iFi Audio Introduces micro iDSD ‘Black Label’

The best, just got better.

The micro iDSD Black Label is the world's most powerful DSD/PCM/DXD battery-powered DAC. The Black Label looks good on the outside and functions even better than it looks with its sonics advanced with the very latest components. 

  • DAC digital signal and digital power sections upgraded
  • AMR Global Master Timing® femto-precision clock system upgraded for ‘super low’ phase-noise/jitter
  • Analogue signal and power sections revised
  • 3D+®  performance-tuned / XBass+® performance-tuned
  • Latest Output stabilisation network offers less distortion

Sonically, much smoother, more weight and with a full-bodied mid-range. The bass is deeper and cleaner. The Black Label is, in every way, the ‘turbo charged’ version of the normally aspirated micro iDSD. 

Special Features

  • DAC digital signal and digital power sections upgraded
  • AMR Global Master Timing® femto-precision clock system upgraded for ‘super low’ phase-noise/jitter
  • Analogue signal and power sections revised
  • 3D+  performance-tuned / XBass+ performance-tuned
  • Latest Output stabilization network offers less distortion

The retail price of the micro iDSD ‘Black Label’ is US$549. Available at authorized dealers worldwide and Amazon in 4–6 weeks. (source)

Benchmark Media Systems Introduces DAC3 HGC and DAC3 L Digital to Analog Converters

The DAC3 is Benchmark's newest 2-channel D/A converter featuring the new ESS Technologies ES9028PRO converter chip. The DAC3 converter has lower THD and THD+N noise than Benchmark's DAC2 converter.

Benchmark's DAC1 and DAC2 D/A converter families have been the reference to which other converters have been compared. It is rare to find a converter review that does not draw comparisons to the DAC1 or the DAC2. Benchmark converters are in daily use at many of the world's finest recording studios and mastering rooms. Benchmark converters are also enjoyed by thousands of audiophiles. Benchmark has raised the bar again ... the DAC3 defines a new reference.

DAC3 HGC, $2,195.00 USD

DAC3 HGC, $2,195.00 USD

DAC3 L, $1,995.00 USD

DAC3 L, $1,995.00 USD

REFERENCE PERFORMANCE

The DAC3  delivers outstanding musical detail and precise stereo imaging. It employs an advanced high-headroom digital filter design, and a high-sample-rate Asynchronous USB Audio interface. All inputs are fully isolated from interface jitter by Benchmark's new UltraLock3™ jitter attenuation system.

Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.

Four balanced 32-bit D/A converters are summed together to create each balanced analog output. This 4:1 summation provides a 6 dB noise reduction, and gives the DAC3 industry-leading performance.

DAC3 VS. DAC2

The DAC3 builds upon Benchmark’s highly successful DAC2 product family. The DAC3 maintains the familiar DAC2 form factor and feature set, but adds the higher performance available from the new ES9028PRO D/A converter. The DAC3 offers the following improvements over the DAC2:

  • Active 2nd Harmonic Compensation
  • Active 3rd Harmonic Compensation
  • Lower THD+N
  • Lower passband ripple
  • Improved frequency response
  • Faster PLL lock times
  • Faster switching between input signals

NATIVE DSD CONVERSION

All digital inputs on the DAC3 support native PCM or DSD conversion. From any input, DSD is transported with bit accuracy over DoP 1.1. DSD and PCM are both natively converted to analog. There are no DSD to PCM or PCM to DSD conversions to compromise the quality of the music. The DAC3 conversion system seamlessly switches between native PCM and native DSD conversion. DSD over DoP 1.1 is supported by many media players, and DSD downloads are now available from several sources.

DIRECT CONNECTIVITY TO POWER AMPLIFIERS

Benchmark DAC1, DAC2, and DAC3 converters are designed to directly drive power amplifiers and speakers. Benchmark converters feature adjustable low-impedance passive attenuators at the XLR outputs that can be used to optimize the interface to the power amplifier (or powered monitor). This unique Benchmark feature optimizes the gain staging between the DAC and the power amplifier. Proper gain staging cannot be overemphasized. When audio stages are properly matched, each component in the audio chain is able to operate at its optimum signal level, and the system performance is significantly improved.

SONICALLY-NEUTRAL STUDIO MONITORING

All Benchmark converters are designed for maximum transparency. This transparency is absolutely essential in the studio monitoring chain. For this reason, DAC3 converters are ideal for critical reference-quality professional systems. Unlike many competing products, the DAC3 is not designed to add "euphonic" coloration to the audio. Instead, it is designed to be as uncolored and natural as possible.

