Monitor Audio has now moved to its second-generation Platinum series loudspeakers, which Monitor presents as "most accurate and beautiful loudspeakers" the company has ever made. Shown was the top-of-the-line, towering PL500 II ($28,995/pair), whose front baffles are hand-upholstered in the same Ingleston leather used in many luxury British brands.
Accuphase's head of engineering, Masaomi Suzuki, introduced the company's new P-7300 flagship class-A/B stereo power amplifier ($32,000). The amp claims ultra-low noise and a super-high damping factorthe clipping power is higher than before, and the amp is 50% quieter than its predecessorand outputs 125Wpc into 8 ohms. Its versatility extends to outputting 800Wpc into 1 ohm, which means that loudspeakers with challenging, amp-wilting impedance curves should not present insurmountable problems.
We lamentably and most apologetically overlooked the launch of the Burbank-made Ocean Way Sausalito loudspeaker ($31,500/pair) last year. The speaker's face is angled at 10° for time alignment, and the cabinet has an 18-coat polyester finish as well as optional outrigger stands. The speaker is designed to allow the listen to move around the room without loss of imaging.
I was out of audio, teaching and making art, for almost 12 years (20032014). During that time, on-line retailer Music Direct acquired the rights and relit the ancient Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab torch. Now both brands are burning more brightly than ever. I picked up the new ½"-thick Music Direct Catalog at CES and it reminded me ever so much of an audiophile version of the soft-porn Bruce Weber created for the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. The Music Direct catalog (#16) has Grace Slick and Janis Joplin on the cover and tons of crazy (almost-naked) gear inside! I can't stop looking.
ELAC America introduced a new 100Wpc, class-A/B integrated amplifier with a switching power supply, the "Debut Series DA101EQ" ($499), which looked so Walter Gropius' Bauhaus: Moderne. I was deeply impressed by its industrial design quotient. Hidden inside its elegant 2.1-channel skin, the ELAC integrated includes an "Auto Blend" control feature that measures the nearfield response of your main speakers and subwoofer and then corrects phrase and adjusts crossover frequency to suit the listener's room.
GoldenEar was showing two new models at CES: the Triton 3+ ($2500/pair) and the larger Triton 2+ ($3500/pair). Both new GoldenEar loudspeakers have powered low-frequency drivers. The Triton 2+ and 3+ models both have new bass-mid drivers, new balanced crossovers, new bass tuning, and "new Triton 1 voicing!" Both models could move and handle like European race cars.
I talked with Bill Johnson for about 30-minutes, but it was enough to know I was completely enamored with the new Conrad Johnson CA150 integrated amp ($5000, or $7000 for the "ST" version with better parts) and the so-right sounding TEA 2 Triode Equalization Amplifier (aka RIAA phono stage) which costs $3300 stock, or $4500 with Teflon caps.
Conrad Johnson's TEA 2 phono stage was being fed by one of my favorite moderately priced record spinners: the Acoustic Signature WOW XL ($2395) with its own TA-1000 tonearm ($1995) and an Ortofon 2M Black moving-magnet cartridge ($755). The CA150 integrated amp was driving the 2-way, stand-mounted Penaudio Cenya Signature loudspeakers ($4000/pair)the presentation had this fast forward-moving grainlessness that I found quite beguiling.