Proprietor Gavin Fish was on hand to show off LH Lab's latest prototype, the Geek Source (initially started as an Indiegogo project), slated for release this spring at a retail price of around $5,000. There are optional Femto clocks and the Source will handle pretty much all PCM and DSD formats.
Also on display in the LH Labs room was the long awaited VI DAC, also started as an Indiegogo project, and available shortly via normal retail for $4999 in solid state version, or $6999 with tubes sporting both single-ended or balanced outputs as shown here. Interestingly the tube version still contains the complete solid-state output stage, so you can switch between them.
Not having been actively involved in the turntable scene until recently, I found out for the first time about European Audio Team (EAT) at this year's CES. I was intrigued by the look of the various EAT turntables and arms, especially the E-Flat turntable with its flat arm ($4475). My guess was that the turntable was direct-drive, but the charming Jozefina Lichtenegger, the company's CEO (above), told me that the turntable was belt-driven, with a 35 lb platter.
Coming from the pro market, where active loudspeakers have been the norm, ATC is a major advocate of the active approach. According to ATC, the advantages include more accurate crossovers, lower intermodulation distortion, improved frequency response and stereo matching, and better low-frequency control. The active speaker from ATC being demoed at CES was the SCM40A, ($12,999/pair; $6999/pair in the passive version).
Made in Slovenia, the Ubiq One ($13,750/pair) is a striking-looking speaker, whose sound (in a system with the Absolare Passion integrated amplifier and Memory Player 64) had a horn-like quickness. I looked up Ubiq Audio on the internet, and was interested to note that Igor Kante, Ubiq's CEO and project leader, is a big fan of Avantgarde horns, as am I.
Now distributed in the US by MoFi distribution, the venerable Quad Electroacoustics has a new non-electrostatic line, the Z series, which uses woven glass-fiber cones for the midrange and bass units, allied to a "true ribbon" tweeter. The tweeter is said to have descended from the original Corner Ribbon, which preceded the electrostatic Quad ESL-57. On static display at CES 2016 were the Z-3 ($4199/pair, left side of the ESL-2812 in the center of the photo) and the Z-4 ($4000/pair, on the right).
"Clear sound from the north" is how the speakers from Penaudio are identified in the product literature, and my immediate thought was that this is a speaker from The Great White North, ie, Canada. Actually, the speakers are designed in Finland, with the factory in Latvia. The speaker in the photo is the Serenade Signature ($10,999/pair), a slim floorstander that uses custom SEAS drivers. Good sound with Conrad-Johnson electronics.
The French speaker company, Cabasse, is probably best known for their huge spherical speaker (La Sphèrereviewed by Michael Fremer in September 2008) but they make a wide range of speakers, most of them more conventional-looking. Making its US debut at CES 2016 was the Murano, a 3-way bookshelf type with a coaxial tweeter.
I find it hard to believe, but only in the last 5 or 10 years did the museum in Cremona, Italy, where famed violinmaker Antonio Stradivari was born in 1644, receive the first violin that Stradivari ever made. To honor the occasion, Sonus Faber loudspeakers has issued Il Cremonese ($45,000/pair), whose price is far lower than that violin. An extension of Sonus Faber's Cremona and Stradivarius series, Il Cremonese incorporates technology from the company's higher-level models. Paolo Tezzon custom-designed all drivers to achieve greater accuracy and coherency.
Alvin Lloyd has just introduced the handsome new Grand Prix Audio Monaco V2.0 turntable (price somewhere between $35,000 and $38,000). Set to ship in February, the turntable offers multiple advancements that can be added to existing Monaco models. "The plinth is the same, but virtually everything else is new," Alvin explained. "You can even request a platter color to match your speakers." In this case, the color of your hat or gloves really can match your shoes or, to honor the speaker analogy, your lipstick, should you so indulge.