Also on display at Esoteric was the nifty E-03 phono section ($5500). It has two phono inputsMC and one that can play either MC or MM cartridges. It also sports a demagnetizing function, which takes a scant 30 second. It has externally selected impedance and capacitance for each input. The E-03 also has a high-voltage custom power supply. It should be available in March.
Also revealed were two disc player upgrades from Ayre. Both the C-5xe universal player and the CX-7 CD player now have MP (Minimum Phase) appended to their names reflecting a new filtering option that the company says has no pre-echo and only one cycle of post-ringing. On the back of the players is a switch to select between the previous generation "apodizing" filter and the new MP filter.
Kerem Kücükaslan (pronounced something like "Kooshookasslan," shown standing in the center of the photo), former President of the Istanbul HiFi Club, is justifiably proud of his Echole Obsession cables. When I first encountered these cables, mated with Kaiser Kawero speakers from Germany at last year's Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, I was mightily impressed with the huge, three-dimensional soundstage that the system achieved in a huge ballroom. Playing a portion of Ivan Fischer's R2D4 recording of Mahler's Symphony 2, this system spoke musical truth.
In addition to Sooloos and Blue Smoke, Qsonix was also demonstrating the latest iteration of their touchscreen music server system. The fully self-contained Q110 package is comprised of the single DAC/HD drive/software box and up to four touchscreens.
Triode Corporation Ltd of Japan had a room full of equipment featuringyou guessed ittriodes! The TRV-4SE($2800)) preamplifier has an S/N ratio of 96dB and has an internal MM phono section, Its frequency response is 10Hz-100kHz. The TRV-4SE uses Mundorf and Nichicon capacitors, kiwame precise resistors, and an exclusive Triode Corpration stepped attenuator.
After years of attending shows where Nordost cabling was successfully paired with Raidho Acoustics speakers, I was surprised to learn that the Raidho Acoustics Ayra C-2 ($24,000) speakers are internally wired with Nordost Valhalla. No wonder the combination is so synergistic. Frankly, even a boom box would sound like a breakthrough product if it were wired with the Nordost Odin I heard in this room. Odin ain't cheapOdin power cables cost $11,000 for a decent length, interconnects $16,000 for 1m, and speaker wire starts at $20,000 for 1m, with the best sound said to come from 4 meter lengths of speaker cable and an investment of $38,000but the sound is as full, complete, neutral, and satisfying as anything I've yet heard. My own experience confirms that single Odin power cable can transform the sound of a system.
Simaudio's 100Wpc Moon i3.3 ($3300) is a very flexible component. In its stock version, it's an integrated amplifier with five single-ended line-level inputs, an RS 232 communication port, and a headphone jack. However, users can add a phono section module ($300), a balanced input module ($200), and a DAC module ($400) that accepts USB2, S/PDIF, and Toslink. In fact, buy all three modules when you buy the i3.3 and you get the whole package for $4000.
Although Mikey Fremer has received a pair for review, I haven't visited his Jersey crib yet to take a listen. So the system in Boulder's room at CES was my first chance to audition Wilson's new MAXX 3. I popped a data disc with some of my hi-rez 24-bit/88.2kHz files in the Boulder 1021 CD player, and a list of the WAV files appeared on the player's screen. The 1021 will play data CDs carrying FLAC, WAV, Vogg Orbis, and MP3 files, and as I found, will decode and play hi-rez files.
Is the CD dying? Judging by the flurry of new CD player and transport news at the Venetian it's hard to tell. Or maybe this show is living proof that CD has joined vinyl as a legacy format that will forever inspire technical development.