There's nothing like a nice big touchscreen to browse a large music collection, and Pathos was showing a prototype of the largest touchscreen dedicated to a music server that I've seen to date. Called the Musiteca, the new product was up and running but clearly had some features to work out. As shown, the product has a built-in DAC, transport for loading discs, and 1TB drive for storage.
In addition to the above features, Pathos' Paolo Andriolo says there will be variable XLR outputs to feed the audio directly to your amp and a free iPad app. Price is predicted to be around $7k and should show up by April.
Paul Stookey, now 74 years young, sounded optimistic, vibrant, and sweet, delivering a solo performance to the audiophile crowd at the Flamingo, as hosted by T.H.E. Show, Cary Audio, and PBN Audio. Somehow Paul has retained all the youthful energy and optimism that characterized his role when was a member of the Peter, Paul and Mary trio. Although I associate him more with the flower child, utopian, flower-child world of the 1960s, celebrating love, sex, freedom and occasionally drugs ("Puff the Magic Dragon"), he easily slipped into the role of audiophile troubador. Although his vocal range had narrowed with the years, his guitar accompaniment was superb.
My show report assignment was speakers under $15,000/pair, whereas John Atkinson would be reporting on speakers over $15,000/pair. But what about a speaker costing exactly $15,000? That was the dilemma I faced when, on my visit to T.H.E. Show, Peter Bichel Noerbaek told me about his latest speaker, the PBN Liberty (named after his daughter, age 9), which has a list price of $15,000/pair. I told him about the problem this presented for me, and he quickly responded by changing the price to $14,999/pair! The Liberty is a floorstanding three-way that uses what Noerbaek calls "inechoic" (not "unechoic") construction. The cabinet weighs 140 lbs. and is made of 48 layers of MDF.
Robert Deutsch reported below on PBN's $14,999/pair Liberty speaker. My attention in the company's large room at T.,H.E. Show was attracted by the large WAS2 (right), which costs $55,000/pair, with its piano-black lacquer-finished enclosure and mahogany hardwood front baffle, and weighs 1000 lbs/pair. It combines two 15" subwoofers, driven by a 1kW ICE-Power amplifier, two 8" coated paper-cone woofers, two 5.25 Nextel-coated paper-cone midrange units, and a 1.1" soft-dome tweeter. Frequency response is quoted as 18Hz22kHz ±1.5dB and sensitivity is said to be 94dB!
I've had the new Peachtree DAC•iT at home for several months and a review will be showing up in Stereophile shortly. It's a great little product for the money ($449) and sports USB, SPDIF and Toslink input and features an ESS Sabre32 9022 chip.
If the Lamm room in the Venetian with the Wilsons was one of the first I visited at CES, the last room I visited was Tempo Marketing's in the Mirage Penthouse. I reported last October that Tempo had taken over US distribution of this Scandinavian brand. As well as the stand-mounted Cenya ($4000/pair), which I had heard at the 2011 RMAF, Tempo was demming the floorstanding, two-and-a-half-way Sara S ($7995/pair), shown in my photo. The Sara S combines two magnesium-cone SEAS mid-woofers with a SEAS tweeter in an enclosure that comprises a unique construction combining MDF and plywood.
At the 2011 CES, Swedish company Perfect8 concentrated on their Force flagship speaker. For the 2012 Show, they brought their Point Mk.II ($115,000/pair with subwoofer modules), which, like its big sister, uses an enclosure fabricated from glass—or rather, from what Perfect8 calls "Super Silent Glass," joined without solvent-based adhesives. The upper-frequency module is a dipole, allowed to roll off naturally to integrate with the subwoofer module below it, which uses two 10" drive-units mounted on its sides to cancel mechanical reaction forces. The woofer's low-pass filter is set at 86Hz and realized in DSP; the module includes a class-D amplifier housed in the triangular section at the rear. Despite my reservations about glass as an enclosure material, both Diana Krall and Rimsky-Korsakov sounded uncolored and natural.
