VTL's Luke Manley was glowing with some tube warmth himself. "These are the Autobias 450 monoblock amplifiers ($13,500/pair). They have an auto bias circuit, fault monitoring, regulated screen power supply, fully balanced input drivers with their own power supplies, and trickle-current on mute—which keeps you from 'poisoning' your cathode." This last feature prevents you from stressing your tubes on mute and power up, without subjecting them to the stress of hard off and on—"which is a very nice feature. This is a thoroughly modern tube amp."
DEQX (pronounced "decks") has been succesfully showing their active EQ system for several years now, and each time, they push the envelope forward with a better product and better demo. This year they topped themselves again and have teamed up with newcomer Wasatch Acoustics to create a state-of-the-art system comprised of a modular speaker system with amplification and active digital EQ.
We heard the HE-333 v1.3 monoblocks ($69,000/pair) in the Signals-SuperFi room, but we don't know a lot about 'em, other than the price, the fact that the new guy outputs 150W rather than 100W, and that they are drop-dead gorgeous. Us guys are so easy—sometimes all it takes to get our interest is a flash of stocking.
The Alexis Park Hotel, also known as the "AP," has been home to high-end audio exhibitors for the past decade. And by that we mean two-channel audio exhibitors. But the last couple of years has seen an increase in video and surround sound home theater demos on the grounds. And this year the hotel changed its name to Alexis Villas, or as we will now be calling it: The AV. Coincidence?
Jon Iverson has a nose. I mean, he just knows—for instance, we were walking through the Alexis Park, I mean Alexis Villas, when he stopped in front of Zu's logo and said, "I think this might be worth investigating."
Whatever you say about David Wilson, you have to admit he gives great show. Wilson doesn't come to CES with just a new product, he constructs a narrative structure and puts on a show. This is a good thing, since Wilson thinks long and hard about the lesson he wants to teach. He plays fair, too.
The Audio Refinement brand of affordable components from France's YBA is no more—problems with their Asian manufacturing partner, I understand. But there’s good news: Audio Refinement has been reborn as YBA Design, with a new Asian manufacturing facility that promises to be more reliable. The first two products in the line—designed by Yves-Bernard André, Mr. YBA himself—are the YA201 integrated amp and YC201 CD player, each priced at $1499. The industrial design is stunning in its elegance and simplicity, and, judging by the sound of a pair of Focal-JMlab 1007Be loudspeakers driven by the YBA Design combo, the performance is up to YBA's usual high standards.
This is the second year I was impressed by the sound of the YG Acoustics modular loudspeaker. As configured, this one runs $90,000/pair, although, as Yoav Gonczarowski, the company sells more of the configuration that eschews the second bass module. That version sells for $60,000, and is the most popular loudspeaker in its price class in Japan, selling four pair each month.
Zu's Adam Decari shows us how the computer generation helms a CES demo room. In addition to the DJ turntables and laptop, note the Apple G5 computer at the back used as the only disc player for the main system.