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2013 POTYThe SoundStage! Network is proud to announce the 2013 Product of the Year award winners. In total, 13 awards were given in various categories (see below). The SoundStage! Network team will be at CES 2014 in Las Vegas next week to meet with representatives from each company and personally present their awards. Pictures of the award presentations will appear on SoundStage! Global, our specialized site for show reporting and company tours.

The SoundStage! Network’s founder and publisher, Doug Schneider, has written an article this month about the award winners on SoundStage! Hi-Fi, while editor-in-chief, Jeff Fritz, has done the same on SoundStage! Ultra. Congratulations to all the winners!

Pioneering Design Achievement

  • Anthem Statement M1

Aesthetics and Sound

  • Sonus Faber Venere 3.0

Exceptional Value

  • Stereo Loudspeakers: KEF LS50
  • Desktop Loudspeakers: PSB Alpha PS1
  • Integrated Amplifiers -- NAD C 390DD Direct Digital
  • iDevices and Related -- Definitive Technology Sound Cylinder
  • Home-Theater Components -- Axiom Audio ADA-1000
  • Subwoofers -- JL Audio E-Sub e112

Outstanding Performance

  • Power Amplifiers: Gryphon Audio Designs Mephisto
  • Preamplifiers: Simaudio Moon Evolution 740P
  • Stereo Loudspeakers: Magico S5
  • Integrated Amplifiers: Bryston B135 SST2
  • Digital Sources: EMM Labs DAC2X

FurutechFurutech, which is based in Japan, announced that they are celebrating their 25th anniversary by introducing “reworked and improved versions of their very first power connectors.” According to their press release issued on December 1: “The new fresh-looking FI-15 Plus series features a new plating technique which delivers sonic improvements with a more durable finish and newly designed body for firm cable grip and resonance control.”

The two new IEC connectors are called FI-15(R)Plus and FI-15(G)Plus, while the two new AC connectors are called FI-15M(R)Plus and FI-15M(G)Plus. The R and G denote rhodium or gold plating of the pure-copper conductors. R-version connectors sell for $59 USD, while G versions sell for $52. All connectors have nylon/fiberglass main bodies and inner-cover plates, as well polycarbonate cable-damping clamps with stainless-steel screws, and can accommodate wire diameters ranging from 6.6mm to 15mm.

Furutech website

Pathos Logos Mk IITen years after the original Logos integrated amplifier introduction, Pathos, which is based in Vicenza, Italy, has announced the release of the Logos Mk II. The Logos Mk II is a hybrid design utilizing EC88 tubes in its preamp stage and MOSFETs in its class-AB amplifier stage. Power output is said to be 110Wpc into 8 ohms or 220Wpc into 4 ohms. It comes standard with five pairs of unbalanced RCA analog inputs and two pairs of balanced XLR analog inputs. The Logos Mk II is also available with an optional 24-bit/192kHz-capable DAC that has one USB input and two RCA-based S/PDIF inputs. All of the Logos Mk II’s functions can be controlled with the supplied remote control. The Logos Mk II is available now, but the North American price is to be announced.

Pathos website

Meridian PrimeMeridian’s new Prime headphone amplifier's features include: an all-metal extruded chassis; a six-layer circuit board; direct-coupled inputs; a 24-bit/192kHz DAC with separate crystal oscillators for 44.1kHz- and 48kHz-based sources; and preamplifier outputs to drive a power amp or active speakers directly. It also features Analogue Spatial Processing (ASP) technology, which the company says provides a “more immersive, authentic sound to any headphones. Meridian’s advanced ASP transforms headphone listening, providing a more natural spatial soundstage that’s more like listening on loudspeakers.” The Prime is priced at $2000 in the United States and is available through dealers and online via the company’s website.

Meridian website

Magico S3Magico has announced the expansion of its award-winning S-series loudspeaker line with the addition of the S3. The S3 (48”H x 14”D x 12”W, 150 pounds each) is a full-range floorstanding loudspeaker that houses a 1” MB30 tweeter, a 6” M380 midrange, and a pair of 8” hybrid Nano-Tec/aluminum woofers.

According to Magico's CEO and chief designer, Alon Wolf, “By drawing from our technological well and in-house manufacturing capabilities, we are now able to deliver a remarkable value proposition in the S3, one which will become a new benchmark in its category.”

According to Wolf, the S3 shares the same engineering capabilities of its two siblings, the S1 and S5, and sits squarely between them in the line. The S3 uses an acoustic-suspension enclosure, one whose further refinements include a new uniquely designed subenclosure for its midrange. The polycarbonate enclosure utilizes a combination of advanced materials as well as a specially developed shape. Both of these features, when combined, create what is said to be the ideal acoustic properties for a subenclosure in a loudspeaker cabinet.

The S3’s contoured extruded-aluminum cabinet -- said to be the world's largest monocoque enclosure at 16" in diameter with .5"-thick aluminum walls -- minimizes diffraction effects and internal resonance, and adds the correct damping requirements. Structurally, the S3 is mechanically sound and without any weak points. The sensitivity is rated at 88dB while the impedance is 4 ohms. The frequency response is specified at 26Hz-50kHz.

Magico’s November 4 press release summed up the S3 as follows: “As always, the anticipation is high for any new Magico product release. The S3 doesn’t disappoint and is a standout performer, with high-quality ingredients, state-of-the-art driver technology, the most mechanically solid and rigid cabinets, and the most sophisticated crossover network. The elegant S3 is a gifted precision instrument that is available in over a dozen different finishes, thus making it able to deliver a bravura performance while aesthetically fitting in any environment.”

The retail price of the Magico S3 starts at $22,600 USD per pair. Delivery will begin in December 2013.

Magico website

TIAS 2013The SoundStage! Network is proud to announce that we're providing full coverage of the Tokyo International Audio Show, which is being held November 2-4 at the Tokyo International Forum. TIAS 2013 features many great display rooms and products, and is also home to the world premier of Vivid Audio's Giya G4 loudspeaker, which the SoundStage! Network is featuring in the new "Product Debuts" section of SoundStage! Global, our purpose-built site for show reports and company tours. Coverage is happening now and will continue through the remainder of the show.

SoundStage! Global

Anthem MRX 710Anthem Electronics has announced that two models in its next generation of popular MRX A/V receivers -- the MRX 710 and MRX 510 -- are now shipping. Advanced Load Monitoring on the amplifiers means the new models are able to not only work harder, but work harder for longer. Also included is a new version of ARC (Anthem Room Correction), dubbed ARC 1M.

According to Anthem’s October 30 press release, “Ease of integration, a useful and forward-looking feature set with an exciting refined version of Anthem Room Correction (ARC 1M) designed exclusively for this new generation, are part of the offering. Aesthetically, these next-generation models feature a clean, minimalist front panel and well-organized back panel. With IP and RS-232 control, the new lineup boasts an expanded, flexible command set including drivers for popular control systems, as well as remote control apps for Android and iOS (Apple) devices both coming soon. Price, in typical Anthem fashion, once again reflects an extraordinary performance-to-value relationship. The series is set to reinforce the company’s position as a leading provider of affordable high-end A/V receivers.”

With ARC 1M, the software and microphone are included as part of the offering. ARC 1M connects via Ethernet and enjoys a higher level of digital signal processing and offers users the option to print “before and after” room-measurement graphs.

Advanced Load Monitoring (ALM) was designed to keep a constant “eye on output.” An overheating protection and cooling system, ALM features “a unique extruded-aluminum heatsink tunnel. Voltage across the output stage and current through the output stage are constantly monitored to keep output transistors within their safe operating area as a function of time. In extreme situations, where speaker impedance is very low and the music level is very high, the amplifier will shut down to protect itself. The heatsink tunnel is driven by a fan. Inside the tunnel, temperature is monitored. During normal operation, the tunnel’s temperature will be below the threshold at which the fan needs to turn on. In demanding situations, where the temperature rises above an initial threshold, the fan comes on at low speed. If the temperature rises above the second threshold, the fan moves into high speed. This allows the amplifier not only to work harder, but for longer periods, without the need for shutdown.”

Power output for the MRX 710 is reported to be 120Wpc (two channels driven) or 90Wpc (five channels driven). The MRX 510 is rated at 100Wpc (two channels driven) or 75Wpc (five channels driven). The MRX 710 retails for $1999 USD, while the MRX 510 is $1599. The forthcoming MRX 310 is estimated to be $1199 when it becomes available in January 2014.

Anthem website

Gryphon KalliopePremiered in late prototype form at the 2013 Munich High End show, the Gryphon Audio Designs Kalliope digital-to-analog converter is now shipping.

The Kalliope’s digital circuit boards employ a modular layout for easy access to future upgrades. Firmware updates will be available via USB, we were told. Flemming E. Rasmussen, Gryphon’s founder and president, elaborates: “We designed the Kalliope to be a moving target in the rapid evolution of ultra-high-resolution digital audio. For once, hardware seems to be out in front of software, as the Kalliope offers playback of digital PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD up to 6.144MHz. This is an exciting time to be in audio and we can hardly wait for more well-recorded, interesting music to appear in these ultra-hi-rez formats. I think music lovers will be startled when they finally experience the untapped potential of Gryphon amplifiers and loudspeakers.”

The Kalliope deploys multiple ESS Sabre ES9018 DACs in a dual-differential, dual-mono topology capable of full 32-bit processing. The heavily regulated, fully discrete, class-A analog output stage employs zero negative feedback and offers both balanced XLR and single-ended RCA outputs.

The 12.5-farad SuperCap power supply of the Kalliope USB module acts as a virtual battery, delivering low-noise and stable, regulated power, eliminating the computer as a power source altogether. The Kalliope will accept digital resolutions of 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192, 352.8 and 384kHz at up to 32 bits, and DSD via USB (DoP) at 2.822, 3.072, 5.644 and 6.144MHz. Other features include user-selectable PCM and DSD digital filters; user-selectable, asynchronous PCM sample-rate conversion; first-order PCM analog filters and second-order DSD analog filters with silvered Mica capacitors; and true class-A, fully discrete analog circuitry with zero negative feedback.

The price of the Kalliope is €19,800 plus local taxes.

Gryphon Audio Designs website

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