Even though the audio show held in Munich each spring is called “High End,” it still offers frugal audiophiles like me plenty to see and hear. High End 2019 didn’t feature a lot of gear at mass-market prices, but it did include many excellent new products that provide high value for their cost. Here are a few of the electronic components that caught my eye for providing interesting features at relatively reasonable prices. All prices are in euros (€) or US dollars ($).
One of the most intriguing products demonstrated for the first time at High End 2019 was Anthem’s latest iteration of its Anthem Room Correction (ARC) software, named Genesis. Genesis offers many new features, including a more advanced user interface and the ability (if the system uses Anthem’s STR Preamplifier or STR Integrated Amplifier) to automatically align the phase of subwoofers with the output of the loudspeakers. Other features include support for both Windows and Mac platforms, more customizable user target curves, full-range room correction adjustable from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, and multiple saved system measurements and profiles (e.g., with and without drapes and screen).
Available now for free download on the Anthem website, ARC Genesis can run on most of the products that support previous versions of ARC. Compatible products include many Anthem surround-sound processors, integrated amplifiers, and preamplifiers, as well as some subwoofers and speakers with powered subwoofer sections from sister companies Paradigm and MartinLogan. At High End 2019, Anthem had many products on hand at a variety of prices that are Genesis compatible, such as the Anthem STR Preamplifier ($3999) shown above and . . .
. . . the MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofer ($799). I can’t wait to get home and try Genesis on my Anthem AVM 60 surround processor and STR Preamplifier.
Auralic’s new Sirius G2 upsampling processor offers users the ability to assemble an advanced, multi-component digital source. It connects between a digital source (such as an Auralic streamer) and any company’s DAC. The idea is that the Sirius G2’s dedicated upconversion will be better than the upconversion provided in the DAC, and can be optimized for the resolution and format in which the DAC sounds best. The Sirius G2 utilizes Auralic’s Proteus G2 Co-Processing Platform, which is a FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) IC with 512MB of DDR3 memory. It also features the company’s bidirectional HDMI-based I2S Lightning Link, which is said to provide jitter-free operation, and also carries system-control data for all linked Auralic devices. Conventional AES/EBU, coax, and TosLink inputs and outputs are also provided; these support up to 24/192 PCM and DoP DSD64. The Sirius G2 will be available in July or August at a price of $6000.
While streaming devices dominated the digital discussion at High End 2019, a few companies, including Ayre, introduced new CD players. The CX-8 features Ayre’s zero-feedback, fully balanced discrete circuitry, and includes . . .
. . . the brand’s Double Diamond output stage. Its optical disc playing capabilities are limited to Red Book CDs -- but no other disc type. The DAC chip is from ESS Technology, but the CX-8 uses a custom Ayre digital filter for ideal time-domain behavior. There are also . . .
. . . AES/EBU and optical S/PDIF outputs available should the user want to connect the CX-8 to an external DAC. The CX-8 also features a custom Ayre digital clock, single-pass 16x oversampling, Ethernet and asynchronous USB inputs, and single-ended and balanced analog outputs. The target date for availability is August, and the price will be around $5000 depending on configuration.
Mola Mola’s Tambaqui DAC is a standalone version of the optional DAC available in its Makua preamplifier. The Roon Ready Tambaqui upsamples all incoming signals to 32-bit/3.125MHz before its dual mono DACs pass off to an analog stage with a claimed signal-to-noise ratio of 130dB. The DAC has only balanced XLR output -- no single-ended RCA output. It also includes a remote control and lossless digital volume control so that it can be used as a basic preamplifier-DAC in a minimalist system. The Tambaqui also has headphone outputs that include 1/4" and four-pin XLR connectors. It supports PCM up to 32-bit/384kHz and DSD256 over USB, and PCM up to 24/192 over the other inputs. Digital inputs include AES/EBU on XLR, coaxial RCA, TosLink, Ethernet, USB Type-B, I2S over HDMI, and Bluetooth.
The Tambaqui sounded excellent in a system with Mola Mola’s Kaluga mono amplifiers and Vivid Kaya 45 speakers. I heard excellent articulation; precise imaging; and deep, tight bass with cuts from both Nicki Minaj and Mahler, although there was considerably less profanity in the latter track. The Tambaqui is available now at a price of €9990.
EMM Labs introduced its new music streamer at High End, the NS1 ($4500). This diminutive network-streaming component features an Ethernet input, and outputs a digital signal through AES/EBU, S/PDIF coaxial, TosLink, and EMM Optilink -- the latter being a big deal with EMM Labs DACs because it offers the best type of connection for them. The resolution maximums are 24-bit/192kHz PCM and DSD64, plus the unit is MQA-capable. Tidal, Qobuz, and Roon compatibility are included.
Senior Contributor, SoundStage!