CES 2014

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 17, 2014 3 comments
"I'm a full-time music lover and a part-time audiophile," Gary Koh declared while demming his new Genesis GRA1440, class-D, truly differentially balanced monoblock amplifiers ($22,000/pair). "Music is inherently balanced," he said, as he played the stereo LP version of Al Grey and The Basie Wing's The Last of the Big Plungers, and proved that modified Hypex class-D modules, when incorporated into amplifiers that output 1440Wpc into 4 ohms and include a full Genesis power supply, can yield totally welcoming, alive and colorful sound. There was absolutely no hard edge to be heard on this system.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
It's a l o n g story, but Fritz Speakers ended up at T.H.E. Show as a replacement for a company that couldn't make it. In tow were the Fritz Speakers S/R loudspeakers ($3500/pair), which combine a Scanspeak Illuminator tweeter and a 5" paper-cone driver. Bringing up the rear, as it were, were a VPI Traveler, modified Oppo, DEQX preamp, PTE phonostage, Wells Audio Innamorata amplifier, and WyWires cabling. On an LP by Tracy Chapman, I heard fine soundstaging, lovely bass, and a little ringing around the edges. The bright edge remained when we switched to CD.
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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 14, 2014 0 comments
At the Furutech room, the news was about the latest ADL device, the GT40 Mk.II of which they said "The master of all trades just mastered another. . .DSD." That's right, their all-singing, all-dancing, multitasking GT40, reviewed by Art Dudley in September 2011, now adds DSD file playback to its playbook. That, of course, includes up to 24/192 PCM DAC and ADC, MM/MC phono input and a potent headphone amp. At $729, a small box to rule them all.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
"What planet am I on?" an alien visitor might have remarked when peering beyond Gato's eye-catching electronics to the brazen new world of Las Vegas 2014. There, somewhat beyond the point where Roman architecture and Ferris wheel meet futuristic tower, jet plane, Hilton Grand Vacations, and a very troubled sky, and far above the relentless hawkers who line Las Vegas Blvd., a huge number of high-end companies spent four days trying to lure distributors and press alike with sonics, glamor, and hype.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
In addition to the integrated amps that Jason has covered below, Gato introduced their GORGEOUS looking new preamp with built-in DAC. This thing looks like an audio Ferrari just sitting there. Cost is $2,990 and is based on the front end of the DIA-250 and 400 integrateds which means up to 24/192 processing. Available at the end of January.

Also worth mentioning is how the volume control display works: as you turn the knob, the numbers on the display slide up and down instead of just changing. Probably has to be seen to be understood, but way cool.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 15, 2014 0 comments
"It's a black box. It's a music source, it plays everything. Forget about converters and other technologies." So stated Genesis' Gary Koh when I asked him to explain the new Genesis Muse. Koh noted that they've been running a home-brew server in their rooms at CES since 2006, so it seemed only logical to turn it into a product.

However, there are specifications: the Linux-based system comes configured with 1TB SSD, has 2 USB 3.0 inputs for adding storage, has ethernet for network connectivity and streaming, and includes both balanced and unbalanced analog outputs. You can also add an optional CD ROM drive to rip CDs, backup via a cloud-based approach, and control it with any app compatible with the Squeezebox protocol.

One cool feature is that it will stream to your iPad for headphone listening if you like. Price will be around $15,000 when it appears "probably in spring this year."