The Consumer Electronics Show takes place January 1013 in Las Vegas.
Have I mentioned that I hate Las Vegas? My hatred for Las Vegas is juvenile and irrational and represents what is probably the last strand of my nearly resigned defiance for all things bourgeois, fascist, bogus, and generally lame. I’ve softened up a lot over the last 10 years, but Vegas hardens me anew. I hate Las Vegas.
Upscale Audio’s Kevin Deal is excited about PrimaLuna’s new DiaLogue Premium integrated amplifier ($3199), and I can’t blame him: The DiaLogue Premium uses six 12AU7 tubes, said to produce a wider bandwidth, greater dynamic range, and improved bass control over previous DiaLogue models; users can have fun swapping between 6L6GC/KT66, EL-34/KT77, 6550/KT88, and KT120 power tubes; a “Bad Tube Indicator” lets you know when a tube has expired and provides automatic bias adjustment; a high-quality Alps potentiometer should provide long-lasting, quiet volume control; and, like every PrimaLuna amp we’ve seen, the DiaLogue Premium is beautifully built and finished.
PrimaLuna is adding a new CD player/DAC to the Prologue Premium line available sometime in May at $3,999. In addition to playing discs, there is a 24/192 USB input with circuit design by M2Tech and two super tube clocks.
Based on the popular Oppo 93, Primare was displaying their universal player that will retail for $5495. It plays all the typical Oppo disc formats including 3D Blu-ray and has custom audio, video and power supply circuitry. The BD32 is a gorgeous-looking product and the photo does not do it justice.
PSB's Synchrony One ($5000/pair) is listed in Class A (Restricted Extreme LF) of Recommended Components, and their Imagine T ($2199/pair) is in Class B. At the 2012 CES, PSB introduced the Imagine T2 ($3500/pair), which, according to Paul Barton (seen in my photo), applies the technology of the Synchrony series to the Imagine T. Like the Synchrony One, the Imagine T2 has three woofers, each in a separate compartment, which are driven together at the low end, and as we go higher in the frequency range the second and third woofer are rolled off gradually at the bottom. As with Paul Barton's other designs, the tweeter is mounted below the midrange. Driven by an NAD C390 all-digital integrated amplifier, the sound had superb clarity and detail, with excellent imaging.
New to me at this show is the QAT MS5 music server using an iPad (shown here) or a slightly smaller custom RP5 touch panel for control. There is a built-in Teac CD drive and 1TB of storage (around 2,500 CDs using FLAC) and the system supports a multitude of file formats and data rates up to 24/192.
The product and interface looked pretty slick and the company's sales and marketing director, Vital Gbezo, said that QAT is currently looking for US distribution. The MS5 is priced at around $6,000.
One of the newcomers to the Venetian this year is a Japanese company called Qualia (not to be confused with the short-lived Sony venture). I remember seeing their gorgeous-looking products at T.H.E Show last year, and new this year is the equally stunning Indigo USB-DAC at $45,000.
The Indigo USB-DAC sports four 32-bit Hyperstream DACs and all discrete output and headphone amplifier sections. Connections on the back include both balanced and unbalanced outputs, as well as USB, coax, XLR and TOSLINK inputs. The unibody cases are machined from high-purity aluminum and the product is available now, distributed in the US by Immedia.
Sumiko teamed up a pair of Sonus Faber Amati Futura floorstanding speakers watch for JA's review in the March 2012 issuewith the $4500 REL Gibraltar G1 subwoofer to produce explosive, massive, but tightly controlled bass while playing the "Chinese Drum Poem" selection from disc 3 of the Burmester Demonstration Disc series. The REL G1 is a 108 lb, closed-box, front-firing 12" driver driven by a 600W, high-current amplifier. Sumiko's John Hunter set the gain of the G1 using a small remote. The G1 subwoofer fell totally silent when the music was free of deep bass content, as it should.