STEP INTO THE STUDIO

When Benchmark's professional converters are used in hi-fi applications, studio-quality sound can be enjoyed in a home environment. Enjoy pure music without any coloration from the electronics. Hear the music exactly the way it was heard in the studio and exactly the way the artists intended.

Discover the natural, uncolored, analog sound of the DAC3.

SIT IN THE PERFORMANCE SPACE

Transparent sound can go beyond replicating the studio experience. Recordings that have been produced with a natural and unprocessed sound can transport you to the performance space. But, this can only happen when the entire playback chain is selected for maximum transparency.

This experience of "being there" cannot be created by systems that are designed to add "warmth" or "euphonic color" to the music.

DESIGNED, ASSEMBLED, AND TESTED IN THE USA.

DAC3 HGC ($2,195.00 USD) and DAC3 L ($1,995.00 USD) are available in mid-November on Benchmark Media Systems website and select dealers. (source)

Firmware Update: DTS:X™ and Auro-3D® Now Available On McIntosh MX122 A/V Processor

McIntosh, the global leader in prestigious home entertainment and ultimate-quality audio for over 65 years, is happy to announce the release of a free firmware update that brings full support for both DTS:X and Auro-3D* object-based 3D audio to the MX122 A/V Processor. Since its release earlier this year, the MX122 has had full support for Dolby® Atmos and now with this update, the MX122 supports all the leading object-based 3D audio technologies. The free update also adds DTS Neural-X as well as other minor improvements.

The MX122 can serve as the brain center for an advanced home theater system for years to come. It is fully compatible with modern 4K Ultra HD video sources and can upscale lower resolutions to 4K Ultra HD for the best possible picture quality. It combines the best-in-class audio performance of the legendary McIntosh Reference System with the latest in home theater technology.
To perform the update, the MX122 must be connected to a router that has internet access. This can either be a wired Ethernet connection or a wireless connection using the MX122 Wi-Fi capabilities.

To begin the update process, go to the following menu: Setup > General > Firmware > Update > Check for Update > Update > Update Start. The update process, electrical supply, and internet connection should not be interrupted during the firmware installation. (source)


*The Auro-3D portion of the update is not available in Japan and China.

Audioengine Introduces HD3 Wireless Music System

Audioengine® today introduced the HD3 wireless music system. More than just a powered multimedia speaker, HD3 is a complete music system that allows you to listen to all of your music from any source.

“Classic speaker design with no plastic, full stereo sound, whole-house wireless and no setup hassles make HD3 the ultimate mini music system.” says Brady Bargenquast, Audioengine co-founder.

Life is complicated. Listening to your music shouldn’t be. HD3 is simple to use and designed for the way people listen to music today. Connect any way you like: wireless or wired, digital or analog. Play your music library or stream TIDAL, Spotify, Pandora, and YouTube from just about anywhere in your house without dropouts. HD3 works seamlessly with all your favorite audio players and streaming music services, so no matter how you connect and listen, HD3 has you covered.

Dave Evans, Audioengine co-founder added, “We designed the award-winning HD Series for the way people listen to music these days and HD3 is another game-changer for home, office, and personal audio.”

Easy setup
Amplifiers are built inside the left speaker for an efficient mini stereo system that makes setup a breeze. We’ve included connections for your phone, tablet, computer, and turntable - and you can even add a subwoofer. Wireless setup takes about a minute as there’s no software to install, no apps to download, and no Wi-Fi passwords to enter. If you’re using HD3 at your desk, connect up direct to your computer with a USB cable for a high-end listening experience. But if you’re not keen on USB or wireless you can use one of the included audio cables.

High-fidelity personal audio
HD3 also includes an audiophile-quality headphone amplifier that sounds great and drives even the most-demanding headphones.

Retro-forward design
Audio performance is critical but speakers also need to look good, so we’ve included aluminum trim accents, detachable magnetic grills, and real wood veneers that blend with any decor.

Pricing and availability
HD3 has a retail price of $399 per pair. HD3 is available now and can be purchased from over 400 authorized worldwide resellers or online direct and on Amazon. (source)

AudioQuest Announces Next Generation Headphones: NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon

Offering a unique combination of unsurpassed comfort, state-of-the-art design, and naturally beautiful sound, AudioQuest’s first headphone, NightHawk, has been lovingly featured in the pages of magazines and websites as far-reaching as Stereophile, Rolling Stone, CNET, Wired, Head-Fi, Digital Trends, The Verge, HomeTheaterReview, Sound & Vision, and many more. This is evidence of the intensifying convergence between the high-fidelity and high-technology worlds, and testament to NightHawk’s uncanny ability to captivate and inspire a diverse audience of thinkers, builders, engineers, and, of course, music lovers.

