Archimedes famously said, "Give me a lever and a place to stand and I can move the world." Quartet Marketing's Stirling Trayle and Composite Products LLC's Gus Malek-Madani take that "place to stand" part seriously. Malek-Madani makes stands from carbon fiber and he's adamanant that metal and glass "are the worst materials for isolation and vibration energy dissipation." His solution? Carbon fiber.
So what does an audio guy discover at CEDIA? A turntable, of course. At the head of Sumiko's array of Pro-Ject turntables was their most elegant and impressive one yet. The RM-10 looks like a serious and grown-up RM-9 with a platform base and double-thick platter. At $2500, Pro-Ject's most expensive model yet, evoked buy-me-now urges in this lapsed vinyist. I understand that Michael Fremer has a review already in the hopper for our November issue.
Bolzano Villettri showed its new 3000 series Campanile speakers as a 5.1 system. I was extremely impressed by the $9000/pair BV 3005 Torre, which feature BV's "Roundstrem Technology" that focuses the up-firing and down-firing drivers in the upper and lower cabinets into a 360° soundfield. In a huge convention hallway, the 3005 Torres actually managed to sing. I'd love to hear them under more favorable circumstances.
There are always oases of two-channel audio on the main floor at a CEDIA conference. Boulder Amplifiers were showing their beautiful-looking and equally beautiful-sounding range of solid-state electronics, including their cost-no-object 2000 series components and the more affordable 1000 and 800 series gear. The latter includes the $5k Model 850 200W monoblock (center), seen here framed by company founder Jeff Nelson (left) and marketing exec Rich Maez (right).
Conrad-Johnson's Lew Johnson demos CJ's $7500 MET1 multichannel enhanced triode preamplifier. The twist? It's an analog six-channel preamplifier! It sounded exquisite, whether on two-channel sources or multichannel—only the MET1 can synthesize multichannel from the higher resolution two-channel PCM tracks present on many multichannel DVDs.
I finally got to see the new Cary Cinema II processor ($3000) that had been whispered about at the 2005 CEDIA. Sleek but prodigious, it has balanced analog and digital inputs in addition to single-ended analog, optical and coaxial digital inputs and a true analog bypass 7.1 input. There's balanced and unbalanced outputs as well as analog/digital outputs for a second zone. But get this: it is also Dolby-HD approved!
Chord's CEO John Franks (right) and Bluebird Music's Jay Rein (left) regaled me with tales of Chord's Media Engine (price tbd). It includes an Intel Pentium 4 processor and up to 6TB of drive capacity, allowing you to centrally archive pretty much all varieties of CD and DVD formats. Chord promises "studio-quality audio" and "the best image processing technology available."
While on-wall/in-wall systems were ubiquitous at CEDIA, the in-room speakers stood out for their imaging and sound quality. Even the tiny Dynaudio 2.1 system consisting of a pair of Contour SR speakers ($2200/pair) coupled with the Sub 250 ($1k) made sounds that many bigger installations would envy. Add another pair and a Contour SC ($1900) to fill out a 5.1 system that can do music as well as movies.
CEDIA is filled with niche products that most charitably can be labeled weird. Here Primedia's Laura LoVecchio poses with a MLB-themed television. Die-hard Mets fan that she is, she's pointing in revulsion at the Yankees logo hidden on the back.
Late in the day at the Show, most glasses were filled or in the process of being emptied. This stack on the BG stand, however, was empty. It had been erected to show that Radia's new 210i Active Subwoofer is almost totally vibration-free in operation. At the time I took this picture, this sub, with its opposed 10" Kevlar drivers and 500w BASH amp was pumping out gobs of bass, cleanly and tightly. I could detect no vibrations at all with my hand. What's the point? Well, you can put something on top of them (vase, planter, cigar humidor!) without exciting spurious vibrations. Heck, you could even put this $1500 sub in a cabinet, if that suits your needs.
Canton's chief speaker designer Frank Göbl stands beside Canton's $30,000/pair Vento Reference One DC, a 3.5-way floorstander that's probably going to keep some high-priced speaker builders awake at night.
Slim Devices' Patrick Cosson and OnPR's Marivi Lerdo-de-Tejada pose with the California company's high-end, $1999 Transporter network music player, after granting me a hands-on session with it. The Transporter's Dynamic Feedback control knob is amazing—choose a function and it becomes a silky-smooth volume pot, an indexed rotary switch, or a velocity-sensitive controller. Better yet, each function feels absolutely "real."
Sam Feng of Infrant Technologies hefts (barely) the Infrant Repertoire Digital Media Server, a 3TB NAS array designed specifically for high-end music systems. The Infrant contains four Seagate DB35 DynaPlay-enabled hard drives, which means you not only get huge storage capacity, but redundancy as well. Plus, it has a solid aluminum chassis with heat sinks, so no fan noise.