Product Announcements

We simply couldn’t be happier with SONOS!

SONOS brings you all your music, anywhere!

We simply couldn’t be happier with SONOS.  There is no easier way to play any album you own, any radio station you can think of, any channel on Pandora, any song on MOG, in any room you choose.  Most of our customers start out by introducing a single Sonos Connect to their existing stereo and quickly fall in love with the ease-of-use and sound quality of the SONOS system.  Soon to follow that first Connect could be a Connect:Amp and a pair of SpeakerCraft outdoor speakers, or a Play:3 for the bathroom and a Play:5 for the kitchen.  The whole house fills with sound that is controllable by any iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Droid device, or the Sonos brand touchscreen controller.

And for you audiophiles out there… We have taken SONOS to the complete next level.  We stock and sell modified SONOS Connect’s by Rick Cullen, of Cullen Circuits.

This upgrade entirely replaces the mediocre Cirrius Logic CODAC and the associated high jitter clocks. The mod was designed to integrate the SONOS system into a high end audio system through an outboard Digital to Analog Converter.  The new custom board is installed in the SONOS and directly converts the I²S into 96kHz up-sampled SPDIF.  This new ultra clean low jitter signal is now available through both the Coax and Optical digital outputs. The SPDIF output’s sample rate can also be factory configured to 48, 96, and 192kHz.  The sonic benefits are quite dramatic. An entire level of low level grunge (hash) is removed from the sound. This improves the low level detail and imaging. The bass is now much tighter and controlled inner detail and transient attack are both greatly improved.

For the next level of performance… team up your Cullen Mod SONOS unit with an AudioQuest NRG-1.5 power cable and an AudioQuest Ethernet cable to really hear what SONOS can do!

Stop in and take a listen, we will happily let your ears decide what SONOS products and mods are right for you.

 

Sonos Wireless DOCK

Sonos Wireless DOCK

$119

We just received the new SONOS Wireless Dock 100 for iPod and it is a little knockout! SONOS has done it again, delivering a wireless dock that plugs into a wall outlet, connects wirelessly to your SONOS system and starts playing music from any iPod plopped on it to any or all Zone Players in your system. The music selections are even visible on your handheld, or desktop, controller, and you can browse and select just as if the iPod were in your hand! Best of all, it streams the music on your network digitally right off the wee little hard drive in your ‘Pod so your real DAC and preamp can do their rightful jobs of making music out of bits. Like the Peachtree iDecco and forthcoming iNova and DockIt, the SONOS WD 100 can turn an iPod into a very, very good sounding portable music server indeed, assuming it has been lovingly stuffed with full-res music files. But even if you’ve only got MP3 files on yours, it still makes a whale of an improvement letting better DACs and preamps take over. Imagine the fun you can have inviting your friends to bring their iPods, or even their iPhones, over to hear their music on a real music system! I’m listening to Segovia playing Purcell (Henry, not Jeff) right now on the “big rig” and it is shockingly good. Oh, and the price of admission to unleash all this music into your domestic life? A mere $119. Can you say anything but “I’ll have one!”?

 

Audio Research’s new DAC8

Audio Research DAC8

$4995

ARC, with the introduction of the DAC 8, leapfrogs from being a bit of a latecomer to re-writing the rules for today’s best digital-to-analog conversion.  The DAC 7 was a great sounding unit, but came a little late to the party to which only DACs that could cope with input signals beyond the old Red Book CD standard of 44.1kHz/16 bit resolution were invited.  The last version of the DAC 3 exited the scene in 2000 and it wasn’t until 2008 that the DAC 7 appeared as the first high-res Audio Research DAC.  The wait was worth it as the 7 opened our ears to the world of Red-Book-and-beyond sound quality from hard drive and streamed sources, as well as improving the sound of just about any CD player when its digital out was connected to it, and proved to be a price-class performance leader.

The DAC 8, however, promises to be on a whole different level. We say “promises” because, as of this writing (early July), our demo is still probably 300 hours of break-in away from sonic splendor, so we have actually yet to seriously audition it. But we have the faith born of our long history with Audio Research products and, in a way, feel as though we’ve been present during the gestation.  We had the opportunity to give input to the engineering team during the development of the product.  This is a great idea, giving dealers the chance to influence a product’s final design based on our understanding of how you, our customers, use your gear and systems, and what your needs and wants are.

