Guys Night Out in Atlanta!

HiFi Buys (3157 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta) will host the inaugural Guys’ Night Out event—an evening of cars, cigars, craft whiskeys, hi-fi presentations, and luxury showcases, with a focus on creating unforgettable, high-quality experiences.

Featured hi-fi brands include Audio Research Corporation, Ayre Acoustics, Brinkmann Audio, PrimaLuna, and AudioQuest. Participating luxury brands and establishments include Buckhead Cigar, Groomed Buckhead Barber, Hennessy Jaguar of Atlanta, Land Rover of Buckhead, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars of Atlanta, Hublot Watches, and Meehan’s Public House.

Guests will have the opportunity to receive a complimentary hot shave and enjoy cigars in a comfortable outdoor lounge. Delicious hors d’oeuvres, a selection of fine wine and spirits, and a sampling of local craft beers will be served.

Admission and parking are free, and, despite the event’s name, all are welcomed to attend. (HiFi Buys’ inaugural Girls’ Night Out is scheduled for later this year!)

For more information, visit or

Q&A with Marine Presson, General Manager, T.H.E. Show Newport 2016

Amidst the hectic planning for 2016’s T.H.E. Show Newport starting June 3, General Manager Marine Presson took time out to talk with us about the coming event. Read her advice for first time attendees, planned highlights of the coming show, and Newport’s future direction with the tragic loss of event founder Richard Beers earlier this year.

TONEAudio: How did you first get involved with T.H.E. Show Newport?

PRESSON: I met Richard while working at the Atrium Hotel in 2011 and as the Conference Service Manager during the 2014 show, he was impressed with my work ethic and personable demeanor. Along with others, I believed his graphic advertising could use a touch of class and breathing room so I would always tell him to hire me as his Graphic Designer and shortly after the event, he did! In 2015, that was my ‘official’ role but as we grew closer professionally and personally, he started talking about me taking over and light-heartedly introducing me as the GM to some. Initially, I told him he was nuts! But what I didn’t realize at the time, is he already knew of his failing health and wasn’t joking at all. He saw someone that could do what he did and so he taught me everything possible during that short time. He became very sick immediately after the 2015 show and that’s when I began slowly taking over more and more of his tasks. A few days following the New Year, he was in the hospital incapacitated so I made the decision to take over entirely for the simple purpose of continuing his legacy as I knew that even if he recovered, it wouldn’t be in time to pull off this show.

TONEAudio: What makes T.H.E. Show Newport special compared with other audio events around the U.S./World?

PRESSON: Richard built this Show with a focus on making everyone involved – exhibitors, attendees, press, entertainers, etc. – feel like they were part of THE Show family and inviting all to join; this is why “Open to the Public” is noted on nearly all advertising we do. He was open to feedback and suggestions, always implementing positive changes that would further grow the event making it more successful each year, and keeping everyone happy. As I move forward with his legacy, it is my goal to continue creating opportunities for friendships and business connections as well as making it a fun, high-energy event that people can feel excited for. Essentially, it’s a big family party where business can thrive.

Marine Presson THE Show Newport

Presson (right) and teammates at T.H.E. Show registration 2015

TONEAudio: Compared with past Newport shows, what makes 2016’s event a must-attend?

PRESSON: First—it will be host to Richard Beers’s official and only memorial so we encourage everyone to join us in celebrating his life on Friday evening, June 3rd in T.H.E. Lounge.  Secondly—we are also putting more emphasis on the personal listening market and expect to see more young faces than ever before, a necessity for the survival of the audio industry in general.

TONEAudio: What advice would you give a first-time attendee?

PRESSON: Purchase your tickets ahead of time and bring your confirmation email to ensure a smooth onsite registration experience.  Utilize the tabs in the event guide to navigate your “show attack” – find exhibitors on our alphabetical listing, or use the maps as you walk the halls to find your favorite companies.  Enter your name in every raffle box and join us for the drawing on Sunday to win big prizes!  Isn’t everything so much more fun when you walk away with a prize?  When you need some down time, head over to T.H.E. Lounge to enjoy some amazing live music, grab a drink and recharge your batteries – or take advantage of the lively energy to network with great people.

TONEAudio: We are all shocked and saddened by the passing of Richard Beers, and understand this year’s event is dedicated to his memory. What is your own favorite memory of Richard?

