The rebirth of Reference Recordings is one of the feel-good stories of audio. Here’s RR’s Marcia Martin, holding up two of their new releases, from pianist Joel Fan and from Keith Lockhart conducting the Utah Symphony in works by Bernstein.
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.
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,"
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.
They're so small, you'd almost have to bet they're class-D, but the $16,500/pair 300W MX-Rs are linear all the way. The tiny brutes were fed by Ayre's C-5xe universal player ($5950) and K-1x preamplifier ($8600 with phono section), and Ayre cables. The system, which included Vandersteen Quatro Wood speakers, sounded far more detailed and lithe than the MX-Rs did at CES. MAybe it's the smaller room, or maybe it's those Quatros. Heck, it could even be that Ayre's Charlie Hansen can't leave a good thing alone either.
Those who’ve admired the sound of the speakers from TAD, but could not get past the prices, will be interested in the new line from Pioneer, which use trickle-down versions of the TAD drivers and cabinets just slightly less elaborate in resonance-damping characteristics, and much lower prices ($6000 for the S-1EX pair on demo). Designer Andrew Jones is obviously pleased by the sound, as well he might be.
A CD player that combines the transport from a Sony PlayStation, an output section using rare New Old Stock tubes, and no remote control? That’s the DynaStation II CD player ($6000), said to have a cult following in Germany, and now imported by Avatar Acoustics. You can have it somewhat cheaper if you want less esoteric tubes, or pay more if you want even more esoteric ones. The system with Ascendo System E speakers, using the DynaStation II as the source, sounded really good, though.
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.
After experiencing Shure's Push-to-Hear control switch, I was in a headphone kind of mood, so I walked on over to HeadRoom's aptly named Headphone Heaven. I imagine that this heavenly set-up will serve as a much-needed respite for many weary showgoers. I found smiling faces, comfy lounge chairs, happy flowers, and lots of sunshine. Everything in the room begged, "Try Me!"
HE2006's official keynote address was delivered by Gary Sasaki, president of DIGDIA, a company that helps companies understand the ways that digital entertainment creates growth opportunities for savvy businesspeople.