Epos’ Epic 2 ($799/pair) uses the same 1” soft-dome tweeter found in the smaller Epic 1, but with a larger cabinet and 6.5” mid-woofer, the Epic 2 is designed to offer greater sensitivity (90dB), bass output, and power handling. Like the Epic 1, the Epic 2 is available in cherry and black ash vinyl veneers and provides a removable baffle cover.
New products from Esoteric this year include the flagship K-01 "Digital Source Device" (pictured above) available now and retailing for $22,000. The K-01 features an asynchronous USB input that Esoteric claims will handle 24bit/192kHz sources due to a proprietary software driver the company has developed.
Other features include the VRDS-NEO transport that spins both SACD and CD discs as well as dual mono DACs.
Esoteric has also released the K-03 at $13,000 which also employs the 24/192 USB input and most of the features of the K-01. While it also plays SACDs and CDs, it includes a less expensive transport design.
The Estelon speakers from Alfred & Partners ($43,900/pair) were one of the hits of last year's RMAF, so I made a point of taking a listen to them at CES. The ceramic-diaphragm floor-standers were being used in more than one roomConrad-Johnson was also using them, in their first "live" Show dem in two decadesbut I was drawn into the Kubala-Sosna room by the sound of Jimi Hendrix playing "Born Under a Bad Sign." Source was a Korg DSDx2 recorder, which Joe Kubala had used to record the track from LP, and the sound, with Audio Research Reference 5 preamp, Tenor 350M monoblocks, and Kubala-Sosna Excitation cables, was rich, full-range, and clean. The speakers are internally wired with K-S cable.
Do you hate box speakers, and can’t abide planars, either? Well, a company called Everything But The Box (EBTB), based in Bulgaria, has some products that might be just what you want. Their speaker cabinets are all rounded, made of aluminum and polyester resin. (The drivers look conventional, though.) Some, like the $3000/pair Venus in the photo, are designed to hang from the ceiling via steel cables. The speakers are finished in high gloss lacquer, available in 16,000 (!) custom colors.
Derived from Finite Elemente’s Emperor rack, the Soundbase equipment shelf ($1800) is filled with aluminum foam whose random patterning allows it to absorb energy and dissipate it as heat. Immedia’s Stirling Trayle notes that the shelf works as well for turntables as for other components.
Each Soundbase comes complete with four Cerabase Slimline coupling feet that use a combination of three internal ceramic ball bearings and stainless steel for ultra-efficient energy transfer. The Cerabase Slimlines are also sold separately for use under components ($550/set of four). Their three internal ceramic balls represent an advance in “resonance deflection” technology for the company.
T.H.E. Show was held at the famous Flamingo Hotel and Casino, the oldest resort on The Vegas Strip, opened by Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel on the day after Christmas in 1946. On the site’s 15 acres, you can find lots of glitter, gold, and rich history, in addition to a wildlife habitat with an exhibit of flamingos!
Jim Fosgate’s forthcoming Signature headphone amplifier (right), scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2011, has an industrial design that echoes his Signature phono stage (left). Combining a tube input stage with a solid-state output, it will include a loudness control, spatial enhancement circuit, and built-in DAC. Scheduled for distribution by Musical Surroundings of glorious Oakland, CA, its price has yet to be determined.
I’m sure I’ve never said to myself, “I want a combination USB DAC/phono stage/headphone amp,” but as soon as I saw one I sure did. Furutech’s Alpha Design Labs GT40, see in preproduction form at the 2010 CES, will rip your vinyl or play your computer files at up to 24bit/96kHz with USB convenience, and includes a headphone amp with volume control making for a dandy little LP transcription system.
Furutech is introducing a new speaker cable brand in 2011, ADL, Alpha Design Labs. Designed to make OCC cable products available to entry-level buyers, ADL cables are the lowest priced cables in Furutech’s current line-up. Prices start at $100/1m pair interconnects, with USB and LAN cables going for around the same price.
Pictured is Furutech’s Flux series of cables, which was introduced last year. The Flux power cable runs $1200/6ft, while speaker cables cost $2000/2m pair. On the left is publicist extraordinaire Jonathan Scull, standing aside Furutech’s Graeme Coley. Also present, albeit unpictured, was Furutech’s Engineer and VP, Frank Yoo.
Have you ever had the nagging feeling that there was something that you were going to do- but you don’t remember what it was? I got that feeling when I was finishing my blog entries. There was one more such entry that I remember thinking that I must do, but what was it? There was nothing to jog my memory in the little notebook where I scribble information, and I couldn’t find any product literature that would remind me of it.
It was when I was going through the CES photo files on my computer that I ran across the photo that served as a reminder. Of courseAnthony Gallo! I visited his room in the Venetian briefly on the Press Day, when the exhibitors were still in the process of setting up. What drew me into the room was that, unlike other exhibitors that still had all their equipment in boxes, there was some music playing in Gallo’s roomand it sounded pretty nice. Anthony was hard at work, preparing loudspeaker cables for his speakers. I took his picture and promised to return later.
