One of the newcomers to the Venetian this year is a Japanese company called Qualia (not to be confused with the short-lived Sony venture). I remember seeing their gorgeous-looking products at T.H.E Show last year, and new this year is the equally stunning Indigo USB-DAC at $45,000.
The Indigo USB-DAC sports four 32-bit Hyperstream DACs and all discrete output and headphone amplifier sections. Connections on the back include both balanced and unbalanced outputs, as well as USB, coax, XLR and TOSLINK inputs. The unibody cases are machined from high-purity aluminum and the product is available now, distributed in the US by Immedia.
After encountering booths of so many manufacturers I had never heard of, I got some comfort from seeing a familiar name from the world of audio: Velodyne. Well known for their subwoofers, Velodyne has entered the highly competitive earphone market. Their new $90 Vpulse's claim to fame isyou guessed itexceptionally powerful bass performance. Velodyne's David Short was most enthusiastic about it, and told me that although Velodyne is not about to go out of the subwoofer business, they're working on a wide range of headphones.
The Best of Innovations winner in the Headphones category was the Sonomax eers ™ earphones, described as "the world's only custom-fitted earphones that can be fitted in 4 minutes, [offering] incomparable sound isolation, fidelity and comfort."
Harman's Mark Levinson line is celebrating 40 years in business by announcing a completely new line of audio products, all in empty box prototype form at CES. Pictured here is the No.560 Digital Audio Processor with can function as both DAC and digital preamp. The 560 has 10(!) digital inputs on the back (though the prototype on display had only a blank panel) including two HDMI 1.3 inputs with "DSD-direct" input capability.
The No.560 is slated for release by the end of the year for a retail price of $6k.
This photo should give you an idea of what it was like once inside. And, yes, camera fans, that's a Canon DSLR with what looks like a big L-series lens, being held up above the crowd. Which brings up another point about why there were more people at this year's CES Unveiled: this year, PMA, the photoimaging manufacturers' association, has joined CESthey call it PMA@CESso in addition to the consumer electronics press there are also the photo equipment journalists.
mbl is now shipping the Corona Line of products that were shown as prototypes last year. The mbl C31 CD Player, shown here with Chief Engineer Jürgen Reis, retails for $9,200 and features the same gorgeous casework mbl is known for as well as USB, Toslink and SPDIF inputs. The C31 also networks with other mbl Corona products for simplified control and display options.
Unlike the mass-market consumer electronics exhibitors, which started their press conference onslaught over the weekend and Monday, the audiophile exhibitors like to maintain a sane CES schedule.
And so for us lucky enough to cover performance audio, the show starts today, Tuesday. And with a full moon setting over the desert no less. Posts should start dribbling in today, and kick into full gear by this weekend.
The Consumer Electronics Show takes place January 1013 in Las Vegas.
Have I mentioned that I hate Las Vegas? My hatred for Las Vegas is juvenile and irrational and represents what is probably the last strand of my nearly resigned defiance for all things bourgeois, fascist, bogus, and generally lame. I’ve softened up a lot over the last 10 years, but Vegas hardens me anew. I hate Las Vegas.