The list of attributes at the right is long and impressive. What all this means is that there is virtually no digital signal you can’t plug into a DAC 8, and it will take them all and make the best sound you have ever heard from a digital source.  Personally, we can’t wait to hear some HRx Reference Recordings and other super resolution recordings from the Bit Perfect USB output, which banishes all computer sound card concerns to the file marked “Irrelevant.”  That, plus what it will do for Red Book, lossless and even, if you must, MP3 files makes it impossible to resist.  Order now to avoid the inevitable delays when the rest of the world finds out!

 

  • USB 2.0 High Speed (HS) for 16 to 24 bit audio at Sample Rates from 44.1kHz to 192kHz.
  • Measures and displays the actual sample rate being transmitted via USB or SPDIF to the DAC8, so you always know what you are getting.
  • Employs four, 24-bit D/A Converters (DACs). Each channel uses dual 24-bit DACs running in mono mode to increase the dynamic range and lower the noise floor.
  • Uses an R-Core power transformer instead of the iron core power transformer used in the DAC7 to further improve sonics and reduce the noise floor.
  • Represents Audio Research’s first true “monoblock DAC.” Each channel has its own dual 24-bit DAC, regulators and direct-coupled differential analog amplification for unequaled sonic performance.
  • All inputs galvanically-isolated from the source to assure no ground loops.
  • Works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, both 32 and 64 bit; Intel-based Mac OS10.4 and higher. USB 2.0 HS port required for USB.
  • Provides the high speed audio drivers not supplied by Windows or MAC OS (both of which are limited to 24/96) to assure “Bit Perfect” data transfer between the server/computer and the DAC8 at all sample rates.
  • Employs dual low jitter master crystal oscillators; one for sample rates of 44.1, 88.2 and 176.4kHz, and the other for sample rates of 48, 96 and 192kHz to eliminate music decoding and quantization errors caused by using a time base that is not an integer multiple of the music sample rate.
  • Uses a true direct coupled, all solid-state differential amplifier with an extraordinary bandwidth from DC to 90kHz in each channel.

 

Furman Power Conditioners

Furman Power Conditioners

$99 – $3699

Power conditioners. Nothing lives lower on the home entertainment food chain than a device that takes electricity in and puts out… electricity. What a concept. How much do I owe you? Therefore, it’s easy to understand why most people just assume all their audio and video equipment should plug in to a series of plastic hardware store “surge protectors” as long as they have enough outlets to satisfy the needs of their systems. Let me propose two reasons to relegate those devices to table-lamp-plus-aquarium-pump-duty where they belong and actually get excited about power line conditioning.

The reason your left brain wants to hear is that the correct devices provide comprehensive and reliable protection from all the insidious vagaries borne into your home on the electrical service which, either over time or suddenly, take their toll on your expensive entertainment equipment. The best ones also do so without giving up their own lives or losing effectiveness over time in the process.

While that kind of peace of mind is really important, and the reason most people sort of begrudgingly pony up for real line protection, the thing that catapults a great power line conditioner from the bottom of the food chain to king of the jungle status is the fact that it can make really significant improvements in picture and sound quality. I’m talking plainly obvious and exciting steps forward in resolution here, both audio and video. These are the very same kinds of performance upgrades you’d very willingly pay seriously more money for if they came housed in a component you knew you needed anyway – a preamp, plasma display or pair of loudspeakers for example.

That’s one of the troubles with the whole category of power line conditioners. Technically speaking, you don’t need them. They dwell in that red-headed stepchild category along with things like expensive cables or specially designed equipment-housing furniture that makes your system sound better. It’s easy to dismiss them all as pursuits whose fruits can only be appreciated by the fanatical “phile.”

Although we at Ultra Fidelis endorse, recommend, and sell high quality cables and equipment furniture, both of which make equipment perform very obviously better, we have a long history of being unimpressed with the ramifications of power line conditioners in our audio systems – always a seeming trade off of a few performance improvements for some (or a lot of) detriment – we’re guilty of a little painting with a broad brush and, as a result, we come a little late to the Furman party. It took endorsements from a couple of the people in our industry whose opinions we regard most highly to get us to investigate the line in the first place. But let us make up for lost time starting right now- Furman, where have you been all our lives?

I am just today coming off a night of listening to my home system fully Furmanized and I have to say, in complete sincerity, I cannot remember the last performance upgrade I made in my system that moved the sound quality up- opened the door so much- as these heretofore “optional” components. Every single aspect of the sound of music through this system is dramatically superior to the same system without the Furman line conditioners. No matter how you like to dissect the sound to describe it, those things all got better. Bass extension and control, tonal balance and color palette, human sounding voices, all aspects of realistic 3-D imaging, dynamics – the whole envelope is pushed much farther out. I even have my power amp plugged into Furman’s Power Factor conditioning. This was always the last hurdle that no power conditioner we had auditioned could come close to jumping, but the Furman does it great. My power amp sounds much better plugged in to the Furman than it does plugged in to the wall – tautness, but with incredible extension in the bass, and seemingly twice as much power as without.

