Ypsilon Electronics was a new name to me, so I wasn't sure what Jon Iverson and I would see when we entered its room. Whatever we expected, it wasn't the ginormous hybrid SET-100 monoblock amplifiers ($69,000/pair).
Von Schweikert Audio's VR-5 SEs ($25,000/pair) aren't new, but once again they impressed Jon Iverson and me with their verve and natural presentation of acoustic guitar. Nils Lofgren's "Keith Don't Go" kept us nailed to our seats for the whole 12 minutes—which, in CES Show mode, is equivalent to seven human years.
"I'm not done," Lew Johnson said. "I showed you our high-aspiration products, now here's one more from the heart: the ET250S is a more realistically priced product at $7500 for 250Wpc. At the heart of the amp is a single-ended triode amplifier that supplies the voltage gain. A high-current buffer stage couples that to the speaker load. That architecture gives you tube grace and finesse, but deliver all the brute force you need for any loudspeaker. We'll ship them in February."
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."