PRESSON: Everyone knows Richard was rarely on time – I got married just before last year’s show on May 15th and being the loving father figure he was to me, made it a point to be on time for the ceremony. It was very special for me. His humor, intelligence, and down-to-earth personality made for countless memorable conversations late into the night that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Richard Beers Newport

Richard Beers 1949-2016

TONEAudio: What do you think Richard would most like for all of us to remember about him?

PRESSON: Every discussion with Richard involved laughs – no matter the situation, there was always at minimum a good chuckle.  He was a high-spirited, funny, hard working, and generous warrior.  T.H.E. Show was his #1 priority and even through his failing health, he gave it his all. Failure was never option, he was going to take care of everyone as long as he physically could—and he did.

TONEAudio: What do you see as the future of T.H.E. Show? How will it grow or change over time?

PRESSON: There are still a lot of details to consider for the future but the bottom line is, I am dedicated to ensuring Richard’s legacy lives on. I will make every effort to ensure growth in a warm, friendly, and productive manner.  Being of a younger age than many in the industry, I’m fully embracing my advantage of reaching Generation Y, the Millenniums – they are our future and it’s my personal goal to introduce them to the amazing experiences the audio community has to offer.

TONEAudio: What is your favorite part of managing a large-scale event like this?

PRESSON: When Richard first introduced the possibility of me taking over in 2018, I was hesitant because it seemed like an overwhelming lifestyle. When I got my feet wet, and then completely submerged in this lifestyle the last few months, I fell in love with the role. He was right—it’s the perfect gig for me! Why? Because just like him, I enjoy doing a lot and especially in a fast-paced setting (some of us are just crazy like that!). I thoroughly enjoy being challenged on a day-to-day basis, planning and coordinating, and more importantly I love taking care of people and contributing to their successes.  I am the type of person that thrives in these ‘overwhelming’ situations and the rewarding feeling of completing an even successfully is priceless—for lack of better words.

TONEAudio: What do you find the most challenging element?

PRESSON: All aspects are challenging; you’re trying to make thousands of people happy—it’s nearly impossible to please every single person. But the most challenging this year specifically has been the feeling of loneliness. The wondering of ‘who’s here to help me and who’s here to help themselves?’ I’m still learning who the big players are, how everyone contributes differently, and putting together the pieces of the puzzle that were solely in Richard’s head. Next year will no doubt be less painful!

TONEAudio: When you are not working hard on show planning, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

PRESSON: Spending time with my family and pets—a lab mix, puggle, and senior cat keep me busy! My husband, Wess and I moved to Colorado last June to increase our outdoor opportunities—hiking, fishing, and sunbathing to name a few are musts!  Having been born & raised in France, I’m naturally a foodie so I absolutely love dining out and cooking. And lastly—reading is my therapy.

T.H.E. Show Newport

TONEAudio: Is there anything else you want TONEAudio readers to know about the event?

PRESSON: The mission for 2016 is to maintain as much authenticity as possible. We are keeping a lot of the same from vendors to operations and mostly everything in between (with some fixes to efficiency leaks). That being said, as I discover more about the industry and event itself, I will be making whatever changes are necessary to improve the event and I am game for all that will contribute positivity to the audio community—feedback is always welcome and encouraged; it is only through understanding what you want that we can continuously expand on our successes.
Starting early May, we’ll be launching our Exhibitor Spotlight so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

On a final note, we’d love to hear your favorite memories of Richard, please share them on his guestbook and be sure to RSVP for his official memorial taking place Friday, June 3rd at T.H.E. Show Newport.

Find out more about T.H.E. Show Newport on their webpage

GamuT RS5i Speakers

I’m confessing an honest bias when I mention that I fell in love with GamuT speakers about six years ago and have been using their top of the line S9 as a reference speaker for the last five.

With the perfect balance (for me, anyway) of dynamics, extension and coherence combined with a highly musical tonality, they tick all the boxes. But they are massive and need a large room to give their top performance. They also feature a hefty price tag, around $120,000. The new RS5i shaves the size to something more compatible with a wider range of rooms, and a much lower price, $33,990. Still not inexpensive, but more approachable, to be sure.

GamuT’s new RSi speakers build on all the strengths of the S series, and while the cabinets look the same from the outside, everything is different from the cabinet construction, to the drivers, including the internal wiring. No stone was left unturned to wring even more performance from these fine loudspeakers.

