Canton's Frank Göbl is a busy little beaver. He wondered what it would be like to put the components of Canton's successful Ergo line into new specially designed cabinets that could bring the prices down by 30%. "Cost efficiencies have enabled us to do this without sacrificing sound quality or beauty," said Canto USA president Paul Madsen.
Parasound's Richard Schram was delighted to show off the San Francisco company's Model 2100 preamplifier. This $600 preamp is designed for the guy who has a multichannel system—possibly even an expensive one—who feels let down when he listens to his two-channel music.
Similar to the MPC line level terminations are MIT's Multipole In-Wall termination systems, shown here by Kent Loughlin. The five-way binding posts fit into an ordinary on-wall quad box and come in three configurations: 11 pole, 15 pole, and 21 pole network. No soldering required.
MIT's Bruce Brisson was determined to shrink his Multipole technology so that his patented networks did not requite bulky boxes near their cables' termination. Naturally, he thought surface-mount components were the way to go. That was until he began measuring them and discovered that SM components were variable and many didn't measure well.
Linn was showing its new reference standard digital player, the Klimax DS, which it is dubbing "the first authentic hi-fi product to stream digital music over a standard home network." Not impressed? How about this: it is capable of utilizing Linn's 24/96 downloads and, according to Rikke Ravnborg, director of marketing, is sonically superior to Linn's long-term digital reference, the CD-12.
Pioneer showed a number of interesting new products in two-channel electronics and speakers. but pride of place was ceded to their new flagship A/V receiver, the SC-09TX. This is almost, but not quite, a pair of separates with the 10-channel, ICE-powered class-D amp confined to a chassis separated from the rest of the digital and line-level electronics. The main 7 channels are rated at 200W, operated simultaneously. I thought it notable that the amplifier chassis is configured to be under the main chassis and that indicates that we’ve reached a point where the efficiency of class-D amps allows the power-hungry DSP and video processing to breathe out the top. Fans help, too. Every conceivable input and output is provided including 6 HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, accommodations for XM, Sirius, and iPod input, and a talented EtherNet link. I show you the back panel to impress you with the connectivity and the distinct chassis for the power amp. The front panel sports a 4" LCD for control and video previewing.
Marantz was showing some heavy metal: Its new line of reference components, which will only be available at select dealers. Shown here are the SA-11S2 SACD player ($6999.99), the SA-7S2 stereo control preamplifier ($7999.99), and the MA-9S2 monoblock power amplifiers ($7999.99 each).
I finally got a chance to look at, but not yet hear, Bryston's first venture into a source component, the BCD-1 CD player. James Tanner gave me a tour of the innards which were even more impressive than the beautifully carved front panel and sturdy disc tray. He said that, while they used a Philips transport, all the control electronics were replaced by discrete Bryston-designed drivers and DACs and that separate transformer windings powered separate power supplies for the transport and audio electronics, with multiple isolated and regulated supplies for individual circuits and channels. That allows the class-A output stages to function best. In addition to the analog outputs, transformer-coupled S/PDIF and AES/EBU digital outputs are provided.
Look at the picture and tell me that those don’t look like speakers! They are, of course, but they are not intended to be driven by audio signals directly. What subwoofer manufacturer Bag End was demonstrating is a small, active bass trap, the E-Trap, and they are driven by the bass frequencies in the room. Each of these small boxes contains a driver, two microphones, and some pretty snazzy electronics that let the driver cancel the energy at the frequency (or two) of your room’s major mode. Sure, acoustic treatment is generally best, but that can get awfully cumbersome below 100Hz. Adjustments allow you to select frequencies between 20Hz and 65Hz and adjust the amplitude and shape of the cancellation. For critical success, you need to experiment with placement (although that is almost always at a room boundary) and, at the moment, have access to some nice FFT software. Bag End's James Wischmeyer promises that, eventually, some simpler setup software will be provided. Mebbe, but I asked to try one ASAP.
It was disorienting to arrive in the Denver Convention Center and both have to re-learn where everything is and to try to maintain my bearings on the Show floor. The grid of floor sites is very approximately regular, with each numbered row thickening and thinning to complement its neighbors. At one point, I had let myself be led around to three different booths by a press representative, only to look up and not know which was the front and which was back!
Peachtree Audio, which is distributed by Signal Path, introduced a tasty little 50Wpc digital integrated amp, the Decco ($799). That little window in the front has a 6922 tube behind it, feeding, presumably, a class-D power amp. The Decco has two analog inputs and three digital inputs: USB, Toslink, and S/PDIF coaxial. It decodes MP3, FLAC, AIF, and WAV and even has a slot in the rear to accommodate a Sonos ZP80 WiFi media player. It is also compatible (but lacks slots for) Apple TV and other music servers. There's a preamp output, in case you want to go for more power.
Joe Harley was striding around the Denver Convention Center. When we shook hands, he glanced around and said, "Let's go somewhere private." We ducked into an empty demo room and he pulled a few records out of his bag. "Nobody else knows about this, I'm giving you the exclusive."
Billed as the "world's first audiophile music server," the MS250 contains a 400GB hard disk and a CD ripper/player, as well as "a custom sound card specifically designed for the MS250 using four Crystal CS4398, 120dB dynamic-range, 24-bit, stereo DACs, plus properly implemented power supplies and output filters, just like an Arcam CD player."