A Look at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach – 2015
A Review by Native DSD’s Brian Moura
T.H.E. Show Newport Beach is said to be North America’s largest audio show. This year the event was attended by over 8,000 music fans over a 3 day period last weekend. A media preview day was held on the Thursday before the show opened to the public to provide members of the media a chance to get a head start on the proceedings.
This year The Show Newport was moved from two small hotels in Newport Beach, California to a larger venue – the Hotel Irvine. The new venue allowed all of the show exhibits, listening rooms and events to be held at one location. A definite improvement over years past. The event also featured live music performances, food trucks and classic car displays.
There were a number of interesting products and trends during this 3 day event. The move to more mobile devices continued with the introduction of several low cost digital audio players – also known in the industry as “DAPs” as well as more low cost Headphone Amplifiers and Digital to Analog Converters (DACs) in one unit.
DSD listeners had more to celebrate in this area as well. Unlike past products where some DAPs under $1,000 did not include native DSD playback, offering instead to convert DSD to PCM before playback, this limitation is going away. This was noted in several new product announcements at The Show Newport including a pair of digital players with “true DSD” playback up to DSD 128 from Questyle selling at $599 and $899 and a new version of the popular Geek Out portable headphone amp and DAC from LH Labs with native DSD playback up to DSD 128 that will sell for $299. The prototype Geek Out V2 DAC was sounding very nice during the audio show using some sample files provided by Jonas Sacks of Native DSD (see picture).
Geek Out V2 Mobile Headphone Amp + DAC playing Native DSD Samples
In the world of higher priced products, Native DSD’s hardware partners at Lampizator introduced the new Lite 7 DAC with DSD 256 (see picture below). The Lite 7 uses Direct Heated Triode (DHT) tubes commonly found in amplifiers and much of the company’s Big 7 circuitry for half the price of their flagship DAC. Good sounds were also emanating from the Bricasti room where the Bricasti DAC and Amps were playing DSD selections from the Channel Classics label that you can find in the Native DSD web store.
Lampizator Lite 7 DAC
The Show Newport also marked the North America debut of the upcoming NADAC DAC from Merging Technologies. Merging has been known in the past for their recording studio and pro gear, including software and converters that enable recording of up to DSD 256 in Stereo and Multichannel sound up to 48 channels. The NADAC will come in two models – a 2 Channel Stereo edition and an 8 Channel Multichannel edition in July. NADAC was on display on the first floor in the Kimber Kable room paired with 4 massive monoblock amplifiers from Ed Meitner’s EMM Labs playing Multichannel DSD music.
The amps put out so much low end energy that the Kimber room was said to have rattled the walls and light fixtures when the dramatic movements in the Mahler 9th Symphony from Channel Classics and the Native DSD music store were played. Exciting!
The NADAC was also featured in the Positive Feedback room on the 4th floor playing a number of Stereo DSD recordings. This included several DSD 256 selections from Native DSD including the debut album by the Sophisticated Lady jazz quartet on Yarlung Records and the just released Bach Cello Suites, Volume 1 by Joachim Eijlander on Navis Classics. Some very fine sound from the pairing of the NADAC (see picture) and these Native DSD recordings.
NADAC DAC in the Positive Feedback Room playing DSD 256 music from Native DSD
At a panel presentation on DSD and Analog recordings, a number of industry experts talked about their work creating native DSD recordings. This usually involves capturing and mixing a group’s performance live or using analog equipment and analog mixing during the recording and then “printing” the final results to DSD. The panel also talked about the increasing use of double rate DSD (DSD 128fs) and even quad rate DSD (DSD 256fs) rather than the original single rate DSD format (DSD 64fs).
A special announcement was made at the start of the DSD panel that Bob Attiyeh of Yarlung Records (in picture below) will be receiving a special humanitarian award from the Los Angeles-Orange County Audio Society. The award acknowledges Bob’s work recording young musicians and bringing their work to the attention of music listeners worldwide. We congratulate Bob on this honor.
Bob Attiyeh from Yarlung Records
Floor Tries Out DSD Music on the iFi Nano at Home
Speaking of Audio Shows, Native DSD Marketing Director Floor Van Der Holst was recently spotted at the big High End Munich audio show checking out the iFi product line – including their new iFi Retro Audio System that is now available for purchase in the Native DSD Hardware Store (see picture below). I’ve since learned that Floor is now the proud owner of a new iFi iDSD Nano, a cool portable DAC and Headphone Amp with support for DSD files up to DSD 256 that you can use at home or on the go.
Floor reports that after getting the iFi iDSD Nano, she has since purchased Audirvana as the DSD music player software for her Mac and started downloading a few albums from the Native DSD web store. Floor tells me it felt a little odd to be browsing the web store she manages for music to get but once the albums were ordered and downloaded, it was time to do a little listening to DSD at home vs. at the office. We welcome Floor to the world of listening to DSD at home. What could be better?
Save to Dropbox is in Beta Test
When you placed your last order at the Native DSD Music Store (www.nativedsd.com) you may have noticed something different at the end of the purchase process. Instead of just having an option to download the album(s) you purchased, there was also an icon below that offering to “Save to Dropbox”. This enables Native DSD listeners to save their albums to a Dropbox account vs. downloading a large ZIP file at the conclusion of the purchasing process.
Native DSD thinks that Save to Dropbox will be a very handy feature for listeners with a Dropbox account and cloud storage. Right now it is in the beta test phase while the Native technical staff insures that everything is working correctly. It looks good so far but the feature is likely to remain in beta for a bit longer. If you are curious, Native DSD invites you to try “Save to Dropbox” and see what you think.
Written by: Brian Moura, June 5th, 2015