The ol’ email box was hot to trot this week with updates and new products ready to hit the market. As audio starts to prep for the holiday season, the show circuit also revs its engine with Rocky Mountain Audiofest in early October then Capital Audiofest in November. As with all things cyclical, we the hifi faithful find ourselves once again staring down the barrel of another round of eagerly anticipated updates from personal audio favorites Schiit Audio and Astell and Kern – no word yet if the next cycle will jump model numbers straight to “X”.
From Schiit its the 3rd incarnation of their budget (seriously, budget) headphone amplifier Magni that now retails for a mere $99. This standalone amp pairs nicely with the also budget DAC Modi 2 ($99) for a solid Schiit sandwich of separates temping all who want to get a taste of the hobby’s core without all the wallet drainage. The micro-sized amplifier also acts as preamp (with headphone mute) for those interested in a desktop setup with both loudspeakers and headphone capabilities. From the PR release:
“Magni 3 is rated at a full 2W RMS per channel into 32 ohms, thanks to an all-new, fully discrete, fully-complementary current-feedback gain stage, together with a linear power supply with over 6000uF of filter capacitance and a 21VA transformer… Magni 3 features virtually all of the flexibility and cosmetic touches that distinguished the previous Magni 2 Uber from Magni 2—at a price that’s $50 lower. Magni 3 is ready to be a complete desktop control center, with included gain switching, preamp outputs, and automatic preamp output disconnect when headphones are inserted. Magni 3 also features an anodized, brushed aluminum top panel.”
Astell and Kern has three new products debuting at RMAF this year. The first is and update to the AK70 portable player that now makes it AK’s first dual DAC product for under $1k. Sporting Cirrus Logic chips for both left and right channels, the design is intended to “produce a wider soundstage and better stereo separation”. The power output for the headphones has increased to 4.0Vrms to the balanced 2.5mm 4-pole connector. The player is also capable of exporting sound out through the USB connection, allowing users to use the player as a true digital source with a separate DAC taking care of the decoding responsibilities. Expect the new AK70 to be available in October for $699 at retail.
The partnership between Jerry Harvey Audio and Astell and Kern for the JH universal line of IEMs has been launching a steady stream of high performance earphones into the market for a few years now. The latest addition to the Siren Series collection is a entry level model produced in Korea (where AK is based) and utilizes three 3-way balanced armature drivers and Jerry’s FreqPhase technology. The new IEM is called Michelle Limited and comes with two cables, one with a standard 3.5mm termination and a second 2.5mm balanced for connection with devices like AK’s that feature the jack. The Michelle Limited will also debut in October and retail for $399.
Lastly, AK is updating their accessory line with a new CD-Ripper Mk.II ($400). AK has tried to make it easy for legacy audiophile to import their collection of spinning discs with a one-touch CD import option. Files can be saved as either FLAC or WAVE and draw metadata from Gracenote’s data service wirelessly. The new ripper is directly compatible with any WiFi enabled player from Astell and Kern.