CES 2010

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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 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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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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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 13, 2010 2 comments
Newly unveiled in the Cary Audio room was the CAD 211 Founders Edition amplifier. This fully balanced monoblock retails for $20,000/pair. The amps have taps for 4, 8 and 16 ohm speakers and specified as putting out 70W in class-A, increasing to 110W when pushed into class-AB. They also employ zero feedback so I'm not going to send them to JA's test bench (low-feedback designs seem to make him grumpy). They sounded sweet and full-bodied driving the Marten Coltrane speakers, with cabling by Tara Labs. It is ironic, however, noted JA, that Cary founder Dennis Had retired from Cary in the fall of 2009.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 2 comments
I always look forward to Peter Ledermann's analog demos, because the sound of his cartridges, electronics, and speakers is consistently delicious. While it certainly was this time around, some surprising booming in the bass—something I do not recall hearing at any previous SoundSmith demo—alerted me to the fact that the small rooms at THE Show, situated on the fourth floor of the Flamingo Hotel, were a bitch to control.
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 13, 2010 1 comments
Walking into the Jeff Rowland Design Group room is like walking into a dreamscape of audio bling. To look at a Rowland faceplate is like gazing into the face of God...well, maybe that's overstating it a bit. Whoever set up the Rowland room knows how great their gear looks and even set up floor to ceiling poles full of lights, strategically aimed to heighten their hypnotic, 3-D look.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 3 comments
"Have you heard the Devialet D-Premier amplifier?" asked UK high-end distributor Riccardo Franassovici when I bumped into him in the Magico room. (We were both there to check out the impressive new Q5 loudspeaker that Jason Serinus writes about elsewhere in this report.
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 13, 2010 0 comments
Musical Fidelity, now distributed in the US by Tempo, had a room at the Mirage and were displaying lots of new equipment. As part of their newly released M series, Antony Michaelson's company showed off the M6i dual-mono integrated amplifier. The amps' circuitry design trickles down from the Musical Fidelity Titan amp reviewed last June by Michael Fremer. The amp puts out 200Wpc, retails for $3000, and, surprisingly, features a USB input.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 3 comments
Some of my favorite industrial design in the audio industry comes from Chord. I'm not sure that the cool glass and aluminum flourishes found on many of their products have key functional utility, but they sure look inviting. So the relatively understated casework done for the new Cyan Click Digital Integrated Amplifier still stands out among more staid designs from others.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 11 comments
One of the many delights of CES was running into Neil Sinclair, former owner of Theta Digital, in the hallways of the Venetian. In answer to my question, "What would you recommend I check out?" Neil led me to the King's Audio suite.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 1 comments
For those of you who lust after a Benchmark DAC but wish it had remote control, rejoice. And in typical pro-audio fashion, they didn't add just any remote, but a motorized Alps pot that turns the front panel knob. The company claims that digital volume controls can reduce dynamic range and analog IC type controls add distortion and noise, hence their custom motorized design.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 0 comments
In the Laufer-Teknik room, I had the opportunity to audition the Ascendo C8 loudspeaker ($9800/pair) with stand. This three-way includes a rear-firing ribbon tweeter and upward-firing, internal woofer, and has a specified sensitivity of 88dB
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 13, 2010 10 comments
As I wandered the halls looking for the next audio fix, a friendly voice with a thick Swedish accent called out to me. Since I'm pretty new at the magazine, I wondered who might be calling out my name let alone who might be calling out name that's from Scandinavia. It turned out it was Timo Engstrom, the maker of The Lars two-chassis, tube integrated amplifier that Art Dudley wrote about in June 2009. Somehow Timo read my badge and knew I was covering amplification at CES for Stereophile—he must have good eyes. He invited me in to have a listen to the Lars.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 3 comments
Two of my colleagues had waxed so enthusiastic about the Vienna Acoustics The Music loudspeaker ($27,000/pair), showcased in the huge Sumiko suite on the 34th floor, that I had to take a listen for myself. Sources were the Wadia 781 CD player and Project Xtension turntable ($6000) with Sumiko Palisantos Presentation cartridge ($3500), feeding an Aesthetix Calypso linestage, Aesthetix Io phono preamp, and Aesthetix Atlas amplifier. Also heard was a pair of REL G1 subwoofers ($3995 each), all connected by a mix of Transparent Audio and OCOS cabling.


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