Possibly the most visually striking product I've seen at the show so far is the 20Wpc dual-mono integrated the LARS ($100,000). Designed by Lars Engstrom and hand-built in Sweden, the LARS has two separate chassis, one for each channelwith inputs also on each channel. An umbilical transmits control commands from the right channel to the left.
Audio Research is showing their new replacement for the CD7, the Reference CD8 CD player shipping now at $9,995. They've taken a Philips Pro-2 transport and attached it with isolation pads to a machined aluminum I-beam which in turn is bolted to a machined aluminum bottom plate.
I went into the Pass Labs room to check out the company's new amps. But what caught my eye was the SR-1 loudspeaker ($25,000/pair). SR-1 stands for "First Son of Rushmore," the Rushmore being Nelson Pass's original assault on the state of the speaker art. A conventional deign compared with the active quad-amplified Rushmore, the four-way SR-1 uses four top-line SEAS drive-units, including a 29mm Hexadym soft-dome tweeter,
Peachtree Audio has declared that "Computer Audio is here to stayso let's make it sound right." The 80Wpc Nova ($1199) includes an ESS 9006 Sabre DAc, which has a jitter reduction circuit and a 24-bit/96kHz upsampler. It employs a 6922 tube tas the driver for its class-A/B output stage. It decodes MP3, MP4, FLAC, AIFF, ALC, "plus all others. It even has a slot in the back to accommodate a Sonos ZP80/90. And did I mention that it has an HT pass-through? Or 11 regulated power supplies? That last is to isolate separate sections from digitally generated noise.
Gary Koh of Genesis was delighted to show me his Absolute Fidelity Foundation. These brand new, extremely attractive rack and amplifier stands are available in various sizes and support configurations.
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.
Miguel Alvareaz of Point St. Lucie, Florida, is a defector for the cause. A self-confessed former marketing rep for Bose who always had a passion for audiophile products, he eventually left the company to develop the Tripoint Troy power product ($8000). Based on a new concept, the device uses passive filtration in the form of magnetism and layers of different materials (brass, copper, and proprietary products) to eliminate and reduce EMI and RFI. Rather than a line conditioner per seone is in the worksthe Troy is a grounding device to which you attach ground wires from the various components in your system. (If a component lacks a ground wire, Miguel can explain how to determine the right place to affix one).
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.
Immedia's Allen Perkins was showing his 60Wpc class-A Spiral Groove E60A stereo power amplifier ("around" $15,000). "That's 'e' for Equinox, which is what I call Sonic Groove's spiral logo, "said Perkins. "Sixty, of course, is its output, and A is for class-A." It's a slick unit, hewn from a solid block of aluminum and employing an extremely low-noise fan to keep operating temperatures low. "For a class-A design, it's pretty energy efficient," Perkins added.