CES 2013

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 9 comments
Magico's MRack ($30,000–$50,000, depending upon configuration) absorbs and dissipates energy with the same constrained-layer damping mechanism employed in the Magico QPod equipment supports that Michael Fremer raved about in his June 2012 "Analog Corner" column, and that I use under my transport and DAC. Constructed of 500 lbs of aluminum, copper, and damping compound, the MRack is a byproduct of the R&D Magico put it into their Q series of loudspeakers. "Think of the MRack as a giant QPod," says Magico's Alon Wolf.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
I stumbled into the Naim Audio Exhibit and was faced with a wall of amplifiers and electronics. Chris Koster, of the Sound Organisation, Naim's US importer, guided me through the Naim amplification that was being used to drive the tri-amplified loudspeakers in the room. Starting from the left, the rack held three NAP-500 solid state amplifiers ($28,000 each).Sitting just above the three amplifier chassis at the extreme left was a Naim Snaxxo 362 ($3500) active crossover; its Naim Supercap power supply, sitting at the top of the center column, powered the Snaxxo. Each of the amplifier's individual NAP-500 PS power supplies occupied the three lower shelves at the center of the rack. The two top center shelves held the power supplies for the NAC552 preamplifier ($28,000) and the NDS Media Streamer ($11,000), whose control chassis could be found at the extreme right of the rack.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
In the small DAC department is the iFi iDAC for $299 and for those that would like a better power supply, add the optional iUSB Power Plant for $199. Though this is the first CES for the iDAC, Michael Lavorgna has already reviewed it quite favorably over at AudioStream.com.

The iDAC sports a 24/192 USB asynch input with headphone amp, analog volume control and ESS Sabre DAC. Adding the Power Plant means your computer USB is no longer doing the heavy lifting and all of the iDAC components get a "super-regulated" filtered power supply.

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
The Solo Neo now has networking capabilities and uses an upgraded disc transport. At $2000, it might seem a little pricey to a young or beginning audiophile, but considering that it combines tuner, preamp, power amp, and disc player in a clean, stylish enclosure, the Solo Neo represents great value.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
MIT has a lot of new goodies on its plate. With hopes that I got everything right in my notes, the Oracle MA-X SHD (super high definition) interconnects ($19,999/1m pair) include 125 "poles of articulation"—the most MIT offers in an interconnect. Their familiar and substantial boxes include an "articulation control" knob, adopted from hearing-aid technology. A complement to the company's SHD speaker cables (which have up to 145 poles of articulation), the cables are designed so that the box sits on either the floor or equipment rack, thereby relieving strain from the cable itself and the components to which it is connected.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
When I visited Nagra's exhibit at the Venetian, Jean Paschal Panchard, Nagra's representative, was out for a meeting. I asked his colleague, Jorgen Olofsson of Marten loudspeakers (the $77,000/pair Marten Coltrane Tenors were being driven by Nagra electronics), what was the "newest" Nagra product being shown. He mentioned Nagra's new Melody high-end solid-state preamplifier. Like the all-tube Jazz preamplifier, the Melody features the traditional Nagra look with the modulometer on the front face to indicate output signal level. The Melody weighs 7 lbs, and has a rated bandwidth of 10Hz–50kHz, +0/–1dB. Like the Jazz, all five RCA inputs and the two switchable outputs (one RCA and one XLR) are all on the back panel. It can accept an external power supply, such as the Nagra ACPS II or the new multiple power supply name the Nagra MPS. The Melody’s suggested retail price in the USA will be $7500 and the optional phono stage will cost $1500.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
It's a simple idea really. Make it easy for anyone at your home to pull out an iDevice and play what's on it over your audio system without having to fiddle with cables and the proper connectors and then a compatible USB port. Some products, such as the Musical Fidelity M1SDAC have this already built in, but if you don't have it, here's an easy way to add it.