While NightHawk’s many innovative design elements—Liquid Wood earcups, biomimetic sound-diffusing grilles, and high-performance solid-conductor cable, to name just a few—have impressed listeners worldwide, many have expressed interest in different paint finishes, more versatile cables, and closed-back designs.

AudioQuest takes the first of many steps toward satisfying those interests with two new around-the-ear models: NightHawk Carbon and NightOwl Carbon. The closed-back NightOwl Carbon further advances the state of the headphone art, replacing NightHawk’s sound-diffusing grille with an intelligently designed aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise.

NightHawk Carbon

NightHawk Carbon

NightOwl Carbon

NightOwl Carbon

Hidden beneath the central circular portion of NightOwl’s earcups, a vent runs along the perimeter of each dome and exits through a hidden airflow-resistive port. Thus, unlike other headphones that use a sealed enclosure, NightOwl is designed to effectively relieve the buildup of pressure, allowing the drivers to breathe freely, ensuring that any impulses quickly return to an innocuous resting state—with no ringing, oscillation, or resonance.
Further, we’ve implemented several closely related acoustic, ergonomic, and cosmetic refinements, each of which seamlessly complements the whole, delivering improved performance while elevating the overall user experience.

Acoustic Refinements

  • Modified internal parts: Tighter tolerances reduce air leakage for improved airflow and lower distortion
  • Two sets of earpads: Protein Leather Pads seal tighter for better isolation and slightly enhanced treble clarity; Ultra-Suede Pads breathe freer for greater comfort and slightly reduced bass impact
  • Improved plugs: High-purity Tellurium Copper (TeCu) base metal for smoother surface, higher plating quality, better mating contact, and, consequently, less noise
  • Ergonomic Refinements
  • Improved headpad: Genuine leather headpad with stitched detailing for
  • enhanced comfort, more luxurious look and feel
  • Improved cable: Shorter (4.25ft) length for easier use at the desktop or with mobile devices; flexible, non-braided jacket increases durability, eliminates kinking, minimizes microphonics; robustly engineered and rigorously tested strain relief further increases durability; discrete microphone and smartphone controls enable phone calls and playback functions (Play, Pause, Skip) without compromising sound quality

Note: Cable can be terminated with balanced connections or customized to various specifications.


Cosmetic Refinements

  • Luxurious finish: Carbon Grey Metallic high-gloss automotive paint meticulously applied via multistage process
  • Improved inner presentation: Includes microfiber pouches for headphones and accessories for safer, simpler travel

Meanwhile, NightHawk Carbon is a more sophisticated, more mature version of the original. It boasts the same exciting refinements found in NightOwl—improved performance, greater comfort, two pairs of earpads, a far more durable cable with discrete mic and smartphone controls, enhanced look and feel (detailed above)—all while retaining its predecessor’s remarkably low distortion and fatigue-free sound.


Of course, all of the advanced design elements that made the original NightHawk such a success are carried over into the improved models: NightHawk Carbon and NightOwl Carbon share their predecessor’s pistonic drivers with biocellulose diaphragms, compliant rubber surrounds, and true voice-coil formers. The patented split-gap motor remains unsurpassed in its ability to reduce intermodulation distortion. The earcups are fabricated from the same revolutionary Liquid Wood material, affording acoustically optimized support beams and carefully applied damping. The patent-pending suspension system allows the earcups to move freely, accommodating heads of almost any shape or size, while effectively decoupling the earcups to counteract resonances.
Thus, NightHawk’s exceedingly low distortion, unrivaled comfort, and naturally detailed sound have been enhanced in several meaningful ways. With the new semi- open NightHawk Carbon and closed-back NightOwl Carbon headphones, AudioQuest hopes you’ll listen longer, later, and with greater pleasure, enjoying even deeper immersion in your favorite music, movies, videos, and games.


NightHawk Carbon ($699 US MSRP)

  • Around-the-ear semi-open design
  • 3D-printed biomimetic sound-diffusing grille

NightOwl Carbon ($699 US MSRP)

  • Around-the-ear closed-back design
  • Aperiodic damping system for excellent isolation of external noise

NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon Features

  • Acoustically superior, sustainably engineered materials
  • Patent-pending suspension system with freely articulating earcups counteracts intrusive resonances.
  • Pistonic driver with biocellulose diaphragm and compliant rubber surround
  • Patented split-gap motor dramatically reduces intermodulation distortion
  • AudioQuest cable with improved strain relief; non-microphonic, kink-free jacket; discrete mic and smartphone controls
  • Carbon Grey Metallic high-gloss automotive finish

NightHawk Carbon & NightOwl Carbon Specifications

  • Impedance: 25 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 99dbSPL/mW
  • Power Handling: 1.5W
  • Weight: 346g (12.2oz)
  • Driver: 50mm Dynamic | Biocellulose Pistonic Diaphragm | 1.2T Split-Gap Motor

NightOwl Carbon & NightHawk Carbon Cable

  • Long-Grain Copper conductors
  • High-Purity Direct-Silver Plated TeCu plugs (3.5mm TRRSDual 2.5mm mono)
  • Highly durable, non-microphonic jacket
  • 4.25’ (1.3m)

AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon and NightHawk Carbon headphones will begin shipping to dealers in November 2016. For more info, visit personal.audioquest.com.

