Go forth and find ye cables, tweaks, power products, and low-cost amplification, saith the Lord of Atkinson. Little did I realize how much fun my assignment would be. While I didn't run across any low-cost amplification on my first day at CES, there were cables and tweaks galore.
Sonneteer first popped up on our radar at the 2006 Home Entertainment Show with their Bardone TX wireless audio transmitter. Three years later they've produced some real eye and ear candy with the Morpheus "music centre" which functions as an integrated amp and control center for all manner of digital media.
Formally, the limited-edition GAT components from Conrad-Johnson are the Great Anniversary Triodes, but longtime C-J enthusiasts will recognize the tribute to Carwell Gatling, who used to run the service/customer satisfaction department at CJactually, I've always thought that Gat's real job was to be the soul of CJ.
McCormack rolled out a complete line overhaul down to the cosmetics. About the only thing the company retained was its distributed node architecture (DNA) technology for its amplifiers. There are two new amps: the 250Wpc DBA-250 ($3995) and a 750W monoblock, the DNA-750 ($4750/each). Both amplifiers feature completely re-engineered voltage gain and driver circuits.
A different take on an integrated is the two-chassis 1000Wpc Uniwave Tek Digital Anaco 2 stereo amplifiers ($6800). The switch-mode power supply is in a separate chassis from the signal-carrying elements. That 1000Wpc rating, by the way, is at 4 ohms. Bandwidth is claimed to be 250kHz.
Rega had a (ta dah!) high-end integrated, the 90Wpc Elicit Mk.II ($3000). "We wanted something that was actually a step up from our separates," Steve Harris, president of The Sound Organisation, Rega's US importer confided. "The Apollo CD player was so far above its competition, we felt as though we needed to up our game with the new oneespecially since the older version was considered the finest amplifier we ever made."
Another company new to meanother high-end integrated. Actually, I'm in favor of both. I think HE integrateds make a lot of sense and new blood is always good for the breed. Actually, Mike Bladelius is not a new name in audio, having designed for Threshold in the early 1990s, but Bladelius Design Group certainly seemed like a new kid on the block.
Vincent was showing a room full of well-built, good-sounding, surprisingly affordable tube gear.The first thing that caught my eye (ear) was the 60Wpc V-60 ($3995). The V-60 sports four EL-34s per channel for that classic themionic caramel color (but just the teensiest bit). Pairs of 69273 and 6FQ7s complete the complement. Another sweet spot I never wanted to leave.
Another massive integrated that impressed me was Plinius' 200Wpc Hiato ($8900), which can also include a modular phono section ($1275). It accepts RCA and XLR inputs. Weighing in at a whopping 60 lbs, the Hiato sounded sauve and unflappable, living up to its name, which means "coming together in harmony" in Maori.
Kevin Halverson was excited about the latest version of the Model 200 integrated amplifier ($3750), which has a larger display than the older version, as well as an active front panel optional module ($50), which allows yu to control the 200 with any Muse remote control. Additional Modular Audio/Video Platform modules (MAPs) accommodate analog or digital inputs ($750/ea).
The recent marriage between Meridian and Sooloos didn't take long to bear progeny. They've started resorting the Sooloos line of media server products beginning with the Control:One touchscreen which is now the Control 10.
PS Audio is also showing a prototype of the new PerfectWave DAC/pre, also slated for around $2999, and sporting a touch screen. There are four HDMI imputs on the back (only compatible with their I2S flavor of HDMI) and a touchscreen on the front for controlling volume and such.
Last year PS Audio teased us with a prototype disc player called the memory link which never quite made it to production. Instead, the company evolved the idea further and created a new line of products branded PerfectWave.