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New Products of the Year!

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Customer email newsletter dated: December 15, 2011.

New Products of the Year!
December 15, 2011
The holiday season motors are revving - don't miss our "12 Deals of Christmas."

As year end approaches "Best of" lists are almost unavoidable. 2011 has been a great year for new bar-raising products at The Cable Company, and here is OUR list of favorites by category. Do let us know if you agree/disagree, or if we missed one of YOUR top picks.

Component of the year: Ayon Audio's Triton II amplifier
Digital product of the year: Synergistic Research's The Music Cable
Analog product of the year: Sutherland Engineering's 20/20
Headphone System of the year: Cavalli Audio Liquid Fire headphone amp plus the Audez'e LCD-3 headphones.
New AC Line Enhancement product of the year: Shunyata Hydra TRITON.
Room Acoustic Treatment product of the year: the SteinMusic Harmonizers.
Two NEW Resonance Control products of the year: Stillpoints Ultra feet and Black Ravioli.

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Component of the year: Ayon Audio's Triton II amplifier
We welcomed Ayon Audio to our soundrooms late last winter, and frankly we could have picked any of a number of the excellent-sounding amplifiers from Ayon. They have a broad range of amps from low output single-ended triodes to powerful KT88 (or KT120) - based models like the Triton II ($9750) featured here. Like many of Ayon's offerings, this one comes as an integrated amp with four line level inputs, switching and volume control, but also with a "direct input" to bypass the switching and use as "just" an amplifier.

Ayon's build quality is as good as it gets, and their engineering is also cutting edge. We could go on and on listing their features, but suffice it to say that all those ultra short signal paths, 0db negative feedback, class A operation, and super parts choices make this amp (and its siblings) something any audiophile could love.

The Triton II is powerful enough for most speakers, offers everything sonically that we love about tubes, and also incorporates auto biasing, soft start, and other good ideas to make it so "bomb-proof" that non-tube-o-philes can also consider taking the plunge.

Great product, great line.
Digital product of the year: Synergistic Research's The Music Cable
Some of us would vote for the newly updated version II of the Berkeley Alpha DAC which is singing so sweetly in our Ultra Systems soundrooms, but the era of the computer hard drive as a legitimate high end source component is upon us, and the product that captures this year's award is a cutting edge integrated solution for seamlessly incorporating the computer into the high end 2 channel music system.

Synergistic Research's The Music Cable ($3599) is an astonishingly good-sounding merger of products starting with an active-shielded USB cable, hard-wired to an awesome DAC, the outputs for which are hard-wired to a pair of SR's outstanding new Element Tungsten analog interconnects for connection directly to any unused line level input on your preamp or amp. All of SR's "Active Shielding," "Galileo Cell," and "Enigma Tuning Modules" are working together here to take the performance to state-of-the-art levels for less than what it costs for any of the other really great USB DACs alone.

It is so easy and mistake proof to simply connect the USB end to the computer USB output, the RCA or XLR end to the preamp/amp inputs, plug in the dual power supplies (one for analog, one for digital) which connect the DAC section to the wall, and start streaming your music collection and the almost unlimited music library which the internet offers. Pandora and Rhapsody never sounded so good!

Very cool. Available for in-home audition through The Cable Library.
Analog product of the year: Sutherland Engineering's 20/20
High end audio is blessed with high-performing analog products. Not choosing the excellent new Soundsmith Cartridges, or the remarkable Kuzma 4Point tonearm is very difficult, but this year's pick is the Sutherland Engineering 20/20 phono stage. Already recognized by the writers of Stereophile magazine as being one of the very best phono stages available, it has earned a "Class A" rating in the Recommended Components listing. Who are we to argue?

The 20/20 chassis contains two identical mono phono stages. Each channel is on its own circuit board, has its own shielded compartment, power indicator, and its own power supply. It is the ultimate in channel separation.

Unlike some of the other Sutherland designs, this one plugs into the wall rather than running on batteries. Both approaches work, but if your budget is in the area of the $2200 model 20/20, this phono stage sets the bar at a very high level!
Headphone System of the year: Cavalli Audio Liquid Fire headphone amp plus the Audez'e LCD-3 headphones.
It may seem a cop-out to choose two products for one award, but when they work SO well together, how can one resist? And just how well is that? Possibly the best...ever!

