CES 2012

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
MartinLogan is famous for speakers that use electrostatic drivers—full-range or in combination with dynamic woofers—but they have more recently broadened their offerings to include non-electrostatic models. According to MartinLogan's Peter Soderberg, their aim is to produce speakers that approach the sound of their electrostatic models, but at a lower price and easier to drive. He says that this has become possible with their version of the Heil tweeter (the original Oskar Heil patent having expired). He did a comparison for me between their top-of-the-line electrostatic CLX ($25,000/pair), supplemented by the Depth 1 subwoofer ($2000), and the new Motion 40 ($1995), which uses the Folded Motion (aka Heil) tweeter, in both cases driven by Anthem's new class-D amplifier, top-of-the-line Conrad-Johnson preamp, with a laptop as source. With Patricia Barber singing "Norwegian Wood," the tonal balance of these physically very different speakers was surprisingly similar. Peter Soderberg is pictured here with the CLX and the Motion 40, after what must have been an exceptionally amusing quip on my part.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 16, 2012 2 comments
Last week, we learned that Gibson and Onkyo were negotiating a deal that would see the legendary guitar manufacturer purchase a stake in Onkyo Japan and acquire a majority interest in Onkyo USA to become the second largest shareholder in Onkyo Corporation. Near the end of show hours on a brisk Tuesday evening, a small group of reporters were invited aboard Gibson’s luxury bus for a bit of freedom from the Convention Center chaos and to learn more about the merger.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Harman Specialty Audio introduced the new Revel Performa 3 series of loudspeakers at the 2012 CES. Kevin Voecks, lead audio engineer in the design, was delighted at the increased performance of Performa 3 series, including the $4500/pair, three-way, F208 full-range floorstander and the $1750/pair M106 two-way bookshelf. The F208 replaces the more expensive, $7500 F32 Performa in the previous series.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
It's no secret that I love the Meridian Sooloos touchscreen interface for handling a large music collection. But the Sooloos iPad app and desktop application left a little to be desired in the ease-of-use department compared to the Control 15 17" touchscreen sold by the company. Neither app included the album cover art grid that is essential to the Sooloos' ease of use, and other features were hit and miss.

Not any more. The new iPad app includes the album cover grid as well as almost all of the Focus and navigation features from the Control 15 touchscreen software. So all you need now is a Sooloos core somewhere in the network and an iPad or computer if you want the grid without Meridian's touchscreen. I couldn't see not having a Control 15 in the house, even though I use the iPad as a controller too, but I'm sure some folks would disagree.

Hand model Bob Stuart demonstrated the new cover grid, and it flowed rather smoothly as he browsed the collection. Should be available in the next month or so and is free (though only of use to Sooloos system users). I can't wait to get my hands on it and hope to do a follow-up to my original Sooloos review in the next few months.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Joseph Audio's Jeff Joseph is always a smiling, positive presence at CES and other shows, and always seems to have something new in his speaker line, even if "new" is defined as "finally in production." This describes the Perspective ($11,800/pair), making good sounds with relatively affordable Bel Canto equipment ($2995 digital receiver and CD3 transport). The tie Jeff is wearing has cartoon figures designed by Joshua Joseph, Jeff's 11-year-old son.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
There's nothing like a nice big touchscreen to browse a large music collection, and Pathos was showing a prototype of the largest touchscreen dedicated to a music server that I've seen to date. Called the Musiteca, the new product was up and running but clearly had some features to work out. As shown, the product has a built-in DAC, transport for loading discs, and 1TB drive for storage.

