One of the standouts during Day 2 was the new integrated amplifier from Perreaux. The respected New Zealand brand is in the midst of a stateside resurgence with the Audiant integrated amp leading the way. Equipped with a 24-bit/96khz USB/DAC it outputs 80Wpc into 8 ohms courtesy of MOSFET output devices driven by Class A signal stages–it was driving the redoubtable Harbeth HL5 loudspeaker, and it’s sound was engaging, honest and dynamic. It’s rear panel I/Os reflect the current trend toward digital inputs including coax, a pair of optical and USB. There’s also a pair of analog inputs, a home theater bypass as well as a phono input. Look for a full review of the Audiant later this year. On the drawing board are a CD player and a digital streamer but don’t expect either of them to ship prior to Q4. Price: $2995
Hegel Music Systems has gone definitively upmarket with its new separates, the P30 preamplifier ($7500) and H30 monoblock amp ($15k each). Both incorporate the latest version of Hegel’s unique Next Gen technology as well as its patented real-time, correction circuitry know as SoundEngine. The P30 retains the look of the model it replaces but moves beyond its predecessors by adding a more robust power supply and vastly more precise volume control. There are only a pair of FETs in the signal path and all components are carefully hand-matched. The H30 monoblocks are massively built and massively powered with 1100 watts at 8 ohms on tap. Totally separate networks within the amp reduce noise and distortion to ultra low levels. The damping factor is >1000 so bass control shouldn’t be an issue. While the H30 has been designed as a monoblock it can be easily reconfigured for stereo use– and alternatively, biamping.