CES 2009

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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 14, 2009 64 comments
At the end of every CES, we struggle to find the underlying themes that bind the show to the industry and the world at large. The overwhelming theme this year was the economy. Attendance was down—the official estimate was 10% off of last year's, but everyone I spoke with snorted in derision at that figure.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2009 5 comments
One of the most impressive speakers I have auditioned in the past few years was the three-way Aerial 20T, which was reviewed by Michael Fremer in April 2004. I spoke to Aerial's Michael Kelly a while back about getting a pair for a Follow-Up review, but he declined, saying that he was working on an improved version.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 14, 2009 0 comments
Over at the Boing Boing blog, it is customary to run a "unicorn chaser," an overly cute picture of a unicorn after posting a post that makes you go "eeeew." German Physiks Unicorn mk II ($21,500/pair) were sort of like that, only for show sound. Ahh, that's better.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 14, 2009 0 comments
Scaena is a modular speaker design that combines multiple small midrange drivers, each mounted in a pod affixed to a rigid stand, with subwoofers placed elsewhere.The speakers come with digital crossover and high-current amplification for the subs. The speakers come as 24, 30, or 36 pod units and you can add as many subs as you require.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 14, 2009 0 comments
Ron Sutherland had a new battery powered phono section, the Hubble ($3800). The batteries come in a special battery compartment, so that there is only a single point of contact at each pole. He reckons the batteries are good for 800 hours of use and he has incorporated at clock in the unit so you can keep track. Each time you fire it up, program in you anticipated listening session and it will count it down and turn off the power at the assigned time—the same LEDs that serve as the timer also indicate battery strength as well.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2009 3 comments
A new speaker from Vandersteen Audio doesn't happen very often—Richard Vandersteen introduced his Model 2 in 1977 and the 2009 CES witnessed the debut of the Model 7, which, at $45,000/pair is the most expensive speaker ever from the frugal Mr. V.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2009 2 comments
Once you choose which components you want, they bolt the circuit boards inside the chassis and link them together.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2009 0 comments
Taking pride of place in distributor Sumiko's suite on the Venetian's 35th floor were the new Vienna Acoustics Kiss loudspeaker ($15,000/pair). Part of the company's Klimt series, the Kiss is ostensibly a stand-mounted design, but the side-pillared, faintly convex stand is part of the design concept. One drive-unit—the flat, radially ribbed unit first seen in the Vienna Musik, covers the entire range of the human voice, 120Hz–2.6kHz, and is married to a tweeter in its center and a port-loaded woofer. The latter features the ribbed, transparent polymer cone material used in Vienna's line, but has a multiple-radius cone profile to maximize stiffness and minimize mass.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2009 0 comments
The diminutive Harbeth HL-P3 has been one of this magazine's consistently recommended speakers since we first reviewed it in 1993. While some details have been improved over the years (and been reported on in the magazine), its design has remained consistent over the years: a diminutive two-way stand-mount intended to take the place of the classic BBC-designed LS3/5a for location monitoring and for audiophiles with small rooms who value midrange purity and superbly stable, well-defined stereo imaging over bass extension and ultimate loudness capability.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2009 6 comments
While bunches 'o companies were hopping on the USB DAC bandwagon, Weiss quietly goes their own way, focusing on getting the audio out of your computer via FireWire. The company also sells professional audio equipment.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2009 0 comments
A close-up of Jim Borgiorno in the VMPS ballroom, performing a classic from the Golden Age of American popular song.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 13, 2009 0 comments
Here's the phono transformer that completes the Ypsilon phono section—for them what needs it (price tbd).
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 13, 2009 1 comments
Music Hall was showing a new USB DAC wit a tube output stage. The Music Hall dac25.5 ($600) uses an Electro-Harmonix 6922 tube, a Texas Instruments PCM1796 24-bi/192kHz DAC chip, a TI SRC4192 Asynchronous sample-rate converter (with a high-precision active crystal oscillator master clock), and four digital inputs (S/PDIF, TOSLINK, XLR, and USB). It sports re-clocking and user-adjustable upsampling (96kHz or 192kHz). It outputs analog via XLR or RCA.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 13, 2009 0 comments
The Pass SCPI phono section ("under $4000") was an awfully slick looking piece of kit. "Basically, we took everything we learned in the Aleph Ono and improved upon it," said Pass engineer Wayne Colburn. The SCPI accommodates multiple inputs and has improved circuit traces, capacitors, and toroidal power supply.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jan 13, 2009 3 comments
While I was cruising NAD's booth, I noticed the M2 Direct Digital amplifier—obviously part of NAD's Masters Series. I asked one Nad rep to tell me about it. "Oh, we didn't bring it—it's not going to be released until spring."

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