Auralic may be relatively new to the scene, but the hifi audio company has already churned out a few impressive components for both digital and personal audio. Its oft-talked about VEGA DAC and Taurus MkII headphone amplifier have recently made the reviewer rounds with great success. CEO Xuanqian Wang even made the long flight out to Colorado to show off his latest and greatest wares in person.
With both the VEGA and Taurus making guest appearances in multiple locations/rigs across RMAF, the far side of Wang’s table located in CanJam was designated entirely for his new personal audio DAC/Amp creation. The Gemini 2000 & 1000 take root in a Klutz Design headphone stand. Xuanqian has hollowed out the base and added everyones favorite electronic bits to form an entirely new component that we didn’t even know we needed – card reader, DAC, stand and headphone amplifier in one.
Both Geminis feature a 4 pin balanced and SE jack for headphones, although only the 2000 will offer fully balanced output. For such a small footprint, the stand actually offers a wide variety of inputs including optical, SCXC card reader and USB. The component’s USB connection is compatible with both PC/MAC and android-based devices. Both models feature class “A” amplifiers with 2000mW output for the Gemini 2000 and 1000mW output for the Gemini 1000. The DAC can handle up to 32 bit 384KS/s PCM via USB as well as DSD64 and DSD128. I like to see manufactures literally think outside the box, great idea here.
In ear monitors had a substantial presence on the CanJam floor with many companies unveiling new products in both custom and universal variations. Alpha Design Labs recently released their take on the over-the-ear headphone with the H118 and corresponding X1 portable DAC/Amp. New to the lineup was the universal fit EH008 IEM they had on display at CanJam. The new in-ear will feature dual dymanic drivers and is launching around the first of the year, price is TBD. The smooth stylings and a carbon-fiber shell give this latest ear speaker a solid start to progress from.
Westone has been getting rave reviews for its top of line customs as of late. Tyll Hertzens of Inner Fidelity listed the ES5 ($950) it as one of his favorites from a very large CIEM shootout posted on his site. Not merely limited to custom in-ears, Weston also has an extensive line of universal fit monitors that fill out their product line. They had their new audiophile-oriented universal W10,W20,W30 IEMs all on display at CanJam in addition to the top-of-the-line W40.
Even though these IEMs were tucked into the far end of the row next to Astell and Kern, the bling they brought to the table was undeniable. New to the US, the company that manufactures these metallic beauties is called Final Audio Designs and their product line is already quite robust. The Piano Forte series pictured above features a single dynamic driver in Copper, Stainless Steel or Brass casing. Their IEM line extends even further with the Adagio (dynamic driver) and Heaven (balanced armature) lines. Also featured at the show was their current around-the-ear Pandora headphone and a new prototype.
Final audio wasn’t the only IEM team with a little bling on the show floor. Aurisonics demo of their flagship AS2 looked as if it had been dipped in liquid gold. The AS2 features the same full-range dynamic driver that is utilized in the company’s cheaper AS1 model, but also incorporates a pair of BA tweeters to extend the highs. Both custom IEMs are also available in universal fit versions.
Violectric has been featured in in some of the more international blogs, but stateside exposure has been relatively quiet. The germany-based company is now firming up North American distribution for their desktop DAC and headphone amplifiers so expect to hear even more about their fairly wide set of offerings.
Not to be glossed over by all the glitz and glamour of the Woo 234 mono blocks, Jack Wu also unveiled a interesting add-on to the WA7 Fireflies on the CanJam floor. While the casing is still in prototype form, the box pictured on the left is a new tube power supply option for the DAC/headphone amplifier.