Jim Thiel's CS3.7 was announced at CES 2006 and even shown—sort of. It wasn't a working model and it was packed with new technological, um, wrinkles, such as its 4.5" aluminum midrange ring with an "undulating, radially ribbed contour." Not to mention the 3.7's new, ribbed 10" woofer and passive radiator, which resemble hubcaps of the "spinner" variety.
Continuum has continued to refine its flagship Caliburn turntable system ($99,950). Chief among the changes are the Cobra tonearm's new shape, said to result in greater rigidity, and the Castellon stand's magnetic suspension. The Continuum system sure made a 50-year-old Moods of Gene Ammons LP sound fresh and present.
We still haven't learned the price of Peak Consult's InCognito X two-way floorstanders, but we're starting to believe Per Kristoffersen when he says he set out "to build the best two-way loudspeaker in the world,"
Music Direct was showing off two new turntables in the Avid line: the $4500 Volvere and the $7500 Sequel. The Volvere was developed by using the flagship model Acutus as its prototype and removing or downsizing only those elements that had the least effect on sound quality. Like the Acutus, the Volvere has adjustable suspension, adjustable horizontal damping, and a motor mount that keeps the subchassis and platter from dancing closer and further apart from one another(a common problem with many sprung subchassis models).
The live music portion of HE 2006 opened Friday with a performance from the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, who have a new album out on Telarc. Fred Manteghian, Stephen Mejias and myself, all guitarists, sat in the front row and decided we all need to practice harder. Much harder.
One of the great demos at the show is a comparison between two identical systems and rooms, with one major difference: one has been treated with Real Traps and RPG acoustic treatment products and one left au natural. The display was hosted by dealer Ultimate Audio Video and acoustics consultants Rives Audio and the difference was not subtle. As Stephen pointed out, the treated room was much easier to listen to, with a more open soundstage and less confused imaging. Rives Audio treated the room with RPG's products and Real Traps Corner Mondo Traps and Tri-Corner Bass Traps. Richard Rives Bird commented that after being set up, both rooms were within 3dB of flat in the bottom end, so the company's PARC equalizer was not even needed.
Front-end in the Lamm room, with a system featuring Lamm tubed electronics driving Wilson Sophia 2 speakers, was this gorgeous turntable from French company Metronome, the Gaia, fitted with a Graham Phantom tonearm and a Lyra Titan cartridge.
Speaker manufacturer Lipinski Sound was on hand with their surround demo and a new product: The 3601 Powered Stand. Each 3601 sports a two channel amp that can be bridged to be used as a 600 watt monoblock, or set to biamp either a 505 or 707 speaker. Lukas Lipinski says that the powered stands can also be used with other speakers, and have been referenced against other well-known amps. Price is $2,595 each. A quick demo with several types of music proved impressive, even in the confines of a hotel room.
California manufacturer Channel Islands Audio brought two new products to the show: the $895 PLC•1 passive preamp with remote and the $4,500/pr D•400 class-D power amps. Also in the room were the Von Schweikert Audio VR-5SE speakers ($18-22k depending on finish). Sound in the modest hotel room was surprisingly spacious and well-balanced. Left to right in the photo: Albert Von Schweikert, CIA's Dusty Vawter and Greg Schug.
Wasn't she just in the background of John and Stephen's picture? We posed her next to the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's Spin and she really lit up. It's an impressive sounding SACD—and the group is playing at HE2006 tomorrow. Did I mention the concert was free?