Technical Audio Devices (TAD) was showing off new monoblock power amplifiers to attach to their well-known line of speakers. The M600 amplifiers ($26,500 each) feature a graphite cast iron monoque construction to help eliminate vibration. Though imposing in size (they weigh 198 lbs each!) the TAD amps feature only one stage of voltage gain. The M600 also features a 22lb transformer, custom-built 33,000µF capacitors, and can put out 600W into 4 ohms. They accept only balanced inputs and will be available in February 2010.
Also showing in the Ayre room were their MX-R monoblocks ($9250 each) and also a Stereophile “Product of the Year” in 2007), connected to the actual samples of Vandersteen Model Seven speakers that Michael Fremer will be reviewing for Stereophile in March. The MX-R, like its KX-R brother, is carved out of a single block of aluminum and puts out 300W into 8 ohms and 600W into 4 ohms. The amps were fed by Ayre’s CX-7eMP CD player and KX-R preamplifier and the sound of the MX-R amps driving the Vandersteen Sevens was detailed and pun fully intended airy.
Though the Stereophile Product of the Year award is more transparent than an Oscar or Golden Globe, it is no less coveted. In the Ayre room at the Venetian, the proud winners of the 2009 Amplification Component of the Year award show off their trophy next to a cut-away of their winning KX-R preamplifier. The preamp was featured in Ayre’s system at their suite high atop the Venetian.
I reviewed the Pass Labs XA 30.5 a few months back for Stereophile . I loved it. Now Nelson Pass, known for his impulsive but inspired ideas, has taken the same class-A solid-state power amplifier and transformed it into an integrated amp. Though the new INT-30A ($7150) was only on silent display (the unit seen here didn't even have any guts inside!) I hope to hear it in my own system soon.
New to the Pass Labs product line is the XP-25 two-chassis, solid-state phono preamplifier ($10,600). Intended to be designer Nelson Pass’s statement phono stage the XP-25 allows the user to select gain, and resistive and capacitive loading to match any cartridge you might want to use. The XP-25 will accept two line inputs and offers both single-ended and balanced outputs.
Amplification in the Signature system in the Lamm room featured the ML3 Signature power amplifiers ($139,290/pair). Like the LL1 preamplifier, the ML3 isalso a four-chassis system. These 32W, single-ended, pure class-A amp is based on a direct-heated GM-70 triode.
One of the great things about coming to CES is getting the opportunity to hear gear that’s rarely near. I was really happy as I strolled down the 35th floor to walk into the Lamm room. I don’t have a Lamm dealer in Minneapolis so I haven’t ever had the chance to hear this lauded and expensive tube gear.
Olive and Thiel have teamed up with the help of zöet networking technology from a company called Bicom, and have created a complete media server/powered speaker system. Included in the system is a 2TB Olive 4HD music server which has been specially outfitted with an audio networking system using ethernet cables for connecting to the speakers.
Here we see Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield proudly displaying his company's new Moon 300D DAC which retails for $1,600 and is available now. Inputs on the back include USB, SPDIF and Toslink and can accept streams up to 24bit/192kHz.
Bel Canto has clearly been busy on the digital front. Three new DACs are on display: the e.One DAC1.5 at $1,395, e.One DAC2.5 at $1,995, and the e.One DAC3.5VB at $3,495. The company explains that the core of all three products is the "jitter-eliminating" Two-Stage Master Reference UltraClock.
Known for some of the best loudspeaker demos at CES, TAD is now branching out into electronics. In addition to a new amplifier (which Erick Lichte will be covering) on hand is the company's new D600 disc player, which will retail for $26,500 and appear next month in the US. In typical TAD fashion, this is a tour de force design sporting Burr-Brown PCM1794 DACs, an external power supply and the ability to play both CD and SACD (2 channel only).
Ed Meitner's EMM Labs also has a new SACD/CD player/reference DAC called the XDS1. Available now for $25,000, the company's Shahin Al Rashid says that if you want the lastest and greatest from Ed, this is the piece to buy. In addition to the XLR and RCA stereo outputs on the back, there are both AES/EBU and Toslink input jacks to accomodate external sources.
Here's Ayre's Steve Silberman holding the new DX-5 universal player that can handle not only SACD, CD and DVD-Audio, but also DVD and Blu-ray discs. Think of it as an Oppo BDP-83 on super steroids. In fact the company starts with an Oppo drive and MPEG processor and throws everything else out, adding in a new power supply and all the important digital bits. Wrapped up in a beautifully machined package and retailing somewhere around $10,000, pre-orders begin next week, and deliveries should happen sometime in the first half of February.
CES also sees the announcement of the new control app. Though Sooloos currently has a browser-based controller for the iPhone and Touch, the new software is a true iTunes downloadable free app that adds piles of new features and, if the demo I saw is any indication, runs way faster.