Continuing Coverage of CES
Pacific Grove, CA–based Birdland Audio is once again showing its Odeon-lite, a 24-bit/96kHz upsampling DAC with analog volume control for direct connection to a power amplifier. The $980 unit includes RCA, AES/EBU, BNC, and optical inputs; separate transformers and power supplies for the analog and digital circuits; and high quality parts throughout. The Odeon sounded very good upstream from speakers by Vince Christian Ltd., of Moss Landing, CA. Christian's products sounded very well balanced and forgiving in our brief audition, without any of the flaws (overly bright treble, recessed midrange, bloated bass) typical of speakers from new companies.
Chicago's TLG Acoustical Design, Inc., is showing several models of oversize horn loudspeakers suitable for large rooms and auditoriums. TLG's horns are extremely sensitive—all of them are rated above 105dB at 1W—and visually arresting. The Series I, for example, combines two 12" McCauley bass drivers, two Pioneer 6.5" professional midrange drivers, and four Pioneer high-frequency compression drivers in a complex and imposing cabinet that's 5' tall, 10' wide, and weighs 2500 lbs. This is not a product for apartment dwellers.
From the UK comes Chapter Audio—a new company formed by previous Chord designer Mike Gregory—debuting its "Chapter Two" MOSFET power amplifier, which produces 200Wpc into eight ohms and 300W into four. With a "universal" switched-mode power supply and balanced-ground layout, the Chapter Two is said to be phase coherent throughout its bandwidth (5Hz-95kHz;+0,-0.5dB); its -3dB point is 400kHz. The Chapter Two will sell in the US for $6700.
Other unusual products include Greybeard Audio's slate-clad loudspeakers and "Holographic Sound" from a Hungarian company called GreenWave Audio, whose speakers feature standard drivers mounted vertically magnet-to-magnet atop large ported cabinets. Belgium's Venture b.v.b.a. (no clue here as to the meaning of the abbreviation) has a lovely 20W single-ended tube amplifier on display, the "Reference One." Curiously, the company's flagship loudspeaker, a multi-driver tower known as "L'Excellence III" has a sensitivity rating of 89dB, making it less than ideal for use with the Reference One.