CES 2008

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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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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 0 comments
It's always fun to drop in to the Burmester Suite. When Dieter Burmester, the firm's founder (left), and Udo Besser, the CEO (right), are not working on the latest sound system updates to the 1.2 million Euro Bugatti Veryon 16.4 supercar, they build massive loudspeakers and amplifiers for home consumers and audiophiles.
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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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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 8 comments
Totem's The One sounded excellent with Naim's CDX2 CD player, amplification, and power supplies.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 12, 2008 2 comments
I have seen few turntables, no any mechanical devices more likely to induce flat-out gadget lust than the $150,000 Transrotor Artus. It has a magnetically coupled drive assembly, which means no points of contact between motor and platter. It's machined from solid billets of high-grade aluminum, finished to an impeccable sheen. Its deck is gimbal-mounted to freakishly huge counterweights for absolute level and stability (think gyroscope here). Its power supply uses something called "Konstant M3," which I gather is pretty special, but my limited German and the Transrotor rep's far less limited English prevented me from determining in what way.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 12, 2008 1 comments
Hovland introduced a new preamp; in fact it was so new that it hasn't been named yet, and the price hasn't been determined ($16k–$18k range). The only thing known for sure is that it's a solid-state design, with balanced inputs and outputs, and has the blue back-lighting that Hovland is known for. It's another contender for the “Most Beautiful $18k Preamp” title.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 12, 2008 2 comments
I met Hegel's Bent Holter at HE 2007, and I was instantly attracted to his combination of tech-talk and passion for music. Bent is at once serious and strangely wacky.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 12, 2008 3 comments
I corresponded briefly a while back with Gary Koh, CEO of Genesis. Gary has owned the company for the past five years, and moved it from its original home in Colorado to Seattle, Washington. When he took over the company, he was aware that his background was in computer software, not electronics. He decided that this could be an advantage. "Not being an engineer, I didn't know what was impossible. This explains to some degree the types of projects I've decided to take on, and those that have been achieved."

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