CES 2010

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 4 comments
Close-up of the retro-futuristic display graphics. Yes, they did line up an entire string of alphanumeric LED displays to match the holes carefully machined in the chassis.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 8 comments
Peachtree scored a hit last year with their Decco desktop DAC/Amp combo. They've returned with an updated version of the original Decco called the Decco2 which is available now for $799 and sports a 40 watts per channel tube hybrid integrated amp and ESS Sabre DAC.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 3 comments
Twice this CES, I found rooms that were so striking that I suggested all the Stereophile brothers go take a look/listen. The first one was the Sumiko/Vienna Acoustics suite up on the 34th floor (I still can't get over how great the sound was in that room—you can read Jason's more reserved take on the room here), and the second, for completely different reasons, was the Resolution Audio room.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 0 comments
I was surprised at how ambitious the new Maestro from Electrocompaniet looked on paper: Blu-ray drive, both audio and video streaming, internet radio, FM tuner, options including iPod dock and DAB/HD radio, integrated amplifier delivering 120 Watts into three channels, and optional 75 Watts times two amplifier for surround that can be wirelessly driven using a RF link. All this for between $8,000-10,000 depending on options.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 7 comments
I still remember seeing the first two HRT Streamers at CES last year, when Kevin Halverson held them out in his hand, thinking what a great idea to improve the lot of cash-strapped PC Audiophiles. One year and thousands of sales later, version two of the original DACs are out as the $149.95 Music Streamer II and $349.95 Music Streamer II+. Joining them is the Music Streamer Pro at $499.95 which sports balanced +4 voltage outputs and other goodies for the pro-audio set.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 15, 2010 56 comments
As John Atkinson and I entered the room at THE Show in which darTZeel electronics partnered Evolution Acoustics loudspeakers, I was immediately struck by the fullness of the midrange. It was as though the system was opening its heart and welcoming us in. That's how warm and nurturing the sound was.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 2 comments
A clever USB to Ethernet bridge (Pont Neuf—get it?) to allow your computer USB out to serve the Cantata over long cable runs. In striking case to match the Cantata aesthetics and available in February for $400.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 Published: Jan 15, 2010 4 comments
"It's really red" I exclaimed, "bright, give-me-a-speeding-ticket red." Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield and distributor Michael Baskin were both quick to respond with "is there really any other color when it comes to special cars? So it is with special audio components."
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 1 comments
I was aware of CEntrance from the code they supply for the Texas Instruments USB receiver chip used by Benchmark , Bel Canto and others to allow USB connection without there having to be a driver program on the host PC. But the Chicago-based company also makes USB-based hardware, and at THE Show, Jason Serinus and I bumped into their Managing Director, Michael Goodman (left) who is showing Jason the cute DACport USB Headphone Amplifier ($500). This 24/96-capable, bus-powered, cigarette lighter-sized product has a miniature USB port on one end and a ¼" headphone jack on the other, with a small volume pot on top. CEntrance also makes similar bus-powered products with an A/D converter to connect microphones and electric guitars to a PC via USB.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2010 1 comments
The vendor display at THE Show was up and going strong throughout the four days. Classic Records, who clearly didn't want to attract any attention, joined Acoustic Sounds, Chesky, Elusive Disc, HDtracks.com, M•A Recordings, Music Direct, Reference Recordings, themusic.com, Ultra Systems, Truextent, Quality Rare Records, and Parts Express.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
The first night of CES saw a memorial reception held in honor of loudspeaker designer Jim Thiel, who passed away last September. A succession of high-end audio's greatest offered thoughts and reflections on a talented, well-respected, and universally liked man whom everyone agreed was taken from us too soon. Shown in my photo is erstwhile Stereophile publisher Larry Archibald, whose comments were deeply felt and moving. I paid my own tribute to Jim in my November 2009 "As We See It" essay, which I reprised in my closing day's speech at THE Show, discussed above by Jason Serinus..
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 8 comments
I know, center-channel speakers are the bailiwick of our sister magazine Home Theater. But as Wilson Audio Specialties' Peter McGrath told me when he explained the speaker's technology to me in the Utah company's suite at the Mirage, two Polarises work magically as a stereo pair. (Unfortunately, the speaker was only being shown, not demonstrated.)
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 4 comments
Ensemble has taken the position that with all the formats flying around, the biggest library of decent-sounding music remains the CD, so they might as well perfect it. Their Dirondo Player and Drive is a straightforward top-loading CD-only machine based on a Philips pro mechanism that allows the user to select the upsampling rate up to 24 bit/192kHz. Price is $12,000 and the Dirondo is available now.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
Havng recently used Esoteric's four-box SACD playback system, with its dual-mono DACs and the ultra-high-precision Rubidium Clock unit, I checked out what the Japanese company was displaying in the rooms they were sharing with cable manufacturer Synergistic Research. My eye was caught by this beautifully styled one-box SACD player/DAC/100Wpc amplifier. The RZ-1 is scheduled to sell for $6000 and as well as using one of Esoteric's highly regarded SACD/CD transport mechanisms, it has both 192kHz-capable S/PDIF and 24/96-capable USB digital inputs and—significantly for the way the audio market is going—a phono preamplifier. The 32-bit D/A section uses an AKM AK4392 chip and offers both a conventional reconstruction filter, one that resembles Meridian's minimum-phase "apodizing" filter.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 1 comments
Though my photo shows the Canadian company's Director of Marketing Mark Aling with the top-of-the-line Paradigm Reference Signature S8 tower, my interest was piqued by Paradigm's new SE speakers. The Special Edition series combines elements of the more expensive Paradigm models, such as the tweeter from the Monitor series with the mineral-filled polypropylene-cone bass/midrange drivers from the Reference Studio series. The two-way SE1 bookshelf will sell for a very affordable $598/pair and the three-way floorstanding SE3 for $1398/pair.

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