CES 2010 Sneak Preview
This year's high-performance exhibitors number at least 274 (down from 353 last year), and are gearing up to woo registrants to their 206 suites (down from 245) on floors 29–35 of the Venetian Hotel Tower, as well as in 19 (up from 17) air-walled conference rooms inconveniently located on the second floor, way on the other side of the hotel in the Sands Convention Center. While no major audiophile companies have bailed for the main CES venue, the Las Vegas Convention Center, Dynaudio has migrated from the LVCC to the Venetian. Given that CES's keynote addresses, the tech innovation showcase, and other exhibits formerly housed in the Venetian and the Sands have been moved to the Las Vegas Hilton and the LVCC, the high-end industry is more likely to have the Venetian to themselves.
T.H.E. Show has found a new home at the Flamingo Hotel, a walk of less than five minutes from the Venetian, T.H.E. Show also welcomes members of audiophile societies. Yupjoin such a society (see www.stereophile.com/audiophilesocieties), and you're in at very low cost. Given its new proximity to the Venetian and the Las Vegas monorail, T.H.E. Show has replaced its free shuttle buses with: more exhibitors; speakers including John Atkinson, Harry Pearson, and Bob Levi of the L.A./Orange County Audiophile Society; a performance by singer Napúa Davoy; and a music marketplace populated by Acoustic Sounds, Chesky, Classic Records, Elusive Disc, HDtracks.com, MA Recordings, Music Direct, Reference Recordings, themusic.com, Ultra Systems, and more. Among the exhibitors listed are Audience, Audio Note, Bryston, deHavilland, Edge, Kiso, Magnepan, PBN, Purist, Stillpoints, VMPS (reprising their live vs recorded demo of last year), and WAVAC.
Despite an embargo until January 7 on announcements of some major new products, press releases from companies still in the process of soldering prototypes together continue to deluge Stereophile's inboxes. Here's a sampling of the hot unveilings at CES and T.H.E. Show that we are free to talk about:
AAAudio Imports, enjoying the unfair advantage of its alphabet-leading name, introduces the Ypsilon VPS-100, a tube-based phono preamplifier, made in Greece, that favors an LCR network, ie, one using inductors, over the more common CR network; and Einstein Audio's The Tube Mk.11, a 19-tube preamplifier. Acapella of Germany will show the imposing High Violoncello II horn loudspeaker. Germany's Accustic Arts releases its fully balanced Tube-Preamp II, a fully class-A tube-hybrid design using four military 7025 tubes. April Music will debut the Stello Eximus CD5 CD player. Like many other companies, Arcam will display a strong home-theater emphasis, in their case with the new AVR600 A/V receiver and Blu-ray player. Atoll Electronique promises the cost-effective, 24-bit/192kHz DAC100. Audience introduces its crossoverless ClairAudient LSA 4+4 loudspeaker. Over at the LVCC's South Hall, Audio-Technica will show noise-canceling headphones and a USB turntable.
Bergmann of Denmark shows the Sindre air-bearing turntable and air-bearing tonearm, Sleipner Reference turntable, and Magne entry-level turntable. As Chord demos their Cyan Click all-in-one integrated amplifier–DAC, their distributor, Bluebird Music, is set to unveil Croft Electronics from England and loudspeakers from Peak Consult. Dynaudio is revved up to display the DM 2/6 compact monitor. Edge Electronics, newly purchased by Donald Nichols of Illinois's RB Manufacturing & Electronics, will showcase the NL Signature 1.2 monoblock and Signature 1.2 preamplifier. Electrocompaniet has a trio of new products: the Maestro all-in-one A/V system, Prelude BR-1 Blu-ray player, and Nordic Tone Model One loudspeaker, the last made entirely of cast aluminum. Esoteric will feature their new SACD/CD remasters, D-97 USB DAC-preamp, and seemingly all-purpose RZ01 SACD/CD player, which comes complete with integrated amplifier, DAC accessibility and USB input, 32-bit D/A conversion, and moving-magnet phono input. Not to be outdone, Exposure has revamped its entire product range, and introduces the 2010S2 entry-level and 3010S2 series, which include everything from CD players to phono cards.
Genesis will show the 7.1 floorstanding loudspeaker, which won the CES 2010 Innovations Award; designed for both two- and multichannel systems, it boasts servo-controlled bass with class-D amplification. HRT (High Resolution Technologies) touts their truly diminutive, low-cost, 24/96 Music Streamer Pro, a USB-connected asynchronous DAC. Allen Perkins of Immedia, profiled in the January 2010 Stereophile, will debut the new Spiral Groove tonearm and top-of-the-line SG 1.1 turntable, a complete range of new Groove Line cables, a Spiral Groove 65W class-A amplifier, Sonics by Joachim Gerhard Allegra loudspeaker, and the Lyra Delos cartridge. At the Hilton, KEF boasts the striking, side-firing Concept Blade loudspeaker. Koetsu has added two new speaker lines, and promises three speakers from Rosso Fiorentino, as well as others from Germany's Odeon; they'll also display Blacknote DSA 150 and DSA 100 digital amps. Lindemann of Germany will show the USB-DDC 24/96 computer-DAC interface and 882 integrated amplifier. The Lotus Group will unveil their Granada loudspeaker, which features the unique, handcrafted Feastrex driver from Japan. Not to be outdone, Magico introduces the Q5, a five-driver, four-way floorstanding speaker housed in a hard-anodized enclosure of aluminum and brass.
