CES 2008

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2008 5 comments
In their suite at the Mirage, Nagra introduced the VPS (Valve Phono Stage), shown here under the Swiss company’s well-regarded PL-L line preamplifier. The front-panel switch selects between A and B inputs and mute, while the rear panel features two sets of inputs and outputs and an output level switch. The A inputs accommodate MC cartridges, while the optional B input can be set for either MM or MC operation. Capacitive and resistive loading can be changed with modules that plug into the pcb close to the input connectors. The MC circuit is based on high-quality transformers wound in-house by Nagra, followed by gain and RIAA stages using ECC81 and ECC83 tubes. The RIAA equalization can be set with internal jumpers either to the 1953 standard or to the 1976 standard. The circuit boards are mounted on compliant supports, to minimize microphony and the power supply is housed in a separate chassis. Unusually, the output can be taken either directly from the tube stage or via a solids-state buffer.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 13, 2008 28 comments
I was rocking out in the DeVore Fidelity/Tone Imports room, listening to Polly Jean Harvey. In the midst of the hurly-burly of CES, I was feeling no pain. "I love the way you guys decided to set your Silver Diamondback References up assymetrically," I told JDV.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
When I first received an email from ESS announcing a new DAC, I assumed someone had revived the old Electro Static Sound, but I was wrong.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 12, 2008 3 comments
More than once, I've teased Convergent Audio Technology's Ken Stevens about calling his preamp SL-1 Ultimate. I mean, once you've got something that's the Ultimate, where can you go if it's improved—and there is no audio product that can't be improved, even if only to a minor degree. He subsequently introduced a preamp called the SL-1 Legend, but it was about double the price of the SL-1 Ultimate, and Ken said that it was sufficiently different from the SL-1 Ultimate that it could be considered a new preamp, deserving of a new name.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
It was late. I was exhausted. After a delicious dinner, I stopped at the Venetian with the intention of picking up my laptop, camera, and other heavy things before returning to my hotel room and passing out. When I reached the 29th floor, however, I ran into Richard Vandersteen and his family. They were also coming from a dinner, also looking exhausted.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 2 comments
The Sumiko suite at CES provided a huge listening space to introduce the new Vienna Acoustics' full-range, four-way Die Musik loudspeaker ($25,000/pair). Designed by Peter Gansterer (see photo), a pair of Die Musiks produced some of the best sound I heard at the show. The speakers were positioned quite far apart against a side wall, and the listener sat on a couch closer to the plane between the speakers than the distance between the speakers. This created a very wide, coherent soundstage quite unlike any other than I heard at the show. Bass response, which was superb, actually could be credited, in part, to a huge REL Studio 3 subwoofer, which was parked and running in the nearest room corner.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
The Atohm Grand Thrill Series made its world premiere at CES 2008. Designer Thierry Comte is pictured here with the very handsome GT 1 bookshelf speaker which exhibited an almost uncanny ability to fill the room with deep, powerful bass. Highs were also impressive: crisp, clean, and fast. Overall, I felt the presentation was tightly focused and lively, without being overly sharp.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
Albert Von Schweikert is on the move. After any number of Von Schweikert lovers have asked for smaller, space-saving speakers that function optimally tucked into corners or up against walls, Von Schweikert Audio is about to launch the Studio Signature Series. With three models, the Unifields 1, 2, and 3 ($6000, $10,000, and $15,000/pair respectively) and optional polished marble stands, the Signature speakers are designed to "compete with guys who build $20,000 monitors." The Unifield 1's frequency response is said to be 40Hz—22kHz; the 2 offers 32Hz—22kHz; and the 3 boasts a whopping 32Hz–50kHz. Not bad for a small speaker, eh?
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
You wouldn't tell by looking at him, but Martin Tremblay is camera-shy. He's modest, though he has every reason to be proud. Triangle's new Genese Series continues the French firm's tradition of sophisticated styling. With its slender, elegant cabinet and smooth, glossy finish, the $4900/pair Quartet descends from Triangle's Magellan Series and is just as lovely.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
In the Loiminchay room, I listened to the standmounted Degas loudspeakers (starting at $15,000/pair). Designer Patrick Chu was a painter before he starting building loudspeakers, and finds inspiration in his favorite artists. He named his smallest loudspeaker after the French Impressionist whose paintings, Chu says, are "romantic and musical." Other Loiminchay speakers include the $35,000 Chagall and top-of-the-line $45,500 Kandinsky.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
"The technology to create a full, wireless, 5.1 channel audio system simply wasn't available before, "said Mike Gough, B&W's Senior Project Manager on the Liberty System, "so we waited until it was possible to do it right." The Liberty employs a proprietary, robust wireless protocol with channel switching capabilities—called dynamic channel selection—to avoid interference from existing WiFi networks. Its wireless transmitter broadcasts 8 separate channels, allowing for full 5.1 in one room, and a stereo setup in a second room. Alternatively, the Liberty can support 4 separate stereo zones throughout the house.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
"Wes Phillips said you would be coming by to take pictures of our loudspeaker," said Paul DiComo, Vice President of Marketing at Definitive Technology. Paul then took me over to a pair of the company's slim Mythos ST Super Tower loudspeakers driven by Pass Labs XA 100.5 100W solid-state monoblocks. Standing just over 48" tall, the speakers had a width of 6.75" and a depth of only 9.5" What a change from the massive transducers I had seen at other venues at CES 2008!
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
Poor Kevin Halverson! Since Hesiod only named nine muses in Theogony, Kevin has had to double up as Muse's line of players has increased. The Erato II is available as a transport ($5300) or one-box CD/DVD/DVD-A player ("up to" $7300).
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
Conrad-Johnson Design, well-known purveyors of vacuum-tube electronics, introduced the ET2 Enhanced Triode preamplifier, featuring a single-ended triode voltage gain stage direct-coupled to a high-current output buffer. For once, this is not another $18k preamp; the price is a relatively modest $3500.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
In a room dominated by imposing Antique Sound Labs tube electronics and Reference 3A Grand Veena loudspeakers, the Chang folks were demonstrating their new Hyper Drive "hyper noise shunting mechanism." Designed to bring AC noise down further than conventional Chang Lightspeed power conditioners, the Hyper Drive will be incorporated into 2008 Reference models such as the Chang Mk III ($3500).

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