Every aspect of these speakers exhibits fanatical attention to detail, reflecting the precision and pride of their construction. This 2 ½ way speaker is claimed +/- 3db from 26hz to 60khz and while I no longer possess the canine hearing to hear 60k anymore, our Stereophile test disc confirms 30hz with ease and very usable output when playing 25hz and 20hz tones, though by 20hz, the output is dropping more dramatically. This was where my S9s had the advantage. Still these are impressive results for modest sized floorstanders, weighing in a just a touch over 100 pounds utilizing a 7-inch woofer with a woodfibre cone with the signature GamuT wood dust cap and a 7-inch sliced paper cone midwoofer, impregnated with GamuT’s proprietary oil. The highs are taken care of with their ring radiator tweeter with the system features an overall sensitivity of 88db.

The RS5i does not reach quite the level of dynamic slam as the much bigger S9, but in many ways the new speaker betters even the old flagship. Already great to begin with, the sheer coherence that the new speakers exhibit, along with greater ability to define minute detail and spatial cues take the presentation to a much higher level of performance than the previous S series. And they were damn good to being with. When not listening to music with overbearing energy beneath 30hz, the RS5i comes out on top. These are definitely the speakers I’m going to retire with…

Sonic performance aside, the RS5is are stunning to behold. Kvist Industries of Denmark is a financial partner of GamuT and they are known for producing the world’s finest (and most expensive) furniture featuring classic Danish style. The RS5is cabinets utilize 22 separate layers of wood, formed into shape with high pressure at such a high temperature, that the natural glue in the wood fiber melts together, to produce a uniform cabinet that retains its shape when the heat and pressure is removed. The RS5i is available in the matte black Onyx finish that you see with our review pair, as well as Ivory, Ruby and Maroon.

Those curious about the wooden dust caps on the cones, need not worry that they are for aesthetic reasons alone. These wooden caps are individually sorted to maintain weight and density and it works to enlarge the contact point between the voice coil former and cone with the additional benefit of stiffening the cone at the same time.

One critical aspect to setup

The GamuT RS5is, just like the other GamuT speakers we’ve reviewed are extremely easy to drive, and even though they have a sensitivity of 88db, can be driven to decent level even with a 20wpc amplifier – tube or solid state. They are not only one of the most amplifier friendly speakers we’ve used; they are also one of the most cable friendly speakers we’ve used. Trying a range of cable from Cardas, Nordost, AudioQuest and Shunyata, all had slightly different tonal characters, but none were outright bad.

My only suggestion because of the larger than normal screw terminals that are featured on the RS5i (and other GamuT speakers as well) is to get your speaker cables re-terminated for bi wiring with bananas. This is the easiest way to get the most performance from these speakers.

As with most loudspeakers, I like to adjust the speakers in the room for smoothest bass response and then fine tune for the best balance of LF extension, mid bass smoothness and maximum stereo imaging without the soundfield falling apart. However, the GamuT speakers need attention paid to one more parameter to achieve the maximum effect – attention to the rake angle. The finely threaded adjusters in the stainless steel speaker base allow easy fine adjustments. Once the rake angle is tuned to perfection, it’s exactly like nailing VTA on a fine phono cartridge; the speakers then disappear into the room.

The way large GamuT speakers disappear in the room like a fine minimonitor has always been one of their finest achievements. Once optimized, they not only disappear, but their other strength becomes instantly apparent. The crossover network on the RS5i blends the drive units seamlessly, with the midwoofer going from about 200hz all the way up to almost 8khz, and according to the RS5s designer with linear phase response to this point as well.

Yes, rake angle is critical to wring the utmost performance out of the GamuT RS5i, but optimizing these speakers brings an additional benefit. The better they are adjusted for on axis performance, the better they sound in other room positions. These are definitely “full couch speakers.” Unlike any of my favorite electrostatic speakers, that only deliver their best performance to one person in the middle of the couch, the RS5is sound awfully good no matter where you are sitting on the listening couch, and never fail to impress, even when sitting on the floor, well off axis. Everyone at the party can enjoy these speakers.

Finely tuned

The smoothness in Princes voice on “Damn U” is rendered in my listening room exquisitely with a proper sense of height, never overblown, and the separation between Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s vocal tracks in the classic “Where is the Love?” is simply amazing. These speakers exhibit a level of timbral realism that is uncanny, especially with vocals and acoustic instruments.

