CES 2010

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 5 comments
Here is some serious DAC porn: The MSB Signature Platinum DAC IV with its top off to reveal four 24 bit Discrete 3MHz Four Quadrant Ladder DACs.
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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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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 1 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 2 comments
"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.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
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.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
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.
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 14, 2010 0 comments
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."

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