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 andsignificantly for the way the audio market is goinga 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.
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.
MSB is not messing around at this CES. The company has announced a stack of new products, including the DAC IV variations seen here (from the top): Signature Platinum DAC IV starting at $13,995, the Diamond DAC IV starting at $25,995, the Platinum DAC IV starting at $5,995, and the Platinum Power Base to keep them running.
Since the ES14 from the mid-1980s, speakers from the English Epos company have been renowned for their midrange magic, not for ultimate dynamics. But Mike Creek, Epos's owner, is aiming for both with the Encore 50, which made its debut at CES. This three-way floorstander, priced at $9995/pair, uses two port-loaded 9" woofers with Kevlar/carbon-fiber/pulp-composite cones, in a large cabinet to achieve a high 90dB sensitivity, while the metal-dome tweeter uses an injected-molded roll surround to give high excursion. The midrange is fed by a tapped autotransformer to allow adjustment to a tight tolerance in production.
"So what you think our new AT1 loudspeaker will cost?" Atlantic Technology's Peter Tribeman had just finished his dem of a fairly small two-way tower that, driven by Parasound Halo JC 2 preamplifier and Halo A21 power amplifier, was producing prodigious amounts of low frequencies in a fairly large room.
The outboarding THE Show, run by the affable Richard Beers, was held for the first time at the Flamingo Hotel on the Strip, two Las Vegas blocks from CES’s “High-Performance” venue, the Venetian. In previous years, THE Show had been held at the St. Tropez Resort, then the Alexis Park, but Richard now has a multi-year contract with the Flamingo. I estimated THE Show had representation from a good 110 manufacturers. One of the big draws was actually outside the Flamingo's back door, where Panasonic was demming HD-3D TV in a huge trailer. It's rumored that some die-hard two-channel audiophiles snuck into the trailer trying to mask the same guilty expressions that they carried to the porno exhibit in the Sands Convention Center.
Stereophile editor John Atkinson served as the opening act for the Grand Giveaway on the final day of THE Show 2010. In his short talk, John reflected on the losses of the past year. He first honored two of his departed mentors, John Crabbe and J. Gordon Holt, both of whom were central to the development of high-end audio. He also honored the memory of Al Stiefel, who co-founded the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest with his wife, Marjorie Baumert.
The Rockport Alya's 1.25"-thick front baffle is cast from aluminum, then machined to accommodate the drive-units. The tweeter's usual front-plate is discarded and replaced by the baffle, which has the necessary opening and locating pins. This gives a very clean acoustic environment for the dome. Andy Payor's hand is shown here locking the tweeter into place with a ring that screws into a thread tapped into the rear of the baffle.
I spent much of my time at CES roaming around with Stereophile's self-proclaimed Web Monkey, Jon Iverson. I'd never met Jon before I came to the 2010 CES but he was a wonderful guide both to Las Vegas and to CES, as well as a smart and kind person to get to know. On Saturday morning he suggested we head on over the THE Show located at the Flamingo Hotel, right on the strip. One of the first rooms we happened upon was the Edge Electronics room. Jon said, "We've got to go in here."
Some products at CESall-black products, with black highlights, and with the lettering tastefully done in black, in a darkened roomdefeat all but the most-determined photographers. So my thanks to Larry Greenhill for managing to photograph the new Classé CTM600 600W monoblock amplifier ($6500 each).
One of my last stops at THE Show at the Flamingo was the Teresonic room, where Mike Zivkovic demmed his 6'-tall single-driver Ingenium Silver Edition speaker using his own single-ended 2A3 tube amplifier. According to Mike, the amp uses interstage and output transformers from Lundahl and "there is not a capacitor in the circuit."
Friday was the busiest day I and other Stereophile writers found at the CES venues. Pictured here is a lull in the traffic taken from a window at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) near the press room, where the line for the free press lunch stretched hundreds of feet. Later that day, the bus and cab lines at the LVCC stretched half a mile as evening approached and the temperature outside dropped from mid 60s to temperatures in the 40s (Fahrenheit). Little evidence of a recession was visible in pure crowd count, but I ran into many more Asian and European attendees, while missing some friends in the audio high end community who skipped CES this year.