CES 2006

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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 08, 2006 2 comments
Amphion's Anssi Hyvönen was happy to demo his tiny Ions ($1350/pair). The diminutive two-ways sport a 1" titanium tweeter and a 4.5" midrange/woofer, and weigh an easy to lift 10.5 pounds. They sound pretty darn big, though. I enjoyed them in a system with a T+A 1535 surround sound receiver and T+A SADV 1245 R DVD player, finding them spacious and three-dimensional. Then HeadRoom's Tyll Hertsens walked into the room and asked, "How do they sound as desktop speakers?"
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 1 comments
Moon's Lionel Goodfield kept telling us to drop by the room to see something new. We walked in and asked, "What's new?" Goodfield waggled his eyebrows and said, "What's new with you?" Ba dum dum.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 08, 2006 2 comments
High-end amplifier guru John Curl, well-known for his early designs at Mark Levinson Audio Systems and for the Vendetta phono preamplifier—some regard this as the finest head amp ever made— was at the Alexis Park to discuss his latest design for Parasound, the JC-2 preamplifier. [The price of the JC-2 has not been determined yet, but will be somewhere in the vicinity of $3200.] John was particularly pleased to point out that he had worked with the same circuit-board designer from the Vendetta days. He also pointed out the preamp’s "D-core" power transformer, which has an oval core at right angles to the winding. John believes that this is much quieter than a conventional toroidal transformer. However, he had persuaded Parasound to omit a phono stage because even the D-core transformer wasn't quiet enough for him. That brought up an obvious question—would he reintroduce the Vendetta? Although nothing was definite, he noted, "I'll probably have to do something because everyone is bugging me to bring it back."
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 6 comments
"What's new?" we asked Halcro's Philip O'Hanlon. He ushered us into a room with the brand new ("North American premiere") dm88 250W monoblocks ($40,000/pair). Also in the room were Hanlon's own pair of Classic Audio Reproductions T-3s ($16,500/pair and up, depending on finish)—updated reproductions of James B. Lansing's Hartsfields.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 2 comments
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 0 comments
Chinese OEM manufacturer Dissun was sharing a room with Tetra, so when we stopped by to see what Adrian Butts had wrought, we were pleasantly surprised to see the suite filled with interesting components—all of them looking well built and beautifully turned out.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 08, 2006 4 comments
Walking through the halls of T.H.E. Show, Jon Iverson and I were caught by John DeVore as we tried to cruise the halls quickly. "You've got to hear this," he gushed. "This is probably the worst sound and the best music you'll hear at the show."
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 08, 2006 4 comments
The Audio Refinement brand of affordable components from France's YBA is no more—problems with their Asian manufacturing partner, I understand. But there’s good news: Audio Refinement has been reborn as YBA Design, with a new Asian manufacturing facility that promises to be more reliable. The first two products in the line—designed by Yves-Bernard André, Mr. YBA himself—are the YA201 integrated amp and YC201 CD player, each priced at $1499. The industrial design is stunning in its elegance and simplicity, and, judging by the sound of a pair of Focal-JMlab 1007Be loudspeakers driven by the YBA Design combo, the performance is up to YBA's usual high standards.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 0 comments
Toward the end of the final day in Las Vegas, I found Kalman Rubinson entranced by the sound of Shirley Horn singing and playing piano in the Audio Research room at T.H.E. Show. A pair of the new Mk.2 version of the Wilson Sophia speakers was being driven by ARC's Reference 210 monoblocks, a Reference 3 line stage, the Minnesota company's new Ref CD7 player, with cables from Shunyata and Cardas and AC conditioning by Richard Gray. I was equally entranced.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 15 comments
Codenamed "ML-DVD" during its development, the Mark Levinson No.51 Media Player made its debut at CES. The $18,000, limited-edition player (only 150 will be offered for sale) is intended to get all there is to be gotten from CDs and DVD-Vs, but pointedly will not play SACDs or DVD-As (though it will, of course, play the video-zone Dolby Digital tracks of the latter). I listened to the No.51 in a system comprising the Mark Levinson No.40 controller, the new No.433 three-channel amplifier for the LCR speakers (a pair of Revel F52s and a C32) and a No.431 two-channel amp for the Revel M22 rears, along with two Revel F15 subs. Whether it was two-channel music—Greg Browne's "Who Killed Cock Robin?", which was everywhere at the Show—or film surround sound—Pleasantville—there was an addictive ease to the system's sound, coupled with extraordinary dynamic range.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 08, 2006 0 comments
I weeble-wobbled my way upstairs, following the sounds of The White Stripes', "My Doorbell."
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 6 comments
We'd heard a lot about Raidho's Eben X-3 loudspeakers ($16,500/pair), so we dropped by T.H.E. Show to check out these dynamic three-way floorstanders. When we arrived, Art Audio's Kevin Carter was listening to the X-3s driven by Art's Vivo 25Wpc 300B push/pull stereo power amplifier ($13,000). It sure was purty.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 3 comments
A product that impressed me last year was OliveMedia Products' Symphony music server. The size and appearance of a conventional CD player, the Symphony incorporates an 80GB hard drive and a WiFi hub so that it can act as a music-file server, all for just $899. I wrote my positive impressions of the Symphony with its digital output driving my high-end rig in our mid-November eNewsletter, so I checked out Olive at CES. The company was demonstrating the new Opus, which increases the HD size to 400GB and uses a high-end D/A section. The Opus will be available mid-February for $2999.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 07, 2006 2 comments
Parting the colorful wooden beads makes a sound like brushes against snare. I'm enveloped in soft green glow and the sweetest scents of liquor and jazz. I stand in the corner, trying to figure it all out. Two of the tallest speakers I've ever seen — vintage Acoustat 2+2s — climb all the way up to the ceiling. There's a glowing palm tree dancing between them. Along the walls are concert posters and all sorts of album art. To my right is a mirrored alcove, a bar area, holding many varieties of absinthe and other liquors I've never seen. The room is filled with smiles and everyone seems very comfortable, intoxicated. The space isn't set up for optimal listening. There are no rows of neatly arranged metal conference chairs. Instead there are couches and armchairs. In one, sits a man with his daughter in his lap. He taps his hand to the jazz, while the young girl nods her head in time to the snare hits. Together, they move from one seat to the next, and the girl immediately reacts to the difference in sound. The father — I learn his name is Marty — explains to his daughter, Briana, that they have just moved into a better listening position. "It sounds so different," she says.
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 0 comments
Balanced Audio Technology's Geoffrey Poor proudly showed off BAT's new Solid-state preamp, the VK42SE ($5995). Those ominous looking black cans are brand new state-of-the-art oil-filled capacitors, which will sport a different livery in the production model, by the way. The 42SE features BAT's power supply bypass, dual mono, zero feedback circuitry and it sounds "more tubelike than some of our tubed designs," Poor proclaimed. "It's like a VK42 on steroids! It has more air, more liquidity, and more testicular fortitude. I don't know why we don't have it in the system."

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