CES 2006

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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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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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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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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 08, 2006 0 comments
Walking through the halls of T.H.E. Show, we stumbled across Ray Samuels (of Ray Samuels Audio) manning his table of headphone ecstasy. We listened to Samuels' Raptor ($1175) driving AKG's new K 701 headphones ($400), which HeadRoom's Tyll Hertsens told us were his new reference cans. Maybe ours, too, based on the sound Ray was getting. Wes has begged for a pair for review. Stay tuned.
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 08, 2006 4 comments
We were on another mission from God—in other words, a request from Editor John Atkinson, which is the same thing for working journalists. "You have to check out Hovland's new power amplifier," JA gushed.
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 0 comments
It has been a while since we saw a new design from Egglestonworks, so we were happy to see the Fontaine II ($5500/pair.) The Fontaine has a small footprint and looks even smaller than its 41" height would suggest. the driver complement is a 1" fabric dome tweeter and two 6" midrange/woofers. Like the other EW designs, the Fontaine II utilizes a transmission line.
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Wes Phillips/Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 07, 2006 12 comments
Jon Iverson has a nose. I mean, he just knows—for instance, we were walking through the Alexis Park, I mean Alexis Villas, when he stopped in front of Zu's logo and said, "I think this might be worth investigating."
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 07, 2006 0 comments
I think it's fair to say that Bryston is one of the more conservative manufacturers of audio electronics, with solid engineering and avoidance of anything that smacks of fads or esoteric tweaks. It then comes as a convincing endorsement of power-line conditioners as a product category that the Canadian company now distributes the new Torus power-line conditioners. Based on hefty toroidal transformers from Plitron, these are aimed at the pro as much as the audiophile market; the top-of-the-line A5AB delivers up to 100 amps and weighs 220 lbs. Bryston’s James Tanner seems quite pleased with it.

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