Westone Audio Introduces Flagship "Elite Series" Custom-fit Earphone

The new flagship in the Westone line of “Elite Series” custom-fit, in-ear musicians’ monitors has to be heard to be believed. The ES80 features eight masterfully-tuned, balanced-armature drivers that are crossed over to perfection. The clarity and extended harmonic content of the ES80 have never been heard before in a custom-fit earpiece. The ES80 maintains the dynamic lows that musicians have come to expect for on-stage performances, while still providing the shimmering detailed highs that audiophiles demand for a truly immersive listening experience. These features combine to create an unbelievably breathtaking listening experience that will forever change the way you hear the music. 

  • Sensitivity: 111 dB SPL @ 1 mW
  • Frequency Response: 5 Hz - 22 kHz
  • Impedance: 80 ohms @ 1kHz
  • Passive Noise Attenuation: over 25dB
  • Driver: Eight balanced armature drivers with a three-way crossover
  • Cable: EPIC MMCX replaceable cable
  • In the Box: Monitor Vault III, cleaning tool, cable management ring, desiccant pod, cleaning cloth, Oto-Ease, users manual, and 2-year warranty
  • Warranty: 2-year warranty

ES80 Monitors are fully customizable with prices starting at $1899.99 USD. Below is a screenshot of what we quickly put together. Feel free to take the designer tool a spin for yourself. 


Right side red, left side blue for easy channel identification. 

Right side red, left side blue for easy channel identification. 

Designed and Handcrafted in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
All of Westone’s products are meticulously assembled by a staff of dedicated artisans and lab technicians.

Pro-Ject Audio In Collaboration With The Beatles Introduces Two Special Turntables

Pro-Ject Audio Systems turntables developed in collaboration with The Beatles, honoring the 50th anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The groundbreaking album is still one of the most universally acclaimed albums, and both the Pro-Ject 2Xperience SB Sgt. Pepper Limited Edition and Essential III Sgt. Pepper‘s Drum deliver an authentic listening experience in vinyl playback that Beatles fans will appreciate.

The Essential III Sgt. Pepper‘s Drum is based on Pro-Jects audiophile entry level king Essential III, but is decked out with a blue body emblazoned with the iconic Sgt. Pepper Logo seen on the base drum of the original album cover. The main feature of this redesigned classic is Ortofon OM10 needle, aluminum pulley and acrylic platter, MDF chassis and high quality print and new motor control. Available for 499,00€, this turntable is perfect for aspiring vinyl enthusiasts and seasoned audiophiles.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 7.08.01 AM.jpg

The 2Xperience SB Sgt. Pepper Limited Edition is a classic item made with sophisticated materials delivering top quality sound. The turntable platter is built with heavy, non-resonant materials in a precisely balanced sandwich configuration. There are several high-end features including the light-weight record clamp that eliminates all unwanted rumbling and unwanted record vibration. Limited to only 1,000 pieces and retailing at 1399,00€, the 2Xperience SB Sgt. Pepper Limited Edition is collectors must have.

STAX Introduces Flagship Electrostatic EarSpeakers Amplifier

STAX Japan, the leader in electrostatic headphones and amplifiers introduces an all-new flagship EarSpeakers amplifier. The SRM-T8000 is a hybrid construction adopting a double-triode 6922, which is a reputation for high sound quality in the first stage, and a semiconductor of class-A operation for the output stage. The Vacuum tube is a separate board made of vibration-proof damper and shield cover and thorough elimination of vibration and noise. High-capacity large toroidal transformers and other high-quality parts selected carefully are introduced to details. The SRM-T8000 features a unique EXTERNAL (BYPASS) function which passed the volume of this machine and made it possible to adjust the volume with external equipment is installed.

SRM-T8000 will be available in mid-June 2017 with an MSRP of 595,000 yen (approx. $5,338.00 USD) (Source)




  • Frequency characteristics    : 1 to 115 kHz / when using one ear speaker     
  • Harmonic distortion ratio      : 0.01% or less / 1 kHz (when one ear speaker is used )       
  • Degree of amplification     : 60 dB     
  • Rated input level    : 100 mV / 100 V output     
  • Maximum output voltage      : 470 V rms / 1 kHz      
  • Input impedance    : 50 kΩ / 50 kΩ × 2 when balanced
  • Number of inputs      : RCA x 2, XLR x 1 (additional option x 1)
  • Use vacuum tube    : 6922 x 2 books   
  • Power consumption       : 95 W (58 W when option slot is not used)   
  • External dimensions       : 320 (W) x 103 (H) x 360 (D) mm (body) When including knob etc. 395 mm (D)    
  • Weight       : 7.3 kg
Introduction video from Head-Fi.org.

