January 2015 News

Letter from the President

Happy 2015! After almost a year as President of Constellation Home Electronics, I remain as excited today as I did when I started here – maybe even more so. Even as the economy continues to strengthen, and the stock market reachesnew highs,we are planning ways to bring more value to our clients by broadening bothour scope of product categories and addinglines from manufacturers that offer benefits we have not had available before.

First, let me speak to the increased scope of our products:

  • Crestron has recently introduced a new line of products called Pyng, which is a budget-oriented solution to lighting control, motorized shade control, thermostats and security, with more to come. Though the capabilities of this line are more limited than a full Crestron system, it provides many benefits that were not available from Crestron before, at least not at this price point.
  • Constellation is now offering LED lighting, in the form of bulb swaps and, when necessary, fixture replacement. With the recent advances in LED technology, we can color match incandescent light bulbs, while greatly reducing the use of electricity and offering lifetimes of 25,000 hours. Imagine never having to change a light bulb again! We have solutions available for both the residential and commercial markets.
  • Most of us here in Santa Fe have experienced trouble with our cell phones losing reception. Constellation has found a very reliable cell antenna repeater system that, as long as we can get at least minimal cell reception from the roof, we can amplify and broadcast through the house.
  • The WiFi solution we have been using recently has been extremely robust. We now have the ability to do a wireless survey in your home and offer a bulletproof solution to get WiFi throughout.
  • Our offerings from window shade manufacturers have improved. We now have battery-powered shades (average 2-year life of batteries), so all those places to which we couldn’t get wires, we are now able to add window treatments. And, separately, Crestron has increased the warranty on their shades from 5 years to lifetime! No more worries about motors failing, etc.

Second, we’ve added some new lines, some classic names and some new ones in the automation business:

  • Did any of you have those big Klipsch horn speakers in college? I know I did. We have added Klipsch to our speaker line, and have a fully functional surround sound system in our theater. I’m very excited about this addition. Klipsch is a classic name in audio (inventors of the horn speaker) and have a different sound than the other lines we carry. In addition, Klipsch speakers are extremely efficient, meaning you can get a lot out of a little. Come in and hear them soon!
  • Qmotion is the battery-powered shade addition I previously mentioned. We can do windows up to twelve feet by twelve feet and control them from a wall switch, a remote control or a control system like Crestron.
  • Universal Remote Control is a line we had previously carried, and now are bringing back. This gives us a lower-priced programmable remote control solution. Though not as robust as the RTI remotes we also offer, they work great for stereo music systems and surround sound systems.

New technologies are arriving almost daily on our doorstep. New controllable door locks, new iPadapps, new LED technologies (talk about fast-moving!). As we go through this year, we will be diligent in keeping you up to date on these advances. If you see anything that meets a need, or simply tickles your fancy, let us know. In the meantime, stop in the showroom anytime to see all the changes we have made/are making, or just to say hello!

Best Regards,

Bill O’Connor
Bill@constellationsantafe.com

CES Update

Ayre’s Codex DAC-headphone Amp 

Ayre's Codex DAC-headphone ampAyre’s known for $5000-plus audio electronics, so seeing its new Codex DAC-headphone amp, which is projected to sell for about $1500, was a shock. “When we did Pono [the Neil Young-backed portable high-res music player, for which Ayre designed the electronics], we learned a lot about making lower-cost products,” a company rep told me. The Codex is a DAC first, with DSD at standard and double-rate and PCM up to 32/384 resolution. It has XLR and RCA analog outputs plus USB and TosLink inputs, so it can be used as a digital preamp for a basic system. And of course, it can drive headphones through its 1/4″ and 3.5mm front output jacks.

Audioquest NightHawk Headphones

AudioQuest NightHawk HeadphonesThe $599 NightHawk is the first headphone model from AudioQuest, and it may go down as the best first attempt at headphones since the PSB M4U 2. It uses 3D-printed earcups made from Liquid Wood, a plant-fiber-based material that can be injection molded. I thought the NightHawk was easily one of the best new headphone models at CES 2015, with a seductive ease and smoothness yet loads of detail and a nice sense of spaciousness.

SONY  NWZ-A17

Sony NWZ-A17 high-resolution media player Sony says the NWZ-A17 is the smallest and lightest high-resolution media player ever introduced. The unit plays high-resolution audio files in DSD format (2.8 or 5.6MHz) or in AIFF, Apple Lossless, FLAC, and WAV formats up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. Sony says its new DSEE HX upconversion included in the NWZ-A17 improves the quality of standard-resolution and compressed formats such as MP3, raising their sound quality to a level close to that of high-resolution audio files. The unit has 64GB of storage onboard and also accepts micro SD cards. Price isn’t set yet, but a Sony rep told me to expect something around $299.

SONY NW-ZX2

Sony NW-ZX2The NW-ZX2 is basically the NWZ-A17 media player described above, combined with Sony’s new PHA-1A DAC/headphone amp in a single chassis. It has 128GB of onboard storage and also takes micro SD cards. It also adds Sony’s LDAC wireless technology, which the company says delivers a data rate of up to 990kbps, three times what Bluetooth can achieve. No price is available yet.

McIntosh’s D150 digital stereo preamplifier review from Soundstage Global

Parasound’s New Halo Integrated

AudioQuest’s Forthcoming Niagara 7000

Bel Canto Design introduced the e.One REFStream

Finally High Quality USB to Lightning Cable

McIntosh’s D150 digital stereo preamplifier Parasound's New Halo Integrated unnamed (7) unnamed (8) unnamed (9)

Integrated Amp Mania at CES 2015

Aavik U-300

Aavik U-300

D'Agostino M-Life Integrated Amp

D’Agostino M-Life Integrated Amp

Pass Labs New INT-60 & INT-30

Pass Labs New INT-60 & INT-30

Crystal Cable Integrated amplifier

Crystal Cable Integrated amplifier

Chord Electronics

Chord Electronics