Many speaker manufacturers strive to damp every bit of resonance from the loudspeaker enclosure, so the only sound being produced is that of the individual drivers and crossover network. GamuT takes a different approach, tuning the enclosure, utilizing minimal damping material, working with the cabinet’s natural resonant properties, much like the approach taken by a fine acoustic guitar or violin. As GamuT’s Michael Vamos points out, “All of that energy absorbed by damping materials is converted into heat and lost dynamic punch. We feel that our way of doing things is what gives our speakers such a realistic, lifelike presentation.”

The RS5is are not limited to any particular type of music, proving just as faithful to solo vocals and acoustic instruments as they are to heavy rock, electronica or hip hop. Chuck D’s voice is particularly haunting, spinning the Public Enemy classic Yo! Bum Rush the Show, and the tire squeals bounce back and forth from speaker to speaker, sounding as if the car is right outside. Yet the cannons at the end of AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” punch straight to the gut, with my Pass Xs300 monos pushed to their limits, meters bouncing.

Driving ease

In the context of a full GamuT system, featuring the D3i preamplifier we reviewed in issue 70 and the M250i monoblocks that we are almost finished reviewing, the sound is clear, dynamic and tonally inviting. Obviously the GamuT electronics are an excellent match, but I also achieved excellent, yet slightly different results with electronics from Audio Research, Conrad-Johnson, Nagra, Pass Labs and Simaudio. As I have purchased the review units for a permanent reference, they will most likely spend their time with the Robert Koda K-10 preamplifier and Pass Xs300 monos. (Though the RS5is were also used with the XA160.8 monoblocks as well)

GamuT takes the same lossless approach with the RS5is crossover network as they do with the enclosure. Some speakers have highly complex networks; that while doing an excellent job at harmonizing the drivers, soak up a lot of amplifier power. This usually requires a high-powered amplifier with high damping factor to give the best performance. While the RS5s certainly play louder with big amplifiers, they still deliver excellent performance with as little as 20 watts per channel.

The high degree of resolution that the RS5is bring to the table makes it incredibly easy for you to discern between component and cable choices, so fine-tuning the GamuT speakers exactly to your liking will be easy. During the course of this review, I auditioned AudioQuest, Cardas, Chord and Nordost cable, with all having very distinct sonic signatures, ranging from slightly laid back to slightly forward. I was able to achieve the same distinctions with the different electronics mentioned above.

Even with a more forward sounding system, the RS5is have such a natural tonal rendition, they will never feel as if they are grating on your ears, and even after long listening sessions never prove fatiguing – making them excellent reference speakers. Think of it more like seating placement; using them with warmer, more forgiving equipment and cables puts you further back in the hall and more revealing, nuanced gear and cable closer to the front five rows of the hall. Your preference, room and careful auditioning will determine the correct mix for you.

Rounding out the picture

Interestingly, the real strength of the GamuT RS5i speakers is their chameleon like ability to reveal whatever is connected to them, and the nuance of whatever music they are called upon to reproduce. This is a speaker that may not grab you as quickly as one with a more tilted frequency response. The more music you listen to, the more special they become. As with the larger S9, the GamuTs get out of the way, becoming little more than a conduit to the music served up, and that’s the highest compliment I can pay them. I’ve heard a few speakers slightly more dynamic, and only my Quads deliver slightly more coherence and detail, yet they throw a much bigger soundstage in all three dimensions. The RS5i’s are tough to beat in overall performance.

A call to action

As I said at the beginning of this review; I’m biased towards the GamuT speakers, they offer everything I personally enjoy in a pair of speakers, in abundance. But as I mentioned in last issue’s publisher’s letter, you should never buy anything just because I think it’s awesome. However, I can’t suggest the GamuT RS5i speakers highly enough and I’ve put my money where my mouth is – I’ve purchased the review pair. At the recent Newport Beach audio show my old boss, TAS editor Robert Harley mentioned the smaller version of these speakers, the RS3i as one of his favorites at the show, and Robert is a tough cookie when it comes to this kind of thing.

Should you take the time to audition a pair of GamuT RSi series speakers, I truly hope you enjoy them as much as I do. They are our choice for Speaker of the Year in our upcoming awards issue.

