Best Sound (for the money)
Again GR Research gets my vote. Its room featured the new GR-Research Super-V with granite finish, Dodd Audio Next Generation Battery Preamp, dB Audio Labs Next Generation 32-bit/192kHz Tranquility DAC, dB Audio Labs DAC Lithium ion battery supply, PI Audio Group UberBUSS, PI Audio Group BatteryBUSS, PI Audio Group ABB-2 Diffusers, PI Audio Group Room Treatments, PI Audio Group Mr. T Diffusers, Atomic Audio Manhattan Project Battery System, PI Audio Group Power Cables, Electra Speaker Cables, dB Audio Labs Next Generation bi-wire USB Cable, and again, a Mach2 Music server.
Greatest Bargain (individual product)
The Schitt BiFrost DAC with fully upgradeable/replaceable USB and DAC boards wins this category hands down. It’s the first budget USB DAC that won’t be obsolete in less than a year. For $349 w/o a USB card and $449 with, it makes you wonder why other manufacturers don’t offer obsolescence–proof DACs.
Most Significant Product Introduction
Judging by the number of rooms using it and the quality of their sound, Amarra’s new 2.3 build is a major step forward in ergonomic flexibility, platform stability, and overall sonics.
Most Significant Trend
The almost universal adoption of the USB 2.0 standard for new USB DACs and converters. USB now will support up to 192/24 files. Macs can do 192/24 instantly upon connection to a USB 2.0 device, while for PCs a simple driver is all that’s needed for high-resolution wonderfulness.