CES 2012

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
On Tuesday morning, at a very well-attended press conference held at the Embassy Suites, members of the press learned more about Fang Bian, founder of HiFiMan, makers of personal audio products, and were introduced to HiFiMan’s new HE-400 planar magnetic headphone ($399), EF-6 headphone amplifier ($1499), and HiFiMan Express HM-601 Slim portable music player (4GB, $199; 8GB, $249).
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Luke Manley and Bea Lam of VTL were on hand as host and hostess at the VTL exhibit suite at the Venetian Hotel to present their two new stereo tube amplifiers, the $33,500, 400Wpc S400 Series II amplifier, and the $10,000, 200Wpc S200 Stereo Signature amplifier shown in the photo. Although the S400 was configured into a floorstanding tower and the S200 in the rack-mounted chassis used for their MB-450 monoblock amplifier, both new products feature VTL's latest tube technology, including fully balanced, differential input stage, VTL's SmartTube technology with automatic bias and screen supply adjustments and fault sensing, and a new user-adjustable damping factor feedback control. The feedback loop amount can be precisely set to suite the listener's taste via three-position switches located between the input tubes on the top of the chassis.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2012 1 comments
Also in the Burmester room is the new 113 DAC which retails for $6k and is available now. The DAC is rather modest-sized next to the rest of the Burmester line and includes Toslink, 24/96 USB (24/192 on Mac only) and Bluetooth (wireless!) inputs and both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The Bluetooth input means you can stream from any Bluetooth audio device like a Blackberry or iPhone in the vicinity.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
I know of speakers where, depending on the crossover, the same 5" or 6" driver is used as midrange or as woofer, but I've never encountered a speaker where a driver normally designated as a tweeter also functions as a midrange. This is the unusual design approach taken by McIntosh in some new speaker models, including the $10,000/pair XR100, and, judging by the sound, it certainly works for them. The driver is a 2" metal dome: eight of these are combined to serve as midrange, with two more as the tweeter flanking a supertweeter.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Easily winning the award for most outside-the-box chassis design, Light Harmonic's Da Vinci DAC is an amazing assembly of machined metal. In the photo is co-founder Henry Chew, which also gives you some perspective on how large this DAC is next to a smiling human.

Inputs include an asynch USB and SPDIF and the DAC can handle up to 32/384 at either input. Chew says that the DAC does not upsample and processes all streams at their native sampling rate. Chew feels that "the use of upsampling, oversampling, or any digital filters or signal-manipulations is ineffective". Available now for $20k

