Innuos Zenith Statement
Portuguese network audio specialist Innuos blew me away with their Zenith SE server, this year they have gone further. The Zenith Statement (€11,000) is not just an SE with an outboard power supply, it has eight rather than three linear power supplies and puts the heavy lifting in the lower box with regulation as close as possible to where it’s needed. This has benefitted clocking on the ethernet and USB outputs to the extent that Innuos claims that even streaming services will sound better. They demonstrated SE versus Statement through some Kii3/BXT speakers, the difference was almost night and day.
Costa Koulisakis introduced Moon’s latest network preamplifier the 390 ($5,300) at High End, a product whose understated appearance belies a massive feature count. It combines the tech found in Moon’s 350P preamp and 350D network streamer/DAC, has optical volume control, streams at up to 32/384 and has Bluetooth aptX, Wi-Fi and 4K HDMI switching. It’s MQA and Roon ready and can accept a DSD stream if you have a source that can provide it, oh and it also has an MM/MC phono stage with variable loading, gain etc. I don’t think there’s much more that you can ask of an audio component than that.
MSB Premier & Discrete
MSB’s Analog DAC was one of the most unusual in appearance at least on the market but it seems that the market wasn’t so keen on a converter you could use as a tea tray. So MSB have replaced their entry level DAC with the Discrete ($9,950), this has a display to show volume level and two of MSB’s Prime ladder DAC modules, it also has a discrete power supply and the brand’s preferred billet machined casework. Next up the range is the new Premier DAC ($19,500) with four Prime modules and an isolated Powerbase. MSB has now standardised input modules across its range, which should make things easier for the factory at least.
Chord Hugo TT2
Digital guru Rob Watts was on hand in the Chord Electronics room to explain a little about the new Hugo TT2 (£3,996) desktop DAC and headphone amplifier. The first point he made is that it’s powerful enough to drive a pair of speakers. It will provide 5 amps from its XLR outputs which equates to 18 Watts thanks to new output stage technology based from Chord called Power Pulse Array. As a DAC it has five times the processing power of its predecessor and more advanced noise shaping to boot.
Request The Raptor
One of the first to build a serious server in the aptly named The Beast Request showed a concept model of a more affordable scaled down version dubbed The Raptor. This is a ripping server with an onboard DAC as well as digital outputs, the same OS and an I2S output for MSB DACs. It has SSD storage in one to four terabyte versions and price will start at €10,000. Request has also built an analogue volume control for The Beast that uses fixed resistors and relays for minimum compromise, it’s called The Silence.