And I did, too, on the last day of the Show. The speakers that made their debut at the 2011 CES represent a significant change for Anthony Gallo’s approach to speaker design: instead of the spherical enclosures, the new Classico line uses traditional wooden boxes enclosures. The speakers (there are five in the line, plus a subwoofer) combine a cone midrange/bass driver with Gallo’s own Cylindrical Diaphragm Transducer (CDT). (That is, except the lowest-priced Series I, which has a dome tweeter.) The speakers also feature something called BLAST, which “reveals the true potential of the box.” (Yes, I found the product literature, which was hiding in one of the compartments in my luggage. It mentions BLAST, but doesn’t have any information on it.) The speaker that I heard initially, and that I had a chance to listen to again, was the Classico Series II ($1195/pair), the smallest speaker to use the CDT tweeter. And it still sounded pretty nice.
Suweet! Beyerdynamic head headphone designer Gunter Weidemann is responsible for the T1 headphone (open back; $1295) and its extraordinary driver that exceeds 1 Tesla of magnetic field strength. Previous high-end Beyerdynamic designs delivered 0.6 Tesla; the new driver delivers 1.2 Tesla in the gap. Field strength is nothing without low moving mass, so significant effort has been exerted to design a novel and performance-based diaphragm and voice-coil to provide speed and absence of diaphragm break-up. My significant experience with these cans puts them in the world-class category in my mind; especially remarkable for their natural and powerful vocal range reproduction.
Also, I think anything named after Nicola Tesla (and not a rapper, dammit) is really cool.
Listening to UNLV’s radio station KUNV playing Jazz, I notice the glowing digits on the Droid’s GPS indicating two minutes to turn 1.2 miles away. Riiiight. Notice the speedo pegged hard at zero. This Montana boy has spent the last 20 years regularly attending CES in Vegas. . .ugh. Too many people for me; too much glitz; too many lights. Fortunately, however, patient and persistent digging through the mountains of garish purple plastic gadgets will almost always reveal a modest handful of personal audio riches. That’s why I’m at the 2011 CES: digging for gold.
More than once in my years of CES-going, it has come down to the last day of the show for me to discover an important product. That was the case this time. The product was the Triton Two, the flagship loudspeaker from GoldenEar, the new company founded by Sandy Gross and Don Givogue, who had been partners at Definitive Technology, Gross having also co-founded Polk Audio. The company is new, but it draws on a wealth of experience in the speaker business, and it shows.
There were quite a few speakers that impressed me at this show, but, taking price and sound quality into account, I have say that the Triton Two, shown here with Sandy, was my favorite. It’s a floor-standing three-way, narrow in the front (5¼”), widening in the rear (7½”), and just 48” high, making it visually unassuming. It uses an unusual driver complement, starting with what they call a High-Velocity Folded Ribbon Tweeter (a variant of the Heil AMT tweeter), two 4½” mid/bass drivers, and two 5”x9” subwoofers, each coupled with a 7”x10” passive radiator facing the side. Each subwoofers is driven by a 1200W DSP-controlled class-D amp. With all this technologyand truly full-range soundthe Triton Two costs just $2500/pair.
Got turntables? Pro-Ject’s got turntables. From left: Debut III, Xpression III, RM-1.3, Experience Classic… With each ‘table, the user gains increased adjustability of tonearm parameters and cartridge options, along with increased mass, speed stability, and vibration control.
Pro-Ject celebrated their 20th anniversary at the 2011 CES, hosting a party for “friends of analog in general and Pro-Ject in particular.” Product literature advised, “Go Analogue! in the third millennium.” Stereophile’s Michael Fremer gave a speech, detailing Pro-Ject’s history and accomplishments. We’ll read more about that, and other analog gear at this year’s CES, in the April 2011 installment of Mikey’s “Analog Corner” column.
Herbert Wong and Alex Yeung manufacture Gutwire cables near Toronto, Canada, where they live. All Gutwire cables, which are distributed by May Audio, are made of triple-braided copper, and all terminations are crimped without solder.
“We find copper is more natural and musical-sounding,” Herbert explained.
The photo shows the newest additions to Gutwire’s cable line. The power cable is the SP Crystal Edition AC cable ($1800/6ft), which lies in the middle of their price spread. Also shown are the EON-Z interconnect ($1600/1m pair) and UNO-S interconnect ($2500/1m pair). By way of comparison, the prices of the company’s top-of-the-line are as follows: the SP-18.1 AC cable ($7500/6ft), Uno-S interconnects ($2500/1m pair), and digital SD-3-SE ($1150/1m).
The terminations on Gutwire’s novel top-of-the-line SP cabling contain Bincho-Tan (white charcoal). Bincho-Tan emits negative ions, absorbs RF and EMI. Herbert first discovered the substance in his water purifier. Intrigued, he began to research it on the net, and learned about its other properties.
Gutwire also manufactures two 4 and 6 outlet power conditioners, the 4 Bar and 6 Bar ($1100$2600, depending upon the model). Each contains a passive filter, and the top of each is milled from a block of solid aluminum.
In a brief demo, I was struck by Gutwire’s ability to transmit a lovely smooth midrange on the classic recording of Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall.