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Vol. 13, No. 1 Spring/Summer, 2010



NEW PRODUCTS

Audio Research

This year Audio Research has been very busy introducing new and exciting offerings in both advanced digital and analog product areas. These include the Definition Series DSi200 integrated switching amplifier and DS450 switching power amplifier, the DAC8 USB DAC (Digital-to-Analog) converter, and the PH6 phono preamplifier.

Audio Research DSI200 integrated amplifierThose inclined to be skeptical when the "tube company", Audio Research introduces products like the DSi200 and the DS450 using new and advanced technologies should remember the success of their previous CD players and DACs. While the highly-regulated power supply of the DSi200 uses classical Audio Research design parameters, the all-discrete switching MOSFET output stages are cutting edge. Both are totally designed in-house and do not rely on prepackaged OEM solutions. The DSi200 is a compact, cool-running integrated amplifier that will astound you with its musical purity, low noise floor, uncanny resolution, and startling dynamics. This is not a typical switching amplifier with a switching power supply, and it doesn't sound like it, either. The DSi200 packs 200 watts/channel continuously into an 8-ohm load, 400+ WPC dynamically into 8 ohms, and 600+ dynamically into 4 ohms. In the real world, this allows the DSi200 to control large, power-hungry speakers with remarkable ease. The DSi200 sells for $5995.

Audio Research DS450 power amplifierBased heavily on the design of the DSi200, the 450 watt/channel DS450 is a stereo switching power amplifier selling for $7995. The design is very much like the DSi200 with a scaled up power supply and twice the number of output MOSFET devices. Sonically, the DS450 is very surprising. Incredibly dynamic and quick on its feet, it can literally make you jump with its explosive transients. Bass is deep, harmonically rich, and forcefully controlled. The midrange is open, tightly focused, and uncannily transparent. Highs are extended and smooth, and the DS450 has lower crosstalk, more air, and even better soundstaging than its smaller sibling. One of the most commonly heard reactions to the DS450 has been that it doesn't sound like any other switching amp; it is more like an Audio Research tube amp.

Audio Research DAC8 USB D/A converterIn other digital news, Audio Research has updated its USB DAC offering to the new DAC8 at $4995. This unit has been completely revised over its predecessor, and offers up to 24-bit/192 KHz processing on all of its inputs, including the USB input. It will automatically select the correct sampling rate for each program being input and will also allow the user to upsample or downsample any program at will. The DAC8 employs four 24-bit D/A Converters, with each channel using two running in mono mode to increase the dynamic range and lower the noise floor. The DAC8's analog section has also been improved and has received just as much attention as the digital section. This is clearly the best D/A converter Audio Research has ever made!

Audio Research PH6 phono preamplifierThe venerable PH5 phono stage, which has been available since 2004, has just been replaced by the new PH6 at $3495. There are numerous external changes and internal improvements such as a switch to the 6H30 SuperTube for the amplification section. Sonically, the PH6 is in a much higher league than the PH5. Its improvements are immediately apparent and include higher resolution, improved micro- and macro- dynamics, tighter image focus with a more expansive soundstage, and more air. The real surprise is how pure and relaxed the PH6 sounds, helping you to get lost in the music. So, once again, whether you prefer analog or digital (or love both), Audio Research has superb new offerings for you.

 

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