Ward Fiebiger, Senior Design Engineer At Audio Research Passes At Age 58

On March 13th, Senior Design Engineer Ward Fiebiger suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack. Ward was 58 years old.

“After many years of dedication to Audio Research, Ward’s passing comes with great shock.  Ward was a mentor to many at the company and his legacy has been passed on to the employees at Audio Research.  My sympathy goes out to Ward’s family and friends,” said Charlie Randall, CEO, McIntosh Group; President, McIntosh Laboratory, Inc.

Ward was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ward grew up working at his father’s radio/tv repair shop as a youth repairing turntables and vacuum tube electronics in the early to mid-1970’s. After graduation, Ward attended trade school for radio/tv repair where one of the last of the classes teaching vacuum tube theory was still available.

His career started and ended at Audio Research. In 1978, Ward worked in the service department, later moving into Quality Assurance and eventually transferring to engineering where he supported engineers in board layouts and prototyping. Ward had the honor of working side by side with Bill Johnson and other engineers learning from Bill his design philosophy, and absorbing much of the company’s DNA. Bill would be proud of the products being produced today.

All analog Audio Research products since 2005 have been of Ward’s design. Ward’s career at Audio Research spanned over 37 years. Ward also had a personal audio repair shop, where he serviced other manufacturer’s high-end electronics and just about every product Audio Research has produced. He also owned many Audio Research collectable pieces such as a mint condition SP10 MKII and a new old stock D79C MKII.

“During Ward’s 39-years at Audio Research, he was a guardian of founder Bill Johnson’s vision when it came to advancing the state-of-the-art of music reproduction in Audio Research vacuum tube product design. Ward’s sudden departure comes as a shock and feeling of loss for everyone who knew him.  We offer our condolences to his family and friends”, said David Onan, President and CEO, Audio Research.

There are many key product contributions in Audio Research’s legacy and work during Ward’s tenure, including:

  • Reference Anniversary Preamplifier
  • Reference 5 Preamplifier
  • Reference Phono 2 Preamplifier
  • Reference 75, 150, 250, 750 Power Amplifiers
  • VSi60 and VSi75 Integrated Amplifiers

Ward is survived by his wife of 34 years, Maureen and two daughters, Meaghan Robb and Katelyn Fiebiger. His hobbies included riding his Harley motorcycles and bow hunting as much as possible in the fall at his cabin in Wisconsin. 

Funeral arrangements are scheduled for March 18. 


About Audio Research

Audio Research is one of the oldest continually operating manufacturers in American audio. The company was founded in 1970 in Minneapolis, Minnesota with one goal in mind: to advance the state-of-the-art in music reproduction. Today, Audio Research remains a performance-oriented company by philosophy and design. New product introductions are driven only by genuine advances in technology and performance — the HIGH DEFINITION that is the hallmark of the company’s products. The company has grown steadily over the last 40 years, with a network of top audio specialist retailers across North America and distributors throughout Europe, Asia and South America. The company occupies a 48,000 square-foot, technically-advanced production plant and administrative headquarters in Plymouth, Minnesota, where approximately 50 technical, assembly and support staff guide the product line from concept to finished goods.

Audio Research was instrumental in refocusing the audio industry on designing products for musical performance, and not merely for the sake of new technology or mass-market pricing. Audio Research was founded by William Z. Johnson, who began designing custom audio electronics in the early 1950’s and who also operated a specialty audio retail store until the mid-1960’s. Johnson’s efforts almost single-handedly revived vacuum-tube designs at a time when major industry manufacturers had abandoned this technology in favor of low-cost solid-state devices which were markedly inferior in terms of musical accuracy, a fact widely acknowledged today. Many industry observers consider Johnson one of the true originators of the entire concept of “high-end” audio as it exists today — an area of technological expertise in which American companies remain the clear innovators and leaders on a global scale.

iFi Audio Introduces nano iOne - Wired or Wireless Home Audio 'Hub' DAC

The nano iOne is the versatile, audio solution for the modern home - it allows the use of many different digital audio devices and input options in ONE complete unit. Via Bluetooth, S/PDIF or USB inputs, it upgrades the listening experience with smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, gaming consoles, media streamers and more.

The nano iOne improves on the inbuilt digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) and delivers high-resolution, audiophile grade sound. With cutting-edge wireless connectivity, it allows high quality streaming across both Apple and Android, Mac and PC. (source)

The retail price of the nano iOne is US$199 (ex-tax) or Euro235/£199 (incl VAT).


