No Sharp Edges Here
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.
You know you're going to have a good time when the first people you encounter, other than the fabulous Marjorie Baumert and Al Stiefel of Rocky Mountain Audio Fest fame, are the warm, blessedly open folks from Edge Electronics. It's even better when their room delivers the near impossible: great sound on the first morning of T.H.E. Show.
So what's so great about Edge? Paired with the same Avalon Eidelon diamond-tweeter-equipped speakers ($34,500/pair) that sounded so great in the VTL room at CES 2007, the Edge G CD Player ($6038), Signature 1.l preamp ($14,788), Ref 20M power conditioner ($3578), and NL 12.1 SE amplifier ($30,464)—please don't ask me to explain the pricing—all connected by Cardas Golden Reference cables, were throwing a wonderfully deep, enveloping soundstage that made me want to sit and listen, and then listen some more.
Thanks to great electronics (and the none-too-shabby speaker design), the Avalons absolutely disappeared, leaving only music in their place. That may not sound like much. But in a show context, to find oneself drawn in by music rather than a collection of sometimes intriguing, sometimes puzzling sounds is far too rare an occurrence. The strains of the final minute of Mozart's Mass in C Minor were beautiful. On the first track of Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, and Paul Motian's Goodbye (ECM), the piano actually sounded like a piano, which is quite an accomplishment. The bass sounded absolutely solid, with not a trace of booming or bottoming out. And timbres were pretty darn true.
The man next to me commented to Edge’s Steven Norber (pictured) that he always comes to the Edge room at shows, because it's one of the few places where he can be assured good sound. That was certainly the case here. I returned at the end of the day to get another taste. Bravo.