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
Both the speakers from Sandy Gross’s GoldenEar company that have been reviewed in Stereophile—the Triton 2, reviewed by Bob Deutsch in February 2012 and the Aon 2, reviewed by Bob Reina in November 2013—impressed us with the very attractive combination of price and performance. And at the 2014 CES, Sandy introduced me to the new flagship, the Triton 1, which will sell for $2499 each or $4998/pair when it comes to market in late April.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2014 0 comments
The good news about Gato is that it sounds as good as it looks (IMHO, of course). Sounding great on Reference Recordings' much-heralded disc of Copland's Symphony 3, with fabulous bass, the Danish company's new DIA-250 ($4500—250Wpc into 8 ohms) and DIA-400 ($6000—45Wpc into 8 ohms) class-D integrated amplifiers produced fabulous bass, with 0.33 dB adjustments. Included are Burr-Brown PCM1794 dual chipsets that automatically upsample to 24/192, an asynchronous USB input, and a home-theater pass through.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 16, 2014 0 comments
Darren Censullo's Avatar Acoustics did itself proud with a system that, on one of John Atkinson's recordings of male vocal ensemble Cantus, delivered totally natural and clear sound with beautiful layering and air, and natural timbres to boot. And as much as Shelby Lynne's "Little Lovin'" is getting less and less lovin' from me each time I discover multiple rooms playing it at shows—aren't there any other good tracks on her very well-recorded album?—Lynne's bass accompaniment was very profound, and the heart-warming beauty of the sound most impressive.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 18, 2014 0 comments
I’m happy that Simplifi Audio’s Tim G. Ryan introduced me to a new speaker manufacturer, Klangwerk of Zurich, because I really liked the sound of Klangwerk’s fully active, mastering grade Ella loudspeaker ($15,000/pair). Not only did the Ellas produce a very wide and tall soundstage, but they also descended to 35Hz (albeit –6dB). Paired with a Weiss MAN 301 network player, DNM Design speaker cables with HFT ends, and optional DSPeaker automatic room correction—claimed to fix any stereo system in 5 minutes—the Klangwerk Ellas yielded lovely, smooth, and most enjoyable sound on an excerpt from Reference Recordings’ disc of The Tempest.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2014 1 comments
Another portable announced at CES is HiFiMAN's new player featuring a clever modular design demonstrated by company founder, Fang Bian. He opened the player and popped out several pieces including the amplifier section, which can be customized by the owner to better match their listening needs. A half dozen modules will be available, ranging from $100-600, offering different output options tuned for different kinds of headphones.

Inside is a 16V Li-ion battery. Bian says that the higher voltage allows better grade op-amps in addition to 2 Wolfson DACs per channel. The HM-802 can handle both HD PCM and DSD files, has up to 128GB storage capability, and should hit stores this month starting at $699.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2014 0 comments
While some companies have been focusing on using Bluetooth or Wifi to stream music around a room, HRT decided to use RF as their method.

Unfortunately, HRT's Kevin Halverson was in a bicycle accident a couple months back, so was holding forth from his wheelchair (he should make an almost complete recovery). Halverson said that the system will comprise two parts: a Wireless Master which sends the signal from your source (the smaller device in the photo) and the larger Airstreamer (seen in a photo mockup).

The RF signal can cover a distance of up to 15 meters and send 24/48 PCM. The system will cost $249 and should be shipping around March 15th. Hopefully Kevin will be walking around a bit by then.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2014 0 comments
AMR's iFi line starts dinky with the iDSD Nano, gets slightly larger with the iDAC line and then tops out (as far as size goes) with the new iFi iDSD Mini DAC.

Still not large by normal component standards, the Mini, which was shown in prototype form at the show, handles a wide range of digital sources including up to 24/384 PCM, DSD, Double DSD and DXD. Also included on the back is a full range of input jacks, with a volume control and headphone jack on the front.

Inside, there is aptX Bluetooth streaming, 4 Burr Brown DACs, and 4 filters set by the user. Retail price will be under $1,000 and it should arrive sometime this quarter according to the distributor, Avatar Acoustics.

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Kalman Rubinson Posted: Jan 12, 2014 0 comments
The Jade 7 from Wharfedale was very favorably reviewed by Bob Deutsch in Stereophile's May 2013 issue but at the 2014 CES I got to see and hear the new little brother, the Jade 1. Surprisingly, this smaller and stand-mounted speaker is also a 3-way with the same drivers, aperiodic loading and crossover technology. It certainly sounded similar, balanced and full down into the real bass. It also was finished just as luxuriously. Looks like a great value in a high-end speaker for $1200–$1400/pair, depending on your choice of finish.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2014 5 comments
No, the Model 7 is not new. In fact, the pair Richard Vandersteen was demming at the 2014 CES were the same pair Michael Fremer reviewed for this magazine in March 2010. And the amplification wasn’t new: the M7-HPA monoblocks were shown in prototype form at the 2013 CES and the only news was that they are now in production at the same price as the speakers, $52,000/pair including proprietary DBS solid-silver cables, to give a system price of $104,000. But with an LP of Diana Krall singing Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, so powerfully physical was the presence of the singer in the room.

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