CES 2013

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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
Pass Laboratories, who introduced the Xs line of flagship 150W and 300W amplifiers at last year's CES, brought out a new preamplifier, the Pass Labs Xs preamplifier (price to be determined). It features a single control chassis that carries the line level audio signal and an external power supply. The Xs preamplifier was used to drive a pair of Pass Labs Xs300 ($85,000/pair) power amps connected to a pair of Sony SS-ARI ($27,000/pair) loudspeakers. The Pass Lab team obliged me by playing a fresh vinyl pressing from Japan of the Proprius Cantate Domino recording. The dynamic range and control of the pipe organ pedal notes was remarkable, making the Pass Labs one of the best-sounding setups I heard at the show the first day.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2013 1 comments
Revel’s new Rhythm 2 subwoofer ($10,000) contains a pair of 2000W class-D amplifiers (said to offer 4kW on peaks); an 18" driver with a 4” voice-coil; over 114dB maximum acoustic output; high-resolution DSP room equalization; fully configurable electronic crossover; and PC or Mac setup via USB. Kevin Voecks, its designer, described how the subwoofer's highly sophisticated DSP engine can equalize both the subwoofer and the satellite speakers. The DSP-driven room equalization generates adjustments from one set of room measurements, correcting for as many as 10 modes in the frequency range of 20–400Hz.
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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 13, 2013 0 comments
At a show in which far too many of the rooms on my beat—rooms showing new amps or preamps in the $2500–$15,000 range, new cables, or new power products or accessories—sounded hard, harsh, and hi-fi, VTL's new S-200 Stereo Signature amplifier ($10,000) and TL6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,000) stood out for their welcoming warmth, relaxed flow, and unfailing musicality. The S-200 is a fully balanced stereo amp with a class-A/B output stage that is said to remain in class-A up to 70 watts. In development for close to six years, it arrives equipped with VTL's familiar auto-biasing and fault sensor.
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Larry Greenhill Posted: Jan 13, 2013 4 comments
Boulder Amplifiers, Inc., introduced its new Model 3060 Stereo balanced, class-A amplifier ($114,000), a huge, 900Wpc, solid-state amplifier that weighs 450 lbs! Sitting nearby was the company's flagship monoblock, the silver 3060 ($205,000/pair), a class-A 1500W power amplifier shown in my photograph. A large cylindrical tube, containing 4 large mineral-potted toroidal power transformers, runs down the inside middle of the chassis. This is said to dampen any transformer-induced vibration. The mono amplifier uses 120 high-temperature rated bipolar transistors and 48, 160V, high-temperature rated, 4700µuF electrolytic capacitors for energy storage. Large circuit boards slide into frames at the top of the chassis, each board containing hundreds of discrete parts. With a pair of these amplifiers weighing 440 lbs, Boulder does not want this amplifier to require service, and its build quality signifies that.
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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
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
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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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
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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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 1 comments
CEntrance, whose products have been favorably reviewed by JA, is exhibiting next to the registration desk at T.H.E. Show. New this year is their very flexible DAC/Amp combo that comes with three different panels for optimizing your connections. The HiFi-M8 runs on an internal lithium battery, handles asynch 24/192 USB and should be available in March for $699.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this product is that the design and feature set was "crowd-sourced". The company went to the hive mind and asked HeadFi's readers what they would like to see in a portable DAC/amp. Hundreds of posts and discussion threads later, the M8 is the result.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 1 comments
I hadn't seen Audionet before, but apparently they have been operating for several years in Germany and had a complete range of products in one of the larger rooms at T.H.E. Show. Of particular interest to me is their DNC DAC, which is available now and retails in the US for $8990. DNC stands for Digital Network Client and the product can access music from the standard 24/192 digital sources as well has NAS drives and iDevices.

So far so good, but what really caught my eye was watching the company's head engineer, Volker Wischniowski, pull up a laptop and start to manipulate frequency response curves which could then be uploaded to the DNC.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 12, 2013 1 comments
In an age of rectangular components, adding a large round object to your product is a way to set it apart. Witness the Dan D'Agostino amplifier gracing this month's Stereophile cover for example, and add Germany's B.M.C. Audio to the list as evidenced by their new PureDAC Digital-to-Analog Converter. Speaking of round, the company is also known for its BDCD1.1 belt-drive CD player which has an acrylic "turntable" for your disc to rest on inside.

Retail price for the DAC will be somewhere under $1,600 (which is inexpensive by B.M.C. standards) and will feature all the usual inputs including asynch USB as well as volume and input switching. There is also a headphone jack with its own dedicated volume control.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2013 1 comments
Many speaker manufacturers give their various speaker lines fanciful names that make it difficult to determine a given speaker's position in the manufacturer's intended quality range. Polk, in contrast, simply places their speakers in three categories: Good, Better, and Best. I suspect this helps sales staff in stores enormously in communicating what the differences are between various speakers from Polk.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
Audio Research is replacing the CD8 with a new player this year that will use similar proprietary filters and upsampling to that of the company's Reference DAC. There are also additional digital inputs on the back to accept USB, SPDIF, Toslink and AES/EBU 24/192 connections. The new player is shipping later this month and will retail for $13,000.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2013 4 comments
Sandy Gross has done it again! At CES 2011 I was blown away by the sound quality and value offered by the GoldenEar Triton Two, my highly positive impression confirmed by more extended listening (see my review). At CES 2013, Sandy introduced a speaker with possibly an even greater quality/value combination: the Triton Seven. This is another floorstander, but much smaller than the Triton Two (or the Triton Three that was introduced last year). It uses similar drivers as the Triton Two, including the High Velocity Folded Ribbon (aka Heil) tweeter, but, unlike the Triton Two, the bass is not powered. The lack of a powered subwoofer has allowed Triton Seven to be priced at $1399/pair. Surprisingly, the bass, which is one of the major strengths of the Triton Two, does not appear to have suffered, and the speaker has the same sort of transparency and precise imaging that characterizes the Triton Two. The Triton Seven is expected to be available in May. Photo: Sandy Gross with the Triton Two and the Triton Seven.

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