Hot Audio Gear for Everyone

Experts offer insights on top products. b7b7c842 05bcrop perlisten audio s7t speaker copy

The world of high-performance audio provides one thing for almost everybody—no matter their funds or degree of expertise. That message was vividly strengthened by our go to to AXPONA in Schaumburg, Illinois.

For this particular roundup article, HomeTheaterAssessment spoke with quite a few specialists to get their ideas on distinctive gear—and to realize perception on business traits. Come alongside for the trip as we achieve knowledge from a number of the greatest and brightest within the enterprise.

Getting into Streaming

David Solomon is the vice chairman of enterprise of improvement for the streaming service Qobuz, and he has an extra, extra colourful title: chief hi-res music evangelist. The service, which continues to broaden, provides greater than 100 million tracks. During a Master Class presentation, Solomon guided attendees via a few of Qobuz’s key options, and he supplied a number of gear suggestions.

“I completely love the AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt,” Solomon mentioned. “It’s , cheap DAC that can make your iPhone sound like one million bucks.”

More superior than the Black and Red DragonFly fashions, the Cobalt is a USB DAC and headphone amplifier with a 2.1-volt output to drive nearly any headphone, and its ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip, that includes a minimum-phase gradual roll-off filter, delivers outstanding sonics. The Cobalt is appropriate with Apple and Android gadgets, it could actually render MQA recordsdata, and it suits within the palm of your hand.

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The DragonFly Cobalt is a USB DAC and headphone amp that may hook up with a telephone.

“What I believe goes to vary the panorama of streaming audio is the Wiim Pro,” Solomon famous, referring to the small streamer that helps as much as 24-bit/192kHz audio output. “It’s solely $150. That makes it about $400 cheaper than the most cost effective streamer on the market—previous to this—that may stream high-resolution audio. For $150, you’ll not beat that deal.”

The Wiim Pro could be a multiroom answer as a result of it really works with AirPlay 2 audio system, Amazon Echo and Google Home gadgets. Its affordability will immediate some followers to purchase a number of models to create a extra versatile multiroom system.

Solomon supplied this recommendation for followers who wish to dip their toes into the world of streaming earlier than pursuing a sonic improve: “Start out with the $150 Wiim Pro. Play with it, so you understand what you’re coping with. And then exit and purchase a $500 DAC, like a [Cambridge Audio] DacMagic 200M. That’s an important little DAC for not an entire lot of cash. When you plug that in, will probably be a superior DAC, and also you’ll go, ‘Oh, wow! Why wasn’t I utilizing this all alongside?’ But it’s good to start out [at one level], after which have a pleasant, massive enchancment.”

Because it has digital optical, digital coaxial and USB inputs, you possibly can join the DacMagic 200M to a CD participant, recreation console, laptop computer or different digital audio supply. Under the hood, it has twin ESS ES9028Q2M DAC chips to course of digital audio recordsdata as much as 24-bit/768kHz or DSD512.

When it involves extra superior streaming parts, Solomon has joined the refrain of specialists singing the praises of HiFi Rose, the South Korea-based model recognized for its revolutionary contact screens.

“The HiFi Rose stuff has one of the best UI [user interface],” Solomon raved. “It’s miles past anyone else’s. Nobody’s UI touches their UI. It’s simply enjoyable to make use of, and it sounds actually good. I’ve acquired a type of downstairs in certainly one of my essential techniques [in my house].”

The low-distortion, high-resolution HiFi Rose RS250A community streamer delivers 32-bit/768KHz PCM and Native DSD512 (22.5792Mhz) efficiency.

Experts offer insights on top products. 943b64f9 hifi rose 8eb6b057aa03a
The HiFi Rose RS250A community streamer has an revolutionary contact display.

No Hassle Transfer

During an interview with HomeTheaterAssessment, Solomon supplied an amazing tip for music followers who’re hesitant to modify streaming companies as a result of they concern that the method will likely be labor-intensive. “There is a program referred to as Soundiiz, and it’s free to make use of,” he mentioned. “If you’re a type of individuals who desires to strive high-resolution , you possibly can go to Soundiiz and put in all your music companies, after which put within the new music service, like Qobuz. Hit a button, and it transfers all your playlists and all your favorites to Qobuz. So, you don’t should undergo any problem. Who desires to rebuild lots of of playlists?”

Immersive Experiences

One of our most thrilling moments at AXPONA was watching (and listening to) a heart-pounding chase scene from the 2017 movie Baby Driver, demonstrated in a room that SVS referred to as the “Immersive 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos Home Theater Demo.”

