I had a wonderful time speaking with Jason Dustal from AVProStore about the professional-grade Murideo pattern generators. I’ve always wanted a Murideo SIX-G, but they’re quite overkill for my applications. A dream troubleshooting tool for all professional calibrators.

The Denon AVR-X8500H is the world’s first 13.2 AV receiver – This is the ultimate receiver for a truly immersive Dolby Atmos experience (9.2.4 or 7.2.6). We’ve only owned Denon receivers since the beginning of our home theater days and currently have a Denon AVR-X7200WA for a 9.1.2 setup. We had a nice chat with Mike Nickman from Sound United. He mentioned this receiver will also be receiving the IMAX Enhanced badge via firmware update in a few months. Given that we have a room with 13 channels (including 4 heights), we hope to get the AVR-X8500H in for review soon.

Rear of the Denon AVR-X8500H

The Focal KANTA family adds a new bookshelf (N1, ~$6,000), floorstanders (N3, ~$11,800), and the center (~$2,600). The N3 is meant for a larger room (vs the N2). Each has Focal’s signature flax-fiber cone drivers and the latest generation of its IAL inverted-dome beryllium tweeter.

We had a deep discussion with Chebon Littlefield, VP of Marketing at Mytek, about the future of HiFi. What you see here is the Mytek Manhattan DAC II, Preamp, and Headphone amplifier ($5,995.00). The beauty of this device is its built-in hardware MQA decoder and the highest performance 130dB Sabre 9038 DAC chipset. With the optional network card, the Manhattan DAC II will also be Roon Ready. We’ll be taking a closer look in the near future.

Simaudio Moon 390 network player and preamplifier – Dominique Poupart, Product Manager at Simaudio, discussed what makes the 390 so special. First, its phono pre-amp supports both moving coil and magnets cartridges – a nice feature for the vinyl guys. What’s really interesting about this piece is the 4 x HDMI inputs and single HDMI output. Now, it doesn’t process multi-channel audio, only 2-channel PCM. But it does allow you to switch between your Blu-ray players, Nvidia Shield, etc. in a much smaller form factor (vs a traditional AV receiver). If you’re in a tight space running a 2-channel setup with headphones…this makes for a very compelling setup for only $5,200.

Roon Labs was the only booth I visited that provided an impressive high-end headphone listening experience. I had a nice chat with Dipin Sehdev, VP of Marketing at Roon Labs. They had some of the best streamers available today, including Bryston, dCS, T+A, Mytek, and Bryston. Pretty crazy. Music playback was done with Roon, a software I use multiple hours every day for my reviews. I love their informational interface, integration with Tidal and Chromecast, and library capabilities. It’s easy for me to create playlists and add my favorite albums. Roon has been making huge moves over the past few months. It’s great seeing them partner with just about everyone – from Sonos to high-end companies like dCS. The number of Roon Ready devices is growing exponentially – and that’s a wonderful thing.

The Qobuz booth was busy. They’re planning to finally provide hi-res streaming to the US later this year. With pricing that competes with the popular Tidal, it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. Qobuz is banking on the largest streaming catalog with over 2 million hi-res tracks – all available for offline listening. One feature we’re excited about is the ability to purchase and download the 24/192 content directly – at a discount with their highest tier ($299/year or $25/month). Another being Roon support! Sounds like Qobuz is going to be quite an audiophile treat.