VTL's room is always an oasis at shows, playing music at levels that actually match rather than trying to impress the listener with mere volume, the system
meticulously set up. The same was true at CES 2008, a pair of Wilson WATT/Puppy 8s being driven by the new MB450 Series II tubed monoblocks ($9500/pair), the
"budget-priced" (a mere $50k) Continuum Criterion turntable, and VTL's new TP6.5 phono section ($8500) as the source. The MB450 and other VTL components are
pictured here with the company's co-owner, the ever-gracious Bea Lam.
The Sony booth had a lot of interesting products on display, but hardly anything specifically dealing with audio. Last year, the only product I found I could find in the Sony booth that I could mention in my CES blog was a pair of headphones. This year, the product that I spotted that I thought would be interesting to Stereophile readers was "a pair of headphones!"
Esoteric unveiled its new X-05 SACD/CD player ($5600), which employs a new VRDS-NEO "VMK-5" drive mechanism that includes a precision machined aluminum turntable and a polycarbonate clamping mechanism. The VMK-5 is said to be extremely rigid and optimized for SACD's high-rotation speeds.
We ran into SinglePower Inc.'s Mikhail Rotenberg as he was sprinting down the hall to the Synergistic Research room. "Check these out," he said. "These are a 1932 Tung Argon 4327 and a 1943 722A (323), labeled Centennial, but manufactured by Western Electric."
It exists; we saw it for ourselves! Wadia's $349 iTransport can take the digital signal out of an iPod before the DAC, outputting 16-bit/44.1khz resolution for uncompressed files—it doesn't upconvert lower-rez files like MP3s, but it does reformat them to 16/44.1, according to Wadia's John Schaffer.
We were stunned to see Roger Skoff in the Ultralink/XLO room—we thought he'd retired years ago. "I did," he explained, "but I was asked to design some new stuff incorporating new technologies and more advanced versions of our existing designs."
The ever-lovely Rosemarie Torcivia and Cynthia Fontaine, running the Stereophile room at the Venetian. They'd appreciate it if someone would bring them a decent sounding stereo to listen to. An ipod even.
The three phase power supply is pure Ayre. There are three amplifiers, one for each phase. "Essentially, they are mini-MXRs," said Silberman. They are 120 degrees out of phase with one another, and we need to tune each one with a stethoscope to achieve absolute pitch stability. The result?