The SVS setup sounded implausible—and every of its items has a comparatively accessible value. The system consisted of two Prime Pinnacle tower audio system; the Ultra Center (a three-way, center-channel speaker); two Prime Bookshelf audio system (within the rear of the room); two SB-3000 subwoofers; and two Prime Elevation audio system (which have been featured within the 2022 article “Best Dolby Atmos Speakers”), delivering the peak results.

The AV receiver on this SVS system was a Denon AVR-X6700H AV receiver, which contributed to an total successful formulation, when it comes to the price-to-performance profile all through that room.

“It’s very a lot within the SVS mission to create convincing, immersive experiences for regular individuals,” mentioned Gary Yacoubian, SVS president, CEO and managing companion. “The most hopeful factor for the audio world is when you can create a method for a standard particular person—who lives paycheck to paycheck—to expertise the fun of immersive sound. That’s our mission. We’re bringing individuals into a very enjoyable pastime.”

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SVS Prime Pinnacle tower audio system with the Ultra Center speaker.

Stunning Towers

One loudspeaker firm that reportedly dazzled attendees at each AXPONA and High End Munich (in Germany) was Perlisten. At AXPONA, Perlisten CEO Dan Roemer defined the options of the corporate’s acclaimed flagship tower speaker, the S7t (proven in the primary picture on the prime of this text).

“In the middle, you see three drivers superimposed on a waveguide,” Roemer mentioned. “We name that the DPC-Array. That’s our patent-pending directivity sample management. That’s what handles the horizontal and vertical dispersion. You can see the pairs of woofers [toward the bottom]. Those offer you extra management vertically as you go decrease in frequency. What an S7t does that’s in contrast to another speaker on this planet is that it has a pleasant, huge, horizontal managed dispersion sample. So, it reacts nicely within the room. That provides you imaging width and a way of subject. But within the vertical area, it’s restricted to—let’s say plus or minus 25 levels—which is sufficient for comfy seating positions, but in addition considerably reduces flooring and ceiling reflections.”

In Munich, Perlisten unveiled a variant mannequin referred to as the S7t Limited Edition. Only 50 pairs will likely be made. The DPC-Array will keep the prevailing drive models and sample management, however all three transducers on this mannequin are coupled to a waveguide that doubles as a big, aluminum heatsink. This new design improves the thermal administration. Additionally, the woofers, crossover and enter posts have been redesigned, and the bottom consists of a custom-made isolation system created in collaboration with the corporate IsoAcoustics.

Enduring Appeal

There have been quite a few noteworthy turntables on the present, together with the elegant Luxman PD-191A (highlighted in a current article). The AXPONA Record Fair was crowded for a lot of the present, as vinyl followers eagerly scooped up audiophile pressings.

“As you go searching this present, the juggernaut that you simply see is vinyl playback,” mentioned Shane Buettner, proprietor and founding father of Intervention Records, and co-founder of MIBS Distro, the North American distributor for handcrafted Lyra phono cartridges. “Vinyl by no means left, and it retains getting stronger. There’s nothing that provides you that window into the efficiency—the place you are feeling such as you’re in a time machine and also you’ve gone again into the recording studio with the artists—as persistently as vinyl does. Through expertise and materials advances, it retains getting higher and higher. We preserve discovering new info [in recordings]. We didn’t have high-definition TVs in a significant method till the 2000s, however we had high-definition audio again within the Nineteen Fifties.”

Heavenly Headphones

Loudspeakers and turntables have been, as anticipated, a number of the most buzzworthy “stars” within the present, however headphones additionally had a significant presence.

We have been significantly impressed by the spacious sonics of the brand new Yamaha YH-5000SE wired, open-back headphones that includes proprietary Orthodynamic drivers. The new design eliminates the fastened central construction of standard headphone drivers, as a substitute guaranteeing form retention by way of concentric circle corrugation and sample reinforcement. Plus, there are not any magnetic substances in that portion of the design. This 11.3-ounce mannequin has a magnesium physique and is made in Japan.

We loved a quick demo of those heavenly headphones, in tandem with the forthcoming Yamaha HA-L7A USB DAC headphone amplifier (which was showcased at High End Munich).

“They’re extremely comfy and light-weight,” mentioned Michael Hine, senior supervisor, product technique at Yamaha, describing the YH-5000SE. “They’re meant for listening to music for a very very long time and offer you unbelievable sound high quality.”

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Michael Hine of Yamaha at AXPONA, with the YH-5000SE headphones and HA-L7A headphone amp.

Proper Connections

The huge present additionally shone a highlight on essential gear that always doesn’t generate the media consideration it deserves, akin to cables and energy conditioners.

