CES 2006

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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 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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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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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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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 12 comments
At $9750/pair, Tetra's 506 ain't cheap, but they sounded awfully good with Dissun's Original electronics. An 8" midrange/woofer and a 1.25" fabric-dome tweeter were making pretty music in this rear-ported design. Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock have already purchased pairs, we were told. We asked, "Where's [Tetra's designer] Adrian Butts?"
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 0 comments
We reported a couple of weeks back about the management buyout at English digital specialist dCS. CES saw the first public showing of the new products we wrote about, including the Verdi Encore SACD transport, which upsamples CDs to a DSD stream to feed a dCS DAC, such as the Elgar Plus seen here beneath the transport with both clocked by the dCS Verona that I reviewed a year ago. The rest of the dem system was a pair of Verity Parsifal speakers driven by a VTL S-400 amplifier and VTL's new TL-6.5 line preamp: the sound on a cut from the new Jackson Browne CD that Robert Baird writes about in the January 2006 Stereophile was effortlessly smooth, analog-like in the ease of musical communication. And on the top of the Encore is the award we presented to dCS at CES for the original LaScala transport being one of our two Joint Digital Products of 2005.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 08, 2006 5 comments
The German Clearaudio company, ever-reverent of James Bond's lineage of luxury philosophy, introduced the $17,000 Goldfinger cartridge. Magnets have been doubled up to eight pieces, and a dynamic range of an extraordinary 100dB is claimed. Eric Clapton's "Layla" on vinyl (Reprise 9362-4502-1) never sounded better, I thought.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 08, 2006 3 comments
We're suckers for Proacs, so we were delighted to hear importer Richard Gerberg explain that the Studio line was designed to be affordable. "Well, affordable for Proac," Gerberg said. Our hearts fell—until Gerberg told us that the handsome stand-mounted Studio 110s were $1500/pair and the floorstanding Studio 140s were $2800/pair. Not cheap, but in line with our expectations for the venerable Northamptonshire manufacturer.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 1 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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Wes Phillips/Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 08, 2006 0 comments
VTL's Luke Manley was glowing with some tube warmth himself. "These are the Autobias 450 monoblock amplifiers ($13,500/pair). They have an auto bias circuit, fault monitoring, regulated screen power supply, fully balanced input drivers with their own power supplies, and trickle-current on mute—which keeps you from 'poisoning' your cathode." This last feature prevents you from stressing your tubes on mute and power up, without subjecting them to the stress of hard off and on—"which is a very nice feature. This is a thoroughly modern tube amp."
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 6 comments
John Atkinson was speechless. Not merely speechless, but incoherent as well as inarticulate.
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 15 comments
Anthony Gallo's new Reference 3.1 loudspeaker ($2995/pair) proved that it's better to set up a room properly than it is to try to beat it into submission with expensive components. Not to take anything away from Gallo's Ref 3.1, which sounded fantastic, but his demo proved that God truly is in the details, sounding bigger, realer, richer, and more dynamic than most of the googolbuck systems we heard today. In fact, one importer, who shall remain nameless, confessed that he had a pair in his living room rather than the costly lines he brings into the country.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 0 comments
In our forthcoming February issue, I review the 5.2 loudspeaker from Genesis Technologies. Like many Arnie Nudell designs, the 5.2 demands a lot of current from the partnering amplifier. (See, for example, my 1989 measurements of Arnie's classic IRS Beta design.) I was impressed, therefore, to hear the 5.2s being driven to great effect on a track from singer Jacintha by Genesis' new i60 60Wpc integrated tube amplifier. Made in China, with design input from veteran amplifier maven Bascom King, the i60 uses KT88s and will cost $3495. Rather than show the normal frontal shot of the amp, I photographed the hard-wired circuit, which impressed the heck out of me with its superb craftsmanship.

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