High End 2016 • TABlog

by Jason Kennedy | May 16, 2016

wo companies showed add-ons to their existing products that warrant attention, as they bring considerably enhanced functionality at sensible prices. Creek Audio has long been so inclined, building both its electronics and the Epos speaker range with a view to future upgrades. This year Mike Creek showed the Ruby 2 module for his integrated amplifiers. This provides a DAC with appropriate inputs, Bluetooth reception and “the best FM tuner we’ve made” in an FM/AM receiver chip that’s smaller than a fingernail. The price is around $600, which is high for a module, but given the benefits it brings, it looks like great value.

Creek also showed its first streaming product, currently dubbed "the box with no name." It may end up being called Puck but what’s certain is that it offers streaming without a network. That is, you can send wireless signals from a mobile device directly to it, but it can also operate like a conventional network streamer with wired or WiFi connection and outputs via TosLink optical digital.

Creek is using the Qualcomm streaming chip, which can be run with that company’s Allplay app. Whatever this Creek product will be called, it becomes available in the fall for approximately $400.

MSB has also discovered the merits of networked audio and is offering a renderer module for all of its much-vaunted DACs. The price depends on the DAC in question, but it starts at $2000 for the base-level analog converter. My own experience with Ethernet versus USB would suggest that this is a very good idea indeed, and I hope to be able to audition MSB’s implementation soon.

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