In addition to the above features, Pathos' Paolo Andriolo says there will be variable XLR outputs to feed the audio directly to your amp and a free iPad app. Price is predicted to be around $7k and should show up by April.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 16, 2012 0 comments
Atlantic Technology's AT-1, which uses their patented H-PAS venting technology, was one of the hits of last year's CES, and the positive impression was confirmed in Erick Lichte's review (September 2011). The H-PAS approach has now been applied to the new AT-2 ($1800/pair). The –3dB point is specified as 41Hz, which I'm told is an anechoic figure. This normally translates to in-room response to the low 30s, and the sound of the AT-2 in the Venetian's less-than-ideal space seemed to confirm this.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
France manufacturer Micromega's $4,995 "WHiFi" player is AirPlay compatible, meaning it can wirelessly stream from any Apple device.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
I had planned to attend the press conferences by Panasonic, Samsung, and Sharp, all scheduled for Press Day, but it seems that every single person with a Press badge had exactly the same idea, and the resulting crowds were at least as big as at the CES Unveiled event. In fact, about an hour before the scheduled Samsung press conference, CES staff announced that the number of people in the line-up exceeded the capacity of the hall, and not everyone could be admitted. I gave up on both Samsung and Panasonic, but was Sharp was different. They had sent emails to a selected group of journalists, including yours truly, designating them as VIPs, and special tickets to be printed out, which would allow these individuals entry to the press conference before everyone else. Even if I had not been all that interested in whatever Sharp was going to announce, being called a VIP meant that I just had to attend. And, as I walked in, who do I see but my colleagues, Kal Rubinson (left) and Tom Norton (right)? We had our choice of seats, up front. It's good to be a VIP!
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2012 2 comments
Ypsilon Electronics’ Demetrius Baklavas designed the new $36,000/pair Aelius monoblock amplifier. The Aelius is rated at 220W into 8 ohms, 308W into 4 ohms, and 500W into 2 ohms. It is a hybrid design that features tube inputs, hand-wound interstage coupling transformers, and MOSFET output devices wired in the same type of push-pull Circlotron output configuration that was found in some Output-Transformer-Less tube (OTL) designs. The Circlotron configuration was developed years ago by Electro-Voice, and while the Aelius's output devices are all N-channel MOSFETs, the Circlotron approach is very different from conventional quasi-complementary approaches.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
JL Audio's home high-end audio subwoofer engineer, Brett Hanes, proudly shows off the company's new $1700 ES-112 subwoofer (wood finish) that uses clever engineering principles to coax better performance and value from a less-expensive product. The ES-112's woofer features the company's only dual-spider driver construction, a smaller voice-coil, though the cone is designed for the same 3" peak–peak excursions found in the company's flagship f212 and Gotham models. Other construction simplifications—you change line input voltage by changing fuses in external fuse holder—make the product more adaptable for international sales. It also has a high-pass output with variable frequency crossover, which will be appreciated by those of us using subwoofers in a two-channel home audio system.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
What we have here is the Vincent C-35 Hybrid HDCD CD Player. It features a 100% vacuum tube output stage (two 12AX7 tubes and one 6N10), dedicated headphone amp with volume control and SPDIF digital output. Priced at $1,999.99.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
And then there is a new update on the original DacMagic. The price is $599 and the USB input allows 24/192 and the Plus features the same Wolfson DACs at the Stream Magic 6. Available now.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Audio-Lineare hails from France, and although I haven't heard of the company before, they've been making speakers since 2001. The designer is Yves Poulichot, who has been devoted to this endeavour for 25 years. The Harmonie 16 ($6500/pair) on display uses an aluminum ribbon tweeter and two bass/midrange drivers in a "2.5-way" configuration. Nice sound with Viola electronics. The charming representatives are Alix Ribeault (Marketing Director, left) and Christelle Kabeya (International Sales Assistant, right).
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2012 0 comments
Each Xs channel has two chassis, one for the power supply and the other for signal amplification. The amplifier acts as a voltage source, and is rated at 300W into 8 ohms, 600W into 4 ohms, and 1200W into 2 ohms. It is biased to ensure make certain that the amplifier remains in class-A mode into all loads. Each channel has 122 output devices with a total rating of 10kW, and the extensive heatsinking allows the Xs 300 to deliver 2kW into a load "all day long." Though the Xs 300 stack was a silent exhibit, the company was using the more modest $65,000/pair Xs 150s to drive the Pass Lab RM2 loudspeakers, which showed a wide dynamic range and outstanding detailing.

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