Eventually, with the help of a security guard, I found the escalator to the registration table and exhibits on the Flamingo Hotel's lower level. If the lighting and drab décor were depressing, what seemed to be very low attendance was dismaying. A quick stop at the two-open "ballroom" Marketplaces, which in previous years were filled with vendors and illuminated by big, celebratory signage, gave hint of what was to come. The program book says 10 vendors, but it sure looked and felt like less.
Cary Audio is diving deep into streaming digital with their new DMS-500. There is a USB input on the front and two on the back for NAS drives or computer audio. There is also an eSATA port for direct connection, aptX Bluetooth for the phones in the room, SPDIF via coax and toslink.
Lumin had an entire row of new network players scheduled for release mid-year--all with prices still to be determined. Starting at the left, the S1 will be the flagship model and probably come in over $7k. The S1 handles DSD 64&128 and up to 24/192 PCM, includes four ESS Sabre 9018 DAC chips and also HDMI output.
Mola-Mola's Bruno Putzeys says that he wants to leapfrog the idea of incremental DAC design and create a product that puts us a decade down the road in one jump. To that end, he was showing off a prototype design that he has working, but not fit into a product yet. He adds that it should be ready in about a year.
At the back of their suite, in a private room to the side, was a new prototype Player/DAC called the E31 which will feature 24/192 PCM capability, USB 1&2, SPDIF and AES/EBU digital inputs. Price and availability have not been set yet, but the player did have a beautiful round remote and a sensor on top that detects when someone approaches and then turns on the display.
Later in the year we'll see the new E41 DAC added to the line which should have the same basic specs at the E31 and also DSD.
Jason Serinus has already reported on the excellent sound being produced by Joseph Audio’s Pearl Mk.3 speakers ($31,500/pair), which were being shown in their new, white finish and were being driven by the new Bel Canto "Black" electronics. But of more interest to this reporter were two new models from Jeff Joseph, who is shown in my photo with a pair of the Prism standmounts ($3699/pair) and a single Profile floorstander ($6999/pair).
VANA’s Kevin Wolff was showing off the new Liszt speaker, which is expected to sell for $15,000/pair when it becomes available at the end of the first quarter of 2014. This impressive sounding speaker has been in development for two years and combines a new version of VA’s distinctive flat coaxial HF/MF unit with three woofers operating below 150Hz, these mounted in different sub-enclosures and loaded with two vents.
When I interviewed Thiel’s new owner Bill Thomas (right in photo) at the 2013 CES, he was bullish about the company’s future. However, I felt that future was going to be dependent on whom Bill hired to head up the Kentucky company’s engineering team. At the 2014 CES, Bill introduced me to that person, Mark Mason (left), who had come to Thiel from PSB, where he had worked alongside veteran speaker engineer Paul Barton. Bill and Mark are flanking the new TT3 speaker, which is intended to replace the CS3.7 as the company’s flagship when it comes to market in the late summer. Bill feels that with Mark now leading the engineering, Thiel can be taken to a larger customer base.
Back in January 2007, Bob Deutsch reviewed the single-driver Eclipse TD712z loudspeaker from Japanese manufacturer Fuijitsu Ten. He was impressed by what he heard from this idiosyncratic full-range speaker, but the brand never established a strong foothold in the US market. CES saw the reintroduction of Eclipse to North America, now distributed by On A Higher Note. A new version of the TD712z, the Mk.2, made its debut at the Venetian, along with the TD520W subwoofer. "Female voicesimply perfect!" I scrawled in my notepad, there always being special to the presentation when you dispense with a crossover.