Introduction video from Head-Fi.org.

Astell&Kern launches KANN, a new portable high-resolution audio player

Astell&Kern launches KANN, a new portable high-resolution audio player.  KANN combines the best features of higher-end Astell&Kern players in a new design for $999.  KANN will make its official debut at CamJam SoCal, April 8 – 9, 2017 in the Astell&Kern booth at the JW Marriott Las Angeles L.A. Live.

KANN also adds a number of new options not available on previous generations of Astell&Kern players including dedicated 3.5mm unbalanced/2.5mm balanced headphone out and 3.5mm unbalanced/2.5mm balanced dedicated line out; full-size SD and microSD card slots for additional storage; USB-C connection for faster charging and transfer speeds; larger battery and a built-in headphone amplifier.

Featuring a single AKM AK4490 DAC chipset and 64GB of internal memory, KANN is the first sub $1,000 player from Astell&Kern to support native playback of 32-bit/384kHz high-resolution PCM audio and native playback of DSD audio, up to Quad-rate (DSD256).
Like the Astell&Kern AK300 series player line, KANN includes a Parametric EQ (PEQ), VCXO Reference Clock (Femto Clock) for minimal jitter, AK Connect support, USB DAC function, Wi-Fi connectivity, DLNA networking support, OTA software updates, digital audio output via micro-USB, apt X HD, and support for high-resolution music streaming services including TIDAL, MOOV and Groovers+ (support for streaming services varies by country).
James Lee, CEO of IRIVER, parent company of Astell&Kern said, “"KANN features the best technological advances that we’ve offered since the launch of our first Astell&Kern player five years ago.  This is truly a robust player that adds flagship features at a fraction of the cost.  We feel KANN is an amazing value for people who want the best musical playback experience possible.”

Technical Features:

  • Single AKM AK4490 DAC
  • Native DSD playback up to DSD256 (11.2mHz)
  • PCM audio playback up to 32bit/382kHz
  • Built-in amp with normal/high gain switch: drive the most demanding headphones with ease!
  • Lowest output impedance of any our portable high-res audio players: Single-ended 3.5mm: 0.65Ω / Balanced out 2.5mm: 1.3Ω
  • USB Type-C support (charging & data transfer)
  • Micro USB for USB audio out & USB DAC
  • Dedicated Line Out (2.5mm balanced & 3.5mm single-ended)
  • 64GB internal flash memory
  • Micro SD card support up to 256GB
  • Full size SD card support up to 512GB
  • aptX HD Bluetooth codec support
  • 4" WVGA 800 x 480 LCD touch screen
  • Long battery life: 6,200mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer Battery (up to 14 hours)

KANN will be available in May 2017 for $999 and come in two colors – Astro Silver and Eos Blue. (source)

McIntosh Introduces MXA80 Integrated Audio System

The MXA80 Integrated Audio System is the next generation of the acclaimed MXA70. It maintains the same compact footprint and full functionality while adding support for DSD and DXD digital music files thanks to a new digital-to-analog converter (DAC). 

The MXA80 features a 50 watt stereo amplifier and a pair of specially designed 2-way desktop speakers that achieve a remarkably rich and full bodied level of performance for their size. A total of six inputs – 4 digital and 2 analog – allows for connecting a variety of music sources. The USB input accepts PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 along with DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. Our exclusive MCT input offers a secure DSD connection to enjoy the high definition audio on SACDs when paired with the MCT450 SACD/CD Transport. 
A dedicated headphone amplifier is available for those times when the user wants to listen to their music more intimately. It takes advantage of unique McIntosh technologies so that every headphone yields the best possible personal listening experience. Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) brings added dimension to the music while Power Guard® prevents clipping that could damage the speakers or headphones. A 5 step Bass Boost Control allows for further tonal customization. 

The MXA80's compact size makes it a great audio system for an office, bedroom or vacation house. Combine it with the similarly-sized MB50 Streaming Audio Player and MP100 Phono Preamplifier to form the basis of a complete audio system. The amplifier is housed in a beautiful polished stainless steel chassis that compliments the classic glass front panel, knobs and brushed aluminum end caps; the speakers come with a luxurious, high gloss piano black finish. 
Pricing and AvailabilityWe are now accepting orders for the MXA80 with shipping expected to begin in April.

Suggested retail price (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded): $6,000 USD. (source)

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