All tricks, no treats. Will the real DragonFly® please stand up!

Buyer beware! It has recently come to light that a counterfeit version of the guts of DragonFly v1.2 is inside multiple brands of Made In China small USB DACs.
 
It is important to note the authentic versions of all DragonFlys, as with all of the new AudioQuest “Digital Critters,” are manufactured in Ohio, USA.

In this unfortunate situation, the DACs have been revealed (by Reddit, for example), to mimic almost precisely the inside of a real AudioQuest DragonFly v1.2, including copying of the proprietary technical features.
 
In order to protect its customers, distributors, and its own reputation for extremely high quality audio components, AudioQuest is giving public notice that multiple companies are promoting and selling unauthorized copies of Streamlength® enabled “DragonFly” version 1.2. (Streamlength is a registered trademark of Wavelength Audio, Ltd.)
 
Not only are the internals of these other DACs illegal copies, they are not exact copies, which for multiple reasons perform far below the level of the since discontinued DragonFly v1.2.
 
The counterfeits use inferior sounding, lower-quality components, and a sub-standard (possibly unintended) inferior re-layout of AudioQuest’s original, proprietary circuit design.

Images of DragonFly 1.2’s circuit can be seen here.

The illegal, unauthorized versions can be seen here.

While AudioQuest anticipated that there would be worthy competition from worthy competitors, we never expected that some entity would flagrantly try to steal the intellectual property and underlying assets that made DragonFly so successful. Unfortunately, this is precisely what has occurred.
 
AudioQuest and its affiliates will protect our highly valuable intellectual property, and the trust our customers have put in us and our products, to the fullest legal means available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us (info@audioquest.com) with any questions regarding these issues, and please continue to enjoy authentic, high quality, AudioQuest products. (source)

Klipsch® Announces 70th Anniversary Heritage Series Speakers

Klipsch® announced today that it will offer two additional 70th Anniversary Heritage series speakers, creating a limited run of the legendary CornwallTM and La Scala®. Klipsch will meticulously handcraft 70 pairs of each model at its manufacturing facility in Hope, AR. Each 70th Anniversary Heritage speaker will feature an exotic Australian Walnut wood veneer, a unique silver luster grille cloth, special edition logos, and a signature 70th Anniversary plaque identifying its numbered sequence in the series. 

The 70th Anniversary Cornwall (MSRP $6,000 per pair) and La Scala (MSRP $14,000 per pair) will be available at authorized retailers and at Klipsch.com October 2016.

70th Anniversary Cornwall

70th Anniversary Cornwall

Audio pioneer and company founder Paul W. Klipsch, initially introduced the Cornwall in 1959. The Cornwall derives its name from being the first Klipsch loudspeaker designed to operate from either a corner or against a wall (corn/wall). The speaker was designed to serve as a larger, full-range alternative to the Heresy when used as a center channel speaker between two widely spaced Klipschorns. When it was discontinued in 1990, there was an outcry from consumers, resulting in a letter-writing campaign and even a petition to bring back the storied Cornwall.

This famed speaker, now dubbed the Cornwall III, is a three-way design using horn-loaded compression drivers for the midrange and treble and a direct-radiating 15-inch woofer for the low frequencies. The Cornwall delivers the full-range bass response of the Klipschorn® with sensitivity and output approaching the fully horn-loaded models.

The La Scala launched in 1963 when Paul W. Klipsch made it for Arkansas gubernatorial candidate Winthrop Rockefeller to use as a public address speaker. Because some considered it a “portable” and more affordable version of the revolutionary Klipschorn®, the La Scala found success beyond the campaign. Despite its raw, unfinished appearance, the fully horn-loaded, three-way La Scala sounded so good that people still wanted to put it in their living rooms.

The La Scala brings the most subtle musical details to life, always delivering the legendary Klipsch sound with clarity and ease. On a single watt, it generates 105 decibels of sound pressure, which means that the La Scala will delight the listener even while using the most modest amplifier power. (source)

70th Anniversary La Scala

70th Anniversary La Scala