Playback CEDIA 2012 Show Report - Part 1 (Playback 61)

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Headphone amps and amp/DACs

One example: The DragonFly sports a small translucent dragonfly symbol that illuminates when the unit is powered up and that changes colors to denote the resolution levels of the digital audio files being played. Another example: The DragonFly includes a cool, 64-step digitally controlled built-in analog volume control that completely sidesteps problems with bit-truncation that typically arise with conventional digital volume controls. Thus, even though you control volume levels from the computer, you always get full resolution (i.e., no lost bits)—a very clever approach. We suspect AudioQuest will sell a gazillion of these things and for all the right reasons.

Cary Audio

Cary Audio is one of the several high-end audio electronics manufacturers who have recently chosen to build serious, performance-oriented headphone amplifiers. Cary took this decision, as have several others, in recognition of the fact that high-performance headphones constitute a vibrant and growing segment within the broader high-end audio universe. To enter the market in a powerful way, Cary has created two products: its recently-released Audio Electronics by Cary Nighthawk headphone amp ($1195) and the new-for-CEDIA Cary Audio HH-1 headphone amp ($1595). (Click here to read my recent Playback review of the Audio Electronics Nighthawk.).

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