  • Bluetooth, S/PDIF, USB input
  • AAC codec allows native quality, direct Bluetooth wireless audio streaming from iTunes & Apple Music
  • aptX codec allows CD quality Bluetooth wireless audio streaming from suitably equipped Android devices, PCs and Mac computers
  • Galvanically-isolated S/PDIF output with dedicated re-clocker/line driver
  • ANC® noise suppression system for the power supply (conveniently drawn from USB)
  • GMT® Femto precision clock system
  • Asyncronous USB audio system with Zero Jitter® Memory Buffer
  • Zero Jitter® Memory Buffer technology for S/PDIF & Bluetooth
  • Galvanically-isolated S/PDIF input with FET High Definition (FHD) circuitry
  • Direct-Coupled analogue outputs via RCA 

Grado Labs Announces Limited Edition GH2 Headphones

Grado is excited to announce GH2 Limited Edition headphones. Some of the finest guitars use Cocobolo. Cocobolo is a rare tropical hardwood from Central America. It is a beautifully colored wood whose density makes it almost sink in water. Grado Labs chose this wood for the GH2 for the way it communicates music’s beautiful harmonics. Rich and seductive in bringing you closer to your music. (source)
Audio Specs: 

  • Transducer Type: 44mm destressed dynamic driver
  • Operating Principle: Open Air 
  • Frequency Response: 12 - 30,000 Hz 
  • SPL 1mW: 99.8 dB 
  • Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms 
  • Driver Matched dB: .05 dB
  • MSRP: $650, shipping in early March

Beats by Dr. Dre today announces BeatsX will be available February 10, 2017

Beats by Dr. Dre today announces BeatsX, its highly-anticipated new wireless earphones, will be available in black and white beginning on February 10, 2017. The brand also announces the addition of two new colors, gray and blue.

BeatsX is an entirely new line of earphones, expertly designed to accommodate sophisticated audio advancements within its small form factor. Its simplistic, fluid design keeps BeatsX extremely light and nearly unnoticeable while wearing. Compatible with both iOS and Android devices, BeatsX features Class 1 Bluetooth for optimal connectivity. For iOS10 users, the Apple W1 chip provides an easy one-step Bluetooth connection and the added ability to toggle seamlessly between iCloud-registered devices. BeatsX sets a new standard for battery efficiency with Fast Fuel, which provides 2 hours of playback after just 5 minutes of charging and up to 8 hours after just 45 minutes of charging via the included Lightning cable. The RemoteTalk cable allows you to take calls, play music and activate Siri.  The Flex-Form cable and variety of eartip and removable wingtip options provide a flexible, secure and comfortable fit during use. When you’re not using the earphones, magnetic ear buds keep them tangle-free around your neck, and they easily coil to fit into a compact carrying case for storage and portability.
BeatsX will be available for $149.95 (US) from Apple’s retail stores in the US, Apple.com, Amazon and authorized resellers.  


Sonus faber Revamps Homage Tradition Collection

Sonus faber wishes to evoke Italian design and creativity at their best by restyling the Homage collection, the company’s most iconic line. It has been completely revamped in keeping with its rich past and precious legacy. Welcome Homage Tradition! 

The collection features four elements: Amati, Guarneri, Vox (center channel) and the newcomer Serafino, a 3.5 way floor-standing speaker whose name is taken from Santo Serafino (1699 - 1758), another of Italy's master violin makers who trained at Nicolò Amati's workshop. The made-in-Italy appeal and the great Sonus faber tradition find their expression in a classic and slightly retro approach where the classical lute shape is still central and maintains the roots with the history but components, finishes and design have been completely renewed. 

Left to right: Guarneri, Serafino, Amati, Vox (not shown)

Left to right: Guarneri, Serafino, Amati, Vox (not shown)

Many patents and technological solutions of Lilium, Il Cremonese and the Olympica Collection find further evolution inside Homage Tradition. The “Stealth Ultraflex” is the evolution of the “Stealth Reflex” system; its external part at the back panel is in extruded Aluminum and controls the flow of air through the duct while controlling its speed and reducing any turbulence and hence distortion. The back too is part of the Exoskeleton system complete with Dampshelves on top and bottom of the speakers. Guarneri and Serafino feature the so-called Silent Spikes, coaxial metal/elastomer/metal spikes which reinterpret the classic patented “Z.V.T.” (Zero Vibration Transmission) system and derive from Il Cremonese. Amati keeps the classic optimized suspension system. The transducers of the Homage Tradition collection are derived directly from Il Cremonese and have been further developed to create an exclusive and unique design. 

