CES 2007

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2007 Published: Jan 12, 2007 0 comments
I’m not fond of using earplugs, so I haven’t really investigated listening to music with in-the-ear-canal type earphones. However, I've read reports from the likes of Wes Phillips and John Atkinson, extolling the virtues of these type of earphones, so when I saw the sign at the Shure booth that they had some new models in this series, I thought I'd give them a listen. The ones I tried were the top-of-the-line SE530 ($449.99), which are described as "triple TruAcoustic microspeakers," with a separate tweeter and two woofers. I listened to "Nessun Dorma" sung by Pavarotti—the source was an iPod—and was quite blown away with the effortless ease and natural quality of the sound. Maybe there is something to earphone listening after all...
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 4 comments
"Recent advances in solid-state output devices and other components have opened up design possibilities never previously available," Audio Research's Terry Dorn explained. "And that led to our developing the Hybrid Drive HD220 stereo power amplifier ($8995)."
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 1 comments
At CES 2006, Jon Iverson and I were impressed by Studio Electric's $8500 Type One modules, even though the mating $3500 XLR woofer modules weren't operating. This year Studio Electric was showing off a pair of the $15,500/pair Type Two towers, which were pure art deco chromed metal work.
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 4 comments
TBI's Jan Plummer is so proud and punched up about his $400/pair Majestic Diamond 1 single driver loudspeakers that he seems to shimmer—as if he's transporting between this plane of existence and another one.
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 3 comments
Many of the best-sounding rooms at the show employed Ayre's $16,500/pair 300W MX-R monoblock amplifiers. Yes, they look small enough to be class-D amplifiers, but they're pure analog. How'd they do it? The entire enclosure is the heatsink and Ayre's Charlie Hansen designed a special low-rise transformer, used in pairs, to keep the chassis so compact.
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 1 comments
"Check this out!" Boulder's Richard Maez palmed the remote that accompanies Boulder's 865 integrated amp and 810 preamplifier. "It really fits in your hand—and unlike most remotes, it fits whether you're using your right or your left hand."
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2007 Published: Jan 12, 2007 0 comments
Press conferences can sometimes be tedious affairs, with the presenter going on-and-on about his company's past accomplishments, and how even greater things are coming in the future. But this description did not apply to the press conference for Usher Audio Technology at this year’s CES. This was more like an informal party for friends than the prototypical press conference. People stood around and chatted for a while, and then Atul Kanagat of MusikMatters, Usher’s North American distributor, talked briefly about how Usher’s line of high-value/high-performance loudspeakers is intended to bring more music lovers into the hobby. We then listened to some music through some very-nice-sounding Usher speakers. Pictured are PR consultant Jonathan Scull (whose name should be familiar to Stereophile readers, Usher chief engineer Joe D’Appolito (whose name should be familiar to students of speaker design), Tsai Lien-Shui (President of Usher), and Atul Kanagat.
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John Atkinson & Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2007 6 comments
This man is electric. More than electric, this man is electricity. The strongest, purest current snaps through him and charges the entire room. We crowd around, unable to fully maintain his flow, but also unable to withdraw. John Atkinson and I settle in closest, occupying the front row. JA follows securely along, constant flickers of acknowledgement and wonder emerge, illuminated moments of understanding and interest. At the same time, however, running in the opposite direction, I feel almost as though I'm being rude — too deeply occupied at scribbling these notes, my pen powered by his words and ideas, moving faster across the page than I want it to go, I can't even look up to meet his eyes. And his eyes, these ice blue darts, they're the blue of a glowing front panel. The man is plugged in.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 11, 2007 Published: Jan 12, 2007 0 comments
VTL introduced a new phono preamplifier at CES, the $6500 TP-6.5 Signature Phono Stage, as well as an upgraded MB-450 Signature monoblock amplifier. Using the single-chassis configuration of the TL-6.5 line preamplifier, VTL's phono preamplifier follows its hybrid design approach, using a low-noise J-FET to drive high-current 12AU7 tubes. It features switchable, five-corner, passive RIAA filtering. Gain, cartridge load impedance, phase, muting, rumble filter, and power on/off can be switched by remote.
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 3 comments
No, that's not another Vandersteen sock—it's the carbon fiber plinth of the Vandersteen 5As in Audio Research's room. "Richard [Vandersteen] isn't really offering the 5s in carbon fiber," Audio Research's Terry Dorn told us. "He just wanted to explore the material, so he did these."
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Wes Phillips & Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2007 1 comments
Behold bills itself as "true digital audio" since it maintains audio as a digital signal up to the amplifier stage. The 600Wpc BPA768 (US price TBD) incorporates 768kHz/24-bit signal processing, a switch-mode power supply, an analog output stage, and an integrated power conditioner.
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CES 2007 Posted: Jan 12, 2007 1 comments
Redpoint's Peter Clark says, "Your heart doesn't beat in ones and zeroes—it's analog." That's why he builds turntables, 'tables machined from solid billets of aircraft aluminum and configures the platter, motor, and tonearm platforms on separate support pods on a common platform.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2007 2 comments
The Australian Ambience Reference 1800 ribbon hybrid loudspeakers ($13,995) use ribbons of their own design, combined with a vented bass section. The cabinet is sleek, with a narrowing toward the top. I quite enjoyed listening to these speakers, and, ever on the lookout for a cost-effective components, I was impressed by the fact that they were being driven by relatively inexpensive Vincent electronics (SAT-1 preamp, $1495, SAT-100 monoblock power amps, $2495/pair). Designer Tony Moore was on hand to demo the speakers.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2007 0 comments
Canadian manufacturer Simaudio is on a roll, with product introductions at just about every CES and Home Entertainment Show. This time, it was the Moon P5.3 preamplifier ($3500), with numerous "trickle-down" design features from the flagship Moon P7 and P8, and the Moon W5.3 amplifier (150Wpc, $4800). I managed to catch VP Marketing Lionel Goodfield with a less-serious-than-usual expression by telling him to imagine that they got a letter from Best Buy, saying that they want to carry the high-end Simaudio brand in all their stores and will pay full retail price just to have this privilege. :-)
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2007 4 comments
When it comes to directivity in loudspeaker frequency response, the trend has been to make them less directional, both vertically and horizontally, so that the speakers would be less sensitive to seating position and allow more then one person to enjoy the same tonal balance. The new Copernicus II ($21,000/pair with powered subwoofers and digital equalization/phase correction) from Alltronics Technical Systems takes the opposite approach, going for maximum directionality/focus. The drivers form a vertical line source with a concave curve, the speakers being "aimed" at a seated listener. Not only that, but there's a motorized control moving the speaker up and down to match the exact height of the listener's ears when seated. These are what I'd call "bachelor’s speakers!" They are certainly not designed for listening by couples, but the upside is the the soundstage can be extremely precise and three-dimensional, and the sound itself was well-balanced and dynamic. Here’s designer Dennis Althar with his baby.

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