Pioneer’s new VSA-AX10Ai-N high-end multi-channel digital amplifier can play Windows Media 9 files streamed from a personal computer — the first product to offer such a feature, according to Pioneer. It can accomplish this feat when connected to a personal computer using the Sony/Philips Digital Interface (S/PDIF). This is a digital interface format that can be used to stream digital audio data between two supporting devices without the usual conversion to analog. This means no data is lost in conversion and also copy-protection information is not discarded. In addition to Windows Media 9 Professional, the 200-watts-per-channel amplifier also supports phase change modulation (PCM), Dolby Digital, DTS and MPEG2 AAC digital audio and conventional analog signals. It went on sale in Japan last month for $US4600.