ReQuest Audio, MSB and Eventus Audio come together for a joint effort, showing off some new products in the process. Starting at the source and we had Swiss outfit ReQuest’s brand new media server (or should I say “luxury music server”), which is around 10x the price of the BMC PureMedia I am currently reviewing so it better be pulling its weight. Just to clarify the price, it is £29,900. Obviously this thing is as complete as servers come from its 7-inch touchscreen, CD drive for ripping your music collection with their designed for Beast software and even the base option having an internal SSD. That being said the most internal memory possible is fairly small at 1.92TB, which considering that is this can handle DSD (up to quad rate and also 32/394kHz PCM), making a NAS driver pretty essential in the long run, not that the extra expense will probably bother you. That being said you can be smart about what is stored where, with your DSD and 24/192 files on the SSD and the FLAC or WAV rips on the NAS drive, doing so manually would be a pain but this is a built in smart process of the Beast to help manage you music and get the best speeds. Obviously you can connect it to the internet but that is not essential for operation and the same goes for any other method of control to use it, the PureMedia needs a monitor for set up at the least and the DigiBit Aria needs an iPad for control, obviously these are considerably cheaper but is worth noting nonetheless. It does also do movies, ripping CD and Blu-Ray disks in the internal drive. Obviously every component internally is maximised for THE very best audio playback, including a very solid power supply.
You might give a sigh of relief to learn that as well as being a server/streamer, this does also include a DAC that being a joint venture with MSB, is probably quite capable and therefore this has analogue outputs. That being said if you did plan on just using this a server, I think it is a shame you still have to pay whatever the cost of the DAC section is, why can’t you get a DAC less version? As if to back up my point in Munich the analogue stage was ignored and this was using one of the 5 digital outputs (note the lack of USB), i2S to be precise into another MSB DAC, the new flagship Select.
So the bold looking Select, which they were showing in a bling gold, not a stock colour but if you’re prepared to wait 6 weeks longer you can get it in a custom colour (there is even a tool on their site to help you visualise your choice) although if you do happen to be in a rush, you can choose from the standard matte white and black. The Select has a base price of $89,950 and you can choose the inputs and outputs from a modular list, so if you amplification changed from say a RCA input to XLRs, you can just change the module on the DAC. The same goes for inputs, were you can choose 2 out of a wide array of choices and add up two more for an extra $3995 (yes for the price for an additional input you could get quite a list of things, in fact that is almost as much as MSB entry level DAC), including subwoofer outputs. Also as this uses a power supply for both digital and analogue stages, you can choose between having the included dual power supply base or get two single power supply bases for get this, an extra 20k.
Now you may or may not know that I lately have been a huge fan of NOS R2R ladder DACs, mainly due to how impressed I am having a TotalDAC in my system. Now they actually made a point of mentioning how by having their new hybrid DACs (16 of them), whatever that means (I think I will contact for some more info here) that they are actually faster and more accurate than ladders. That being said they aren’t just saying this because they are against ladders seeing as they use them in every single over model in their portfolio.
The speakers were the Eventus Audio Nebula, the model under the flagship and coming in at $65,000 for the pair.
By the time we got to this room the common theme of awful music had driven us crazy, we were barking mad by the lack of a songs that would test a system or was chirpy in the slightest. Josh and I were generally exited by some of the products in this room but to start with the music was meh as we were used to but as I glanced to the screen of the Beast, I noticed they were packing quite a bit of AC/DC. Luckily the rep was a good sport and agreed to play some and I think he enjoyed it almost as much as us, maybe even more as he started air guitaring with a grin on his face, this is how music was supposed to make you feel. If I can recall correctly he played “Boogie Man” off the Ball Breaker album. The good music didn’t stop there and some confidence in the very expensive system was shown and rightly so because it was mighty impressive, showing dominance over the higher octane riffs Angus Young was playing on the guitar and on the switch to some Kraftwerk done a great job of reproducing the electronic synths. While I can say this stood out as one of the better and more capable rooms of the show, maybe due to a bit of bravery in music selection, any further details of the sound would be futile from such a short demo on a busy, tiring day.