CES 2008

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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
After hearing the Stello stack, I thought I had heard it all. But in the next room, April Music President Simon K. Lee blew my mind even more with the one-piece Aura note Music Center ($1850). This little baby, available through a dealer network, even includes a USB port on back, a second USB memory stick port on the side, a built-in tuner, and two RCA inputs. Paired with the Aura speaker ($650/pr), the parallel single-ended MOSFET design (thank you, Nelson Pass) sounded a bit more mellow and soulful than the Stello stack. (It would have probably extended as low as that stack if it had been paired with the B&Ws).
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
As usual, Totem did a wonderful job of transforming their booth to provide a fun and distinct listening environment. The company was also playing their Tribe wall-mount, which provided a surprisingly robust sound.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
The highlight of the VRS Audio Solutions room was witnessing VRS' Vincent R. Sanders and Neil Sinclair (high-end pioneer and former owner of Theta Digital) engage in a heated discussion over optimal methods for achieving hard disk-stored music playback. These two went at it as if dealing with life and death itself. Which, in the case of high-end audio, isn't far from the truth.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
"What's new?" I asked the Canadian company's affable Lionel Goodfield on the last day of CES.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
Bent Holter loves his work. And the camera.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
Paul Barton, founder and chief designer of PSB Speakers International, plans to manufacture a new series of loudspeakers he is calling "Imagine." This line will feature new finishes and styling. The enclosures will be curved, both front to back and top to bottom. To create this shape, PSB is laminating multiple layers of MDF, w2hich is then braced to a mold. Radio frequency waves are directed at the enclosure shell for 15 seconds that quickly sets the glue. Once the enclosure is stable, holes are machined as the exact places required, which eliminates the tedious job of making ultra-precise adjustments when an enclosure is built around the drivers. PSB also uses a method of adding color after the first coat of clear sealant is applied to the veneer, so the resulting finish shows the wood grain but also has a rich, red color.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 2 comments
The totally new-to-me Indiana Line, imported by VMAX Services, was a great surprise. VMAX Service's Richard Kohlruss tells me the company's been around for 30 years. Their Arbour Series of loudspeakers are finished in an attractive real-wood cherry veneer with nicely rounded front panel edges. At just about 37" high and only 25lbs, the 5.02 is not only easy on the eyes, it's also practical for small listening rooms like mine.
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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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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
PBN's Peter Noerback had emailed me back in December about his new Montana KAS2 tower. The 300lb, 6'-tall speaker has twin 12" woofers top and bottom powered by a 1kW amplifier, with what appear to be top-of-the line 9" lower and 5" upper midrange units from SEAS flanking a 1.125" tweeter. An active, line-level bass extender, the Olympia EX, pushes the low-frequency extension below the resonance point of the woofers. Sensitivity is specified as a very high 93dB/W/m. The sealed cabinet features a solid-maple front baffle and is an asymmetrical hexagon in shape to minimize internal resonances. Price, considering the enormous size of the speaker, is a relatively realistic $38,000/pair, which includes the bass extender.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
Franc Kuzma was showing a fascinating tonearm, the $7300–7500 4Point, named because it has unique vertical and horizontal bearings. Kuzma said, "It's like a unipivot tonearm that can't 'chatter' in the horizontal plane."
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 12, 2008 2 comments
D&M Holding is the name of the company that owns Marantz, McIntosh, Boston Acoustics, and several other audio/video brands; they had a mini-exhibit of their own at the Mandalay Bay. There were some formal home-theater demos, but I didn't have time to sit through those. However, I did get a good look at the new SM-11S1 Reference Power Amplifier (110Wpc, $3999), SC-11S preamplifier ($2999), and SA-11S1 two-channel SACD/CD player ($3499) from Marantz. Gorgeous stuff. Michael Fremer has these for review.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
Jim Thompson from Egg.Works, the firm that manufactures Eggleston loudspeakers, was eager to tell me more about the Eggleston Nine. I'd seen the firm's loudspeakers in many different CES suites over the years, but never had a chance to listen to them before.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
"Basically, what we're offering is some fun for a rainy Sunday afternoon," said Upscale Audio's Kevin Deal, who had two replacement I/V op-amp upgrades for the $2499 Prima Luna ProLogue Eight CD player. Both are ready to just pop in as replacements for the Eight's existing board. The Basic ("around" $150) has open slots for bypass capacitors and a heavy-duty PS. The Super ("around" $225) already has surface-mount caps and the HD PS installed.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
April Music's tremendous achievement deserves two blog entries. In one room at the Alexis Park, the Korean-based company demmed an absolutely amazing for the price Stello stack of low-cost, truly high-end mini components: the Stello CDT-100 transport ($695), DA100 Signature ($895), HP100 headphone amp/preamp ($595), and S100 50W/channel power amplifier ($745). Auditioning Harmonia Mundi's beautiful recording of Schubert's Arppeggione Sonata, this diminutive set-up (complete with B&W 805 loudspeakers and Red Rose cabling) created an amazingly deep, involving soundstage that would make many a manufacturer of components costing 10 times the Stello price envious. The system also did a fine job of capturing the complex harmonics of the piano. An I2S bus connection between components—shades of Audio Alchemy and Perpetual Technologies—sure helps matters. I wouldn't go as far as saying that this set-up fully captured the soul of every piece of music I auditioned, or that its solid-state pedigree wasn't apparent, but it blew the socks off most mass-market doo-doo and a helluva lot of supposedly audiophile-grade components.

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