The lute shape of the cabinets is the fruit of careful research and major restyling. The curves of the sides change and double, blending the lines of previous models of the Tradition collection with those inherited from Lilium and giving these speakers larger volumes especially on the back. This evolution allows the cabinet to better control internal resonances. The distinctive feature of the design of the new Homage Tradition collection – and a recall of the original Homage collection – is the new layout of the top whose main accent is once again wood in the same finish as the sides. The Guarneri Tradition stand plays a key role in the aesthetic and electro-acoustic design. It’s made in carbon fiber monocoque and sums the know-how reached with the Sonus faber-Pagani Automobili partnership and Ex3ma production. The curved outline of the stand, though much lighter and acoustically transparent than its predecessor, ensures maximum structural strength.

Homage Tradition collection is available in two finishes:

  • RED: Traditional walnut wood essence with black inlays combined with brushed black Aluminum and black leather (like flagships Aida, Lilium and Il Cremonese)
  • WENGÈ: Wengè wood essence – used for the first time by Sonus aber – with maple inlays (reference to the walnut finish of Olympica collection) with brushed Aluminum in Titanium finish and brown leather

Homage collection will be available at select dealers in Europe and Asia beginning February 2017 and in the US and Canada beginning March 2017. (source)


Rega Announces The 6th Edition Brio Integrated Amplifier

The 6th Edition Rega Brio Integrated Amplifier. Every aspect of the award winning integrated amplifier has been meticulously redesigned and improved. From its cosmetics, redesigned circuits, quality of materials, to the manufacturing process, Rega engineers elevated the new Brio as the latest addition to their impressive line of amplifiers, with a US MSRP limited time pricing of $995.00.
The 6th Edition Brio has a new chassis housing improved circuits and parts. The two-part aluminum chassis boosts the Brio’s heat sinks capabilities and perpetuates Rega’s renowned solid build quality and reliability. The new Brio has a cleverly integrated headphone jack specially designed to avoid interference with the audio circuit when not in use and, as one would expect, a very high spec moving magnet phono stage.

  • Re-Designed Circuits

A full upgraded PCB layout manages a higher specification for all critical parts. A second raw power supply is added to provide further isolation between output stage, the driver stage/line and phono amplifiers. The process improves the isolation between high and low level signal stages of the amplifier. Higher specification MUSES operational amplifiers are incorporated in the line and phono amplifier.
Headphone Jack
For headphone fans, the Brio can drive standard headphones from the internal amplifier. Adding a headphone jack was only possible by finding a way to reduce its impact on the main signal path so it doesn’t disrupt the overall sound quality. Rega engineers dedicated special attention to the switch that deactivates the main speakers. When the headphone jack is inserted, the loudspeaker output is automatically turned off and the signal is directed to the headphone. 
New Chassis Design
The sleek, new chassis is designed to boost heat sink capabilities, protect and contain all internal functions. The cosmetics remain true to the traditional design features of a Rega amplifier, a unique standpoint amongst the competition.

Key Features of the New Brio Integrated Amplifier:

  • 5 Inputs Including a MM  Phono Stage
  • 50 Watts into 8 Ω
  • 73 Watts into 4 Ω
  • Headphone Jack
  • Record Output

The new Brio is available now at all Sound Organisation’s Authorized Rega Retailers. (source)

Sonic Studio Releases Amarra 4 High-resolution Music Playback Application

The waiting is over, the time is now, and the highly anticipated release of Amarra 4 is here! Sporting a new User Experience and the Great Sound that only Sonic Studio can provide, Amarra 4 is now available for Mac or Windows. Regardless of platform, revitalize your listening experience with Amarra 4! Buy or Upgrade now! (source)

Cut the cord to iTunes and hear your music like never before

  • Scan your entire local library including FLAC and DSD files
  • Navigate separate views of your library by Songs, Albums, Artists, Playlists, or Now Playing
  • Sort your tracks easily by Name, Album, or Artist
  • Powerful search lets you find your music easily
  • Create your own playlists of mixed tracks and sample rates and access them via a dedicated Playlist View
  • Browse your Albums and Artists by artwork for ease and speed
  • Select the best sound for your system with 16 EQ presets

Break your bonds to iTunes and hear your music like never before! Scan your entire local library, including FLAC and DSD files:

  • DSD/DSF (PCM Conversion), WAV, AAC*, AIFF, ALAC*, MP3, FLAC & more.