When Stereophile webmaster Jon Iverson speaks, I listen, so when, in a conversation the night before the Show opened, he mentioned that he felt wireless speakers would be big in 2007, I looked out for examples.
Pathos products don't resemble anything else in the audio world, but the $35,000/pair 150W Adrenaline Class-A monoblock is stunning even in a room packed with other Pathos gear. It's a zero feedback design and it sounded even more stunning than it looked.
After encountering several rooms filled with overly warm, romanticized tube sound, it was a welcome shock to discover tube gear from Rogue that sounded far more neutral. Alas, the sound from Rogue’s Zeus amplifier (225Wpc, $7495) and prototype reference-level linestage preamp seemed a bit soft around the edges, lacking detail. However, who knows how much of what I heard was due to the plethora of Echo Buster paneling with which the exhibitors had tried to tame the room's acoustics. Paired with the Egglestonworks The Nine ($12,900/pair), introduced at the show, I heard much promise until competition from adjoining rooms forced me to retreat. What I did learn is the speaker uses an 8" Morel woofer, two of the same 6" Morel drivers featured in the company's earlier Andra 2, and an Eggleston favorite, the Dynaudio Ecostar tweeter. Available in virtually any automotive color, the speaker will start shipping in March.
At the GamuT house, the first beauty that caught my eye was their new Phi3 loudspeaker dressed in drop-dead gorgeous zebra wood. "In Europe," said designer Lars Goller, "anything striped is really hot right now."
A number of Stereophile writers have been having unexpected musical moments with JBL's massive horn-loaded K2 9800 loudspeaker at recent shows, but the 2007 CES saw the US debut of the awesome Everest ($60,000/pair).
VAS Audio's Sze Leung is the most consistently up audiophile we know—he's always raving about his latest listening session or discovery. "This one's incredible," he exclaimed, pointing to the 80Wpc Cayin H-80A Class-A tube hybrid integrated amplifier (approximately $4000)."
"Here's something a little different for us," CJ's Lew Johnson continued his tour. "The $10,000 TEA1 triode equalization amplifier embodies our current understanding of the state-of-the-art in phono stage design. It's a zero loop feedback design with two tube gain stages and a passive equalization network. We put a high-current buffer stage isolates the unit from cable and other loading elements."
Paul McGowan's $2500 PS Audio Power Plant Premier is radically different from his earlier power regenerating products. "For one thing, it's 85% efficient, which means it runs cooler and uses less energy," McGowan explained. "It has 10 Power Port receptacles with Nano Crystalline filters. It's even remote controlled."
When I reviewed KEF's top-line Reference 207 loudspeaker in February 2004, it featured a supertweeter perched atop the module housing the coaxial Uni-Q tweeter/midrange driver to achieve true ultrasonic performance. A redesign of the Uni-Q driver, the tweeter in particular, has meant that the supertweeter could be dispensed with for the Mk.2 version, launched at the 2007 CES.
Pathos Acoustics has one of the uniquest design esthetics in audio. Paolo Anriolo and Giaani Borinato beamed with delight as Jon Iverson and I oohed and ahhed over the $8000 Endorphin CD player and $1950 InControl preamplifier.
Wanting to hear more of newest addition to the line that includes the Andra II, successor to Stereophile's 1997 "Loudspeaker of the Year," I visited Egglestonworks' second The Nine room after the Show's first day closed at 5pm. Here I discovered a wonderful depth to the presentation, thanks to McCormack's UDP-1 universal player and DNA-500 amplification, as well as to the Kubala-Sosna cabling. The treble was also nicely focused. Alas, despite another round of Echo Buster room treatment and a striking-looking Grand Prix rack, The Nine's bass control was defeated by the room's square dimensions.
Mikey had brought along to the JBL Everest demo CD-Rs burned with dubs of his favorite LPs played on his Continuum Caliburn turntable. We listened to Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, and John Lennon, but it was when Mikey asked Greg to play track one on the second CD-R that the listeners visibly relaxed and the room filled up with good vibes.