking DAC on OUR planet...
And with specs to match, up there with Antelope that we have talked about before, they will certainly make an impact.
Most amazing part is certainly their asynchronous USB input and processing, with its own separate clock.
Obviously, there is no way to tell on a show if this SOUNDS better than another DAC, but on a theoretical level, looking at the spec sheet, one can assume this has been thoroughly thought through.
It is certainly future proof, for a while at least. One good thing is that they point you on their website to a few places from where you can actually down load files that will take advantage on their specs, and iTrax is one of them...
Audiolineaire - Choose your leather - A "Haute Couture" speaker
There is no end to people's creativity when it comes to designing speaker: timber, glass, acrylic, stone and now leather...
Obviously it is only a wrap around or more precisely a snap on cover - you can see the decorative panels at the back of the photo left.
These are really well made speakers and reasonably simple in design, with two 16cm woofers and a ribbon tweeter in a bass-reflex enclosure, and are specified as a 2.5 way, which means the bottom woofer is used only in the low frequencies and the top one is used as a full range.
The whole thing works quite well, very balanced, with an accurate reproduction of the timbres of instruments. The ribbon tweeter is delicate and the manufacturer claims 96dB/1W/1m efficiency.
It was certainly one of the good surprises of the Show
Atohm - One of my favorite brand of French speakers
Thierry Comte, the amiable owner of Atohm used to be the Technical Director at Triangle for many years, until he decided he could have more freedom to design speakers his own way.
Thierry makes his own drivers, and very good ones at that, and he is happy to sell them to other manufacturers (Waterfall Audio is one of his good clients and friends) and also to the DIY market at La Maison du Haut-Parleur - I will write a report on my visit to their Paris store soon on my "Interviews" page.
And he is not inventing new speakers every year - the GT1, GT2 and GT3 having around for a while and are not going anywhere any time soon. Why change something that works bloody well indeed?
The GT3 in particular is quite a complex object on the inside, although looking quite mundane on the outside, but close your eyes and you can enjoy music - efficiency, low coloration, very low level of distortion in particular in the bass make for a very accurate, energetic, feet tapping experience. I am a fan!
And as you can see in the photo left, I am not the only one!
Antelope Audio - Pro DAC and Atomic Clock for your CDs
This is not for the faint hearted! And it is fitting for my last post reviewing this Show.
This company makes products closed to my heart, as I used to be a Time & Frequency expert, as well as quite versed in A to D and D to A conversion during my 15 years at Hewlett-Packard selling Test & Measurement equipment (Now Agilent Technologies).
Antelope designs Rubidium clocks to drive accurately and steadily ADCs and DACs for the professional audio, video and cinema markets.
If you go to a good movie, or if you own some recent Blu-Ray DVDs, chances are, Antelope would have been used at some stage of the process - see video below:
You might have read my ramblings in previous posts about the ineptitude of upsampling a native 16bit/44.1kHz file as you are not going to extract any new information in the process. There might be a small benefit in the smoothing of the resulting signal, but it will not be more accurate.
Improving the clock's stability and jitter performance however will result in a more accurate reading of that same native file, hence the raison d'etre of Antelope products.
When you then apply upsampling to a 16/44.1 file, or if you can correctly convert a native 24/96 (Qobuz anyone???) or 24/192 file (Blu-ray DVD), then you have a winner. And this is exactly what the various DACs in the Antelope range will provide you with.
Added value: they were using a Bryston 4B amp to drive British PMC MB2i speakers, so no wonder the result was quite striking.
I could have talked to you about the amazing demo of the JBL Everest where I discovered the Michael Jackson posthumous "This is it" Blu-Ray DVD - a must have - or the new B&W Diamond speakers or the new iPod-based systems from Yamaha or a myriad of other products, but I chose to review the products that I liked, or that intrigued me or surprised me, or the products that were presented by passionate, honest and amiable people. At the end of the day, you will find a lot more information about this Show on the Web, but this my personal take on the things that I value most at that particular phase of my HiFi journey.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my prose as much as I had pleasure writing these articles.
I have a few more surprises in store for you over the next week or two, my Christmas gift(s) to you.
I will then leave you in peace for a month or so, as I am going away to California with my family to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in San Francisco where we got married, with a quick detour by Las Vegas to attend the CES and report back to you.
Thanks for keep coming back to my site and Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.