Tablet-sized music player gets a hand on hi-res audio

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With its 11.6 in IPS LCD touchscreen, built-in hard disk drives (up to 4 TB), and series of inputs, the Nativ Sound Vita comes across more like a combination tablet and audio command center(Credit: Nativ Sound)

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With the availability of music streaming apps and ever-expanding options of flash drive storage, it's no wonder that mobile devices reign for media consumption. But a new startup is ready to show how bigger can mean better, catering to dedicated enthusiasts and audiophiles alike. The Nativ Sound Vita music player is designed to offer touchscreen access to all music with innovative voice control and wireless multi-room playback.

Most high-end digital audio players, such as the Astell&Kern AK380, Fiio X7, or Onkyo DP-X1 stick to a convenient, pocket-sized form. With its 11.6-in IPS LCD touchscreen, built-in hard disk drives (up to 4 TB), and series of inputs, the Nativ Sound Vita comes across more like a combination tablet and audio command center. This player is capable of streaming music via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth aptX, NAS/HDD, asynchronous USB 2.0, or SPDIF, supporting resolutions up to DSD256 and 32-bit/384 kHz PCM.

The Nativ Sound Vita is designed to connect music to wireless speakers and headphones, whether individually or multi-room, by AirPlay, UPnP/DLNA, SMB/CIFS, iOS, Android, Mac, or PC. Consider compatibility covered. On top of that, the Vita can direct video content to TVs, either wired by an HDMI cable or wirelessly with Google Cast. A built-in multi-directional microphone offers users a hands-free experience with voice commands for selecting music/tracks and adjusting volume levels.

In addition to playing music, the Vita provides information about artists, albums, and tour dates and locations. But what makes the Nativ Sound Vita an interesting option beyond audio enjoyment is the open platform. The company plans to make the (free) SDK available to everyone. So those with vision and creativity can design and implement third-party apps, enhancing the Vita with additional features and/or smart home connectivity.

Those dedicated to the high-resolution audio experience can include the (optional) Nativ Sound Wave. Although this DAC/AMP pairs well with the Vita, it also works with PC, Mac, and other digital sources. The Nativ Sound Wave features a differential DAC design with two 24-bit/192 kHz Burr-Brown DSD1792A; left and right channels are entirely separate with individual power supplies. This unit packs multiple input options, analog volume control, DSD upsampling, and support for MQA, quad-DSD, DXD, and PCM files up to 32-bit/384 kHz.

Also optional is the company's power supply, exclusively made by Nuvotem Talema. With a style to match the Vita and Wave, the Nativ Sound Pulse is designed to provide the latter with stable, noise-free power. An array of 25 low-noise linear regulators mitigate interference between circuits, while a multi-rail toroidal transformer helps to suppress power line disturbances through high-mass, low-profile, low-magnetic field design and electrostatic shielding.

The Nativ Sound Vita is currently funding on Indiegogo, having raised 62 percent of its US$100,000 goal in less than a day, with another 60 days left to go. Pledges start at $699 for the Wave and $999 for the Vita, each including an oak desk stand.

Prototypes and testing have already been completed, so if tooling and production go according to schedule, backers can expect shipments to start as early as this October.

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