Roy Hall was blunt as usual. "I'm bringing in some obscenely expensive tubes. They're Telefunken ECC803Ses, which is one of the best tubes available, but Cool Valve measures them and selects the most perfectly matched, and then bonds their EAT Cool Damper to them. The result is lower operational temperatures, longer life, and lower microphonics. They cost . . . "
Sooloos is a company to watch, and here's the crew assembled in one room: Angus MacDonald, Enno Vandermeer, Rob Darling & Sandro Pugliese. These guys cringed if we even discussed anything less than full-resolution CD on their system.
DEQX's PDC3 preamp/processor (price tdb) combines an analog preamplifier with a DAC and measurement-driven DSP. In a hotel room with zero treatment, Jon Iverson and I were enthralled by the three dimensional soundstaging of a pair of B&W 805s and a pair of B&W ASW 700s. Nope, it wasn't because the CD player was fabulous, either—it was solid, but not audiophile approved.
Naum Dorkhman was chuffed about Audes' new Excellence series of loudspeakers. "I told he engineers to take a blank sheet of paper and make loudspeakers that would satisfy audiophiles, not the bean counters," he said.
If $250 per tube seems too dear, you can supply your own 12AX7, ECC 83, E83CC, 7025, 5751, 7058, 7729, 6681, CV492, CV8156, or 6057—and add Cool Valve's Eat Cool dampers for $40 each, as seen on the right..
This is the first year that the high-end audio exhibits are clustered in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Emphasis on the casino part - to get to the majority of hotel room exhibits, we must negotiate about a quarter mile of hallway and casino to get from the shuttle stop to the elevators. The rooms themselves are nicely appointed, but several exhibitors are already complaining about the acoustics and the challenge of finding ways to make the two level suites music friendly. And on a personal note, the press room is back the quarter mile through the casino near the shuttle stop. End of gripe.
With another act of blatant scoopage (I'm writing this as my colleagues are meeting for breakfast), I must let you know that, while ripping through the Venetian halls, late yesterday evening, making some final preparations before today's morning activities, I nearly fell on my face at the sound of such sublime elfin wonder coming from the Audes Room (suite 29-324, conveniently close to where Primedia's Home Tech Group resides, which is to say: I'll be back, again and again.)
Proac's $6000/pair Response D-28 was making real music connected to Sugden's $3000 CD21SE and $4000 A21SE 30Wpc integrated amplifier. I eyed the 42.5" floorstander, noting its 1" silk dome tweeter and 6.5" midrange/woofer—but I saw no port.
Hansen Audio needed a speaker that wasn't quite as, um, lordly as its $65,000/pair King floorstanders, so Lars Hansen designed the $49,000/pair Emperors. The four driver three-ways are constructed of Hansen's composite matrix material in an enclosure that employs Sound Wave Refraction Distortion Elimination technology. The midrange (7.2") and bass (10.6") drivers are all multilayer composite sandwiches.
The Sooloos display comes with a built-in CD slot for loading your music onto the server. The $4400 Control:One touch-screen display/controller is pretty slick. The CD ripper is in the base—unobtrusively located, might we add? Once the disc is ripped, all of All Media Guide's metadata is automatically entered, so you could, for example, locate any recording in your collection with Phil Lesh playing bass. Oh wait—maybe we should have used an example with somebody who changed bands more frequently.