CES 2010

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 6 comments
I have come to expect innovative engineering from Rockport's Andy Payor, and was not disappointed by his new Alya loudspeaker. The two-way Alya costs $29,500/pair and marries Scanspeak's new beryllium-dome tweeter with a custom Audio-Technology woofer with a 6.5" carbon-fiber cone and a 2" voice-coil. The front baffle is aluminum and internal horizontal rods connect it to the rear of the cabinet, holding the HDF enclosure in a rigid grip. A rear port is tuned to a respectable 35Hz.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 1 comments
I had gone into the Koetsu USA room at the Venetian to catch up on the latest developments to the Italian Blacknote DSS30 media server, which I hope to be reviewing later in the year. But I was very taken by the sound of the three-way Odeon Elektra loudspeakers ($19,100/pair), which, driven either by the DSS30,a Goldennote Stibbert CD player, or a Montegiro LP player, via a Goldennote 75Wpc, solid-state integrated amplifier, didn't sound at all like what I expect from horn speakers. Strings had a natural sheen, brass winds a natural "blattiness." Whether solo voice, classical orchestral, or solo piano (a high-rez Beethoven Sonata from 2L), the sound was uncolored, unstrained, and enjoyable.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 14, 2010 4 comments
San-Diego-based PBN is best-known for its heroically proportioned loudspeakers, but PBN's Peter Noerbaek introduced his new Sammy loudspeaker at THE Show, which, as you can see from the photo, is a little more manageable in size. The 55"-tall Sammy uses premium Scanspeak drive-units in an unusually constructed cabinet (see next photo): a new, long-travel 10” Revelator woofer, a wide-range, 4” Illuminator midrange unit, and the Danish company's new pressure-formed beryllium-dome tweeter. Price will be $29,500/pair.
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 14, 2010 3 comments
There were a few companies showing products on the 2nd floor of the Venetian, adjacent to the Sands Convention Center, where the Adult Show was being held. After John Atkinson and I grabbed a well-needed afternoon cup of coffee we checked out a few of the spaces on these lower floors. JA and I quickly found the Parasound/Atlantic Technology room—a pairing of companies I would not have come up with myself. On silent display was the brand new JC3 phono preamplifier ($2000). Those who know about Parasound equipment will already know that the JC moniker for this phono stage indicates that it was designed by John Curl, an engineer that many audiophiles (and reviewers) speak of only in hushed tones. As you can see from JA's photo, the preamp is divided up into shielded sections within the chassis to keep the dirty signals dirty and the clean signals clean. Each channel's circuitry is encased in a metal sub-enclosure, that also shields the input and output jacks, and is supplied super-regulated DC from the power supply.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 0 comments
Siltech's Edwin van der Kley handed me his new preamp. There were no wires attached, but the four tubes were glowing. "It's battery-powered, and I could use a low 25V voltage rail for the tubes because they are ECC86 dual-triodes, which were developed for car-audio and microphone use." Edwin went to explain that as this tube uses a 6.3V heater, he could run the heaters of the four tubes in series from the same 25V supply. It also offers very low 1/f noise for a small-signal tube, he told me. Siltech has a plentiful supply of the tubes and the preamp wil sell for $28,000.
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Erick Lichte Posted: Jan 13, 2010 1 comments
The folks at Simaudio were happy to leave the frozen tundra of Canada and bring their wares to the mild climate of Las Vegas. This year they showed off their new Moon 600i integrated amplifier ($8000). The 600i is a beautifully built, dual-mono amplifier that puts out 125Wpc into 8 ohms and sounded lovely.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2010 12 comments
I was highly impressed with the dynamics, speed, and pace of a new $8000/pair loudspeaker from John DeVore, a speaker maker from my area of the country, Brooklyn, New York. I had first read about John in the New York Times when it featured new and brave entrepreneurs making their way in Brooklyn during the recent recession. I was interested, because of my medical research background, that the very tall Mr. DeVore had been positively influenced in his younger years by an uncle who was a leading primatologist, and had take him to Africa to view various monkeys living in their natural habitat. As a result, John names his loudspeaker lines for various species, including the Gibbon, Silverback, and now Orangutan. This floorstanding, two-way, high-sensitivity ([95]dB/2.83V/m) loudspeaker features a 1" silk-dome tweeter and a reflex-loaded, 10" treated-paper woofer (rear port) in a cabinet with a lace walnut finish. I was struck by the similarity between John's energy and enthusiasm and the dynamics and pace of the music the Orangutan generated driven by the 15Wpc Mag Amp.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 3 comments
One of the companies I continue to enjoy seeing every CES is Sonneteer. Their proprietors are always amazingly perky a couple days into a grueling show, and their products are consistently interesting.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 0 comments
In the middle of the King's Audio room sat the omni-directional King Tower ($4500/pair). The speaker was created specifically because, according to the distributor, there was no affordable omni on the market. Paired with same substandard cabling as was the King's Audio Prince II electrostat, a $99 Philips CD player, and the mbl Noble series 4004 preamp and 8011 monoblocks, the speakers sounded quite promising. This is a speaker that needs a better source component and better cabling to fully demonstrate what it can do.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2010 0 comments
Musical Fidelity picked a suite near the top of the Mirage hotel to introduce two new CD players, both available now. Top-of-the-line honors goes to the $9,000 AMS CD player and DAC built around a custom-made Philips CD pro mechanism and 12 internal power supplies.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2010 8 comments
On the fourth floor of THE Show, Tim Ryan of Simpli-Fi was demming the Gradient Helsinki 5.1 loudspeaker ($6500/pair, down from $8000 a year ago). This weird-looking loudspeaker produces anything but weird sound. Designed to avoid reflections from the sidewalls and floor, it has 85dB sensitivity, a nominal 6 ohm impedance, and a frequency range of 200Hz–20kHz.
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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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