One reason the NAD M5—indeed, all of the Master Series components—sound so good, Mark Stone says, is the gigando special NAD class-A gain modules, which "offer tremendous dynamic headroom and nearly immeasurable distortion." JA is working on a review of the M3 integrated amplifier, which also uses these modules.
Lenbrook Technologies' Mark Stone pops with pride over NAD's Master Series $1799 M5 SACD/CD Player, which employs separate signal paths for CD and SACD. The player's CD resolution is 24-bit, 192kHz. Since it's aimed at audio systems rather than HT applications, the M5 includes comprehensive bass management for multichannel SACDs and front-panel–accessible preset 5.1 speaker configurations.
The amiable team of industry veterans David Solomon (left) and Jim Spainhour (right) make up Signal Path, who distributes Musical Fidelity products in the US. They are seen here with MF’s new “audio Swiss Army knife,” the kW250, which includes a CD player, an FM tuner, a preamp with an MM phono stage, and a 250Wpc power amplifier for its $9000 price. A digital input on the back takes the feed from your music server and yes, there is a jack for your iPod on the front. "An ‘exit-level’ component," is how Jim describes it, "for the middle-aged music lover who wants system simplicity without sacrificing sound quality."
It was only a couple of CEDIAs ago that Paradigm introduced its Signature series of high-performance speakers, and I was very impressed by the stand-mounted Signature S2 when I reviewed it for Stereophile in July 2005 (see http://www.stereophile.com/standloudspeakers/705paradigm/). But the Canadian company’s big news of the Show was that they have redesigned, not just the Signature series but their entire line! The new models use beryllium-dome tweeters and midrange units with aluminum cones treated with cobalt to add stiffness. The looks of the Signature series are still to die for, however.
File this under Only at CEDIA: Themeaddicts, Inc. is offering a Magic Message Mirror (also available as a talking pirate skull). The MMM looks like an ordinary mirror, but is integrated with your whole home automation system. It can update you on any changes within the system's ability to monitor.
It's official. I am a nerd! I couldn't resist snapping the interior of Theta's amplifier, which takes an audio input as PCM digital and transforms it into PWM digital without ever changing it back to analog until the music arrives at the speaker terminals.
Neil Sinclair gave me a tour of Theta’s new multi-channel amp, which keeps the signal exclusively in the digital domain from the S/PDIF inputs to the PWM output stage, the latter said to operate at the super-high frequency of 1MHz. Designed by veteran amp engineer Dave Reich, what is in effect a powerDAC—that’s what it says on the output-stage printed circuit boards—will find its way, I hope, into some two-channel products in due course.
JA already blogged about the Ultima Salon2 demo we attended yesterday, but I just had to second his praise with an additional rave: These large speakers are incredibly light on their feet. Yes, the bass was impressive, and, yes, they sounded fabulous on vocals, but for me, it was their ability to change rhythmic directions on a tack-head that was most impressive.
PS Audio's Paul McGowan was leaning so comfortably on these nice new AC Power Plants that it wasn't until my second visit that I realized the products carried the Ethereal label, the first fruits of a collaboration between these two companies. In addition to the 1500W Power Plant with its inbuilt harmonic distortion analysers, Paul also has the new surge-protected Power Center tucked under his arm. He looks pretty happy.
I finally got to see the new Cary Cinema II processor ($3000) that had been whispered about at the 2005 CEDIA. Sleek but prodigious, it has balanced analog and digital inputs in addition to single-ended analog, optical and coaxial digital inputs and a true analog bypass 7.1 input. There's balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as analog/digital outputs for a second zone. But get this: it is also Dolby-HD approved!
Slim Devices' Patrick Cosson and OnPR's Marivi Lerdo-de-Tejada pose with the California company's high-end, $1999 Transporter network music player, after granting me a hands-on session with it. The Transporter's Dynamic Feedback control knob is amazing—choose a function and it becomes a silky-smooth volume pot, an indexed rotary switch, or a velocity-sensitive controller. Better yet, each function feels absolutely "real."
Less flashy than the amplifier internals I blogged about earlier, but still enormously impressive, was this rack of Classé. Classé's Dave Nauber told me it was the first time the company had displayed their curved-profile components in these high-quality racks and that the installers were going nuts over them. They do do a restrained elegance.
While we have been salivating for months in anticipation of the impending release of the floorstander, the CS3.7 that Wes Phillips blogged about on Thursday, Thiel teamed a pair of them with 3 of the new SCS4 small LCR speakers (and a pair of SS-1 subs) in one of the most musical setups at the show. The SCS4 utilizes a single coaxial driver in a remarkably rigid and resonance-free enclosure. The front panel is an aluminum casting and the other panels are doubly-laminated 1" MDF. As a single source, this can be oriented vertically (as shown) or horizontally as a center channel without phase interactions. At only $1000 each, this matched sweetly with the CS3.7s.