Sound studio

New equipment for the new year

CES 2022 closed a day early with less than half the number of exhibitors and a fraction of the attendees you would normally expect. Even so, the show was still a launching pad for important innovations and A/V product announcements – especially in the TV/display realm – although, truth be told, CES is far from the end. , be-all A/V shows it once was. And it’s been like that for a long time. I bring this up because in recent years we still had a lot of CES news to write about a week after the show, but that’s not the case in 2022 – a situation made worse by what turned out to be a significantly reduced event. Show or no show, A/V manufacturers continue to produce new products despite ongoing component shortages, shipping delays and, now, rising inflation. Here’s a look at some of the latest A/V news and product announcements, including two from the Big Show that weren’t.

HiFiMan revives popular planar magnetic headphones

New York’s HiFiMan enters its 15th year in business with an update to one of its most popular open-back planar magnetic headphones, the Edition X.

The new XS Edition ($499) includes a handful of technical and ergonomic upgrades designed to improve audio performance and comfort, starting with the use of stealth magnet technology originally developed for Susvara headphones. $6,000 from the company.

The uniquely shaped stealth magnets are said to improve detail and transparency by “drastically reducing wave diffraction turbulence” caused by standard magnets. The XS headphones have also been upgraded with HiFiMan’s Neo “supernano” diaphragm, which is 75% thinner than previous models, resulting in “ultra-fast response for detailed sound output without noticeable distortion”. .

On the ergonomic side, improvements include a new lightweight headband filled with high quality memory foam to ensure long lasting elasticity and a comfortable fit. The Edition XS headset weighs just over 14 ounces and comes with a detachable and replaceable cable terminated with standard 3.5mm connectors. Revised specs include a nominal impedance of 18 ohms, sensitivity of 92 dB, and bandwidth of 8 Hz to 50 kHz.

“The X edition has been one of our greatest successes,” said HiFiMan CEO Dr. Fang Bian. “I knew that if I was going to bring it back to the market, it would require demonstrable improvements to the sound signature of the original. Thanks to stealth magnet technology, skilled tracking is now a reality.

For more information, visit store.hifiman.com.

AudioControl’s DSP-powered subwoofer amps are bass customization wonders

AudioControl, the Seattle-based company specializing in automotive and home audio electronics for 45 years, has announced the availability of its new DSP-powered RS Series subwoofer amplifiers.

Considered the ultimate bass boost solution for any application, the RS 500 500-watt ($1490) and RS 1000 1000-watt ($1890) mono amplifiers are designed to deliver continuous power up to 2 ohms and offer a host of sophisticated features to help system builders dial in the bass.

Each amplifier is equipped with a six-band graphic equalizer (EQ), eight-band parametric equalizer, phase and delay controls, adjustable crossover with subsonic filter, and high-end optimization profiles. -Built-in speakers developed in partnership with Origin Acoustics, Monitor Audio, Triad, Dynaudio and several other companies that make “architectural” in-wall/in-ceiling speakers. Profiles based on critical performance data provided by partner loudspeaker companies can be accessed through the amplifier’s onboard DSP and tailored to the acoustics of a specific installation; the resulting profile can then be stored in software.

Both amplifiers offer a generous selection of inputs, including balanced, unbalanced (2), LFE and speaker-level (2) connections. They also support IP and IR control as well as loop through outputs with an optional high pass filter. And unlike many A/V products today, the RS 500 and RS 1000 are made in the USA. For more information, visit audiocontrol.com.

Rotel goes old school with new amps and CD players

Without a doubt, CDs are outdated – unless you have a few hundred classics that you like to listen to from time to time. Recognizing this fact, the Japanese Rotel today presented two new CD players and a corresponding integrated amplifier.

The CD14MKII ($899) and RCD-1572MKII ($1,099) players are built around a new CD controller chipset and 32-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC), in addition to a mechanical improved CD player and critically tuned acoustic components. Both models provide analog RCA outputs and a coaxial digital output, allowing the player to be used as a CD transport with an external DAC. For the additional $200, the RCD-1572MKII adds a balanced XLR output.

Continuing the old-school audio theme, the A12MKII ($1,099) integrated amp is largely devoid of streaming options, though it’s Roon Tested certified and supports aptX-compatible Bluetooth streaming. Instead, the focus is on audio performance as it uses the same DAC used in CD players along with a new digital processor and chipset for its digital interface. The Class AB amplifier section, which Rotel says has been significantly improved, is designed to deliver 2 x 60 watts of continuous power into 8 ohms or 120 watts/channel maximum into 4 ohms with total harmonic distortion (THD) less than 0.018%.

Connections on the A12MKII include a moving magnet phono input, four analog RCA inputs, four digital inputs (two coaxial and two optical), pre-out jacks, and a PC-USB port that supports resolutions up to at 32bit/384kHz.

According to Rotel, all new models benefit from innovations and improvements in circuit design, improvements in critical audio components, a refined power supply and new isolation techniques designed to reduce noise and noise. distortion.

“Rotel engineers have leveraged over 60 years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations to develop these exceptional MKII models,” said Daren Orth, Chief Technology Officer. “We have used Michi, Rotel and Tribute technologies, ensuring the new MKII models achieve the performance befitting of this iconic brand as we celebrate our anniversary.” For more information, visit rotel.com.

Qobuz launches the Duo offer: 1 subscription, 2 accounts

Qobuz, the Paris-based high-resolution (hi-res) music streaming and downloading service, is ringing in the new year with a new savings plan that allows you to create two accounts under the same subscription.

But there is a catch…

The people attached to the accounts must live under the same roof. The Duo option is offered as an option for the Studio Premier plan which offers unlimited streaming and the Sublime plan which offers unlimited streaming and discounted downloads.

Pricing for Studio Premier Duo is $17.99/month or the equivalent of $14.99/month when you make a one-time annual payment of $179.88. Studio Premier Solo and Studio Premier Family plans are also available. Studio Solo is $12.99/month or the equivalent of $10.83/month when you make a one-time annual payment of $129.96. Studio Family is $21.90/month or the equivalent of $17.99/month when you make a one-time annual payment of $215.88. For those paying attention and not yet lost, the Studio Duo plan offers a savings of $5/month over a Studio Solo plan or $4.16/month if you choose the one-time payment option.

The price of Studio Sublime Duo is the equivalent of $22.49/month with a one-time annual payment of $269.88. Studio Sublime Solo and Studio Sublime Family plans are also available. Sublime Solo is $15/month with a one-time annual payment of $180. Sublime Family equals $29.17/month with a one-time annual payment of $350.04. The Sublime Duo plan offers a savings of $7.49/month (annual one-time payment only) compared to the Sublime Solo one-time payment plan.

As with all Qobuz subscription plans, Duo subscribers have unlimited access to a catalog of more than 70 million titles available in high resolution or CD quality depending on the release.

For more information on the Qobuz Studio Premier subscription plans, click on here. To learn more about Studio Sublime packages, click here.

Qobuz also announces the appointment of Wayne Coyne, leader of the alternative rock band Flaming Lips, as the first spokesperson for “artist-approved sound.” Read Mike Mettler’s 2019 interview with Coyne here. See also Qobuz Redux.