The GamuT RS5i Speakers



Digital Source                        dCS Paganini Stack, Gryphon Kalliope DAC

Analog Source            AVID Acutus Reference SP/SMEV/Clearaudio Goldfinger

Phonostage                Simaudio MOON LP810/820S power supply

Preamplifiers             Audio Research GSPRE, GamuT D3i, Robert Koda K-10,

Pass Labs XsPre

Power Amplifiers      Audio Research GS150, GamuT M250i monoblocks, Pass Labs Xs 300 monoblocks

Cable                          Cardas Clear

Power                         IsoTek Super Titan

GamuT D3i Dual Mono Preamplifier

Denmark’s GamuT has a reputation for incorporating the best parts into beautiful chassis. But as with many of its products, it is the details of the company’s new D3i preamplifier that make it a standout.

GamuT’s engineers are highly skilled designers with backgrounds in psychoacoustics—which basically means that they’re focused on aesthetics and physics, and that they spend a lot of time fine-tuning using their ears, as well as test equipment.

As with artfully designed Danish furniture, the casing of the D3i offers beautiful, understated elegance. Its brushed-aluminum front panel comes in a choice of silver or black, and the body is black regardless of faceplate choice. The top of the unit features two sets of vents for heat dissipation, with a series of oval slits toward the rear of the case and a forward set of vents spelling out the company’s name. At about 4 inches tall, 17 inches wide, and 16.5 inches deep, the unit is rack friendly; and it weighs 26.5 pounds. Supporting the unit’s heft are four specially designed feet, which help isolate the chassis and sensitive internal components from unwanted vibration.  The power switch is hidden just beneath the front panel.

Two huge machined knobs rotate to set the source and volume, while three dime-sized buttons across the center of the unit control the illumination level, home-theater bypass, and mute. To help navigate the options, a control panel window resides in the middle of the faceplate and small blue indicators beneath it identify the selections. The unit comes with a remote that offers control of other GamuT products, should an owner have them in the chain. For those not requiring the home theater bypass function, the CD input can be configured as a regular input, controlled by the volume control, but the functionality must be activated on the rear panel.

The D3i is a solid-state preamp designed in a dual-mono configuration, with the left and right channels functioning independently. Even beyond circuitry, each side has its own power supply—which results in extremely clean playback.

Getting Started

As with most preamps, the setup process entails simply attaching the power cord and interconnects. It offers a mix of RCA and Neutrik XLR inputs to facilitate linestage functionality: Four sets of RCA unbalanced connections are labeled for tape, tuner, home theater bypass, and RIAA—the latter of which is accompanied by a grounding post, making the D3i turntable-ready with the owner’s choice of outboard phonostage. And a set of balanced inputs is available for a CD player. Several output choices enable connection to the preferred power amplifier: two sets of balanced outputs, a single set of RCA outs, and a pair of Tape Out RCAs for those connecting directly to a recording device.

Even before burn-in, the GamuT is not overly warm or romantic, but very pleasantly relaxed. The organic-sounding playback does not command attention by bloating, magnifying, or over-accentuating sonic elements. It’s rather like sitting six rows back from the stage at an unplugged musical performance, without the sonic degradation of the lower-quality audio equipment used at many amplified-music venues. These attributes prove beguiling and consistent regardless of the music type or recording quality.

Sonic Impressions

Defying the band’s low-fi punk roots, Fugazi’s album 13 Songs rarely sounds this good. Because the D3i’s sound is so natural, it’s easy to settle into the music and forget about the preamp. Music simply floats out into the room with an enticing sense of ease. This preamp presents vocals with solid and upfront imaging, reinforcing the illusion of a live performance. Cymbals twinkle with a complex mix of texture and frequency. Horns avoid a bright edginess, gathering instead a refined and emotional element, as experienced in Miles Davis’s album ’Round About Midnight. String instruments offer a similarly detailed and realistic-sounding pluck or strum, or draw of the bow. And piano notes are delivered with both firm plunk and delicate decay.

With the D3i, GamuT manages to create a sense of depth that places instruments toward the back of the soundstage, seemingly behind the rear wall, with the left-to-right soundstage exceeding the physical boundaries of the speakers when tracks pan to the extremes. At the same time, musical elements remain realistically conveyed. For example, Jeff Buckley’s voice during his rendition of “Hallelujah” emits from a seemingly human-sized source; it’s not stretched out artificially to fill space between speakers. On top of that, his vocal crescendos are free from the wince factor that the hard edge of some preamps can create.

