CES 2013

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
As I said in an earlier blog posting, I was sufficiently intrigued by B&O's single-cabinet stereo speaker at the CES Unveiled event that I made a note to myself to check it out later. The opportunity presented itself in the form of a B&O press conference. The press conference did not involve any demonstrations of sound, but when the press conference was concluded I managed to prevail on Henrik Taudorf Lorensen, CEO of B&O's PLAY division, to give me a demonstration of the A9. The setting was not ideal, with no attempt at optimal positioning of the speaker, but the speaker certainly had a smooth, room-filling sound. I continue to be intrigued by this product. The A9 looks more like a satellite dish than a speaker, and is sure to be a conversation piece. B&O also has some new wireless speakers that are more conventional-looking, such as the BeoLab 12-1 ($2950/pair), pictured here.
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Robert Deutsch Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jan 11, 2013 0 comments
I had a quick look in Nola's room, and as soon as I saw their giant speakers, I knew that these were not going to be in my designated "Under $15k" price range. Indeed, the speakers (whose name escapes me, but it has something to do with boxing) were just under $200k/pair. They sounded great, with tremendous dynamics, but I have trouble relating to speakers in that price range. "Do you have anything new and relatively affordable?" Yes, said Nola's Marilyn Marchisotto. The $9998/pair KO (another boxing reference) was being used in another room in demos by Nordost.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 11, 2013 1 comments
Canadian speaker manufacturer Paradigm is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a limited edition speaker, called the Tribute ($6000/pair). The Tribute (pictured here) has a new cabinet, built in-house, a beryllium tweeter from the Signature range, a new mounting system for the drivers, corrugated drivers surrounds, and a chrome-plated stainless steel plinth.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
The Music Streamer HD has been upgraded to include both balanced and unbalanced output jacks (the previous model had one jack with a special adaptor) and can stream up to 24/192 via USB2. Retail price is $449.95
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 10, 2013 2 comments
NAD has jumped into the headphone arena with their VISO HP50 ($279), an extremely lightweight and comfortable, noise-isolating, over-the-ear design. The detachable cable plugs into either the right or left earcup and has smart phone and microphone controls. NAD’s “RoomFeel” technology is said to improve stereo sound.
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
USB Dongle DACs are taking off, and companies like HRT are attempting to combine small form factor with features and sound quality. Unlike Audioquest's Dragonfly, the microStreamer sports two output jacks, one fixed and optimized for line level destinations and the other with variable out for headphones.

The microStreamer will retail for $189.95, can handle streams up to 24/96 and is connected to your computer or source with a short USB cable. The company explains that this approach prevents mishaps where the dongle could damage your computer's USB connector if it was plugged straight in like the Dragonfly.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
The Sony press conference is arguably the most prestigious at CES—and the largest. It would have been even larger if Sony did not have the policy of allowing only select invited members of the media to attend. Having a Press badge by itself does not guarantee admission. Even so, I overheard a Sony rep saying to one of his colleagues that attendance at the Sony press conference was over 1600.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 10, 2013 4 comments
It seems like everyone and their grandma is releasing a headphone these days. If you’ve got a brand (or a band), you might as well add a line of headphones. One of the latest to join the trend is the English rock band, Motorhead, famous for their jukebox wonder, “Ace of Spades.” Lead singer, Lemmy, was on hand to introduce his Motorheadphones. (Hee hee.)
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
Not content to stick with DACs, Light Harmonic is adding a new music server to the line up. The Source chassis is comprised of two parts: The bottom section contains the company's proprietary digital power supply, a hard drive bay that can accept four 2TB drives in a RAID array and also a Blu-ray disc player. The top half contains all of the processing circuitry and music server software.

Price is stil to be determined but I was told that the Blu-ray drive will be able to rip up to 24/192 PCM off of any Blu-ray disc inserted in the machine. Additionally, an iPad mini will be included with each purchase, loaded with a custom remote control app suite and a pre-configured wireless access point for plug-and-play setup. Ship date is estimated to be around the middle of the year.

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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 10, 2013 1 comments
"Head Monster" Noel Lee is known as a shrewd, successful businessman, but I think that if he had taken a different career path he could have made a great evangelist. His CES press conferences have very much feeling of revival meetings, and, like an evangelist, he works hard at whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Given the largely skeptical audience of media representatives, Lee is not always successful in this, but you certainly can't fault his enthusiasm. (Consumer electronics journalists are a tough crowd.)
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Jan 10, 2013 0 comments
With all the headphone options out there, it might be hard to find the one that’s right for you. If quality, rather than superficial associations with aging rock bands, is what you want, one outstanding option would be Sennheiser—a company that’s been perfecting the art of headphones even longer than Motorhead’s been playing “Ace of Spades.”

And that's a long time.

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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 10, 2013 1 comments
Light Harmonic has decided that the only way to properly put both DSD and PCM processing into one product is to incorporate two "separate and discrete" decoding engines in the box. According to the company, one signal path is optimized for PCM the other for DSD. The PCM side can handle streams up to 32/384 with the DSD path handling DSD128. Price is $31,000 and the Dual DAC should be available around spring this year.
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 08, 2013 Published: Jan 09, 2013 3 comments
The first morning of CES is traditionally when we present the awards for our Products of the Year. 15 minutes before the 2013 Show started, here are the awards, awaiting the 2012 awardees.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Jan 08, 2013 Published: Jan 09, 2013 0 comments
The Best of Innovations 2013 award for High Performance Audio went to the B&O Beoplay A9 digital loudspeaker ($2699), which offers wireless streaming via AirPlay and DLNA. The Beoplay A9 was on static display. It's an interesting-looking product, and I'd like to have a chance to listen to it. Maybe at the B&O press conference that's coming up on Tuesday. . .
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Jon Iverson Posted: Jan 09, 2013 0 comments
Mike Yee (shown here holding his DAC) has been working for the past several years on a unique approach to DAC design. He has invented a technique (for which he has applied for a patent) he calls MODR or Musically Optimized Digital Reconstruction.

Yee uses an FPGA (field programmable gate array) to intercept the digital signal as it comes into the DAC. The FPGA provides a proprietary "pre-emphasis" conditioning of the signal before the DAC chip to "remove the DAC's effect on quantization error." After the DAC chip, an analog stage provides de-emphasis prior to output.

There are SPDIF and Toslink 24/192 inputs as well as a 16/48 USB port. On the front are LEDs to indicate the sample rate. Introductory price is $1,000

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