Hegel presented its new $349 HD2 and $2000 H20 DACs. The two units can be combined in series so the clocks in both units work together to minimize time-domain errors. The advantages of this dual-clock system were amply evident in the demo.
On the 11th floor tower the new $6495 EAR DACute sounded impressive. Combined with the $4499 Music Vault Diamond music server, $7995 EAR 834 integrated amplifier, and $6500 Marten FormFloor speakers the system imaged superbly in the less than acoustically benign hotel room.
Oracle premiered its latest DAC, the $9500 1000 Mk II. It employs an AKM 192/24 capable DAC with fully discrete balanced analog outputs and two USB 2.0 inputs along with S/PDIF. It sounded suave playing the Blue Mind CD from Oracle’s featured performer, Montreal-based singer/songwriter Anne Bisson.
Frank Van Alstine keeps refining his designs. His newest $2500 FET Valve DAC uses a hybrid no-feedback design and can handle up to 192/24 sources via its co-axial and TosLink inputs and 96/24 via USB. Although it has a fixed-level output, the output gain can be adjusted to any reasonable level at the factory.
Switzerland was well represented at RMAF by the $26,500 Orpheus Privilege D-A Converter Mk II. Its case is made from a solid billet of carved aluminum. Inside there’s a 384/24-bit processor with provisions for S/PDIF, AES/EBU, and TosLink at 192/24. USB input currently only supports 96/24.
In the Daedalus Audio room on the 10th floor the $4995 Abbington Music Research DP-777, $10,995 Abbington Research CD-77 CD player, and Bolder Cable–modified Logitech Touch made a very positive impression. With the $14,700 Daedalus Ulysses speakers, the system played at concert hall levels with no signs of strain even in a large room.