Gryphon Launches Super-High-End D/A Converter – Gryphon Audio Designs of Denmark is known for ultra-high-end audio components, and their latest Kalliope D/A Converter is a good example. It was designed to stay ahead of technology developments via updating by USB, but presently offers PCM playback up to 384K/32-bit, and DSD up to 6.144 MHz. The Kalliope deploys eight ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC chips in a dual-differential, dual-mono topology, with a fully discrete Class A analog output stage with zero negative feedback. It includes user-selectable PCM and DSD digital roll-off filters. Instead of using USB bus power, the 12.5 Farad SuperCap dedicated power supply of the unit’s USB module acts as a virtual battery, delivering low-noise, stable and regulated power, thus eliminating the computer as a power source altogether. The name of each input may be personally changed. Price is 19,800 Euros.
TAS Survey of Six High-End Headphones – The Absolute Sound review points out that although expensive, all of these stereo headphones sound much better than a pair of loudspeakers in the same price region. They were the Audeze LCD3 ($1945), Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla ($1399), Grado Labs PS100 ($1695), HIFIMAN HE-6 ($1299), Sennheiser HD800 ($1499) and the Stax SR-009 electrostatics ($5250). [I personally continue to swear by my AKG K1000 phones with matching dedicated amp—no longer manufactured.]
The New Audio Geeks – There’s an interesting story in the New York Times that effectively summarizes the many changes in the audio area of the last several years. It mentions how the Internet and digital technology has upended the music industry and dealt a blow to the high-end audio market. It quotes audio journalist Ken Kessler as saying “In the ’60s and ’70s, if you opened up Esquire or Playboy and they showed a bachelor pad, there was a killer sound system in it. Now, there’s an iPod dock.” But it details how many young people are discovering the improved sound of turntables, and how Music Hall Audio even got a clothing store chain to start offering his turntable systems. And how some people who own a house and have disposable incomes are going for pairs of $6000 speakers and other high-end audio gear. One says the iPod has actually created thousands of budding audiophiles. And the physical appearance of gear often supercedes the sonics due to the Apple influence. Thiel speakers, for example, has hired an industrial designer for the first time to ensure its products pass the “aesthetics test.”
Dish Customers Blacked Out in Two Markets – Dish customers in Mankato, MN and Watertown, NY stopped receiving their local CBS and Fox affiliate stations this week due to an ongoing dispute over new TV station carriage contracts. The owner of the four impacted stations blocked its stations from Dish customers “despite ongoing negotiations over new carriage agreements between the two parties.” One of the station managers said the local stations had remained on the Dish lineup under a temporary extension for over two months.