While John Atkinson awaits a review sample of Parasound's just-released JC 2 two-channel analog preamp ($4000), photographed here (second from top) with Parasound president Richard Schram by Kalman Rubinson, I took the opportunity to discuss its genesis with Richard.
Whenever I have caught up with Ken Kessler (left) at audio shows in the past two years, he has uncharacteristically grumbled about all the work he was doing writing and compiling McIntosh...For the Love of Music. "Every time I interview someone connected with the iconic Binghampton audio company, they tell me about two more people I didn't know existed whom I should interview."
I got an email from Stereophile columnist John Marks Wednesday night, urging me to visit the room at the Venetian featuring speakers from retailer On Track Audio. I always do what I am told by my writers, so I looked in Thursday afternoon. There I auditioned the Directorate loudspeaker system, designed by mastering engineer Bill Roberts. All four cabinets are sealed boxes and are finished in exquisitely in-laid veneers, the work of On Track's Jim Carnes, who looks understandably pleased with his work in my photo. The sound with Belles amplification, and Kimber Kable, was very promising, I thought.
I couldn't resist posting this photo, not of a product, but of photos of a product, just to get Mikey Fremer all riled up about the fact that the Continuum Caliburn turntable, for which he forked out mucho dinero, is no longer the Big Dog of LP playback.
The Canadian Gershman Black Swan speaker ($30,000/pair), which mounts the tweeter and midrange unit in a separate A-frame enclosure to prevent their performance being affected by vibrations from the woofer, made its debut at HE2006 last May, and I was looking forward to hearing what it could do at CES.
Stephen Mejias mention Garth Powell's passion for what he does in his report from the Furman room at CES. AJ Conti, the man behind turntable manufacturer Basis Audio, has a similar passion for what he does. His current attention is focused on getting the drive belts for his well-regarded turntables as flat as possible, to eliminate the last vestige of drive-system spuriae from the audio recovered from vinyl. Dissatisfied with the highest precision he could get from commercial ground-belt vendors, he invested in his own production machinery.
Ultra Systems' Robert Stein cornered me—in the nicest way possible—at the Stereophile/Home Theater party Wednesday night, telling me that he had a great new acoustical damping product that I should check out in his booth. I was going to give this one a pass until he mentioned that it's small, easy-to-install, and inexpensive.
This man is electric. More than electric, this man is electricity. The strongest, purest current snaps through him and charges the entire room. We crowd around, unable to fully maintain his flow, but also unable to withdraw. John Atkinson and I settle in closest, occupying the front row. JA follows securely along, constant flickers of acknowledgement and wonder emerge, illuminated moments of understanding and interest. At the same time, however, running in the opposite direction, I feel almost as though I'm being rude too deeply occupied at scribbling these notes, my pen powered by his words and ideas, moving faster across the page than I want it to go, I can't even look up to meet his eyes. And his eyes, these ice blue darts, they're the blue of a glowing front panel. The man is plugged in.
"Recent advances in solid-state output devices and other components have opened up design possibilities never previously available," Audio Research's Terry Dorn explained. "And that led to our developing the Hybrid Drive HD220 stereo power amplifier ($8995)."
No, that's not another Vandersteen sock—it's the carbon fiber plinth of the Vandersteen 5As in Audio Research's room. "Richard [Vandersteen] isn't really offering the 5s in carbon fiber," Audio Research's Terry Dorn told us. "He just wanted to explore the material, so he did these."
At CES 2006, Jon Iverson and I were impressed by Studio Electric's $8500 Type One modules, even though the mating $3500 XLR woofer modules weren't operating. This year Studio Electric was showing off a pair of the $15,500/pair Type Two towers, which were pure art deco chromed metal work.
We were once again impressed by how un-hi-fi the sound in the deHavilland room was, this time in conjunction with a pair of Tannoy Prestiges. The $10,000/pair 50W deHavilland GM-70 single-ended triode is pure class-A, with zero negative feedback. The GM-70's directly-heated triode vacuum tube is said to be the largest output triode available today. We found the sound sweet, but surprisingly detailed and dynamic. Fit'n'finish were superb.
Behold bills itself as "true digital audio" since it maintains audio as a digital signal up to the amplifier stage. The 600Wpc BPA768 (US price TBD) incorporates 768kHz/24-bit signal processing, a switch-mode power supply, an analog output stage, and an integrated power conditioner.
TBI's Jan Plummer is so proud and punched up about his $400/pair Majestic Diamond 1 single driver loudspeakers that he seems to shimmer—as if he's transporting between this plane of existence and another one.