If you follow my blogs, you know I am a big fan of the Colorado based company Ayre Acoustics. (I even have one of their power amps in my main system.) What you may not know is that Ayre designed the electronics inside Neil Young's new Pono music player.

Figuring how to get great sound into both a small package for a limited budget lead Ayre to come up with a really cool project called the Codex. I just got notice from Ayre that Audio Advice will get one of the first 10 units off the production line to try out.

What is the Codex? In short, it's a long story! The Codex can be lots of things all at once or individually. What it's not (for an American made high performance product) is super expensive. It's slated to be under $1800.

For that price you get a host of options. First, it has two digital inputs: one USB and one Toslink. Right off the bat, you may have figured out it can be a USB DAC, a regular DAC, or both. To get this from Ayre for under $2000 is astounding! But the benefit does not stop there.

The Codex has a volume control. So if your audio input needs can be satisfied with a USB and Toslink source (think a Mac Mini for music and maybe an Oppo for discs and streaming services), all you need to do is add a power amp because the Codex is also a preamp!

Okay. That has to be it, right? Well, not quite. The last feature is what we see the Codex being used for the most. It's got a fully balanced Ayre high end headphone amp built in! You can use it with balanced or normal single plug headphones and take advantage of its great Ayre DACs and the headphone preamp/amp!

We can't wait to get our hands on the test unit and listen to it as a preamp, a DAC, and great headphone amp. (We have promised not to sell it - sorry for all you Ayre lovers!) Ayre should be shipping these for sale sometime in August. The wait will not be long!