McIntosh Laboratories introduces its first universal disc Blu-ray player, the MVP881; the MEN220 room-correction system; the MX150 12-channel A/V preamp; and the MXA60, a 60th-anniversary integrated audio system. Meridian shows how busy it's been with the additions to its user-friendly, Sooloos 2.1 Digital Media System (winner of the 2010 CES Innovations Award) of Rhapsody, Internet radio, remote iPhone operation, and browser and display enhancements; an ID40 Sooloos card for its Reference Class 800 Series electronics; G61 and G68 surround controllers; 808.3 Signature Reference CD player; and 861 V6 Reference Digital Surround Controller. Monster Cable celebrates 30 "Monsterous years" with the Turbine Pro In-Ear speakers (aka headphones). NAD boasts the M56 and T557 Blu-ray players and M2 Direct Digital amplifier.
Panasonic will show the DMP-B15 portable Blu-ray player, which won a CES 2010 Innovations Award. Pass Labs is excited about their XP-25 phono preamp, SR-2 three-way loudspeaker, INT-30A 30W class-A integrated amp, and X260.5 power amp. Peachtree's harvest includes the iDecco, claimed to be the world's first "Pure Digital to DAC" integrated amp made for the iPod; the upgraded Decco 2; and the DS 4.5 and 5.5 speakers. Polk is going surround-silly with the Wireless Surround F/X single-footprint speaker system with DSP amplifier; it's also upgrading its Atrium outdoor speaker series and indoor Vanishing Series ceiling speaker, and adding new, wireless DSW Pro Digital Subwoofers. PrimaLuna will show its dual-mono, 12AU7-tube–based, remote-controlled DiaLogue Three reference preamp. PS Audio has a bushel full of new products, some of which will be in either preproduction or sneak-preview mode; they include the Dedicated Music Library, an iPod/iPhone controller, the Network Bridge, the Desktop Media Manager, and the PerfectWave power amplifier.
Silbatone will introduce the striking Aporia Iris Special Edition horn loudspeaker, specially tuned for jazz lovers; the Silbatone Phone Preamplifier; and the T1 turntable. Simaudio launches the Moon Evolution 750D, "the world's first true 32-bit DAC." Back on Earth, Snell Acoustics touts the long-awaited availability of the D'Appolito Array Phantom B7 loudspeaker they unveiled a year ago. TAD has a new Compact Reference speaker, and will also introduce the M600 power amp and D600 disc player. At T.H.E. Show, Teresonic touts the Magus Silver XR, a 100dB-efficient Lowther-equipped compact loudspeaker with optional customized stand. The Lars will debut their latest power amp, whose watt-per-dollar cost is unmentionable. Theta Digital, in major resurrection mode, will display its new Compli Blu all-format transport, and perhaps the forthcoming Casablanca III HD with HDMI. Tidal of Germany shows three loudspeakers, including the Sunray, whose ceramic-diaphragm woofers, diamond-diaphragm tweeter, and separate self-adjusting modules for the high midrange and bass could set you back, after tax, a hot 200 grand. Trends balances things out with the TA-10.2 mini-palmtop class-T amplifier for the iPhone.
Ultra Systems will offer proof that the room-tuneable Michael Green still lives with its new RoomTuneART products; they'll also show new HiFi-Tuning fuses, Ultimate Cones, and an LP weight/enhancer, the Vinyl Resonance Optimizer. VMPS will show their new dual-line bipole RM50 loudspeaker, "designed with lessons learned from reproducing live music at T.H.E. Show 2009"; it includes digital speaker and room correction. VTL debuts an internally retrofittable phono stage for their TL-5.5 series II line stage. Vitus Audio (pronounced VEE-toos) will display a new phono section, details unavailable at press time. Wadia Digital will undoubtedly turn heads with their updated 171i Transport digital player dock, and offer sneak peeks of an upcoming, limited-edition CD-player/DAC. Waterfall Audio introduces the diminutive Serio compact loudspeaker, made of glass. Weiss will replace its Minerva DAC with the 24-bit/192kHz DAC202, FireWire- and headphone-ready. YG Acoustics introduces the all-aluminum Carmel loudspeaker. Ypsilon touts the Aelius monoblock power amplifiers and VPS-100 tube phono stage. And I'm sure I've missed a company whose name starts with Z.
On the cable front, Kimber Kable unveils new additions to their line of Kimber Select speaker cables. MIT will pair their new Oracle MA-X with Magico Q speakers. Nordost will show the same Foundation Theory "whole" they recently touted to Art Dudley, and Purist Audio Design promises an entire range of new products. Wireworld introduces their new flagship Platinum Starlight digital audio and HDMI cables. Not to be outdone, van den Hul will bring along their Flat 180 HDMI cable.
There are also a number of offsite exhibits. SIM2 partners with Krell at the Mirage to show Krell's first Blu-ray player, the Evolution 555. For those who like to do it outdoors, don't miss the AmbiSonic Systems SoniScape, a 70V outdoor loudspeaker array, on display in the central courtyard of the Marriott Courtyard, across from the LVCC. Even your pooch is welcome to enjoy those.