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.
You know that stuff I said about how pointless the pre-show press conferences are? Well, not always—not, for example, when Jim Thiel has been busy. At last year's CES, Thiel practically levitated when he began describing the challenges of re-designing his CS3.6 floorstander, which has been in production since 1992. He described what he'd keep in the CS3.7 (first-order crossover; three-way design; short-coil/long gap motor design; coincident tweeter and midrange, time coherence;and aluminum diaphragms) and then he began waxing rhapsodic about how completely open that left his imagination.
If one component is omnipresent this year, it's the iPod. You may find this hard to believe, but there are actually companies making iPod accessories these days—actually, it's hard to find companies that aren't.
To be honest, I didn't give it much of a chance. I mean, especially after Jim Thiel's captivating presentation on the new CS3.7, the Philips press conference seemed like so much noise and swirling lights and fake boobs.
I've always said that cables might be the most important component in a system—after all, without 'em, you don't get much sound out of the whole schmear. Avega Systems is doing its best to make a liar out of me with its Oyster wireless loudspeaker.
As more than 100,000 visitors fly in to Las Vegas for the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, I thought I'd post this shot of an empty Alexis Park Hotel, home of the high-end audio exhibits, on the last day of the 2005 Show. Tomorrow, this joint will be jumping!
The Stereophile editors are getting ready for CES 2006 and will be reporting live from the show starting Wednesday, January 4. Join John Atkinson, Wes Phillips, Larry Greenhill, Robert Deutsch, Stephen Mejias, and Jon Iverson as they file their reports and photos.