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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Brent Hefley, Marketing Manager of Ayre, walked me through the circuit layout of Ayre's newest amplifier, the $14,950, dual-mono, 200Wpc (8 ohms) VX-R. Based on the well-regarded and long-established MX-R monoblock and introduced at the 2011 CES, the VX-R uses Ayre's ultra-fast printed circuit board materials. Ayre is expecting great things, Brent told JA, from its recent hiring of ex-Classé and Linn engineer Alan Clark, who joins Charlie Hansen and Ariel Brown as the Colorado company's creative engine.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Furutech had a new compact and beautifully constructed DAC/Pre on display called the Esprit. About the size of a small stack of CDs, the esprit handles 24/192 via SPDIF and Toslink and 24/96 via USB and also includes a couple of analog inputs. On the front is an input selector switch, headphone jack and volume control. All for $999.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
I heard very detailed and rich sound in the exhibit run by Lamm Industries and by Verity Audio. The system setup included $95,995 Verity Audio Lohengrin II speakers, $37,190/pair Lamm ML2.2 single-ended, dual-chassis 18W amplifiers, a $28,000 Kronos turnable with a $5,200 Phantom II XL12 tonearm, $5500 Dynavector X1Vs cartridge, and $97,000 worth of Kubala-Sosna interconnects, speaker cables and power cords. Julien Pelchat, the Vice-President of Verity Audio, walked me through the design of the Lohengrin II speakers.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Ron Sutherland of Sutherland Engineering taught me all I need to know about Nixie tubes at CES. Used as the main visual display device used in his Reference N-1 preamplifier and in his Destination Line-Stage preamplifier's control unit shown in the photo, the Nixie tube was invented in 1955 as the first electronic display tool for reading out the numbers 0–9. The Nixie's designers fashioned a wire mesh into 9 layers, each layer in the shape of a number, resulting in a tidy small stack. This tiny wire stack was inserted into a small glass envelope, filled with neon gas, and then sealed. When any of the separate metal layers was charged with 175 volts, the neon gas around the wire ionized, and lit up. When plugged into a circuit board, the tube would read out the numbers, with each number appearing at a different depth. Paul was fascinated with the retro look of this type of readout, so he has installed it in his $15,000, three-chassis Destination line stage, and into his new $10,000 reference N-1 preamplifier.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
The GoldenEar Triton Two, which I reviewed in the February 2012, issue, is my favorite speaker at anywhere near its price ($2499/pair until February 1, when it goes up to a still-very-reasonable $2999/pair). The Triton Two now has a "little brother": the Triton Three ($1999/pair), is a smaller version of the Triton Two. The resemblance goes beyond the physical; listening to a pair of Triton Threes, I was very much reminded of the Twos: the same sort of expansive soundstage and bass that was very nearly as impressive as I'm familiar with from the Twos.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Skullcandy, a manufacturer of trendy headphones, put up a huge multi-level exhibit in CES's Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall. In general, I was surprised at the large amount of exhibit area purchased at the Las Vegas Convention Center South Hall by headphone manufacturers this year at the CES. It dwarfed the spaced occupied by audio manufacturers of home quality equipment, taking many times the space occupied by home audio amplifiers and loudspeakers.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 1 comments
In response to Mark Levinson Audio Systems' 40th Anniversary, the company has announced a new line of products for the two-channel audiophile, the 40th Anniversary Collection at CES 2012, which includes the $25,000 No.52 Reference dual-mono preamplifier, the $10,000 No.585 integrated amplifier, the $6000 No.519 SACD player and the $6000 No.560 digital processor. I was most intrigued by the $10,000 No.585 integrated amplifier shown in the photo, which is rated at 225Wpc into 8 ohms, and provides a dedicated subwoofer output.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 1 comments
The Adam is yet another loudspeaker manufacturer that uses drivers that are descendants of the Heil AMT tweeter. Adam's Classic Mk.3 uses what they call Accelerated Ribbon Technology (X-ART) for the midrange as well as the tweeter, and 2x7.5" HexaCone midwoofers. The Classic Mk.3 is available in passive ($7000)/pair or active ($10,000/pair) form, the latter for the studio professional market. A brief demo—with Cary Audio electronics—sounded convincingly full-range and dynamic. I understand that Kal Rubinson is getting a pair of these for review in Stereophile.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
VTL presented two systems at the 2012 CES—a larger, more expensive system comprising VTL’s S-400 Series II Reference stereo amplifier ($33,500), TL7.5 Series II Reference line preamplifier ($20,000), TP6.5 Signature phono preamplifier ($10,500), and Rockport Technologies Avior loudspeakers ($29,500/pair); and a second system made of VTL’s S-200 Signature stereo amplifier ($10,000), TL5.5 II preamplifier ($9500), and Avalon Acoustics Indra loudspeakers ($21,995/pair). The systems shared digital and analog sources—dCS Paganini DAC, player, clock, and upsampler ($53,500) and Spiral Groove SG-1.1 turntable with Centroid tonearm ($35,000)—as well as Transparent cables and Nordost AC products.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Harman Specialty Audio's Kevin Voecks demonstrated his latest portable room-response testing system, an iPad 2 running Studio Six Digital's "Audio Tools" iTunes app. (A favorite of JA’s.) The iPad 2 plus a $50 external mike and an accessory box from Studio Six becomes a portable audio test system with up to 1/48-octave resolution. Kevin used this tool to set up Revel's new M106 and F208 loudspeakers on the 35th Floor of the Venetian Hotel. He demonstrated frequency response graphs and a virtual SPL meter—seen in detail as a graphic representation of a huge analog SPL meter on the iPad screen.

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