The $249 rBlink gives you the ability to connect any Bluetooth device like an iPhone wirelessly to the system. Plug the rBlink into an extra input on your stereo, and then have the Bluetooth enabled iDevice add it from their menu. Maybe not the best sound in the world (though better than it used to be with Bluetooth), but easy for your pals and great fun at parties.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 0 comments
Ted Denney's Synergistic Research has enlarged its already large line with its new entry-level Core Series ($245 to under $1000). "Distilling Synergistic technology to its essence" is how Denney describes the complete line, including computer audio and digital cables. The new Transporter Ultra ($1995) and Transporter Ultra SE ($2295) is a single unit that replaces all the individual wall warts used on various Synergistic products. There is also the Core Ethernet Active ($345/1m) and Core Ethernet Active SE for Synergistic Research's digital power tools, and new Element Series power cords composed of copper, tungsten and silver. I'm not certain, but I believe this cord is shown draped over one of the company's fabulous Tranquility Bases.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 14, 2013 1 comments
Photograph: Larry Greenhill

Opening the top of Ayre's new AX-5 integrated amplifier ($9950) revealed an impressive layout, with transformers so big that they extend down through the bottom of the chassis. Rated at 125Wpc into 8 ohms, or 250 into 4, the AX-5 uses the same volume control as in the KX-R, and a diamond buffer circuit in the output stage. The amp, driving TAD CR-1 stand-mounted monitors, sounded eminently smooth on a track by Ella Fitzgerald, and did a fine job communicating the smile in her voice.

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
Why is Bryston CEO Christopher Russell smiling? Because the company's new B135 integrated amplifier ($4695), which replaces the B100, offers improved quality without raising the price. "We learned a lot from designing the SP3 surround processor, and have managed reduce distortion by a level of 10 while also reducing noise," says Russell. "Our goal was musicality, and to promote music as a source of relaxation." (It sounds as though Russell favors Mozart over Mahler.) Part of the relaxation comes in the form of a full-function remote control.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
The Margules electronics and loudspeakers brand, long established in Mexico, is poised to make a big splash in the US. Picked up by Tempo High Fidelity, the same folks who distribute dCS, Verity, and Musical Fidelity, Margules will open ears once people hear their U280SC tube amplifier ($3900). Shown with the company's principal/designer, Julian Margules, the U280SC is a 23-year old design that now uses new transformers and semiconductors. A full class-A design that is claimed to be nearly as efficient as class-A/B—you can touch the tubes—the amp puts out 80Wpc in ultralinear mode (or 160W if two are strapped for mono) and 40Wpc in triode mode. The amp is so versatile that you can even have one channel output ultralinear, and the other triode. No bias adjustment is necessary.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
Thanks to using very precise and low-noise parts not originally designed for hi-fi applications, as well as silicon-germanium transistors, Hegel has been able to release its new entry-level P20 preamplifier ($2900). Equipped with a high quality system remote control, milled out of one solid piece of aluminum, it includes five regular inputs, both balanced and unbalanced; a special home theater input; and balanced, unbalanced, and fixed line-level outputs.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
The first time I had come across a highly precise (and expensive) femto clock in a DAC was at last year's CES in the MSB room. This year Calyx says they have added a femto clock into their new DAC which is available now and retails for $6850. Inputs include two coax, two optical and two AES-EBU in addition to a BNC and USB jack. All inputs handle up to 24/192 and there are both balanced and unbalanced outputs.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2013 1 comments
Axiss Audio’s attractive setup at the Venetian highlighted AirTight's huge ATM-3011 monoblock amplifiers ($50,000/pair). The amps were part of a system that included the Focal Scala loudspeakers ($30,000), Transrotor Rondino turntable ($14,000), SME V tonearm ($5,000), AirTight PC-1 moving-coil cartridge ($11,000), AirTight ATC-2 line preamplifier ($11,000), AirTight ATE-2 phono stage ($15,000), and ATH02 step-up transformer ($5,000). The sound was involving and dynamic.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
Also in the Naim room is the company's new DAC-V1, which is a smallish size component meant to pair with the equally compact NAP 100 power amp. The DAC-V1 retails for $2395 (the amp goes for $1295) and sports multiple inputs including USB that runs up to 384kHz and SPDIF that can handle up to 32/192. It has a volume control and I loved that fact that if you touch the logo on the front panel, the unit mutes itself. Both products should be available shortly in the US.

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