Product News: Late Fall 2020 Edition Page 2

Helm Audio’s New $100 Amp/DAC Is THX-Certified
Helm Audio, a three-year-old company specializing in headphones and related accessories, is finally shipping the USB amp/DAC (digital-to-analog converter) it previewed eleven months ago at CES 2020. Designed to elevate sound quality for smartphones and other portable devices and, as CEO Eric Johnson puts it, “democratize audiophile quality through affordability,” the $100 Helm Bolt packs a serious punch.

In addition to decoding MQA files, the Bolt is THX-certified, which means it has passed a series of audio tests to ensure flat frequency response, low distortion, low noise, and an output that’s stable and strong enough to accommodate a wide range of headphones. The device senses headphone impedance and automatically adjust output voltage to the proper level, while its LED changes color to indicate sample rate: blue for standard definition (less than or equal to 48 kHz), green for high definition (greater than 48 kHz), and magenta for MQA.

PCM playback is supported at sampling rates up to 384 kHz and DSD playback at sampling frequencies up to 5.6 MHz but resolution is limited to 88.2 kHz or 96 kHz at the output. Unlike other USB devices, the Bolt has a 3.5mm minijack output but sprouts a short cable with a USB-C input at the end to isolate the connector from the digital-to-analog converter; the DAC also employs three oscillators for “superior frequency lock” over single-oscillator designs. Visit for more information.

New Bluesound Update Adds ‘Stereo Surround’ Mode
Bluesound, sister to Canadian stalwart brands PSB and NAD, has announced a new software update for the Pulse Soundbar 2i ($999) and Powernode 2i streaming amplifier ($899) that adds a stereo surround mode. Developed by NAD, the mode mixes two-channel (non-Dolby) sources into the rear surrounds of a home theater grouping to create a more natural-sounding surround field.

Owners of these products are encouraged to experiment with the stereo surround mode, which heightens realism by extracting the natural ambience present in well-produced stereo recordings. As product manager Matt Simmonds explained, “Using Stereo Surround provides a subtle but highly natural and believable ambience from the surround channels, creating an immersive experience even when playing two-channel content.”

The BluOS 3.12 update also brings MQA support to Tidal and Tidal Connect as well as improvements to Dirac calibration for the NAD C 658, M10, and M33 streaming devices. Visit for more information.

HiFiMan Unveils its First Closed-Back Dynamic Headphones
HiFiMan, the New York-based personal audio/headphone specialist known for its planar-magnetic designs, is getting ready to ship its first closed-back dynamic driver headphones. The drivers used in the new HE-R10D headphones (shown, $1,499) have been optimized by applying nano-scale particles in a variety of patterns and layers — a technology developed for the company’s in-ear monitor that’s said to reduce distortion and improve clarity.

Reflecting the “best of closed- and open-back headphone designs,” each driver is encased in a large pinewood earcup to provide ample breathing room. The cups are fitted with “tranquility” earpads made with high-quality leather and a suede contact surface that focuses sound on the ear while providing sonic isolation and comfort. The headband is leather-encased memory foam attached to a steel skeleton.

High-quality silver-plated cables carry the signal to the drivers and a TRSS socket accepts a balanced or unbalanced input via one of three supplied cables: 3.5mm minijack, 6.5mm phone plug, and balanced XLR.

HiFiMan also introduced a near-identical looking planar-magnetic version, the HE-R10P, that sells for $5,499, marking the first time the company has offered a closed-back planar design in 15 years.

A BlueMini wireless adapter (attached to the HE-R10D headphones in the photo) is available option for either model. Visit for more information.

More Product News

Focal Releases Aria K2 936 Floorstanding Loudspeaker

Product News: Fall 2020 Edition

Epson Launches Under-$1,000 Home Theater Projectors

Anthem Unveils New A/V Processors, Receivers, Amps

Best Gear of Fall 2020

AudioQuest Introduces 48G HDMI Cables

New Product News: Early Fall Edition


SuicideSquid's picture

I mentioned this in a previous comment and I have to harp on it again because it's bloody infuriating.

Don't write "it is said that", or some variation. You've done it multiple times in this article. "A configuration said to extend dynamic range to 124 dB" said by whom? "a technology developed for the company’s in-ear monitor that’s said to reduce distortion and improve clarity." said by whom?

This is lazy, sloppy, misleading writing. Your readers would like to know who said this. Is this someone unrelated to the company who has tested these devices and confirmed these facts? Or is this baseless advertising puffery and you're sycophanticly reprinting?

"HiFiMan claims its nanotechnology reduces noise and improves clarity" is clear and specific and tells the reader exactly how much stock to put into this claim. It's far better than the awful voice from nowhere.

Why shouldn't you write in the voice from nowhere? Here's an example: "It is said that Bob Ankosko is a hack writer who misleads his readers and schills for scam cable companies".

Al Griffin's picture
This post consists of product news sourced from recent press releases supplied to us by manufacturers. When it's stated that something "is said" to "do something," that means the manufacturer is making that claim in the press release. That should be completely obvious. Be civil, Mr. Squid, or you will get blocked.
SuicideSquid's picture

Mr. Griffin,

I appreciate the reply, but with respect, I come here to read Sound & Vision, not to read press releases. I enjoy learning about new products, but hope you do a little more than merely regurgitate advertising puffery.

Again, it is simply *better writing* - more clear, more specific, more accurate, and more pleasant to read, to state who says something, rather than writing in a voice that's coming from a nebulous nowhere. "It is said" is just bad writing, period, and shouldn't ever be used by a professional writer, ever.

My comment about Mr. Ankosko was not intended to be taken seriously (I thought that was obvious) but as an example of why that style of writing is obnoxious and pernicious.