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Playback Designs' MPS-5 digital source component with the large red display and silver/black two-tone front I'd never seen before but heard discussed on various forums. Selling for €17,950, many believe it to be the machine to beat. Still, its USB input remains limited to 48kHz. Until USB supports 24/192, the hi-rez brigade won't consider the format completely viable. Meanwhile FireWire seems to be disappearing from a lot of PC and laptop socketry. Who said life was easy for high-end manufacturers trying to keep up with such rapid changes?

Pro-Ject Audio Systems puts a lie to the notion that vinyl is dead - and that it costs bundles to get into analogue and good sound. As you can see, their lineup is quite extensive. Regarding those who proclaim CD dead, they might stop in their tracks for a moment to consider just how many silver discs are out there in the field reading fine. How can something die that's alive and massively entrenched?

For all of Italy's unchallenged design chops, sometimes it backfires. Sound & Design makes that point. To these eyes. Which is the point, isn't it? Tastes span the gamut and this company out of Baric must feel confident that theirs is shared by others.

Simon Yorke Designs is legendary in its own time and here is their Series 10 transcription deck.

Sonus Faber
showed the Liuto, a three-driver tri-port floorstander with a 25mm soft-dome tweeter, a 150mm polypropylene midrange and a 220mm aluminum/Magnesium alloy woofer combined with 2nd-order filters at 350Hz and 3000Hz for a claimed response of 40Hz to 25,000Hz at 89dB sensitivity. The hyper toe-in crossing in front of the first row was a consistent leit motif throughout the show and used more often than I've ever seen before.

Not all of the industry are bleating old goats as Corey Greenberg once claimed. The gents from Sutra Amplification are the fresh new wave on the manufacturing side and to follow up last year's launch of their Sutra 1.3 Tripath amplifier, 2009 saw the introduction of the Sutra Pre 1 phono stage (30/40/50/60dB of selectable gain, 47/100/200/470pF selectable loading, 47K/1K/100-ohm selectable impedance, van Den Hul wiring, estimated €400 retail with year-end release) and the Sutra DAC 1. The latter occupies a double-height enclosure stuffed to the brim and runs eight parallel/series connected TI DACs for "unmeasurable" noise floor performance. Four inputs—S/PDIF, Toslink AES-EBU and USB—are selectable with the one-touch control. Sutra has done something special with the clocking circuit for minimal jitter and the regulators are regulated themselves for a truly butch power supply. The DAC 1's estimated retail will be around €1,500 which for this company is on the high side. But we're promised that the performance will make it well worthwhile. A review unit in the new year will report further on this subject. And as the photos show, black is the new silver though the latter remains available.

Another quote from the foyer denizens
: "I only counted six multi-channel setups throughout this event. Finally that segment is dead. Nobody needed it in the first place. Hurray." Whether that more captured one person's relief or global trends we'll leave for the oracles and pundits to decide. On the subject of which, I also didn't see the expected kludgy attempts by high-end firms to cobble together expensive servers in an attempt to convince us that they'd do better than a far cheaper MacBook with a premium USB DAC or similar Windows solution. Perhaps lack of sales in the über-server category will finally show the correct way forward?