The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has nothing to do with audio, high-performance or otherwise, so it arguably doesn't belong in a Stereophile show report, but I'm assuming that some readers are gadget-philes as well as audiophiles. The AR.Drone 2.0 is a toy, but not "just" a toy: it has two cameras, so you can shoot aerial helicopter-type shots and view them live on your iPad. Wouldn't you have wanted one of these when you were a kid?
I was looking forward to seeing Antelope's recently announced Rubicon Atomic AD/DA Preamp at CES, but so is the company. At the time I visited the room, DHL still hadn't found and delivered it, so we have Director of Sales and Marketing Marcel James standing next to the poster.
The Burmester music server was one of my favorite products of last year's CES. Pricey at $50,000, it nonetheless has that feel of a product where the designers have though of everything you would want in a music server. Since last year there have been some refinements and I had a chance to play with the iPad app (there is an iPad in the box with the app loaded) which allows complete and instant control of the system including music selection and volume control. Everything worked quite smoothly and Burmester's Robert Hagemann picked out some cool music for the demo too!
Come February, assures Wireworld's National Sales Manager Larry Smith, virtually all of the company's Series 6 will cede to the new Series 7. New to the line will be musical instrument and headphone cables. As explained in a Waveform Fidelity White Paper, of which I seem to have inadvertently absconded with a mere 17 copiesapologies both to the company and the ecologythe entire Series 7 was developed using digital differencing technology.
Nagra of Switzerland debuted its new Jazz preamplifier complete with ACPS II power supply ($12,500). This replacement for the PL-L line level preamplifier, shown with the company's Hi-Fi Director Jean-Pascal Panchard, melds tube technology with an improved circuit design that is said to yield more open and detailed sound. As important, the input and output jacks are now on the back panel instead of the sides! A review of the Jazz is scheduled to appear in the April 2013 issue of Stereophile.
Surprise, surprise, at least for me. Pipeline, RadioShack's high-end cabling line, is manufactured by no less an entity than AudioQuest. Bill Boyer, Sr. VP (left) and Milton Perez, National Sales Manager (right), gave an idea of the price range when they explained that a 4 foot HDMI cable retails for $49.
Crystal Cable, headed by Gabi Rijnveld, has just released a new cable line called Absolute Dream. The core is 100% mono-crystal silver, the braid mono-crystal silver-plated copper and gold-plated silver. Rijnveld (right), pictured with her husband Edwin of Siltech, claims that Absolute Dream is some of the fastest cable on the market.
Harman International’s High-Performance Group’s exhibit featured a live demonstration of its most expensive equipment, including two Revel Rhythm 2 18" subwoofers ($10,000 each); two Revel Ultima2 Salons ($22,000/pair); a Macintosh MacBook Pro running Amarra software driving a Mark Levinson No.502 Sound Processor; a No.52 preamplifier ($30,000); two No.53 Reference monoblock amplifiers ($25,000 each); and Transparent power conditioners for the digital equipment and for the amplifiers. The rack also included a No.512 SACD player. The Revel Ultima2 Salons were crossed over to the subs at 80Hz with 4th-order slopes for both high-pass and low-pass filters. Listening to Diana Krall singing "I Used to Love You," I was struck by how all the loudspeakers and electronics disappeared leaving a holographic image of her voice, with a wide and deep soundstage.
It’s difficult to tell from my poorly shot photograph, but Audio Electronics’ range of affordable products seem to offer the same high level of fit and finish one would expect from their more ambitious parent, Cary Audio.
Philip O'Hanlon always provides some of the very best show demos, and this CES was no exception. As before, he had a suite atop the Mirage hotel, featuring Vivid loudspeakers and for purposes of this report, a new Luxman DAC. Music was provided by O'Hanlon's Mac Mini running Audio Nirvana and Pure Music and consisted largely of wonderful high-resolution rips of vinyl tracks.
The DA-06 will be available in May for $5,990 and can accept PCM up to 24/192 as well as DSD/DXD and 2xDSD. Digital inputs are upsampled and processed at 32/384 and there are USB, SPDIF, AES/EBU and Toslink inputs on the back.
Though I was exhausted from a long day of walking through enormous casinos and down seemingly endless halls, I couldn’t resist the allure of flashing lights and loud dance music. I walked into the room and was startled by red-and-white-striped jump ropes spinning dizzying patterns to the music.
Aimed straight at the Sonos owner, Arcam's new DAC has a form factor similar to a Sonos ZP90 and plugs right in. It forms a base for the Sonos to sit on and is similar to the company's rLink DAC with TI PCM5102 chip, supporting streams up to 24/192. Retail price is $299 and it is available now.
California Audio Technology showed their new 300.2 FD (Fully Differential) solid-state, 300Wpc, amplifier ($8800) that utilizes a bridged output stage. Like Theta Digital, the CAT 300.2 amplifier is another product designed and manufactured by Morris Kessler's ATI company in California.
Valve Amplification Company's Brent F. Meyer (head of technical services) was bullish in his praise of the company's Statement 450 iQ monoblock amp[lifiers ($116,000/pair), shown here on the floor flanking each side of the Critical Mass equipment. The company claims that each tube in this amplifier's output stage is "held precisely at the optimal bias point, regardless of how loudly or softly the music is playing." The VAC iQ circuit also alerts the owner when the tube is growing weak or has failed, making "tube drama a thing of the past." VAC also showed their Statement line preamplifier ($46,000) and Statement phono preamplifier ($50,000), in a system that included Magico S5 loudspeakers ($29,500/pair).
I heard a surprisingly engaging, well-balanced sound coming from SkullCandy’s new Navigator on-ear headphone ($99.95), a smaller, lighter version of the company’s popular Aviator ($149.95). I brought along my own review sample of the Aviator and enjoyed the attention it garnered from showgoers and exhibitors, but these headphones aren’t just about fashion. Stay tuned for reviews of the Navigator and Aviator in upcoming issues of Stereophile.