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.
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.
Continuing with European speakers, on static exhibit at the Klipsch Group complex was one of the most cleanly and beautifully simple speaker designs I've seen in a while. It was Jamo's S60, the largest in a new "S" line that, so far, includes a tiny bookshelf, a small center channel, and a subwoofer. These looked like many European small designs, almost too small to be effective. But the graceful three-way S60 sports a dome tweeter, a vertically arrayed pair of 4" midrange units, and a side-firing 8" woofer. Everything fit and matched, and the materials and textures just screamed quality. I just had to find out the price. It's only $450/pair! For that money and their graceful appearance, this speaker is a bargain even unheard!
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.
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.
I decided that since Stereophile only had two show bloggers this year, I would avoid writing about weird custom-install products and home-theater systems. However, rules, as they say, are made to be broken.
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."
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!
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).
ReQuest is betting there's a music server in your future, and they're working hard at eliminating any objections you might have about it. In addition to showing off their new S-series components ("S" for "serious sound"), the company introduced a host of widgets, added functions, new remotes, and the Echo, a daily-updated backup drive for your music library.
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.
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.
We get a kick out of Paul Barton, so we wandered into PSB's room to see what's new. He was talking to a good-looking man of a certain age (ours, approximately), to whom he introduced us: it was Vance Dickason, the man who wrote the book on designing DIY loudspeakers: The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook.