We were on a mission, of sorts. A mission to find a pair of small loudspeakers, which, as it turns out, is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Especially around these parts, where, it seems, size and volume are set to impress.
Jonathan Tinn of Blue Light Audio came to the show equipped with his collection of classical composer action figures. Mozart is on his shoulder with Beethoven in the other hand. Wagner is still in the package. Collect them all.
Telarc/Heads Up's Amanda Sweet displays the label's latest three discs: Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Long Walk to Freedom, Hiromi's Spiral, and Vilvaldi's Gloria paired with Bach's Magnificat. The Vivaldi/Handel disc is one of Wes' show demo discs, boasting extremely natural DSD surround.
This is the second year I was impressed by the sound of the YG Acoustics modular loudspeaker. As configured, this one runs $90,000/pair, although, as Yoav Gonczarowski, the company sells more of the configuration that eschews the second bass module. That version sells for $60,000, and is the most popular loudspeaker in its price class in Japan, selling four pair each month.
Continuing our mission to find some good-sounding, small loudspeakers, we wandered on over to the Margules Audio room, where I spotted some cute, little guys hanging out in the corner. Unfortunately, they weren't hooked up to anything that actually plays music. Only the larger speakers were prepared to rock, and after my time with the Piazettas, I really wasn't interested.
Wes Phillips listens to the Usher CP 8571 ($7700/pair), a new speaker with a Beryllium tweeter, which sounded refined and dynamic through Usher's own line of electronics: CD1 ($800) CD player, P307 preamp ($2400), and R1.5 power amp ($2500), which puts out 150Wpc in class-A.
As a reader pointed out, missing from Wes Phillips' coverage of Wednesday's Thiel CS3.7 press conference was a picture of the new speaker. Here it is, pictured with Jim Thiel waxing lyrical about his new midrange diaphragm.
Cayin's American distributor Sze Leung had three new units on display at the Acoustic Sounds booth: the Phono One ("under $2000"), a tube driven phono section, Citation Sound 1 ($3500) full-function preamplifier (phono section included), and the HA-1 ($700) tubed headphone amp/integrated amp (3Wpc). Jackson Mar and Anna Gao of Cayin's parent company, Zhuhai Spark Electronic Equipment Co., Ltd., came over for CES and couldn't resist grinning when the price of the HA-1 caused bystanders to whistle in admiration.
Sony's pre-Show press conference made little reference to sound quality, and SACD did not get even a mention. However, Sony's display did show their latest SACD player and the new MDR-V900HD headphones ($249), which have claimed frequency response extending to 80kHz. These 'phones sounded exceptionally smooth and well-balanced. Comfortable, too.
It has been a while since we've seen a new electrostatic enter the fray, so we were surprised at the range of offerings from King's, which ran the gamut from tiny desktop models to a huge baby called the King ($6000). King's has a new angle on 'stats—DC input. The normal technique of using amplified AC voltage caused problems with vibration and interference, they found, so they came up with an efficient DC-driven panel that can be used with as little as 2W.