CES 2012

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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2012 1 comments
Rockport Technologies' Andy Payor alerted me before CES that VTL would be using his new Avior speaker at the Show. A three-way design using twin 9" carbon-fiber–sandwich woofers, a 6" carbon-fiber–sandwich midrange unit, and a 1" beryllium-dome tweeter, with Transparent Cable internal wiring, the Avior costs $29,500/pair. Driven by VTL's new S400 II monoblocks, a TL7.5 Series III preamp, YP6.5 phono preamp, and Spiral Groove LP player, the sound of Shelby Lynne singing "Just a Little Loving"—the song of the 2012 Show—sent shivers down my spine. "Deliciously real!" said my notes.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 19, 2012 2 comments
I first auditioned an open-baffle Granada speaker at the 2011 Show, which used a single Feastrex driver to cover the range above 200Hz and was being driven by a solid-state Musical Fidelity amplifier. For 2012, the Lotus Group was showing the less expensive G2 ($75,000/pair), which uses a more conventional midrange unit and tweeter, but still on an open baffle, still with a digital-domain crossover and room calibration realized in DSP. Amplification this year was provided by the humongous Audio Power Labs 833T amplifier that had impressed Larry Greenhill elsewhere at the Show.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 19, 2012 2 comments
Constellation brought their new Jetsons inspired Cygnus DAC to CES, shown here in the hands of VP of Engineering Peter Madnick. The DAC contains four 32/192 DACs in a stereo balanced configuration, with separate DACs used for the positive- and negative-going signals of the left and right channels.

Inputs include USB, SPDIF, AES and Toslink and it looks like they've dropped the CD transport that was included in the demo at last year's CES. Price should be around $20k.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
Totem is expanding their Element line, which features bass drivers running full-range up to the tweeter’s passband. The latest speaker in this line is the Ember ($4200/pair) a two-way using a 6" Torrent driver designed and made by Totem. Driven by Boulder electronics, a pair of Embers produced a full-range sound, with the sort of bass that made you wonder if there was a subwoofer in the system. Not bad for a 6" driver!
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2012 4 comments
I always look forward to visiting Vladimir Lamm's room at a Show; my Brooklyn neighbor both has excellent taste in music and knows how to set up a system so that it works with the room. At CES, Vladimir was driving Wilson MAXX3 speakers ($68,000/pair) with his four-chassis ML3 Signature single-ended 32W tubed amplifiers ($139,200/pair), LL1 Signature dual-mono tube preamplifier ($42,690/pair), and LP2 phono preamplifier ($7590). Cabling was all Kubala-Sosna Elation series—$92,500 worth—which with the Onedof turntable with Graham Phantom II tonearm and Benz Micro cartridge, the Neodio digital front end, and Harmonic Resolution Systems racks, gave a total system costs of $599,000! (This is what you would pay for a 3-bedroom family home in our part of Brooklyn.)
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
Stephen Mejias has written about Anssi Hyvönen of Amphion, who believes that music reproduction doesn't have to be loud to be effective, and that, in fact, the hallmark of a really good speaker is its ability to be involving at low levels. Amphion's demos always provide for a soothing experience at shows, and so it was at CES 2012, this time using the new Argon7Ls ($5999/pair) with Nuforce electronics.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
The opening night of T.H.E. Show, cable manufacturer ZenSati ApS sponsored a recital by the Russian pianist Hagia Pastor, following a short speech on the state of the audio industry by yours truly. I am not ashamed to admit that Dr. Pastor put on a better show :-)
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
This Kim Kristiansen slide illustrates the effectiveness of Dali's SMC/linear drive magnetic system in reducing distortion. I believe the lowest curve shows the distortion levels of this the woofer—built completely in-house—that uses the linear drive magnetic system with SMC.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 1 comments
Wharfedale is one of those venerated British names in audio. And while its image is perhaps on the old-fashioned side, there's absolutely nothing old-fashioned about the latest Jade series of loudspeakers—unless you're thinking of old-fashioned craftsmanship. The price of speakers in the Jade series ranges from $1200/pair (stand-mounted Jade-1) to $4200/pair (floorstanding Jade-7), and the manufacturing is vertically integrated: they make every component of each speaker!
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 1 comments
Taiwan-based Lawrence Audio has three speaker models: the Mandolin ($5500/pair), Violin ($7500/pair), and Cello ($19,000/pair). They're described as being "inspired by musical masters," and, come to think of it, all three speakers bear a resemblance to largish string instruments, with a "belly" that houses the woofer, and the part of the cabinet housing the midrange and tweeter look somewhat like the neck of a cello or string bass. The midrange driver and tweeter are once again based on the Heil design. The system I heard, featuring the Cellos, sounded very promising.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
Somebody should do a study, categorizing the names of audio manufacturers. The most common approach is to name the company after the designer, or to use his initials. And then there are all those names that incorporate the word "audio," "sound," "music," and variations thereof. There are names that give no indication of the nature of the company's products, but are just memorable.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2012 1 comments
If the Lamm room in the Venetian with the Wilsons was one of the first I visited at CES, the last room I visited was Tempo Marketing's in the Mirage Penthouse. I reported last October that Tempo had taken over US distribution of this Scandinavian brand. As well as the stand-mounted Cenya ($4000/pair), which I had heard at the 2011 RMAF, Tempo was demming the floorstanding, two-and-a-half-way Sara S ($7995/pair), shown in my photo. The Sara S combines two magnesium-cone SEAS mid-woofers with a SEAS tweeter in an enclosure that comprises a unique construction combining MDF and plywood.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
My show report assignment was speakers under $15,000/pair, whereas John Atkinson would be reporting on speakers over $15,000/pair. But what about a speaker costing exactly $15,000? That was the dilemma I faced when, on my visit to T.H.E. Show, Peter Bichel Noerbaek told me about his latest speaker, the PBN Liberty (named after his daughter, age 9), which has a list price of $15,000/pair. I told him about the problem this presented for me, and he quickly responded by changing the price to $14,999/pair! The Liberty is a floorstanding three-way that uses what Noerbaek calls "inechoic" (not "unechoic") construction. The cabinet weighs 140 lbs. and is made of 48 layers of MDF.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
The great thing about audio shows is whom you bump into in the corridors. Here is legendary engineer John Curl, who has been designing the superb-sounding Halo series of amplification components for Parasound—dig the name badge which, instead of the usual "Exhibitor," "Press," "Sales Representative," or "Consultant," simply and very appropriately says "Engineer."
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 18, 2012 0 comments
The business card of Dali's Kim Kristiansen states his position as "Director, Innovation." And, to judge by the illustrated talk he gave, Kristiansen and his associates at Dali have been working hard at producing innovations. The drivers for their latest speakers have a new linear drive magnetic system that uses a soft magnetic compound (SMC), which radically reduces distortion. Listening to the well-known recording of Misa Criolla on the demo system with the Epicon 6s (Primare CD player and electronics), which incorporates all the latest advances, I was impressed by the clarity and precise focus on the voice of José Carreras.

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