And don’t even get me started on what these devices do for video. It’s absolute magic for everything from small LCDs to plasmas and big front projectors. And this magic takes very much the same form as it does with the audio – everything is just so much more alive and real, more human. It is literally able to make standard DVD appear “HD-like” on a display that’s just a little too big to successfully pull it off without help. Amazing!

Instead of seeing power conditioners as “someday options,” you can no longer afford to think about a system without at least one Furman. They vault power conditioners into the Necessary Component category very convincingly.

 

Sonus Faber Toy Monitor

Sonus Faber Toy Monitor

$999

Strictly speaking, the Toy Monitor comprises a 1″ ring radiator tweeter and a 4.5″ coated cellulose woofer crossed over by a third order filter network in a leather clad, vented cabinet of approximately 6 liters volume with a single pair of binding posts on the back. But if that is all you know about it, you will be as completely unprepared for what it will do to you from the moment music emanates from it when you first hear it as we were. This is a speaker that must be auditioned, but it is likely you still won’t get how it could possibly make the sound it does. And be forewarned. Toys get under your skin with shocking ease and they don’t leave. Unforgettable, that’s what they are.

Everyone for whom we have played them has reacted with the same astonishment. Here is what recent Toy owner Mike thinks of them: “So far LOVING the Toys. Wow. And I barely have everything set up right, mainly listening to over the air radio and it’s pretty insane just with that. I just plopped them down and turned on the radio. I was like, whoa!! Where is this coming from? Finally got the Sonos up and running with just a fraction of my collection and mostly compressed MP3 and (even) those sound scary. I’m almost afraid to get the WAV files up and running this weekend! Too fun they are….”

Sure, we’ve heard small speakers sound big before, although maybe none so small sound quite this big, but it’s the way they sound big that is the trick. They simply let sound unfold in front of you in an utterly disarming yet mesmerizing way. You can’t help but wondering what this or that piece of music will sound like when presented to you while you are under the spell of the Toy. Bob and I sat here at the store one night after we closed at 7:00 and just kept putting on track after track, marveling at the rich, detailed, airy, spacious sound. And for the two of us experienced, if not jaded, listeners, to have not a care in the world about upgrading the $3500 system we were listening to is praise of the highest order. Support them from beneath with a REL T-Series subwoofer and it’s the small room bang-for-buck champion of all time! They do that “toy” thing that caused Sonus Faber to name them so in the first place: “Sonus Faber conveys in the Toy the sheer experience of joy that comes from working with real passion and enthusiasm for music of all kinds. Toys have always been synonymous with happiness and surprise, the same emotions the art of sound has conveyed from time immemorial.” We’ll second that!

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Audioquest’s DBS Cable System

Audioquest’s DBS Cable System

Audioquest’s DBS speaker cables and interconnects have been optimized to take advantage of battery biasing.  The battery biasing technique, which has been employed in Vandersteen’s loudspeakers for some time, involves using a battery to provide a constant charge to the insulation layers surrounding the conductors within a cable.  This charge can virtually eliminate any unwanted colorations and interference caused by the dielectric, making it sonically disappear.  Battery biasing goes one step further than the “air dielectric” method employed in top-of-the-line cables and achieves a level of openness, clarity and dynamic freedom that cannot be had any other way.

Unlike normal cables, battery biased models will sound completely warmed up or “hot” no matter how long it has been since you last used them.  As a matter of fact, no amount of playing your system can equal the kind of “burn-in” that this method achieves.  Are you one of the dwindling few who still thinks “cable is cable”?  Then you’ve probably never listened to Audioquest and you definitely haven’t heard what their DBS technology can do for your system.  Each DBS cable has a battery pack which energizes the cable’s dielectric with a constant charge in order to “bias” or electrically organize the molecules of the insulating materials within the cable.  When the dielectric is charged in this way, the music signal traveling through the cable has a much easier time reaching its destination without the minute distortions that translate into lost detail.  The result is a cleaner and more transparent sound and resolution you wouldn’t believe your system was capable of producing.  DBS cables require an abbreviated break-in and, from then on, they retain that “warmed up” sound we all cherish.  Stop by for an audition or try a loaner pair in your own system.

AudioQuest’s DBS white paper

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