CES 2012 Report - Steven Stone on Digital Products

Disc players,
Multi-format disc players,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio,
Headphone amps and amp/DACs
McIntosh Labs MV891
CES 2012 Report - Steven Stone on Digital Products

DAC 202 inside, it’s $$11,700 (and without a DAC, $8700). Both versions include a CD transport for playback and ripping, ins and outs for FireWire 800, along with Ethernet and WiFi connections. The Man 301 also supports an external word clock, has iPad/iPod control, and can handle multiple libraries.

Constellation showed a prototype of its new Cygnus Media Player ($20,000). With similar internal topology to its reference series, the Cygnus supports up to 192/24 files via its five digital inputs as well as through USB. Armed with a proprietary DSP-based digital filter that has user-selectable options, the Cygnus demonstrates trickle-down technology is alive and well.

T+A’s new Music Player ($4400 plus $350 for preamp module) can be used as a CD player or media player. Supporting 192/24 via all digital inputs, with five S/PDIF inputs in addition to its WLAN, LAN, and USB inputs, the UPnP-compliant Music Player even includes a digital FM tuner. With the addition of its preamp module the Music Player can drive power amps directly without the need for an external preamp.

Music Playback Software

Amarra released Amarra 2.3 a few days before the show, but its big news was a new bundling agreement with Weiss, Peachtree Audio, Bel Canto Design, and Musical Fidelity that bundles Amarra Junior software with these companies’ digital products.

Pure Music wasn’t officially exhibiting at CES, but its software package was running on many of the Macs in the Venetian. During my 2011 RMAF report I neglected to mention that as of September Pure Music became the first Mac-based software package to play back DSD files.

There may also be an alternative to J-River for PC-based music systems in the near future. Several manufacturers were using pre-release versions of a new PC playback software package called Emotion from Emerging Technologies in Switzerland. No ship date or price has been announced, but the sound from every PC using it was top-notch.

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