"You have got to check out Vitus," Jon Iverson enthused. When I did, I took his point. Vitus Audio is the love child of Hans-Ole Vitus, who takes a holistic approach to audio design. Vitus products are, he explains, the result of relationshipsnot just parts and circuits, but how they interact with one another. I suspect, from looking at the gear, Vitus is also concerned about beauty, too.
I walked into Audience's room expecting to see the usal assortment of cables, power conditioners, and high-quality parts, but I was confronted with an entire Audience system, from a heavily modded Denon CD player to preamplifier, power amplifiers to loudspeakers!
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-unitthe flat, radially ribbed unit first seen in the Vienna Musik, covers the entire range of the human voice, 120Hz2.6kHz, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While I was cruising NAD's booth, I noticed the M2 Direct Digital amplifierobviously part of NAD's Masters Series. I asked one Nad rep to tell me about it. "Oh, we didn't bring itit's not going to be released until spring."
All the wire used in DH Labs's products is manufactured in the USA; cables are manufactured in the same facility that manufactures for NASA. At least 11 major recording studios use the company's cables, and others will soon join the list. This, along with the nice sound albeit not ultimately detailed sound they were getting from their modest display system certainly suggests that they're doing something right.
Relatively affordable at $30,000/pair, that is, given the cost-no-object construction featured by TAD's new CR-1 "Compact Reference Monitor," seen here with its designer Andrew Jones and compared with the company's original floorstanding and superb-sounding Reference One from 2006. (Across the corridor from TAD, Ray Kimber was using four Reference Ones to demo his new IsoMike recordings in surround.)
Siltech Importer Ethan Wood, who claims to be the biggest man in the high-end industry, gave me low-down on the family affair known as Siltech and Crystal Cable. (Note: Crystal Cable is in the process of choosing a new importer for its cable and speaker line). Siltech was founded by Edwin Van der Kleig, while Crystal is property of his wife Gabi. Both companies use highly pure silver and 24K gold in the majority of their products.
Tara Labs has so many levels of cables that factory manager Matthew Sellars, who assists designer Matthew Bond with cable design and oversees implementation, had to draw a four-tiered chart just to explain where the company's newest offerings fall in the Tara Labs hierarchy. That may be an exceedingly long opening sentence. But so is Tara Labs' product list.