Swiss company CH displayed the new $32,975 C1 DAC/controller with optional ethernet board ($5k) and USB board ($4k). The processor handles 24/192 PCM and will soon support DSD/DXD via ethernet.
The C1 is compact and beautifully made (unlike my photo) and has all the standard digital inputs as well as analog options and a variety of output options including balanced and unbalanced analog. The company says that the modular approach to the C1 makes it "future-proof" as they keep coming up with new boards.
Over at T.H.E. Show, Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem proudly showed me the box and inserts for his new Bill Evans Waltz for Debby reissue, which will be released as a UHQR LP. Kassem's QRP pressing pant has acquired the rights to JVC's 30 year-old LP technology and each 200-gram UHQR pressing, with its flat profile, will be hand-pressed on a Finebilt press and hand-inspected. Back in the 1970s I was told by an EMI executive that that they could have pressed perfect LPs but people would never pay for it. Chad didn't seem to get the memo as he has invested a lot of money in producing LPs the way they should have been all along!
Following the sale of Thiel and the departure of the Kentucky company's cofounder Kathy Gornik at the end of November 2012, the Thiel display at the Sands Convention Center was packed. It was also reassuring to see many of the company's long-term employees on hand, confirming the new CEO Bill Thomas's commitment to preserving the brand's ethos.
Small and definitely cute, the new Chord DAC has SPDIF and USB inputs and unbalanced analog outputs. Priced at $1,795 and available now, the QuteHD also handles DSD files and can process streams up to 384kHz. Michael Lavorgna gets into the details in his recent review, but worth noting is that it features a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to handle the digital to analog conversion process and to automate input selection.
Also in Chord's booth, the new DSX1000 retails for $13,000, is available now, and can handle a variety of network sources including ethernet, SPDIF and USB. The DSX1000 also uses an FPGA to handle all of the digital decoding and clocking.
Line level and volume controlled outputs are included along with a headphone jack and color display on the front for navigating sources. An iPad app will be available in a couple months.
On January 10, the third day of CES, Michael Lavorgna, Jon Iverson, Stephen Mejias and I flocked to the Flamingo, home of the T.H.E. Show. There I made a first acquaintance with Coda Technologies, a company based 90 or so minutes from me in Sacramento, California. All Coda products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the good ole USA, and come with a 10 year warranty, transferrable for 5 years.
Peter Madnick's latest design for Constellation is the Virgo 2 preamplifier ($24,000), which uses an outboard power supply. It was shown with a Cygnus non-streaming Digital File Player ($24,000); Constellation's Centaur stereo amplifier ($28,000), Constellation's Centaur monoblocks ($56,000/pair). The Constellation amplifiers shown in the photo were driving the Magico Q7 loudspeakers ($165,000/pair) in biamped fashion, with a pair of Centaur monoblocks for the woofers, and a stereo Centaur for the midrange and tweeters. The resulting sound was smooth and very well controlled.
The Arabesque speakers ($90,000/pair) in the Crystal room, with their glass enclosures, were familiar, as were the Crystal cables that Jason Serinus blogged about a few days ago. But the Siltech SAGA amplifierfor Structural Amplifier Gain Architecture were new. Designed by Siltech's Edwin Rijnveld and costing $100,000, the three-piece, 300Wpc amplifier comprises a preamplifier chassis with ultralow-noise tubes, a battery-powered voltage-amplifier chassis, and a current-amplifier chassis. No negative feedback is used, either global or local, and the current amplifier uses optical drive of the output transistors, called "Apollo Light Drive." Output device biasing is said to be class-A at all powers into all loads.
Crystal Cable, headed by Gabi Rijnveld, has just released a new cable line called Absolute Dream. The core is 100% mono-crystal silver, the braid mono-crystal silver-plated copper and gold-plated silver. Rijnveld (right), pictured with her husband Edwin of Siltech, claims that Absolute Dream is some of the fastest cable on the market.
At 95 lbs, Dan D'Agostino’s 300W into 8 ohms, Momentum monoblock amplifier ($50,000/pair) doesn’t even come close to the weight of the big Boulders. Featured on the cover of Stereophile’s CES issue, the Momentum could be heard in many rooms at CES. This compact, energy-efficient design was driving the new YG Electronics Sonja 1.3 speakers ($106,800/pair). The resulting sound was dynamic, effortless, open, and had a wide, deep soundstage.
Wednesday evening after the CES closed, Luke Manley (left) and Bea Lam (second left) of VTL held a reception to honor the memory of Luke's father and VTL founder David Manley, who passed away in December. Everyone present offered their memories of David, including Stereophile's Larry Greenhill (right) and Jason Serinus (second right).
When listening to audio systems in hotel rooms at shows, all bets are off. But once in a while you get a wonderful sound in the confines of the spot where the bed would normally sit.
Such was the case with the dCS room in the Venetian. The company is celebrating their 25th anniversary and Sony offered an assist in the form of a couple dozen DSD tracks straight from the vaults to hard drive. The Debussy DAC can now process DSD 64 via USB (free software upgrade available from the dealer next week), and for my demo I picked Santana's "Black Magic Woman", settling into audio ecstasy.
dCS also had their complete Vivaldi stack set up at the Mirage hotel, with a presentation hosted by Wilson's Peter McGrath. Once again the sound was extraordinary as McGrath played some 24/88 files of Mahler's Fifth that he had recorded himself with Grado microphones. I only wish every one of you could have been there.
John DeVore introduced a new speaker at CES that is said to take "fidelity and flexibility to a new level." The Gibbon X ($11,000/pair), the first three-way speaker in the Gibbon series, has a new midrange driver that incorporates DeVore's Adaptive Surround, a new tweeter in its own isolated enclosure, dual 7" woofers that are claimed to move more air than some 10" drivers, and a hand-built cabinet made from solid bamboo.
Will the Deity ($5900/8 ft pair), DH Labs' new top-of-the-line speaker cable, deliver the heavenly sounds its name implies? Only those who listen will know for sure. Not yet listed on the Florida-based company's website, the US-made cable contains twelve 20-awg solid-core silver conductors, each in a tape-wrapped Teflon-foam dielectric. There are also two 14-awg silver coated OFHC copper conductors running down the center of the cable. Overall, the Deity is an impressively attractive and substantial 9-awg cable.
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has nothing to do with audio, high-performance or otherwise, so it arguably doesn't belong in a Stereophile show report, but I'm assuming that some readers are gadget-philes as well as audiophiles. The AR.Drone 2.0 is a toy, but not "just" a toy: it has two cameras, so you can shoot aerial helicopter-type shots and view them live on your iPad. Wouldn't you have wanted one of these when you were a kid?