In 2009, when Jon Iverson reviewed T+A’s Power Plant integrated amplifier, he was impressed by its “tight, yet musical character,” noting well-controlled bass and extended treble. T+A’s E Series Power Plant and Music Player have now been updated with high-quality balanced inputs and outputs.
Harman's Mark Levinson line is celebrating 40 years in business by announcing a completely new line of audio products, all in empty box prototype form at CES. Pictured here is the No.560 Digital Audio Processor with can function as both DAC and digital preamp. The 560 has 10(!) digital inputs on the back (though the prototype on display had only a blank panel) including two HDMI 1.3 inputs with "DSD-direct" input capability.
The No.560 is slated for release by the end of the year for a retail price of $6k.
Also due sometime near the end of the year is a new SACD player which can also function as a digital preamp and includes four digital inputs (two USB, two SPDIF) and volume control. The 519 also has HDMI, AES/EBU, optical, and SPDIF outputs.
Imagine: Somewhere in this pretty purple tangle of cables, there’s the world's hottest audiophile yoga instructora lithe little woman in white tights, stretching her inner sound.
Here we see Alpha Design Labs’ new iDevice ID-30 Series of iPod dock cables. Each uses silver-plated, oxygen-free continuous crystal copper conductors and can be fitted with straight or angled, 24k gold-plated USB A-type or 3.5mm stereo connectors. Prices range from $63 to $185, depending on model and length.
mbl is now shipping the Corona Line of products that were shown as prototypes last year. The mbl C31 CD Player, shown here with Chief Engineer Jürgen Reis, retails for $9,200 and features the same gorgeous casework mbl is known for as well as USB, Toslink and SPDIF inputs. The C31 also networks with other mbl Corona products for simplified control and display options.
Upscale Audio’s Kevin Deal is excited about PrimaLuna’s new DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3199), and I can’t blame him: The DiaLogue Premium uses six 12AU7 tubes, said to produce a wider bandwidth, greater dynamic range, and improved bass control over previous DiaLogue models; users can have fun swapping between 6L6GC/KT66, EL-34/KT77, 6550/KT88, and KT120 power tubes; a “Bad Tube Indicator” lets you know when a tube has expired and provides automatic bias adjustment; a high-quality Alps potentiometer should provide long-lasting, quiet volume control; and, like every PrimaLuna amp we’ve seen, the DiaLogue Premium is beautifully built and finished.
A look inside the PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3199) reveals neat point-to-point wiring and high-quality parts, like Takman resistors and SRC tinfoil capacitorsstuff that an amp-lover like Art Dudley might appreciate.
First shown at RMAF last year and making its CES debut, the QA-9 is intended for audiophiles wishing to transfer their LPs and other analog sources to hard drive. It features two XLR left and right inputs that can run both balanced and unbalanced and has only a single USB output (up to 24/192) to your computer.
The QA-9 should be shipping in late February or early March at $3,950. An optional Word Clock Input Board upgrade is $800 and will allow the QA-9 to be synced to a master clock in a recording studio environment.
Ariel Brown (Ayre's senior engineer) also hinted at a new DAC at some point that would include both USB and SPDIF inputs.
Eleven year old French audio manufacturer Neodio was at CES for the fourth year showing their complete line of audio products including the NR 22 CD Player ($15k), Transport ($13k) and DAC ($12k). Shown here are Michel Rousseau on the left and Jean-Francois Fronton on the right with the DAC and Transport in silver on the shelf. All three units feature a special non-resonant three-layer chassis and the company is looking for US distribution.
A music server priced in the low six figures. An air tight music server filled with inert gasses. A music server so rare, only two have been built to date.
I try to be logical about show coverage so usually start at the top floor and work my way down, room by room, floor by floor.
CES exhibits at the Venetian top out at floor 35, and as soon as I exited the stairwell, I spied the first exhibitor, Magico speakers. I'm here to cover digital and tend to skip the speaker-only rooms, but Magico provides great demos, so I stepped in.
One of the newcomers to the Venetian this year is a Japanese company called Qualia (not to be confused with the short-lived Sony venture). I remember seeing their gorgeous-looking products at T.H.E Show last year, and new this year is the equally stunning Indigo USB-DAC at $45,000.
The Indigo USB-DAC sports four 32-bit Hyperstream DACs and all discrete output and headphone amplifier sections. Connections on the back include both balanced and unbalanced outputs, as well as USB, coax, XLR and TOSLINK inputs. The unibody cases are machined from high-purity aluminum and the product is available now, distributed in the US by Immedia.
For several years now, the CES's High-Performance Audio exhibits have been housed at the tony Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. And also for several years, the room shared by Stereophile and Home Theater magazines, now joined by our sister websites AudioStream.com and InnerFidelity.com, has been hosted by our administrative assistant (which means she is the glue that holds us together and tells me she prefers to be called our "Digital Goddess") Rosemarie Torcivia. Welcome to Las Vegas, Ro'.
The first morning of CES is traditionally when Stereophile presents its awards for the best products of the previous year, voted on by the magazine's editors and writers. Here, in the magazine's suite at the Venetian Hotel, awaiting their recipients are the 2011 Awards. My thanks to Ariel Bitran for doing a great job getting the awards to CES in time for the presentations.
After encountering booths of so many manufacturers I had never heard of, I got some comfort from seeing a familiar name from the world of audio: Velodyne. Well known for their subwoofers, Velodyne has entered the highly competitive earphone market. Their new $90 Vpulse's claim to fame isyou guessed itexceptionally powerful bass performance. Velodyne's David Short was most enthusiastic about it, and told me that although Velodyne is not about to go out of the subwoofer business, they're working on a wide range of headphones.