Thiel Audio had the benefit of several side-by-side rooms at the Venetian, one of which was reserved for listening with the door closed. Isolated from the noise of surrounding rooms, Thiel’s long-awaited CS3.7 speaker ($9900/pair in standard finishes when it’s finally released), and now actually boasting a grille, played an intriguing combination of two-channel and multi-channel music using Bryston electronics and Synergistic Research cabling.
"Here's something a little different for us," CJ's Lew Johnson continued his tour. "The $10,000 TEA1 triode equalization amplifier embodies our current understanding of the state-of-the-art in phono stage design. It's a zero loop feedback design with two tube gain stages and a passive equalization network. We put a high-current buffer stage isolates the unit from cable and other loading elements."
Why would adult audiophiles do this to themselves? We have no idea. Kevin Deal and EveAnna Manley show off their latest tube blingware. Their dentists made a pretty penny knocking out their front teeth and adding the "Tubes Rule" matching grills. Yes, this stunt did get a photo in our blog.
We caught up with Ultimate Ears' Mike Diaz at the Taqueria. "Check this out," he said, plunking a pair of earbuds in front of us with his iPod Mini. We cued up The Carpenters' "Close to You" and inserted the 'phones.
Ultra Systems' Robert Stein cornered me—in the nicest way possible—at the Stereophile/Home Theater party Wednesday night, telling me that he had a great new acoustical damping product that I should check out in his booth. I was going to give this one a pass until he mentioned that it's small, easy-to-install, and inexpensive.
Eneke (left) and Jaclyn Vandersteen flank Vandersteen's new composite Ebony Quatro ($10,700/pair). The wood Quatros are quite different from the speaker cloth covered $6950/pair Quatro Michael Fremer reviewed in Stereophile.
The very first room I visited at CES featured VTL and dCS electronics powering Avalon Eidelon speakers via Transparent cabling. This was a good start. I had become an instant convert to VTL sound at HE2006 last May, where Wilson Sophia speakers, driven by VTL electronics via Cardas cable and a Jadis tranposrt and DAC delivered some of the best sound I heard at the show. Since then, I've heard VTL gear in three other environments, this being the fifth. Each time, it has sounded different, but always musical.
VTL introduced a new phono preamplifier at CES, the $6500 TP-6.5 Signature Phono Stage, as well as an upgraded MB-450 Signature monoblock amplifier. Using the single-chassis configuration of the TL-6.5 line preamplifier, VTL's phono preamplifier follows its hybrid design approach, using a low-noise J-FET to drive high-current 12AU7 tubes. It features switchable, five-corner, passive RIAA filtering. Gain, cartridge load impedance, phase, muting, rumble filter, and power on/off can be switched by remote.
Von Schweikert Audio's VR-5 SEs ($25,000/pair) aren't new, but once again they impressed Jon Iverson and me with their verve and natural presentation of acoustic guitar. Nils Lofgren's "Keith Don't Go" kept us nailed to our seats for the whole 12 minutes—which, in CES Show mode, is equivalent to seven human years.
As we reported last March, the Consumer Electronics Association decided to move the "high-performance audio" and "high-performance home theater" exhibits of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to Las Vegas' Venetian Hotel in 2007. Here, then, in a blatant attempt to scoop my show-reporting Stereophile colleagues, is my picture of the new CES venue. I actually took this picture last year, not in anticipation of the change in show venue, but simply because I’m a sucker for the ersatz-European ambience of Las Vegas hotel-casinos like the Venetian. And whatever the advantages/disadvantages of the Venetian for demonstrating audio equipment, you have to admit that it’s picturesque!
If you're PrimaLuna, it's the DiaLogue, an integrated tube amp available in two models: the $2199 DiaLogue One and the $2499 DiaLogue Two. Both amps deliver 21Wpc in triode operation and 30Wpc in ultralinear mode. What's the difference? The Two comes with Genalux KT88s, Solen capacitors, fast recovery diodes in the power supply, and a high-gloss hand-rubbed finish.