I heard about the Wadia 151PowerDAC from my friends at Magnepan, who make some of my favorite flat-panel speakers. They loved the way the 151 brought their fourteen-inch tall Mini Maggie speakers to life. That's great news, because when I auditioned the Minis at the factory last year (before they tried the 151) the speakers were hooked up to a massive Threshold stereo power amp. The Threshold/Maggie system was, by a large margin, the best-sounding desktop system I ever heard. Using a monster amp like that wasn't a practical solution for most buyers, but now with the … Read more
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009, held last week in Denver, showcased the best and brightest in new high-end headphones and iPod sound enhancing gear.
I blogged about Wadia's super iPod dock, the 170i Transport last year, and Wadia now has a matching digital-to-analog converter/power amplifier, the 151. It has one USB, one Toslink, and two coax inputs. The 170i was the first "dock" to extract a digital output from an unmodified iPod, so for those who really care about sound quality, the Wadia 151 will be the way to go. The 151 PowerDAC will soon be available in black and silver.
Jack Wu of Woo Audio brought a nice selection of his tube headphone amplifiers to the show. I'm a huge fan of Woo Audio, its amps have made my Grado and Sennheiser headphones sound better than ever. Woo was also showing prototypes of its upcoming digital-to-analog converters, the sound showed great promise. … Read more
America may not make world-class cars anymore, we don't build plasma TVs, or iPods, cameras, or all that much technology of any sort, but in high-end audio, we rule!
Come 2009 I'd love to see the best of the best American audio installed at the White House. The sort of system that the President could, after a hard day's work solving the world's problems, use to kick out the jams with a few James Brown or Parliament-Funkadelic tunes.
I'll volunteer my services to assemble such a system (donated by the manufacturers), with the following components:… Read more
I never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to think the iPod is a true high-end audio component. What's changed? I heard it in my high-end system, docked into Wadia's 170i Transport ($379). I can now testify to the iPod's bona fides.
Thing is, an iPod, even one loaded with uncompressed AIFF or WAV files, isn't all by itself a high-end component, but teamed with Wadia's 170i Transport, aka, dock, an iPod is elevated to high-end status. The transformation takes place when the Wadia transmits the iPod's zeros and ones to an outboard digital-to-analog (D/A) converter in your A/V receiver, or even better, a standalone high-end D/A. Wadia's claims that the 170i is the first and only "dock" to extract a digital output from an unmodified iPod.
The 170i's digital out sends a 16 bit/44.1 kHz PCM digital signal to a D/A. The 170i does that for MP3, AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV files, but just be aware that it converts all but AIFF and WAV to 16/44.1. It can also pass 16/48 PCM, but in most cases 16/44.1 is what you'll get.
According to Wadia's national sales manager, Martin Cooper, iPods store MP3, Apple Lossless, and AAC files in Apple's own digital language, and when an iPod is nestled into a 170i it converts those files to 16/44.1 PCM. That way, the signals can be processed by the D/A in your A/V receiver or high-end D/A. MP3, Apple Lossless, and AAC files will sound "good," just not quite the same as the original CD. In other words, only AIFF and WAV files can be heard with bit-for-bit accuracy over the 170i. … Read more
Audiophile gear is always really expensive.
Not true. While there's no shortage of stupid expensive audio toys, there's lots of affordable stuff too, such as Rotel's beautifully built RA 1062 integrated amplifier ($699).
Audiophiles rarely embrace new technology.
Guilty, with an explanation. Audiophiles don't jump on every new tech gizmo that comes down the pike, so we steered clear of iPods for the longest time. But now that we can get uncompressed digital directly out of the little buggers with devices like Wadia's 170iTransport, audiophiles are getting with the program. We were just waiting for … Read more
Just received a preview from next week's CES show in Las Vegas--Wadia Digital, a high-end audio company will be demonstrating the first digital player dock to retrieve a direct digital signal from iPods. As a result, the iTransport will provide CD-quality resolution from full-resolution file formats such as .WAV and AppleLossless.
The iTransport (SRP: $349) will turn any currently available iPod player into a high-end media server by providing a bit-perfect digital audio output to an audio/video system. The really cool thing about the device is that it can bypass the player's internal D/A conversion and … Read more