Peachtree scored a hit last year with their Decco desktop DAC/Amp combo. They've returned with an updated version of the original Decco called the Decco2 which is available now for $799 and sports a 40 watts per channel tube hybrid integrated amp and ESS Sabre DAC.
I hadn't seen this almost two-year-old company before, but was familiar with founders Andreas Koch, formerly with Studer ReVox and EMM labs, and Jonathan Tinn through his relationship with darTZeel. Sharing a room with darTZeel, Playback's MPS-5 was sitting in the center equipment rack spinning discs.
One of my favorite sounds of the show came out of the PrimaLuna room. Their sound was full of dynamics, texture, body and balance. Kevin Deal of Prima Luna (seen here like a proud Papa) was one of the few people at CES who made sure that folks visiting his room got the right mix of information, listening time, and fun. At least that was the vibe when I visited. At Kevin's feet are the DiaLogue Seven monoblocks ($5499 per pair), which Art Dudley wrote about in the December 2009 issue of Stereophile.
At the last few Nordost demos I've witnessed, I've been amazed by the huge soundstage, deep bass, and tonal accuracy produced by Raidho's diminutive C-1.0 loudspeakers. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this little speaker, no larger than many a bookshelf design, lists for $18,000/pair. Then again, it produces a fuller, larger, and more coherent image than many a full-range floorstander of comparable price. It also has a pretty even 6 ohm impedance, and is said to be very tube friendly.
Twice this CES, I found rooms that were so striking that I suggested all the Stereophile brothers go take a look/listen. The first one was the Sumiko/Vienna Acoustics suite up on the 34th floor (I still can't get over how great the sound was in that roomyou can read Jason's more reserved take on the room here), and the second, for completely different reasons, was the Resolution Audio room.
A clever USB to Ethernet bridge (Pont Neufget it?) to allow your computer USB out to serve the Cantata over long cable runs. In striking case to match the Cantata aesthetics and available in February for $400.
I have come to expect innovative engineering from Rockport's Andy Payor, and was not disappointed by his new Alya loudspeaker. The two-way Alya costs $29,500/pair and marries Scanspeak's new beryllium-dome tweeter with a custom Audio-Technology woofer with a 6.5" carbon-fiber cone and a 2" voice-coil. The front baffle is aluminum and internal horizontal rods connect it to the rear of the cabinet, holding the HDF enclosure in a rigid grip. A rear port is tuned to a respectable 35Hz.
Rogue Audio was also showing off the yet-to-be-released Ares phono preamplifier. The preamp can be run in all-tube or hybrid tube/solid-state to allow it to work with any cartridge you might want to throw at it. Mark O'Brien told me he was completing the design as recently as two weeks ago. The Ares will retail for $1995 and will start shipping at the end of June 2010.
Mark O'Brien of Rogue Audio was showing off the new Tempest III integrated amplifier ($2999). The III (an update to the Tempest II) offers 90Wpc and comes with a remote control. It also features an optional 10dB boost of solid-state gain before the signal hits the tube section, which is selectable on the front panel. Also on the front panel is a high quality headphone output. Mark was playing the Apollo monoblock amps in the room's live system, so I did not get a chance to hear it. Hey Stephen Mejias, might this be the new amp you are looking for?
This is Rosemarie Torcivia. I just met her today. She works for Source Interlink Media, the parent company of Stereophile and Home Theater magazines. She gets to spend her days at CES in the Stereophile and Home Theater suite answering questions and being a knowledgeable and friendly face for the dealers, manufactures and readers who pop in to say hello. She was thrilled when I took her picture and told her she was going to be in the official Stereophile CES blog. I was thrilled when Rosemarie helped Jon Iverson and I get lunch today. I like Rosemarie and I bet you would too.
"It's really red" I exclaimed, "bright, give-me-a-speeding-ticket red." Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield and distributor Michael Baskin were both quick to respond with "is there really any other color when it comes to special cars? So it is with special audio components."
The folks at Simaudio were happy to leave the frozen tundra of Canada and bring their wares to the mild climate of Las Vegas. This year they showed off their new Moon 600i integrated amplifier ($8000). The 600i is a beautifully built, dual-mono amplifier that puts out 125Wpc into 8 ohms and sounded lovely.
Here we see Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield proudly displaying his company's new Moon 300D DAC which retails for $1,600 and is available now. Inputs on the back include USB, SPDIF and Toslink and can accept streams up to 24bit/192kHz.
Those who follow computer audio forums have probably heard the name Amarra a few times. If you have an Apple computer running iTunes and want to get the most out of high resolution audio, Sonic Studio's Amarra software offers a way around some of the inherent problems when switching resolutions and the way the Apple OS handles audio.