DEQX (pronounced "decks") has been succesfully showing their active EQ system for several years now, and each time, they push the envelope forward with a better product and better demo. This year they topped themselves again and have teamed up with newcomer Wasatch Acoustics to create a state-of-the-art system comprised of a modular speaker system with amplification and active digital EQ.
Zu's Adam Decari shows us how the computer generation helms a CES demo room. In addition to the DJ turntables and laptop, note the Apple G5 computer at the back used as the only disc player for the main system.
Dusty Vawter's Channel Island Audio has made its reputation building high-performance audio components in extremely small packages, but we were still surprised to see how tiny CIA's new VDA-2 DAC ($599)is. How small? Try 4.4" W by 2.65" H by 4.4" D.
You may not know the name Furutech, but you've almost certainly heard some of its products—the Japanese manufacturer's high-purity copper has been used in many well known audiophile cables and components. Now Furutech is offering cables, connectors, AC accessories, and other products under its own name.
Leave it to a bass player. John Atkinson sidled up to Jon Iverson and me last night and said, "Have you heard Ascendo's room yet? It has a bandpass woofer that doesn't sound like a bandpass woofer at all—it sounds good."
Esoteric's two-box (transport plus D/A converter) SACD player, feeding A70 amps (not sold in the US), an Audio Research Reference 3 preamp, and a pair of Aerial Acoustics 20T speakers combined to produce one of the smoothest, most musical sounds I heard at the show.
Signals-SuperFi introduced Peak Consult's new floorstanding three-way The Zoltan ("as in Kodaly") ($36,699.99/pair). The Zoltan boasts Peak Consult's usual glorious woodwork and uses a 1.5" Scanspeak cloth dome tweeter, 4" AudioTech midrange driver, and two 7" AudioTech woofers. Fronted by The Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn Turntable ($89,999.99), Boulder 2008 phono preamp ($30,000), Boulder 2010 preamp ($30,000), and Wavac HE 883 v1.3 monoblocks, strung together with Stereovox's SEI-600II and LSP-600c cables, the system pretty much blew me away. This is vinyl? Dean Can Dance was dynamic and vivid, with tons and tons of depth. No wonder Mikey Fremer raved about the Caliburn. The Zoltans cry out for further listening.
Some think that the high-end audio business is a competitive, cut-throat endeavor, leading to animosities, but this picture of (l–r): EveAnna Manley (Manley Labs), Dennis Had (Cary Audio) and Kevin Deal (Prima Luna) shows that it isn't always that way, at least for purveyors of tube equipment.
Penaudio's Tommi Forss was excited about the Finnish company's new Alba ($4000/pair). "We wanted a smaller floorstanding speaker than our Serenade, but a larger speaker than our Charisma, so we used the 1" SEAS Excel fabric dome tweeter from the Serenade and the 7" SEAS treated paper cone midrange/woofer in a compact time-aligned cabinet."
Also stunning were Furutech's impeccably machined, silver over rhodium AC plugs, which incorporate solid brass ground jumpers. What does that do? "You have to hear it to believe it," said Furutech's PR guy, Jonathan Scull. Okay, we're willing to go that far.
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.
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.
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."