The Jadis magic is hard to explain. But once you hear it, you can recognize it again and again. It has to do with the beauty of the midrange, the accuracy of timbres, and an inherent musicality that is less about detail than essence.
One of the highlights of RMAF 2007 was encountering Lou Hinkley's Daedalus Audio Ulysses loudspeakers ($8800/pair) in the ART Audio room. Here, paired with Gill Audio Designs Alana preamp ($5000) and Elise DAC ($6000), an Ensemble transport, Clayton M-200 power amps ($9500/pair), and relatively inexpensive Empirical Design cabling, the system was arresting in its transparency and three-dimensionality.
It's hardly the same as clicking your heels three times and finding yourself back in Kansas, but Stereophile's metaphoric Good Witch of the High End, John Atkinson, has granted me my big wish for CES. Instead of finding myself wandering around and around in circles, following my ears, I’ve been assigned specific turf: T.H.E. Show. And since T.H.E. Show’s two venues, the St. Tropez and adjacent Alexis Park, are literally across the street from our bloggers' home for four nights, the newly and quite tastefully refurbished, remarkably low-key Hyatt Place Las Vegas (formerly the AmeriSuites), yours truly could not be happier. The Sands/Venetian may have more–well-known, higher-profile players, and is certainly attracting more visitors, but I've entered a number of wonderful-sounding rooms on my first day at the St. Tropez to make me quite happy to be here.
We'd been told to check out Boulder's new music server, but that's not exactly what the $24,000 1021 Disc Player is. It's a CD player (with a few other formats "to be announced") that uses a computer disc drive to feed a one-minute buffer to "preserve the integrity of the audio signal delivered from the drive. "Also," confided Steve Rockwell, "the clock is about this far [pinches fingers together], so jitter is phenomenally low."
We're stunned at how few exhibitors spend money for the larger rooms on the 35th floor of the Venetian, since they are so sonically impressive. Sumiko's room with the $28,000 SME 2012, $6000 Audio Research PH7, $10,000 Audio Research Reference 3, Audio Research Reference 210 monoblock amplifiers ($9000/each), and brand-spanking new $25,000/pair Vienna Acoustic Die Musik loudspeakers had us glued to the sweet spot.
Sumiko was showing the $2495 Primare DVD110 DVD/CD player/reciever. It's a two channel unit with a class-D 102Wpc amplifier and a couple of features you don't see on most stereo components: a subwoofer and 1080p video outs.
The three phase power supply is pure Ayre. There are three amplifiers, one for each phase. "Essentially, they are mini-MXRs," said Silberman. They are 120 degrees out of phase with one another, and we need to tune each one with a stethoscope to achieve absolute pitch stability. The result?
The ever-lovely Rosemarie Torcivia and Cynthia Fontaine, running the Stereophile room at the Venetian. They'd appreciate it if someone would bring them a decent sounding stereo to listen to. An ipod even.
We were stunned to see Roger Skoff in the Ultralink/XLO room—we thought he'd retired years ago. "I did," he explained, "but I was asked to design some new stuff incorporating new technologies and more advanced versions of our existing designs."
It exists; we saw it for ourselves! Wadia's $349 iTransport can take the digital signal out of an iPod before the DAC, outputting 16-bit/44.1khz resolution for uncompressed files—it doesn't upconvert lower-rez files like MP3s, but it does reformat them to 16/44.1, according to Wadia's John Schaffer.