With Music Hall’s new Cruise Control 2.0 ($299), owners of Music Hall and Pro-Ject turntables no longer need to lift their platters and move their drive belts to switch between 33.3 and 45RPM. The Cruise Control 2.0 makes speed selection possible at the push of a button. In addition, with the appropriate pulley and cartridge, the Cruise Control 2.0 will also adjust for 78RPM records. Fun.
Epos’ Epic 2 ($799/pair) uses the same 1” soft-dome tweeter found in the smaller Epic 1, but with a larger cabinet and 6.5” mid-woofer, the Epic 2 is designed to offer greater sensitivity (90dB), bass output, and power handling. Like the Epic 1, the Epic 2 is available in cherry and black ash vinyl veneers and provides a removable baffle cover.
The Epic 1 ($599/pair) is the smallest model of Epos’ new Epic series. A simple, handsome appearance is enhanced by a fine vinyl veneer (available in cherry and black ash), and the front baffle can be altered as the owner sees fitlisten to the speaker with its stock “audiophile” baffle, which is said to provide reflection-free properties and forgoes any fixing screws, grille holes or cloth, or remove the stock baffle to reveal the underlying veneer; a cloth-covered grille is also included.
The Epic 1 uses a 1” soft-dome tweeterthe first soft-dome tweeter employed by Eposand a port-loaded, 5.25” polypropylene mid-woofer. It has a rated sensitivity of 88dB with a 4 ohm nominal impedance.
Introduced a couple months back, the Moon 100 D DAC includes coax and optical SPDIF as well as USB inputs. It also features an asynchronous sample rate converter and operates at 24bit/192 via SPDIF and 16/48 via USB.
All this for $699. "It's a killer" says Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield.
I’m sure I’ve never said to myself, “I want a combination USB DAC/phono stage/headphone amp,” but as soon as I saw one I sure did. Furutech’s Alpha Design Labs GT40, see in preproduction form at the 2010 CES, will rip your vinyl or play your computer files at up to 24bit/96kHz with USB convenience, and includes a headphone amp with volume control making for a dandy little LP transcription system.
The v.6 ($358/pair) is the latest iteration of Paradigm’s classic Atom monitor, a loudspeaker I’ve been attracted to for a long time but have never actually heard. With its 1” high-purity titanium-dome tweeter and 5.5” carbon-infused mid-woofer, the speaker is optimized for high sensitivity (90dB) with high output and low distortion. Impressively finished, the Atom v.6 is available in cherry, rosewood, wenge, white, and black ash veneers. I will have to listen to this speaker at some point in the future.
Paradigm’s SE-1 ($698/pair) is marketed as “the stepping stone to the world of true high-end audio for the cost-conscious buyer.” Combining Paradigm and Paradigm Reference technologies, the SE-1 uses a 1” gold-anodized, pure aluminum-dome (G-PAL) tweeter and a 5.5” satin-anodized (S-PAL) mid-woofer. The SE-1 is beautifully finished and comes in rosewood and black ash real-wood veneers.
In Paradigm’s Signature S-1 ($1798/pair) a 1” pure-beryllium (P-Be) tweeter and 6” cobalt-infused anodized pure-aluminum (CO-PAL) mid-woofer are housed in a die-cast aluminum cabinet, said to work as an effective heatsink. Extensive internal bracing and constrained layer damping are employed to minimize vibrational energy. Cherry, natural maple, and black ash wood veneers are available.
To celebrate its 20th Anniversary in the cable business, Nordost has just introduced its new Leif Series. The series consists of four levels:
White Lightning ($179.99/1m pair interconnects, $359.99/2m pair speaker cable);
Purple Flare ($249.99/1m pair interconnects, $499.99/2m pair speaker cable);
LS Blue Heaven ($349.99/1m pair interconnects, $699.99/2m pair speaker cable); and
Red Dawn ($499.99/1m pair interconnects, $999.99/2m pair speaker cable).
Of special interest is the change to Nordost’s old standby, the now-discontinued Blue Heaven. “I still remember when we introduced our Blue Heaven cabling 18 years ago,” Lars Christensen (seen here in the photo) recalled at the beginning of the demo in the Venetian. “We thought it was so expensive that we wouldn’t be able to sell it. Now, for much less money, we’ve got Nordost’s new 20th anniversary cable, White Lightning.”
Monster Cable press conferences are always fun to attend, Noel Lee (left) demonstrating the enthusiasm that I’m sure has been a major contributor to his company’s success in the business. His son, Elbert, who did some of the presentations, looks like a chip of the old block. Sure, Monster's press conferences have a strong blow-your-own-horn element, but that’s true for all press conferences.
And they had a lot of new products to introduce. I’ll leave the description of these products to my colleague, Jason Victor Serinus, whose show report assignment is accessories, but I’ll note that Monster is introducing a line of car-care products.
For the record: the swag from Monster was a Micro HDMI-to-HDMI cable. I don’t have anything that can use this, so I passed on it.
With only four years since their first headphone product introduction, Klipsch's Regional VP Johnny Williams says recent market data shows the company now ranks among the top ten headphone brands in monthly sales; and their Image S4 in-ear monitor ranks as the fourth most popular in-ear monitor sold. Pretty impressive. . .and warranted. Balancing broad consumer appeal and audio performance is an act all too often not pulled off in the headphone world now seemingly filled with rapper-endorsed products and monster bass.
With significant success entering the market now under their belt, Klipsch has refreshed their IEM line with upgrades and new introductions, including the S5i Ruggedwhich sports a rubberized look and a sweet hard-shell carry case with built in LED flashlight/runner safety blinker. The big surprise, however, is a new traditional on-ear headphone: the Image One. Not everyone wants to stick things in their ears, after all. Nice to see a maker that knows how to play well.
Reserving desktop space for work is just the responsible thing to do. Sumiko wants to make it easy for you to act responsibly and produces a complete line of very small stackable components that will allow you to assemble a complete audio system on your desktop with room to spare. The line includes a: CD player, iPod dock, FM tuner, USB DAC, switch box, preamp, headphone amp, class-D power amps, and, of course, numerous phono stages. Check out their Box-Design website to see the line.
One of my favorite systems at CES 2011: A Pro-Ject Perspex turntable ($2000) featuring magnetic isolation to prevent acoustic feedback, a carbon fiber tonearm, and Sumiko Blackbird cartridge ($899), CD Box SE CD player ($799), Tune Box SE II MM/MC phono preamp ($749), Pre Box SE with four inputs ($499), Amp Box SE mono ($1098/pair), and matching Speaker Box 5 loudspeakers in high-gloss white ($399/pair). Speaker cable was Pro-Ject’s own, and a REL T5 subwoofer was supporting the low-end. Even at low volumes in a busy room, the music was marked by fine detail, clarity, and speed. Joe Pass sounded as remarkable and unignorable as ever.
Made in Germany, Sumiko’s Okki Nokki record-cleaning machine ($549, with dustcover) looks good, runs quiet, provides forward and reverse operation, has an internal reservoir for collecting used fluid, and comes with its own record-cleaning concentrate and goat-hair brush. My review will appear in the March 2011 issue of Stereophile.