Theta Casablanca III HD Preamp/Processor

Theta Digital is one of the most venerable companies in high-end audio, offering many well-regarded products over 25 years. Even more impressive, many of those products are still available after years of upgrades and refinements. Take, for example, the Casablanca preamp/processor, which was first introduced 15 years ago. Its latest incarnation, the Casablanca III HD, adds HDMI 1.4 I/O and the ability to decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

New to the Casablanca III HD is an updated operating system, power supply, and front-panel display. Even better, the existing Casablanca III can be upgraded with these elements for $4995, and Theta offers owners of the Casablanca I and II a trade-in allowance of up to $5000 toward the purchase of a Casablanca III HD.

Unlike many pre/pros, this one is completely configurable, with circuit-board slots that can be populated by a variety of available modules, including three different digital-to-analog converters (DACs), one 12-channel digital-audio output module, two analog-audio input modules, and audio DSP. Theta has introduced two new modules with the Casablanca III HD—HDMI 1.4 with four inputs and one output and an audio DSP that performs Dolby True HD and DTS-HD decoding. The HDMI module can pass 3D video from any source device to the display.

As you might imagine, the price depends on the configuration you specify, starting at $14,995 for eight channels of Premium DACs and running to well over $20,000 with 12 channels of Theta's top-of-the-line Xtreme D-2 DACs. But the company's obvious commitment to product development and loyalty to its customers makes the investment seem entirely worthwhile.