Despite the musical ease described above, D3i does not compromise bass definition or drum punch. Taught, low notes have no problem reaching out to vibrate a listening seat. Kick drum, snare, toms and bongos have realistic tonal flavor with appropriate impact and texture, but without an eye-blinking level of magnification. Combining all these marvelous attributes, the D3i leaves itself open for little criticism.

Stellar Performer

The GamuT D3i ranks among the best preamps I’ve had the privilege to experience as part of my own reference system. After spending a few weeks with the unit, I’ve found that it brings out all the detail and presentation I enjoy, but without sonic edge or detrimental artifacts. It portrays music with an organic and natural ease that makes it easy to settle in for long listening sessions. Plus, as a solid-state component, tubes never need to be replaced. Simply turn it on and let it work its magic. And it is home-theater ready should the owner choose to add more channels.

The only barrier for a potential D3i owners is its lack of an onboard phonostage, should you be so inclined. However, GamuT will be offering an onboard phonostage later this year and the price will still be under $10k. If you find yourself trying to justify the investment of a D3i, here’s one way of thinking about it: For many dedicated audiophiles, flipping equipment is a regular habit. Over time, the losses associated with the trades add up. Those seeking a long-term companion, while other audio sources and amps rotate around it, may find the GamuT D3i to be an ideal choice.

GamuT D3i Dual Mono Preamplifier

MSRP: $8,250

Major Update to AVID Acutus Reference Turntable!

My favorite turntable has just gotten better.  Much better.

Those reading TONEAudio, know that I have been using AVID’s Acutus Reference SP table as my reference for a number of years. For those unfamiliar you can read my original review here. A few years ago, on a visit to the AVID factory, owner and designer Conrad Mas took me to his development lab, showing me a prototype of his new power supply. The Acutus REF already comes with a power supply bigger than many power amplifiers, but he wanted more performance. The increase in performance over my table was staggering.

The “Mono” update is labeled thusly, because it now uses a twin mono design, with dual 1000VA power transformers and an individual amplifier for each coil on the drive motor. An even more massive amount of control of the platter is the outcome, resulting in wider dynamics, more delicacy on the high frequency side as well as greater bass grip and slam.

The “Mono’s” power supply is now in the same casework as their upcoming Mono power amplifiers, all due to be introduced at the Munich HiFi Show.

The Acutus Reference Mono SP Turntable will cost about $35,000 without arm, about $10k up from the last model, with current Acutus owners being able to upgrade for about $17k, keeping your original investment intact. We anxiously await one for full review. This could be the best buy in $100,000 turntables going. Except this one will leave you enough change from your 100,000 bill to go buy yourself a very nice pre owned Porsche as well.

Take MQA Files To Go!

Bob Stuart’s vision for MQA audio has taken another important step forward today. With free upgrades, Pioneer’s XDP-100R and Onkyo’s DP-X1 portable digital player will now provide their owners the opportunity to listen to MQA audio on-the-go starting April 12.

Who doesn’t love getting something for free? The update for Onkyo DP-X1 players will allow owners to access and play MQA and high resolution FLAC files directly from OnkyoMusic. Be sure to check out, to stay up-to-date with the latest music offerings.

In addition to MQA capability, the Pioneer XDP-100R digital audio player allows its owner to decode 11.2MHz DSD files, and also 384kHz/24bit FLAC/WAV audio files. With up to 432Gb of storage onboard, there’s plenty of room for any music files an XDP-100R owner has on hand.

In our own experience, MQA files indeed take the listener one step closer to the original recording. Those lucky enough to own these great digital players should visit Google Play to get the latest MQA music app… asap!

For more information and the latest updates on MQA, be sure to visit

New dCS Vivaldi 2.0


dCS announces its new Vivaldi 2.0 series – bringing a comprehensive package of improvements to what many regard as the best digital music source in the world.

The original Vivaldi was launched in late-2012 to widespread critical acclaim. Music industry professionals and audiophiles alike declared it to be the finest sounding digital front end on sale.

Comprising the Vivaldi Transport, Vivaldi DAC, Vivaldi Upsampler, and Vivaldi Master Clock, this cost-no-object flagship system pushed the boundaries of what was then possible with digital replay. Vivaldi processed practically every digital format and offered a vast array of input and output configurations. At its heart was a new generation of the dCS Ring DAC™, a unique, bespoke-designed digital-to-analogue converter that offered superlative sound quality and technical performance.