We have written about the Cavalli Liquid Fire ($3250) during the course of the year. This vacuum tube-driven phono stage comes with both Hi-Z and Low-Z output jacks to make it sing with top cans from Grado, Denon, Sennheiser, Ultrasone, and, our favorites, the two models from Audez'e.

The Audez'e LCD-3 debuted just this Autumn. Using Planar Magnetic Transducers like its progenitor, the LCD-2, the new model is the cost-no-object king of the Audez'e hill. (And we should tell you that the "regular" LCD-2 at $945 is a stone bargain - simply wonderful!)

Together with the Cavalli Liquid Fire, you have magic!

In classic high end audio fashion these two remarkable achievements have been pretty much back-ordered since the word hit the street, so if interested, put down a deposit and get in the queue now, and be prepared for a little wait. But as those of us with children will attest, the days of expectation before Christmas morning are so much happier than the period immediately after. Delay is good for you. Anticipation will make you happy. Really it will :-)
New AC Line Enhancement product of the year: Shunyata Hydra TRITON.
Another difficult category to choose a winner, but we are focusing on NEW, so with a nod to PS Audio's P5 and P10, and the latest, greatest from Silver Circle Audio, the complete re-design of Shunyata's Hydra takes the prize. Although there have been some evolutionary changes in the Hydra series of line conditioners over their 10 year life span, the Triton ($4995) and Talos ($2995) models are the first complete reworking of that successful design. Among the new elements the company is most proud of is their "Multi Phase Differential Array," a multi-element array of noise-reducing micro-filters. With more than 30 elements in its design, the MPDA network targets specific noise components that are generated by typical audio and video power supplies without the use of capacitors or inductors.

In addition the use of "Noise Isolation Chambers," a new Buss system, and their new "VTX" geometry for internal wiring all combine for a major step up in performance by this new generation of Shunyata line conditioners. Expect to see this technology trickle down to their lower cost line conditioners in the coming year.

Available for in-home audition through The Cable Library.
Room Acoustic Treatment product of the year: the SteinMusic Harmonizers.
Not new in some parts of the world, but new to us this year, the SteinMusic Harmonizers are a product which, no matter how well-tuned your room may or may not be acoustically, will enhance the acoustic environment in ways which no other products we have come across will do.

There is more than one theory as to what this product is doing and how, but for us it has gone from "interesting" to "essential" in record time offering a more natural sound in a larger, more 3D soundstage with greater realism.

Sold in packages ranging from $2099 to $4099 with combinations of the Harmonizers (pictured here) as well as a collection of acoustic "Stones." If you have any interest at all in room acoustics, treat yourself to an in-home audition through our Library.
Two NEW Resonance Control products of the year: Stillpoints Ultra feet and Black Ravioli.
It's a tie!

Two very different approaches with the same objective: a state-of-the-art component support. We wrote about both of these in a recent Newsletter entitled: Why Isolate Audio Components?

The new and much upgraded version of the original Stillpoints design is a wonderful isolation and resonance control device for audio electronics and speakers. Available in lower cost black-anodized aluminum Ultra AL ($160 per piece: use in sets of 3 or 4), or for highest performance, in the stainless steel Ultra SS ($225 per piece).

The Black Ravioli product line is nothing at all like the Stillpoints products, but can be just as effective. Although somewhat compliant, Black Ravioli should not be compared to lesser materials like Sorbothane. This is a "designer material" developed specifically for use with audio electronics. You can read more about it on the Black Ravioli website, or via the link in the first paragraph in this section.

Which to choose for your system?
For speakers, go for the Stillpoints. A great upgrade and if you need review verification take a look at Robert Harley's recent rave review in The Absolute Sound.

For a Mac Mini or other computer source, go for the Black Ravioli's.

For everything else, or for alternatives, and less expensive options, talk to us, or maybe try both through our Library.

Take a look at all of our specials!

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