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Sound Days #3: highlights (Part 3)

Sound Days #3 provided visitors with an opportunity to brush up on all the latest audio streaming technologies. Dematerialized music was thus materialized by some of the best portable audio players, network audio players and hi-fi multiroom systems currently on the market. Here are some of the new products that were available for testing at the Carreau du Temple on May 13th and 14th.

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A good pair of headphones, a computer, lossless audio files and a portable audio player with a DAC function are the foundation of a high-fidelity listening experience.

First up is Fiio, a brand which has gone from unknown to acclaimed in only a few years and is now a key player on the portable audio market. Its latest model, the FiiO X5 III, was the true star in its category, and many visitors were eager to give it a try. The FiiO X1 II was also on display, and we’re betting that this 100% hi-fi entry-level model will be among the brand’s bestsellers in 2017.

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Julien, a customer advisor, demonstrated the full potential of FiiO’s best DACs.

Another big name in the DAP world, and a true trailblazer in its field, Cowon put the spotlight on its Plenue range. The Cowon Plenue 2 had already garnered plenty of attention for its AMOLED display, powerful Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ DAC, balanced and unbalanced outputs and set of 6 digital filters. The compact Cowon Plenue D was also on display: cute, elegant and equipped with a long-lasting battery, it’s one today’s sure bets.

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Cowon Plenue 2: as attractive as it is functional

The leading names in electronics, including Onkyo, Pioneer et Sony, also turned heads with their latest creations. The very recently released Onkyo DP-S1 and Pioneer XDP-30R demonstrated all their worth in terms of musicality and technical abilities. With a dual DAC and dual amplifier, balanced and unbalanced outputs, 32-bit/192kHz and DSD playback, and compatibility with internet radio apps, these are some of the market’s heavy hitters. Sony set its sights on the ultra high-end world with its sublime Sony NW-WM1Z, but also demonstrated the superb qualities of its Sony NW-A35, an entry-level model compatible with Hi-Res Audio.

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The Pioneer XDP-100R is a highly efficient model known to offer a gratifying listening experience.

Another well-established star in the world of portable audio players, Astell&Kern welcomed the occasion to unveil its latest prodigy, known as the KANN and boasting an Asahi Kasei AK4490 DAC, 64 GB of internal memory, a USB DAC mode, and balanced and unbalanced outputs.

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The Astell&Kern Kann was a highly anticipated attraction at Sound Days #3.

Lastly, let’s not forget to mention the iBasso DX200 with its 16-channel Double DAC, the HiFiMAN HM-901S, the Chinese manufacturer’s flagship model, and the exceptionally powerful Lotoo PAW 5000.

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The HiFiMAN HM-901S DAP with the HiFiMAN Dock-1 station and the HiFiMAN EF-6 headphone amplifier.

As for network players, visitors were invited to discover the sumptuous Naim Audio Uniti, the brand’s latest range, as well as the Prizm network player, the Pioneer N-P01, the Pioneer N-30AE, and the very high-end Technics SU-R1. Yamaha MusicCast, NAD (Bluesound) and Denon Heos also presented their proprietary multiroom solutions, which provide some serious competition for the Californian brand SONOS, often considered the best in its category.

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The Pioneer NC-50D connected amplifier: an ideal all-in-one model which can serve as an amplifier, DAC, network player and CD player.

Several excellent wireless speakers were interspersed throughout the salon, with the Elipson | Habitat Lenny, Naim mu-so QB, Devialet Gold Phantom, Sonus Faber SF16, Klipsch The One and McIntosh RS100 being the most remarkable in terms of design and performance. Audioengine had its most popular models on display, including the striking Audioengine H6 and the very compact Audioengine A2+. On a different note, the French brand La Boite Concept gave visitors the chance to test its latest creations, including the La Boite Concept AP 160 for TV displays and the LP 160, designed to easily integrate a turntable.

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The McIntosh RS100 speaker, awarded with a Diapason d’or in 2016, knows how to strike an attractive pose!

Turntables find perfect partners in wireless speakers, and we can only congratulate Klipsch and Triangle for their initiative in this arena. These renowned brands offer all-in-one solutions with speakers designed to allow users to not only watch TV (digital input) and enjoy their digital music collection (Bluetooth), but also play 33 or 45rpm records with a turntable thanks to a phono input. These turntable packages include the Klipsch The Sixes / Heritage Debut Carbon and Triangle Elara LN01A Pack.

This post is also available in: French

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Sebastien Cassar

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