CES: Highlights from Venetian Floor 30 – Electronics, Source Components, and Servers/Streamers

Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Tubed preamplifiers,
Integrated amplifiers,
Disc players,
Multi-format disc players,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio,

Server specialist QAT’s biggest news for CES was the very compact, single-rackspace-sized, Kuan-series RS3 Server ($1,800). The RS3's onboard DAC can process PCM digital audio files at resolution up to 24-bit/192kHz, which the server provides a wide range of storage and NAS-drive accessibility options.

For example, there is a 2.5-inch front panel disk slot that accommodates both SSD and HDD disks; the server also provide storage connectivity through three USB ports, plus Wi-Fi access to available NAS drives in the user’s system. Controlling the RS-3 is proprietary ‘QAT’ app that is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Raidho – Aavik
Raidho demonstrated its new 300 Wpc U-300 Aavik integrated amplifier/high-res DAC ($30,000) at CES, using he new amp as its platform of choice to power the firm’s impressive new X-3 floorstanding loudspeakers. While some might quibble about small aspect of the amp’s and/or loudspeaker’s voicing, the fact is that the Aavik (and the X-3) did a marvellous job of conveying the energy and life of the music—something I sometimes call the ‘boogie factor’—in delightful and compelling way.

Interestingly, Raidho’s sister brand Scansonic was using a no-nameplate, black box standalone version of the Aavik’s DAC section in its demo of that firm’s new MB-series loudspeakers. Together, the Raidho and Scansonic demoes led me to conclude that the DAC section of the Aavik is very special indeed, striking a nice balance point between offering gobs of resolution and detail coupled with a pleasingly self-effacing ‘organic’ quality that I suspect will make for long-term listening satisfaction.

Both analogue and digital surprises were to be found in the Rega room, where the firm was showing its long-awaited RP10 turntable ($5,495) with an all-new Apheta 2 moving coil phono cartridge ($1,895), which is said to take significant sonic steps forward vis-à-vis the original Apheta.

Confirmed Rega-philes will want to note that the RP-10 and Apheta 2 can be purchased together at the special bundled price of $6,695.

On the digital side of things, Rega demonstrated its new DAC-R ($1,095), which can be viewed as (very) substantial upgrade to the original Rega DAC. The DAC-R provides and asynchronous USB input with support for 16, 20, and 24-bit PCM files at up to 192kHz sampling rates. The DAC-R uses a clever jitter elimination system and very high quality parts throughout.

Rogue Audio
Rogue introduced a new and very full-featured valve-type stereo preamplifier called the RP5 ($3,495). The RP-5 uses four 12 AU7 valves, incorporates an MM/MC phono stage with user adjustable gain and loading settings, provides VFD display, and can function either as a traditional preamplifier or headphone amp.

Most of the preamp’s functions are handled through a processor controlled, faceplate-mounted rotary encoder or through an included ten-button remote control.  

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