AudioQuest has gained accolades for its aforementioned DragonFly Cobalt, however the firm originated as a producer of cables. Today it makes quite a lot of merchandise, together with digital cables, analog interconnects, speaker cables, AC energy cables and AC energy conditioners.

William E. Low, founder and CEO of AudioQuest, acquired philosophical when explaining the position that cable performs in an leisure system.

“People use the analogy {that a} chain is barely as robust as its weakest hyperlink, which is an absolute fact for a sequence, and an absolute lie when utilized to hi-fi,” Low mentioned. “Hi-fi is an accumulation of issues that go improper. No piece of audio gear or video gear ever places out a sign pretty much as good because the enter. So, it’s a matter of harm management. … Every a part of a [hi-fi] system is essential. Cable provides leverage, but it surely’s no more essential than another a part of a system. The take a look at of how a lot consideration and subsequently how a lot cash to pay for cables—or another a part of a system—is that this: What would take advantage of distinction? Cable is only one of all of the items. But, per greenback, can you modify your DAC or change your audio system and make wherever close to the distinction you may make with cable? Probably not. So, it’s strictly monetary ROI that makes cable one thing that wants consideration.”

Clean Power

Besflores Nievera Jr., model ambassador at Music Direct, introduced an informative seminar titled “Where To Begin? Starting in Audio Without Breaking the Bank or Losing Your Mind.” Among his many instructional ideas was a phase on the significance of energy conditioning.

“The electrical grids on this nation are ages and ages outdated,” Nievera mentioned. “As a end result, when energy goes into your home, despite the fact that you’re listening to nice audio, you won’t take pleasure in it absolutely [due to] the noise flooring. If you’re operating a bit of kit via a ComEd plug within the wall in your house, likelihood is, when there are quiet passages [in a music track], it goes deep into the noise flooring. A line conditioner’s job is to take that grunge from {the electrical} grid, and utilizing great designs which might be tried and true, [lower the noise floor]. So, all of the music you take heed to, and all the flicks and movies you watch, can have the next sense of readability. There are a variety of producers who’ve created these line conditioners with various levels of operation, from a easy four-outlet design, as much as 20 retailers in your system. Every certainly one of them, for every value level, offers a measurable quantity of enchancment.”

Companies that provide energy conditioning merchandise have been nicely represented on the present. In addition to Cardas Audio, they included the Chord Company, Shunyata Research and Transparent Cable.

Show Trips

The most whimsical factor we noticed on the present was a retro-themed room introduced by Cardas Audio, full with posters of KISS and Jimi Hendrix, in addition to a TV enjoying an episode of the sitcom Happy Days. Kudos to Cardas for giving us a chuckle—and for manifesting the concept that residence electronics ought to—above all else—convey you pleasure.

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Touch of caprice: ‘Happy Days’ in an AXPONA room introduced by Cardas Audio.

With AXPONA and High End Munich now within the rearview mirror, followers can look forward to the Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle (June 23–25), the Paris Audio Video Show in France (Oct. 21–22) and the Capital Audiofest in Washington, D.C. (Nov. 10–12).

Pricing, Availability & Additional Products

The AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt (roughly $250.95) and the Wiim Pro ($149) can be found at Amazon. (Note: Prices and availability have been decided at press time.)

The Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M DAC, headphone amplifier and preamplifier ($549) is obtainable at Audio Advice. The Denon AVR-X6700H 11.2-channel 8K AV receiver ($2,999) is obtainable at Best Buy.

The SVS Prime Pinnacle tower speaker ($999.99 every, approx. $2,000 per pair) is obtainable at Crutchfield, as are the SVS Ultra Center center-channel speaker ($799.99) and the SVS SB-3000 powered subwoofer ($1,199.99).

The SVS Prime Bookshelf audio system ($699.98 per pair) and the SVS Prime Elevation peak results audio system ($599.98 per pair) can be found at Crutchfield.

The S7t tower speaker and the particular S7t Limited Edition can be found at licensed Perlisten retailers.

The Yamaha YH-5000SE headphones ($4,999.95) can be found at Crutchfield.

The HiFi Rose RS250A community streamer ($2,695) and the AudioQuest power-conditioning merchandise—such because the NRG-Z3 low-distortion, 3-pole, 2-meter energy cable ($349.95)—can be found at Music Direct.

Music tip: Intervention Records provides a remastered field set of three Peter Frampton studio albums recorded within the early Seventies, obtainable on vinyl ($159.99) or hybrid CD/SACD ($90).

The put up Hot Audio Gear for Everyone first appeared on HomeTheaterAssessment and is written by Bobby Reed

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