As with every dCS product, subsequent firmware updates have improved Vivaldi’s functionality and performance since its introduction. Now though, dCS has made a number of landmark hardware and software improvements to the system, warranting the 2.0 suffix. The changes are designed to make Vivaldi even easier to use, more flexible, and even better sounding.

The improvements 2.0 comprise include double-speed DSD upsampling in the Transport, while the DAC gets additional gain settings, a new mapping algorithm, and a new DSD filter. The Vivaldi Upsampler adds the option for double-speed DSD upsampling and a new, galvanically-isolated Network and USB interface board that improves performance and adds support for TIDAL, Airplay, Spotify Connect, plus a new control and music playback App.

The new mapping algorithm (mapper) is a milestone in the development of the dCS Ring DAC™, which forms the heart of the Vivaldi DAC. Taking over a year to model and implement in software, the new mapper greatly improves on the very technology that makes dCS unique. The 5-bit binary music data obtained after the oversampling and digital filtering stages is assigned, or mapped, onto forty- eight latch outputs at the core of the Ring DAC™. These outputs drive balanced current sources which are mixed, filtered, and amplified to produce the analogue output signal. The new mapping algorithm has been developed to run at higher speeds while better avoiding mismatches that occur between outputs, further reducing any errors correlated with the signal. The results are superior linearity, even at very low signal levels.

This sophisticated mapper functionality is implemented in the Vivaldi Ring DAC™ through dedicated FPGAs, offering dCS the power to improve and change these fundamental algorithms through software updates. This unprecedented flexibility also allows the user to choose their desired mapper from a simple menu item. Version 2.00 software allows for two new mappers, together with the original for comparison. Subjectively, both new mappers bring more detailed, expressive, tonally-complete, and full-bodied character over the original, but each offer subtle differences in sound that users can choose between, depending on their preference and ancillary equipment.

The new, highly optimised DSD filter fitted to the new Vivaldi DAC was created to provide better impulse response than previous DSD filters and has virtually no ringing. High frequency noise has also

been better suppressed outside the audio band to be more universally amplifier friendly. These improvements manifest themselves in a more dynamic and dimensional sound across the entire audio band.

Vivaldi Upsampler’s new network interface board and control App lets listeners manage their music playback experience from virtually any source – whether CD/SACD, iRadio, USB, traditional digital, streaming services, or UPnP – in an elegantly simple way, and all from one control point. It has built-in TIDAL, Airplay, and Spotify Connect functionality and is firmware-upgradeable to accommodate future music services. The new, galvanically-isolated Network and USB interface that comprises part of the Upsampler upgrade results in a quieter, more natural sound while using these inputs.

Vivaldi DAC and Transport owners can update to version 2.0 by requesting software update discs from their authorized dCS retailer. Vivaldi Upsampler owners wishing to upgrade to Upsampler to version 2.0 will need to arrange for their unit to be sent to an authorized dCS service center to perform the hardware and software upgrade. Please contact a dCS retailer or dCS Americas for more information and upgrade pricing.

Once the new version 2.0 software has been installed, as with all dCS products Vivaldi’s software and network firmware can be easily updated in the future- via CD, USB, or with new internet download and update functionality- to add new features and to improve performance over its lifetime.

Availability: Vivaldi Transport and DAC – April 2016

Vivaldi Upsampler – May 2016 Summary: • Vivaldi is dCS’ flagship digital playback system, widely regarded as the best in the world

• The new dCS Vivaldi 2.0 range is a major step-change in technical and sonic performance

• Vivaldi Transport gets 2x DSD upsampling

• Vivaldi DAC gets a new Ring DAC mappers, improved clocking, and a new DSD filter

• Vivaldi Upsampler gets new, isolated Network and USB hardware, new Playback and Control App, 2x DSD upsampling

• Vivaldi plays music from virtually any digital source and is compatible with nearly all formats

• Designed and built in the United Kingdom with superlative, cost-no-object quality and finish • Vivaldi is firmware-upgradeable for future functionality and performance upgrades

• Prices: Vivaldi Transport ($41,999), Vivaldi DAC ($35,999), Vivaldi Upsampler Plus ($21,999), Vivaldi Master Clock ($14,999)